Another AGU Submission?

Judith Curry mentioned an AGU session on integrity in science. I’m thinking about sending in the following abstract. I’d need to do so by the end of the day. Any thoughts?

If science articles and findings are communicated to the public with the possibility that they may influence policy, then scientists must be prepared for more rigorous attitudes towards disclosure and due diligence than currently practiced in connection with journal peer review. Limited or negligible disclosure of data, methodology and adverse results may have been tolerated in the past, but will increasingly not suffice if results affect policy. Some practices already adopted in econometrics journals will be recommended for science journals.

Standards for communication with the public have already been developed in connection with the offering of securities. We will discuss these standards and consider how they might apply to scientific communication with the public so that such communications have both integrity and the appearance of integrity, illustrating these issues with some first-hand observations on the recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings.

This could also be a thread for discussion of this sort of issue for anyone that wants to keep the hurricane thread on hurricanes.


152 Comments

  1. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    I say, go for it!

  2. Jean S
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Great idea, Steve! And Judith, see the benefits of taking part in discussions here!?

  3. Michael Lenaghan
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    I think the wording is excellent. I also think that telling scientists they can learn from the financial community–even if it’s true–will go over like a lead balloon. An example from some branch of math or science would probably be more effective. (You’ve mentioned, for example, the standards used by economics journals. Is there some story behind why and how those standards were enacted?)

  4. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    We need this. Scientists need it, as do policy-makers. Terrific idea. Without it scientists and policy-makers both will continue to fall into the abyss that is the science-policy gap.

  5. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    I realize that examples from econometrics journals would be easier to digest, but there is far more relevant analysis in securities offerings. For example, press releases. There has been some self-criticism in the climate community over inflammatory press releases, like climateprediction.net, with even realclimate drawing back from this particular abyss. You can’t find relevant discussion in econometrics, where no one issues press releases. But the policy of the Ontario Securities Commission for mineral exploration press releases has much wisdom to offer.

  6. Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    “Recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on the hockey-stick reconstruction of past temperatures were made necessary in large part by limited or negligible disclosure of data, methodology and adverse results. We examine how adoption of a standards-based approach as practised in the offering of financial securities might restore both integrity and the appearance of integrity to the field.”

  7. Martin Ringo
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I am in complete agreement with the first paragraph. Indeed, I believe that disclosure in scientific publication is more important than peer review. However, I disagree with the second paragraph. Communication with the public, be in on scientific or other matters, is part of the public debate, and that debate in a free society will be regulated by the marketplace for ideas and expression. This lack of formal regulation may result in the dominance of sensationalism over substance, but that is the price of an open forum for communication with the public at large. Ideas, scientific and otherwise, are not securities. There is no implicit contract involved in the acceptance of an idea while there is in sale of a public security.

    I further believe that this lack or regulation helped bring the hockey stick debate/controversy to the more specific attention of the scientific community. That is, your growing acceptance within the scientific community is more a result of an open society than formal scientific inquisitiveness. This open forum should be contrasted with a forum in which there is regulation on the conduct of presentation: expert testimony in litigation. May I suggest that as bad as the peer review process may be in climatology, it is better than what exists in litigation, at least in the American court system.

    So my recommendation is that you restrict yourself to the substance of the first paragraph, and in there I hope that you might continue von Storch’s call for full algorithmic disclosure along with data and code. After all there are more than a few scientists who write undocumented “spaghetti code,” and deciphering labyrinthine excursions in the digital world should not be requisite to understanding what someone has done in a scientific publication.

  8. Dano
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    This framework paper seems to be premised upon all scientists that do work that may contribute to policy being required to be available to the public to release data to about anyone.

    I’m sure this will slow down the discovery/research/work process and therefore an intermediary will be necessary. For example: we wouldn’t want medical discoveries to be delayed being offered to the market – think of the lost opportunity costs while Buffy demands more data so she feels better that her gramma’s diabetes is being cured by this new drug being tested. See, medicine may become part of, say, Medicare policy or the debate over single-payer policy, so the public will want to see test results. And if Dr Smith keeps having to answer the phone when Buffy calls, he won’t complete his work.

    So if this is your intent, you’ll need to figger out a way to pay for staffers like policy-makers have. You’ll want to, therefore, framework something that gives a disclosure path and a way to pay for extra staff and a place to put them.

    That is: to avoid any ol’ crank calling up and demanding someone’s time (I’m suuuure you don’t intend to slow down, oh, climate research, right? Right?), you’ll want to give, say, some sort of acceptable expectation of just who the researcher is expected to interact with. We wouldn’t want some sort of spam to slow down, say, Kerry Emanuel while he chases down some eight-year old astroturf argument that won’t die.

    IOW, sure better rules are needed. Let’s think about who may get run over by our hobby horse and maybe think about when and how we jerk the reins.

    Best,

    D

  9. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    #6. I think that I’ll stay away from this ; I’m inclined to send a cover letter to the chairmen that it is not my intent to re-litigate the HS in this venue.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    #7. There’s probably something in between. It’s jsut that the problems with the climateprediction.net press release fiasco are so neatly encompassed in standards for promotional press relases that it’s hard to resist the comparison. I’ll think about it. I’m not necessarily even advocating anything – it’s just that it’s worth looking at how communications with the public are handled in another area, if it’s a source of conern in science.

  11. mark
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    This framework paper seems to be premised upon all scientists that do work that may contribute to policy being required to be available to the public to release data to about anyone.

    Yes.

    I’m sure this will slow down the discovery/research/work process and therefore an intermediary will be necessary.

    Too bad. You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that rushed results from a lack of oversight are better than slow, accurate results. Talk about a false premise.

    Mark

  12. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    I think someone in South Korea will cringe if he reads this abstract! :)

  13. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    It is an accepted ethic that scientists should disclose all details needed for replication of work and disclose all potentially adverse findings. In practice, this ethic is not always fulfilled and some acceptance of not fulfilling it has arisen as “how we normally do work”. When scientists do work with policy implications, however, they should be especially vigilant about upholding this original ethic so that scientific truth is placed above policy debate. Examples that AGU members can look on for guidance include academic economics (computer code disclosure), drug research (FDA GLP), and securities offerings (filing requirements).

    I disagree with the implied inference that scientists really need to learn from business, Steve. The ethic of good science and engineering has always been there. To be honest, I don’t think you always uphold the science ethic yourself. (see other conversation).

  14. Dano
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    11:

    Too bad. You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that rushed results from a lack of oversight are better than slow, accurate results. Talk about a false premise.

    No.

    You seem to be under the assumption that anyone can perform the requisite analysis just because they have Google and Excel, and that, oh, Mark can call up Dr Bob at Pfizer and demand his datasets so you can do oversight.

    Read my comment again. I’m exploring what minefields lie in the implicit assertions of the abstract and your italicized.

    HTH,

    D

  15. James Lane
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    You seem to be under the assumption that anyone can perform the requisite analysis just because they have Google and Excel, and that, oh, Mark can call up Dr Bob at Pfizer and demand his datasets so you can do oversight.

    Dano, you are advancing a ridiculous strawman argument. The data disclosure regimens already practiced in pharamceutical research are light years ahead of what is being requested of climate scienttists.

  16. Dano
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    15:

    If you don’t like the example I’ll give another, but unanswered is whether under this new set of rules James can call Pfizer and demand their datasets. I’m merely giving a f’r instance to bound what needs to be frameworked and detailed.

    HTH,

    D

  17. James Lane
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    Dano,

    Further, I work in a commercial environment, and from time to time I have people request past datasets and methodological details on projects sometimes several years old.

    I consider it a professional responsiility to be able to provide such data and details. I can recall one instance where I had to go back to a third party and pay to retrieve some data. In practice it’s not to difficult if you properly archive your data and methods as you go along.

    Working commercially, I obviously wouldn’t put my stuff up on a public archive, but I could if I wanted to. I can’t really understand why data disclosure is not routine in climate science. If Buffy wants to download your data and play with it, who cares?

  18. Mike Carney
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Like #7, I strongly recommend you drop the second paragraph. Or make it a separate submission. Although aimed at similar problems it is a completely different topic with different issues and different objections. It will only confuse the discussion of the first issue. The first issue on its own is straight-forward and, not withstanding Dano’s straw hobby horse, hard to deny.

  19. James Lane
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    If you don’t like the example I’ll give another, but unanswered is whether under this new set of rules James can call Pfizer and demand their datasets. I’m merely giving a f’r instance to bound what needs to be frameworked and detailed.

    What you’re “merely” doing is propping up your strawman. Why not make it “can James fly to Switzerland and demand to see the chairman of Pfizer”?

    What, exactly, is the problem about putting datasets and code for academic research in an archive?

  20. TAC
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    SteveM: I’m not sure how to say this, but I have some comments: 1) An AGU Meeting is not the safest neighborhood in which to stand up and argue that businessmen have higher integrity than scientists. 2) There likely are people out there who would jump at the opportunity to try to discredit you — even humiliate you — in public. 3) While I know you are a match for anyone when it comes to statistical issues related to climate reconstructions, are you sure that you have thought as deeply about integrity in science? 4) Is there anything in your background — say a mining venture that went South — that might cause you embarrassment? 5) You will have no more than 20 seconds to come up with a response to that carefully constructed question when it is raised in front of hundreds of people.

  21. Dano
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    17, 19:

    James, thank you for the opportunity to clarify my #8.

    o I’m outlining what needs to be frameworked and detailed and the inherent difficulties/pitfalls in not doing so.

    o Nowhere in my comments do I assert there is a problem with putting datasets and code for academic research in an archive.

    o Let me repeat: IOW, sure better rules are needed. Let’s think about who may get run over by our hobby horse and maybe think about when and how we jerk the reins. .

    Best,

    D

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    The new laptop that I got just froze. So I have to set up another machine before I go to Europe plus finish my presentations. Damn computer – but better now than later. On balance, most of my points about prospectuses are probably valid, but they are just going to irritate the hell out of people and provide a distraction from other topics that I’m working on. So I’ve decided that I’ll stick with presenting to the NAS panel session – assuming I get accepted and pass on this. That will be a big enough deal – no point being greedy.

  23. James Lane
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    o Nowhere in my comments do I assert there is a problem with putting datasets and code for academic research in an archive.

    Cool, then we agree (assuming, from your carefully worded statement, that you don’t think there is a problem). So where did all the stuff about ringng up Pfizer and making demands come from?

  24. Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    #22. Hi Steve, I guess you have made your decision but it could be fun to do a “sitting on the desk” talk about disclosure practises in the mining world, fill it with anecodes, and just make some passing references to climate science. Wouldn’t achieve anything but let people get to know you. Regards.

  25. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    It would indeed. The Agnico-Eagle story is a good example of being “right” for the wrong reason.

    Mining turns up great stories. The Bre-X fraud is, as a fraud, quite interesting since arguably the fraud originated not from the promoters but from guys in the field just trying to get a paycheck. If they fed good results to the head office, then they would get paid. It sounds crazy, but that’s what I think happened. Others may differ but I don’t think that David Walsh, the President of Bre-X, knew what was going on.

    People wondered about Bre-X; I remember wondering about it. Everyone assumed that so many people looked at it and there were so many assays that it was impossible that all the assays could be wrong. But there were some important steps where the due diligence was faulty (obviously). It’s those steps that intrigue me – if someone is going to commit fraud, then shame on him; but if someone has responsibility for due diligence and didn’t perform it, then that’s something that can be improved on.

    I used to have nice collection of ironic mining stoies, but I’ve forgotten the sequence. I should write some of them down before I forget. Some are oral history,

  26. Ed
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

    Dano, I understand your concerns but I think there is a compromise position.

    Perhaps there should be a distinction between privately funded research (e.g. pharma) used to create privately provided products and services, versus tax payer funded research used for public policy decisions. There is a third category of privately funded research used for public policy decisions too.

    There is likely a middle ground on disclosure that does not require a huge investment – merely making data readily available on web sites and third-party provided data set archives is not overly complicated. Having more eyeballs reviewing works could even lead to a faster path to reaching the truth, which is what everyone should be interested in doing. Those extra eyeballs revealed the falsity of research by Hwang, for example.

    Ed

  27. bruce
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    I feel that I should support Steve when he chooses to use examples of the requirements for professional conformity with Codes in the securities industry, especially when it relates to mining.
    There is no doubt that there have, in the past, been many examples of poor practice – BreX being one example. No doubt because the consequences can be very serious – thousands of mums and dads lose their savings – there have been massive pressures to improve standards. Commenters here should be cautious about referring to their limited knowledge of the problems, and likely lack of knowledge about the solutions.

    I am more familiar with the Australian practice in this area, though I think that Canadian practice is similar. The JORC Code has been developed over the past 20 years or so, and is adopted by ASX Listing Rules and Australian Corporations Law.

    It is perhaps instructive to provide brief extracts from the JORC Code (available in full at http://www.jorc.org/pdf/jorc2004print.pdf):

    “The Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (the “JORC Code’ or “the Code’) sets out minimum standards, recommendations and guidelines for Public Reporting in Australasia of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves.”

    “The main principles governing the operation and application of the JORC Code are transparency, materiality and competence.

    TRANSPARENCY requires that the reader of a Public Report is provided with sufficient information, the presentation of which is clear and unambiguous, to understand the report and is not misled.

    MATERIALITY requires that a Public Report contains all the relevant information which investors and their professional advisers would reasonably require, and reasonably expect to find in the report, for the purpose of making a reasoned and balanced judgement regarding the Exploration Results, Mineral Resources or Ore Reserves being reported.

    COMPETENCE requires that the Public Report be based on work that is the responsibility of suitably qualified and experienced persons who are subject to an enforceable professional code of ethics.”

    Compliance levels with the JORC Code are generally very high nowadays, since the consequences of not complying are very punitive. A party found guilty of breaching the Code can face charges under Corporations Law, or at least be hauled before the Ethics Committee of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the outcomes (with names) are published.

    Given what has gone on in the field of climate science, I would have thought it not a bad idea to require those making public statements to adhere to good practice as articulated above.

    Some might say that science already has codes of sound and ethical practice that all scientists know and adhere too. However it seems to me, frankly, that the whole hockey stick episode demonstrates that those codes are clearly not working.

    Maybe it is not a bad idea to think about imposing clear and simple requirements as has been done in the securities industry.

  28. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    re: #20

    An AGU Meeting is not the safest neighborhood in which to stand up and argue that businessmen have higher integrity than scientists.

    I don’t think that’s what it says. It says that because of the normally higher temptations of being in business, their integrity is probably lower in practice and that therefore better safeguards have been established to prevent misrepresentations to the public.

  29. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    Re #26:

    Having more eyeballs reviewing works could even lead to a faster path to reaching the truth, which is what everyone should be interested in doing.

    This argument is not going to sway the alarmists who argue that “it’s too late for scientific truth, what we need is action” – which I believe is the assumption driving the Bloom/Dano/ballela/Gaia/Gore agenda. (Along with the assumption that they don’t need the factual truth when they’ve already got the Real Truth.)

  30. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    I am in essential agreement with Martin Ringo’s post in #7, but since I want to avoid TCOing the matter I say that Steve M should pose his suggestions as he sees fit and with which he is comfortable as it is he who will be sitting at the table and not us. I am as interested in the response as I am in the suggestions. I like the free market of ideas but when it comes to taxpayer funding I think the taxpayer should have the power to audit and demand transparency. If that arrangement becomes too restrictive for researchers accepting these funds then one would expect them to find other funding sources.

    TCO good to see you back. I would like to report that Steve M has not done anything outlandish in your absence.

  31. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    Re #28:

    Those codes are clearly not working. Maybe it is not a bad idea to think about imposing clear and simple requirements as has been done in the securities industry.

    Frankly, the idea of the securities industry teaching academics about ethical behavior is absolutely farcical. One can readily envision a SNL sketch on this premise.

    The problem has nothing to do with a lack of ethical behavior or accountability, dear friends. The problem is, at its root, economics: it is the very high cost of publishing print material. Nature would be more than happy to publish every scrap of code required to duplicate an experiment were it not for the high cost of printing these thousands of lines of codes. [Yes, I'm aware that online archiving is solving this problem. But this is occurring slowly. Journals like Nature are moving in that direction already.] The fact is for years now researchers have been taking advantage of Nature’s premium on succinctness to take complex stories (which use complex methods) and oversimplify them to the point of near absurdity.

    Remember, just because you get one guy who’s entrenched in a position of obfuscation and obstruction – that doesn’t mean the whole discipline is corrupt! Get a grip here!

    Scientists have nothing to learn from the securities industry, and everything in place now to improve on past mistakes. The trick is to make sure those new mechanisms are working properly. e.g. Turnkey scripts, not pdf’s.

  32. bruce
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    re #31: Oh, OK Bender. Back in my hole.

  33. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    One always has to be careful about extrapolating and I’ve been dealing with some hopefully atypical guys. It’s hard to convey the right nuance – I’m not saying that you should have a securities commission approach toward journal publication. However there’s something wrong with science by press release and especially by alarmist press release. I think that some guidelines for how to do scientific press releases are probably not a bad idea if trouble is arising from how they are done – and the corollary to that is that scientists might usefully examine policies in other fields, without necessarily adopting the regulatory framework.

    bender, I’m not sure that right about Nature though. They flat out redused to require Mann to even provide the individual results of his steps for statistical analysis and refused to require him to provide code to check his work, even after Mann had been required to provide a Corrigendum.

  34. Dano
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    29:

    This argument is not going to sway the alarmists who argue that “it’s too late for scientific truth, what we need is action” – which I believe is the assumption driving the Bloom/Dano/ballela/Gaia/Gore agenda. (Along with the assumption that they don’t need the factual truth when they’ve already got the Real Truth.) [link added]

    It’s heartening indeed to view the need to use marginalization phrases in argumentation.

    Note, plz, the lovely conversation on the issues that James and I are having.

    Best,

    D

  35. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

    Bender is correct that science has everything in place and does not need to learn from securities industries. And this is coming from someone who has written a prospectus and a science paper. The issue is accepted practice versus accepted ethic. Feynman attitude toward disclosure is accepted ethic, but not practice. Similar examples abound. It is accepted ethic and gets written about all the time that people should not write letters without a followon paper, but they do, that they should not plagiarize “real papers” for “meeting papers” but they do, that professors of grad students should have a valid real science input (not a management or funding procurer role) to be on student’s papers, but often they don’t. Etc. etc. Making the point that when public policy is involved, that we should hold (or that we will BE held) to the ethic (rather then the practice) is an interesting point. But it’s a very different one from science needs to learn from securities.

    The appeal needs to be to science, Steve. Not to SEC filings. Really, the obscure footnoting in 10Ks is not the gold standard of Feynmann attitude anyway. I do think that the ethic of (old) NASA and of nuclear submarine QA is just as good a model (and better) then that of prospectus writers. And holding up Canadian mining stock practices is a bit of an unfortunate example given the stereotypical penny-stock shenanigans which come to mind with that niche of the pink sheets. The econometrics journal example (code disclosure) is a very nice one to point AGU to as it is an academic one–not a business one, despite money being what is studied. However, it doesn’t really give with the thesis that $$ (or lives) at stake drive higher standards, since the impetus for those disclosure practices comes not from policy, but from a more pure science standpoint of wanting to catch math errors and having seen them happen too often.

  36. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    One difference between securities and science is the penalty for violating the rules.

    The conscious decision to fabricate or hide data or results in the securities industry can quite properly result in fines or jail time even if the dollar amounts involved are small.

    What does a scientist face who fabricates or misrepresents data which might contribute to billions of wasted taxpayer dollars? Furlough? Loss of tenure? If he works for certain environmental organizations more than likely he’ll get a raise and a promotion.

  37. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    SteveM, like #30 says, please don’t listen too much to any of these opinions. All is needed is the truth and please, you just express it as best you can if you decide to submit. Science does not need defending. The truth doesn’t need defending. Science is the truth. You have a good relationship with the world around you, tell it as you see it. Go for it.

    IMHO like that Nature editor that got huffy and personal over you words a little while back ?– Screw all these people! These people who seem to be directing this drama are screwing up the world more than CO2 ever will.

    #36 good question That’s what I want to know. I now think more then ever this whole AGW thing is political ideological hoax. And that’s my 2cents!
    Cheers!

  38. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    I’m not trying to marginalize anyone (#34), and I’m not trying to drive contributors like bruce away (#32). All I’m just saying is let’s not go overboard here. Yes, reform needs to happen – so that, as TCO #35 puts it, ethics tranlsates into everyday practice. It is hard to stay within the facts when what we’re talking about is a new model for gatekeeping. It’s a nuanced perspective, I suppose, so it is not going to please extremists on either side.

    Sticking with the facts is fine, but this is a special thread, where we’re talking about the rules of gatekeeping. There’s no facts here to go by, it’s all about what you imagine will work. Which brings up an important point about “truth” (#37): there’s the knowable truth, the readily knowable truth, and the unknowable truth. All are elements of Truth, but science can not touch the third type. And of the first two, only the second is really amenable to the scientific method on human time-scales. The problem are those hard-to-come-by truths within the first category – and AGW, if it is true, is definitely one of those types of hypotheses. So #37, this is about truth. It is about the gatekeeping methods by which truth is discerned.

    Science does need defending, because it is the only sure method we have of discerning the truth. When that method breaks down, the path to truth is lost. I’ll go halfway and agree that individual scientists that stray from the scientific path of truth don’t deserve defending. If they want to invoke mystic methods for discerning the true nature of the planet, let them defend themselves. The rest of us want and accept rules that get us closer, and faster to the truth – even if it compromises our hold (however brief) on power.

  39. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    Re #36:

    What does a scientist face who fabricates or misrepresents data which might contribute to billions of wasted taxpayer dollars?

    I believe there is a special Hell-on-Earth reserved for people who abuse the public trust in this way (speaking of Unprovable Truths).

  40. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    Re #19

    What, exactly, is the problem about putting datasets and code for academic research in an archive?

    You have to understand academic culture, James. There is this fear that politicians will pull this lever continually in an effort to block progress on a particular front. There is this group that thinks that that is what Barton et al. have been doing. Trying intentionally to waylay research that feeds the AGW activist agenda. They feel that a senate committee investigating a body of science is an infringement of academic entitlement to intellectual freedom. It’s nothing more than a political ploy. It’s not an earnest search for truth.

    You see, the academics want the benefit of drawing from the public purse, but without the expense of being accountable to the constituencies who actually pay their salaries & operating grants. Because that’s the way it’s always worked in the past, so why shouldn’t it work that way now?

    The reality is that they often don’t actually like to release their codes (or experimental methods, which are the equivalent of a trade secret ingredient) because empowering their competitors means they lose their monopoly on the truth. The reality is they’re busy people and are annoyed by political “interference” – even if that “interference” is nothing more than a request for data.

    Once you understand this, then Dano’s various requests for clarification and his silly little links and comics become very understandable. Skeptics don’t seek truth, they only want to question it, and in so doing, delay action.

    Ignore him.

    Government scientists every day have to comply with data requests based on freedom-of-information laws. Why shouldn’t academics?

  41. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Actually it’s interesting that Judith Curry seems to be onside of this issue because of their dispute with NOAA. More than one way to skin a cat.

  42. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Curry showed a lot of class (and even helped calm down a couple of frantic trolls!) by posting on your blog, Steve. One hopes that there are lots more like her out there who are interested in (1) the truth and (2) increased competitiveness in the marketplace of ideas as a way of getting there faster. If North is an “ok guy”, then she is a “terrific gal”.

  43. Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Re #1:

    Here’s a suggestion for a small modification of the first para in your abstract, recognizing that you may have moved away from that version by now.

    “If science articles and findings are communicated to the public with the possibility that they may influence policy, then scientists must be prepared for more rigorous attitudes towards disclosure and due diligence than currently practiced in connection with journal peer review. Limited or negligible disclosure of data, methodology and adverse results may have been tolerated in the past, but will increasingly not suffice if results affect policy. The greater the social and economic impact of policies that might be affected by the scientific findings, the greater will be the clamor — and, hence, the need — for transparency. Some practices already adopted in econometrics journals will be recommended for science journals.”

    You may also want to note that while peer review might be OK to get scientific articles published, it is not sufficient for making policies where real resources will have to be spent, particularly if society’s priorities may need to be reordered. For policy purposes, it is not sufficient that a paper’s results be merely plausible. There should, among other things, be some indication as to their probabilities, associated uncertainties, etc. And if one — whether it is the author, the journal or the author’s institution — hopes or expects a paper to be part of the policy debate, one should also expect a higher level of scrutiny, including efforts to replicate the results. Which means one should be ready to supply the data, codes, and what have you. That’s the price of fame. Otherwise one should eschew any hint of policy relevance within the paper and in associated press releases.

  44. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    Speaking of maintaining a monopoly on the truth, Steve, you might consider creating a separate area for posers who want to parasitize your action, trying to move eyeballs over to their pathetic blogs. (Not sure if I should name names, but some childish-but-funny rhymes come to mind.) One can foresee that this is only going to increase, and those turkeys distract from the discussion. Call me a taxonomist, but collecting them all in one place will allow us to better characterize and understand (and avoid) them. Maybe a little category off on the sidebar: “Steve’s turkey bin”? (Do me a favor, and censor me if I’m being unprofessional here?)

  45. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

    I thought Judy was a trooper as well. She is how one should be if one has a vulnerability. It is really a bit sad that being thoughtful and honest like that is so uncommon.

    (But that bender’s critique of the plotting was pretty damn apt and that Judy did not strike me as having given deep thought on this issue prior to coming here…but had the guts to admit it…good for her on ethics and follow-up, bad on stats smarts and prior diligence.)

  46. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    I have no idea what you are talking about with the rhyming names, bender (seriously). Don’t be coy…out with it. My vote is for open discourse and I’m not crazy about grandstand plays and drama with people acting hurt, threatening to leave, etc. And if you don’t agree, I will leave. :)

  47. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Not sure what you’re on about now, TCO … but the posts I find offensively parasitic are the recent ones by Dean Esmay and by Mark A. York – the sort of folks who attach a link to their names and then challenge people to head on over to their better forum. I’m not attacking them. Just saying that Steve M is the real deal, and I think he deserves to maintain the momentum he has built up through his hard efforts.

  48. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    I just didn’t know who you meant. Now I do. I have never noticed those dudes actually. Would I like their blogs? :)

  49. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    grandstand plays and drama with people acting hurt, threatening to leave

    TCO, that may be your perception (and maybe others too), but you are looking at it all in hindsight, with some distance and perspective. In real time, it was a different story. I assure you, there was no playing, no acting, no idle threats. Best to leave it at that.

  50. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

    Hang in there…

  51. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    I agree that Steve is the real deal, that the blog is very special on the net, and that Steve deserves something (at least honor) for his efforts.

  52. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    Is she just going to present her previous hurricane analysis again or is she going to revise the whole thing based on the plots bender and Willis developed?

    If she isn’t, I would at least send the plots of annual tropical storms by year and the annual land-falling hurricanes data to the conference chair.

  53. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    Re #52
    Bloom has been talking on and on and on about the need to use better-quality data than the HURDAT data, and I already supplied the turnkey script to analyze said data. Maybe he can put the two together and send the results to her?

    Now THAT’s a spitball!

  54. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:26 PM | Permalink

    Re #53: Yes it is a spitball, albeit a silly and pointless one. After all your snarking, one would think you could take your own script and use the data on the Webster group’s site to come up with an annualized graphic. All you’ll do is show the same large low-frequency trend they found. Out of blissful Bayesian ignorance you could even generate some error bars. They would mean absolutely nothing, but you could. Have fun.

  55. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    Re #52: Jeff, bender and Willis achieved nothing useful with those plots. The reasons why have been clearly stated. One could sum them up as GIGO, or more politely as a result of a lack of knowledge of Bayesian priors. But actually I think they ought to send them as long as they’re sure to mention that the plots were developed under Steve M.’s auspices. :)

  56. David H
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 2:08 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Can you give me any idea on the timescales for the AGU session on integrity in science?

  57. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 3:27 AM | Permalink

    Steve, TAC’s points in #20 are very good, as witness bender’s negative reaction in #31.
    Dave and Barney correctly point out that what keeps potentially dodgy businessmen clean is the threat of gaol if they transgress.

    So: if you ever do give this talk, avoid talk of scientists versus businessmen as individuals. Rather, stick to talking about the systems under which they operate.
    In particular, make the point that the business system is substantially more robust to being perturbed by a dodgy individual than is the science system.
    (Mentioning perturbation should get the engineers interested, at least.)

    You could further depersonalise it by talking about the most frequent perturbation being political interference with science in support of political aims. From the Club of Rome nonsense in the past, to the “climate catastrophe” nonsense now, there is always some politico trying to dress their ambitions up in bogus scientific imperatives.
    Even when you win the climate argument, it will only be a matter of time before some other nonsense arises. It would be good if the system of science is better able to resist such interference in the future.

  58. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 4:19 AM | Permalink

    Re #31, bender

    Scientists have … everything in place now to improve on past mistakes.

    In his presentation, North sneers at Barton as being representative of energy interests, and as telling people that the Wegman report statistically disproves MBH, ha, ha, ha, well, he’s got to represent his interests, ha, ha …
    I’m not trying to pick a fight, bender, but I think you are being too optimistic. Scientists may have M&M and Wegman’s work to build on, but they don’t seem to have the motivation to do anything with it.

  59. Louis Hissink
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 4:28 AM | Permalink

    Re # 58

    fFreddy,

    the principal reason scientists, while having M&M’s data plus Wegman’s are for the most part employed by government. If they show novelty in thought contrary to the received view, then their funding is cut off.

    This is the whole problem with institutionalised science – it is totally political and as Bernard Goldberg wrote in his two books, Biassed etc, the mainstream news media are of the same mindset and attitudes. “They” think they are normal and we are pesky extremists upsetting their fixed world view.

    Nobel Laureat in plasma physics Hannes Alfven pointed out years ago that the problem with science is that there are too many scientists.

    I would be less circumspect – I would suggest that the scientists are there, in their small numbers, but that the technicians have gotten into control.
    :-)

  60. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

    Re #54
    Dear Bloom, there was no Bayesian reasoning behind the smoothed over trend in Curry’s Figure 1. (Be a gem, and do a word search for me and tell me if Bayes was even mentioned in that paper.) What there was behind that Fig 1 was a lack of reasoning.

    As for my blissful ignorance on Bayes – I invite you to cure it. Student bender awaits his lecture.

    Your other points are trivial enough that they do not merit a response.

  61. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    Re #58
    1. Don’t forget, fFreddy, that climatology is only one tiny branch of science. Let’s not paint everyone with the same brush here. Policies at journals like Nature or Science affect everybody, not just delinquent climatologists.

    2. I argue only that many of the necessary elements for improvement are already in place. I do not argue that they alone are sufficient to solve the problem. Not much of a fight to pick here, really. Note my enthusiasm for reform in #4.

  62. BradH
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

    Re: # 59

    Louis,

    I have absolutely no problem with scientists being employed by Government/Universities. In fact, I think it’s the best place for them to be.

    The problem I have is with the grant-based process. It severely mitigates against neutral investigations. If you investigate a phenomenon and decide that there is nothing there, who is going to give you funding for future research?

    The consequence is that scientists are reduced to whoring for grant money (please excuse the crude metaphor – I wouldn’t use it except that it is so very accurate). If you don’t investigate what everyone wants, then produce the results which everyone wants, your funding dries up and you end up driving a taxi.

    In law, it was realized many centuries ago how dangerous for society it was to allow governments to have the power of dismissal over judges. As a result, judges in most western democracies have tenure for life (which in most cases is to 70yrs or 75yrs). The only grounds for dismissal is gross failure to fulfill their responsibilities. As a result, we have a far greater assurance of fair and unfettered decision-making, even when it might be to the detriment of the government of the day.

    Before government funded science, most great scientists were independently wealthy or part-timers. Nowadays, that’s not practical.

    Even if a secure tenure system risks having some free-loaders in the mix, IMO it’s much better than science conducted via the populist, fad-driven agenda into which the grant-based system has devolved.

    If my recollection is correct, the primary argument for the grant system was to increase accountability and produce better science. How ironic that, so often, it does exactly the opposite.

  63. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    Re #61, bender

    Don’t forget, fFreddy, that climatology is only one tiny branch of science. Let’s not paint everyone with the same brush here.

    Fully accepted. I’ll go further, I’ve no doubt that there are many good real scientists in climatology. But they are getting drowned out by the Mannians.

    Policies at journals like Nature or Science affect everybody, not just delinquent climatologists.

    Also agreed. Which is why I am not sure that journals are the right place to prevent this sort of thing happening again. It is not practical for all journal articles to be subject to full audit before publishing, and mostly not necessary. (Although the provision of a proper audit package with each submission should be perfectly possible.) That’s why I am feeling inclined to some external process.
    The one thing we can be sure of is that, right now, the system isn’t working right.

  64. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

    Re #63
    Personally, I favor pursuing your bracketed suggestion most vigorously, rather than being distracted by pursuing “some external process”. But I’m willing to be deconvinced.

  65. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:58 AM | Permalink

    Actually, I’ve always made it clear that I don’t think that businessmen are intrinsically more honest than academics – quite the opposite. However, the nuance seems to get lost in the crossfire.

    If academic studies are limited to seminar rooms, then there’s no need for due diligence over and above what is normally done. It’s the intersection with policy which changes things. Here slimate scientists typically want to suck and blow – they want to influence policy but also want freedom from due diligence. However, I’ve got enough other fish to fry right now so I decided to pass on this topic for AGU. Judith Curry said she’d check back on this issue, so I’ll refresh thoughts on this at that time.

  66. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

    Re #62
    I think the granting system, like the publication system, is not all that bad either. Outsiders looking in will see all kinds of supposedly monstrous flaws that led to a very wrong conclusion. But every system – no matter how many checks and balances – is prone to abuse. Yes, improvements are needed. But, come on, look at this squarely, now. Who’s to blame for the obstruction and obfuscation that have brought this case to where it is? Institutionalized science? The peer review process? The publishing companies? The granting system?

    Agreed: all of these mechanisms need tweaking. But how do you correct delinquent behavior at the individual level? For sentient beings such as academic scientists, public shaming through blogs is *astonishingly* effective.

    CA is having an impact, I assure you. And in 1 year’s time (these shocks-to-the-system take time to play out) you’re going to see the fruits of this labor.

    Where effort in blog-world needs to be placed is not on discussing the nuances of how the scientific enterprise should be reformed, but in actually perfoming audits. The cases for and against AGW are not nearly as strong as they could be. There is much for both sides to learn. We need all the evidence lined up so it can be assessed objectively by many people with diverse backgrounds. Note it is not just AGW agnostics and “denialists” that benefit from transparent audit; AGWers will benefit too from having tools like turnkey scripts and accessible datasets close at hand.

    Re #65
    That’s AGW double-standard #9. Into the database.

  67. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    Re #65, Steve M
    Hence my #57 above – focus on the system, not the individuals.

  68. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    Re #64, bender
    I prefer the bracketed suggestion. The question is what is needed to make it happen, because it isn’t happening now.

  69. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    I agree with 66.*

    *Publications would be nice too.

  70. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    Re #66, bender

    For sentient beings such as academic scientists, public shaming through blogs is *astonishingly* effective.

    It doesn’t seem to be working on Mann.

    CA is having an impact, I assure you. And in 1 year’s time (these shocks-to-the-system take time to play out) you’re going to see the fruits of this labor.

    You are, I suspect, a US academic, and I am neither, so I guess I am not well placed to challenge this assertion. Would you care to give any insight into what you see happening now, and how you expect it to play out ? Because all I’m seeing is that infuriating presentation by North.

  71. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    Re #70
    Actually, I would prefer to re-focus on the auditing process itself. #69 is right to point out: talk is cheap.

    There is a limited amount of time to get critical assertions, like the uncertainty argument, straightened away and shored up to the point that policy people will listen to it and understand it. Meanwhile you have AGWers arguing that “traditional statistics don’t matter because of Bayes theoreom”, and “the fact that I have heard of Bayesian statistics means I’m more credible than you”. This kind of obfuscation has to be blasted through and revealed for the crap that it is. Science reform will come. Let it come later. Right now we still have the same problem we had last year: good arguments for & against AGW are not as sharp as they could be. Auditing tools help both sides come to agreement as to what the facts really are. (Unfortuantely for AGWers, I suspect they are going to learn a hard lesson when these facts do eventually come to light.)

  72. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    And this twit shilling his movie. And this twit sayig “climate change must be tackled whatever it costs”.

  73. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    I think it is unacceptable in science to present one interpretation of an event as correct (like AGW theory) when multiple interpretations exist within the discipline (or present it sans the uncertainties!) When the discipline offers competing interpretations of an event, or competing theories ( even of political and social processes) these should be presented to the public as objectively as possible so that divided state of knowledge in the field is accurately represented!

    We the public, have a right to make up our own minds!! This is not happening in “climate science” at least not in what is being presented to the public on large scales, or even in the educational packages about GW given to students.

    Blogs are just about the only place to allow the public to dive deeper and say “wait a minute, what about this or that” on this subject. For instance, Tom Brokaw’s Global Warming piece has played just about every single weekend on the Science Channel since the Congressional Commitee met and discussed the Wegman report. Zip, nada, zero was said anywhere to the general public about that report except for the airing the event on Cspan. Only online or in the occasional op ed was anything available at all.

    Frogs becoming extinct because of GW makes it to the AP, the nightly news or Reuters but the Wegman Report does not. Al Gore is at the MTV awards. I find instances like these sinister, creepy and manipulative and what I find incrediblily wrong about this whole issue, including the fudging of data, the lack of detail (like in glacial papers we’ve seen, or “the matter is settled” “we’ve moved on” comments) the hiding of code, the over all nastiness from the warm camp if you have a question they don’t want to answer it (you just want to prove me wrong, who are you anyway?), or concern they do not want to discuss (I’m bored with this, the paper is 9 years old), or a fact they seem to want to dismiss (MWP, LIA, etc etc etc).

  74. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    #40 — “the academics want the benefit of drawing from the public purse, but without the expense of being accountable to the constituencies who actually pay their salaries & operating grants. Because that’s the way it’s always worked in the past, so why shouldn’t it work that way now?

    The reality is that they often don’t actually like to release their codes (or experimental methods, which are the equivalent of a trade secret ingredient) because empowering their competitors means they lose their monopoly on the truth.

    I’ve known one or two academic scientists like that. That sort of attitude typically reflects someone with a large ego who is interested in fame and career more than in advancing science. There are plenty of strong egos in science, but few put themselves ahead of the good of their profession.

    I’ve also seen places in “Materials and Methods” reports in published papers that are squirrelly with details, making replication difficult. Sometimes that may be deliberate. However, after exposure to scientist academics virtually my entire adult life I’d observe that the vast majority of them are honest workers who love what they do and who are passionate about the truths involved.

    It’s not that scientists are better people than most. There are two elements here. First is that science, because of what it is, tends to attract people who truly desire unambiguous answers. It’s no coincidence that the more physical sciences, with the more mathematical theory and the more bounded results, have the greater number of atheistic professionals. So, objective-truth-desire is one criterion of the self-selection of scientists. That just means, with respect to the population at large, one will probably find that desire disproportionately high among scientists.

    The second aspect is that science really is objective, with unambiguous theory and repeatable results. That means no one can count on getting away with cheating. We’ve all seen examples of bright but dishonest people trying to build fame on a fraud in science (Mark Spector at Cornell, Jan Schon at Bell Labs, VJ Gupta, and others). After years of working in a truly unforgiving environment (engineers face the same perils; so does the military in times of war; and mining promoters, I’ve learned here :-) ), almost all scientists develop a set of working ethics that encourages truth-telling. Honesty ends up to be not just the best policy but the only policy, because honesty’s the only way to keep one’s butt from a sling.

  75. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    #74 — I have to add that Micheal Mann’s recent behavior in response to criticism of his work (apart from his early and determined obscurantism), looks to put him into the minority.

  76. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Re #74:

    I’ve known one or two academic scientists like that.

    I have met a great many more than that. I would say the majority want much more funding and much more academic freedom. And the ones who feel the least responsibility to their patrons are often not the largest egos, but the poorest performers! Of course no academic argues this way publicly, that they should be well-funded with no responsibility, because (1) they know to do so would discredit them, (2) they actually think (every one of them) that their work is good value-for-the-money. The strong sense of entitlement only comes out in private discussions.

    Tell you what. Go over to the tree-ring forum and search the archives for the discussion on Joe Barton’s quest for truth. Tell me if you get a sense of goodwill and co-operation there. That move provoked a veritable groundswell of opposition to “political interference” in “academic affairs” – not just in the dendro world, but in other related fields as well. I agree, most academics are nice and good-meaning. Until you poke a stick in their nest.

    Last post on this topic.

  77. Jim Edwards
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    Instead of talking about the relative ethics of businessmen v. scientists [which most scientists will probably find insulting], the merits of more open disclosure / archiving should be described as a benefits v. burden problem. Whether publicly paid for data should be available to all is a separate issue.

    I think Dano was alluding to real problems with a “public policy requires greater disclosure” standard [# 8, 14, above]. How is an honest, individual scientist to know a priori that his paper will be of public policy concern. An honest scientist won’t know how much disclosure is required under such a standard. A disclosure policy should be understandable and of benefit to all scientists, not just designed to rein in the worst politicized offenders.

    Science should not look like magic, whether it is of public policy concern or not. Results should be reproducible based on the description of the experiment. “There’s data in the ether, it goes through a black box, and … Voila, look at these results !” can’t be acceptable.

    The standard for submission for publication in a journal should be reproducibility, period. Reproducibility is a ‘bright-line’ standard understood by every scientist. If experimental procedure and apparatus are adequately described to allow another to repeat the experiment, no additional disclosure should be required. [e.g.- I hiked into the forest at 4000 ft on the east slope of Mt. Hypo and cored 100 sugar pine trees per the XYZ procedure = good enough.] Massaging data which is unavailable to colleagues through a ‘black box’ algorithm is not reproducible and should require archiving.

    What’s the burden of requiring scientists to submit reproducible results ? Low. Data storage is cheap. Most of these scientists use computers for their work and have underworked IT staff around.

    What are the benefits ? Experiments are reproducible and are therefore more credible to both colleagues and public. Mistakes can be found sooner. Science doesn’t look like magic. If a paper turns out to have importance for public policy, scientists won’t be blind-sided by later investigations. Papers which are later shown to have interpretive problems can, perhaps, be quickly corrected by their original authors so data isn’t wasted.

  78. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    The disclosure of code in econometrics has nothing to do with policy implications, but a lot to do with catching mistakes. It’s similar to how mathematicians must show entire proofs. Even the 700 page ones.

  79. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    Lots to respond to here, i’ll do it in several separate posts to facilitate any replies.

    First, re making data available. Science’s policy is stated below (I assume that Nature has a similar policy), available from their website:

    Before publication, large data sets, including protein or DNA sequences, microarray data, and crystallographic coordinates, must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number provided for inclusion in the published paper, under our database deposition policy.
    Large data sets with no appropriate approved repository must be housed as supporting online material at Science, or when this is not possible, on the author’s web site, provided a copy of the data is held in escrow at Science to ensure availability to readers. For answers to questions regarding allowable supporting online material, please see our guidelines; further questions can be directed to Stewart Wills, Online Editor.

    So unless I am misinterpreting something, seems like a requirement is already there to make the data publicly available. I will add that no one from Science ever queried us re the data from the Webster et al. paper. We did get it posted quickly on our website, it was all publicly available data anyways (we mostly pulled it right off the web, except for the 2004 data which at the time was not yet on the public web sites).

    Federal funding agencies (like NSF, NASA, etc) have very specific policies that require that data be archived in one of the publicly accessible data archives. I have known several program managers at these agencies that have actually enforced this, denying subsequent funding to people that did not get the data archived from their previous project.

    So the mechanisms are there, they are however not uniformly enforced or monitored.

    It seems that the criteria for being subjected to this higher level of “due diligence” is publication in Nature or Science, and/or issuing a press release. Either action implies that the author is expecting/hoping that this paper will have some policy relevance, and therefore there should be widespread opportunity to identify any mistakes. (note, we were sufficiently naive when we submitted the Webster et al. paper to Science that we did not expect this to be a policy relevant paper, but only hoped that our fellow scientists would view it as a provocative paper; of course when Katrina hit and we were preparing the press release, we realized the paper would have some policy relevance). Arguably submitting a paper to a journal like GRL without a press release would then not obligate the author to this higher level of due diligence, but it seems like providing the data should be required of anyone that is publishing a scientific paper, and especially if they receive funding from a federal funding agency (taxpayer dollars).

    One weird point about identifying mistakes in publications. James (the lawyer from Volokh) was the first person to point out the typo in the figure caption re 1994. That figure has received a colossal amount of scrutiny, and no one seems to have caught the typo

  80. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Re #79:

    So the mechanisms are there, they are however not uniformly enforced or monitored.

    Agreed.

    It seems that the criteria for being subjected to this higher level of “due diligence” is publication in Nature or Science, and/or issuing a press release.

    I think it’s the bridging to policy itself that is the “external” trigger that most are talking about here. Most are complaining that such a trigger (e.g. stakeholder consultation) was avoided through a nefarious science-to-policy fast-tracking process.

    One weird point about identifying mistakes in publications. James (the lawyer from Volokh) was the first person to point out the typo in the figure caption re 1994. That figure has received a colossal amount of scrutiny, and no one seems to have caught the typo

    I never caught the typo either. But I did notice that I had missed it when James pointed it out. Anyone who’s done debugging of computer code knows how hard it is to catch everything. That is why audit is so critical. The more dependent we become on computers, the more necessary it is.

  81. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Re Steve’s abstract (I assume that it was NOT submitted?) I think Steve raises many good points. However, in a talk for AGU, if Steve wants to get his points across, i would say that he needs to pretty much avoid the HS debate and talk in broader terms; otherwise many people will just have a knee jerk negative reaction and not really listen to the main point and assume this is just another salvo in the anti hockey stick. The other point is that the mining industry is probably a poor model (has too much extraneous baggage); economics and pharmaceutical research are probably better analogies.

    The main issue here is that until recently, climate research was fairly arcane stuff that people weren’t paying much attention to. Now, when the AGW issue is very dominant and people are getting serious about considering emissions reductions, etc., climate research has entered the big time with major economic and policy implications. And therefore the scientific basis of climate change should receive the highest level of scrutiny, with higher levels of accountability.

    At the same time, we don’t want to totally cannibalize scientists time so that they are unable to proceed with their research in a timely way so that decision makers can have the best available info. (again, this is where my press release vs no press release distinction comes in; scientists choosing not to go the press release route can probably stay away from the media and policy furor, with the paper probably being considered in some future assessment report).

  82. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    Re statistical “sloppiness” from the Georgia Tech group. Re the global hurricane data, I assume that you saw our follow up paper by Hoyos et al. (also published in Science), a copy can be downloaded from

    http://webster.eas.gatech.edu/Papers/Webster2006c.pdf

    http://webster.eas.gatech.edu/Papers/Webster2006cSOM.pdf (supplemental material)

    This paper did a much more defensible statistical analysis of the global data. Would appreciate any comments on this. We have not been doing anything else with the global data owing to issues that have been raised about quality of the data, we are awaiting reanalysis of the data (being conducted by other groups, not by us)

    I would like to do a paper on the North Atlantic data, both total basin and landfalling data. If bender or any one else would like to collaborate with me on such a paper, i would be interested in giving this a try

  83. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    Re Bender’s comment: “I think it’s the bridging to policy itself that is the “external” trigger that most are talking about here. Most are complaining that such a trigger (e.g. stakeholder consultation) was avoided through a nefarious science-to-policy fast-tracking process.”

    In the case of Emanuel and Webster papers, none of us were “players” in the climate policy game, nor did we aspire to be players in this. Rather, we issued the press releases since our institutions encourage us to issue them when we have something that we think is of public interest; this helps our institutions in their mission for public outreach and education and also helps secure the funding base for our institutions. In the press release we issued from Georgia Tech, there wasn’t anything in there about policy; the policy relevant issues came up in the Q&A in the Science press release, in the aftermath of Katrina.

    For the Hoyos et al. paper, we did issue a press release mainly since we thought we needed to explain in “layman’s terms” what was done in this paper and what we thought the significance of the paper was in the context of the previous paper that had garnered so much attention.

    Note, for the BAMS article we did not issue a press release (although we did send it to a few media types, hoping they would reflect on some of the issues that were raised re media behaviour).

    At this point (well past the point of our previous naivete), I fully realize the policy implications of any future press releases that we might issue on this general subject, but at this point I must say we are not contemplating issuing any press releases for any papers that we currently have in the mill. At this point I am more worried about “integrity of science” and how to communicate climate research appropriately to the public.

  84. Dano
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    77:

    I think Dano was alluding to real problems with a “public policy requires greater disclosure” standard [# 8, 14, above]. How is an honest, individual scientist to know a priori that his paper will be of public policy concern. An honest scientist won’t know how much disclosure is required under such a standard.

    Absolutely, as Judith related above. Limiting to ‘public policy concerns’ is impossible, as one can not guess whether work will some day become relevant. One standard, period.

    As to the ‘communication to public’ portion of the disclosure, scientists in general are not trained to relay findings to the public. Are we to modify curricula to train them, or have someone else interact? If someone else, who pays for this new way of doing things?

    Best,

    D

  85. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    81. You rock, Judy. I could kiss you.

  86. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    82.

    JohnA: let’s get a headliner post on Judy’s second huri-study. We can dig into that while Steve is gone.

    Please write the paper bender/Judy. Even if it shows no trend, even if you do the work to show that the data are insufficient to make a strong hypothesis, etc. Even if your investigation proves AGW. EVEN THAT. Just do analysess and make inferences and add to understanding and publish. Go baby! (p.s. extra credit from teacher if you use Wegman as your stats advisor. that ought to feed his old school Hotelling views.)

  87. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 6:04 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think that policy relevant studies only should have clear description of methods and archiving or (if possible, really old school) direct publication of data (what Wilson espouses in his classic tome on research). The policy thing is a nice reason for hectoring people to do what they should do anyway. But when you see fields as obscure as minor finance journals or postage stamp crystallography or non-useful abstract math, practicing the gold standard, then you can see that it is not so much an issue of human impact being the driver to get proper practices performed. It’s probably much more around the desire for truth and rigor. And this may derive from outside influences (GLP in FDA, reactor reports for NRC) or from a community’s own decision to enforce standards.

  88. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 6:04 PM | Permalink

    As to the “communication to public’ portion of the disclosure, scientists in general are not trained to relay findings to the public.

    Oh puhlease.
    As one of the unwashed public, all I would like is a summary, in non technical jargon, of what was found, sans editorializing and agenda driven conclusions. Nearly any dimwitted member of the public such as myself is usually capable of understanding the abstracts and conclusions as they are presently written.
    Most of the public has no desire or need to know the vast mountain of details to understand an issue, any more than they need to learn Latin and pass the bar to know whether or not a lawyer is a horse’s ass.

    And while I’m not sure whether Judith Curry rocks, it is very nice to see someone as open and with as little ego invested in an issue as she is. I hope she continues posting here.

  89. Dano
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    88:

    As one of the unwashed public, all I would like is a summary, in non technical jargon, of what was found, sans editorializing and agenda driven conclusions.

    I never was told to write a lab report, results, paper, write-up, anything from junior college-undergrad-grad in this way.

    The write-ups you infer are like this are the press releases, written by someone else, promoting how the employee of the uni found something that makes the uni look great.

    What you want generally doesn’t get taught to most field work/lab folk. You may see some, say, USFS folk do write-ups like this, but that’s because that’s what the forest manager or supervisor wants. The old GTRs are bo-o-o-ring.

    Best,

    D

  90. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    #89

    Actually Dano I was mainly thinking of medical research papers. Due to an illness my wife has I have read a great deal more of these than I care to. I find the abstracts and conclusions quite self explanatory even if the body of most of them are over my head. Don’t most published articles contain abstracts and conclusions of one sort or another, with a large body of numbers in the middle which make the eyes of guys like me glaze over?

    Besides, your point seemed to be that scientists are not trained or capable of making technical scientific matters understandable to laymen. The contents of this and other blogs dispel that notion. If a guy is sharp enough to learn the arcane art of statistics in college surely he had enough on the ball to learn how to write simple declarative sentences when he was in short pants.

  91. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:20 PM | Permalink

    And lo and behold, Global Warming What You Need to Know with Tom Brokaw airs again, right now for the second time today, on Science Channel. And this has gone on every weekend.

    Scientists are on the air 24/7 in this day and age, talking and explaining everything under the sun to the public on television.

  92. jae
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    As to the “communication to public’ portion of the disclosure, scientists in general are not trained to relay findings to the public. Are we to modify curricula to train them, or have someone else interact? If someone else, who pays for this new way of doing things?

    And scientists do not normally deal with the public directly, as you well know (unless they are wealthy or crazy). This is all done through PR departments. Most real scientists do not want to deal with the media, and the “bosses” do not want them to. You have no point, Dano.

  93. JMS
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    I think I have to disagree with just about everyone here. Even Dano.

    A paper may have a tendency to inform policy decisions, but ultimately policy decisions are a political process and politics is the correct forum for making policy decisions. Because politics is heavily implicated in this process I do not think that some “higher standard” of precision is required. I would note that it took Steve and Ross 2 or 3 years to find the mathematical flaw in MBH9x; is this really evidence that the peer review process failed? And what does the fact that an incorrect method of PCA analysis was used have on the final reconstruction? The evidence says it had little or no effect. One can argue about the BCP series: MBH99 recognized the problem and attempted to correct for it. Steve doesn’t agree that the correction curve applied was proper, but I think that Hughes knows a little bit more about dendro issues than Steve does, and I wouldn’t trust Idso as far as I can throw him.

    I am all for greater and more open disclosure of code and datasets used in climate studies; I think that Mann stated under oath that he now is much more open about these issues. Getting sloppily written Fortran code to run is a lot harder than getting Matlab code to run (or R). I know people here don’t like Wahl and Ammann, but they did get to the point where they could replicate Mann’s results and then applied the statistical criticisms of Steve and showed that they didn’t make any difference. Proxy selection is more a matter of opinion and they did not address those issues.

    As far as the big pharma issue goes, I think that in recent years there have been far more problems related to research done by pharmaceutical companies (as subsitute for the old FDA studies) than have been found in climatological research; COX2 inhibitors anyone? And as far as the high standards of financial disclosure, do I have to mention Enron, Global Crossing, Worldcom, etc.? It would seem that business disclosures are honored in the breach, I am not so sure that I would hold them up as a gold standard.

  94. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    re: #93

    I would note that it took Steve and Ross 2 or 3 years to find the mathematical flaw in MBH9x; is this really evidence that the peer review process failed?

    No, that’s misleading at best. They found flaws right away, but the fact that the proper data wasn’t available and that the methods used to produce the MBH results weren’t available meant they weren’t able to trace everything to ground for 2-3 years. The fact is that if any peer reviewer had wanted to check out the data or methods, s/he would have had the same problem M&M did, and indeed others since then have reported the same problems. Now you can claim, if you like, that it wasn’t the responsibility of peer review to do such an audit, but then you have to decide if peer review is really sufficient for papers which have major policy ramifications. And if it’s not, then other provisions should be made protect the policy process from relying on unverified research.

  95. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 5:51 AM | Permalink

    As far as I can tell, the Emanuel and Webster papers haven’t influenced any policy directly at this point, other than possibly insurance premiums in Florida. The main “policy” thing that we tried to do was the joint letter from both sides of the debate that is posted on Kerry’s web site

    http://wind.mit.edu/~emanuel/Hurricane_threat.htm

    and was written up by Revkin in the NYT and discussed on Prometheus.
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus /archives/disasters/000879scientific_leadershi. html
    (watch out for the spaces i had to insert to get past your 60 characters thing)

    What we have influenced (albeit inadvertently, and this was never our intent or expectation) is the public dialogue on greenhouse warming. Apparently melting of the polar ice caps really didn’t cut it in terms of raising public awareness on greenhouse warming, but the confluence of Katrina and our papers acted as a major focusing event of public attention on greenhouse warming

    .

    The people who know how to translate science for the public and policy makers are the NGO advocacy groups. They are really good at it, unfortunately it is invariably associated with political spin and an “agenda”. But the more responsible of the advocacy groups (on both sides of the political spectrum) are having a major impact here on educating the public and policy makers on these matters. And then the political process takes over. And somehow in all this, scientists are criticized for meddling with policy and having an “agenda”.

  96. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 6:48 AM | Permalink

    “And somehow in all this, scientists are criticized for meddling with policy and having an “agenda””

    Hmmmm. Someone needs to tell me why Michael Mann and Gavin Schimdt, two main scientists in this debate agreed that “The Daily Kos” as a good place to discuss their work and the science behind GW? The Daily Kos is one of the largest extreme left wing blogs on the internet.
    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/Mann/news/news.html Click on the logo.

    A quote from Mann, talking to the members of this blog Jan 20, 2006:
    “Our Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction, since termed the “Hockey Stick” by a colleague of mine, due to the sharp 20th century warming (the “blade”) that occurs at the end of the 1000 year record, became an icon of the evidence for global warming in large part because it was a simple, easily depicted indication of climate change, and was prominently featured in the summary for policy makers of the 2001 report of the U.N. intergovernmental panel on climate change. Even though several other studies, as shown in the report, came to the same conclusion, the iconisation of our work made it a target for special interests who thought that they could sow doubt about the vast amount of science that indicates that human-caused global warming is a real phenomena, by attacking our study by whatever means possible, regardless of how vicious or dishonest.”

    A question from a member:
    “(SN) asks: What is being done to link the results of climate change studies with studies showing the emergence of ‘peak oil’ and other supply constraints?”

    Mann answers: “That’s a big reason we started Realclimate in the first place! This information isn’t always easy to find, usually buried on page A30 in local papers, if covered at all. And too often what is out there is either highly technical or flatly wrong. But a couple of good places to start would be the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.”

    ( And then Mann couldn’t find the time to attend the first National Academy of Sciences/Wegman/Congressional session discussing the math or ” simple, easily depicted indication of climate change” graph he created)

    I am not convinced there isn’t agendas, including coming up with and promoting the “icon” called the Hockey Stick for all it’s worth to support them.

  97. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    re: #96, apologies! So sorry. I highlighted pasted in the wrong question. Please disregard the one asking about peak oil. It should be:

    This is all both fascinating and disturbing, but sadly far beyond the scope of what a single interview could possibly illuminate. To wrap up, are there any orgs you would suggest the interested layperson might contact or want know about to learn more?

    That’s when Mann refers to creating RealClimate (links throughout the interview)

  98. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    re: #95

    1. The point JMS was making concerned the Mann multiproxies rather than the hurricane data, though if increased hurricane numbers or intensity are pushed as reasons for accepting AGW, and AGW is used as a reason for policy decisions, then I don’t see how papers in the area shouldn’t be examined ex post facto more carefully than they would have been otherwise.

    2. It’s very simple to add a link here without any worry about how long it is. Type in “My Link” or some other descriptive phrase, highlight it then click “link” in the bar above the comment box. This will pull up a box where you can paste (or type) your actual link. Then the proper code will appear hear and you’ll see something like My Link which will both save space and allow a person to see where the actual link is to by mousing over (which doesn’t happen if you use “TinyUrl”.)

  99. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    Re #95, Judith Curry

    And somehow in all this, scientists are criticized for meddling with policy and having an “agenda”

    For what it’s worth, I have no doubt that the vast majority of working scientists are honest truth-seekers. I suspect the same is true for most readers here.
    But all it takes is a small number of agenda-driven types with a huge politically driven public visibility, such as the hockey team, and the whole lot of you risk being tarred with the same brush. This would be a disaster.
    So I really wish professional scientists would put their house in order. I don’t like the idea of a solution being imposed from the outside, but in the absence of an internal solution, there may be no choice.

  100. bender
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    scientists are criticized for meddling with policy

    Not here they aren’t. The problem is not “meddling”, as it is their job to “meddle”. The problem is fast-tracking:
    “Quick, let’s promote this to the highest levels of policy before anyone derails us by scrutinizing our work and finding fault with it. We have to do this now because the planet is in peril and we can’t afford to wait even a single year.”

    Where climatologists should be criticized is on this ludicrious position, repeated ad infinitum, that there is a “consensus” on something as complex as the solar-driven planetary climate. The only way to achieve “consensus” on a matter as complex as this is to phrase it in a very special and simplistic, black-and-white way: A in AGW is either greater than zero, or it isn’t.

    Well, of course A is greater than zero. Most posters at CA will grant that. That ain’t the question, folks. The question is:
    1-what is its magnitude?
    2-what is the uncertainty on the estimate?
    3-is the former large enough and the latter small enough that we should pursue an activist policy?
    4-should that policy be X, Y,or Z?

    But of course anyone daring to speak of (2) is accused, through a guilt-by-association argument, of behaving deceitfully, “just as the tobacco industry did”. We are in “denial” about the consensus. We are spreading FUD. (See how the meme spreads?)

    The fact is the debate must be kept pure black-and-white in order to keep uncertainty off the table. And uncertainty must be kept off the table to keep doubt off the table.

    Well, Earth science is all about estimating uncertainty. If you’re not interested in uncertainty, then you’re not an earth scientist. If you’re not interested in uncertainty, then you can not participate in the real debate, which is the great debate of how planet Earth functions.

    Which leads me to my point: What scientists are criticized for is not “meddling with policy” but systematically downplaying uncertainty in order to maintain a false “consensus” that pushes policy in a specific direction. Of course they are not solely to blame, as this is precisely what policy-makers themselves ask for: consensus science that points in a single direction. It does not concern them if the consensus offered is a shaky construct vulnerable to perturbation. So you can blame those folks too. It’s a dance.

    Just don’t tell me that scientists are being scapegoated. They deserve the criticism they get.

    Speaking of systematic downplaying of uncertainty, MBH99 must be the most pretentious and useless paper of all time.

  101. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    If you really want the low down, just read the “Mother Jones” interview with Michael Mann in the link I provided to his personal “In the News” pages.

    April 2005

    In regards to “Real Climate” he says:

    MM: Well, this is our baby, and we hope that it might set an example for others who are interested in helping educate the public about these issues. I’m sure there are other creative approaches to this problem. This is the one we came up with.

    “MJ: Your hockey stick has come under heavy attack in the last few months.

    MM: Yes. The contrarians have tried to make it seem that there’s just one reconstruction and have attempted to narrowly define the debate on the premise that if they can debunk this dataset, the whole warming theory would come into question. What they will do is take our particular reconstruction and make disingenuous claims about it’s various attributes and hold it up as a straw man for trying to argue that these are not the consensus conclusions.

    But that’s ridiculous. These days, scientists in the field prefer not to talk about the “hockey stick” anymore because of the sheer number of corroborating reconstructions; we now talk in terms of the “hockey team”. They might be able to take one member of the team out of the game for a while with a cheap hit, but there are others that can easily fill in.

    MJ: Is this just a big PR campaign?

    MM: I’ll leave it to you as a journalist to investigate some of the links, some of the funding sources, and come to your own conclusions. Ross Gelbspan”¢’‚¬?he’s a former editor of Boston Globe”¢’‚¬?has written two books on the connections between industry funding, in particular funding by ExxonMobil, and these climate contrarians. The vast majority of them appear to receive funding from industry sources.

    —Sheer number of corroborating reconstructions?? Is this hype or what?

  102. bender
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    I am going to start keeping a log of ridiculous arguments on the theme of uncertainty. Nuggets like “storm frequency is not a random variable”, “count variables are not subject to sampling error”, etc. Statements which, in hinsdsight, appear to be desperate attempts to deny or downplay the existence of uncertainty in climate science.

  103. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Heh, look what Mann said here:

    “But advances in climate modeling, an influx of new scientists working on the problem, and in some cases advances in other scientific communities like the physics community and the statistics community played important roles in the developments within our field. The evidence became more and more compelling’€”it wasn’t a coincidence that the scientific community reached a consensus on the issue in the mid-1990s.”

    The statistics community played an important role…and scientific community reached consensus with such compelling evidence, and it was no coincidence! LOL

  104. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Andrew Dessler has a very interesting post on his blog. I can’t find much to quarrel with here, will be interested in your reactions to Andrew’s statement:

    “Not everyone appreciates the carefully caveated statement in the IPCC’s TAR about the attribution to humans of the current warming. Let’s take a closer look at the exact statement:

    In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

    There are three important caveats in this statement, which are often ignored by strawman-toting advocates.

    “most of the observed warming”: this says that humans contributed > 50% of the warming, but it leaves the door open for a significant amount to be due to non-human influences.

    “last 50 years”: this says that we can identify the hand of humans in only the recent warming; before that, the data are too poor to unambiguously assign the cause of the warming.

    “likely”: in the carefully nuanced language of the IPCC, “likely” denotes a confidence of about 75%. Thus, there is a possibility that this statement is wrong. This reflects the fact that our knowledge of the climate is imperfect, and it is possible though unlikely that new research could significantly revise our understanding of the climate system.

    The main problem is that when advocates use the IPCC in their policy arguments, the carefully crafted language is abandoned for much stronger statements that support the advocates position. When these positions turn out to be false, the blame falls (unfairly) on the IPCC. Clearly, I think we all need to read the IPCC with the scientific precision with which it was written.”

  105. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    #95

    Apparently melting of the polar ice caps really didn’t cut it in terms of raising public awareness on greenhouse warming, but the confluence of Katrina and our papers acted as a major focusing event of public attention on greenhouse warming

    No offense Judith, but this is the kind of off hand comment that I have a problem with. It’s what my lawyer would characterize as assuming a fact not in evidence.
    Are the polar ice caps melting? I have seen studies indicating that on balance Greenland and Antarctica may very well be accreting ice. Perhaps the public is aware of more than they are given credit for at times, perhaps not.

  106. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    “Most” “majority” and “Likely” are not words of precision. They are ambiguous and were meant that way.

    They certainly aren’t words to use in a document used to influence Policy.

    These words are hedges and the argument distracts from the fact that the IPCC TAR does not give the level of precision required of such a document.

    Putting a number of 75% to the word “likely” is simply ludicrous.

    Please show me a dictionary definition that says “Likely: Meaning, 75% chance of happening” or something similar.

  107. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Let me get this straight.

    “In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    So what this is saying is, attempting to increase precision by disambiguation.

    “There is a 75% chance that .2 degree C, or more, warming was due to an increase in CO2, Methane and Water vapor.”

    To re-use your wording.

    I don’t think this really cuts it in terms of raising public awareness.

  108. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

    #103

    Ross Gelbspan”¢’‚¬?he’s a former editor of Boston Globe”¢’‚¬?has written two books on the connections between industry funding, in particular funding by ExxonMobil, and these climate contrarians. The vast majority of them appear to receive funding from industry sources.

    I always find this ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ line or argument revealing. The implicit assumption is industry has an agenda whereas government is neutral. The overarching tendency of government is to accrete power. So the idea that ExxonMobil or BP has any more self interest in funding research than NOAA, NASA, EPA or the UN, is fatuous. And then of course there is the the environmental movements use of science. It is routine for some Sierra Club, NRDC or NWF study to be presented as a sort of public service with no underlying pecuniary or political interest from the sponsoring group even if conducted by someone on staff. But any corporate sponsored research is automatically tainted no matter how arms-reach the funding may have been.

    The rise of agenda driven science in government and without risks really putting a dent in the public’s perception of science IMO. We don’t want scientists polling down around lawyers, actors and other creatures of the night would we?

  109. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Would a theory or hypothesis in any other field of science be considered a breakthrough, or even more than important with only a 75% confidence level? (I don’t think so)

    “it is possible though unlikely that new research could significantly revise our understanding of the climate system.”

    This is putting a “written in stone” spin on a hypothosis that in a scientific opinion such as my husband’s, an environmental geolgist, is a very weak one to begin with. There we go misleading the public again.

    The IPCC is promoting politics not science because we regular people have to really pick apart “the carefully crafted language”

    “When these positions turn out to be false, the blame falls (unfairly) on the IPCC. ”

    Not hard to imagine certain types of avocates who will “likely” turn on one other whenever they are in a pinch. LOL

  110. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    #108, “other creatures of the night”. LOL :)

  111. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    I love “the polar ice caps are melting” stories.

    I don’t trust the data and animated graphics showing the polar ice anymore. I want live pictures from webcams and visible satellite pictures (non-doctored after the fact) so I can see for myself.

    Here is the webcam picture from the North Pole of a few days ago. Looks pretty frozen to me.

    Here is the webcam for the coast at Barrow Alaska (1,200 miles from the North Pole) where the stories have come from that the polar bears are drowning because the polar ice is so far away. Well Barrow has only been ice-free this year since the second week of August. Two days ago, the harbour was totally frozen over again although today it looks ice-free. Keep watching and see Barrow Alaska freeze up after being ice-free for only one month.

    http://www.gi.alaska.edu/snowice/sea-lake-ice/barrow_webcam.html

    Here are visible satellite pictures (ie non-doctored by the climatologists) from the north slope of Alaska, the Beaufort Sea, on July 25 (the heighth of the summer) in 2005 and 2006. The polar ice is right up to the coast in both pictures. No drowing polar bears visible. No polar ice caps are melting conclusions visible either.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/natural_hazards_v2.php3?img_id=13738

  112. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    “No drowing polar bears visible.”

    THere is however a sea lion in distress on the left hand side of the image.
    ;)

  113. Dano
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    90:

    Well, I actually agree with you here Barney (please, no one disparage Barney from now on).

    The medical papers IMHO do a good job of explaining, and the NEJM especially, in my view exactly because of the reason you gave for reading medical papers. I shoulda put a caveat in there.

    ==========

    93:

    politics is the correct forum for making policy decisions. Because politics is heavily implicated in this process I do not think that some “higher standard” of precision is required.

    I don’t think you disagree with me at all.

    =====

    111:

    Here are visible satellite pictures (ie non-doctored by the climatologists) [emphasis added]

    Evidence plz that climatologists doctor pictures. Evidence does not include telephone games on comment boards.

    Thank you in advance.

    Best,

    D

  114. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    The IPCC has struggled for a decade to figure out how to convey uncertainty, when much of the uncertainty is not quantifiable. They are trying to say that greenhouse gases is the best available explanation for the warming, although there are still uncertainties. If you are not convinced by the greenhouse warming explanation, the other explanations like solar variability are much less convincing at this point. As stated in my BAMS article, the predictive capabilities of these various hypotheses needs to be tested by observations, which in the case of AGW, will require

    My comment about about the melting polar ice was not meant to be a scientific one, but rather a comment on public perceptions.
    Re Barrow Alaska and the melting Arctic sea ice, this is actually my real scientific turf (not hurricanes). In terms of the available data for the past 50 years, the sea ice is definitely melting. One frozen season at Barrow is not sufficient to “disprove” the polar melting any more than one season with relatively low hurricane counts does not disprove the overall increase in hurricane activity

    I’ve been so busy with the hurricanes I haven’t had a chance to keep up with what is going on in the arctic this season, i will have to check it out.

  115. Judith Curry
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    I am in total agreement that the funding source is an absolute red herring, we should not waste our times worrying about this. I find it impossible to believe that Richard Lindzen’s scientific opinions have been “bought” by a few paltry consulting fees. Lets look at the scientific arguments and the data, and forget who is making the arguments and who paid for them.

    In my personal struggle to appear to be without an agenda, I have even rejected funds from advocacy groups (like wildlife fund, etc) for travel to events that they invited me to (i did accept travel funds from the american meteorological society and the U.S. House of Representatives). I don’t want to be accused of supporting the advocacy groups agendas, but i am happy to participate in helping them get informed and then inform the public and policy makers. Roger Pielke has accused us being “used” by advocacy groups. IMO we aren’t being used by advocacy groups any more than we are being used by insurance companies, energy traders, or anyone else that wants to hear what we have to say, and maybe use this info in whatever it is they do.

  116. ET SidViscous
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    Ms./Dr? Curry #114

    Looks like the first paragraph got cut short.

  117. Greg F
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    Re: 104
    A few dictionary definitions of likely:

    Merriam-Webster
    1 : having a high probability of occurring or being true : very probable

    Dictionary.com
    1. probably or apparently destined (usually fol. by an infinitive): something not likely to happen.
    2. seeming like truth, fact, or certainty; reasonably to be believed or expected; believable: a likely story.

    I assert that the redefining a commonly used word as a deliberate attempt to deceive. Those that engage in hijacking the language know full well that quotes will not include the footnote. It is like saying the sky is red and having a footnote defining “red” as the color blue. The low range of likely in the TAR is around 66%, if I remember correctly. There is no reason they couldn’t have used the range in percent.

  118. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

    #113,

    Well, I actually agree with you here Barney

    Actually we have agreed a time or two in the past Dano. Must be cross contamination.:)

    #114,

    My comment about about the melting polar ice was not meant to be a scientific one, but rather a comment on public perceptions.

    Gotcha.

  119. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    Re #118: “Gotcha”?! Barney, as Judy could tell you in vast detail, Arctic sea ice extent has decreased steadily over recent decades. Just as significantly, it has thinned substantially. The particular location of sea ice at any given time isn’t very meaningful since it is very easily pushed around by wind and currents. See here for details.

    Regarding your prior remark about Greenland and Antarctica, apparently you somehow managed to miss the recent extensive news coverage and blog discussion (including right here on CA) of the GRACE satellite measurements. The upshot is that Antarctica is melting and that Greenland is melting at a rapidly accelerating pace. The NSIDC site I linked above also has information on this, or see the RealClimate Arctic/Antarctic archives.

  120. Dano
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    119:

    Regarding…prior remark about Greenland and Antarctica…the recent extensive news coverage…of the GRACE satellite measurements.

    “Greenland’s ice loss accelerating rapidly, gravity-measuring satellites reveal

    “Our latest GRACE findings are the most complete measurement of ice mass loss for Greenland,” said Tapley, director of the university’s Center for Space Research (CSR) and holder of the Clare Cockrell Williams Centennial Chair in Engineering. “The sobering thing to see is that the whole process of glacial melting is stepping up much more rapidly than before.”

    Best,

    D

  121. John Creighton
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    Hmmmm…..gravity mapping sounds pretty cool. I thought the Greenland ice cap was growing but if “highly accurate gravity maps” show otherwise then I have to accept it. Can you find for me a topological map produced by this satellite data showing the percent growth per year and another map showing the uncertainty.

  122. John Creighton
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    Hmmmm……here is some theory I didn’t find the data or pictures yet.

    http://gdr.nrcan.gc.ca/gravity/can2k_iso_e.php

    I got to go roller blading now.

  123. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    John, the relevant documents are Satellite Gravity Measurements Confirm Accelerated Melting of Greenland Ice Sheet, Chen et al., Science, and the Supporting Online Material at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1129007/DC1

    Regarding the “uncertainty”, they say:

    Many error sources may affect our GRACE
    estimates, which include the remaining GRACE measurement
    error (after spatial smoothing), uncertainty in the background
    geophysical models used in GRACE (e.g., the uncorrected
    ocean pole effect in the release-01 GRACE data and errors in
    the atmospheric and ocean models over Greenland and
    surrounding regions), unquantified other leakage effects, and
    etc.

    The most curious part is that to get their simulations to agree with the GRACE measurements, they have to assume that three areas in mid-ocean are also changing in gravity by amounts equivalent to the Greenland changes … now if we assume that the Greenland changes are due to ice loss … then what is the cause of the mid-ocean changes? Here’s their map of the simulation:

    w.

  124. John Creighton
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Willis, how come the maps only show the changes in part of Greenland. Don’t snow fall amounts suggest that the ice caps are growing in the center of Greenland. Are the gravity measurements not precise enough to measure this? If not how should we measure this to get an idea of the total change in the Greenland ice cap?

  125. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

    The gravity measures are not accurate enough to say one way or the other what is happening.

    For instance, Hudson Bay and the north coast of North America have rapidly increasing gravity measures because the land is still rebounding from the weight of the ice during the last ice age.

    If that is true, then the falling gravity measures in Greenland could be the result of increasing ice mass depressing the land (rather than the opposite conclusion drawn by the researchers that the ice mass is falling.)

  126. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    From Dano, “Evidence plz that climatologists doctor pictures. Evidence does not include telephone games on comment boards.”

    Did you look at the satellite pictures? Did you know that the polar ice is still 1,200 miles from the pole on July 25th?

    My guess is probably not since we are told that the polar ice caps are melting on nearly a daily basis.

    Someone mentioned that winds and temperatures conditions move the polar ice around so much that you can’t tell from just one location in one year that the ice caps are melting.

    But that is exactly what the climatologists are saying in every study they produce where they say “Oh my, the polar ice was 80 centimetres when we measured it at this location 20 years ago and now it is only 60 centimetres. Oh my, the polar ice caps are melting.”

    Garbage. Of course the ice moves around a lot and it moves from being centralized close to Siberia one year to more centralized closer to Greenland the next and then closer to Barrow Alaska the next year. All dependent on climatic conditions around the top 1,500 miles of the world. But no climatology study ever says that. We are simply told “the ice caps are melting and the polar bears are drowning. This location proves it.”

    When I say “doctored”, I mean that the data has been processed through a computer to produce an image or an animation.

    Look at these two “doctored” images from NASA.

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/1023esuice.html#addlinfo

    Here is the “doctored” one from the NOAA.

    Here is a “doctored” animation of the sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2005.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mpg/134729main_sea%20ice%20average_NASA%20WebV_1.mpg

    Since I already know the Beaufort Sea was completely frozen over in 2005, I know the processed animation of the sea ice animation above is bogus. It has been processed and doctored to show a particular point of view.

  127. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Steve B.

    I am a very phlegmatic person and it takes a real effort to aggravate me but you manage to do it.

    “Gotcha” is short for “I get or got you”. Put another way “I understand you now”.
    I was merely stating that I understood what she meant. Sheesh.

    As to Greenland and Antarctica, I stated that I have read reports that they may be accreting ice. They may not be for all I know. In my original post I was questioning what I thought was a definitive remark by Judith about an issue which to my knowledge is not definitive and concerned a time period prior to any of the data you bring up. Nothing more, nothing less.
    As I stated before your insight is often overshadowed by your unfortunate propensity to incite. It is sometimes difficult to believe your primary intent here is an exchange of ideas.

  128. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    Re #125: Jeff, try not to leap to conclusions without having read the literature. FYI, and you will find this analyzed in the literature if you are so inclined, Greenland was not affected by the pre-frontal bulge of the Laurentide ice sheet.

  129. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    So Greenland was not affected by the main ice accumulation point which drove the glaciers south in the last ice age and depressed the land across the northern half of North America.

    What does that have to do with falling or rising gravity measurements in Greenland today?

  130. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    Well I read the links and found them less than definitive to say the least. If there are definitive data which support these findings I am perfectly content to acknowledge that the Greenland ice sheet is melting. However, there seems to be evidence both ways, so the prudent thing to do would be to wait for conclusive data not say things like Greenland is melting at a rapidly accelerating pace.

    Re #128

    Jeff, try not to leap to conclusions…

    Do you include yourself in that admontion Steve? “Gotcha” ring any leaping to conclusion bells?

  131. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

    Re #127: I apologize for having misunderstood your “gotcha,” Barney.

    As for GRACE, the important thing to know is that it has resulted in the first accurate readings of ice sheet mass. The studies you refer to did not purport to be accurate overall mass readings. It’s possible what you may be remembering was some of the misinformation that resulted from a 2002 paper by Peter Doran.

    I just noticed that in #123 Willis cherry-picked the uncertainty discussion from the recent Greenland GRACE paper in Science. Yes, there’s uncertainty, but as the paper notes the results are very consistent with the recent mass loss estimate obtained from a recent radar interferometry study. As well, other past studies whose results Willis may have preferred had much greater uncertainty in terms of their implications for total mass changes. Finally, the Greenland GRACE paper does include error bars. They’re not all that large.

  132. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

    Re 124, John, you ask a good question when you say:

    Willis, how come the maps only show the changes in part of Greenland. Don’t snow fall amounts suggest that the ice caps are growing in the center of Greenland. Are the gravity measurements not precise enough to measure this? If not how should we measure this to get an idea of the total change in the Greenland ice cap?

    The answer is that this is the location of weights that they found best replicated the GRACE results. When they put in those weights, they got a result that most closely resembed the actual GRACE data. Note, however, that they had to put in a number of other weights, both explained and unexplained, to get the results to match up.

    Your point is well taken, however “¢’‚¬? how probable is it that only the eastern side of Greenland is melting?

    w.

  133. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    Re #129: You implied a relationship in #125.

    Re #130: What exactly constitutes evidence both ways? References?

  134. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    Re #132: “(H)ow probable is it that only the eastern side of Greenland is melting?” Perhaps not all that improbable, apparently, since the radar interferometry paper I referred to found something similar.

  135. John Creighton
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    Here is a theory if the results are true. Perhaps the west gets more snow so as a consequence the east melts faster. Perhaps the way to approach the problem is assume that growth is some function of snowfall and altitude and then to use the gravity data to best fit this result.

  136. Dano
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    125:

    The gravity measures are not accurate enough to say one way or the other what is happening.

    Let us know when they print your letter explaining this to the scientists who somehow overlooked it.

    Yet another blockbuster discovery here in the comment section. Sadlov is gonna have his hands full with Galileo: The Journal of CA NewScience

    126:

    Jeff, I hear Safeway is having a sale on aluminum foil. Better stock up. Then, show me the fake Apollo mission too.

    NASA is not faking the extent of the sea ice in these fotos to make a case for more funding, but thanx for the laugh.

    Best,

    D

  137. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    #131,

    Thank you for that gracious apology, Steve. Accepted and forgotten.

    Actually most of the info I recall related to Greenland not Antarctica. It stated that while the eastern coastal ice was melting the interior seemed to be accumulating ice with an overall net increase. Can’t remember where I read it and am too tired to look it up. This appears to one of those areas that will require further study probably including some new methodologies.

    Unless you’re Dano in which case one scientist who says what you want to hear shouldn’t be questioned. :)

    Nite all.

  138. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

    Re 134, Steve Bloom, you say

    “(H)ow probable is it that only the eastern side of Greenland is melting?” Perhaps not all that improbable, apparently, since the radar interferometry paper I referred to found something similar.

    Well … in a word, no. That paper shows both sides of Greenland have increasing ice discharge. This is quite different from the GRACE results, which show no change over most of Greenland, and very large change on the east side.

    w.

  139. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 8:09 AM | Permalink

    A 66% or 75% confidence level is even lower than that in reality because the HS is flawed and tree ring proxies are no good, etc. But no matter! let’s all hop on the guilt train and embrace this low level information and be miserable and frightened together. Whew hew!
    Ice melting on Earth? Oh my! What an odd occurrence! Now comes the part where they are going to warn us that the Earth is going become like Venus if we don’t shape up …a more appropriate time for putting on the tinfoil hats IMHO.

    sheesh!

  140. bender
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Rocks, IMHO it’s worse than you can imagine. I don’t want to stress you out … but just think, when you multiply the error in all those parameters in the:
    -GCM’s
    -multiproxy reconstructions
    -physical radiation budget models

    Suppose, for example, you have a 20 parameter model with 95% confidence in each parameter. Sounds ok, but do the arithemtic: 0.95^20 = 0.36. This is the order of confidence that I suspect we are dealing with: something far lower than 50%. Little wonder they do not study error propagation in climate models. The result would be very damning. Little wonder the climatologists tend to keep some distance from the statisticans. Statisticians are so “anal” (North’s term, not mine) about things like probabilities and confidence levels.

    Any climatologist out there who wants to argue this with me on this, bring it on …

  141. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 7:47 PM | Permalink

    Actually this is one of the studies I was referring to concerning Greenland.

    And it seems to have a lot less guess work and mitigations involved than the GRACE method. Nothing here looks definitive to me.

  142. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    Re #141: I’m not sure how you can conclude that. The article you linked to is explicit in stating that the due to a lack of low-altitude data it could not be used to calculate an overall mass balance.

    In any case there is no contradiction. All three of these papers were published in Sceince in relatively short order, and for the second one (the radar interferonetry study I already linked) they commissioned a review article (excerpted below). It found no contradiction between the two studies or others recently published, and as noted the subsequent GRACE results are consistent. Reference 11 is the paper discussed in the article you linked.

    “Satellite and airborne radar and laser altimeter data sets complete the picture of a changing Greenland Ice Sheet. Above the 2000-m contour, representing 70% of the ice-sheet surface, elevations increased by a mean of 5 to 6 cm year-1 (11, 12). These values were based on satellite radar altimeter data acquired between 1992 and 2003 (11, 12), and are greater than those reported previously from more scattered airborne evidence (13). The pattern of change was variable, however, with growth of 10 to 20 cm year-1 in southwest and parts of east Greenland and negative values of 25 to 30 cm year-1 in some lower-elevation western areas in particular (11, 12). By contrast, peripheral thinning of the ice sheet was recorded, exceeding 1 m year-1 close to the coast, often associated with outlet glaciers (13). The thinning was due to changes in ice flow, in addition to enhanced melting. However, parts of southern Greenland appear to be thickening even close to the ice margin, perhaps resulting from increased coastal precipitation (12).

    “Taking the new evidence on the acceleration of ice-sheet outlet glaciers together with estimates of increasingly negative surface mass balance (7) yields, according to Rignot and Kanagaratnam (2), a contribution from the Greenland Ice Sheet of more than 0.5 mm year-1 to global sea-level rise, over two-thirds of which is derived from flow acceleration. This new information on velocity change more than doubles previous estimates of losses from the ice sheet to the global ocean (6, 7). Future monitoring of the velocity structure of the ice sheet, especially above 70°N where acceleration to date has been limited, is required. It is also necessary to understand better the nature and distribution of precipitation over Greenland. Increased accumulation in the ice-sheet interior, and even in some coastal areas, could offset losses attributable to surface melting at lower elevations (12). Existing and forthcoming satellites will continue to measure ice-surface elevation and any shifts in the rates of surface melting and accumulation. In a warming world, it is likely that the contribution to sea-level rise from Greenland is set to grow further, assuming that the observed acceleration in outlet-glacier velocities is sustained, with possible increases in precipitation providing the only prospect of short-term amelioration.”

  143. Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    #140. When they do study the variance due to parameter error in CGCMs e.g. monte carlo studies like the climate @ home project, it gets reported in Nature as potential extreme possibilities, not as uncertainty in the model. Moreover, prominent climate scientists say nothing to disabuse us.

  144. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

    Re 142, Steve B., I fear this is more non-science from Science … the editorial merely finds no contradiction between the two studies. It does not attempt to assess the combined effect of the studies, other than to say:

    Increased accumulation in the ice-sheet interior, and even in some coastal areas, could offset losses attributable to surface melting at lower elevations

    Since reference 11 explicitly shows increased accumulation in the ice-sheet interior, this seems like a curious oversight. The Rignot et al. paper says:

    Climate warming in the last decade has enhanced surface melt and slightly increased snow precipitation to reduce the surface mass balance compared to the 1960 to 1990 average by an estimated 35 km3 ice/year in 1996 and 46 km3 ice/year in 2000 (19), which we linearly extrapolate to 57 km3 ice/year in 2005. Total ice sheet loss, combining dynamic losses and deviations from a zero-anomaly surface mass balance, is then 91 ± 31 km3 ice/year in 1996, 138 ± 31 km3 ice/year in 2000, and 224 ± 41 km3 ice/year in 2005.

    However, in fact the reference 11 clearly shows an increase rather than a decrease in the surface mass balance for the ice-sheet interior, so this is a significant oversight. Using the reference 11 mass balance (+ 75 km3/year, rather than – 57 km3/year) gives a loss of 93km3 rather than a loss of 224 km3 in 2005, This is a significant difference, one that the editorial overlooked.

    On another subject, in total contrast to the GRACE study claims of melting ice in the east and no change in the west of Greenland, the editorial reported:

    The pattern of change was variable, however, with growth of 10 to 20 cm year-1 in southwest and parts of east Greenland and negative values of 25 to 30 cm year-1 in some lower-elevation western areas in particular (11, 12).

    Thus, the GRACE results are NOT consistent as you claim, and the editorial did not say that the GRACE results were consistent … in fact, it didn’t mention the GRACE results at all …

    w.

  145. BradH
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

    The other problem with the GRACE satellite, of course, is that it has only been aloft since 2002. Three years’ of data might catch some short-term variations, but it would be a very big call to extrapolate this into a meaningful, long-term trend.

  146. Barney Frank
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    # 142,

    My conclusion was that nothing was definitive in the assorted data. Its very easy to come to that conclusion, if one has an open mind. It is no doubt possible to come to other conclusions if one has an open mind as well.

    This is as good a place as any for me to ask this question.
    I was watching a program on the LIA on the Discovery channel the other day. They provided a possible explanation for its onset as the rapid melting of the Greenland ice cap during the MWP which cut off the ocean’s heat conveyor and the resultant cooling of the North Atlantic. Is there evidence for this or is it merely hypothetical?
    And if that process does occur isn’t the implications that if the Greenland ice sheet does melt the next hundred years may be another LIA not MWP?

  147. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Re #144: Regarding the article, I didn’t say it discussed the GRACE results; it couldn’t have since it pre-dated the GRACE paper by some months. It did find a general consistency between the first two studies, and the GRACE paper itself discussed its consistency with these. I don’t have time right now to look at the discrepancies you mention, but I would note that there is an obvious way for altitude to increase while mass decreases in a given region.

    Re #145: Agreed, but note also that the ice sheet melt results must ultimately be made consistent with sea level rise and ocean heat content. Although its results too are a little preliminary, the recent much-discussed Lyman et al paper relies in part on there being a melt level at least as large as that found by GRACE (and probably quite a bit larger, but that’s another discussion).

    Re #146: It seems generally agreed that there just isn’t enough ice in Greenland and environs to have a major impact on the THC. There have been several recent papers along those lines, and I don’t recall seeing anything to the contrary other than the kind of speculation you mention. I think the reason for the speculation was the fact that fresh water surges associated with glacial terminations do seem able to affect the THC in that manner, but it turns out on closer examination that such a consequence requires a volume of fresh water that is only available at such times.

  148. Hank Roberts
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 5:31 AM | Permalink

    This is why you don’t want to go to scientists and say they should be as reliable as business people in disclosures, as explained by Sen. Arlen Specter (link above) — the standard of “more likely than not” to be found legal is criterion for much of the legal advice about what securities disclosures a business should make.

    ————————–
    “Mr. Specter. Insanity and sanity are not mutually exclusive under the legal doctrines considering the burden of proof. For example, to prove that a person is sane – to use the vernacular – and can be released from an institution, he must prove sanity by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not, or, say, 51 percent. To prove that a person is not insane, as was the standard in the Hinckley case, beyond a reasonable doubt – you cannot quantify it (but) you know it is more than 51 percent, say, hypothetically, 70 percent.”
    —————–

    Look at the recent stock option backdating stories — the legal advice was that backdating options and not disclosing the practice was “more likely than not” okay.

    http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2006/04/the_prosecution_1.html

    Don’t be like them.

  149. Hank Roberts
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 5:37 AM | Permalink

    Mangled html; there are 2 links in the prior post;
    — first (all but the last line of text) is to the NYT story from which the Specter quote is taken, explaining “more likely than not” — a phrase recently much used in securities law advice since the 1980s;
    –the second one (the blog link) is to a recent example of “more likely than not” legal advice as it’s now blowing up in court cases.

  150. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    Note that if you click the ‘b-quote’ button and then paste in a link you need to click the button again which (will now show /b-quote.) But if you paste your link first and then highlight it and click the b-quote button it will put both the b-quote and the /b-quote in. Myself, I try to leave a space before and after the tags just to be safe, but that probably isn’t necessary. I suppose most all browsers can handle the tag running into the text.

  151. Hank Roberts
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

    Noted.

    Anyhow, point being:

    “Insanity and sanity are not mutually exclusive under the legal doctrines considering the burden of proof.”

    Science has to do better than the law, to be respected.

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