Sciencemag on NAS Panel

Here’s a summary from Science of last week’s NAS panel.

The heat was on a 12-person National Research Council committee last week as it tackled the politically charged debate over how scientists have gauged temperatures from the past millennium or two. Chair Gerald North of Texas A&M University in College Station kept the audience on a tight leash, including principal protagonists Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in State College and his critics, Stephen McIntyre of the University of Toronto, Canada, and Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, Canada. House Science Committee Chair Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) had requested the study in the wake of attacks on Mann’s "hockey stick" temperature curve showing an abrupt, presumably human-induced warming over the last century (Science, 1 July 2005, p. 31).

Mann made himself scarce throughout the proceedings, even abruptly departing as McIntyre stood to make a final comment. Others, however, had already provided independent support for temperature trends resembling Mann’s, and Mann himself pointed out that he had sworn off the criticized analytical method years ago. The committee has promised a report on the science of millennial temperatures in June.

It’s funny how people view things differently. For example, I thought that the take-home issue arising from D’Arrigo was the quandary of the Divergence Problem. Yes, she presented a reconstruction that was generically somewhat hockey-stickish, but if the proxies and methods are problematic, so what?

One thing everyone can agree on is that Mann made "himself scarce". I didn’t realize that Mann exited when I made a short comment on Friday morning. It was a very short comment saying that I thought that the committee had dealt with verification statistics in a very unsatisfactory way, which they did.

But I talked less than 30 seconds. So he must have moved fast. As fast as a cheetah.

No wonder I couldn’t find him to say hello. I really was going to say hello to him afterwards. I introduced myself to Hughes and chatted about Liverpool soccer – so don’t say that I wasn’t going to.

What would I have said to him? I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it. I’d probably have thanked him for getting me involved in an interesting project and taken it from there. Maybe he’d have thanked me for interesting commentary and all the good times. Maybe we’d talk basketball – he’s near Philadephia, what does think about Alan Iverson? Or what about Joe Paterno as Penn State football coach? How does Penn State look for next season? Precious moments…. when will we spend precious moments?

28 Comments

  1. Follow the money
    Posted Mar 10, 2006 at 8:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Looks like you have time for a short rest, until June.

    Don’t worry yourself about two paragraph synopses and hypothetical conversations. You might as well ruminate like others on what Paterno does vs. should do vs. will do. That project has no ascertainable predictable outcomes.

    Periodically global warming stories of the stranger sort will pop up. You might post them from time to time for comments from all perspectives. You have a nice venue here for such discussions.

    The stories are often floated via the BBC first, so you might monitor their web site.

    Cheers.

  2. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Mar 10, 2006 at 8:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    Congratulations on your appointment at the “University of Toronto!” :)

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 10, 2006 at 8:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    About my only affiliation these days is the Badminton and Racquet Club. Maybe I should use that as my affiliation – tease them a little.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 10, 2006 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe we could have talked about the Enron trials. Or how Lil’ Kim’s doing in jail. Or Bre-X. I could have told him about mining promotions. He could have told me about climate promotions. We could have had ourselves a time. Precious moments ….

  5. John A
    Posted Mar 11, 2006 at 2:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Well don’t be sad, Steve. Michael Mann has moved on – as fast as his little legs could carry him away from you and from scrutiny from the NAS Panel.

  6. Sara Chan
    Posted Mar 11, 2006 at 2:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It is really saddening to read things like this. A chance for true love—lost, perhaps forever.

  7. kim
    Posted Mar 11, 2006 at 6:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There’s a great Precious Moments display gallery in Southwest Missouri. Maybe you could console yourself with a figurine.
    ============================================================================

  8. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 11, 2006 at 6:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Stephen McIntyre of the Badminton and Racquet Club in Toronto is in the finals tomorrow of the Canadian over-55 squash doubles. I played someone from Denver in the first round and a team from Baltimore in the 2nd round and beat the top seeds this afternoon in the semis !!! Wish me luck.

    As the winners of the various matches were gloating over the wins afterwards, someone observed that the losers all made quick exits. So if you’re wondering about the outcome of the presentations at the NAS panel, all you need to ask yourself is who “made himself scarce”. Nuff said.

  9. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Mar 11, 2006 at 10:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Good Luck Steve! Winner take all!

  10. jae
    Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    LOL. Mann really screwed up. I’m sure everyone noticed.

  11. John A
    Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 5:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well Steve, you could have talked about the weather…well, no preferably not.

  12. Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 6:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Choosing the right topic to chat about with Michael Mann would be a bit more subtle. With Hans von Storch, it would be much easier. You would chat about Mickey Mouse to assure that our German friend’s life is more diverse than just the Donald Duck. :-) With Richard Lindzen, you would chat about James Bond 007 because the scientific hero of “State of Fear” was not a pure Lindzen – at least he has admitted so.

  13. jae
    Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 8:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Good luck, Steve. In both the game and other things…

  14. Steve Bloom
    Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 8:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #8: Steve, sometimes I think you get a litle carried away reading all your fan mail. I would suggest an alternative explanation for Mike’s quick exit was to avoid on-the-spot he said-she said-type press interviews of the sort that would tend to place the two of you on the same level of credibility. OTOH, I was surprised and encouraged at what seems to have been a general lack of press interest. We shall see what happens when the report itself comes out.

  15. Mike Carney
    Posted Mar 12, 2006 at 10:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #14: I agree. It would be a bad idea to place Mike on the same level of credibility as Steve.

  16. Pat Frank
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 12:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #14-“…press interviews of the sort that would tend to place the two of you on the same level of credibility.” The view of one for whom politics is all.

    Credibility in science lies in the analysis and not in the person, Steve. What are you trained in — political science, maybe? Literary Criticism? Some other literary field ending in “Studies”?

  17. Paul Penrose
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think Steve Bloom’s analysis is spot on: Mann is clearly practicing politics, not science.

  18. Jack
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Greenhouse gases and inaction may be roasting our children’s future
    (Washington Post books review – may require registration to view)

    Quote that caught my eye: “Kolbert and Linden both end their books calling for action to curtail carbon dioxide emissions before our current global civilization succumbs to a dramatic climate shift of its own making, and both decry the apparent paralysis gripping the official global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The degree of scientific certainty is now more than adequate to justify immediate action, says Linden, who attributes the ongoing state of inaction to a synergy between “cautious scientists interacting with cautious policymakers, all to the delight of naysayers who hold that no action is necessary.” Unfortunately, that interaction is often mediated by journalists, who, when it comes to global warming, might just be the most cautious party of all. Kolbert and Linden are good journalists and far too experienced to fall for the equal-time canard, whereby the voices of the tiny fringe of scientists who dispute that humans are affecting climate are amplified out of all proportion to their relevance. But both display signs of lacking confidence — a tendency to soft-pedal a little here, to get bogged down in technical details there — as if, in bending over backward to appear thorough and fair-minded, the journalists have fallen victim to the softer bias of insecurity.”

    Note: Because of his on-the-record statements, I don’t put Steve McIntyre in the group of “naysayers who deny that no action is necessary”. My hope is that the ultimate outcome of his efforts will strengthen the view that action IS necessary. The clock is ticking…

  19. Greg F
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Because of his on-the-record statements, I don’t put Steve McIntyre in the group of “naysayers who deny that no action is necessary”. My hope is that the ultimate outcome of his efforts will strengthen the view that action IS necessary.

    Most rational people would be satisfied if “ultimate outcome of his efforts” was the truth. Others it seems, have already decided what the outcome should be. The latter provides a ready made market for selling chicken little books.

  20. John A
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “…I don’t put Steve McIntyre in the group of naysayers who deny that no action is necessary”

    Actually I’d include myself in the category of “naysayers who deny that no action is neccessary” or do I…?

  21. Jack
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #20. I should have quoted more accurately. Nice catch. You’re a naysayer, if you were wondering.

  22. Pat Frank
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #18 Jack’s quote of Kolbert and Linden shows them suffering from the common delusion of being able to know something without actually knowing it.

    The reason scientists are cautious is because, most of the time, they are fully aware of the extent of the knowledge, and understand what can be said with confidence and what cannot. Kolbert and Linden appear to rush off to conclusions that are sustained by no more than their unfounded feelings of certainty.

    There is a word for that, but Steve M has put it into the spam filter. So, I’ll call it ideological, instead. Get a grip, Jack. The actual science does not support human-caused, CO2-bugabooed excessive global warming.

    Here’s what the clock is ticking towards: The eventual very public realization that the AGW scare is the premier scientific fraud of the turn of the century. A great chastening is bearing down upon us.

  23. Greg F
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Kolbert and Linden appear to rush off to conclusions that are sustained by no more than their unfounded feelings of certainty.

    I would add this is rationalized by their application of faulty logic. Kolbert states in an interview in the New Yorker:

    It’s indisputable that we have increased greenhouse-gas concentrations in the air as a result of human activity, and it’s also indisputable that over the last few decades average global temperatures have gone up.

    It is also indisputable that in the 60’s and 70’s that greenhouse-gas concentrations increased and the average global temperatures went down. It appears that we have a case of another journalist that doesn’t understand that correlation does not equal causation.

  24. John A
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 1:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You’re a naysayer, if you were wondering.

    No I’m not!

  25. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 1:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From the quote above:
    “Unfortunately, that interaction is often mediated by journalists, who, when it comes to global warming, might just be the most cautious party of all.”

    I really fail to see how journalists are being cautious. I have a saved google news search on (“global warming” or “climate change”) which I check daily and the AGW to skeptic ratio of news stories is around 20:1 (rough estimate). And usually the skeptical story is an opinion piece or from some small-town midwest newspaper.

  26. Greg F
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    nanny_govt_sucks,

    How many times have these so called “cautious” journalists cited a study claiming the it to be the first to show mans “fingerprint” on climate?

  27. pj
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 3:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    My recolletion, which I admit may be faulty, was that Mann skeedaddled just before Steve made his final comment. In trying to be charitable, I imagined he probably had a plane to catch or something similarly urgent to take him away. I hung around afterward and chatted with various people. I probably left about 30 or 45 minutes after Mann and encountered him outside, standing at the parking lot exit, perhaps awaiting his ride. But he certainly didn’t look like he was in a hurry.

  28. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 13, 2006 at 9:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #8. Lost in the finals. Felt like “making myself scarce” but didn’t. The U.S. doubles are in St Louis in a few weeks; many of my friends are going to play in it; maybe I will too.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

*
*

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,140 other followers

%d bloggers like this: