The first complaint by RMS (and others) against Swindle seems to be about their handling of the Hockey Stick. A new complaint from someone at the University of Bristol includes a spaghetti graph, including MBH, saying that it shows that the newer reconstructions use “superior methods”, “supersede” the earlier results and that the old IPCC 1990 version was “wrong”. They assert:
Seemingly, TGGWS uses the old versions of the reconstructions because, in the context of the program, they support the notion that the current warming trend is small by comparison to the medieval warm period. Their failure to cite this more advanced and recent work is puzzling, misleading and wrong.
I think that most of the Swindle battles are a waste of time because I don’t think that either side has played their cards very well.
In this case, I think there was a very powerful story line connecting the IPCC 1990 graphic to the Hockey Stick – one which Ross and I have used in presentations on several occasions. Had Swindle followed this exposition, I think that, on the one hand, it would have been a much better exposition and, on the other hand, it would not have been open to complaint about biased use of obsolete versions.
On the other hand, the complainants are opening up the entire Hockey Stick issue, which is a lousy issue for them. Imagine trying to defend Mannian methodology as an improvement on anything.
Think about the following storyline (or any subset of it) as an alternative to the present situation.
The IPCC 1990 graph is an important reference point. Ross and I have used it in presentations – but differently than Swindle. We said loud and clear that this is what the specialists thought in 1990 — providing a specific reference to IPCC 1990. You don’t imply that it’s what IPCC climate scientists are selling right now. Durkin could still use it as a segue to the visually appealing bits about the MWP and LIA by explaining that that’s what people thought only 16 years ago.
After the graphics about the MWP and LIA, you can turn back to the graphic and observe — if this is what specialists thought in 1990, it certainly doesn’t convey any sense of urgency. It must have been hard/impossible to convey alarm with this as a sales graphic. You need good graphics to sell stock and this graph won’t sell stock. Then you segue into David Deming and “Get rid of the MWP”. Deming said [note - see his Senate testimony in 2006 here] (and he’d probably make an interesting interview):
With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said – We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.
Maybe Jonathan Overpeck could be asked on the record about this quote. Then move along to 1998: just like the medieval king’€™s wish to be rid of the turbulent priest, there was someone ready to get rid of the MWP. Along came the MBH Hockey Stick. It not not only got rid of the MWP, but it came with the promise of “statistical skill”. It came with fancy graphics luridly showing phenomenal statistical achievement.
Here’s a graphic from MBH98 showing fancy verification r2 statistics (the ones that weren’t calculated.)
It didn’t just have statistical skill; for people who were worried about potential problems with tree rings, it had something for them too: it was “robust” to the presence or absence of tree ring proxies altogether. Best thing since sliced bread.
Right away Mann was made lead author of the IPCC section studying the Hockey Stick. The promotion didn’t stop there: the Stick went right to the top of the IPCC food chain. At the big press conference announcing IPCC TAR, on the podium behind John Houghton was the Stick.
Climate scientists were delirious with joy. MBH got cited more times than Einstein. Mann was one of Scientific American’s visionaries of the year. It was what the market wanted. But did anybody check it? Here’s what Mann said in 2003:
30. Did IPCC carry out any independent programs to verify the calculations that you made in MBH98 or MBH99? If so, please provide copies of the reports resulting from such studies.
Mann: It is distinctly against the mission of the IPCC to “carry out independent programs”, so the premise of the question is false. However, the IPCC’s author team did engage in a lively interchanges about the quality and overall consistency of all of the papers as the chapter was drafted and revised in the course of review.”
Isn’t it great that they had a “lively interchange”? Who needs to check things when you can have a “lively interchange”. Then discuss the attempts by the Team to block examination of the stick:
Jones: We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.
Mann: Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in.’
Then they could ask: was any of it true? (in Swindle’s words). What about Mann’s claims about verification r2? Cut to Mann telling the NAS Panel that he didn’t calculate the verification r2 statistic as that would be a “foolish and incorrect thing to do”, while leaving the Nature graphic on the screen. Show the claims about statistical skill on the screen with a Mann voiceover saying “I am not a statistician”. (I’ll bet that there’s some tape of this around.)
Then go to the UCAR press release from Ammann and Wahl announcing that allegations about MBH98 — including the failed verification – were “unfounded”. Show their letter refusing to provide the verification r2. Read in John Houghton piling on. Then read from the NAS Panel and Wegman on verification statistics. Put up a screen showing the verification r2 bankruptcy.
Maybe there could be a little segue on bristlecones. I’m sure that something visually attractive could be found. Read from Mann saying that his reconstruction was “robust” to presence/absence of bristlecones. Then show the CENSORED directory and the graphs from the CENSORED directory.
Then show that Mann’s method made hockey sticks out of random data.
Wegman would make a great interview. Even without interviewing him, there must be footage from the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings. Ask Jerry North about how the NAS Panel carried out due diligence.
One could even bring the discussion full circle by discussing treelines in California and the Urals (Millar et al 2006, Naurzbaev et al 2004) both of which have nice quotes about a very warm MWP (and both cited by the NAS Panel). They close the circle to IPCC 1990 since Lamb’s original calculations which underlay the IPCC 1990 case were heavily influenced by treelines.
It’s hard to know where to stop. The Swindle complainants should be careful what they ask for. If Durkin had to re-do the section on the Stick, he might well come up with something that is much more powerful than what he’s presently got.