David And Goliath? Nicola Scafetta Fires Back At Harsh Willis Eschenbach’s Criticism!

UPDATE: wnd.com/2014/01/the-thermageddon-cult-9

Like a number of readers, I’m also quite puzzled by what is going on here. Maybe someone could fill us in on the background. It’s not the kind behavior we want to have. We’d prefer to see the long knives returned to the drawer.

Again I’m not taking any sides. But I will say I don’t like watching big guys beat up on little ones. Science is supposed to stay factual with emotions left aside as best as possible. If a scientist has something to say, I say let him get it out there on the table so everyone can see it and decide for himself.

Nicola posted a reader comment that I’m upgrading to a post. It can’t be that all a man has left to defend his reputation with (which he’s worked so hard for) is to post reader comments at a little blog like mine. Nicola’s comment is being upgraded to a post. His science is just as entitled to go through the process of rigorous review as anyone else’s, and to be so without petty attacks from the hinterhalt.

Maybe his science is completely wrong, but let it go through the process. What’s the BFD?

Nicola’s comment:


Because Pierre has linked above a new post on WUWT of Willis that criticizes one paper of the collection, I think that also the readers here might be interested in my comment.

Willis appears to criticize a paper without reading it. He picks up something extrapolated from the context like the famous guy jumping around the Bible who concludes that It says “There is no God.” while the full sentence says: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

The same graph discussed above by Willis was discussed with Anthony’s great approval here and here.

The graph is essentially taken from Shaviv (2008): Shaviv, N. J.: Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing, J. Geophys. Res., 113, A11101, doi:1029/2007JA012989, 2008. It has been properly referenced by Solheim and where a lot of details are present. Solheim does not need to repeat the details given the fact that those are in the referenced work.

The uncertainty noted by some above is also discussed in Solheim’s paper and it is due to the fact that the decadal climatic cycle may be due to a soli-lunar oscillation at about 9.1 years and to the 10-12 year solar cycle.  This is clearly shown in numerous figures of the paper such as Figure 7, which is taken from one of my papers, which are these:

Scafetta, N.: Solar and Planetary Oscillation control on climate change hind-cast, forecast and an comparison with the CMIP5 GCMs, Energ. Environ., 42, 455–496, 2013a; and

Scafetta, N.: Discussion on climate oscillations: CMIP5 general circulation models versus a semi-empirical harmonic model based on astronomical cycles, Earth-Sci. Rev., 126, 321–357, 2013b.

Willis, unfortunately, has not mastered the work of reading a scientific paper.

Is this all your science, Willis?”


One last note. One factor that motivated me to get active in climate science debate was having watched small, poorly-funded skeptical scientists and dissenters get dragged through the mud by the huge multi-billion dollar climate change industry. Even if the dissenters had been shown wrong, I still would have jumped in. Without an open and fair debate, society cannot possibly progress.


49 responses to “David And Goliath? Nicola Scafetta Fires Back At Harsh Willis Eschenbach’s Criticism!”

  1. Anthony Watts

    I think Dr. Scaffetta is the one who has reading problems, as this reply to the above post clearly illustrates.


    Dr. Scaffetta really is off base with his claims above. Readers can judge for themselves at the link above. readers should also note, that Dr. Scafetta’s first reply didn’t meet WUWT policy becuase it contained ad homs he was asked to resubmit it.

    Nicola Scafetta says:
    January 22, 2014 at 7:43 am
    [snip – you are welcome to resumbit without the ad homs – mod]

    He did so and what you see above is his “cooled down” response.

    1. DirkH

      Readers should also note that PopTech ran out of Modafinil some time ago.
      Why do you let Annan and the Göttingen tools play you?

    2. Loodt Pretorius

      An on-line spell-checker can help with the reversing of those nasty little a’s and u’s, and stop the office gnomes from messing up your work.

      Unless you use it your becuases ends up as becuase instead of as because.

      Pick the beam from your own eye.. or words to that effect.

  2. Ed Caryl

    I don’t know why it is that discussing climate gets everyone’s knickers in a twist. We seem to have climate change deniers, solar impact deniers, CO2 deniers, planetary cycle deniers, natural cycle deniers, ice deniers, “it’s warming” deniers, “it’s cooling” deniers, and of course the “it’s not doing anything” deniers. For each of those categories we have proponents, of course. What I find interesting is that a proponent of one to three of the above can at the same time be an opponent of another one to three of the above. Of course if you don’t hold the same set of pro’s and con’s as one of your fellows, that person pair are prone to be on non-speaking terms. This isn’t science, it’s a dog fight.

    My observation is that none of us have a direct line to the truth. None of us can know everything about this endlessly complicated subject. Every single one of you that puts forward an idea can only address a tiny area. We are all trying to understand the rules that the Creator has put in place. Don’t expect those rules to be simple. Please respect the attempts by others to understand them. Each of us may have a tiny piece of the “truth”. None of us should claim authority. We don’t have it. We simply have ideas that can be compared to data. If it doesn’t compare favorably, then think of something else.

    This argument between Willis and Nicola is an example. I see merits in both of their sets of thought. Both have points that should be thought about and studied. Deep down, there may be a relationship between sea level and sunspots. Two loosely coupled oscillators can behave similarly to the observations that Nicola noticed.

    The example I thought of is this: Record the sound at a microphone. Transmit that sound as radio waves. Bounce them a few times around the Ionosphere. Receive them faintly half a world away on a poorly tuned receiver with thunderstorm noise and an adjacent music channel. Now compare the received sound to that originally recorded. While still understandable, the R-Squared and P values will be minuscule compared to what they would be if the transmitter and receiver were in adjacent buildings.

    The eye seems to recognize a relationship between sunspots and sea level. But that relationship is distorted by many other signals and energy pathways. Nicola’s effort is just the beginning of teasing out the relationship. The next level is identifying the other signals, pathways, and sources of distortion.

    Willis decries the use of a multi-parameter formula to reproduce the sunspot number. I agree with his criticism if those parameters cannot be linked to specific physical phenomena. If they are linked to specific orbital parameters, then they become specific parts of the “elephant”. They should then be able to predict portions of past data, and also future data. I will leave it to Nicola to produce that work. If he cannot, then he should withdraw his assertions. He may have gone to far, but he might be on to something.

    But let’s turn down the heat, and turn up the light. These papers are now going through the peer review that they might not have had otherwise. This can be a good thing.

    1. Loodt Pretorius

      ED, thank you for a cool head. Did you read about how they discovered the background noises in the Cosmos, the remnants of the Big Bang? Initially they blamed the shoddy instrumentation.

      1. JP

        There never was a Big Bang. An invention of Abbé Lemaître, a Belgian priest who became the head of the Pontifical Academy of Science, it is entirely based on the supposition that gravity is the prime force in the Universe. In 1938, Lemaître was quite explicit that he wanted to reconcile his Augustinian view of the universe with modern science.

        1. John Silver

          Yes, the number 5000 was comprehensible to the peasants by then so they needed a bigger number for God to hide behind.
          Today 13.8 billion seems manageble so a new number will come, it will certanly be more than trillions.

      2. Ed Caryl

        Initially they blamed pig ion droppings!

        1. Ed Caryl

          Damn auto correct! That’s pigeon droppings!

          1. Paul Vaughan

            “pig ion droppings”

            Thanks for a healthy laugh Ed. You appear to know exactly what’s needed.

            I suggest everyone take a hike or go sea-kayaking or otherwise do something healthy.

            Here’s something to consider:

            On the last page of a new article I put forth a (very specific) challenge to climate modelers.

            Multidecadal Spatiotemporal Aggregation Primer:
            ☼ Sun-Climate 101: Solar-Terrestrial Primer ☼
            = Trivial Extension of Milankovitch

            Sun-Climate 101 outlines law-constrained geometric foundations of solar-governed “internal” (a counterproductive misnomer) spatiotemporal redistribution (stirring) of terrestrial heat & water at a fixed, constant level of multidecadal solar activity.

            Those with sufficiently deep understanding will recognize this as a 4-dimensional geometric proof.

            See particularly item #5 on page 3, which underscores stirring & accumulation even with a fixed, constant level of multidecadal solar activity due to shifts & persistence of (large scale) terrestrial circulation that are an inevitable consequence of solar frequency shift.

            It’s trivial and it’s geometrically proven.

            The attractors (central limits) would be the same whether scrambled by white noise, spatiotemporal chaos, &/or lunisolar oscillations (the latter of which stand out clearly in observations).

            The utility of these fundamentals extends beyond generalizing the role of stellar frequency in planetary aggregate-circulation to assessing the vision, competence, functional numeracy, honesty, & relevance of climate discussion agents, including those abusing authority.


    2. lemiere jacques

      The weaker the evidences the more aggressive people are.

  3. Joachim

    The problem is grave. The one with the white hat on is Nicola, the one with
    the black hat is Willis. Willis does not read papers, just skims over them to a maximum half and makes his judgement, like or don´t like. He did it with
    my paper on WUWT [“20.000 years Holocene…”] too.
    He invented the ETI Earthly Thermostat Idea that global temps somehow
    self-regulate, but how, he does not know himself.
    Nicola, on the other hand, developed a sound climate analysis based on planetary cycles. For example, his Scafetta 60 year cycle can easily detected
    by anybody. The 60-year temp cycle spikes are visible for the entire 10,000 year GISP2 Holocene record. Willis does not like astronomical facts, they do not fit
    into the ETI hypothesis.
    Last year, Anthony and Willis issued an anti-cycle post [“Cyclomania”], and
    ran wild as Don Quixotte and Sancho against the cycle mill….read yourself…..
    And this is going on for the past 3 years…really bad. JS.

  4. Mindert Eiting

    Nothing to worry about, Pierre, we are ‘protestants’ (if you want background). Many visitors here and at other sceptic sites have enough brains to make their own decisions. We often do the opposite of what some authors want, and take the ideas of those attacked more serious than before. The truth needs a struggle of ideas. I have noted yesterday that a professional censor is hanging around on your site. Does he smell something?

  5. RC Saumarez

    Who is Willis Eschenbach? Has he published anything?

    Does his opinion matter?

    1. DirkH

      He has published one or two papers in Energy & Environment, I think the author pays 500 bucks or so for the publication and it’s peer-reviewed.

      William M connolley sides with Eschenbach. Guess it’s about time he gives his buddy Eschenbach a wikipedia page now.

      Look at how much more famous William M Connolley is compared to Eschenbach.
      “He has also been active in local politics as a member of the Green Party.”

      That explains his fanaticism of course.

    2. Ed Caryl

      Can’t resist the ad hom, can you.

      Yes, he has published. Willis is one of the brightest gentlemen I know of. His ego tends to get the best of him, just like you, but he is also one of the quickest with a computer. Can you analyze satellite data on your laptop?

      1. Paul Vaughan

        Does that make it ethically OK
        to be a shameless distortion artist?

        A person would need to be unemployed or retired to have time to correct all of his false statements, but it wouldn’t be worth the effort since sensible people don’t take him seriously anyway. He just clowns around, having fun deliberately lighting fires.

        His aim isn’t to make correct statements. Rather it’s to provoke, to stir, to inflame, to cause entertaining reaction, and have a good laugh watching others overreacting to the vandalism of his bait.

        So folks, just don’t react like the puppet he intends you to be on the strings he dangles. Rather go skiing, play soccer, or otherwise pursue healthy activities. It’s easy to resist. Just rise above and let it be what it is below: comical distortion artistry.

    3. Peter Yates

      “Willis Eschenbach has been a guest poster at Watts Up With That since June of 2009 and has had 20 pages of his writings indexed since tagging his posts began in December of 2009 …”.
      It seems that his credentials don’t show any scientific qualifications.
      A Google search on his name shows a lot of information.
      However he has just as much right to his opinion as anybody does, and if a person’s opinion sheds new light on a problem it most definitely does matter!

  6. Roger 'tallbloke' Tattersall

    The fact that Willis wilfully misinterprets and misrepresents people is well known. That he has a single paper published in a journal inflated his ego to the point where he thinks nothing of maligning the integrity of a group of people with over a thousand peer reviewed papers between them.

    The hubris would be laughable if it wasn’t so destructive.

    1. cementafriend

      The single paper was in a special edition of Energy & Environment. I downloaded the special edition from here http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/EE_21-4_paradigm_shift_output_limited_3_Mb.pdf. It is my understanding that the papers were discussed in a group by all the authors then either not further peer reviewed or peer reviewed within the group. Some of the papers are very good. The paper by Dr Noor Andel ( a chemical engineer who is now deceased) “Tropical rainstorm feedback” covers similar information to that from Willis but goes into chemical engineering details mentioning mass transfer and the Sherwood Number (which to my knowledge no so-called Climate scientists has ever mentioned). In this the calculated sensivity factor of 0.19C/CO2 doubling is closer to the mark than the guesses and assumptions of others.
      Dr Van Andel also has an excellent paper “Note on the Miskolczi theory” showing that he is one of the few who understands Miskolczi who also has an article explaining Optical thickness.
      The set of papers is worth reading. It is a pity Willis has not grasp the significance of some of the other papers in this issue. Maybe he did not read them. On my neglected blog I point to a paper he used as a refeernce but clearly did not read.

      1. Poptech

        Your statement that the some of the papers were not further peer-reviewed after the internal review is blatantly false, it explicitly says,

        “Next, EACH PAPER was submitted to criticism by two external referees.”

        Please stop repeating this lie, thank you.

  7. John F. Hultquist

    Pierre opens with 3 sentences. I agree with that but can’t add anything to this mess. However, I am familiar with another such thing as explained here:


    About half-way down, note the section “The 1927 Confrontation” and then farther down the photo with Bretz and Vic Baker. Vic has visited the local campus (one of his students is now on the geology faculty) and, in his presentations, added to the published information about the acrimony toward Bretz and his hypothesis regarding the formation of the channeled scablands of eastern Washington State. Bretz outlived his attackers.

  8. Joe Chang

    I would not have a problem if Willis wanted to challenge to argument that there is a link between tidal forces and sun spots, or sun spots and climate or the C14 Be10 proxy. But the foundation of his argument is that this is a curve fitting exercise and the quote from the Dyson article of Fermi citing von Neumann of four arbitrary parameters is taken out of context, because the Fermi discussion was on arbitrary parameters concerning particle physics. There is no (?) argument on how tidal forces are calculated, and any calculation on the tidal forces exerted by the planets must have sufficient parameters to account for each of the significant planets, and the parameters must match the planet periodicity, mass and distance. There cannot be a correct model with fewer parameters (unless you have two or more planets in the same orbit). So if Willis cannot let go of the Fermi-Neumann quote, his argument will not have coherency.

  9. A C Osborn

    It is interesting that Mr Watts felt the need to jump in to the defense of WUWT and Mr Eschenbach on this site.
    It can be seen that many of the commenters at WUWT on the post on Solar/Tides have disagreed with his evaluation of the Paper
    and his apparently incorrect use of Statistics to prove his point. I suggest that is worth everyone reading it for themselves.
    Two things are very obvious about Mr Eschenbach is that he cannot admit he is wrong and he cannot apologise when he is.

    There is one interesting fact that he is not aware of, the theory of a relationship between the Sun and Levels and Flow of Water
    is well known already and was actually mentioned by none other than Professor Brian Cox, the renowned Physicist during his TV
    program “The Wonders of the Solar System”.
    It did not concern Sea Levels but River Height and Flow, in the case he presented it was for the Amazon.

    I would point this out to Mr Eschenbach but I have also been banned from commenting on the his Posts after he misread what I
    wrote about Him and Konrad and when I called him on it he responded by saying I was calling him a Liar, I refused to apologise and so in the end I did call him a liar by distorting what I wrote. Of course the result of this was that he refused to answer any of the questions that I had asked between my so called calling him a liar and his banning me.
    He uses this kind of diversionary tactic, ridiculing and abusing commentators rather than answering really awkward questions.

    1. Mindert Eiting

      I have read Eschenbach’s paper 22-1-2014. It is a good example, already from the title, of how you should not write a critical paper. No wonder it ends up with this. Perhaps the best response is to give no comment at all. Silence does not mean agreement.

    2. squid2112

      Watts has done this several times in the past on other Willis controversies. Notice he didn’t just comment here, but indeed his is the FIRST comment here. I suspect with a stroll around the climate blogosphere one would find a Watts comment at the top of most any post regarding this topic. … CYFA? .. Cover your friends ass. Been here, done this…

  10. squid2112

    Oh no’s, not ANOTHER Willis debacle. Say it isn’t so Joe.

    This is just business as usual, and it comes as no surprise to me that the very first comment here is from Watts. I have witnessed this pattern many times. Its getting old. WUWT is getting old. I don’t drive by there much these days. Just sayin’ …

  11. Nicola Scafetta

    Anthony links this reply from Willis:

    There Willis says: “However, I just did a quick search of both the first WUWT post and the Shaviv paper that you reference … neither one of them contains the graph under discussion. But its not just that … neither one of them even mentions sunspots once.”

    Willis further proved the case that he does not know how to read a scientific work, he simply jumps around and he is quite confused on basic scientific concepts.

    This is the figure of Solheim that Willis reports in his post:


    Here sea level changes and sunspot number oscillations are compared.

    Here is the figure of Shaviv reported in WUTW post that I linked above:


    Here sea level changes and a solar irradiance reconstruction, which Willis does not know is made mostly with the sunspot number record and presents the same cycles, are compared.

    Here is the figure of Archibald:


    where sea level changes and solar cycles are compared.

    Those who understand a minimum of these things realize that the three figures are exactly the same thing because the issue was to compare sea level changes and solar cycles. If the solar cycles are expressed in sunspot number or in total solar irradiance is the same, evidently. But Willis did not get it, and Anthony doesn’t it either! This is buffoonery.

    1. DirkH

      Thanks for showing the graphs in question. I read the comment but was too lazy to track it down. Willis did not want to get it; he’s got an axe to grind, and I have no idea why.

  12. DirkH

    WUWT has a nervous breakdown. Error 502. Hope we didn’t destroy it.

  13. A C Osborn

    Willis will never back down, admit he is wrong or apologise.
    It is called EGO.

    1. Geoff Sharp

      A measure of Eschenbach’s success as an author is pretty dismal, a few handfuls of citations since 2004.

      If you dont make it in the real world… you can always teach?

  14. Pointman

    If we allow ourselves the luxury of habitually throwing vicious internecine temper tantrums whenever we like …



    1. DirkH


    2. Bernd Felsche

      Reminiscent of Cooper vs Kripke

      But I’d say that the nature of the problem predates any form of electronic medium. The immediacy of the electronic media and the stoking by “personalities” like Connnnnollllley provides little opportunity for tempers to cool.

  15. Joachim

    please think: Why is the FIRST response from Anthony? This
    is not a coincidence but method.
    Anthony has this business model of contracting this second rate type
    Leif for all the solar aspects and this second rate writer type Willis to produce
    a certain number of monthly posts….
    Together they unite against the good scientist Nick Scafetta, feeling
    In reality, peope want the right hand side weather, the ICE and ENSO page….. and not the deliberations of those sad Know-it-all-s……
    please check it out….. offer the same service of ice/ENSO/Weather etc.
    and you will be another step further——Cheers JS
    and you will see the result- try it….JS

    1. DirkH

      Too paranoid.
      I’m incredibly grateful to Anthony for all that I learned at WUWT since 2009.
      This current affair is, well, all a bit too spiteful, angry and unnecessary but still; don’t burn the bridges. He’s a great guy.

      1. JP

        I’m sorry, but this does not wash.

        Doing science is hard, making discoveries is hard, coming up with new ideas is hard, writing up those ideas is hard, even learning the background bibliography and understanding it, along with the historical controversies, is hard. I myself am trying to learn about the basics of physics and wish to read original source materials, so am learning Greek and Latin, and working to improve my German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. It is hard work.

        So when someone comes along with a megaphone, and makes spurious criticisms, and encourages others to do the same, which support the status quo, of new scientific work, some of which might turn out to lay the basis for very interesting future discoveries, then these people rightly deserve all of the criticism pointed in their direction.

        The fact that Anthony Watts organized the highly successful and influential Surface Stations project, and run a very successful blog for the last few years, does not make him immune to criticism. Every time that someone criticizes the status quo in science on WUWT, Leif Svaalgard or Willis Eschenbach, or both, is sent out with his holy sword to attack the infidels.

        In science, humility is of value. In my opinion, especially given the references by Nicola Scafetta to Kepler’s work, this paragraph from Max Planck’s The Philosophy of Physics, tr. W.H. Johnson, New York: W.W. Norton, 1936, pp.122-3, is relevant:

        Among many other investigators whose straitened existence was rendered supportable and even illustrious by science, I would mention in the first place Johann Kepler. Looked at from without the whole of his life was hampered by penury, disappointments and distress: he was “by poverty oppressed”: in the last year of his life he was compelled to appeal to the Diet at Regensburg for payment of the imperial pension, then long overdue. Perhaps his greatest trial came when he was forced to defend his mother against a charge of witchcraft. And what supported him in all this trouble, and rendered him capable of work, was the science he served: not the figures relating to his astronomical observations, but the belief which he drew from them in the rule of rational laws in the universe. It is instructive to compare his case with that of his master and chief, Tycho Brahe. The latter had the same scientific knowledge and disposed of the same observed facts: what he lacked was faith in the eternal laws and so it came about that Tycho Brahe remained one meritorious investigator among others, while Kepler became the founder of modern astronomy.

  16. Nicola Scafetta

    I have just updated my figure comparing the temperature up to Dec/2013 against my 2010 prediction based on astronomical harmonics:

    See here the updated figure:

    The forecast was great until now, the only climate model that has worked!

    Read my latest paper to understand more about the planetary theory:

    Scafetta, N., 2014. The complex planetary synchronization structure of the solar system. Pattern Recognition in Physics 2, 1-19.


    1. JP

      The http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net/ link no longer works. It worked 10 minutes ago.

      1. JP

        Now it is back up.

  17. Per Strandberg

    I have also been attacked venomously by Willis Echenbach. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/20/analysis-shows-tidal-forcing-is-as-a-major-factor-in-enso-forcing/
    I think it is a problem that one of the main contributor and moderator for WUWT has an ego and behavior like Michael Mann.
    I don’t see the idea that a site like WUWT should be open to personal insult. The Climate debate of full of it anyway and we don’t need it. Of course I have no problem with criticism.

    Anyway, I have since worked with my software and corrected a number of problems. As a result I’m more confident and content with the results I am getting.
    Although I haven’t gone out and published my resent results I can summarize my current results as follows.
    Variation in ENSO is caused by a combination of tidal forcing, solar forcing caused by solar wind and magnetic influences which modulates variations on the north and southern gyro sea current systems which are driven by the Coriolis Effect.
    The circa 60 year long climate cycle we see is driven in large part by variations from solar magnetic variations which drives long term variations of the intensity of El Niño events.

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