Tim Ball: Wilful Disregard for the Truth

Wed, 2006-08-30 16:34Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Tim Ball: Wilful Disregard for the Truth

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATED BIO OF TIM BALL (FEB.05, 2007)

 

The events of the last few weeks have inspired us to go back to the podcast of Dr. Tim Ball's meeting with the Ottawa Citizen editorial board.

Dr. Ball began by complaining about ad hominem attacks on him and his fellow climate change deniers, even to the extent of suggesting that the very word “denial” was intended to invoke images of the Holocaust.

(For the record - for the DeSmogBlog - you can be “skeptical” of something that is seriously in debate…We agree with Dr. Ball's contention that “if you are not a skeptic, you are not a scientist.” But when you start taking money from oil companies to “deny” a host of things that are logically and scientifically proven, you set yourself into a group that does not properly deserve the description “skeptic.”)

Dr. Ball then took issue with the very notion that he is an energy industry pawn, saying, “to my knowledge, I've never received a nickle from the oil and gas companies” (my emphasis). Prodded about who was financing his cross-Canada speaking tour - picking up his expenses and paying him for his appearances - he said: “I made a point of not trying to find out who pays me.”

Isn't that a tiny bit odd? Is there some explanation for this determined lack of interest, other than that it allows Dr. Ball to maintain “plausible deniability” of his energy industry connections?

As the leading “scientific advisor” on the Calgary-based Friends of Science, you would think that, at some point, Dr. Ball might have posited a link between that organization and the industry that entirely dominates the Calgary economy. (The alternative, we presume, is that FOS is receiving all their funding from rich ranchers and rodeo clowns.) Or, if Dr. Ball felt that curiosity was not at odds with his scientific mien, he might have asked someone about the origin of the funding. He might have asked, say, political scientist Dr. Barry Cooper, who helped to launder oil industry funds for FOS through the University of Calgary. When faced with the same question from the Globe and Mail, Dr. Cooper answered that the money was “not exclusively from the oil and gas industry.”

Far from being a demonstration of high integrity, Dr. Ball's ability to ignore the obvious - his stubborn insistence on remaining uninformed on so basic a question as “who's buying dinner, again, tonight” - is, at the very least, curious in its own right.

Still, Dr. Ball continued to object. He said that it is “dangerous to attribute motives” to those on the other side of an argument. Then he dismissed as worldwide conspiracy theorists those scientists who agree that climate change is caused by human activity and is an increasingly pressing problem. Those scientists, Dr. Ball said, are guilty of “anti-humanism,” ascribing to a view that if you only “get rid of the people on the planet, it will be a great place to live.”

Dr. Ball ventured further that the thousands of scientist who have endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports are “anti-industry” or (here's  good one to hurl against scientists) “anti-technology.”

Or, finally, Dr. Ball said the worldwide community of climate scientists are so craven that they have invented - and are propagating - a phony environmental scare in order to fool governments into continue paying for research into, well, into a phony environmental scare.

If there is a latin conjugation of “ad hominem that would apply to “everyone in the world who doesn't share my opinion,” that, apparently, would serve to describe the nature of Dr. Ball's attack.

But the most concerning references in the Ottawa Citizen tapes were those that Ball made in the guise of “expert” - of “educated scientist” - indeed of the first climatology Ph.D. in Canada. In fact, his has a doctor of philosophy from a geography faculty, obtained long after many other Canadians had been accorded doctorates in climatology. He hasn't published a peer-reviewed paper since 1994; and even when he did publish, none of his four [4] papers specifically addressed the effect of CO2 on climate.) For example, Dr. Ball told the Citizen that climate models do not account for water vapour (the most common greenhouse gas).

Dr. Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, responded in the above-mentioned  Globe and Mail article, “That's absurd. They all do.” And several scientists from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis confirmed Weaver's statement this week.

So, we have a situation in which the self-described “first climatology PhD in Canada” makes a definitive comment about a scientific issue (that climate models “assume that water vapour is a constant and ingore it”) - a comment that is, objectively, at odds with the truth.

There is a word for those who traffic in untruths. It's a rude word with a specific legal meaning, and to use the word, you must be able to prove both that what the speaker said was incorrect and that he knew it was incorrect when he said it. We have no such evidence. And Dr. Ball's determination to remain uninformed on key issues is already well established.

But this is a man who was travelling the country, briefing media, politicians and anyone else who would listen. This is a man who was advertising himself, at every turn, as an expert whose views are, if anything, more reliable than the vast majority of climate scientists in the world. To be out of step on an issue so fundamental, his could only be a wilfull disregard for the truth - a disregard that must reflect on his credibility across the board.

Comments

If you say “global warming” enough times and put it in the paper or news enough times it starts to become real, but then again propaganda has that effect. Even worse it is politically correct propaganda which can not be challenged with out being called a heratic or a lunatic. Well know geological professors at the university of Calgary who have long established an anti oil agenda also scoff at the thought of green house gasses. Their agenda is truth in science for the reason that using science as a tool for a politcal agenda basically insults them as Scientists! I have never came across anybody who is an advocate of Kyoto who has ever read one scientific paper. All the information that is brought to their attention is filtered to what they want to hear without any scrutiny. “Global warming” should make Stephen Colbert’s “Threat Down” on a regular basis. As the “threat down” is a satirical comment on topics with out substance but get a lot of media attention. This should fall right in to the same catagory. As I am sure I will get “interesting” comments about what I have said. Understand that I am not a fan of pollution, I try to consume as little resources a possible be it that I use energy efficient bulbs or a smaller vehicle or just walking to my destination. I am also a scientist with a degree in geology and do read scientific papers in regards to global warming. Simply put, I am insulted and disgusted as a scientist for what they try to pass off as science. Its not science when the answer has been determined and now you must find the data set that you like to prove what you want to hear. It’s exactly like what the tabacco industry did for years. Think and be willing scrutanize what you hear and don’t automatically accept what is said. Do your own research, but get opposing view points. You might find it interesting what you learn.
The accusations flying from both sides/all sides of this article and its argument beg the question of proof. I’d like to see proof that Dr. Ball recieved funding from energy companies. And maybe proof of whatever degree Dr. Ball has. Just because its plausible does not mean its true.
Wow. This is really vicious stuff. If the guy is so wrong, why don’t you just have a scientific argument instead of launching such nasty personal attacks? Using terms like “willful disregard for the truth” are out and out libel. If he’s as wrong as you say he is, why the juvenile vitriole? By the way, who pays you? As Bob Dylan said, we all serve somebody.

I recall the big global cooling nightmare beginning from my youth, and now everything has reversed. The skeptic in me has to ask how can the global nightmare go from cooling to heating in one human lifetime? The earth system just doesn't work like that, personal opinion or not.

I have heard arguments from both sides, seen data that 'proves' both arguments, so who is right? I am leery about any UN organisation (IPCC) that tauts anything - having worked for them, I believe my fear is justified. People criticise Ball for being in the pocket of oil companies, but being in the pocket of the UN (i.e. Governments) is better? I dunno. Perhaps if the discussion were less subjective (uninformed opinions & journalism?), and more objective (remember the scientific method?) we'd be much clearer on the subject.

I would very much like to see evidence based on the *facts* derived from the data (once "processed" the same data has a forked tongue, however). Sadly, the "debate" is too vicious in both directions, so there is no real moral high ground here.

If you people would look at the facts instead of idolizing Al Gore, you would realize that C02 has a very poor correlation with global warming. It has everything to do with sunspot activity. C02 rises due to the earth warming naturally, and has an 800 year lag to warming or cooling (geez - wasn't there a global warming in the mideval period about 800 years ago???).

People like you say it's man made because the communists are gone, and you have nothing else to protest, so you protest for the environment. Get your facts straight (and not all the facts come from Al Gore, David Suzuki, CNN, and the UN).

Sincerely,
Roger Foster

Hi Richard,

I just received an e-mail from my professor at CSU, Chico telling me that you were planning to visit and speak to our school.

They are looking to make it into a large event. It sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to attending.

I like you're blog here. I'll have to add it to my blogroll and promote your cause on my blog. Since I'm a PR student and a PR blogger, I like to read as much information as I can on the industry, especially from those who are skeptics of the profession. 

... and watch for a big PR tactics post that we're working on. It should hit in the next week or two.

Man I listened to this and took notes.  He said at the -40:20 mark that the "1998 to present the world has been cooling down". 

This is so wrong 

http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptics/bobcarter.html

 

Then he brought up the global cooling myth

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/

 

then he said CO2 levels have been constant:........ wrong 

http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/index.php

 

Man I could go on all day.  What a hack that guy was.    I might do a full point by point.   What a joke. 

Man, this is why reporters that don't have a science background should be very careful how they report on scientific stuff.  A lot of reporters simply aren't equipped to handle even the most obvious frauds.  And this guy was just that, an OBVIOUS fraud.  I *scanned* not listened *scanned* this interview and found 32 factual errors.  That's 32 things that are completely wrong and can be proved wrong.

 

He even attacked the ozone layer and said not related to CFC's.  Maybe those reporters should read this:

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/images/ozone/20questions.pdf

 

He said the climate change models don't work?!??!  He couldn't be more wrong.  Those kids were easy prey.  If you are going to interview a climate change skeptic you should at least look at the models and data before going in. 

http://www.realclimate.org/figure1_hansen05.jpg

 

In time, I think that climate change deniers like Ball will be recognized as worse than Holocaust deniers. Holocaust deniers don't actually make a difference to the unfolding of historical events; the Holocaust already happened

But climate chang is happening now; and our actions today have a future impact on the climate. By subverting action Ball is worse than a Holocaust denier. He is a climate change denier and enabler.

An earlier version of this post suggested that Tim Ball had written only two peer-reviewed papers. A helpful DeSmogBlog reader advises that this is incorrect. Ball's career output as an academic author appears to be as follows:

BALL T CLIMATE OF 2 LOCATIONS ON THE SOUTHWESTERN CORNER OF HUDSON-BAY - AD1720-1729 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY 14 (10): 1151-1168 DEC 1994 Times Cited: 1

BALL T AGRICULTURAL DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE-CHANGE - KAISER,HM, DRENNEN,TE CANADIAN JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS-REVUE CANADIENNE D ECONOMIE RURALE 42 (2): 212-214 JUL 1994 Times Cited: 1

BALL TF HISTORICAL EVIDENCE AND CLIMATIC IMPLICATIONS OF A SHIFT IN THE BOREAL FOREST TUNDRA TRANSITION IN CENTRAL CANADA CLIMATIC CHANGE 8 (2): 121-134 APR 1986 Times Cited: 10

BALL TF, KINGSLEY RA INSTRUMENTAL TEMPERATURE RECORDS AT 2 SITES IN CENTRAL CANADA - 1768 TO 1910 CLIMATIC CHANGE 6 (1): 39-56 1984 Times Cited: 7

BALL T THE MIGRATION OF GEESE AS AN INDICATOR OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE SOUTHERN HUDSON-BAY REGION BETWEEN 1715 AND 1851 CLIMATIC CHANGE 5 (1): 85-93 1983 Times Cited: 2

Our DeSmogBlog correspondent also added this information:

“The “Agricultural Dimensions” paper (second of the group above) is max 3 pages and is listed by ISI as a “Book Review” of a book by Kaiser and Drennan.

Thus,  apparent lifetime total is 4 probably-peer-reviewed papers. It's worth noting that an output like that would not get you tenure (let alone promotion) at any reasonable Canadian university. To be fair, citation rates of 10 and 7 for two of his papers are reasonable and suggest work that was of use to others. Citation rates of 1 or 2 suggest little to no impact of the work.”

i just found out that a good friend of mine is being sued by tim ball for publicly pointing out some of his, errr, shortcomings.  it's good to see that people like you take the trouble to debunk someone like him.  in my mind, whether he has credentials or not would not be such a big issue (lots of people with few credentials have said important and useful scientific things) if it wasn't clear that his somewhat scant track record of peer reviewed publications is matched by what looks like, hm, let's say an unorthodox view of the evidence.

Hi Richard,

 I can't tell you what joy it brings me to see such a disingenuous wanker like Dr. Ball getting exposed.  Thanks.  I really hope the Johnson court case gets a lot of press.  One thing about your post, though, is that this one paragraph seems a bit off:

"But the most concerning references in the Ottawa Citizen tapes were those that Ball made in the guise of "expert" - of "educated scientist" - indeed of the first climatology Ph.D. in Canada. In fact, his has a doctor of philosophy from a geography faculty, obtained long after many other Canadians had been accorded doctorates in climatology. He hasn't published a peer-reviewed paper since 1994; and even when he did publish, none of his four [4] papers specifically addressed the effect of CO2 on climate.) For example, Dr. Ball told the Citizen that climate models do not account for water vapour (the most common greenhouse gas)."

 I think you are just missing an opening parenthesis and you have a "his" in place of a "he", but I had a hard-ish time reading it anyway.