An unfortunate event at WattsUpWithThat

February 18, 2013

Update 5:40 pm.  It appears that my comment has been reinstated at WUWT.  Thank you to WUWT.  All’s well that ends well.

I have been critical of RealClimate on a few occasions for deleting my comments (see here and here).  These comments were technical in nature and relevant to the posts.  But they were critical of the points being made at RealClimate.

I did not think I would see the day when something similar would happen at WattsUpWithThat.

There was a post yesterday at WUWT concerning the Organization Studies journal paper “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change.”  I wrote about that paper myself yesterday.

This morning I attempted to post a comment on the WUWT post.  I included many quotes form the original  Organization Studies journal paper.  I wanted to highlight those quotes by using the HTML “blockquote” tag, which indents the quote.  I was typing in simple text editor, and unfortunately misspelled “blockquote.”  Then I copied and pasted that misspelling multiple times throughout my comment.

Then I copied and pasted the whole comment into the comment box on WUWT. When I pushed the “post comment” button in WUWT, I was able to immediately see my mangled comment.  The content was fine, but the formatting of the indents was strange.

Here is my comment, verbatim, with the proper blockquote fomatting…

I criticized this post by saying…

It is clear to me that the folks at IBD (and the folks here at WUWT who authored this post) either did not actually read “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” or did not understand it.

JustTheFacts responded with some quotes form the original journal paper and noted…

one might deduce that I had read some portion of the paper. In terms of understanding the paper, the data in Table 4 on page 1492 and the conclusions are quite clear, well educated professional experts with scientific training/geoscientists are quite skeptical of the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) narrative.

Yes, yes , you are almost right about table 4. The point of the paper was the that these in Alberta leaned to the skeptical when it comes to global warming. That is why Alberta was chosen. That table is labeled “Frames’ relative positioning (percent) within their organization and industry.” Alberta was the laboratory, so to speak, in which the minds of the “deniers” (their word, not mine) could be probed and examined.

The important part of the paper, from the author’s perspective, is about “Framing experts’ identities,” where they try to figure out why these experts think the way they do. That is the type of approach that social scientists take – they want to see what makes you tick. That is why the social sciences probably should not be called sciences at all. It is easier for them to make up stories about why people think the way they do based on their “identities” and “relative positioning” rather than examining the scientific merits of their arguments. If you really think that this paper supports your (and my) view on expert opinion concerning global warming, I suggest you re-read the “discussion and conclusion.” Here are some highlights…

Nor is this merely a binary debate of whether climate change is ‘science or science fiction’. There are more nuanced intermediary frames that are constructed by these professionals. Indeed, by differing in their normalization and rationalization of nature, they vary in their identification with and defensiveness against others, and in their mobilization of action.

Get it? They say deniers (their word, not mine) are “defensive.”

Or this. These professionals…

…engage in identity and boundary work – to varying degrees – to legitimate themselves as experts and delegitimate opponents as non-experts, while establishing the cognitive authority of their version of science versus others’ non-science. Defense can result from different worldviews and from identity threats.

Or this.

Our findings give greater granularity in understanding which professionals are more likely to resist, why and how they will resist, and who is more likely to be successful…

… an interest-based discourse coalition may be formed that has the potential to overcome the defensiveness.

Get it? Resistance may not be futile – but we’re working on it.

JustTheFacts, I have seen you do some good work here on WUWT. But you blew it this time. Please take this as constructive criticism.

There are lessons to be learned

So I went back, found a misspelled blockquote tag, corrected it,  added an apology to the top of my comment and reposted comment.

Rats!  When  the second version showed up I again discovered that there must be more than one blockquote error.  Mea Culpa.  I repeated the same process: correction, another apology, and posted again.

Still not right.

Note that none of these corrections changed the content in any way (other than the apology at the top), only the HTML blockquote tags were modified.

At this point, there were three versions of the same comment, all awaiting approval.

Eventually, one of them was approved, but had a moderator’s comment saying that two of the versions had been removed and that I should stop “spamming the thread.”  I figured a human being reading my posts would understand that I was not “spamming the thread” because of the prefaced apologies.  On the other hand,  an automated routine might interpret my comments as spam.

I responded with an explanation.  Here it is, verbatim…


thank you for removing my previous posts. Please note that I messed up the blockquote tags, which made the post difficult to read. After several attempts I almost got it right. Almost. The attempts to get it write (sic) were prefaced with an apology.

However, I was not “spamming the thread.” I sure hope that the “spamming the thread” note was an automated response – not the response of a human being.

Moments later, the approved version of the comment disappeared and was replaced with this form Kajajuk (who I assume is the moderator)…

Kajajuk says:

February 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

[dude . . you are drunk . .come back tomorrow . . mod]

Then my explanation was replace with this from Kajajuk…

Kajajuk says:

February 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

[snip . . i mean it, go home . . mod]

Now, I have seen other cases comments with formatting or content mistakes on WUWT  and have found them handled with good humor.

In this case, the content of my comment was  detailed and valid.  It was easy, or should have been easy for the moderator to see that.   My comment added a perspective that I did not see on any of the other comments.  But my comment was also highly critical of post.  In fact, if my analysis of the Organization Studies journal paper is correct, then the WUWT post author has made an embarrassing mistake.

As I said, I have seen some good work from JustTheFacts (the author of the WUWT post), but he got it very wrong this time.



  1. Anthony Watts is on vacation this weekend, which might have something to do with this unfortunate incident.

    (And what’s “WUTH”?)

    • Dave Burton,

      Thanks for the comment.

      My typing fingers are getting me in a lot of trouble today. “WUTH” should have been “WUWT” (i.e. the common abbreviation for WattsUpWithThat).

      I have a tendency to make lots or typos, and always use a spell checker. But the spell checker indicates that both the correct and incorrect spellings of “blockquote” and “WUWT” as incorrect. So I ignored it. Mea Culpa.


  2. The WUWT moderator assumed you were drunk and needed to come back and post another day.

    In reading this post it seems to me that you need to have a drink or two and chill out a bit.

    It’s not worth getting all hot and bothered over a somple misunderstanding.

    • Charliexyz,

      Your comment assumes that because I wrote a blog post I was “hot and bothered.” Somewhat of a non sequitur, right?

      That is about the same as me saying your comment here is result of “getting all hot and bothered” over the issue.

      I had an important point to make. Forbes, IBD and WUWT interpreted the Organization Studies journal article wildly incorrectly. I don’t know about Forbes or IBD, but that kind of misinterpretation, whether intentional of from laziness, is uncharacteristic of WUWT.

      As I have already pointed out in comment in another location, I have none other than the very authors of the Organization Studies journal paper to confirm my conclusion. The principal authors of the paper, Lefsrud and Renate Meyer, personally commented at the Forbes site, saying..

      First and foremost, our study is not a representative survey. Although our data set is large and diverse enough for our research questions, it cannot be used for generalizations such as “respondents believe …” or “scientists don’t believe …” Our research reconstructs the frames the members of a professional association hold about the issue and the argumentative patterns and legitimation strategies these professionals use when articulating their assumptions. Our research does not investigate the distribution of these frames and, thus, does not allow for any conclusions in this direction. We do point this out several times in the paper, and it is important to highlight it again.

      And they conclude their comment with..

      But once again: This is not a representative survey and should not be used as such! We trust that this clarifies our findings.

      My guess is that the extraordinay misinterpretation of the authors (Lefsrud and Meyer) intention would not have occurred at WUWT if Anthony Watts had been calling the shots this weekend.

      Oh well.

      Thanks for the comment,

  3. Hi Tom,

    If you use GreaseMonkey you get a sweet text input object with basic formatting buttons including italic, bold, and blockquote. You also get a preview. To load it there’s a link somewhere on WUWT that takes you to another climate blog. If I find it I’ll post it here.

    • http://wattsupwiththat.com/test-2/

      The text input object works at WUWT and Climate Audit but no other wordpress sites I know of.

      • Thanks Mike. I will check it out.


  4. I thought of your post when I read “Marcott’s uptick – a result of proxy sign inconsistency” at WattsUpWithThat


    There are three nearly identical post from Kelvin Vaughan, the first two with some kind of formatting error. But apparently none of the three were removed nor accompanied by accusations of drunkeness.

    I have read the Organization Studies journal paper that you mentioned, and I think you are correct. I would like to think that WattsUpWithThat did not delete you comments because of their content, but I do wonder a little bit.

    • Anonymous,

      All’s well that ends well. WUWT restored my comment in short order.


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