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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who is Willis Eschenbach?

As of 2012, Mr. Eschenbach has been employed as a House Carpenter.

He is not a "computer modeler", he is not an "engineer" and he is certainly not a "scientist" (despite all ridiculous claims to the contrary).
"A final question, one asked on Judith Curry's blog a year ago by a real scientist, Willis Eschenbach..."
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. Unlike apparently most of his regular readers, I took the time early on to check the credentials of Mr. Eschenbach;

Willis Eschenbach, B.A. Psychology, Sonoma State University (1975); California Massage Certificate, Aames School of Massage (1974); Commercial Fisherman (1968, 1969, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1994, 1995); Auto Mechanic, People's Garage (1969-1970); Cabinet Maker, A.D. Gibson Co. (1972); Office Manager, Honolulu Emergency Labor Pool (1972); Construction Manager, Autogenic Systems Inc. (1973); Assistant Driller, Mirror Mountain Enterprises (1975-1976); Tax Preparer, Beneficial Financial Company (1977); Accountant, Farallones Institute (1977-1978); Peace Corps and USAID (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1993, 1994); Cabinet Maker, Richard Vacha Cabinets (1986); County Director, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1986-1988); General Manager, Liapari Limited (1989-1992); Regional Health Coordinator, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1994-1995); Project Manager, Eschenbach Construction Company (1995-2003); Construction Manager, Koro Sun Limited (1999); Construction Manager, Taunovo Bay Resort (2003-2006); Accounts/IT Senior Manager, South Pacific Oil (2007-2010); House Carpenter (2012-Present)

Granted Mr. Eschenbach has an extensive background in Commercial Fishing, Construction and the Peace Corps, none of this has anything to do with real science.

With so many highly credentialed skeptical scientists to get my scientific information from, I generally ignored his posts and rambling stories.

This was until a post was made by Dr. Spencer correcting Mr. Eschenbach (who did not take the criticism well) and brought to light just how damaging the spread of misinformation by an amateur scientist can be. Unfortunately, Dr. Spencer's warning may have fallen on deaf ears.

The bigger concern is that Mr. Eschenbach either misrepresents his credentials or knowingly allows them to be misrepresented. Since he is so insistent that credentials do not matter, he should be the first one to correct these and I should not being doing his job for him;

Daily Telegraph 2009

In 2009, he was incorrectly labeled by the Daily Telegraph as a "scientist",
But just when you think it can't get any better, along comes this cracker of an expose at Watts Up With That, courtesy of scientist Willis Eschenbach.
Without the qualifier "amateur", this egregiously misrepresents his educational and professional experience and elevates an amateur's opinion to a level he has not earned.

New York Times 2010

In 2010, he was incorrectly labeled by the New York Times as an "engineer",
"I'll let you in on a very dark, ugly secret — I don’t want trust in climate science to be restored," Willis Eschenbach, an engineer and climate contrarian
Yet, he failed to correct this misinformation when given the chance,
Willis Eschenbach says:
March 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

My comment to the piece in the NYT (number 197 in the stack) was this:

"Willis Eschenbach
Occidental, CA
March 3rd, 2010
12:08 pm

As one of the people quoted in the article, I’d like to commend the New York Times for several things.

1. The article is generally well balanced.

2. I am quoted directly, rather than paraphrased, and my original article is cited. This minimizes misunderstanding. I encourage people to read my article. [...]

My best to everyone, and my congratulations to John Broder and the New York Times."
He finally owns up to this misrepresentation in 2013,
Willis Eschenbach says:
October 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm

"...you are correct that I’m not an engineer,"
So why did he not correct the New York Times in 2010?

Daily Telegraph 2011

In 2011, he was incorrectly labeled by the Daily Telegraph [archived] as a "very experience computer modeler" [since corrected after I contacted the paper]. The context of which was clearly as a climate or scientific modeler,
"The study, based entirely on computer models, focused on the exceptional flooding that took place in England and Wales in the autumn of 2000. [...]

Why had this strangely opaque study been based solely on the results of a series of computer models – mainly provided by the Hadley Centre and RMS – and not on any historical data about rainfall and river flows? [...]

In the real world, the data show no evidence of an increase in UK rainfall at all. Any idea that there is one seemed to be entirely an artefact of the computer models.

On Friday came the fullest and most expert dissection of the Nature paper so far, published on the Watts Up With That website by Willis Eschenbach, a very experienced computer modeller.
Again, he failed to correct this misrepresentation when he had the chance.
It’s Not About Me
Posted on February 28, 2011 by Willis Eschenbach

"One response to Christopher Booker graciously mentioning my work in the Telegraph..."
When challenged on this in 2013, Mr. Eschenbach decided to double down on the misrepresentation of his credentials,
Willis Eschenbach says:
October 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm

"So while you are correct that I’m not an engineer, nor have I claimed to be, I am indeed a computer modeler of some small ability"
Mr. Eschenbach has no relevant computer programming experience. He was never trained or employed as a computer programmer, let alone a "computer modeler". He fails to list a single name of a program he actually wrote on his CV (unheard of for a real programmer) that can be verified for their quality and as confirmation of the programming languages he claims to be proficient in.

His computer related experience includes things like training people in Fiji on using Macintosh computers (MacPacific) and using CAD/CAM software (MiniCad) for construction projects.

However, there is extensive evidence that he is a user of Excel and writes macros.
Willis Eschenbach Posted May 15, 2011 at 8:54 PM

"I program in Excel because I’m an order of magnitude faster in Excel. I have a host of specialized functions and macros that let me do the various functions and actions quickly."
Hardly the credentials of a "computer modeler".


Criticism: "There are no degrees in computer climate modeling"
Rebuttal: There are university degrees in computer modeling,

Bachelor of Science in Computer Modeling and Simulation (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Bachelor of Science in Modeling and Simulation Engineering (Old Dominion Univesity)
Masters of Science in Modeling and Simulation (University of Central Florida)

Criticism: "Anyone who follows the scientific method is a scientist."
Rebuttal: A scientist is "a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems." Willis has no educational background or any professional experience as a scientist. The only thing he can be considered is an amateur scientist.

Criticism: "Popular Technology.net disagrees with Mr Eschenbach's scientific work."
Rebuttal: This is disingenous as his papers appear on our list of peer-reviewed papers.


Skeptical Scienctist Credentials (Popular Technology.net)
Climategate: another smoking gun… (The Daily Telegraph, December 8, 2009)
Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate (The New York Times, March 2, 2010)
Unscientific hype about the flooding risks from climate change will cost us all dear (The Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2011)
Willis Eschenbach CV (Docstoc, February 8, 2012)
Willis Eschenbach ICCC7 (Heartland Institute, June 2012)
Citizen Scientist: Willis and the Cloud Radiative Effect (Dr. Roy Spencer, October 7, 2013)
Dr. Roy Spencer’s Ill Considered Comments on Citizen Science (WUWT, October 8, 2013)
Willisgate, Take 2 (Dr. Roy Spencer, October 10, 2013)


wrm said...

A carpenter, eh? Now where else did I hear about a carpenter coming up with some radical truths?

Anonymous said...

Andrew, Love your website/blog. Have appreciated your comments on WUWT. I am not sure what the campaign against Willis E. is really all about. All of the attributions to Willis as being a "scientist" are external. He has a mind for analysis and doing well at it. He's lead an interesting life and can tell interesting stories - in addition to the analytical work. Yes, he can make mistakes but mostly is on the mark. What, really, is your point?

Andrew said...

I have no "campaign" against Willis. My problem has to do with the misrepresentation of his credentials, not his rambling story telling.

As stated in the article, Willis either misrepresents his credentials or knowingly allows them to be misrepresented by major news organizations. I have not seen this occur with other skeptics, such as Anthony Watts or Steve McIntyre. Yet have found multiple instances with Mr. Eschenbach - why is that?

He also continues to mislead people about his computer related credentials which was an initial red flag for me.

Willis does not simply makes mistakes but misleads people into believing he reinvented the wheel with things like his, "Thunderstorm Hypothesis".

Anyone reading Mr. Eschenbach's "analysis" should do so knowing his actual credentials, which include a lack of scientific education and experience.

This post is meant to be informative so those seeking to find this information can do so easily and not be misled.

Anonymous said...


"He has a mind for analysis and doing well at it."

Ummm, no. Willis bounces from one failed "thought experiment" to another. He has no understanding of fundamental physics and yet comes off as some sort of expert physicist. I have watched him argue authoritatively, back and forth with some real physicists claiming to know more than they. Willis is a complete charlatan, along with his enabler Anthony Watts. There is no AGW, there is not GHE, Anthony Watts and his sidekick Willis Eschenbach continue to milk the AGW story as much as they can. They are no better than the AGW alarmists themselves. I can't count the number of times they have both been caught with their pants down, and instead of manning up and owning their own BS, they hide. Anthon has become infamous for banning and block critics of him and Willis, and I'm not talking alarmist criticisms, I am talking about people that are diehard sceptics (such as myself).

Sorry, I spent many years frequenting WUWT, but I can no longer stomache their crap, and Willis Eschenbach (and Anthony Watts) are frauds. They are complete FOS...

My two cents on the matter...

Happy Holidays!
Best wishes to all...

Home Bug Gardener said...

The fact that newspaper articles mislabelled Eschenbach as a scientist or engineer is not surprising: they bugger things up all of the time. Isn't it the responsibility of the reporters and editors, not the victim, to make sure the facts are right?

As you note, he does have a bachelor's degree in Psychology, so unless you think Psychology is not a science, then he has some formal training in science. He may think of himself as an amateur scientist or a citizen scientist. As long as he doesn't claim to have an advanced degree or job in science, though, I don't see any misrepresentation here.

He does seem to have had some experience with mathematical models, although apparently self-taught or informally trained. I'm taking his word on this, but clearly you are not.

The 'engineer' claims are clearly misleading, but as you note he corrected at least one of these.

So, overall, I think you are over-reacting. If you really want to correct his errors, why not a post listing his scientific errors? That would be more useful for any of his readers that he may have misled.

Andrew said...

Newspapers are unlikely to have created those fake credentials out of thin air but likely obtained them from a misleading source.

It is the responsibility of the person misrepresented to set the record straight when made aware of it as he clearly was. And I am certain he would have done so, if they had assigned him something he felt was demeaning.

Psychology is a social science not a nature science. That is not a relevant credential to the subject matter being discussed, which is why "scientist", "computer modeler" and "engineer" were used. I am confident that it is unlikely he would have been mentioned in these articles if his actual credentials were known to the author. Mr. Eschenbach has no formal training in a natural science and thus has no relevant scientific credentials to call himself a "scientist". Though, he could likely get away with calling himself a Psychologist.

I corrected that news article (not Mr. Eschenbach) by contacting the paper after I got into an argument with some of his fanboys over this.

It is beyond idiocy to bring up that I should correct his "scientific errors" when my whole argument is about his credentials. Why is it so difficult to comprehend the actual argument being presented?

M. Simon said...

Just to give you some more hints. In the 60s Mr. E was peripheral to an outlaw biker gang I was a member of. It went by various names but was best know as the Diggers. Peter Coyote was a leader. But leadership was somewhat amorphous.

I gave all that up and worked my way up to aerospace engineer. Instrumentation design was my specialty but I did everything.

Look up - Diggers Olema (where Willis lived at the time).

Anonymous said...

The negative comments about amateur scientists in this post are painted with much too broad a brush and are certainly not the “impartial analysis” claimed in the site’s title. For example, "...brought to light just how damaging the spread of misinformation by an amateur scientist can be." In my experience, misinformation and even fraudulent papers are produced by some professional scientists who have far more influence than us amateur scientists. During the 3 years I edited Science Probe magazine, we never received a plagiarized manuscript. During the 6 years I edited The Citizen Scientist, we received only 3 plagiarized manuscripts, one from a person in an institution and 2 from a Pakistani who copied his submissions directly from Wikipedia. During the years I edited those amateur science magazines, the professional scientific literature had to retract dozens of peer-reviewed papers due to falsification and/or plagiarism.

You also write, "In 2009, he was incorrectly labeled by the Daily Telegraph as a "scientist"... Without the qualifier "amateur", this egregiously misrepresents his educational and professional experience and elevates an amateur's opinion to a level he has not earned."

This has occurred many times during my career, even though I always explain my background to reporters, post it on my web site and describe it in my books and articles. Yes, I am an amateur scientist with absolutely zero academic credentials behind my design of novel instruments to measure the ozone layer, aerosol optical thickness, the elevation of the ozone layer and stratospheric aerosol layers, photosynthetic radiation, total column water vapor, etc. Nor do I have any academic qualifications to write the many peer-reviewed papers that described the results of measurements made by these instruments and my papers and articles about my work in analog computing, a novel method of rocket control and travel aids for the blind.

Because of this work, I often receive correspondence and invitations from people that assume I hold a doctorate. That's why I describe my academic background (BA in government with minors in English and history) here, whenever asked, on my web site and periodically in my newspaper science columns.

I trust that this site will hereafter recognize that amateur scientists have made significant contributions throughout history and continue to do so today. I also hope this site will come to understand that professional science has a responsibility to clean house by ridding itself of those in their midst who practice misconduct, fraud and plagiarism. This should begin during university preparation, and faculty will do students and the rest of us a favor by learning about the International Center for Academic Integrity (http://www.academicintegrity.org). (I am a member.)

Andrew said...

fmims, your distorted interpretation of my commentary was never my intent. I am using that specific incident as an example of why it is important that people understand the credentials of those they look to for scientific advice. My opinion or yours on the relevance of amateur scientists is irrelevant to my argument.

In this article I am making it clear what Mr. Eschenbach's credentials are for future reference. There are many people unaware of his actual background and misleadingly believe he is something more than an amateur scientist, so I am setting the record straight.

Since we are using anecdotal evidence, I have personally had a negative track record with most amateur scientists and believe people have the right to know someone's credentials in these matters.

I am incredibly skeptical about the cause of those misrepresented credentials in those news articles and as I pointed out Mr. Eschenbach was well aware of them. I have read many news articles that discuss people like Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre and neither had their credentials misrepresented. So I am holding Mr. Eschenbach accountable for them regardless.

Claiming that this site should recognize something that is not even being debated is a rather bizarre claim. Please stay on topic.