Friday, November 09, 2007

'Climate hoax' advocates hoaxed

News, via Reuters, of an entertaining hoax on a certain group of conspiracy theorists -
A hoax scientific study pointing to ocean bacteria as the overwhelming cause of global warming fooled some sceptics on Thursday who doubt growing evidence that human activities are to blame.
Laden with scientific jargon and published online in the previously unknown "Journal of Geoclimatic Studies" based in Japan, the report suggested the findings could be "the death of manmade global warming theory".
Sceptics jumped on the report. A British scientist e-mailed the report to 2,000 colleagues before spotting it was a spoof. Another from the US called it a "blockbuster".

A wee bit of investigation finds that the supposed journal site is registered to one David Thorpe, who comics geeks of a certain age will remember as the creator of Doc Chaos, and is now apparently an environmental journalist.

Nice work, AuThorpe! Though next time it might be an idea to use an anonymous site registration service to help keep the joke going a little longer. Still, it seems to have put the wind up the wingnuts anyway.

UPDATE, Friday pm: Thorpe's acknowledged his involvement, but says he didn't write it himself:
I did not write the content of the site. Someone else did. I designed the site because I was asked to by someone who knew I would be sympathetic to the joke. I appreciate it looks as though I wrote it. I even wish I had written it, because it's very funny. But I didn't.
Fair play.

UPDATE, Monday 12/11: Thorpe's written an extensive and elegant blog post about the reasons for and response to the hoax:
What the hoax showed is that there are many people willing to jump on anything that supports their argument, whether it's true or not.
What we wanted to emphasise is that it's necessary to achieve scientific validity using the peer-review model. Proper climate science makes every attempt to do this, and is a constantly evolving and self-refining process, as all science is.
So, when commentator posted on my blog - sarcastically - "....And we do all have to go with the "scientific consensus" don't we?" - I can only say, if we haven't got the scientific consensus then what have we got?

Meanwhile, Nature snares an interview with the still-anonymous author of the fake paper:
Its purpose was to expose the credulity and scientific illiteracy of many of the people who call themselves climate sceptics. While dismissive of the work of the great majority of climate scientists, they will believe almost anything if it lends support to their position. Their approach to climate science is the opposite of scepticism.

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