The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia


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The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia

Lirpa Loofouy MSc. PhD FRS, Mike Haseler BSc. MBA.

Produced for free by
the Institute for Research into Academia
motto: Let knowledge be free.

Published 1st April 2016

link to pdf: The Academic Ape


The Cassandra Effect describes the tendency of academia to reject any academic-like work from outside academia and that the more “academic” the contribution, the more strongly it is rejected and attacked.

This paper explores the implications of the Cassandra Effect and examines the likely reasons for the rejection of, and attacks on, academic outsiders. It proposes a hypothesis to explain the origins and causation of this Cassandra Effect based on the concept of the “Academic ape”: a primitive instinctual response by academia when its perceived intellectual territory is threatened which over-rides intellect and reasoning.

It is suggested that the main reason for the rejection by the “academic tribe” of outsiders such as climate sceptics & metal detector users, is not because their contribution is  inferior. Instead it is suggested that ironically the work of outsiders is most likely to be rejected when it is, or appears to be, academic.

The suggested trigger for this, is an innate instinctual response mechanism common to all apes. It is suggested that contributions that  appear academic in nature (or  “pseudo science” as it is termed when it is threatens those in the scientific arena) are most likely to be met aggressively because they appear to be a larger threat to the perceived territory of academia, thus triggering an instinctual territorial response akin to that of Chimpanzees or other large apes. This response appears when outsiders step over an imaginary boundary academia draws around its perceived Knowledge territory . This boundary demarks the areas of knowledge over which academia claims ownership and control from those outside which by nature of being outside are deemed inferior and unfit for academia.

Unfortunately, these boundaries are often not recognised by outsiders either because they are unaware any boundary exists or because in areas such as the arena of climate, it is perceived that the subject is an area of general science appropriate for the scientifically literate population as a whole.

Thus issues such as climate, where outsiders have suffered vitriolic attacks from academics (e.g. Lewandowsky, Gleick, Mann, etc.) and where these attacks have been widely supported from academia, may have very little to do with the actual subject material or the relative state of knowledge or experience of the parties. Instead it is suggested that they can be likened to union “demarcation disputes” between the “academic union” on the one side and the outsider who is treated as “blacklegs” or “scabs”.

This threat response appears to be heightened when three conditions exists. First against altruistic outsiders who give their labour freely and so not only threaten the academics perceived territory, but also undermine the economic value of academia. Second, outsiders who have a high level of qualification and wider experience than academia are seen as more of a potential threat. And thirdly, when outsiders formulate their contributions in the style, language and format suggestive of academic work, this in itself signals an incursion into the academic territory.

Thus, whilst academics often reject external work as being of poor quality, perversely, far from eliciting the expected  intellectual response expected, work of the highest calibre, by those most qualified, and freely given, is most likely to be treated as a direct threat and stimulate the most hostile response from the “academic ape”.

Academia is well organised, has strong “gate-keepers” and is well funded and being integrated into the political, and social control mechanisms of society is able to organise highly effective campaigns bringing in outside actors like politicians to target the perceived intruders into “their” domain. In contrast outsiders like those in the climate issue, or metal detector users in the area of archaeology, tend to be disorganised disparate groups of poorly funded hobbyists whose lack of organisation provides them little social and political clout.

The system of peer review appears to be a form of gate-keeping mechanism. Thus suggestions that outsiders should have their work “peer reviewed” are disingenuous, particularly as in areas like climate peer review has not been the supposed hallmark of quality it is claimed. Instead it  is  suggested peer review should be seen as similar to behaviour like “scent marking”: used to demark the boundary, claim ownership of territory and attempt to establish authority.

With the rise of the internet, outsiders and academics are more and more inhabiting the same domain on the internet. So, as academic outsiders increasingly become involved in areas of knowledge which academia formerly claimed as “theirs” and with the territorial response mechanism of the academic ape, it is inevitable that without some kind of compromise, the same animosity from academia toward the public that exists in the area of climate will become endemic.

But, as we see in areas like climate, the lack of organisational structure  perceived public nature of issues like science, there is no realistic way to “negotiate” any form of “surrender” of the public arena of the internet to the supposed authority of academia. Thus even if it were morally acceptable for the public to give way to academia, the only practical way forward is that academia itself must change. And change must come from within academia, because any change imposed from outside will be most likely to be seen as a direct assault on the academic territory and elicit the strongest and most hostile reaction.

However, once we start dismantling the boundaries academia by which academia has sought to claim ownership and control of many subjects, we then face a much more fundamental and critical issue: the purpose and function and economic basis of academia in a modern internet society.

Academic Boundaries

The concept of a boundary around academia & science demarking that which “is” academic and that which “is not”, is not new. Gieryn in 1983, defines not only the presence of this boundary, its use to exclude “non-science” & how it it is used to create a public image of “science”, but importantly he also hints at the way outsiders or as they are often termed derogatorily “pseudo-scientists” are attacked from those within the boundary:

The demarcation of science from other intellectual activities-long an analytic problem for philosophers and sociologists-is here examined as a practical problem for scientists. Construction of a boundary between science and varieties of non-science is useful for scientists’ pursuit of professional goals: acquisition of intellectual authority and career opportunities; denial of these resources to “pseudoscientists”; and protection of the autonomy of scientific research from political interference. “Boundary-work” describes an ideological style found in scientists’ attempts to create a public image for science by contrasting it favorably to non-scientific intellectual or technical activities.
Gieryn (1983)

Those familiar with the on-line “debate” on climate, will also recognise the language that is used by those inside the boundary referring to those who challenge this boundary:

… they devise a sly cartographic response that at once preserves the appearance of science and rational and objective while at the same time excluding. In this counterargument, the boundary-work of science defenders is severed from whatever good and hard science they do in their day jobs. … David Edge complains that Paul Gross treats his adversaries in the science wars with “contempt and derision“: “abandoning all pretense of trust and respect,” he does not engage in “fair, honest and well informed disputation,” and because of this “demean[s] (and will eventually destroy) the very science and reason that we are all so anxious to conserve and extend.” After accusing science defenders of conducting a witch-hunt against Norton Wise, etc. ...
Gieryn (1999) quoting Edge (1996)

In the so called “climate wars”, the Sceptics are the “outsider”. Academics, or as this group when involved in areas of a scientific-like nature like to call themselves “scientists”, are the insider. Just as Unions treat anyone “outside the union” who comes and does their work as “scab labour” so the natural reaction of the “academia union” is to boycott or attack the work of outsiders. Although like unions, the relationship with outsiders is complex. So  the academic union is prepared to accept certain other “unions” of knowledge-workers like doctors & consultants who (unlike climate sceptics or other hobbyists) are paid for their work and which the academic union appears to accept “owns” some areas of knowledge.

Thus the area of “knowledge” is parcelled up into territories and even within academia there are territorial disputes between subjects. But by far the most hostile and aggressive reactions appear to occur when the outsider is some kind of hobbyist or when academics side with such hobbyists (curry 2015).

Thus “Ownership” of knowledge or laying claim to certain areas of knowledge is the key to these academia versus outsider disputes. And where academia lays claim, these areas are surrounded by often largely impenetrable boundaries rigorously policed so as to exclude outsiders.

To enforce these boundaries and maintain control over “their” territory, academia use a variety of methods to demarcate the areas of knowledge:


It has often been noted that academics can not call a spade a spade (Monckton 2010). Instead if there is a simple word like “pause” that is already available, but “owned” by outsiders, there will be strenuous attempts to find an alternative and usually more obtuse word such as “hiatus”. Instead of something simple and straightforward, like “man-made warming”, it will be called “anthropogenic global warming”, which as it literally means man-made in Greek, serves no purpose other than to misanthropically obfuscate the language.

Thus in many cases, the change of terminology serves no functional purpose and so only acts to convey ownership by academia. So in much the same way many animals like dogs will scent mark territory, academia will systematically change the language to “mark” their ownership of knowledge. And even the term “boundary-work” is itself a way to claim academic ownership of a concept that to most other people would be known as a boundary dispute or demarcation dispute. Likewise, the “pause” as a concept was invented by climate sceptics (Haseler,  2009a,b, 2014b, 2015) and so in order to claim ownership of the term, academia first had to reject the “pause” terminology used by (Mooney 2013) changing its original meaning (which focussed on the failure of the specified temperature indices to warm as predicted) to one easier to defend of “no net warming” (without reference to datasets or specific predictions).

Then having invented this new term and created new temperature measures which supposedly showed massive warming (Tisdale, 2015) and which was not present in the satellite measurements, they were able to (falsely) “prove” that the concept they had invented as a strawman did not exist.

Furthermore, language is often used to falsely imply sophistication as simple common words show the subject is simple to understand, whereas sophisticated phraseology and other linguistic devices suggest elitism and thereby discourage “uneducated” outsiders. So complex language is often adopted, not to make subjects easier to understand, but to demark the territory as “belonging to academia” and often to falsely portray the subject as too complex for non academics to understand.

Guarding the boundary through Peer Review

Academics will often assert (without proof) that peer review is proof that academia has higher standards. Whilst this may be in part true, there have been many cases where peer review has failed to ensure high standards (Cobange 2013, Sieber 2006, Retraction Watch 2014, Watts 2015). These show that peer review has a significant social function demarking “acceptable” knowledge (i.e. work done by academics) from the unacceptable (i.e. work done by “laymen” or knowledge done by outsiders). As such “peer review” may be viewed as a form of social ritual invoked to create the illusion of meaning and thereby distinction. But in reality it can be no better, and often much worse, than other forms of critique notably that provided by on-line review on sites such as WattsUpWithThat.

When peer review so often fails to ensure quality, the result is that the function of “peer review” is to force the outsider to literally “submit” themselves and their work to academia in a very similar act to a serf submitting themselves to a feudal lord. In this sense it is very much like a membership panel of a club and becomes a method of enforcing and policing the power relationship such that the “outsider” may only gain access to academic journals by literally acknowledging their power and authority over the subject area.

Conferring Social status using titles.

Whilst a degree, doctorate, or professorship, is usually a mark of achievement, many such as “Professor” have no legal standing, are used arbitrarily (Newman, 2008; Farrell 2009) and so have no meaning outwith the arbitrary definition assumed by academia. However, whilst there is no legal restriction to their use, even when someone has been awarded the title of “Professor”, if they are later excluded from the “academic tribe” it’s continued use “outside” academia is highly contentious (See comments on discussion: Anders 2013). Thus, academic titles are arbitrary, largely legally meaningless and so appear to act to demark & reward the academic insider as an acceptable or honorary member of the “academic tribe” and thereby exclude those of equal or superior worth who are academic outsiders.

However, titles are also used to extend and deepen the supposed power of academia through social coercion. Because  like the ancient kneeling before a lord, a PhD is in the gift of an academic elite and it will only be conferred on those who acknowledge the ownership of academia over a particular area. Thus the very act of accepting such titles and using them perpetuates and enforces a power relationship: the power of academia is endowed by academics, and in return for submission to this power, those accepting the authority of academia are given titles to mark them out as “belonging” to the academic tribe which then (supposedly) endows  them with some special expertise and authority to speak on some areas of public knowledge “owned” by academia.


Like all trade unions, it can be easily argued that the academic tribe’s main objective is not altruistic, but instead to use its power and control to enrich its own members.

Thus membership of the tribe is used (often falsely) to suggest “competence” over “research” in specific fields. This in turn is used to control various agencies making funding available only to those “who have previously published” meaning members of the academic tribe or union. Thus peer-review and academic titles are mechanism to secure economic wealth for the members of the academic union and by fabricating false barriers to entry into “their” area of work, academia manufactures a monopoly over funding for certain subjects.

Thus control over the funding bodies is a very effective tool: reward those who comply and police the boundaries of academia against outsiders and to punish insiders if for example, they fail to police those boundaries themselves or express unwanted political views. Some may argue that this academic monopoly over knowledge is good for society, but this is not true in issues where  the left of centre bias and public sector outlook creates a bias in academia (Naju 2015). One such area is “global warming”, where there is a clear division between the overwhelming private sector outlook of sceptics and the public sector viewpoint of academics. (Haseler 2014a)

The rejection of climate sceptics

Ad Hominem Attacks

One of the main areas of study resulting in the findings presented in this paper was carried out in an attempt to understand the appalling behaviour that led to the frequent use by academics of term “denier” which from this quote was clearly intended to portray sceptics as Holocaust camp detainees

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.

Note, how this simultaneously suggests applying the Nazi style behaviour of tattooing people, whilst simultaneously asserting that climate sceptics are akin to Nazi “holocaust deniers”. And whilst given the anonymity of the on-line debate, whilst it is often not possible to link comments with individuals, it is possible to say that overwhelmingly similar ad Hominem attacks originate from those supporting the academic viewpoint. Haseler (2013)

Moreover, given the high profile attacks by individuals like Lewandowsky, Mann, Gleick, Hansen, etc., who have launched many attacks against sceptics and applaud any who attack sceptics, and given the utter silence of all but a handful of academics against their appalling behaviour, these attacks are clearly condoned by many and likely an overwhelming majority of academics.

However, whilst qualifications are usually cited as justifying such attacks (BBC) when a survey was completed of sceptics it shows that most were very well qualified in science and engineering and around 50% had a second degree (Haseler 2015a).

Indeed, in terms of qualifications, it is often the academic “insiders” who feels able to attack outsiders who are unqualified. Notable examples are Lewandowsky a Psychologist.  Sir Paul Nurse, a geneticist (Tallbloke 2014)  & Sir Mark Walport a medical scientist (IPCC report 2014). However despite their lack of qualification to speak on atmospheric physics and the relevant qualifications of most sceptics, unqualified academics have been given an “open door” by news outlets like the BBC to launch hostile, false and vitriolic attacks on qualified, experienced sceptics who are then usually denied any form of redress even to correct the false assertions about sceptics own views. (See: Haseler, 2014c).

A good example of this behaviour was shown to Mr Haseler by the BBC. The BBC were fully aware that Mr Haseler has a physics degree and has worked as an engineer in the wind sector. Together with his MBA, he is qualified in all the key areas of Science, Engineering and policy. When he chairman of the Scottish Climate and Energy Group he made a formal complaint to the BBC about the repeated use of the word “paedophile” when referring to sceptics. The BBC neither apologised nor in any other way allowed the voice of sceptics to be heard even about their own views – a subject where sceptics do undoubtedly have some expertise!

However lack of qualification did not stop those like Paul Nurse or Mark Walport and government ministers repeatedly getting air time from organisations like the BBC which they then used to attack sceptics. Thus differences or relevance of qualification is unable to explain the hostility of academics, researchers and “very academically friendly” media outlets like the BBC to outsiders. Instead, there must be a sociological explanation. It appears that outsiders are seen as “treading on their toes”, putting their tanks on the “academic” lawn. Just as a householder would instinctively react hostily to an invasion of squatters, so academics & their friends such as the BBC instinctively knows to attack those like sceptics who cross the imaginary boundary.

The instinctive origin of the academic response

It has long been recognised that academics are tribal (Becher & Trowler 1989) and that this leads to networks of individuals creating boundaries or as Becher & Trowler (p.90) puts it:

“The concept of a peer group has affinities with that of a network, as may be seen from the following comment by Crane (1972): ‘Behind the seemingly impersonal structure of scientific knowledge, there is a vast interpersonal network that screens new ideas in terms of a central theme of paradigm, permitting some a wide audience and consigning many to oblivion”

As such, what is “science” and what is not, is as much to do with social boundaries as whether theories match physical evidence. And as Gieryn (1983) states, academics have long sought ways to create and demark the boundary of “science”:

Philosophers and sociologists of science have long struggled with the “problem of demarcation”: how to identify unique and essential characteristics of science that distinguish it from other kinds of intellectual activities.

The instinctive response against territorial invasion is common to many animals but notably social apes. Chimpanzees whose territory is invaded will respond aggressively and likewise Gorillas. The response is typically to group together, face off the enemy and make a great deal of noise and fuss:

Chimpanzees provide one of the best examples of group territoriality in primates. Male chimpanzees of the same community jointly defend heavily used areas and routinely patrol peripheral areas in large parties, occasionally making deep incursions into the territories of their neighbors.

This territorial behaviour is relatively uncommon amongst mammals only being reported according to Amsler in social carnivores (Cheetahs, Lions, spotted hyenas, wolves) and some species of primates. As such it is a response of the group as a whole and unlikely to be seen by individuals unless in some way acting as part of the group. It is characterised by distinctive behaviour:

During boundary patrols, chimpanzees appear to seek contact with or information about chimpanzees in adjacent communities. Behavior during patrols is characterized by the striking silence of males as they travel in a closely spaced, single-file line. Chimpanzees on patrol are particularly tense and attentive, move in a directed fashion, and engage in reassurance behavior when startled.

And it appears to be sexual in nature often being performed by males and against outside males (although clearly endorsed by females otherwise it would not make those participating sexually attractive).

Boundary patrolling may furnish several benefits to participants. Possible benefits include recruitment of females , defense of the community against threats by outside males, elimination of rival males, and a way for individuals to signal value as a cooperative partner to other males in the community.

The full range of behaviours noted by Amsler included:

Events included the following: sniffing the ground, vegetation, nests, feces, or other signs of chimpanzees from neighboring communities; unusually tense or alert behavior; fear grins; embraces between patrol members; calls, most notably screams and whimpers; reactions to hearing chimpanzees from other communities; displays and drumming; battles, consisting of visual contact, confrontation, charges, and chases between Ngogo patrollers and members of the opposing party; attacks on other chimpanzees; infanticides; consumption of killed infants;

Many of these behaviours can readily be equated to behaviour seen on the internet:

Chimpanzees Internet
sniffing the ground, vegetation, nests, faeces, or other signs of chimpanzees from neighbouring communities; The equivalent behaviour on the internet is the regular checking of sites from the “opposition”
unusually tense or alert behaviour; fear grins; Sceptics often comment on the “tense” atmosphere if they comment on academic blogs.
embraces between patrol members; Group bonding and grooming of others is a common attribute of internet blogs
calls, most notably screams and whimpers These various forms of ritual aggression and attacks are typical of the kinds of behaviour experienced by sceptics. These include name calling using false labels like “denier”, attacks on motivation using terms such as “fossil fuel funded”, attacks on integrity suggesting that sceptics (almost non of whom are paid) are acting for financial gain. When these initial forms of “non-contact” assaults failed to “get them off our turf” there followed a series of escalating attacks including the use of legal case (Mann v. Steyn and Mann v. Ball) and the call for the use of current and new legislation to “repel” sceptics.
 reactions to hearing chimpanzees from other communities; displays and drumming
charges, and chases between Ngogo patrollers and members of the opposing party
attacks on other chimpanzees; infanticides; consumption of killed infants;

Table 1: Table 1. Comparison of Ape behaviour with that found on the internet.

One particular feature of these attacks, is that they appear to be most vicious, not on those who are completely outside the bounds of academia, but on those academics who have sided, or are perceived to have sided, with sceptics ( Rose 2015). For example, Prof Salby who was hounded out of his job at Macquarie University in Sydney, came to Scotland to present his findings (that the rise in CO2 was at least in part natural) to the Scottish parliament. Mr Haseler who hosted Prof Salby invited not only sceptics but academics (one of whom happened to write the blog: “AndTheresPhysics”). But, rather than coming to the lecture to hear the scientific work of Prof Salby which after all was hardly controversial as some CO2 is undoubtedly natural, “Anders” instead attacked Prof Salby not on what he had said, but on some spurious details about a graph.

However, when Mr Haseler then went to the blog to explain Prof Salby’s work, the various posted “ganged together” in order to mount a day long attack – not on the substance of the science presented by Prof Salby, but apparently solely because he had dared to side with sceptics. The “crime” (as Mr Haseler put it) was that the he had not only hosted a presentation by Professor Salby from Australia at the Scottish parliament, but that his work had been written up in a style akin to a paper.

For, of all the various blog articles written by Mr Haseler, it was only this one written up in a pseudo academic style, recording a formal academic presentation by an academic, that more than anything else written by Mr Haseler, seemed to incense the contributors on the blog.

But (as related by Mr Haseler) despite spending a whole day trying to explain the paper by Prof Salby, the simply act of defending him seemed if anything to incense those commenting on the blog more to such an extent Mr Haseler was forced to report one commenter (who carried the argument to his blog) to the police for racist comments when Anders refused to remove them. But, when Anders learned that Mr Haseler had needed to report the commenter on his blog, he then banned Mr Haseler. This shows a clear demarcation of behaviour. Those within the boundary are allowed to mount attacks including racist comments and comments to the effect that sceptics should be executed, whereas if a sceptic responds or reports racist comments they are deemed to be at fault.

From this incident and others on the internet, a pattern of behaviour can be deduced: “outsiders” are seen as hostile. They are met by groups of individuals who attack the invader intending to drive them away. If (like the blog where the author felt it was necessary to defend the good work of Prof Salby) the “invaders” does not withdraw, then the intensity and viciousness of the attacks increase. The group then starts behaving as one, making repeated attacks in short succession. No doubt this behaviour also occurs on “sceptic” blogs, but the level of aggression is much higher, more intense and more vitriolic amongst alarmists defending academia (Haseler 2013).

We have seen academics launch direct attacks against “outsiders” or sceptics. Notable such attacks were carried out by Gleick, Lewandowsky & Oreskes. In each case the attack cannot be justified after the event.

Gleick used arguably criminal deception aimed apparently at uncovering what Gleick appears to have believed was a conspiracy of funding, presumably from fossil fuel interests. So, he used deception to obtain details of funding for the Heartland Institute which being sceptical tends to be the focus of academic aggression. However, rather than proving what he intended, Gleick only succeeded in demonstrating that the Heartland Institute obtained no fossil fuel funding and that in fact they had very little funding at all. (Watts 2012)

A similarly conspiracy theorist concept lay being the Lewandowsky attack where he falsely attributed sceptic views to a “moon landing conspiracy”. Like Gleick, far from his intended, aim, Lewandowsky’s data showed very little “conspiracy ideation” and he ended up having to withdraw his paper. (Watts 2013, McIntyre 2012)

A similarly conspiracy theorist attack was that of the Oreske’s film alleging sceptics are paid. But far from showing any current evidence of funding, Oreske was forced to air allegations so old that most of those being attacked were dead – a point not lost on sceptics who commented that “the dead cannot be libelled” (Nova 2012, Curry 2015)

In each case, there was a belief in some kind of conspiracy behind sceptics. In each case, far from showing that any conspiracy existed, the authors showed that there was no evidence of such a conspiracy. In each case, those involved cited a moral imperative to launch such attacks, but when their own research showed their beliefs to be false, they continued with the attacks non-the-less.

It therefore, appears such attacks on sceptics are ritualistic in form and driven by almost sub-human animal instinct. Just like chimpanzees forced by instinct to attack outsiders who invade their territory, so it appears many academics are driven, not by any rational response, but instead they are blinded by instinctual hatred to attack the outsider in their territory in the shape of the sceptics.

This phenomenon, of irrational “conspiracy” type attacks on outsiders by academia might best be described as response of the unthinking irrational “academic ape”: the instinctive, animalistic, territorial response common to many apes whereby individuals of a group are mindlessly driven to attack those who enter their territory.


Researching the motivation and psychology of groups such as academia is problematic even when they are able to give consent (Meade & Slesnick 2001), however gaining consent for research on academia, which was not likely to show them in the way they would like to portray themselves was felt extremely unlikely.

Therefore, it was proposed to conduct the research using two methods.

Review of work presented to academia from outsiders

The first area of research was a literature review which looked for areas of work where academia had rejected ideas either from outside or in some other way linked to outsiders and to determine the criteria by which these were judged.

Test works

Second it was proposed to directly test whether academics were willing to accept work from outside by using the internet to present work of a suitably high standard that would normally be published and in the normal course of events published. But this would be done in a way that clearly signalled it as being from academic outsiders.

Three areas were chosen for this research: climate, social science and archaeology. In order to ensure the work was available, two separate “blogs” were set up. The first dealing with climate (, and the second dealing with archaeology ( These blogs were then fed work of various standards to ensure regular interest and then in amongst this work the test articles were posted to determine what effect (if any) they had.

The following are three examples of these tests:

Geology: The Caterpillar Theory

I _see_no_caterpillar_scr

Fig 1. Humorous illustration of the obviousness of the Caterpillar Effect

The caterpillar theory was conceived with the help of an expert in the field as a way of testing whether those in climate, geology, etc. would be prepared to look at work from an outsider. The “theory”, was created largely as a restatement of normal physical effects, none of which is particularly contentious and therefore it could not easily be dismissed: the temperature changes over an ice-age cycle that the crust will expand and contract; that this will then create a change in the outward forces which in turn will modulate the subduction of old crust and formation of new crust. Thus, the crust will tend to move, first expanding out into subduction zones, then contracting increasing mid-ocean ridge formation in the way of a caterpillar.

In order to ensure it had academic validity, it was intended to post a fictitious paper showing a corroboration between ice-age cycles and tectonic plate movement, however in the event this proved unnecessary as independent research Tolstoy (2015)  became available. This research showed cycles fitting with ice-age temperature changes. This gave strong support to the hypothesis that temperature changes over the ice-age cycle led to tectonic plate movement and suggest that subduction and thermal decomposition of rock may be the origin of the increase in CO2 (a concept thought to be particularly attractive to climate academics).

In order to ensure this theory was well known, numerous emails were sent to leading academics in the field. As such it was scientifically valid and publicised. As such the only reason for rejection would be that it came from an outsider.

Social Science: The survey of the sceptic blogosphere


Fig 2. One of the key figures from the survey which very conclusively shows that very few sceptics “deny” temperature change over the 20th century thus showing the “denier” tag is false.

This work, was adapted from a chance survey intended to create some interest in the sceptic community through a survey which was intended to perhaps have have around 100 responses and be statistically invalid. In fact some 5000 sceptics responded providing unequivocally the most comprehensive sample of on line sceptics. This was undoubtedly an invaluable tool for any social scientist involved in the area. Again contact was made with various researchers (although for ethical reasons some were considered inappropriate).

This time individual academics were contacted directly by email and asked for help with the project.

Archaeology: The Birthplace of St.Patrick and the Names of the Roman Forts along the Antonine Wall.

Fig 3. Dumbarton Rock on the Clyde known as “Alt Clud”. Three of the five lives of St.Patrick give this as his birthplace, Fiacc’s hymn says it was at “Nemthur”. Near to Dumbarton is Old Kilpatrick and the Roman fort which can be identified as “NEMETON”. This is so like NEM-T-hur and the evidence linking them so good, that they must be the same place.

The first two tests were climate related and therefore in order to draw a wider conclusion, it was decided to look at other subject works. Fortunately, Mr Haseler was able to offer a very suitable paper.

This particular paper is based on a potential connection between the birthplace of St.Patrick at a place called Nemthur and the Roman town of Nemeton which are obviously linguistically similar.

Whilst recent academic work has tended to place St.Patrick’s birthplace in England, with three out of the five lives of St.Patrick locating his birthplace (Nemthur) near Alt Clud or Dumbarton Rock on the Clyde Estuary, there is a very strong case to be made that it is in this area which is also the place  where the Antonine wall terminated.

Mr Haseler, shows in his paper, that if we take the evidence that there are seven main forts along the Antonine Wall, that, the first being known and the names of the others listed, that Nemeton could be equated with Old Kilpatrick. In addition the next location of the list would be sub-Dobiadon which would equate with Dumbarton where there is evidence of Roman occupation.

Again, this paper was made available to various academics, this time using the “Britarch” archaeology newsgroup.


Test works presented to academia

Initial results show that as predicted none of the work presented as coming from an outsider from academia was largely ignored by the academics working in Climate, Social Science and Archaeology.

The “caterpillar theory”, which is arguably the most compelling given the fortuitous “confirmation” of the ice-age cycle on tectonic plate movement was the most remarkable. Because despite what appears to be if not a world class theory, at least a remarkable coincidence in timing, the article posted on a sceptic blog received relatively few comments and no academic entered into detailed email correspondence on the theory.

The survey of sceptics was almost as remarkable. There had been several academic papers on just the same issue of the demography and motivation of sceptics. So, it was all the more obvious that their was a motivated rejection of the survey which has to be put down to it’s source outside academia, as not one academic asked to see the data.

The last work was the birthplace of St.Patrick. Arguably this is the least secure because so much of archaeology is subjective. However, as the Birthplace of St.Patrick is regularly discussed every year during the celebrations of St.Patrick’s day, the issue was repeatedly raised on numerous occasions to ensure it was well known. However, despite these repeated reminders, academic interest has been minimal.

Review of Literature

The review of literature proved more problematic than first considered as very little work associated with outsiders could be found. Instead several case were found from which inferences might be drawn.


The issue of the “climate wars” has been widely debated, by academia itself, by traditional media, and by internet blogs. As highlighted in the introduction, most academics who give their views on climate in public are antagonistic toward sceptics. And those few academics who have either sided with, or in other ways been seen to legitimise either sceptics or sceptical views have been attacked. Noteworthy examples are Prof Salby, the “Rico” attacks, the attacks on Prof Judith Curry and various others repeatedly labelled as “deniers”. Whilst these attacks come from the traditional media, it is clear that the attacks are endorsed and at times instigated by academics. (such as the Rico episode)

The “Aquatic Ape”

The aquatic ape theory is the theory that the ancestors of humans were “more aquatic” in the past. The theory came to prominence as the result of Elaine Morgan, who wrote a series of books on the topic.

For obvious reasons given that evolution can be a contentious issue on its own it is understandable that the aquatic ape theory has been contentious. However, without understanding the Cassandra Effect, it is not easy to understand why a theory that appears merely to suggest a more aquatic past could become so aggressively attacked.

Particularly when since Morgan’s books on the subject in 1972, more evidence has come to light that Human’s closest relatives spend more time in water than then believed.

A typical example of an attack article is the one Erin Wayman. The article starts under a picture showing an aquatic ape – which in itself shows evidence that our nearest relatives are more aquatic than was hitherto thought. So how logically can the author then sayAqApe:

The aquatic ape theory, now largely dismissed, tries to explain the origins of many of humankind’s unique traits. Popularized in the 1970s and 1980s by writer Elaine Morgan, the theory suggests that early hominids lived in water at least part of the time. This aquatic lifestyle supposedly accounts for our hairless bodies, which made us more streamlined for swimming and diving; our upright, two-legged walking, which made wading easier; and our layers of subcutaneous fat, which made us better insulated in water (think whale blubber).  (Wayman 2012)

As in climate, where many articles start by referring to the pause, only then to claim no such thing exists, often the very articles attacking the aquatic ape theory, provide the very evidence to prove that it is very likely correct: human ancestors are now known to be more aquatic than believed at the time Morgan published her books.

A similar attack article is that by Kimberly Moynahan (2012), “Water Apes: Carrying the torch for a failed theory” who this time uses the tactic of trying to suggest the aquatic ape theory is similar to the “tongue-in-cheek” story about humans evolving from Dolphins.

Last week the popular website IO9 ran a tongue-in-cheek story headlined, “Could Humans Have Evolved From Dolphins?” … the story caught ire of some of the scientific blogging community.
This was not because the story was so outlandish. It was because it seemed to give credence to a pseudo-scientific theory that should have been put to bed decades ago—that is that our species separated from our primate cousins due to our affinity for and eventual habitation of an aquatic environment.
In other words, we were once water apes.

Note, the hallmark phrase “pseudo-scientific“. The intention of this phrase is made clear later in the same article:

” How can she know more than all the scientists who have been studying human origins for the past century? (Always a pseudo-science red flag)

Thus “pseudo-science” is a way to distinguish between the acceptable “us” as in “all the [academic] scientists” against the unacceptable “them”, the outsider, the “non-scientists” – not because their work is in anyway superior, but because they are not part of the “academic tribe”.

But such attacks on outsiders might be justified if the theory itself were not credible. So does the theory of the academic ape have any credibility?

It is one of the most unusual evolutionary ideas ever proposed: humans are amphibious apes who lost their fur, started to walk upright and developed big brains because they took to living the good life by the water’s edge. … This is the aquatic ape theory and although treated with derision by some academics over the past 50 years, it is still backed by a small, but committed group of scientists. Next week they will hold a major London conference when several speakers, including David Attenborough, will voice support for the theory. (Guardian)

Note, how in this article suggesting sympathy with the view, the BBC TV presenter David Attenborough, who has attacked climate sceptics, and who has a similar job to that of Elaine Morgan, is not referred as a TV presenter, but is instead included as part of a “group of scientists”. This shows how the group identity of “scientist” and “pseudo-scientists” is very flexible and tends to be extended when wanted, but only to demark the acceptable from the unacceptable.

Metal “detectorists”

Mr Haseler brought this issue to the notice of the IRA group. Mr Haseler noticed this territorial behaviour of academics in archaeology where as a “non-combatant” he was a bystander. Here, archaeology or more specifically “our past” is claimed by academia as its “territory”. This is very worrying, because often lessons from history are used to inform modern policy makers. Thus the political bias of academia can distort policy making tending to bias it toward a particular political viewpoint irrespective of the political make-up of the government.

At the time Mr Haseler was doing a part-time archaeology course at Glasgow University and with “one foot in both camps” (academia and public), he was sympathetic to both views.

To put the conflict into context, archaeology now has a high standard in regard to the preservation of sites, but this has not always be so. There are many instances where academic archaeologists have dug up or as academics would call it “excavated” ancient sites, and in the process destroyed all possibility of anyone in future independently looking at the site. Worse, many such digs were not been written up (often through reasons that were no fault of the archaeologist such as lack of funds  of death). And in the process artefacts had been removed and then lost and no written record was then available.

The evidence regarding aggression to outsiders came from a series of incidents on an on line discussion by archaeologists about those using metal detectors. Being aware that neither archaeologists nor outsiders were blameless, he felt that “the alternative view” had to be put when he saw members of the public who used metal detectors were attacked quite viciously by archaeologists for “destroying sites”.

Excavations by Atkinson, Hawley and Gowland

Fig 4. Stonehenge excavations by archaeologists Atkinson, Hawley and Gowland in which whole areas were stripped bare and all artefacts removed. Modern techniques would produce farm more information but they cannot now be applied because the site has been destroyed. to crannóg in Roscommon being investigated

Fig 5. Damage to an archaeological site reported in an Irish Times article as: Damage to crannóg in Roscommon being investigated. However, note that the damage is so slight that it appears the photographer had the turf lifted so that they had something to photograph.

The author intervened in the discussion, merely to put the case for metal detector users (there being none present to argue their own case). The specific argument put forward was that academics had also been responsible for arguably worse damage such as that done “legitimately” to Stonehenge (above left) which in no way at all compares to the abnormal “criminal” but very minor damage done by metal detector  users (shown above right). However, merely by trying to be fair to outsiders, the author then came under attack in a very hostile way.

A small group began to systematically attack the author even showing similar behaviour to the “Anders” incident whereby they went onto another site (set up for an “Xmas party”) which they then appeared to deliberately and apparently in a premeditated way ruined.

The stimulus that caused this was simply defending academic outsiders. The response was to follow Mr Haseler onto another website (now closed) in a group and then attack and destroy what they could. There was no condemnation from other academics and thus this behaviour appears to be condoned by at least some if not most academics.

This behaviour appeared to very closely match that of the instinctual group behaviour of Chimpanzees and the same behaviour is echoed throughout the many encounters sceptic outsiders have had with groups or individual from within academia.


The examples shown above, show that academia has a disparity of standards that it uses when dealing with its own “insiders” compared to the “outsiders”. This is seen in a whole range of behaviours from attacks on individuals, to the use of language to demark threatening work from outside as “pseudo-science” through to the use of legal means to try to force outsiders to “get off our turf”.

Qualifications, whilst often cited as the reason for rejecting outsiders, as shown by the survey of sceptics, are not in themselves an explanation of this rejection. And there are very many examples of “insiders” on the climate issue being permitted to speak on climate even when they only have qualifications in subjects irrelevant to climate. Notable examples are Paul Nurse, a geneticist, Mark Walpol both of whose qualifications are in the medical area and neither of whom have any relevant qualification or experience on climate or energy. This is to be compared to sceptics such as Mr Haseler, a physicist, Chairman of the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum who has been involved in energy and climate for more than a decade and Mr Montford who is a chemist and likewise has been involved in climate for a considerable period.

To illustrate the double standards present, for many years, the BBC repeatedly allowed those like the unqualified “scientist” Paul Nurse to comment not only on climate which is an area outside his competence but also on the views and motivations of sceptics. The BBC have a legal obligation under their charter to be impartial, but for many years, sceptics like Mr Haseler or Mr Montford were not allowed to be heard, not on the science for which they were undoubtedly far more qualified than those they allowed to comment, but even on the actual views of sceptics – a subject for which they were undoubtedly some of the world’s experts.

Thus the rational for denying access by qualified sceptics, was not based on qualification, nor on scientific knowledge, nor even knowledge of the subject (particularly when the views of sceptics were being produced), instead it was purely and simply the false demarcation of some individuals as “scientists” – a term used not to mean scientific qualification – but instead membership of the academic tribe.

And these incidents are not trivial. For example Phil Jones was ruled to have broken UK FOI legislation when he rejected sceptics FOI requests. Peter Gleick appears to have broken US laws in his attacks on the Heartland Institute. The BBC have conspired with academics to break UK law in the form of the legally binding BBC charter. This shows a repeated pattern of behaviour of what would otherwise be thought of as law-abiding groups going well beyond the law to mount attacks of the public.

In particular, the BBC case is very noteworthy because it is required by UK law to be impartial. Whilst it is not itself an academic body, it overwhelmingly supports the academic view on most issues. So it was not surprising that it asked an academic (Prof Jones) to investigate the BBC coverage of science. But he was an academic with an axe to grind, because in the very report looking at BBC bias against climate sceptics he then repeated false allegations  against sceptics accusing them against the evidence (see Haseler 2012a) of practising “denialism” or as Mr Haseler put it in his parliamentary submission as Chairman of the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum:

The BBC, who dominate UK media, are rightly known for the quality of their output, particularly wildlife programs. But this strength creates an institution which is excessively pro wildlife and so pro environment. In 2011, after numerous complaints,

the BBC reacted by asking Prof Steve Jones to investigate. After a “thorough” investigation when he did not approach any leading sceptic to ascertain their real views, he produced a report saying:

They [climate sceptic], with many others, practise denialism: the use of rhetoric to give the appearance of debate.

In other words: “don’t give ‘denialists’ so much air-time”.
However, the BBC charter agreement is very clear and gives no room for denying air time to anyone in a controversial subject. BBC staff have no more right to deny air time to religions (even minority religions) they don’t like, than scientific interpretations (even when in a minority) that they don’t like as BBC agreement which accompanies the charter akes clear:

44. Accuracy and impartiality: The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output. (Haseler 2012b)

Here we have a very good example, of bias, ad Hominem attacks and misleading assertions by academia being institutionalised through media outlets by the BBC, and the legitimisation of the denial of legal remedy and due process for sceptics by using the false assertions of academia to denigrate opponents and dismiss not only their arguments, but in many cases to remove them from jobs and away from public hearing.

Thus though their self-proclaimed authority, the members of the academic tribe are able to control public debate and bypass due & fair process that would otherwise allow their opponents to be heard (such as the legal requirements such as the BBC charter requiring  impartiality). Through this monopolistic control, the academic tribe are able to attack groups outside academia with impunity, boost academia’s own power & influence and deny power and any hearing to outsiders. This then legitimises further attacks, leading to an escalating spiral of attacks by academia and those like the BBC on members of the public

Thus we have a form of positive feedback, whereby even a very weak initial instinctive response by academia can be amplified by those like the BBC leading to a far more aggressive response and then a vicious cycle leading to the appalling behaviour seen in the so called “climate wars”.

One model for ending academic hostility

Archaeology might provide a clue as to how the “climate wars” between sceptics and academia could be ended. English archaeologists set up a procedure for metal detector users to record their finds. It is supposed to be a way to record finds so that the information is available to academics. But it is noticeable that no such scheme is present for academic finds. Thus the prime reason was not for recording finds. Instead, there is clear and obvious demarcation in the behaviour. If a find is made by an “insider” they are free to deal with it as they wish; if a find is made by an outsider, they must “submit it” to the academics for assessment. Thus there are two entirely different ways of dealing with artefacts which seem to be different only because one is an insider and the other an outsider.

However, this scheme seems to have largely resolved the antagonism between academia and metal detector users. We can understand this if we see this as a “boundary dispute”. Because the effect of the scheme was in literally submit their finds to the authority of academia and thereby acknowledge their (own belief in) their authority over this area of work. In effect, each time a member of the public registers a find with the academic database, they are essentially saying: “I agree academics are in charge”. And now the public use this scheme, most academics seem to be quite happy to accept metal detector users who use the scheme.

Trying too hard to improve standards and become “academic” may trigger an aggressive response from academia

The Cassandra Effect predicts that attacks will be most hostile when the outsider engages in work that is most like that of academia. This is because this style and area of work is most threatening to their territorial control.

Mike Haseler a long time participant in the online debate on climate, noted in one article that:

I can write an article that contains numerous blatant insults directed at alarmist academics and it will be ignored. But if I write something sensible such as the report of the Edinburgh Lecture by Salby, alarmist academics become incensed and will go out of their way to attack me and in that case Salby [1][2][3].

Similarly, I have have noticed that the blogs that most infuriate alarmists are not those that either themselves or through their comments are most insulting to them. It’s not my blog, Jo Nova, nor Bishop Hill which cause them most angst. Instead the one blog that most incenses academics so that there have been at least three academic blogs set up specifically to attack it, is the one that set a very high and dare I say “academic tone”. A blog that will often exclude comments I wouldn’t bat an eyelid over. Anthony Watts goes out of his way to set a very high standard with very thorough articles, many with references. Sceptics often complain that the comments can be heavily moderated and in general it looks and feels quite “academic”. But it is amongst most vehemently hated sceptic sites and I would suggest the reason is that it looks too like an academic journal.

Although many academics frequently insult outsiders by suggesting their work is inferior, paradoxically, when outsiders then try to produce work that academics should find acceptable, the response is the reverse to that expected. As such it appears to steps over this invisible line climate academics want draw between the academic “them” and lay “outsider” so that paradoxically the best work – that work which is most perceived to step over this invisible boundary – often receives the most hostile and vitriolic attacks.

So, for example, Anthony Watts sets a very high standard at WattsUpWithThat so that the articles are usually very polished and have a distinctly scientific or academic feel to them. However, no other blog is so hated by those on the “academic” side. Thus it seems that the harder Mr Watts tries to improve the standard and become “acceptable” in quality and appearance so that WattsUpWithThat might pass as an academic journal, the more he is crossing the boundary into “academic” territory and so becoming a direct threat to them.

The Internet

The rise of the internet, whilst not changing any boundary itself, has created many more opportunities for outsiders to publish their own work on line so bypassing previous “gate keepers” in academia. Before the internet numerous gate keepers effectively excluded large numbers from public discussion. These include peer-review panels in academia, journalists who would only deal with “credible” academics, or book publishers who would shy away from works from outsider academia often denigrated as: “pseudo-science”. Hitherto these gatekeepers largely ensured that non-academics were unable to publish on academic topics and this severely limited the opportunity to invade academic “territory”. Or, if this did occur, various methods appeared to be employed to denigrate the outsider by categorising them for example in science, as  “pseudo-science”, or “conspiracy ideationists” or similar concepts used by academia to dismiss all the work of outsiders – whether no matter the quality – as cranks.

The internet changed that. Suddenly bloggers could post on any topic they chose. Many were just idle chit-chat, but some like sceptics were interested in areas that academia considered to be “theirs”. This has undoubtedly led to many conflicts. Archaeology was one, climate another, but there are no doubt many others.

In the past, academia would respond by either completely ignoring such works, or if they could not ignore them, they would attack them by undermining their credibility using such concepts as “conspiracy theory”. This was a natural and dare I say entirely predictable response of the “academic-ape”: their territory was invaded and so this inevitably triggered the ape-like instinctive response to invasion of a territory.

However, the rise of the internet has massively increased this tension between academia and outsider. Firstly because outsiders are far more able to publish, and secondly without the “gatekeepers” that used to help academia in publishing,  academics now have no control over this content in “their” areas. In areas of huge public interest, this has resulted in intense hostile and largely unproductive conflict.

Organisational Structures

Very few if any of those involved on the on-line debate on climate are part of any organised group. Likewise, while a few metal detector groups flourish, many of those who participate in the hobby are isolated individuals or small groups of friends with no formal structure. Thus outsiders tend to be disorganised small poorly funded groups or individuals engaged in a hobby whose lack of organisation provides them little social and political clout.

In contrast to the outsiders, academia is highly regulated, extremely well organised and well funded; it is integrated into the political and social control mechanisms of society allowing it to organise highly effective actions often bringing in outside actors like politicians to target the perceived intruders into “their” domain.

As outsiders lack the organisational structure by which they as groups could engage in meaningful dialogue with academia, calls by academics to climate  sceptic or other outsiders to “engage” with them appear, in this context to be merely a form of gesture politics. Thus, it seems that such calls are not aimed at the outsider, but instead they appear to be postures intended to carry favour with friendly political & social and media elites spoken with the intention of gaining support from these elites for further attacks against the threatening outsider.

Where academia has accommodated outsiders it appears to require that outsiders submit in some way to academic control in a manner similar to a vassal in the feudal system. Such submission appears be a form of ritual humiliation of the the outsider, by which they acquiesce to the power and authority of academia over the subject and validate the unequal power relationship.

Thus calls for “tolerance” seem instead to be demands by academia for submission by outsiders. Threats to “get off our turf” and acts like demanding outsider work should be submitted to peer review, may be compared to that of feudal lord requiring a vassal to bow down and pay homage to their lord and master.


The Cassandra Effect tells us that academia creates an effective boundary around what it considers “its” area of work and that it polices this boundary so as to exclude the outsider and enforce compliance of insiders. Outsiders crossing this boundary are met with a response that is largely that of the “Academic ape”: an instinctive territorial response enforcing boundaries, demarcating territory and attacking outsiders and enforcing internal compliance.

This threat response appears to be heightened when three conditions exists.

First whereas doctors or external paid consultants are tolerated by academia, academia appears to respond most aggressively against altruistic outsiders who give their labour freely. It is suggested that the reason for this is that when outsiders “work for free”, they not only threaten the academics perceived territory, but also undermine the economic value of academia, thus threatening their livelihood & prestige.

Second, outsiders who have a high level of qualification and wider experience than academia are seen as more of a potential threat and therefore the reaction is all the more hostile.

And thirdly, when outsiders formulate their contributions in the style, language and format suggestive of academic work, this in itself signals an incursion into the academic territory.

Thus, whilst academics often reject external work as being of poor quality, perversely, far from eliciting the expected  intellectual response expected, work of the highest calibre by those most qualified and freely given, is most likely to be treated as a direct threat and stimulate the most hostile response.

Such disputes appear to rise particularly after the rise of the internet, and archaeology and climate are notable examples.

However, unlike climate which as of present is still an area of much hostility,  archaeology, through the Portable Antiquity Scheme seems to have largely resolved the boundary dispute by creating a form of ritualistic submission of the finds from outsiders to the authority of academics. This “submission” seems to have satisfied the “academic ape” allowing fairly harmonious relations.

This suggests that similarly, if those engaged in climate were to subject their work to “submissively” to academia so that academia felt it had control and authority, then those engaged in climate would similarly tolerate these outsiders “treading on their turf”. However, it seems unlikely that climate sceptics would willingly tolerate such an arrangement.

This appears to suggest that climate will continue to be an area of hostile interactions between insider and outsider and indeed, as outsiders are a mixed bag with no organisation or leadership, it appears that any move toward better relations in the area of climate would need to come from greater toleration by academia.


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91 Responses to The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia

  1. James B McGinn says:

    Aquatic Ape Theory became popular not because it had any merit but because it’s alternative, the Savanna Ape Theory (a theory that continues to be accepted) was (and still is) so incredibly poor. So I don’t think AAT is a good example that makes your case about academia being close minded. Because AAT did get extensive consideration. Here is a better example of a viable theory of human origins that actually makes sense but was completely ignored:!searchin/sci.anthropology.paleo/Important$20Details$20of$20Ecological$20Gatekeeper$20Hypothesis/sci.anthropology.paleo/8jZzd7lNW4A/MytkxDx4Q0gJ

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      If there had been goodwill in academia and the aquatic ape theory were produced by one of their own number, I’m sure they would have build on the idea and in a modified form it would now be part of the generally accepted view of evolution – and not necessarily contradicting the Savanna theory.

      However, because it came from outwith academia, we see the shutters going down, a move to characterise it in its most extreme and therefore most easily rejected form. And the result is that an undoubtedly good theory that is true in at least part (as later evidence that all apes are more aquatic than thought at the time shows), has been rejected out of hand.

      In other words, I think the difference is between a virtuous cycle of inclusion and consideration, and a vicious cycle of ostracisation and rejection.

      Which strongly suggests that out there in the wilderness outside academia lies a huge number of very excellent pieces of work which have been rejected purely because they came from outside academia. That could include solutions to anti-biotic resistance, understanding of Islamic terrorism – or a host of really important information that could dramatically improve out lives but which the instinctive rejection by “academic ape” has caused to be rejected.

      • James B McGinn says:

        Both AAT and SAT are poor theories that only look good when compared against each other. Hominid evolution took place in a garden habitat at well watered localities in a greater habitat that had a significant and deadly dry season:!searchin/sci.anthropology.paleo/earliest$20agriculture

        And, well, as a person that is trying to bring meteorology, kicking and screaming, from the 19th century all the way to the 21st century, I definitely agree with the sentiment you expressed in your last paragraph.

        • One of the oddities of evolution, is that features may evolve, not because they are generally useful, but because they are useful at key times of the year. So, as a simple example, wilderbeast do not need to be able to swim – except for a few short matter of minutes – so, almost all their life is out of water – yet they can still swim, because swimming is such a key to success as it unlocks new pastures.

          But, I think there are definite signs that humans were aquatic in some way. However, it just needs individuals to find food in the water at a critical part of the year and features assisting in the water would develop.

          However, strangely I think fire and water are very similar kinds of environments in the sense that an upright gait and lack of hair would be beneficial to both dry-season savannah where fire was a source of food and wet-season savannah where water was the source of food

          On meteorology – the omens suggest that changes in moisture content were responsible for the massive “hard stop” in global warming that occurred at the end of ice-age. This is the one last piece that I feel needs improving. All I really know is that there is some kind of massive negative feedback that kicks in just above our current temperature. Any ideas?

          • James B McGinn says:

            I certainly agree that the only way to make sense of hominid evolution was that they resided in the context of a source of clean water (and food) and even guarded it from other species as a larger strategy to survive the deadly dry season.

            Along these lines, did you know that there is some controversy about the function of “hand” axes that turn up in great quantity in the geologic record:

            . . . some kind of massive negative feedback that kicks in just above our current temperature. Any ideas?

            James McGinn;
            I don’t have any ideas that haven’t been thoroughly discussed. I would only emphasize the importance of having a fundamental understanding of H2O. It is easily the most underestimated and misunderstood element in the environmental sciences:

  2. johnosullivan says:

    Sad that an article starting off with such promise in exposing that clique of self-serving gatekeepers in academia then ends in extolling the virtues of the Anthony Watts blog (where pseudo-scientists like Willie Eschenbach publish frequently). In fact, WUWT is a truly self-serving blog that can be shown to be systematically acting with the ‘ape-like’ territorial subjectivism of academia; as proven by WUWT’s severe censorship policy against those highly-qualified experts from the ‘hard’ sciences (with PhD’s) who poke holes in WUWT’s beloved greenhouse gas theory. No wonder such ‘deniers’ of the greenhouse gas ‘theory’ choose to publish and register membership at Principia Scientific International ( where peer review in open media (‘PROM’) is practiced to a more rigorous objective level.

    • James B McGinn says:

      John, I think PSI has thoroughly established its brand as being ultra-conservative, close minded, obsessed with thermodynamics and AGW, authoritarian and not substantive, cliquish, and barely a step up from Doug Cotton in your collective ability to carry on a conversation and bring it to an insightful conclusion. One need only look at my most recent attempt to engage Herzhog, a Phd Meteorologist, on details of the convection model of storm theory to see that he was out of his element on conceptual details–like all meteorologists. In my experience, he is typical of the quality of peer-review on your site. And I don’t see what advantage your PROM process affords that anybody couldn’t achieve on the internet. For example:

    • One of the underlying themes of the paper is that the internet and more general public on the internet are going to become key to the development of science and knowledge in general. But unfortunately, we don’t yet know what that really means in practice. It could mean something like you have or something like WUWT, or something completely different or a little of everything. Only time will tell.

      But if there is one hallmark of quality – it is when people can and do disagree. So. even though I sometimes get really annoyed with Anthony Watts – I’d much rather see sceptics disagreeing than seeing the stifling conformity that is now endemic in academia.

      • James B McGinn says:

        I have some understanding of thermodynamics. Some of it I learned in college some of it I picked up casually over the years. One thing about thermodynamics is that once you understand it you can apply it to notions like greenhouse effect and its falsity is obviated. What we find is that people that possess this understanding will tell us about it. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. Then they will tell us again. And . . . ad infinitum.

        It would seem that none of them has much expertise in anything else. They have one tool and they found one big problem, global warming, and they want to hammer away on it over and over again. I’ve yet to get them to address any of the issues I’m dealing with in regard to some of the controversies of H2O in the atmosphere.

        On the other side of the coin are meteorologists. They seem to sense the ineptitude of convection and latent heat notions of Meteorology’s storm theory but then they stop talking . . . they clam up . . . like criminals.

    • markstoval says:


      WUWT is “luke-warmer” central. They all believe that CO2 does, in fact, warm the surface of the planet by 33 degrees and that more CO2 will warm the surface by some small amount more. Hence, the only difference between a luke-warmer and an alarmist warmist is a matter of degree. (no pun intended)

      There is no way that the trace gas CO2 somehow creates warming and outweighs H2O and all the other natural factors of climate on our planet. Yet the myth will live on. Sad.

      • Scottish-Sceptic says:

        Mark, I don’t think there is anyone that thinks CO2 on its own causes more than a few degrees warming. Most warming is from water vapour and from cloud cover. And yes in a real atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the warming is most strongly influenced by pressure. But pressure is only important because there are greenhouse gases & clouds.

        Whether or not Anthony understands that is difficult to say. But listening to you is a bit like listening to someone who is adamant that the glass is half empty, so it cannot be half full.

      • mark - Helsinki says:

        Mark the calculation for total atmosphere added warming is about 33c, radiative forcing, this is only the positive feedback

        But this doesn’t take into account the atmospheric hydrological cycle which cools the surface.

        If water did not evaporate or there was no liquid water to evaporate the earth’s surface would be anywhere from 40c to who knows hotter.

        Without evaporation taking heat into the atmosphere, warming would be runaway and water could never actually become a liquid.

        Add to that the amount of energy the atmosphere absorbs directly plus the hydrological cycle, the total atmospheric heat content must be absolutely enormous.

        So the IPCC and NASA are wrong, the atmosphere and the water cycle combined gives radiative forcing to keep us from being frozen but the positive feedback is at least twice as great, possibly much more, if we could measure total heat in the atmosphere, I’d like to see that figure

        We cant measure it because of the dynamic nature of heat transfer, we can only take snapshots via satellite, we would need a network of geostationary satellites with multiple sensors covering the planet, back of envelope calculations lead to wild guesses.

        So without GHG effect, we’d be about -19c, but without the atmospheric water cycle we’d be +70c or even higher warmer, calculations give a rough guess of 33c warmer than present.

        As usual, an un-quantified question is ignored by NASA & IPCC, just like natural CO2 is ignored and any other natural factor that may cast doubt on AGW.

        • mark - Helsinki says:

          Obviously the atmosphere uses this heat to make weather, given earth’s weather systems, that is a hell of a lot of heat that is unaccounted for!

    • James B McGinn says:

      All meteorologists are taught to lie and obfuscate on the issue of H2O in the atmosphere. They are taught to pretend to know that it is gaseous when in actuality it is impossible at temperatures/pressures below H2O’s boiling temperature/pressure. They are taught to be deceptive on this issue for reasons that are political–without this false assumption (and other equally absurd related false assumptions involving latent heat) their models of atmospheric flow and storms are plainly revealed as the pseudoscience that they actually are.

      And so, having a revolutionary theory on atmospheric flow and storms and knowing that I had an uphill battle since, unlike climatologists, nobody disputes the authority of meteorologists (which itself is strange since it is common knowledge that meteorologists don’t do experiments, they only do observations) I began looking for allies. I was especially looking for allies that were involved in the atmospheric sciences and that had respect for empiricism more like that of physics rather than the lame statistical approaches that are typical of meteorology and climatology. I came across John O’Sullivan’s PSI. So I sent John a paper that explicated this long-standing intellectual conspiracy by meteorologists (as indicated above). He rejected it. I asked why. He didn’t know why, he handed the issue off to one of his selected peer-reviewers. The same thing happened with his reviewers.

      To make a long story short. John O’Sullivan isn’t a scientist, he’s a lawyer. His peer-reviewers aren’t scientists either, they are engineers and–you guessed it–meteorologists. And the thing they all have in common is right wing political conservatism, not empiricism.

      James McGinn
      Solving Tornadoes

  3. Mike,
    I find your article well written and well worth reading and considering. Some points:
    …1) Seems insulting of Apes in general, and Chimpanzees! Try roaches or armadillos!
    …2) Little is mentioned of the competence of practitioners in a particular field of endeavor, or that of managers of institutions or organizations within that field. Competence and personal integrity seem to be of the highest order in Archeology (the librarians of the past), so assistance in discovery of the past may very well be encouraged.

    Perhaps you can see where this is going with my consideration of the academia in Meteorology and Climatastropy! The brainwashing of innocent children!
    All the best! -will-

  4. Ross says:

    This is utter garbage.
    I love the way they describe the …”appalling behaviour”… of climate scientists. Not a lot professional detachment there. But at least their cards are on the table.
    Apes? Chimps? Yes, thank you, we get the picture.
    You could pick this tosh apart paragraph by paragraph. But why bother. This insult to knowledge just doesn’t deserve it.
    It is simply an attempt (and a rather amateurish one) to discredit peer reviewed science whilst suggesting ‘skeptic’ blog sites are a comparable and equal form of scientific enquiry. They are not.
    It’s yet another example of If you can’t shoot down the science, shoot the scientist.
    As for ‘The Institute for Research into Academia.’ (?) Complete Bollocks!

  5. James B McGinn says:

    I specialize in making scientific discoveries–breakthroughs. Making discoveries in science is something I find easy. Here is my technique which you may find interesting:

  6. James B McGinn says:

    Okay, I just read the whole articles. Now I see what John O’Sullivan’s point is. I consider Watt’s WUWT to be rather pedestrian. Not academic. It appeals to a wider audience. It is run by a meteorologists. Meteorologists are communicators first, scientists second. Meteorologists don’t do experiments. They do observations and relay those observations to the public. WUWT is a threat to the warmers and academia because of its wide appeal–because it is so pedestrian and non technical, not because it is academic.

    Mike, here is a good example of a site that better matches your description of WUWT:

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      The kinds of things which suggest “academic” are:
      1. language
      2. The style of language
      3. The subjects being covered
      4. Terms used for and style of headings
      5. References and style of references
      6. Even the font and colour scheme.
      7. The degree of checking,
      8. the style of graphics and caption.

      These are the types of things that “signal” an academic-like piece of work.

      • James B McGinn says:

        Well, when I think of academic I think of it being 1) technical, 2) empirical (based on genuine controlled experiments in which the null hypothesis is attempted to be falsified) and 3) definitive (attempting to eliminate falsehoods and arrive at truth).

        WUWT (is, in my opinion, 1) statistical, 2) non-empirical (observations only, no attempt is made to disprove a null hypothesis), and 3) informative rather than definitive (open to interpretation).

        By the way, the second paragraph is also a good description of the atmospheric sciences in general (meteorology and climatology inparticular).

        Of course the argument can be made that my interpretation of what is or is not academics is colored by the fact that I am a physicist.

        James McGinn
        Solving Tornadoes

        • Scottish-Sceptic says:

          Just been reading some papers about the holocene maximum. And oh boy are they obsesses with cycles. They just don’t seem to be able to comprehend that systems can be chaotic – and that saying “it’s a cycle” is no more useful to anyone in understanding what it is than saying “we don’t know”.

          • James B McGinn says:

            I sometimes think that expecting people in academia to actually have a comprehensive understanding of the science of their discipline is like expecting a taxi driver to understand internal combustion engines. Very often they are just along for the ride just like everybody else. The fact that they are in the driver seat doesn’t mean that they necessarily understand it all that well.

            Here is another one along those lines. This is from a UC Berkeley professor who basically dismissed the significance of the phenomena that my hypothesis aspires to resolve:

            Riichard Saykally:
            There are indeed several phenomena involving water that are not yet satisfactorily explained, but these are a result of the statistical fluctuations that occur in the liquid.

            James McGinn:
            “Statistical fluctuations?’ Are you serious? Is there any such thing as a fluctuation that isn’t statistical? Do all your explanations involve circular reasoning?


          • Scottish-Sceptic says:

            Re “Statistical fluctuation”

            In archaeology there is a term “ritual” which is used in a similar way as in “this is a ritualistic object”. What this really means is “we haven’t a clue what it is but it must be something special”.

            Archaeologists understand the code: it’s really just a way to have an answer when members of the public demand to have one.

  7. Scottish-Sceptic says:

    This is the same silly argument that because pressure is the strongest impact on planetary temperature (aka the blackbody + greenhouse) that somehow that is different from saying that greenhouse gases are also responsible. The 33C requires pressure + lapse rate + greenhouse gases.
    gases” so it can’t be pressure are also wrong.
    To give a simple analogy, it’s like two people arguing about a freezer … one saying adamantly that the reason it is cold is because of the motor and the cooling fins aren’t necessary for the cooling, and the other saying that it is the cooling fins that do the cooling and therefore it has nothing to do with the motor.

  8. James B McGinn says:

    ” . . . that somehow that is different from saying that greenhouse gases are also responsible. ”

    James McGinn:
    Mike, this comment here got me wondering about your understanding of what is or is not a greenhouse gas. Do you consider all gases in the atmosphere (including N2 and O2) to be greenhouse gases? If not, is there some technical criteria you employ to eliminate them? If you do consider only H2O and CO2 to be greenhouse gases to what degree do you think their effect on the temperature of the atmosphere (as a percentage of all gases, let’s say) is a result of their radiative properties rather than just their conductive/convective properties?

    I’m not trying to put you on the spot. I’m just trying to get a sense of where you stand on what I think is a greatly misunderstood concept.

    • James B McGinn says:

      The point being, you might want to get away from the phrase “greenhouse gas” since it isn’t a concise or consistent scientific term but propaganda term that can mean different things to different people.

  9. schade , das hätte hier ein Superding werden können , wenn es nicht an menschlichen Nickeligkeiten , Intoleranz gegenüber anderen bzw. deren Meinung und den persönlichen Umständen von Michael gescheitert wäre.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      thanks, I’m not familiar with academia in Germany so I’m afraid I can’t comment as to how applicable this is in that context. There’s a very good paper by Garuda & Peter Karnøe “Bricolage versus breakthrough: distributed and embedded agency in technology entrepreneurship” which tends to show a very different culture toward development in the US and UK versus Denmark. Moreover, it is also pertinent that it is a Danish academic who had the self-awareness to recognise these different approaches, whereas US and UK academic seem to believe there is only one kind of “right” development.

      So, I would be surprised if Denmark had the same issues as I describe in the paper and would suspect that German academic lies someone between the open “self-awareness” of Denmark and the “closed shop” “Academic Ape” culture in the US and UK.

  10. In archaeology there is a term “ritual” which is used in a similar way as in “this is a ritualistic object”. What this really means is “we haven’t a clue what it is but it must be something special”..

  11. erl happ says:

    All you guys, blog owner and contributors write very, very well and address fundamentally important issues. Nice and politely. Glad to have found you. Re-invigorates my faith in the possibilities of the internet.

    Surface atmospheric pressure and cloud cover are closely linked. Atmospheric albedo (via cloud scattering of incident short wave) drives surface temperature along with wind direction that is also a function of surface pressure relativity. Surface pressure relativities change systematically over time. In a planet that is warm in the middle and cold at the poles the origin of the wind has implications for surface temperature….in fact to an observer at the surface its the main thing that he observes.

    Jet streams are the strongest winds in the atmosphere that are a property of air density variations tied to local air temperature at between 8km and about 15km in elevation. In winter the zone of stronger winds ascends into the stratosphere driven by the contrast in density between mesospheric and stratospheric air. This broad zone where air exhibits the widest contrasts in density drives the synoptic situation at the surface in mid to high latitudes where climate varies much more than in the tropics. Climate change is change in the synoptic situation that manifests over time. Those who want to predict the synoptic situation go here: So, climate change is tied to the evolution of ozone that absorbs radiation from the Earth itself heating the local atmosphere. It is well served in terms of energy supply because there is a peak in the energy emission at 9-10 um where ozone absorbs. Absorption is pressure dependent so its more efficient at 300hPa than at 30hPa. Ozone affects the lapse rate well below 300hpa in the high altitudes where air tends to be warmer than the surface. Ozone proliferates in winter when sun angles are low and the sun may actually disappear below the horizon. It is at this time that the greatest contrasts in air density in the interaction zone manifest. That’s when surface temperature varies most strongly….and the difference between summer and winter is like chalk and cheese.

    So much for the temperature of the stratosphere being a result of direct heating by the sun……an article of faith almost universally.

    The basic problem in terms of our concepts relating to the atmosphere is that there is an identifiable and locat-able ‘tropopause’ that represents a sort of ‘fence’ between ozone rich and ozone poor air. This notion is profoundly disabling and leads to a complete lack of appreciation of atmospheric processes. My evolving book on the origin of climate change is found here:

    Meteorologists have a lot to contribute but they need the assistance of those focussed on cause and effect and that’s where physicists come in. But the physicists need to be very, very familiar with the world of the meteorologist.

    Bernard Levin also writes extremely well at:

    His interest is in the history of ideas. How did we get into this pickle? Bernie will help you understand.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Thanks. My “brief” summary of the ice-age cycle is now 35 pages long and still growing – and I will admit it doesn’t once mention Ozone or the tropopause – not because they aren’t important, but just because I was trying to avoid going into any unnecessary detail.

    • James B McGinn says:

      Hi Erl,

      I was on your site yesterday. If I understand correctly I think you see ozone as the driver of the jet streams. I believe jet streams are tubes of water based plasma that provide isolation from atmospheric friction and this is what enables the high wind speeds of the jet streams. The water based plasma of my jet streams is an implication of H2O’s surface tension and the fact that spinning microdroplets (the spinning sustained by the wind shear of the flow itself) maximizes surface area of H2O and when you maximize surface area of H2O you maximize surface tension. And since H2O surface tension is itself hydrophobic this provides a slick surface that can move moist air at very high speeds due to the reduction in friction of the hydrophobic surface and the isolation of the contents of the tube from the rest of the atmosphere. Conceptually my thinking pivots off of a statement my Edward D. Lorenz in 1967 to the effect that there is missing lubrication in the atmosphere. Well, I think I have found it. It is the jet streams. And the reason the jet streams exist on the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere is because the boundary must be moist on one side (troposhere) and dry on the other (stratosphere) in order to sustain the spinning of the microdroplets that produces the maximization of H2O surface tension that produces the plasma that spins up into the tubes that are the jet streams and other related tubular atmospheric phenomema, like tornadoes and hurricanes, which themselves are the wildly whipping tails of a much larger and more benign dog, the jet streams.

      For more click here:

      James McGinn
      Solving Tornadoes

      • erl happ says:

        Hi James, You are correct. I think Jet streams are related to the ozone content of the air.

        Are you aware of this site: It enables you to trace the relationship between surface pressure and wind in the polar atmosphere at a number of elevations within the atmospheric column.

        Here is the picture as I see it. It is essential to realize that the source of energy that excites ozone is from the Earth itself at 9-10um and is available day and night, winter and summer. It is this radiation that is primarily responsible for the thermal characteristics of the stratosphere below 10hPa, short wave radiation from the sun impinging mainly in summer above 10hPa with 99% of the atmosphere below that pressure level.

        The jet streams manifest in an interaction layer between the ‘troposphere’ (temperature declining with elevation) and the stratosphere (temperature increasing with elevation. At 30-40° south the troposphere ends at 7.5km in elevation and the stratosphere starts at 17.5km in elevation. So the ‘tropopause’ defined as neither troposphere or stratosphere is thicker than the troposphere at some 10km thick. This is where jet streams are found.

        The Jet streams have two sources. One arm manifests near the pole and the other in the subtropics. Near the pole in winter the entire zone from 500hPa through to the top of the atmospheric column is involved with the strongest winds of up to 450km per hour at 10hPa in spring time. The defining characteristic is a marked difference in air density between cold ozone deficient air that descends from the mesosphere (-80°C) and ozone rich air on the equatorial side of the polar front that is frequently 40°C warmer. That wind strength is measured in terms of the horizontal. The core of the independent low pressure cells within the circulation at 250hPa,(ascending air) is much more extensive than a tropical cyclone. The energy to create this circulation is provided by the Earth itself per medium of ozone. From 250hPa upwards the circulation resolves into a single stream of air circulating on the margins of cold mesospheric air rotating about the pole and ascending as it does so.

        The subtropical jets are on the margin of ozone deficient air of tropical origin and ozone rich air from higher latitudes. The jets manifest between cells of low and high pressure air where marked differences in air density in the horizontal are the defining characteristic of the ‘tropopause’.

        The simplest and most vigorous manifestation is in the southern hemisphere.

        The jets strengthen in winter as ozone partial pressure builds. Low sun angle reduces the photolysis of ozone by short wave radiation from the sun allowing it to proliferate.

        Gordon Dobson observed that Total Column maps surface pressure with more ozone in low than high pressure cells. Paradoxically, low pressure cells form at 50-70° of latitude where the troposphere is cold. High pressure cells originate within the mesospheric air over the Antarctic continent and also in low latitudes where the near surface air is warm. It is the difference in the ozone content aloft (within the thick tropopause) that creates the lowest surface pressures in zones where the near surface air is cold and dense and other zones where surface pressures is high and the near surface air is warm and more rarefied. From the character of the near surface air you would expect the opposite i.e low pressure where the near surface is warm.

        The difference between cells of high and low surface pressure is due to differences in ozone content in the ‘tropopause’ that increases in thickness from equator towards the pole. Where air pressure is low the ‘tropopause’ starts 2-3km closer to the surface of the Earth than where pressure is high. This difference in elevation generates a ‘folding’ phenomenon that is part of the dynamic.

        It is true that the stratosphere is dry and the troposphere is humid. That may assist the phenomenon. However, it is important to realize that the synoptic situation that we chart as surface pressure is generated in the thick ‘tropopause’ where the differences in air density are most extreme and the wind is accordingly much stronger than at the surface.

        In a tropical cyclone that is driven by release of latent heat the phenomenon is generated at the surface and peters out below 500 hPa. But, if a tropical cyclone travels into the mid latitudes it can find an ally in the cyclones of polar origin. However, most lose intensity as they exit the warm waters of the tropics, especially if they cross onto the land. The power of a polar cyclone dwarfs that in a tropical cyclone and it is much larger in extent.

        • James B McGinn says:

          In your opinion, does the energy of storms (all storms, cyclones, hurricanes, tropical storms, dust storms) originate in the upper atmosphere (tropopause, jet streams) or does the energy of storms come from below. Accordingly, are storms pulled up from above with low pressure, negative energy that originates from above or is it pushed up from below by positive pressure, upwelling convective forces. And, in your opinion, are jet streams connected to each other in a causal relationship with one causing the other or are they independent phenomena.

          • James B McGinn says:

            I said: And, in your opinion, are jet streams connected to each other in a causal relationship with one causing the other or are they independent phenomena.

            I meant to say: And, in your opinion, are jet streams AND STORMS connected to each other in a causal relationship with one causing the other or are they independent phenomena.

          • erl happ says:

            James, Thanks for the question.
            The most general reply that I can give is in terms of the energy that generates these phenomena that comes from both the surface, the moister parts of the troposphere and the heating of ozone by long wave radiation from the Earth/atmsophere.

            Three sources of energy
            1 Heating of land masses. Sea breezes, monsoons, summer hemisphere to winter hemisphere movement of atmospheric mass is slow and unobservable but massive.
            2 Latent heat release.. Afternoon deluges and strong winds along the inter-tropical convergence especially over forested islands. Tropical cyclones generated over warm waters, the moisture probably coming from evapo-transpiration from leaves as much as evaporation from the surface of the warm water. Tend to peter out at 500hPa at which point half the atmosphere is above and half below.
            3 Ozone heating in the ‘thick tropopause’ that increases in thickness from equator to poles so that it involves almost the entire atmospheric column in winter. Ozone proliferates at high latitudes in the winter hemisphere and is the most potent source of atmospheric heating on the planet. Influential in generating winds when contrasts in density occur in the horizontal domain (plenty). The circulation so created acts like a gigantic vacuum cleaner with its engine and suction located in the ‘thick tropopause’. Can and does propagate to the surface as a Polar Cyclone. An intense ring of polar cyclones always surrounds the Antarctic continent generating the lowest surface pressures on the planet, as low as is seen in a tropical cyclone at 950hPa. Capable of shifting atmospheric mass from high to other latitudes reducing surface pressure as far as 50° south latitude. Over the last 70 years Antarctic surface pressure has fallen by 10hPa. That indicates a cause external to the system. This is the power behind what is referred to as the ‘annular modes’ of inter annual climate variation. Well documented in climate science but cause unrecognised. Hypothesis is that the stratosphere is somehow coupled with the troposphere because change is observed to begin in the stratosphere. Many try to prove it starts in the troposphere….hence the concept of Planetary waves, Rossby waves etc.

            Wind strength increases from the surface to the thick tropopause and declines thereafter indicating the source of the energy involved. Wind strength increases with latitude, especially in the southern hemisphere which is the archetypal high strength model.

            3 is unrecognised in climate science that persists in the ridiculous notion that the the warmth of the stratosphere is due solely to heating by short wave radiation from the sun. See my exploration of this issue here:

          • erl happ says:

            are jet streams AND STORMS connected to each other in a causal relationship with one causing the other or are they independent phenomena.

            If we are talking of storms result from the interaction of high latitude and low latitude air at a ‘front’ the answer is yes, they are connected phenomena. But the cause is ultimately the same forces that drive jet streams aloft. That is differences in air density in the horizontal domain that can be defined as the ‘thick tropopause’ where temperature does not change appreciably with elevation. Its an amorphous zone where lapse rates will vary between cells of high and low surface pressure air.

          • James B McGinn says:

            Thanks for the response Erl. Your thinking is so different from mine and my thinking is so different from that of meteorology and, from what I gather, much of your thinking is consistent with that of meteorology. The first thing I try to get across to people is that the assumptions that underlie meteorology’s understanding of convection and latent heat are impossible nonsense.


            Very often the things that are true are implausible. And unless and until you eliminate the impossible your mind won’t let you consider the implausible.

          • erl happ says:

            James, have you put forward a concise explanation of your views in relation to latent heat release and the origins of convection….If so where?

  12. James B McGinn says:

    Erl: James, have you put forward a concise explanation of your views in relation to latent heat release and the origins of convection….If so where?

    JM: Follow the link below and you will find more links that address these topics. It is best to navigate to the first post in each thread. Also, be aware that providing something “concise” for something that doesn’t exist is all but impossible. It would be like if somebody asked you to provide a concise refutation of ghosts. Like ghosts and spirits, convection and latent heat are concepts people want to believe in. And when people want to believe something standard scientific methodologies are discarded.

  13. James B McGinn says:

    To resolve the theoretical mysteries of the atmosphere you have to ask the right questions:
    1) What is the role of water in the atmosphere
    2) How does the jet stream achieve isolation from friction and diffusion to maintain coherence over long distances

    I maintain that the answer to both of the questions has to do with a plasma phase of H2O that occurs only along wind shear boundaries and that literally involves microdroplets of H2O spinning and elongating into polymers

    • erl happ says:

      James, I don’t know enough about the physics of water states in the atmosphere to venture an opinion as to any possible role in reducing friction.

      As to frictionless movement over long distances: Let me focus on the polar arm of the jet stream that is the most intense, manifesting particularly in winter.

      The width of the stream and its extent of travel relate to the density gradient between air of quite different densities that are relatively close together in the winter polar atmosphere, much closer than in summer and also more extreme in their density differential because ozone proliferates in winter. The travel distance relates to the size of the air masses. I focus on the Antarctic because it is the simplest case.

      The movement that is the result of these differences in density, that is due to the energy input to create that density difference, is ultimately in the vertical rather than the horizontal plane. The vertical uplift within polar cyclones that manifest below 250hPa lifts air that continues to rise in a single cone like structure surrounding the cold air from the mesosphere that descends within the cone in the same clockwise rotation but at ever diminishing speed in the horizontal (increasing in speed in the vertical) towards the core that is located over the pole. Between these bodies of air the friction results in co-rotation.The uplift of low density air that contains ozone (continuing to accrue energy as it rises) continues to the top of the atmospheric column, rarefying and spreading out as it does so. There is indeed friction across the system and very little water in any form.

      When the polar stratosphere warms it warms most strongly at 10hPa because this is an accumulation zone,the result of convection. The entire atmospheric column is involved in this movement.

      Maintaining what is called ‘geostrophic balance’ requires that the air that ascends is balanced by an equal amount of air that descends. This happens in the main across high pressure cells of descending air in the low and mid latitudes and to a small extent within the polar vortex. This feeds ozone back towards the surface, albeit in much reduced concentration because shared over a much more extensive low latitude circumference.

      The friction is there but it is resolved over large distances and via co-rotation on the margins of cells of different air of very different density, particularly above 250hPa.

      Descending from 250 hpa the jet streams are still evident at 500hpa, although flowing at reduced rates.

      The friction is therefore very considerable but resolved by co-rotation over space in both the horizontal and the vertical.

      • James B McGinn says:

        James, I don’t know enough about the physics of water states in the atmosphere to venture an opinion as to any possible role in reducing friction.

        James McGinn:
        I don’t think you need to know a lot about H2O to make some reasonable assessments about the validity of the convection and latent heat notions that meteorologists want us to believe but refuse to discuss. Understanding the *correct* role of H2O in the atmosphere is the most important thing since it is indisputably involved with storms, cloud cover, and flow (jet streams).

        As I see it, H2O is the main player in the atmosphere and everything else is along for the ride. And even though I can say I know for sure, I am generally including ozone in this assessment.

      • Scottish-Sceptic says:

        Erl a nice description. I’ve not really looked at anything much above the tropopause, but as far as I can see the “jet stream” is really just the shallowest part of much larger & higher fast moving air masses.

      • James B McGinn says:

        The width of the stream and its extent of travel relate to the density gradient between air of quite different densities that are relatively close together

        The uplift of low density air that contains ozone (continuing to accrue energy as it rises) continues to the top of the atmospheric column, rarefying and spreading out as it does so. There is indeed friction across the system and very little water in any form.

        Descending from 250 hpa the jet streams are still evident at 500hpa, although flowing at reduced rates.

        The friction is therefore very considerable but resolved by co-rotation over space in both the horizontal and the vertical.


        I’m trying to envision all of this happening above the tropopause. I’m wondering if this might be a result of the low pressure forming below the tropopause and creating kind of a cavity that the uppper layers kind of fall into.. You describe is as being very energetic but do we know if the energy travels down from above or does it travel up from the tropopause.

        For example, my conceptualization of storms has it that the energy of storms travels in for form of low pressure down from tropopause and is delivered by vortices, that are the conduits of low pressure energy in our atmosphere. I’m also wondering to what degree wind shear is involve or if there is some kind of breakdown in the integrity of the jet stream due ot extreme cold and dryness that resulte in the diffusion of the energy that would otherwise be contained (and conserved) in the jet streams.

        These are just some random thoughts along the lines of incorporating your description with my model of atmospheric flow.

  14. THX1138 says:

    You guys trying to solve weather problems like tornadoes, hurricanes, and jet streams will not get anywhere until and unless you learn and understand the Electric Universe Theory. Tornadoes, hurricanes and jet streams are electrical phenomena, powered externally by electric currents from the sun (called Birkeland Currents). You are trying to use a gravity-only (density, buoyancy) theory to solve the problems, and it just won’t work. Gravity is 10^39 times weaker than the electric force. Consider why the winds on Neptune, which receives almost no heating from the sun, are so much more fast and powerful than those of Earth. Consider why tornadoes tens of kilometers high occur regularly on Mars, which has so cold and thin an atmosphere, that buoyancy could not possibly cause such an enormous effect. It is because of the electrical connection with the sun.

    Here’s a good place to start: beginner’s guide |

    Here’s a more advance place to jump in: essential guide |

    Martian Plumes |
    “When NASA studied dust devils in the Arizona desert in order to understand more about the ones that have been seen on Mars, they found an electric field of up to 10,000 volts per meter associated with dust devils on Earth. The normal fair weather electric field at the Earth’s surface measures between 100 and 400 volts per meter. This suggests that dust devils on both Earth and Mars are atmospheric electric discharge phenomena similar to the electric breezes produced by “ionic wind” air purifiers.

    In the Electric Universe theory, no collisions from bouncing sand grains are necessary. Charge separation already exists in the atmosphere. Without clouds like those on Earth to send lightning down to ground level, the electric discharges on Mars form giant whirlwinds that are part of an interplanetary electrical circuit.”

    Neptune is Plugged-in |
    “The Electric Universe model of Neptune postulates that hot spots, hot poles, hypersonic winds (wind speeds in Neptune’s upper atmosphere are estimated to be around 2000 kilometers per hour), and atmospheric banding indicate that Neptune is an electrically active planet connected to the Sun’s circuit.

    It is principally electrical energy and not internal thermal energy that powers Neptune’s winds. Having the strongest winds in the Solar System, while being farthest from the Sun contradicts any thermal models and convection currents. There are still many chapters ahead in the story of Neptune. Conventional theory cannot be used to make sense of the data. Understanding Neptune might provide information that will help planetary scientists to better understand weather systems on our own planet.”

    Red Sprites and Blue Elves are evidence of Earth’s electrical connection with the sun.

    Electrical Hierarchy |
    “On Earth, massive, diffuse discharge phenomena occur above active thunderstorms, coinciding with normal lightning strokes. They can be single events, or multiple, with filaments above and below, often extending to altitudes close to 100 kilometers. Known as “sprites”, some of the largest contain dozens of individual smaller sprites, covering horizontal distances of 50 kilometers, with a volume of 10,000 cubic kilometers.

    Other electric discharge events that take place above thunderheads are “blue jets”. They are distinct from sprites, since they propagate upward in narrow cones that disappear at an altitude of about 50 kilometers. They are also more powerful because the electric discharges are confined within a smaller spatial volume. Geophysicists are beginning to realize that sprites and jets are part of every moderate to large storm system and are an essential component in Earth’s electric circuit.

    The largest above-cloud phenomenon was discovered in the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere in the early 1990s. Elves appear at the edge of space as enormous, expanding red rings. First recorded from the space shuttle Discovery, the glow can reach 500 kilometers in diameter in 1 millisecond. Elves occur when lightning in a thunderstorm triggers a disturbance in the electric and magnetic fields called an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). This pulse reaches into the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere and expands outward, jolting electrons and exciting nitrogen molecules, which emit a faint red glow. The light also provides the grounds for the phenomenon’s whimsical acronym: Emissions of Light and Very low frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic pulse Sources.”

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      The theory is very interesting, but beyond spectacular light shows, I can’t see an easy way to connect this possible link between the earth’s electric field and that of the sun … and the day to day or ice-age to ice-age weather we get. So, for me the big question is not whether the effects occur, but whether they are significant enough to affect our weather/climate significantly.

      • THX1138 says:

        Electric Weather | | The Electric Universe
        ” “Thunderstorms are not electricity generators, they are passive elements in an interplanetary circuit, like a self-repairing leaky condenser. The energy stored in the cloud ‘condenser’ is released as lightning when it short-circuits. The short-circuits can occur either within the cloud or across the external resistive paths to Earth or the ionosphere. The charge across the cloud ‘condenser’ gives rise to violent vertical electrical winds within the cloud, not vice versa.”

        This view accords with a recent report (17 November 2003) in Geophysical Review Letters by Joseph Dwyer of the Florida Institute of Technology, which says that according to conventional theory electrical fields in the atmosphere simply cannot grow large enough to trigger lightning. “The conventional view of how lightning is produced is wrong.” And so “the true origin of lightning remains a mystery.”

        Water vapor in rising air cools and condenses to forms clouds. The conventional explanation for rising air relies upon solar heating. The electrical weather model has an additional galactic energy source (the same that powers the Sun) to drive the movement of air. It is the same energy source that drives ferocious high-level winds on the giant outer planets, where solar energy is extremely weak. Once the water vapor condenses into water droplets it is more plausible that millions of tons of water can remain suspended kilometres above the Earth by electrical means, rather than by thermal updraughts. The clouds would act to reduce thermals.”

        Global Warming in a Climate of Ignorance | | The Electric Universe
        “A star is the focus of a galactic “glow discharge.” The electrical energy that courses through the solar system and powers the Sun is a subtle form of energy that all of the planets intercept to some degree. Planets orbit within this discharge and intercept some of the electrical energy. Planets are minor “electrodes” within a stellar discharge envelope. The electrical energy is delivered to stars and planets in the manner of a simple Faraday motor.
        Schematic of the Faraday motor effect upon a planet (or star).

        Schematic of the Faraday motor effect upon a planet (or star).

        The electromotive power is deposited mostly in the upper atmosphere at mid to low latitudes and gives rise to fast upper atmosphere winds and even “super rotation.” That is, the wind races around the planet faster than the planet turns. It is a phenomenon observed on Venus and Titan and remains unexplained by atmospheric physics, which relies on solar heating. It is the cause of the extraordinary winds on the gas giant planets in the outer solar system, where solar heating is weak. It has implications for the jet streams and weather patterns on Earth as well. Notably, the polar current streams take the form of twin Birkeland current filaments, which give rise to the enigmatic “double vortexes” seen at the poles of Venus. It is apparent that electrical energy from space doesn’t merely light up auroras. It has a profound influence on upper atmosphere winds and storms. An expert on the dynamics of planetary atmospheres, F. W. Taylor, has admitted, “the absence of viable theories which can be tested, or in this case [Venusian polar vortex] any theory at all, leaves us uncomfortably in doubt as to our basic ability to understand even gross features of planetary atmospheric circulations.” Meanwhile, electrical energy appears nowhere in any climate model.

        • erl happ says:

          In 1920 Gordon Dobson discovered that total column ozone mapped surface pressure. TCO is about 40% greater in the heart of a low pressure cells than in the heart of a high pressure cell. Strange because low pressure cells have very dense air close to the surface while high pressure cells have warm low density air at the surface. So, it is the warming and expansion of the air aloft that gives a low pressure cell its essential character. It is not possible to understand the synoptic situation without reference to the gas that is responsible for the warmth of the stratosphere.

          Is ozone a parameter in climate models. No.

          Meteorologists today recognize that the Jet Streams appear to ‘steer’ the low pressure cells (polar cyclones) about the globe. They need to recognize that the horse is the polar cyclone and the jet stream the cart.

        • James B McGinn says:

          THX1138: Water vapor in rising air cools and condenses to forms clouds.

          James McGinn: I suggest avoiding ambiguous terminology. “Water vapor” means different things to different people. Evaporation does not involve steam. It involves microdroplets. There is no steam in Earth’s atmosphere. Electricity causes evaporation of heavier microdroplets.

          THX1138:The conventional explanation for rising air relies upon solar heating.

          James McGinn: Right. That is a brain-dead assumption. Electricity in the atmosphere causes H2O microdroplets to get pulled up into the lower atmosphere. That is what cause evaporation.

          THX1138: Once the water vapor condenses into water droplets

          James McGinn: it’s never not in (liquid) microdroplets. There is no steam in earth’s atmosphere.

          THX1138: it is more plausible that millions of tons of water can remain suspended kilometres above the Earth by electrical means, rather than by thermal updraughts.

          James McGinn: I couldn’t agree more.

          THX1138: The clouds would act to reduce thermals.”

          James McGinn: Be careful with labels. Meteorologists put labels on phenomena based on their poorly considered assumptions/theory. In reality updrafts are not generally caused by thermal differences. Updrafts do occur and they generally occur more in warmer, moister air. But force that causes them has nothing to do with thermal convection. So calling them “thermals” is mistaken.

        • James B McGinn says:

          THX1138 says:
          Gravity is 10^39 times weaker than the electric force.

          THX1138 says:
          Water vapor in rising air cools and condenses to forms clouds. The conventional explanation for rising air relies upon solar heating. The electrical weather model has an additional galactic energy source (the same that powers the Sun) to drive the movement of air. It is the same energy source that drives ferocious high-level winds on the giant outer planets, where solar energy is extremely weak. Once the water vapor condenses into water droplets it is more plausible that millions of tons of water can remain suspended kilometres above the Earth by electrical means, . . .

          James McGinn:
          You have a mixed message. You say there is a force in the upper troposphere that keeps moist air suspended. (I suppose this explains why [indisputably] heavier clouds don’t fall out of the sky.) But you fail to explain why a force that is “10^39 times” stronger than gravity in the upper troposphere would not also be stronger at the bottom of the troposphere? Why would you and/or EU not follow through and also declare that this same force explains what others (including Mike Haseler and Erl Happ) erroneously refer to as “convection.” In other words, if what you are saying to be true actually is true (and I concur that you are correct) why would you not also realize that this same force explains the how and the why of heavier moist air in all parts of the troposphere? Why limit it? Especially considering that the notion that moist air is lighter than dry air requires the theoretically difficult assumption that clear moist air contains gaseous H2O (steam)–a notion that meteorologists are so embarrassed about they won’t even discuss it.

          So, you and EU are on the right track. You have stepped up to the edge, you have looked down, but you have not yet leapt.

    • erl happ says:


      Indeed, the electromagnetic nature of the atmosphere and its behaviour under the impact of the solar wind and variations in the energy from the sun at particular wave lengths is a vital to developing an understanding of atmospheric processes at cloud level.

      The ionization of the atmosphere over the poles is temperature dependent.Temperature depends upon the presence and vitality of the intake of mesospheric air that is dependent on surface pressure. Surface pressure at the poles depends upon the electromagnetic properties of the atmosphere. There appears to be an exchange of mass between low and high latitudes depending upon geomagnetic activity as measured by indices like the aa index.

      A shift of mass from the pole is associated with a simultaneous increase in the temperature of the stratosphere over the pole and falling temperatures in the stratosphere over the equator.

      • Scottish-Sceptic says:

        At the moment I’m deep in the middle of the ice-age cycle trying to get my head around the various physical processes that go to give us the large scale change in climate. What I would like to know is whether this possible or even probable solar influence is a perturbation to the weather we see, or whether it can cause long term repression or enhancement of the greenhouse effect.

        So – whilst I appreciate you might not have them – I need some figures such as:

        1. The scale of direct energy transfer (if <1W/m2 it can largely be ignored)
        2. The scale of change to cloud
        3. Any potential change to atmospheric circulation (below tropopause)

        For info, when I corrected the temperature curve above the tropopause I found a small but significant change in calculated greenhouse temperature. So, if this electric effect is then a small change above the tropopause, then, whilst it may well have some effect, the scale is such that I can reasonably ignore it (except perhaps for Stratopheric clouds – and it might have a small impact via ozone)

        In summary, I really need an idea of the scale of this effect in w/m2.

        • erl happ says:

          Climate change involving surface heating is a perturbation in the weather that we see. Its a change in the synoptic situation. If ozone partial pressure increases in high latitudes due to a slowing in the intake of mesospheric air via the polar vortex it increases polar cyclone activity shifting atmospheric mass from high to mid latitudes and strengthening the flow of moist warm air towards higher latitudes. This process has long been described as the Arctic Oscillation.

          In terms of the effect on cloud cover its described here:

          in these terms: In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth’s surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the March 2016 —is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

          The increase in 500hPa height pressure anomalies is conjunctional with the shift in atmospheric mass to the mid altitudes. The atmosphere at 500 hPa warms as ozone rich air flows downwards into the lower atmosphere via high pressure cells resulting in greenhouse type heating and loss of cloud cover.

          • Scottish-Sceptic says:

            Erl, thanks for the comments. I finally got around to looking at your article and I love the graphics. I’m sorry my brain stopped taking in any more about half way through so I resorted to looking at the “Pictures”.

            I lover hhe graphs which (on the face of it ) appear to show a massive time constant for the cooling and heating of the atmosphere of about a year and driven from the top. However,I assume the phase delay between the top cooling and say 100hpa (70-80lat) is due something else that gives a similar appearance?

        • James B McGinn says:

          You are asking for details of something that is extremely poorly understood. Meteorologist never did figure out what is going on with storms, jet streams, or hadley cells. And now they are in hiding and won’t discuss details because their basic theory is highly flawed but they can’t admit it. So the only thing you have to go on are external factors like Milankovitch. Meteorologists will never admit that their theory has failed. Convection is the culprit. It is something everybody wants to believe–including yourself.

          Convection actually plays no role at all in our atmosphere.

    • James B McGinn says:

      THX1138 says: 24th April 2016 at 5:27 pm
      You guys trying to solve weather problems like tornadoes, hurricanes, and jet streams will not get anywhere until and unless you learn and understand the Electric Universe Theory.

      James McGinn: I do understand EU theory and it is incorporated into my understanding of the origins of all of these–so, I’m already there.

      THX1138: Tornadoes, hurricanes and jet streams are electrical phenomena, powered externally by electric currents from the sun (called Birkeland Currents).

      James McGinn: The whole atmosphere is a sligtht plasma because of the electricity (electrons) that constantly flow into our atmosphere. This electric charged slight plasma pulls microdropets of H2O up into it. We refer to this as evaporation. The result is a slightly stronger (and heavier) plasma that we generally refer to as moist air. This plasma is slightly stronger due to surface tension of the the H2O microdroplets contained therein. (There is no steam [monomolecular H2O] in earth’s atmosphere.)

      THX1138: You are trying to use a gravity-only (density, buoyancy) theory to solve the problems, and it just won’t work.

      James McGinn: As I’ve been saying for four years now, density/buoyancy plays almost no role at all in earth’s atmosphere.

      THX1138: Gravity is 10^39 times weaker than the electric force.

      James McGinn: Convection/buoyancy is an idiotic theory that meteorologists pretend to believe in but refuse to discuss publicly. They hide behind the vagueness of their poorly considered theory.

      THX1138: Consider why the winds on Neptune, which receives almost no heating from the sun, are so much more fast and powerful than those of Earth.

      James McGinn: A corollary to that is the fact that storms are so much more intense at the poles here on earth, where it is too cold for convection/buoyancy.

      THX1138: Consider why tornadoes tens of kilometers high occur regularly on Mars, which has so cold and thin an atmosphere, that buoyancy could not possibly cause such an enormous effect. It is because of the electrical connection with the sun.

      James McGinn: You are on the right track, but there is an element that is missing from your explanation that is absolutely necessary, and that is plasma:

    • James B McGinn says:

      THX1138 says: 24th April 2016 at 5:27 pm
      Tornadoes, hurricanes and jet streams are electrical phenomena, powered externally by electric currents from the sun (called Birkeland Currents).

      James McGinn: The high wind speeds of the jet streams is I think better explained as a consequence of differential air pressure and the tendency of water-based plasmas to concentrate air flow and to isolate it from air friction.

      So, you are right to mention that electricity plays a bigger role than was previously considered but electricity is not the driver of the jet streams. Electricity is instrumental in enabling the existence of the plasma that itself is witnessed in tornadoes, etc.

      And you are certainly correct that convection plays no role.

      • Scottish-Sceptic says:

        Whilst I think you have a good point that electrical activity may play an important role in weather and perhaps longer term climate, it is vastly overstating the case to suggest that thermals do not exist.

        However, the observation that I wanted to make is that the jet stream looks to me to be an exact replication of the gulf stream. The Gulf stream is an irregular high speed current squeezed between opposing current flows (coming out of the Gulf – not the larger and slower North Atlantic drift).

        • James B McGinn says:

          Most of what is believed about atmospheric flow is based on urban legend that has been reinforced by poorly considered meteorological theory. The columnular updrafts that are referred to as “thermal” have nothing to do with convection/buoyancy of thermally less dense air. If they did they wouldn’t be columnular. One part of the myth is that warmer air is lighter. That actually is almost always not the case. Except in the driest of dry habitats any warmer air is going to contain more water. (Warmer air can absorb a lot more moisture than cooler air.) And moister air is heavier and, therefore, cannot convect. The energy of updrafts comes from above. You’ve been sold a flawed theory. You’ve been sold a theory whose evidence is anecdotal. The jet streams pull the atmosphere along. And water, in the form of atmospheric moisture, provide the leverage of this pulling, sucking effect of the jet streams. And the reason involves water’s high surface tension, not its buoyancy. Convection/buoyancy plays no role in our atmosphere. That is an urban legend the underlying details of which are so tenuous that meteorologists won’t even discuss them publicly.

        • James B McGinn says:

          ” . . . it is vastly overstating the case to suggest that thermals do not exist.”

          The reason yourself and many others believe that updrafts are the result of “thermal” convection is not because you or anybody actually has any evidence to that effect; your belief isn’t substantive. Your belief is anecdotal and consensus based. More specifically, your belief is based on the fact that until recently nobody has suggested an alternate explanation.

          The reasons you believe that updrafts are caused by thermal convection are not much different than the reasons many people believe CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming.

          In other words, you don’t believe it because you have subjected the notion to rigorous scrutiny and it has failed to be refuted. You believe it because since there was no alternative theory you, fallaciously, assumed there was no point in subjecting it to rigorous scrutiny.

          So, the reason you believe it has more to do with intellectual laziness than it does scientific conciseness.

          • Scottish-Sceptic says:

            James, I don’t “believe” in updraft, I simply follow the evidence and the science. And no I don’t read books and then regurgitate it like some alarmist. Instead, I’ve always had an interest and so I’ve many times sat on a hill overlooking a plain and watched thermals develop over a dark field – that is something that matches exactly what I expect of thermals.

            And, I’ve seen videos of hot air convecting, the pattern of cloud formation is that which you see in convecting hot air which is caused by density changes. I’ve also seen electric fields working and you would expect a very different pattern. So, it’s very clear to me that the driving force behind the typical clouds I see forming are thermals.

            From personal experience with high voltage and currents, I know that it is pretty difficult to get much to move – and usually it’ll be pretty obvious that electricity is involved. And to get the electro-static force to work over large distances is very difficult. And any high voltage quickly dissipates (far too quickly).

            That does not mean that electricity cannot have some effect on the atmosphere. And I am willing to consider the possibility of electrical induced winds but I know that any effects will get stronger with reducing pressure, whereas the effect of thermals will lessen with reducing pressure.

            So, assuming Neptune or where-ever it is has a reduced pressure atmosphere, then it sounds a very plausible and well worth investigating idea to suggest electricity in some way is causing the winds there. Also, I’d be interested to know how much it affects our own atmosphere, and purely guessing, I could believe it was the most significant effect in the highest parts of the atmosphere. But in terms of moving the bulk air I see being convected every some when there isn’t a dense layer of cloud … no.

          • James B McGinn says:

            JM: My point is for you to be aware of your own bias. You can’t see heat and you can’t see convection.

            I used to assist hang glider pilots. “Thermals” are not bubbles of warm air that push up through colder air. Instead they are columns of rising air that extend upward even higher than hang gliders go, which is fairly high.

            MH: James, I don’t “believe” in updraft,

            I’ve many times sat on a hill overlooking a plain and watched thermals develop over a dark field – that is something that matches exactly what I expect of thermals.

            JM: This is confirmation bias. It doesn’t mean your conclusion is wrong. It does mean that your evidentiary support for your conclusion is anecdotal.

            MH: And, I’ve seen videos of hot air convecting, the pattern of cloud formation is that which you see in convecting hot air

            JM: You can’t see heat or convection. You saw updrafts. You were told they are caused by convective uplift. Having no alternative explanation you, naturally, believed it. You DID NOT do a controlled experiment.

            MH: which is caused by density changes.

            JM: You can’t see density.

            MH: I’ve also seen electric fields working and you would expect a very different pattern. So, it’s very clear to me that the driving force behind the typical clouds I see forming are thermals.

            JM: Poor logic. It’s not electricity (I agree) therefore it’s convection? My model involves plasma, not electricity. Can you eliminate that? Obviously not.

            MH: From personal experience with high voltage and currents, I know that it is pretty difficult to get much to move – and usually it’ll be pretty obvious that electricity is involved. And to get the electro-static force to work over large distances is very difficult.

            JM: I too consider the electricity explanation to be overwrought. In my model electrostatic forces are only involved over the very short distances between molecules and only to effectuate a weak plasma, as I’ve explained

            In my model the energy of storms and updrafts always comes from above and ultimately connects to the jet streams. (This explains why it is able to maintain a column even at high altitudes, an observation that is inconsistent with thermal convection as the cause.) I’m not suggesting you need to accept my model. I’m suggesting that you need to be tough minded enough to no fall into the mindset that your anecdotal observations are controlled experiments. Because they aren’t.

  15. THX1138 says:

    Around 1900, the famous Norwegian scientist, Kristian Birkeland, performed experiments (left) using an electromagnetic terrella (magnetized metal sphere) as one of the electrodes in a gas-discharge apparatus. He created an artificial Aurora around the poles of the terrella, replicating the effects of the solar wind on the magnetic Earth. He also simulated other cosmic phenomena, such as the Sun’s corona, sunspots, and the rings of Saturn, using other small metal spheres. Note that the experiments use external electrical power! The era gives a measure of how far we must backtrack from the current dead end to bring astrophysics in tune with reality.

    The electrical model of the Sun and its environment answers the question of how the solar cycle can have more effect on the weather than expected from solar heating alone. Because the planets are minor electrodes in the Sun’s circuit, they are subject to the full variation of the galactic electrical input. It explains the simultaneous warming of other planets and changes in their atmospheres. Even distant Pluto (at the time still a planet) baffled astronomers by continuing to warm up eighteen years after its orbit began to take it further from the Sun. Electrical energy may constitute a major energy source for the outer planets. And, of course, on Mars there are no SUVs or farting cows to explain its warming.”

    • erl happ says:

      For THX1148
      Re your comment that
      “It is apparent that electrical energy from space doesn’t merely light up auroras. It has a profound influence on upper atmosphere winds and storms. An expert on the dynamics of planetary atmospheres, F. W. Taylor, has admitted, “the absence of viable theories which can be tested, or in this case [Venusian polar vortex] any theory at all, leaves us uncomfortably in doubt as to our basic ability to understand even gross features of planetary atmospheric circulations.”

      As to the manner in which the solar wind affects the descent of mesospheric air via the vortex, that is referred to as U or the ‘zonal wind’ we have new information, published in January at: indicating a direct connection of U with ultra low frequency waves of geomagnetic activity.

      I provide you with the viable theory that might satisfy Mr Taylor.

      Scottish sceptic. The information conveyed in the chapter on the geography of the stratosphere is provided in a different and possibly more meaningful fashion here:

      • Scottish-Sceptic says:

        Thanks for coming to the defence of archaeologists – who (unlike climate) are for the most part are quite willing to engage with “outsiders”. Indeed, I feel rather guilty tarring them with the same brush as climate.

        And yes, when I did my archaeology course in Glasgow, there was a lot of emphasis on just what you suggested. However it’s also true that if you look at CANMORE you’ll all too often find that this or that artefact has gone missing – but that usually occurred many years ago and doesn’t reflect on the best current practices.

        However, from personal experience and reading their work I know that some archaeologists in Scotland have a really negative attitude toward outsiders – which is the key point. In particular I was horrified by the attitude of those in the Crown office when I pointed out that their statements about reporting finds contradicted the 1980? civic act on reporting lost property. Part of the reason I don’t do archaeology as a hobby, is because I really do not want to find anything I feel needs reporting because I really want to have nothing to do with those people.

        And one person in that office wrote the most appalling report about metal detector users describing them in what I felt was very patronising and derogatory terms (and am not a metal detector user – as yet). So it is not surprising that whereas England has a very good portable antiquity scheme with working treasure trove law which has created a good atmosphere between the public and profession, in Scotland we lack any such scheme.

        The attitude of those in the Crown office stinks, we have what is clearly an illegal position and I can find no legitimate basis for the claim archaeology belongs to the crown so the law needs reform as I and most other Scottish people who actually understand the law would instinctively reject the whole notion of English Crown ownership.

        So, basically I’m not surprised that most metal detector users in Scotland don’t want to have anything to do with officialdom in Scotland (as shown by the absence of official clubs – particularly around Glasgow where there are none – but prevalence of discussion on the internet).

        So, I hate to think how many key artefacts have disappeared from Scotland without any record whatsoever to assist the understanding of our history.

  16. M E Emberson says:

    Just passing through your interesting blog. I noticed that you would seem to think that archaeologists don’t report all the finds on the excavation. As someone who spent many hours in my youth numbering and recording small pieces of pottery and bagging and labelling small pieces of flint , I feel I must correct you. The position of each find was also recorded to the millimetre in excavations laid out in squares by survey equipment. The sections through the earth as each layer was removed by trowel was also drawn and sometimes photographed. Archaeology, it has been said, is a forensic discipline. So the idea that metal detectorists should also indicate carefully where they found metal objects is a good one and adds to the knowledge of the past actions which have left material traces.

    I graduated from Edinburgh University many years ago but I think the techniques are still the same. No guess work allowed.

  17. Your Kindle book…has a formatting problem…all text inside some form of quotes…joins up with no spaces between words..

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Thanks, I don’t own a kindle (10 years without any pay) but I’ll see whether I can sort that out.

  18. Mark - Helsinki says:

    For me it is rather simplistic

    Academics consider themselves of the neo cortex and deny any chance their are influenced by the primitive part of the brain called the reptilian brain. Arrogance is a mechanism whereby one shields them self from self examination in the presence of others, ego prevents this, what appears to be arrogance is in fact a self preserving mechanism.

    To actually resist such one must see one’s self in the 3rd person perspective and actively resist ego and primitive responses, at every turn one must challenge one’s self to overcome primitive responses. Academics deny to themselves they are prone to such influences, and as a result suffer from those primitive responses

    To resist such responses, one must critically examine one’s own thoughts and divide emotion and ego from logic.

    If one denies the existence of one’s own primitive responses, one therefor cannot prevent one’s own primitive responses

    I could probably have made this more clear, sorry

    • Mark - Helsinki says:

      In this context, one academic can be logical at one instance and primitive at the next, if every response is not weighed and examined, our primitive responses are responsible for our survival after all and are integral in most decisions to varying intensities depending on the measure of threat to ego and survival.

      I am not academic, I left school at 13 yo

    • Mark - Helsinki says:

      Denying one’s own primitive responses, I consider this a primitive response, to protect a core belief, to protect ego

    • Mark - Helsinki says:

      A driver of such primitive response could be the short finite lifespan of a human. Success is sought within that lifetime, rather than a search for truth which may have to be handed on generation after generation, history shows us scientists who operated in this way, the giants we stand on the shoulders of, giants that are far and few between in modern times.

      This is why science suffers in my opinion. Ego, the very thing academics will deny drives them.

  19. mark - Helsinki says:

    One does not have to be academic to figure out anything. That is a fallacy, how you think is relevant.

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