Tom Fuller Visits RC

Tom Fuller is a columnist at The Examiner, which I understand to be an online publication that has developed out of The San Francisco Examiner. Tom is described as Environmental Policy Examiner and his posts can be seen here:

Tom takes an interest in the debate on AGW, and has written quite a few posts on various aspects of the debate. Recently he put several posts relating to the EPA global warming report, and in particular allegations that dissenting internal views had been suppressed.

On 26 June 2009, RC put up a new thread titled “Bubkes” that discusses the EPA issue. Apparently “Bubkes” means goat droppings! Que? Anyhow, the discussion soon mentions Tom Fuller’s pieces.

Jim Galasyn kicks off:

Post 4: Jim Galasyn Says: 26 June 2009 at 9:20 AM

Thanks for this post, Gavin. It’s been puzzling watching Tom Fuller and everybody over at SF Examiner freak out at this non-event.

RC regular Hank Roberts chimes in:

Post 10: Hank Roberts Says: 26 June 2009 at 11:07 AM

Poor Fuller at the Examiner–he’s got an anonymous source, CEI, and WTF as his sources on this. A reminder for journalists:

Now out comes another RC regular, dhogaza.

Post 14: dhogaza Says: 26 June 2009 at 11:28 AM

“It’s been puzzling watching Tom Fuller and everybody over at SF Examiner freak out at this non-event.”

Not puzzling at all if you remember there’s a rather crucial vote scheduled for the House today. Just call it the “Wednesday surprise”.

Somehow Tom Fuller gets wind of these comments, and he decides to respond. We will reproduce his 4 posts (Posts 18, 125, 170, and 182) as they give an interesting view on the experience of a journalist visiting RC. To see the whole back and forth go to Real Climate at

In his first post, Tom gets a nice welcome from Gavin.

Post 18: Tom Fuller Says: 26 June 2009 at 12:07 PM

Hi all,

Since I’m mentioned here in the comments thread, I hope I can jump in with a few points, such as commenter 14’s hint that Congressional legislative agendas actually impact my editorial calendar are a bit laughable.

First, after talking with Alan Carlin and the source I cited yesterday, I would advise playing the ball, not the man. Although you may be certain he is wrong–it seems that way from this post–the man is painfully honest and seems to have a lot of integrity. He’s also intelligent. In my conversation with him yesterday I asked him point blank if he felt competent to analyse and form an opinion on climate change issues. He said certainly with regards to the efficacy of general circulation models and climate modelling overall, and that much of the rest of the science was accessible. If you believe him to be wrong, a snarky post like this one here is probably not going to contribute much to the conversation.

Eventually your ‘team’ will find out that this particular series of events is a microcosm of climate change issues overall. Carlin (and I) don’t believe his opinion was suppressed, as the CEI wants to claim. It’s worse. His six years of research on climate issues was ignored by a bureaucracy that has absolutely no education on climate change simply because the policy was already decided, and no evidence was needed.

Your ‘team’s’ failure to engage with skeptics and your insistence that the issues are all settled is killing you in so many ways, that if I were truly a skeptic I would keep silent and watch you continue.
But I’m not. I’m a ‘lukewarmer’ and as a journalist I’m trying to be fair to both sides.

I find it truly bizarre that you (or one of the skeptic blogs) has not yet realized that weblogs are the absolutely perfect mechanism for conducting a proper debate on an issue like climate change, and that you all prefer ragging on each other with posts like this one. But you, like some of the skeptic blogs, seem to know what brings regular readers back, and it seems to be snark.

I have not used the Competitive Enterprise Institute as a source for any of my reporting. For that matter, Alan Carlin did not provide them with any of the materials that were released publicaly, something I find a bit troubling. If someone would like to be interviewed at the Examiner to respond to Carlin’s position feel free to contact me.

[Response: Mr Fuller, the thing is with science is that it isn’t just a matter of opinion. I would love to more gentle about it, but the inconsistencies and incoherence of the Carlin submission are painfully obvious to anyone who knows anything about the subject. While Carlin may be a perfectly sincere and well-meaning fellow (and I have no reason to doubt it), that doesn’t make his work credible or interesting.

The idea that a blog post on WUWT that doesn’t even deal with attribution overturns all the work on detection and attribution in the IPCC reports is laughable. (And, if you are genuinely interested in the subject, I recommend you read them). Peer review is not perfect, but it is the first level of defense against the tide of well meaning (and not so well meaning) nonsense that people want to push.

You also fail to read what you are criticising – please point me to any statement I’ve made on this blog that indicates that I think all questions are settled? On the contrary, our posts are full of discussions of actually interesting uncertainties that are at the cutting edge of research. But that doesn’t mean that every uncertainty that any Tom, Dick or Alan comes up with (for the twenty-seventh time) is interesting. Things that have been looked at for years and addressed multiple times are not a ‘devastating critique’, they are just a waste of everyone’s time.

Finally, if I might offer some advice, journalists are rightly wary of sources with vested interests- but if you want to check the credibility of a scientific claim, ask a relevant scientist or two. Relying on partisan blogs is a recipe for being spun.

As for blogs being good for debate, my experience is the opposite. The amount of regurgitated nonsense, logical fallacies, appalling personal comments and smears against the whole scientific community that pass for argument on WUWT and similar, simply preclude most reasonable conversations on the subject. What is the point in trying to make a logical point if everything one says is immediately dismissed because you’re part of a giant scientific fraud? There is no learning process. You can spend as much time as you like explaining the basis of the paleo-climate constraints on climate sensitivity, only to have the next comment claim that it’s tiny based on an unpublished back-of-the-agenda calculation he read online. The issue is that the science that is understood is uncomfortable for some people and unfortunately they’re much more attached to their prejudices than they are to the scientific method. – gavin]

After a number of further posts, Tom comes back with Post 125:

post 125: Tom Fuller Says: 27 June 2009 at 2:37 PM

Well, now that I know what Bubkes means, I guess I can relax about not being called names.

I guess the fact that I studied journalism and worked for accredited newspapers and magazines for most of my adult life isn’t as important as contributing to citizen journalism. Some of you might not have realised that the older model of journalism isn’t producing much in the way of employment opportunites these days.

dhogaza, I didn’t realize you identified so strongly with the Dark Side. Good to know. By the way, I didn’t continue debating here because it’s not convenient–your moderation policy and uncertain Captcha operations make it difficult to have anything like a real time discussion.

Some of you seem like perfectly reasonable people. Some of you don’t. Amazingly, I find the same on the skeptic blogs. Hmm.

After more discussion from the RC Choir, Tom puts up a gentle Post 170 drawing attention to his threads on the topic.

Post 170: Tom Fuller Says: 28 June 2009 at 1:49 AM

After a review of Alan Carlin’s submission and the rather humbling experience of finding out how little I know about the utilisation of computer models, I have developed what I call Next Generation Questions on Global Warming. If you would like to assist with either the questions or the answers, you would be welcome.

Thanks in advance for any help that is forthcoming.

Finally, after some more “helpful” comments from the RC regulars, Tom signs off from RC.

Post192: Tom Fuller Says: 28 June 2009 at 10:29 AM

Well, folks, I tried. The result is being compared to HIV denialists. Have fun amongst yourselves. BTW, the skeptical attitude I had going into the debate led me specifically to become a lukewarmer.

I’ve been covering scientific debate since Thor Heyerdahl’s controversy with the American Anthropological Association and never seen the level of spite and contempt found here.

If and when you experience difficulty or defeat in implementing policy responses to what you consider the great problem of our age, don’t look anywhere but in a mirror to find the reason why.

Clearly Tom was impressed by his experience at RC.

A number of posts commenting about RC and Tom’s experience there appeared on his own blog at A selection:

Dr Robert Laundon says: June 26, 2:47 PM

“Gavin’s reply is quite balanced.”

I don’t think so. Gavin points out that: “One might have expected some basic statistics, but even that is not evident in the paper”. This is coming from someone who trumpeted Steig et al on his blog (a paper that abused statistical methods, as demonstrated by several statistics experts) and has no doubt read the criticisms of Dr Mann’s use of statistics in Wegman. When I tried to point out the obvious hypocrisy in a post on RealClimate, the post was moderated and did not appear. What a shock!

Ferdinand Engelbeen says: June 26, 3:08 PM

Jim Galasyn,

I was once a regular contributor to RealClimate, but I did give up when about 50% of my remarks disappeared in cyberspace, even if all on topic.

I am a luke warmer, but I have my doubts about the ability of GCM’s to predict (sorry, “project”) the future and all other exaggerations related to it.

I hope that once there would be a real debate about what is really known and what is not known (especially cloud feedback and the real effect of aerosols), without all the mudslinging that is so common these days…

Jim Galasyn says: June 26, 4:01 PM

Hi Ferdinand, we missed you! Please do come back. I’m sure your posts weren’t censored — just absorbed by the usual internet gremlins.

imapopulistnow says: June 26, 6:11 PM

“”Jim Galasyn says:
I’m sure your posts weren’t censored-just absorbed by the usual internet gremlins.””

False. Schmidt selectively posts comments.

Also he admitted today he uses “Ad Hominem Tactics”. Has no qualms apparently. He accepted a comment defending his approach, basically stating that; “when you are brilliant, you have a right to be arrogant and sarcastic and you shouldn’t be drug into a debate with those who are beneath you.”

Well, lets play his game then. What does a physics major do if he cannot pass his physics classes? He becomes a climate scientist. badda bing. Word Association – pick the two related words(physicist,climate modeler,rocket scientist). Seriously, climate modelers will never be confused for rocket scientists. Ask 100 people who they think is smarter, a physicist or a climate scientist, and nearly all will pick the physicist (assuming a climate scientist was not in charge of selecting the sample, that is.) btw Gavin, it is Adhominem, not Adho

Henry chance says: June 28, 4:57 PM

I went over to real climate. They aren’t real science. He censors everything that questions his feelings.
Real science takes all data and follows the data. It is easy to tell when people are writing baloney and are afraid of truth. My areas record is 20 days in a row over 100 degrees. Last few years we rarely see 2-3 days at 100. Not one yet. Fear is binding a lot of the alarmists. There is a lot of major anger after finding the temps have been manipulated.

Raven says: June 28, 2:04 PM

Peter Houlihan,

RC does not post sceptical opinions that ask awkward questions. They will often post a question, attack it but refuse to post any follow up leaving their readers to believe the skeptic’s arguments were repudated when they were really only censored.

They also often offer rebuttals for arguments without actually telling their readers where the orginal arguments are found. As a result, they invariably misrepresent the argument and rebut a strawman.

This is why many warmers to believe that the skeptical arguments have been refuted when nothing of the sort has taken place.

RC is a political blog that uses science as prop.

There is likely a lot more in similar vein in later posts and in later threads. However, I think you get the picture. It would seem that RC could do with a bit of PR guidance.


One Response to “Tom Fuller Visits RC”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    Thomas Fuller Examiner

    Mike Ewing says: July 2, 11:06 AM

    Geno Canto del Halcon

    Real Climate has all the objectivity of the spanish inquisition. They censor or edit posts that ask the hard questions on this. Not exactly conducive to objective debate.

    Im not arguing against the greenhouse effect, its good that the earths average temperature isnt -18 to -20C. A doubling of co2 should lead to a rise of about 1.2C directly. The Apocalyptic scenarios come from applying large forcing parameters to the co2. Which the observational data does not back up. Its based off assumptions. Not scientific facts, even though its presented as such.

    Brad Arnold, the extinction event of 55million bp was caused by an asteroid strike.. the one i believe youre thinking off was pre the Jurassic period… when there was a rupture in the tectonic plates the size o Russia spewing so2 and co2 into the atmosphere for 100s o thousands o years.. it would have turned the oceans and rivers to H2SO4. And clouds of hydrogen sulfate would have taken care o the rest.

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