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Monday, June 16, 2014

Who is Steven Mosher?

Steven Mosher is an English major with a long career in marketing and technology who is known for wasting everyone's time by making indecipherable drive-by comments on skeptic websites. He is not an "aerospace engineer", he is not an "open-source software developer" and he is certainly not a "scientist" (despite all ridiculous claims to the contrary).
"Mosh[er] is indeed a scientist..." - Willis Eschenbach
Unlike apparently most of those who entertain his comments I took the time to research Mr. Mosher's credentials and found them long but completely devoid of any scientific education or experience.

Steven M. Mosher, B.A. English, Northwestern University (1981); Teaching Assistant, English Department, UCLA (1981-1985); Director of Operations Research/Foreign Military Sales & Marketing, Northrop Corporation [Grumman] (1985-1990); Vice President of Engineering [Simulation], Eidetics International (1990-1993); Director of Marketing, Kubota Graphics Corporation (1993-1994); Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Criterion Software (1994-1995); Vice President of Personal Digital Entertainment, Creative Labs (1995-2006); Vice President of Marketing, Openmoko (2007-2009); Founder and CEO, Qi Hardware Inc. (2009); Marketing Consultant (2010-2012); Vice President of Sales and Marketing, VizzEco Inc. (2010-2011); [Marketing] Advisor, RedZu Online Dating Service (2012-2013); Advisory Board, urSpin (n.d.); Team Member, Berkeley Earth 501C(3) Non-Profit Organization unaffiliated with UC Berkeley (2013-Present)

Ironically, the #1 word that appears on his LinkedIn profile is Marketing.

Since he has been a frequent commentator on various climate related websites [Climate Audit, Climate Etc., The Blackboard and Watts Up With That?] his status has grown into somewhat of an urban legend. Yet, he is only notable in the global warming debate for two main things:

1. Writing a book on the Climategate scandal in 2010 - "Climategate: The Crutape Letters" and,
2. Outing Peter Gleick over the fake Heartland Institute Memo in 2012.

While both are legitimate, neither has anything to do with scientific research and both lend to his English language skills. The problem with trying to determine his education and experience is his background changes depending on the source and various positions and titles appear to have evolved over time.

Background Inconsistencies and Misrepresentations

Sometimes it appears even Mr. Mosher does not know who he is.

* In a March of 2012 resume Mr. Mosher posted to Indeed.com he claims to have a "Ph.D. in English" but in an interview in 1999 he explicitly stated, "I quit my Ph.D. in English to become a full time operational analyst."

Source: Steven Mosher Resume posted to Indeed.com

* Depending on the source Mr. Mosher's degree from Northwestern University reinvents itself:

"B.A. English Literature and Philosophy"
"B.A. Philosophy and English"
"Philosophy, Linguistics"
"B.A. English"

Northwestern University does not offer majors in "English Literature and Philosophy", "Philosophy and English or "Philosophy, Linguistics" so these appear to be embellishments on his English degree. If he did receive a double major or multiple degrees at Northwestern University he would have made sure to mention this but never does. (Update: this is now mentioned on his LinkedIn Profile)

* Mr. Mosher's profile for urSpin claims that he was a "Professor at UCLA" but an online profile he posted states he was just a "Teaching Assistant".

* In an October of 2013 comment at Climate Etc., Mr. Mosher claimed that, "between 1985 and 1993 I worked as an aerospace engineer." Yet, in an interview in 1999 he stated his work related to war gaming and flight simulators during this time. He even played the title of his position at Northrop down, "An old college buddy from Northwestern got me a summer internship at Northrop Aircraft, doing operational analysis. That's a fancy term for war gaming."

* Mr. Mosher's title of "Vice President of Engineering" at Eidetics International is misleading since one of his online profiles claims he was "Vice President of Simulation" and "Designed Flight Simulators". This is confirmed by U.S. Department of Defense Grants he received during this time specifically relating to flight simulators. A departmental title like this is also relatively insignificant at smaller companies with only 40 employees like Eidetics International.

* The bio for Mr. Mosher's book claims, "He later joined Northrop Aircraft where he worked as an threat analyst and director of analysis until transitioning to the commercial world in 1995 when he joined Creative Labs" but all of his online profiles say he worked for Eidetics International, Kubota Graphics and Criterion Software between 1990 and 1995 after he left Northrop.

* Mr. Mosher appears to have held six or more titles during his 11-year career at Creative Labs which is rather unusual:

"Director of Marketing and Product Development"
"Director of Graphics Marketing"
"Vice President of Emerging Technology"
"Vice President of New Technology"
"Vice President of Graphics Business Unit"
"Vice President of Personal Digital Entertainment"

I was able to confirm that he was a Vice President at Creative Labs and most likely the Vice President of Personal Digital Entertainment since he was representing Creative Labs at a technology conference in 2004 with this title but some of the others may have been manufactured.

* Mr. Mosher's profile at Vizzeco claims he was responsible for "launching the very first MP3 player". Yet, the first Creative Labs MP3 player the NOMAD was released in April of 1999, while companies like Diamond Multimedia had already released an MP3 player the RIO in September of 1998 and the very first MP3 player the Saehan MPMan was released a year earlier in March of 1998.

* In a January 2010 article at Breitbart and in a February 2010 article in The Guardian they both claim Mr. Mosher is an "open-source software developer". Yet, in a March 2010 comment to DeSmogBlog Mr. Mosher stated he was actually only an "open-source advocate". These are two vastly different things, one is a profession the other is a cheerleader. Mr. Mosher could have easily gotten this misinformation corrected since he was also an author at Breitbart but failed to do so.

* In a November 2010 article in the New York Times it claims Mr. Mosher is a "software developer" but there is no evidence of him ever being professionally employed in this role. On his LinkedIn profile under the self-appointed title of "Marketing Consultant" it is claimed that he is an "R Software Developer" but this is a misnomer, as there is no evidence of him writing new software applications using the R programming language but rather he uses it to analyze data. Ironically, in a March 2010 comment to DeSmogBlog he stated, "I stopped writing code ages ago".

Climategate Role

Mr. Mosher is frequently given far too much importance relating to Climategate breaking in November of 2009 when actually he was akin to a courier, being one of the first people who was given the hacked emails by the WUWT moderator who found them, Charles Rotter, and only because they happened to be roommates at the time. The anonymous hacker had posted an FTP link to multiple sites such as Warren Myer's Climate Skeptic, Patrick "Jeff" Condon's The Air Vent and of course to Anthony Watt's Watts Up With That?, none of which were to Mr. Mosher's blog which had been up since June 2009. Despite delusions of grandeur ["Steven Mosher is to Climategate what Woodward and Bernstein were to Watergate"] and ridiculous assertions ["He was just the right person, with just the right influence, and just the right expertise to be at the heart of the promulgation of the files"] Mr. Mosher was nothing more than a temporary go-between that he used to inflate his importance in the matter. He was never directly contacted or targeted by the anonymous hacker as a source to leak the emails since he was not prominent in the climate skeptic community and it required no special "expertise" to read emails, nor special "influence" to contact people like Steve McIntyre. In the end it was Anthony Watts and Charles Rotter who "broke" the story at WUWT where the anonymous hacker had originally intended. This did not stop Mr. Mosher from making ridiculous claims to have "alerted the internet" to the Climategate emails.

Is he a Scientist?

It is rather odd that the Berkley Earth team would bestow upon Mr. Mosher the misleading title of "Scientist" when he has clearly not earned it through education and experience.

He first appeared on the Berkley Earth website in July of 2012 as a "Consultant" but an online profile he posted claims he started in January of 2012 as an "Open Source Volunteer". It seems once professional scientists climatologist Dr. Judith Curry and statistical scientist Dr. David Brillinger left the team in early 2013, he was quickly promoted to the title of "Scientist" but why? My emails to Berkley Earth asking for an explanation as to what qualifies Mr. Mosher to the title of "Scientist" were not answered. His LinkedIn profile claims he has been a "Scientist" with Berkley Earth since March of 2013, which is the same time he was first listed as a co-author (notably always last) for a couple of insignificant papers (Rhode et al. 2013, Wickham et al. 2013). This is rather weak criteria, considering it would allow just about anyone to use the title of "Scientist", including many graduate students who may have assisted a professional scientist with research for a paper and were rewarded with their name as a co-author. What is even weaker is that his role with Berkley Earth by his own admission is one of a technical nature similar to a data analyst not a scientist, "I am currently writing and maintaining R code devoted to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project."

Sometimes the answer is rather simple. Since the founder of Berkeley Earth, Richard A. Muller, is a Professor of Physics at the University of California Berkeley, it is incorrectly believed that Berkeley Earth is affiliated with the University but further research reveals that it is an independent 501C(3) Non-Profit Organization registered to a house in Berkeley California and completely unaffiliated with UC Berkeley. This gives the organization the facade of a scientific authority when in reality they can fabricate whatever titles they feel like. If Berkeley Earth wants to be taken seriously they should begin by not manufacturing credentials for people who have clearly not earned them, as this does a disservice to professional scientists who have put in the years earning advanced degrees and doing scientific research at research institutions and universities.

Mr. Mosher also conveniently appears to be the main contact for the Berkeley Earth website and potentially maintains it.

In Conclusion

In the end, Mr. Mosher may be very good at marketing (especially himself) but the evidence clearly shows he is not a scientist.

Update 1

* In response to a discussion about his background where all of my comments were censored at Climate Etc., Mr. Mosher links to a technical paper about flight simulators he co-authored while at Eidetics International. The paper is redundant, as it has already been established in this article that he worked on flight simulators at Eidetics International and a technical paper on the results of "flight simulator experiments" still does not make him an "aerospace engineer".

* Mr. Mosher also claims to have been responsible for the artificial intelligence in a 1998 video game Falcon 4.0 but his name does not appear anywhere in the manual.

* As an example of transparency and openness, Judith Curry is extensively censoring my comments at her website Climate Etc. to protect Mr. Mosher who cannot handle tough questions about his background.

Update 2

As further evidence that he is not a professional software developer, Mr. Mosher lacks elemetary knowledge of the difference between the Windows ME (Millennium) and Windows 2000 operating systems.


Criticism: Anyone who follows the scientific method is a scientist.

Rebuttal: Claiming anyone can be a "scientist" makes the title meaningless. There is a big distinction between an amateur scientist and a professional scientist. A professional scientist is "a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems." Since Mr. Mosher has no educational background or any professional experience as a scientist, the only thing he can be considered is an amateur scientist.

* scientist (defined) "a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems" - Merriam-Webster

* scientist (defined) "someone who is trained in science, especially someone whose job is to do scientific research" - Macmillan


JR said...

Why does he matter?

Andrew said...

He doesn't, which is the point of the post but he has managed to make himself appear more important than he should be at certain popular skeptic websites largely due to people not knowing his background (or lack there of).

Todd said...

Why is Mosher's educational background relevant? This reads much the type of attack which the establishment often uses - "he's not a REAL scientist!". Always makes me think of Michael Faraday and the audacity of a bookbinder's apprentice to call himself a scientist - how dare he!

Mosher may be well be full of BS for all I know. But I'd rather read arguments against his rationale than his educational background.

C3 Editor said...


He has always struck me as a jerk due to his style of comments - an arrogance of superiority that just fouled the air needlessly.

I assumed he had true scientist credentials. Based on your review, it would appear the arrogance was just a mask to hide his lack of professional scientist status.

Well done exposing a B.S. artist.

Andrew said...

Todd, Mr. Mosher is no Michael Faraday - who was slightly more than a mere bookbinder (a job he held at 14).

Michael Faraday, Laboratory Assistant at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1813-1827); Assistant Superintendent of the House of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1821-1825); Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1824); Director of the Laboratory of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1825-1833); Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich (1829-1852); Bakerian Lecturer, Royal Society of London (1829, 1832, 1849, 1851, 1857); Copley Medal, Royal Society of London (1832, 1838); Doctor of Civil Law (honorary), University of Oxford (1832); Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1833-1867); Royal Medal, Royal Society of London (1835, 1846); Senate Member of the University of London (1836-1863); Scientific Adviser to the Corporation of Trinity House (1836-1865); President of the Chemical Section of the British Science Association (1837, 1846); Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1838); Vice President of the Chemical Society (1842); Council Member of the Chemical Society (1843-1844); Member of the French Academy of Sciences (1844); Vice President of the British Science Association (1844, 1849, 1853); Rumford Medal, Royal Society of London (1846); Albert Medal, Royal Society of Arts (1866)

Let me know when Mr. Mosher discovers something on the order of electromagnetic induction.

_Jim said...

Just have to say this:

"Will the real Steven Mosher please stand up?" *

There ... got that out of my system ...


* Old line from "To Tell the Truth"


Mike Davis said...

Having "Discussed" weather patterns AKA climate with Mosh for the last 8 or so years, I appreciate your research. I just got to the point of ignoring him.
He was part of the Group invited to discuss climate in Europe a few years ago. Curry was also there so she would defend him.
Ravitz, I think.

Mike Davis said...

I may have lost the last comment!
Thanks for your research.
I have ignored Mosh for years now. I learned to not attempt to discuss "Weather" with Mosh long ago at both WUWT and CA.
Curry defends Mosh because they met at Ravitz's gapfest a few years back. Careful with Curry also!

steven said...

* In a November 2010 article in the New York Times it claims Mr. Mosher is a "software developer" but there is no evidence of him ever being professionally employed in this role. On his LinkedIn profile under the self-appointed title of "Marketing Consultant" it is claimed that he is an "R Software Developer" but this is a misnomer, as there is no evidence of him writing new software applications using the R programming language but rather he uses it to analyze data. Ironically, in a March 2010 comment to DeSmogBlog he stated, "I stopped writing code ages ago".



there are a few packages in R you mght have actually found had you searched.

Yes, in 2010 I picked up the keyboard again and got back to coding.

First just writing scripts in R
Then developing packages.

But you knew that, you knew that I actually wrote packages in R. That requires submitting the developed software to CRAN and passing all the tests

start on page 1


Andrew said...

As I said you were never professionally employed as a software developer. I do not consider "packages" - software applications, they can at best be used as part of a software application. I believe it to be misleading for anyone learning a programming language and not professionally employed as such to refer to themselves as a "software developer". This is the same for anyone who does this work in academia for scientific purposes.

I have very good reasons for this,

Computational science: ...Error - why scientific programming does not compute. (Nature)

MrPete said...

Andrew... I myself am a very experienced software developer. And I have hired software developers for a variety of projects in my 40 (!) years in the industry.

My opinion is just an opinion of course, but in my opinion your rationale doesn't hold water.

- I don't think being "professionally employed" in the field is a useful metric. For decades, lots of people have developed extremely valuable software without being paid to do so. Much of the core Internet software was developed this way, just for example.

- I don't think the size of the team, nor the size of the application, nor the comprehensiveness of an individual's contribution, are useful metrics.

* A sole individual, 2-3 people, a dozen people, a building full of people... depending on the need any of these models are valid.

* Ten lines of code or 1.5 million... so what?

* SW architect, "carpenter" (coding to a spec), "model builder" (UI/UX design), or any other aspect... all are valid! I have friends with tremendous experience as:
- SQA expert, building or contributing to QA teams
- Build management -- "all" they do is ensure the software packages can be built correctly
- Back end system script writing
- Developer and maintainer of math libraries
- etc etc etc..

ALL of those are completely valid roles for a software developer.

Oh, and by the way, teaching myself a new language, writing a package in that language and successfully passing QA tests and code review so that it is integrated into an open source software library... that ABSOLUTELY counts in my book as a valid test of a SW dev.

FWIW, I hire people with good seat of the pants experience in a heartbeat compared to someone who only has classroom experience. I consider good NON paid experience far more valuable than bad paid experience.

MrPete aka Pete Holzmann aka {hpda,pyramid}!octopus!pete a long time ago :-D
(Original registrant of octopus.com)

MrPete said...

A few more related opinions, and then I need to quit.

I believe the problems highlighted in your linked article exist in both industry and academia. Some of the best SW devs I know have zero computer science background. One college buddy who did very well in industry was a biology major.

Personally, I had a ton of experience learned on my own as a teenager. My degree was EE (semiconductor electronics) and I only took the required minimum (two) computer courses. They were quite advanced, because I really DID know what I was doing...in fact one of the profs wouldn't let me get away with doing their normal assignments: to pass I had to do a huge extra project. Grrr :) Even though I only had the two courses, on graduation I was hired and was considered at the outset to already have the equivalent of a full year of commercial experience.

My opinion: Good SW development is more a matter of perspective and approach than about rigid rules or academic training. All the training in the world will not turn a bad programmer into a good one. Just like you can't teach intelligence or integrity.

Andrew said...

I am going to start over as you are misinterpreting many of my comments.

Your comments are not addressing the subject at hand but strawman arguments unrelated to this article, which is being professionally employed in the field and academic credentials vs experience. Neither of which I was arguing as you presented. If you have been independently contracted to do software development work for known tech companies I would consider that the equivalent of being "professionally employed", Mr. Mosher never has. You also mention that you have 40 years in the tech industry doing software development work, Mr. Mosher does not. We are also not discussing your resume / experience here but his.

Instead of worrying about being personally offended about academic credentials vs. experience why not be intellectually honest about if you really believe Mr. Mosher has any "REAL" software development experience equivalent to your own, which he clearly does not. I also do not believe you would actually hire him for such work, all on-line friendships aside.

I have plenty of experience with hiring and reading resumes and can immediately recognize when people are embellishing their skills. I have never read your resume so I cannot comment on it.

Being professionally employed in the field is a useful metric for determining who is a real software developer as opposed to anyone who hobbles together half-ass code for hobbyist reasons (This was not an anti-open-source rant). There is a big difference between hobbyists and those who work for companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft (again not an anti-open-source rant).

The more code someone has written, the more experience they have. So I am surprised you asked the question.

You listed various positions which can be complimentary to software developers but are not the same thing. There is a reason why you find jobs listed specifically as "Software Developers" and "Software Quality Assurance Analysts" because they are two different positions that require two different skills sets. QA team members do not have to be professionally trained as software developers to do their job well. Yes being a Software Developer may help here but it is not a requirement and you listed SQA expert as an example. Also you mentioned back end system script writing which is another job that does not require software development skills.

I will also agree that Software Architects can be equivalent to Software Developers.

Positions like Software Developer and Software Engineer are much more interchangeable though.

The most successful tech companies in the world have computer science degree requirements:

Software Engineer [Developer] (Google)

Minimum qualifications

* BS in Computer Science or related technical discipline or equivalent practical experience.

Preferred qualifications

* MS or PhD in Computer Science.

Software Architech (Cisco)

Minimum Qualifications

* MSCS (or equivalent) with 10+ years of software engineering experience.

Tech companies usually don't even touch people without technical degrees any more and prefer graduate degrees.

Most tech companies will include "or equivalent practical experience" so they do not rule out highly experienced programmers who do not have a relevant degree. I am not arguing that someone with extensive software development experience cannot be equivalent to a computer science major or better but rather with experience being equal the computer science major is much more likely to have a much better foundation and understanding of computer systems and best practices.

Andrew said...

Hiring people in the '70s and 80s without a relevant degree was more common because not every college and university had a computer science program and the career path was not as common. While computer science degree programs were started in the '60s in the United States, the schools that offered them were limited and many were under existing mathematics and engineering departments instead of having their own department. Even schools like Carnegie Mellon did not have a formal computer science degree until 1988. Which is why I consider the '90s to be the first decade with near universal availability of computer science degree programs and why since then it has become almost a baseline requirement when hiring software developers.

Your electronics engineering degree obtained at the time is relevant for various reasons stated above. Mr. Mosher however was an English major not an electronics engineering major. I have also had bad experiences though with engineering majors and software development but have not with computer science majors. I will also argue that current computer science degree programs have greatly evolved over the last 40 years and better prepare graduates for software development work than any other major except software engineering. Yes I too have seen computer science graduates who inflate their experience and knowledge but this was never an argument.

I never claimed academia will automatically make you a good programmer but it will give you the basic foundation to be a good programmer. Basic knowledge like debugging and error logging are concepts you almost never have to teach a computer science major because they would have been trained on it in school (do not misinterpret this as them being experts). I am not arguing that an academic degree is the equivalent of experience because those are two different things nor am I arguing that someone who has a degree should consider it the equivalent of real-world experience. What I am arguing is that a computer science degree holder with the same experience is likely to be a better and more well rounded software developer than one without it. I believe the fact that a computer science degree is a common job requirement in the tech world supports my argument that it is an accepted industry standard.

Andrew said...

I found some degree statistics but they are unfortunately mixed with non-programming related technical degrees such as information technology, so it is not possible to get a perfectly clear picture on just computer science majors. Regardless, you can clearly see the dramatic increase from the '70s to the late '80s in computer and information science degrees.

Andrew said...

I have provided irrefutable evidence that Mr. Mosher does not have even the most basic technical knowledge necessary to be a competent software developer, since he does not know the elementary differences between the Windows ME and Windows 2000 operating systems.

Scientists at NASA and the USGS do not know the difference between Windows ME and Windows 2000

Andrew said...

Any competent software developer would be able to know the elementary differences between Windows operating systems before trying to give instructions on how to perform any task in them but not Mr. Mosher who is a hack bullshit artist with no real technical knowledge or expertise.

The evidence I provided is not up for debate, it is irrefutable. Any computer literate person that understands any of this would find it utterly embarrassing. Defending this sort of computer illiteracy with irrelevant anecdotes and analogies is not an argument.

BTW, Perl is not a Top 10 programming language anymore in any category. Cross-platform scripting languages like Python, PHP and Ruby are all far more popular today.


None of that matters because Mr. Mosher is not trying to bullshit anyone that he knows how to program in Perl, rather that he is a "software developer" which he clearly is not.

People need to stop trying to defend the indefensible.

Raging Stallion said...

I was at Eidetics when Mr. Mosher was trying to direct the simulation software developers and engineers there. I can certainly attest to the fact that he knows nothing of software and knows nothing about flight science. After he was let go Mr. Mosher tried to sue Eidetics and lost. Following that, Eidetics was in a bigger lawsuit with a large firm that I won't mention but during depositions Mr. Mosher was bad-mouthing the whole technical staff at Eidetics which I highly detest. The technical staff at Eidetics consisted of extremely competent and talented engineers and software developers. I believe his bad-mouthing comments were highly driven by the fact that he lost his own lawsuit against Eidetics. He's a back-stabbing bastard as far as I'm concerned when all of the team under him very worked hard and long hours to win a program that much larger companies were competing for. He's not a scientist or engineer, he knows nothing of software and is not a real team player.

He failed miserably when trying to make it in the engineering world and got flushed down the crapper. So now, he's been reduced down to self-promoted himself in the climate change world. I find it pathetic. He couldn't solve a physics problem, a calculus problem or write a line of code to save his soul.

It's not that I think he shouldn't work. It's just that I think he should be cleaning toilets instead.