Off to Georgia Tech

I’m going to Georgia Tech for a couple of days at the kind invitation of JEG (Julien Emile-Geay) and Judith Curry. I’ll be presenting at their Friday afternoon EAS seminar series (http://www.eas.gatech.edu/school/seminars/) (3:30 to 4:30), which is geared towards a broad scientific audience. In addition, I’ll be spending time with each of the protagonists, plus the students of the Hockey Stick class, plus two dinners out. So it should be fun.

I’ve given invited presentations to a National Academy of Sciences panel, a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an AGU Union session, but I’ve never given a presentation to a university seminar before. So this will be my first university seminar presentation.

It will also be my first presentation to climate scientists at a university. (Despite the wide coverage, I’ve only been invited to give one presentation to a university class – to Sinan Unur’s economics class.)

I think that I’m detecting a bit of a change in attitude among some climate scientists, especially younger ones. I’ve mentioned previously that a couple of young scientists at the 2006 AGU said that they thought that I had pretty much killed the Hockey Team studies and that the only way forward was through new and much improved data – which might take 10-20 years – something that I suspect is correct. This was obviously not the official viewpoint subsequently expressed in IPCC chapter 6 (but even there, as we now see from the Review Editor comments, there were some concerns on this section.) In 2006, they required that their identities be kept confidential.

At the 2006 AGU session, an enraged Malcolm Hughes said that there were so many errors in my presentation that he didn’t know where to start. If I’d been a little more alert in my repartee, I’d have suggested that he start by archiving his bristlecone data, but on my feet before an audience, I’m not Winston Churchill.

At the 2007 AGU, as I mentioned before, I was pleased by the very cordial attitude of several of the biggest names in paleo-oceanography. A lot of people came to my poster, mostly to introduce themselves and to encourage me.

JEG and Judith Curry have both been welcome visitors to this blog and, while they don’t necessarily agree with very much that I say, they’ve been brave enough to defend the proprietor of this blog to third parties, which I appreciate.

Young scientists are by nature probing their science – that’s what makes things “self-correcting”. Despite my calendar age, I’m relatively new at this particular game – I’ve been doing this about the same length of time as a grad student or post-doc. In lots of ways, I have more in common with young scientists than middle-aged scientists keen on defending their corpus.

Although I’m stepping on an airplane this afternoon (snow permitting), I’m still wrestling with what I’m going to say. I’ve been given a title designed to cover any eventuality: “Climate reconstructions of the past millennium : statistical considerations”. I haven’t really done much on the HS front for a while; the counterattacks in Wahl and Ammann 2007, Mann et al 2007 and Juckes et al 2007, didn’t raise any issues that I found interesting. One of the Nature reviewers in 2004 (who was probably Jolliffe) said of Mann’s response that he was particularly unimpressed with their attitude that by “shouting longer and louder they must be right”. Wahl and Ammann, in particularly, merely lengthened Mann’s 2004 reply submitted to Nature (though they nowhere even acknowledge Mann).

When I re-visited matters HS in preparation for the Georgia Tech presentation, I found myself drawn to three lines of thought, all of which have been discussed at the blog, but not all of which are easy to present to a general audience.

First, I found myself wanting to go back and discuss the linear algebra involved in reconstructions, showing how reconstructions could be placed in a more general statistical context (for example, that MBH98 could be simplified to weighting the proxies by correlation and that, in turn, was equivalent to Partial Least Squares.) And that there were all kinds of multivariate methods, with RegEM not being any sort of magic recipe. It’s hard to imagine anything less interesting to third parties than some linear algebra, but I’ve developed some relationships that I think are quite pretty and I’d like to give it a try. I’ll mull it over on the plane.

Second, on the basis that people accepted that statistical precautions were actually required for Team reconstructions, I fond myself wanting to review some of the econometric discussion of “spurious regression”. Many of the issues in dispute in proxy reconstructions were fought over long ago in econometrics, which confronted the problem of high correlation statistics (in Juckes’ terms, 99.999% significant) between series that had no possible connection – Yule’s famous example of the relationship between mortality and the proportion of C of E marriages or Hendry’s later example explaining inflation in terms of cumulative rainfall. For recons based on bristlecones or the Yamal reconstruction, the $64 question is whether the relationships that underlie Team studies are spurious or not. In this respect, the econometrics literature is far more aware of the risks of data mining – and, in particular, of cumulative data mining.

I found a great segue from these issues to some very specific proxy series that I think that I should discuss from Greene’s article on data mining:

But testing in un-mined data sets is a difficult standard to meet only to the extent one is impatient. There is a simple and honest way to avoid invalid testing. To be specific, suppose in 1980 one surveys the literature on money demand and decides the models could be improved. File the proposed improvement away until 2010 and test the new model over data with a starting date of 1981.

It’s impossible not to confront this with the IPCC AR4 statement in respect to divergence:

the possibility of investigating these issues further [a limit on the potential to reconstruct possible warm periods in earlier times] is restricted by the lack of recent tree ring data at most of the sites from which tree ring data discussed in this chapter were acquired.” (p. 473)

and then to show some slides and results from Almagre, which, among other things, showed that Colorado dendros could have a morning Starbucks and update bristlecones in the same day, a possibility that we’ve not proved for California, but which I suspect to be true there as well.

At this point, the inconsistency between versions at key sites (Sheep Mountain, Tornetrask, Polar Urals) becomes much more than a nit. In each case, there is a widely used version with a modern period that is warmer than the MWP (Graybill at Sheep Mountain, Briffa at Tornetrask and Briffa at Polar Urals). In each case, subsequent data has eliminated the modern-medieval differential (Ababneh 2006, 2007 at Sheep Mt; Grudd 2006, 2008 at Tornetrask and Schweingruber’s 1998 data at Polar Urals (in Esper 2002). In each case, later more ecological studies (Miller et al 2006 in California; Naurzbaev et al 2004 in Siberia) raise questions about the interpretations of the earlier studies.

In the ice core area, some dO18 series go up in the 20th century, some go down. I’m not sure that you can deduce very much.

Loehle did a new collection of data showing an MWP, but you don’t even need to add a new proxy compilation into the brew. You can get MWPs merely by taking variants of the key data sets in the canonical studies.

People can huff and puff all they like about multivariate methods, and, while there are many interesting statistical issues, at the end of the day, the results are being driven by the data and until the data is stable in individual localities, I don’t think that there’s much that can be concluded. And this means not just collecting more and new data, but reconciling completely to prior data, reconciling to ecological information in the area, better data recording, better data archiving.

If I keep writing this post any longer, I may actually figure out what I’m going to say.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the trip.


185 Comments

  1. Stephen Richards
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I gave a lecture to undergrads at Edinburgh uni on one occasion on project management in the IT environment. My brief was similar in its clarity to your own. You have a difficult task to focus on what a student might need and or want to hear.

    What about sytemic failures in stats – beware! you could maybe use the HS team as an example.

    Which stat’l method is right for you? for that you could focus on the tree examples and how you updated them.

    just playing with it. Best of luck I am certain you will enjoy the experience.

  2. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    You could have a Cherry vs Apple theme, and show that the Team’s prominent graphs are all cherry trees.

  3. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Have fun Steve! Good luck at the airport. And kudos to your hosts for inviting you–it is a credit to them.

  4. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Many of the issues now found in proxy reconstructions have already been identified and worked through in statistical economics, such as the problem of high correlations between data that has no possible connection.

    Have fun!

  5. bmcburney
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    “In each case, there is a widely used version with a modern period that is warmer than the MWP (Graybill at
    Sheep Mountain, Briffa at Tornetrask and Briffa at Polar Urals).”

    Shouldn’t “warmer” be in quotation marks.

  6. Fred
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Pls emphasize the importance to these you scientists of the critical importance of archiving their data.

    If they don’t learn this lesson they will have careers over shadowed by the “what do you have to hide” banner.

  7. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Kudos to JEG.

  8. jeez
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Ditto Kudos and for reference, Starbucks in range of Sheep Mountain.

    905 North Main Street
    Bishop, California 935142405

    Safeway-Bishop 1753, 1190 N Main St
    Bishop, California 93514

  9. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    You might point out that if you have a proxy with no correlation with temperature and do a reconstruction and then add the instrumental record at the end, you get a hockey stick, because the recon will just be white noise (or red noise) with a mean of 0.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    #11. Sure. Also if you have one HS series (regardless of provenance) and 12 white noise or low-order red noise series and do a CVM on them, the white noise series average down due to Central Limit Theorem. If it is then re-scaled on the blade as in CVM, the one HS series is recovered large as life. It’s hard to know where to begin the stygian swamp.

    Just so people don’t get the wrong idea, I’ve got most of my presentation in place. I’m just rearranging and tightening.

  11. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

    Following from Craig’s hint in #11, one could point out that there is no physical theory that permits extraction of temperatures from tree ring widths or densities. Dendrothermometry therefore claims quantitative results from qualitative judgments about temperature-limited growth. This is physically impermissible.

    The whole thing is scientifically spurious with physically meaningless statistics lending the enterprise an air of profound, but entirely false, precision.

  12. Peter Thompson
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    Best of luck Mr. McIntyre. It is absolutely a credit to JEG that he invited you. Would that the Team were so open minded.

  13. Alan Bates
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

    Best wishes

    If you think it worth the effort, I for one would welcome seeing your write up on this
    blog.

  14. Dan Evens
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    Alan Bates beat me to it. I was going to suggest it would be nice to see your presentation written up here.

    It has been a while since I had the opportunity to attend a for-grad-students seminar.

  15. Eric McFarland
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    Just keep the right things in mind:

  16. John Hekman
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know if Hu McCulloch is around to discuss this issue today, but I believe that the way Mann et al. used PC methods to estimate the hockey stick is fundamentally wrong. The use of a large number of tree ring series as if they were DIFFERENT variables is not what PC is supposed to do. It is supposed to be used to combine different variables, not various measures of the same variable. For example, if you were trying to measure the demand for iPods and you had fifty different series of household income from the fifty US states, it would be incorrect to use PC and look for the one income series in one state that had a correlation with iPod sales, then weight that 100 times more than all the other series and say that you had estimated a model of iPod sales.

    In other words, you could have white noise as far as the relationship of income to iPod sales in 49 states; the correlation in the 50th state would drive the result that you would report as being the general model of iPod demand. It’s just nonsense.

  17. Mike B
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Good luck Steve. And if you have an opportunity for a “Churchill” moment, don’t worry about being facile or profountd. Just go back to the data. It’s what you know best, and everything starts from there.

    I would be sorely tempted to show several “proxies” to the group, and invite paleoclimate interpretations. Later you reveal that half were actual proxies, and half were similated red or pink noise. It’s a cheap parlor trick, but it gets across bender’s point about looking for patterns in clouds.

    Has anyone ever mentioned that Atlanta is the Toronto of the South?

  18. Larry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    An example of spurious correlation that might appeal to a college audience is the Pastafarian graph showing the inverse relationship between pirates and global temperatures:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#Pirates_and_global_warming

  19. Jim Edwards
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    It’s unclear if you’re going into a lion’s den of young advocates who think your soul belongs to Exxon or a class of math-saavy academics who think you are contributing.

    I think your talk should have the theme of integrity of science and scientists. Young students are idealistic and should respond better to your message through this filter. Lump the RC offenders in with the creation science types who want public policy to reflect their personal beliefs, sans evidence. They could be right, but it’s not science.

    “Hello, I’m Steve McIntyre. I don’t know what you’ve heard about me; I’m not a shill for the oil industry. I DO think that GW is a serious issue and that there appear to be contributions by man.

    I enjoy mathematics and I believe that WE scientists should seek to discover truth about the world around us and get the truth out so good decisions can be made by the policy makers who have to divide resources between education, poverty, public health, and problems like climate change.

    There are many big names in climatology that appear to believe that the problem they’re working on is too important to allow themselves to get bogged down with the details any student would be expected to provide in an undergraduate lab class. Others appear to have picked up their bad habits and parts of the field are quite sloppy.

    They don’t disclose methods. They misidentify data. They exclude data that doesn’t support their hypothesis. They hide their algorithms. When standard statistical tests don’t support their hypothesis, they fail to disclose the results or make up their own tests. They have stopped doing science.

    Now these men may end up being right in the end about some of their conclusions, but they could be wrong, as well. Millions may suffer if the wrong decisions are made, or even if the right decisions are made too early. The public may lose confidence in science if the dire predictions supported by the consensus of scientists keeps turning out wrong. Science funding could disappear if the public figures they’re being mislead.

    Much of the published work is statistical, rather than experimental in nature. Unlike most of the men publishing this work, my background is in statistics. My contribution to climatology has been in pointing out where very influential papers have failed to live up to the standards that are expected of scientists. I have also been an advocate for archiving data, and updating old data through the recent period of warming, so that the truth can be discovered, quickly. The world’s future shouldn’t be held hostage by one man’s ego, and his claims to ownership of publicly funded data.

    For this I have been publicly attacked. Personally attacked.”

  20. Christopher
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    Will you make your presentation available after the fact? I’d love to have a look.

  21. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    I’d also like to make a request to have your presentation recorded in any form.

  22. Tom C
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    #18 John Hekman

    Yes. It needs to be more frequently pointed out that the Team’s PC approach is conceptually flawed from the outset. So, regardless of all the other complications and errors that were committed, there is no way it could ever provide a meaningful result.

  23. LadyGray
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    Besides a copy of your presentation, it would be informative to have a list of what the students ask you about after the presentation is made. That could give some insights into the thought processes of the rising generation.

  24. henry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    I’m sure that all or parts of your presentation will show up on YouTube, especially if there is anything you say that the AGW crowd can jump on, saying “See, he’s lying here” or “That’s not what he said here”. That kind of stuff.

    I do agree with others here. You need to remind them that THEY are the new team, that 20 years from now their papers and ideas may become the new mainstream. They need to see that archiving of data and proper statistical procedures will make their arguements stronger, and easily re-produceable.

  25. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Steve: this might be a bit late, but if you’re giving out handouts, or if questions on misuse of valid statistical techniques arise, a fine primer is Hans von Storch, Misuses of statistical analysis in climate research, online at http://coast.gkss.de/staff/storch/pdf/misuses.pdf . Unusually for technical statistics papers, it is quite readable and understandable by non-specialists.

    And, of course, that deathless classic How to Lie with Statistics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Lie_with_Statistics

    You might also note that the first entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misuse_of_statistics is Discarding unfavorable data !

    Have a good trip!

    Cheers — Pete Tillman

  26. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    have a good trip, and thanks for mentioning and linking the grudd paper (Tornetrask 2008) in another thread today.

  27. MarkR
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    Steve M The thing that brought home to me the falsity of all the claims about 99% significance/correlation were the charts of several proxies side by side. Visually it is obvious that there is no clear pattern there. I think it was one of your Moberg posts.

    Also the lack of good cross correlation outside the calibration period.

    Regards
    MarkR

    PS Also to remind you about the enhanced search plugins for WordPress for us lesser mortals. So we, and perhaps the students can find things more easily.

  28. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    Just for the record :

    Dr Cobb never invited Steve here, but she will meet with him to discuss a variety of issues regarding climate science and the media coverage thereof.
    Dr Curry has her own reasons for inviting him, which I cannot comment about.
    The three of us will issue a public statement after Steve’s visit, because we feel our names are being used a bit too liberally here.

    Nevertheless, the main drive for this invitation is to move the main debate raised here onto much constructive grounds.

    Both Dr Curry and I feel very strongly that no real progress is going to be made in climate science and climate communication until the skeptics are all confronted head on with logically sound arguments. Steve has proven perhaps the most legitimate of said skeptics in terms of his methodology, which is why he is given the honor to present his work at the same level as some renown scientists in GaTech’s seminar series.

    But don’t get me wrong : I have serious issues with the way some this scientific meat is often framed here, and have the deepest contempt for the recurrent ad hominem attacks that are made here against some of my friends and colleagues. I would hate for people to get the impression that we are giving him a free ride. We are giving him the opportunity to articulate his scientific arguments in an mutually-agreed scientific format (i.e. a seminar) ; but that does not mean that we will stand still if he makes some of the unfounded allegations or plainly false statements that all too often darken a typical CA post.

    So in short, this is a cordial invitation indeed. As cordial as bushido commands a sword fight to be.
    And yes we will have food and drinks afterwards, because we are civilized, dammit.

    Que le meilleur gagne….

  29. nomae
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    the ad hominem attacks here??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? not happening elsewhere?

  30. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    nomae–
    There are ad hominems at all climate blogs, political blogs, and heck, knitting blogs. People always notice these when their detractors fling them and then fail to notice the ones they sling themselves. It is the way of blog comments.

  31. Mike B
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Just for the record :

    Dr Cobb never invited Steve here, but she will meet with him to discuss a variety of issues regarding climate science and the media coverage thereof.
    Dr Curry has her own reasons for inviting him, which I cannot comment about.
    The three of us will issue a public statement after Steve’s visit, because we feel our names are being used a bit too liberally here.

    What a bizarre response to Steve’s gracious thank you.

    How often is Kim Cobb mentioned here? Once a year?

    But don’t get me wrong : I have serious issues with the way some this scientific meat is often framed here, and have the deepest contempt for the recurrent ad hominem attacks that are made here against some of my friends and colleagues. I would hate for people to get the impression that we are giving him a free ride. We are giving him the opportunity to articulate his scientific arguments in an mutually-agreed scientific format (i.e. a seminar) ; but that does not mean that we will stand still if he makes some of the unfounded allegations or plainly false statements that all too often darken a typical CA post.

    Vintage JEG, just trying to keep his bona fides. I wouldn’t expect Steve to get a free ride, wouldn’t want him to get a free ride. How nice it would be if no one got a free ride.

  32. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Forget about transcripts. Just have someone make a video and post it on YouTube.

  33. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    Actually, I have a bit of a challenge of sorts related to this that might be a good illustration. I’ve been charting or comparing various charted quantities since the 1800s or 1900s (population, amateur radio stations, number of democracies, foreign direct investment, cell phones, fixed phones, new Internet domain hosts, urbanization, food production, cars, roads, natural disasters and number of people affected…) and depending on the subject and time period I noticed something odd.

    Just like the AGHG, they all caused a rise in the anomaly trend. Ladies and gentlemen, this is far worse than we thought.

  34. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    Steve has also been invited to speak here at OSU in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering’s weekly seminar series, sometime this spring, at the initiative of Bob Essenhigh, Professor of Energy Conversion, an expert on thermodynamics, and certified AGW skeptic. The series has featured Lonnie Thompson 4 times and Fred Singer 3 times. The venue should not be as combative as Ga Tech, but I’ll make sure Thompson and friends know about it, just to liven things up if they choose to come. (I’m guessing they will just boycott Steve’s talk, in fact.)

  35. jimbobholdem
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    I am certain you will do fine. It will be hard for you to realize which level to put the talk at until after you have already given the talk. The greatest dificulty will be deciding at which level to give the talk. You do not want it to be too simple or too difficult…

    As is made clear by the JEG post above, the majority of the AGW crew or alarmists believe that nonsensible attacks are the norm for skeptics, rather than real science. You are and have been one of the front runners for proving this to not be true. You have always kept things at a high, scientific, and civil level, although some posters here at CA do not. Keep that up, and we will all be in fine shape.

    I would also focus on the need for data archiving and auditing in all science that ends up driving (expensive) policy.

    Best of luck at my alma mater. Thanks again for the good work. Keep it up.

  36. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    My overall rationale for inviting Steve and for spending time on this site is to try to calm the waters so that we don’t again see a repeat of the hockey stick conflagration (mann vs mcintyre, played out in the halls of congress) in the context of climate science (originally in the more specific context of hurricanes and global warming).

    Climate science, given its policy relevance, needs to become more resilient to attacks by skeptics. Circling the wagons and pointing the guns outward is not the right strategy. The right strategy is for our science and assessment reports be transparent, and by addressing attacks by skeptics that are genuine and involve people actually doing work to try to refute aspects of the science (rather than the politically motivated skepticism say of the Competitive Enterprise Institute). After hanging around here for awhile, I have judged that SteveM and some of the other posters here fall into the category of skeptics that deserve to have their arguments and questions addressed. Hanging out here has improved my public communication skills on the subject and sharpened my critical thinking and has improved my ability to convince arm chair or political skeptics to pay attention to the issue of climate change. As someone who is trying to communicate the risks of climate change to the public, i find it very interesting and illuminating to see what kinds of issues are of concern to the thinking skeptics that are outside our field, and sometimes I find the exchanges thought provoking. I “provoked” JEG into coming over here, since I was hoping that he would challenge himself to address some of these issues (i have a high opinion of JEG). This was a risky thing for JEG to do in terms of his peers in paleoclimate research, and he showed alot of courage and independence of thought to do this.

    In terms of inviting Steve to Georgia Tech, I approved Julien’s invite because I want our students and faculty members to be exposed to the arguments and strategies being used by skeptics, to stretch their critical thinking skills, and to encourage open mindedness. I note also that last fall Peter Webster invited Pat Michaels to give a seminar, and I approved this for the same reasons (note, we won’t be inviting anymore mainstream climate change skeptics here for awhile). I want our students and faculty to be leaders in the field, and to be able to communicate our science to the public which implies dealing with arguments from skeptics. Too many times, leading climate scientists have debated skeptics, many with meager credentials at best, and the climate scientists lose the debate even when they have the scientific evidence on their side. Some climate scientists are proud when they lose such public debates, deeming their opponents to be unworthy scientifically and merely spouting rhetoric. This tells me we are doing something wrong here, and it isn’t the science. I want my faculty and students to be able to win such debates.

    I am taking some heat for all this from my peers outside Georgia Tech. The climate blog police were very upset by my congratulations to Steve upon winning the best science blog award. A recent seminar speaker was apalled to be included in the same seminar series as steve and pat, and told me i was misleading my students. I got some support for what I am doing from a program manager at NSF who I spoke with recently, who appreciated my “missionary work” over at climate audit. Another NSF program manager is apparently not at all happy about this. Some people think that my participation over here in someway “legitimizes” CA; my participation over here is not all that relevant in the overall scheme of CA. I am fully aware that many of my peers think i am crazy for doing this.

    The final verdict isn’t yet in on my little experiment here, but from my perspective i think it is a good thing, and I think I have interested a few faculty members, postdocs, and students in engaging in this kind of dialogue. Our invitation to Steve does not in any way constitute an endorsement of his science or climateaudit. It is part of an experiment to make progress on many of the issues surrounding climate science and its skeptics through open communication, and an attempt to make our science more resilient to attacks and increasing the public credibility of the climate science enterprise.

  37. jae
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    18: John Hekman: I didn’t realize that. Has this been pointed out before here? If you are correct, all of the studies that rely on the PC analysis are flawed from the very get-go!

  38. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    RE 30. Dang JEG. I still like you and would still like to thank you for inviting
    SteveMc to GT. Do you remember the first Loehle thread. Where I invited him to run the
    Gauntlet? And he accepted? Most of us treated him with respect, even evil bender. There was ONE
    Fellow who made his first appearence here and was quite rude in his first post. (That happens.
    puppy’s: housetraining.)

    Nobody here wants you to give SteveMC a free pass. NOBODY. When want you to attack his ideas.
    If he has not archieved data, ATTACK! ATTACK with the same vigor you would attack thompson. Yes
    attack him with the same vigor you would attack Jones who refuses to release data.
    If he hides the fact that he has conducted certain statistical tests, like verifications.
    ATTACK. attack with the same vigor you have and would attack Mann or others. If he makes
    a statistical mistake attack him with the same vigor you attack others.

    We do not want you to give him a free ride. We would love to see all of your arguments.
    And then, we would like to ask you to engage similiarly with everyone. We would ask you to apply the same
    rigor to others. No excuses. If a criticism you make of SteveMc applies to someone else,
    even your friends, We will expect to see you here throwing fruit at them as well.

    Finally, just because SteveMc appears at GT, does not imply an endorsement of the Hornets.

    Kinda funny. I remember the first time I invited Derrida to speak at my University.
    You got some stones JEG. I like that.

    NOW, who was the first poster to SUGGEST that you invite him to speak?

    Dont pretend this was your idea.

  39. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Re: #30

    But don’t get me wrong : I have serious issues with the way some this scientific meat is often framed here, and have the deepest contempt for the recurrent ad hominem attacks that are made here against some of my friends and colleagues. I would hate for people to get the impression that we are giving him a free ride. We are giving him the opportunity to articulate his scientific arguments in an mutually-agreed scientific format (i.e. a seminar) ; but that does not mean that we will stand still if he makes some of the unfounded allegations or plainly false statements that all too often darken a typical CA post.

    If this is JEG’s way of framing the impending discussion, I can only hope that the seminar with the students’ participation turns on a more scientific and less emotional basis. I have never heard a college seminar broached in these terms, but I think we should be able to overcome JEG being JEG if we can learn from the experience. So I say teach (not preach) on JEG and we shall learn.

  40. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Both Dr Curry and I feel very strongly that no real progress is going to be made in climate science and climate communication until the skeptics are all confronted head on with logically sound arguments.

    And what about the credulists? Shouldn’t they also be confronted head on with logically sound arguments to prevent climate science from going far off into the wrong directions?

  41. jae
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Kudos to Judith Curry, too!

    This was a risky thing for JEG to do in terms of his peers in paleoclimate research, and he showed alot of courage and independence of thought to do this.

    Some people think that my participation over here in someway “legitimizes” CA; my participation over here is not all that relevant in the overall scheme of CA. I am fully aware that many of my peers think i am crazy for doing this.

    I find this shocking and downright scary, considering the goals of a university. I guess things have changed, big time, since I was a student.

  42. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    Re:44

    Finally, just because SteveMc appears at GT, does not imply an endorsement of the Hornets.

    Well, I am glad that you see clearly on this. From the responses i see already, it seems a lot of people thought we were endorsing him. Steve has a way of making it sound (without saying it) like he has a broad support from all sorts of climate scientists, when he is just being recognized as a worthy opponent.

    Don’t pretend this was your idea.

    Actually it was ! Meeting Steve in SF was a very stimulating discussion and i was looking for some more.
    What did Derrida talk about ?

    Re : 47

    And what about the credulists? Shouldn’t they also be confronted head on with logically sound arguments to prevent climate science from going far off into the wrong directions?

    You have to pick your battles, nanny_govt_sucks. I know where mine is.
    Speaking of which, i’ve got some science to do before Steve shows up.
    Ciao ciao.

  43. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    re: 21–Steve: looks like you have a speechwriter now! (not poking fun–very eloquent)

  44. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    Re: #42

    Climate science, given its policy relevance, needs to become more resilient to attacks by skeptics.

    That statement almost sounds as though there is climate science (and scientists) and then there is this other group of skeptics. Climate science, itself, has skeptics of alternative and sometimes opposing theories and conclusions therefrom. Climate science does not need to become more resilient to skeptics (from within or without) but should be promoting it. It is, in my view and experience, a large part of what science is about.

    Climate science needs to promote more and better exchanges of skeptics within the discipline and discourage talking past one another.

  45. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    Judy–
    I admire you for this.

    SteveMc.
    If you can, it would be wonderful if you could get a friend to take video and post it on UTube.

  46. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    It is pretty funny that JEG is hurt by ad hominem attacks, the way he brought a new level of rudeness and sarcasm to CA and ripped me up here and on his blog in a very uncivilized and unscientific manner.

    They are going to make a public statement after someone comes to give a seminar? Looks like Steve has been set up.

  47. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

    In terms of inviting Steve to Georgia Tech, I approved Julien’s invite because I want our students and faculty members to be exposed to the arguments and strategies being used by skeptics,

    Do you mean “science”? Is that one of the “strategies” that students and faculty at GT need to be exposed to?

  48. MarkR
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    Hi Georgia Tech

    In view of the apparent widespread interest, how about setting up the video cam and making a mpeg file for viewing on the internet?

  49. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    RE 56. Even set up matches are good for the inventive fighter.

    I think the statement afterwards will be a formuliac piece and perhaps much of it
    is already written. ( having done these things before, you always have this stuff prepared)
    So, JEG and Judy are just doing their job as members of an institution and they should
    be applauded for inviting him and following my sage advice.

    Now, since we like to wager here. I am taking quatloo bets on the content of the
    public statement. What will it NOT SAY, besides “mosher was right to suggest this”

  50. jae
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    I’m certainly not concerned about Steve being ambushed. He knows what he’s talking about and has extremely good judgement. And the “other side” really doesn’t have much ammo, IMHO. Maybe they will try to zap him with a GCM.

  51. ALee UK
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    > but on my feet before an audience, I’m not Winston Churchill.

    Winston spent hours practicing his spontaneous conmments

  52. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    For the record, all scientists are skeptics, that is how science moves forward. no one can get a paper published that says i agree with everything somebody else already did. What i mean by resilience to attacks by skeptics is to consider the argument, and then either refute the skeptic it or refine your own argument. An essential part of this is transparency of the scientific process and availability and documentation of the data. A lack of such resilience (ignoring the attack, attack the attacker) detracts from the credibility of the science.

    My “skeptic” credentials are enshrined in Michael Crichton’s book, he refers to one of my papers Liu and Curry (on page 84, somewhere around there). There is much scientific skepticism in the climate research community, this is what moves the climate science forward and improves the models. There has also been much politically driven skepticism from the likes of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Those who get their climate science from Rush Limbaugh are armchair skeptics. A bonafide scientific skeptic actually does work (data analysis, whatever) in an attempt to refute the argument. SteveM and CA have shown that a bonafide skeptic can come in from well outside the field of climate research. Distinguishing between the many shades of skeptics was attempted with the word “denier” or “denialist” for the arm chair or political skeptic, but raised some really silly political correctness flags (surely someone can be a denier without denying the holocaust). so we are back to using the word skeptic to cover everything from my own skepticism say that climate models are accurately treating sea ice albedo, to the arm chair skeptic who listens to Rush Limbaugh. I have assessed that there is some bonafide scientific skepticism going on here, much of it not standing up to much scrutiny or making any difference, but some of it has made an impact.

    Will be an interesting visit, and postanalysis on the blog.

  53. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    re: #61

    Or making it available in real time via The Web.

  54. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    I am more than a little disturbed by the distinction between climate scientists and sceptics. This implies that no climate scientist has any quibbles with any of the current science. I have a 5 foot tall stack of climate science reprints that begs to differ. I have papers saying Antarctica is gaining and losing ice, that clouds warm and cool (+ and – feedback), that the calibration of GCMs is iffy, that the dynamical stability of GCMs is iffy, that the Medieval Warm Period did and did not exist, that the sun is a major and a trivial factor in 20th century climate change, that urban heat islands have and have not been properly accounted for. I only stopped because I got tired of typing. I would suggest that not one of these issues is “settled” and neither are they trivial for the climate forecasts.

  55. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    good luck and have fun there Steve.

    both JEGs and Judiths statements made a lot of sense to me.
    *shruggs* but i can t say i m surprised that many of you didn t understand them.

  56. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

    p.s. postscript to #65. many people would lump Steve M in with the politically motivated or armchair skeptics. I don’t.

  57. LadyGray
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    I think they’d like the skeptics to all swallow the blue pill.

    Perhaps they are hoping for a “Perry Mason” moment, with Steve breaking down during his presentation and mumbling “Yes, it is all true. It will all just keep getting hotter and hotter and hotter . . .” until they lead him off to his quiet room. Then, just as they are closing the door, he softly says “Yet, it still cools.”

    Break a leg, Steve. You are speaking from the standpoint of keeping the science pure, having auditable data, and not getting emotionally attached to the flavor-of-the-year climate model and dataset. If they can find something wrong with that, then they are just disciples of a new religion and not scientists.

  58. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    When did anyone say ” Our invitation to Steve does not in any way constitute an endorsement of his science or climateaudit.” And why would we care if it did one way or the other? This is a blog about investigating the data regarding scientific matters relating to climate change.

    Anyway, there are two sets of issues here. Do the first, and you won’t have to be so worried about the second.

    The first is that if the research was archived, open, up-to-date and all reported in scientific terms rather than having any kind of political or policy spin; if the science itself was neutral and covered everything equally, bringing out the pros and cons. Where the uncertainties are made clear, and the details were given margins of error and probability percentages.

    The second is the mindset. When you won’t release data or refuse to debate or don’t show up at a Congressional hearing and make it clear you think your opponents are unworthy and have nothing to say. When you do things like call them jesters, say they are wrong when their conclusions differ from yours in any way, are haughty and egotistical and talk down to them, make snide comments about how they parse the available data. Tell somebody it’s too expensive, time consuming and difficult to re-core trees. That is the “something wrong here and it isn’t the science”.

    The climate blog police were very upset
    A recent seminar speaker was apalled
    Some climate scientists are proud when they lose such public debates
    appreciated my “missionary work” over at climate audit
    apparently not at all happy about this
    Some people think that my participation over here in someway “legitimizes” CA
    many of my peers think i am crazy for doing this

  59. MrPete
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    Interesting timing, all of this. Just yesterday I was talking with a friend who straddles the “Academy” / non-academic wall. He noted that The Academy is habitually resistant — VERY resistant — to learning anything from the outside world.

    One aspect of the reasoning in particular was interesting to me. A non-academic would simply laugh at this, but there is hidden truth if you’re willing to walk in the other guy’s shoes:

    “Why should I listen to you? Just because it works in practice doesn’t mean it works in theory!”

  60. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

    Just this afternoon I ran across this bit:

    I cannot make anyone stop responding to pointless or nuisance comments. You have to want to restrain yourself, because you understand that the only way to get rid of them is to fail to give them the attention they want. A “troll” is not just someone whose comments you disagree with, or even just a nasty or badly-worded comment. A troll is someone who does not, under any possible set of circumstances, care what you think about him or his comments. He merely wants attention. Negative attention will do. The more you disagree with him, the more he is able to tell himself that he is persecuted and victimized or the only voice of reason or one of the elite few who has the God’s-eye view of the world or whatever his current delusion is. If he isn’t merely a narcissist who thrives on feeling attacked, he’s just some putz who enjoys irritating other people. Therefore, you “feed” the troll by paying any attention to him at all. It does not matter what you say in response. Any response to a troll just encourages the troll.

  61. Mike B.
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    #65

    For the record, all scientists are skeptics, that is how science moves forward. no one can get a paper published that says i agree with everything somebody else already did. What i mean by resilience to attacks by skeptics is to consider the argument, and then either refute the skeptic it or refine your own argument. An essential part of this is transparency of the scientific process and availability and documentation of the data. A lack of such resilience (ignoring the attack, attack the attacker) detracts from the credibility of the science.

    It would have been better had you said this in #42; you state your case much more convincingly here.

    I would also suggest that you save just a bit of your energy answering the skeptics and devote it towards some criticism of peer review, which failed to utterly to catch some truly dreadful statistical climatology published with great fanfare in the late 90’s.

    And a quite serious question: are there climate scientists who are afraid of Michael Mann?

  62. Raven
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    Dr Curry,

    I appreciate the fact you take the time to communicate your views in this forum. Your comments on this thread brought this question to mind:

    “What would it take to convince you that the models have significantly over estimated the effect of CO2 on climate?”

    FWIW – I am working on the reverse for myself (i.e. I am setting out benchmarks in terms of future climate changes that would unequivocally convince me that, despite their numerous limitations, that the models have got the picture basically right).

    In my opinion, you would get further with the average skeptic if you started by making it clear that you are willing to change your mind and setting out what evidence would be necessary to cause that to happen.

  63. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    re: #68 and others following

    I have organized symposia and outside speaker presentation for several types of organizations with which I was employed. And assisted with organization of national and international technical society meetings. Never once was consideration given to which ‘side’ any speaker might be associated with relative to any topic.

    Oh, it just occurred to me that I never did this for any of the academy.

    This does seem to be getting stranger and stranger.

  64. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Re: #65

    There has also been much politically driven skepticism from the likes of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Those who get their climate science from Rush Limbaugh are armchair skeptics.

    Agreed, Judy, but unfortunately you neglect to mention the politically driven alarmists who should also require the attention of climate scientists.

    I have assessed that there is some bonafide scientific skepticism going on here, much of it not standing up to much scrutiny or making any difference, but some of it has made an impact.

    As long as we are being frank with our assessments, I have not often been impressed with your or JEG’s responses to what I have viewed as legitimate questions and issues posed by posters here. For my taste, I see too much preaching and not enough teaching.

  65. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    A few comments.

    Jae, #82 I agree 100% (i don’t recall actually ever agreeing with you before :))

    Mike B #81 I have raised concerns about peer review many times in CA

    Francis #83 It takes time for these things to shake out. This process becomes slowed by involvement of political skeptics that confuse things and promote animosity

    Dan #85 Again it is the politicization of the issue that has done this. Probably unavoidable for an issue of such high societal relevance.

    Raven #84 There are several possibilities for convincing me that models have significantly overestimated impact of CO2 on climate, but unfortunately it is unlikely that any will happen soon:
    1. A longer time series of observations (10 years at least, preferably 30 years) where we interpret the temperature variations (plus water vapor plus sea ice plus glaciers etc) in the context of the external forcings (CO2, solar, volcanoes, aerosol). Looking at one year or 5 years or even 10 years makes it difficult to sort out the effects of say El Nino.
    2. Improved climate models that are run at higher resolution, with more ensembles, and better physical parameterizations.

    I don’t think anyone is questioning that CO2 would increase the temperature, the question is how much. IPCC gives a wide temperature range with 66% probability of being in that range. So IPCC does not rule out a smaller increase (or a larger increase).

  66. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    Judith says: What I mean by resilience to attacks by skeptics is to consider the argument, and then either refute the skeptic argument or refine your own argument.

    This is the heart of the issue, and why some of your earlier comments have been construed as biased or dismissive. I thought some of them were iffy, but I basically agree with sod, I understood what you meant. But communicating well means almost everyone understands what you meant. For example, does “missionary work” mean the person at NSF “supporting” you here thinks we are ignorant climate savages? When you say “legititimizes” does that mean without you, it is illegitimate here? Just as examples things people could misconstrue. I like the above quote because it’s clear what you meant.

    Judith says: so we are back to using the word skeptic to cover everything from my own skepticism say that climate models are accurately treating sea ice albedo, to the arm chair skeptic who listens to Rush Limbaugh.

    That’s the issue isn’t it? We need a way to define the skeptics. How about something like “bonafide scientific skeptic” and “armchair or political skeptic”; phrase it to define it.

    However, there is another example of getting half the story or a point that can be misconstrued; why Limbaugh and not Gore? Why mention Limbaugh twice; is he the poster-boy of mis-information on the science of climate change or something? I don’t get my science or views from either, btw; they both get things wrong, maybe not to degree of rhetoric, but then again, Limbaugh doesn’t go around the country showing people a diagram of the same data to support the other data, so it’s open to interpretation.

    For an example, in your view, is this a neutral, balanced statement of fact not open to interpretation?

    Human activities intensify the blanketing effect through the release of greenhouse gases. For instance, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by about 35% in the industrial era, and this increase is known to be due to human activities, primarily the combustion of fossil fuels and removal of forests. Thus, humankind has dramatically altered the chemical composition of the global atmosphere with substantial implications for climate.

  67. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:21 PM | Permalink

    How about, to paraphrase an old saying, “From where the Sun now stands, we will use labels no more forever.”

    I have never understood how a label got attached to me. No one has ever asked me if I’m skeptical much less asked me and at the same time suggested the subject for which they were looking for skeptics.

    btw, what is the subject for which skeptics are being sought?

  68. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    Re: #42

    Climate science, given its policy relevance, needs to become more resilient to attacks by skeptics.

    Resilient: returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.

    “Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.” [Miguel de Unamuno, "Essays and Soliloquies," 1924]

    Emphasis mine.

    Sounds like climate “science” isn’t going to change and climate “scientists” prefer assertion to investigation and research. How very sad that makes me.

  69. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    A simple homework assignment for all the barking dogs out there :

    – Are we giving Steve a public platform in a renowned research institution ?
    – Are we doing so out of spontaneous* interest for his research ?
    – Are we treating him with respect and will be taking our some of personal time so that he feels welcome and appreciated ?
    – Are we getting in trouble for it with our own peers ?
    – Does it mean we’ll docilely swallow anything he says ?
    – Does it mean it’s a “setup” ?
    – Is the glass 80% full or 20% empty ?
    – When will you start investigating more interesting questions ?

    Sorry for all who would like to elect Steve the next Lucasian professor of mathematics because he happens to write a good blog. It ain’t happening.
    We’re doing quite a lot more than we are required to. If you have complaints, please write them here.

    hasta luego

    *(sorry mosh, I wasn’t aware of your suggestion)

  70. Peter Thompson
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Curry,

    “This was a risky thing for JEG to do in terms of his peers in paleoclimate research, and he showed alot of courage and independence of thought to do this”

    This is the worst example of tribalism I have ever seen from the mouth (keyboard) of an academic. Risky?????? Searching for the truth is risky???????

  71. James Chamberlain
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

    JEG – If the alarmists or climate comunity wants to convince any skeptics, you MUST quit talking down to all of us. I believe most or all here are very educated scientists.

  72. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

    - Are we giving Steve a public platform in a renowned research institution ?

    No, you are giving your students another viewpoint on the subject.

    – Are we doing so out of spontaneous* interest for his research ?

    I have no idea about your motivations, nor do I care what they are. So far, everything you’ve said leads me to believe you firmly believe in this, but even if you are a fence sitting opportunist, more power to you.

    – Are we treating him with respect and will be taking our some of personal time so that he feels welcome and appreciated ?

    Yes, you have been so far, and I’m assuming you’ll continue.

    – Are we getting in trouble for it with our own peers ?

    You have some of your peers wondering what the heck you’re doing, probably. Rather shortsighted of them, but that’s to be expected. I’d bet you’re impressing others too. It’s all good as long as you don’t get fired.

    – Does it mean we’ll docilely swallow anything he says ?

    I don’t. I don’t have any reason to expect you would. Especially based upon past behavior.

    – Does it mean it’s a “setup” ?

    Doesn’t mean anything one way or the other. If it is or isn’t, it’s immaterial. I don’t think it is, and have no reason to think it would be. Even if it’s a hostile environment, which I don’t think it will be, that’s not a setup. And if Steve can’t handle it, tough for him.

    – Is the glass 80% full or 20% empty ?

    If it started out full, and had 20% of the water removed, it’s 20% empty. If it started out empty and was filled to 80%, it’s 80% full.

    – When will you start investigating more interesting questions ?

    I’ll wait until everything’s over. I look forward to reading what everyone there writes about the experience.

  73. Jim Arndt
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    Hi,

    “all the barking dogs out there” nice JEG and more trivialism? Are we so small. Most would consider that an ultimate insult, adhom attack, you should apologize. If your wrong the truth sucks unless you wish to further the truth.

  74. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    re: #100

    Agreed. I suggest that JEG should have stopped while he was not the center of the discussions.

    Comments like this:

    Sorry for all who would like to elect Steve the next Lucasian professor of mathematics because he happens to write a good blog. It ain’t happening.

    add absolutely nothing. And to me it’s an analogy for the presumptive application of labels. You will not find that suggestion anywhere in The Entire Universe save for where JEG has given it.

    And for this one

    We’re doing quite a lot more than we are required to.

    do I hear the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing???

  75. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    A lesson in skepticism from the epitome of 20th Century skeptics, Bertrand Russell, from the Introduction to his ‘Sceptical Essays’ (1928):

    I wish to propose for the reader’s favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.

    First of all, I wish to guard myself against being thought to take up an extreme position. … [Pyrrho] maintained that we never know enough to be sure that one course of action is wiser than another. In his youth, … he saw his teacher with his head stuck in a ditch, unable to get out. After contemplating him for some time, he walked on, maintaining that there was no sufficient ground for thinking that he would do any good by pulling the old man out. … Now I do not advocate such heroic scepticism as that. I am prepared to admit the ordinary beliefs of common sense, in practice if not in theory. I am prepared to admit any well-established result of science, not as certainly true, but as sufficiently probable to afford a basis for rational action.
    ….
    There are matters about which those who have investigated them are agreed. There are other matters about which experts are not agreed. Even when experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. …. Nevertheless, the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

  76. Robert in Calgary
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    I first saw this as a positive. Judith and JEG are putting in great effort to turn it into a negative. (I’ll self-snip the rest.)

    We’ll have to start a pool on how often JEG will interrupt Steve.

  77. LadyGray
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    [This was written after a very long day of bureaucratic nonsense and inefficiency. It in no way is approved by the owner of this blog, and is meant to contain some small amount of satirical humor.]
    —–
    Are we giving Steve a public platform in a renowned research institution?
    What is your definition of a renowned research institution?
    —–
    Are we doing so out of spontaneous* interest for his research?
    Isn’t his research concerned with how you are doing your research?
    —–
    Are we treating him with respect and will be taking some of our personal time so that he feels welcome and appreciated?
    Does that involve selecting a wine, or gathering the tar and feathers?
    —–
    Are we getting in trouble for it with our own peers?
    If you are in a renowned research institution, then you have few peers. Aren’t you setting trends for everyone else to follow?
    —–
    Does it mean we’ll docilely swallow anything he says?
    How many people do you invite to speak, where you docilely swallow anything they say?
    —–
    Does it mean it’s a “setup”?
    Well, is it?
    —–
    Is the glass 80% full or 20% empty?
    Full of what?
    —–
    When will you start investigating more interesting questions?
    When will you start investigating the basic science behind your climate models?
    —–

  78. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    As I said, the two issues are how the science is done, and the attitude about it.

    Maybe if people would stop attributing motivations to others and being antagonistic about things, we wouldn’t have these little unfriendly waste of time conversations.

    Yes, I blame everyone fanning the flames. However, as a bit of constructive criticism, JEG, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Judith is better at being diplomatic.

    Still, those poking at JEG shouldn’t be surprised when he pokes back, any more than he should be surprised when the poking back gets harder. Then nobody should be surprised when the back and forth results in thermonuclear war that destroys the Earth.

    MarkW: Guilt by association. Faulty analogies. Incorrect attributions of cause and effect.

    “I like the color orange.”
    “Well, Hitler and Ghengis Kahn liked the color orange also….”

  79. Brian
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you may want to begin your delivery by talking about your various permutations on its title. How about another – “High Sticking And Other Fouls”. Requires no fear of alienating some of your audience from the start.

    Of course, you could, aloud, express relief in getting away from all that northern cold, surmise whether it represents a “trend”, and relish in the relative regional warmth of the Georgia sun and southern hospitality.

  80. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    Judith,

    Has it ever occured to you that there are people out there who are what you call “skeptics” because:

    – There is a lot of alarmism in the media about global warming, a lot of it based on simplistic arguments, or distortion, or misuse, or exaggeration of actual, published science.
    – This alarmism is used by political and/or ideological groups to promote certain public policies that may, or may not make sense
    – That someone knowledgeable in science can find that there is a vast dichotomy between the mediatic alarmism, and what can actually be found in terms of scientific evidence in the primary scientific literature.
    – That someone knowledgeable not only in science but also in the scientific institutional process, can suspect that all this alarmism serves the scientists well, so that maybe they have hidden, maybe even unconscious motivations besides “saving the planet”.
    – That maybe some bona fide scientists also have their judgment obscured by political and/ or ideological considerations, even unconscious ones
    – That hearing James Hansen really does not help alleviate those suspicions
    – That seeing what Michael Mann has done, and the reaction of the scientific community to it really does not help alleviate those suspicions
    – That such a person may find here a bit of relief, out of frustration that no one, in the scientific community, dares to explain to the general public, what is the real state of the science.

  81. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Barking dogs bark because something is wrong, so you are quite correct JEG about us barking dogs.
    There is an interesting thing about science, which is that 1) no one, even if from a world class university, is guaranteed to be right. At the turn of the century an unknown patent clerk was right and all the professors were wrong. 2) You can not judge the correctness of a piece of work by where the person is from or their degree. JEG seems to think (along with certain others) that those with the big reputation should be allowed to speak, and no one else. But this is not now science works.

  82. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    Re: 96

    - Are we getting in trouble for it with our own peers ?

    This is the disturbing (or perhaps just sad) part. Sounds like there will be a good intellectual discussion, though — I’ll add another vote for making an audio or video recording available to the public.

  83. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    Francois, some comments:

    – There is a lot of alarmism in the media about global warming, a lot of it based on simplistic arguments, or distortion, or misuse, or exaggeration of actual, published science.
    No question about this. there is also much mindless crazy skepticism that gets much play in the media

    – This alarmism is used by political and/or ideological groups to promote certain public policies that may, or may not make sense
    No question about this. There is also the reverse problem of mindless crazy politically motivated skepticism being used to hamper prudent policies

    – That someone knowledgeable in science can find that there is a vast dichotomy between the mediatic alarmism, and what can actually be found in terms of scientific evidence in the primary scientific literature.
    Absolutely, but because of the sheer size of the field owing to the complexity of the problem, this requires a lot of work and objectivity to do assess this fairly

    – That someone knowledgeable not only in science but also in the scientific institutional process, can suspect that all this alarmism serves the scientists well, so that maybe they have hidden, maybe even unconscious motivations besides “saving the planet”.
    Sure you can suspect this, but its pointless. most of us are doing this because we love science and research, and live lives of genteel poverty on university or government salaries.

    – That maybe some bona fide scientists also have their judgment obscured by political and/ or ideological considerations, even unconscious ones
    A few undoubtedly do, but the whole field of climate researchers should not be tarred by this brush

    – That hearing James Hansen really does not help alleviate those suspicions
    I make it a policy not to criticize another scientists behavior, only their scientific arguments

    – That seeing what Michael Mann has done, and the reaction of the scientific community to it really does not help alleviate those suspicions
    Ditto

    – That such a person may find here a bit of relief, out of frustration that no one, in the scientific community, dares to explain to the general public, what is the real state of the science.
    I am trying to take a different approach from Hansen and Mann, and this does not always get much appreciation here. You give me grief since i am not 100% certain about everything. Welcome to reality and the scientific process.

  84. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    Re #110

    Ah! Bert Russell! My own dog-food :-)

    (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert;

    And there’s the rub. Like Craig Loehle, I have ever so many scientific papers to hand where no agreement can be found. Even the simple matter of how much warming a doubling of CO2 generates has tens, if not hundreds of answers putting it somewhere between 0.2 deg C and 6.4 deg C. It would be most improper of me, as a rational sceptic, to regard AGW assertions as certain since there is no substantive agreement between the experts.

  85. doug
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    I’ve wondered if a climate scientist would ever have the good sense to send a manuscript to Steve pre publication. They would get a good statistical review, and a have a review from outside of the group think which can be found in any field.

    It looks as though this has the potentiel to be constructive. I’m skeptical, but hopeful.

  86. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    Sorry Dan, I was joking. I knew what you meant. I believe they’re going out for dinner tonight. He’s not coming back for a couple of days, and I’m guessing he made it or either JEG or Judith would have said something.

  87. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    re: #124
    For me Judith, labeling and differentiation between ‘skeptics’ and scientists is inconsistent with this statement. Especially the ‘only their scientific arguments’ part.

    I make it a policy not to criticize another scientists behavior, only their scientific arguments

    For example, this statement used the label that is attached to only one ‘side’

    No question about this. there is also much mindless crazy skepticism that gets much play in the media

    Maybe you haven’t seen this yet.

  88. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Doug, i might consider this. I don’t have any suitable/relevant ones at the moment, my most recent manuscript is entitled
    Kinetics of cloud drop formation and parameterization for cloud and climate models.

    However, we have a really good statistician in our group, Carlos Hoyos and I don’t see what Steve could add in terms of statistics, but i agree with the group think issue, good to have this.

    If this were to be done on the blog, it would have to be a paper that i am first author on, since no likely coauthors (including my students) would want to subject their paper to the craziness that Craig Loehle’s paper was subjected to. Craig might have learned something from this, but unlikely that he wouldn’t have learned this from other people and less hostile venues.

    Back to Francois’ final point in previous message (no one dares to explain to the general public): there is some genuine scientific interest here, but there also is a big barking dog (making noise, trying to bite) factor that isn’t conducive to productive exchange here. I’ve pretty much gotten to the point of being to ignore the barking dogs (although i have found gerald to be a bit much lately), but it takes a while (e.g. JEG isn’t there yet) and very few would find it worth the effort (Peter Webster was very put off by barking dog factor, he heard the barks very loudly).

  89. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    Re #124

    Judith Curry: “You give me grief since i am not 100% certain about everything. Welcome to reality and the scientific process.”

    You would appear to be suffering for rational scepticism. It is a Good Thing to be less than 100% certain about anything. I would never give you grief for that.

    Men of science did not ask that propositions should be believed because some important authority had said they were true; on the contrary, they appealed to the evidence of the senses, and maintained only such doctrines as they believed to be upon facts which were patent to all who chose to make the necessary observations. [Bert Russell in Religion and Science, published in 1935

  90. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    Dan, good one on Senator Kerry. Totally off the wall, but sort of acts as a counterweight politically to statements made by Senator Inhofe. See how crazy this is?

    I had the opportunity to brief Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on global warming last monday. He has been a skeptic, wants to start paying attention to all this. I have made myself available to answer any questions for him. If you hear him saying anything like Senator Kerry, you can blame me :)

  91. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    subject their paper to the craziness that Craig Loehle’s paper was subjected to.

    If I was authoring or co-authoring a paper on climate, this is probably the first place I’d want it to get ripped to shreds at. Not only would the corrections be quick, but they wouldn’t be namby-pambied and nuanced to the point of having to figure out what some reviewer was trying to finese about it. I usually take what I write and get it into the hands of people that know what they’re doing, won’t pull any punches and are at best neutral about me and the subject.

  92. Sylvain
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

    Dr Curry,

    First congrats on inviting Steve M to Georgia Tech, I think it shows an open mindness not seen enough in climate science. It also gives the opportunity to your student to make an opinion for themselves of Steve M qualities, well at least an opinion not tainted by the Sacro-saint Realclimate.org.

    Second you write:

    My overall rationale for inviting Steve and for spending time on this site is to try to calm the waters so that we don’t again see a repeat of the hockey stick conflagration (mann vs mcintyre, played out in the halls of congress) in the context of climate science (originally in the more specific context of hurricanes and global warming).

    Somehow in reading this I can’t but understand that Steve M was the one responsible for stirring the water. It takes 2 to tango and realclimate.org launch the offensive before M&M could or decided to defend themselves.

    I’m a skeptic bordering denials and I am so primarily because of realclimate.org wich I find to lack honesty. I’m not a scientist and may not undestand everything about climate science but I’m a good judge of character and in my experience when someone fights to prevent something from becoming public it means that they know something is wrong and they are trying to buy time.

  93. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    #139 Sylvain, i am not blaming SteveM for the “conflagration”. Climate scientists had been under attack by Exxon Mobil funded advocacy groups, and some were becoming pretty defensive (they were unused to and unprepared for this kind of political attack on their science) and were circling the wagons. Steve and Ross came along, and they pointed the guns outward and started shooting. This engendered comparable defensive/offensive behavior by Steve and Ross, and they became the darlings of the Exxon Mobil funded advocacy groups. hence the conflagration. I tried to short circuit the same thing happening re hurricanes by keeping an open dialogue, making sure everyone got the data, etc. Our “conflagration” was much smaller (not involving SteveM), and the two sides declared some sort of truce after the infamous Feb 2 2006 WSJ article. The hurricane science debate continues, but overall this one did not reach anywhere near the conflagration status of mann/mcintyre hockey wars.

    p.s. I am happy to discuss general behavior like this, but I do not take it to the personal level and criticize individual behavior, unless that individual scientist attacks my personal motives. academic etiquette i guess, but my role is to calm things down, not inflame.

  94. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    [snip]

    I really dont think that you and Judith GET the appeal of Steve. He has TWO audiences.
    He has an audience of people who dont believe in AGW. They have sacks full of nutty ideas.
    ( sorry guys) He also has an audience of technical folks (like lucia, bender, UC, etc.)
    who demand more rigor

    [snip]

  95. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:48 PM | Permalink

    Steve, it took me a very long time to understand the two groups here (nutty barking dogs vs the serious folks). Nutty ideas are ok but NASTINESS i often hear really doesn’t help the site. I have sort of figured out who the players are (i sometimes i get confused by people who advertise their degrees and expertise, then outbark the nuts), but i have certainly developed respect for bender, willis, jean s, david smith, lucia and some others. So don’t expect JEG to have figured this out. And the problem is that a climate researcher coming to this site would mostly hear the loudest nasty barking dogs (amplified to a scientist who rarely gets exposed to this), be turned off, and not investigate further.

  96. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    Scientists on both sides of the debate get inadvertently used by advocacy groups (without receiving any direct funding from them), and are inadvertent victims of battles between advocacy groups. i’m not discussing this further, but the point i was making was that i didn’t blame the hockey stick wars on SteveM.

  97. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    Very stimulating thread! Dr. Curry’s Ditto of the Mann comment following her Hansen statement was puzzling. Is questioning the validity of a scientist’s conclusions poor etiquette in climate circles? Many other scientists have had to vigorously defend their results, historically speaking.

  98. John Baltutis
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    JEG states:

    Both Dr Curry and I feel very strongly that no real progress is going to be made in climate science and climate communication until the skeptics are all confronted head on with logically sound arguments.

    Implying that climate science already has reach an answer equivalent to: “mankind’s behavior (increased CO2 emissions) is the only thing causing the planet’s gradual warming trend (coming out of the LIA) the past few hundred years” and this gradual warming isn’t natural or beneficial! Therefore, to progress, we must take steps, immediately, to curb this warming by imposing draconian measures that will stop these CO2 emissions. I.e., we must convince the policy wonks to act now! However, the skeptics keep intruding with such mindless crazy arguments that the wonks won’t act now.

    Curry confirms with:

    [I am]…someone who is trying to communicate the risks of climate change to the public….

    and

    …leading climate scientists [supporting the above answer] have debated skeptics, many with meager credentials at best, and the climate scientists lose the debate even when they have the scientific evidence on their side.

    and

    It is part of an experiment…and an attempt to make our science more resilient to attacks and increasing the public credibility of the climate science enterprise.

    Further implying that the climate science enterprise has the only correct answer, since only it has the scientific evidence on its side.

    This all stems from the IPCC, whose mandate is

    …to assess…[the] risk of human-induced climate change…

    which also implies an assumption or a conclusion that human-induced climate change (warming) is risky; i.e., has a potential for realizing unwanted, adverse consequences to human life, health, property, or the environment….

    But does it? I agree with Lomborg, that warmer is better than colder.

    Finally, that only humans can induce adverse climate change (warming) or is the major contributor to this climate change is unproven.

  99. Mike Davis
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    Jeg: As a paeloclimatoligist I would expect your group to find the causes for the mwp, Rwp and all the other WPs in the last 10,000 years. As they probably were not caused by AGW and were probably warmer than now we might have a better realization of natural weather flucations. Also I would expect you as a seaker of knowledge to be yelling louder than Steve about the lack of archiving in the Paleo field.
    Judith:
    If it were not for the lack of scientfic procedures on the part of AGW CLIMATE SCIENTISTS and Cayse type predictions from the same I would not care what you guys found until you found proff that something is going on that we can do something about. You have not done that yet. Maybe with a few more years research you might find something. I think now would be a good time to say we do not know and withdraw to your Ivory towers and come back when you do.
    I spent 37 years as a trouble shooter in the real world fixing what was put out by science theory and engineer skill. My job was to make it work and do what it was supposed to do.

  100. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry # 147, writes,

    the point i was making was that i didn’t blame the hockey stick wars on SteveM.

    Point well taken — I believe Ross McKitrick deserves at least half the credit.
    Aside to Julien (#96) and Judith (#145):

    On entend les chiens aboyer, chacun son metier —
    Un ouah, ouah, ouah ci, un ouah, ouah, ouah la,
    Ci des ouahs, la des ouahs, partout des ouahs, ouahs!
    A la ferme de Zephirin, chacun son refrain!

    Translation: Woof, woof!

  101. tim
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

    JEG, I worked hard on your homework assignment, but I fear an F…at least Judith and I have that in common.

    As someone outside this field, and who has no dog (barking or mute) in this hunt, I find it stunning that the organizers of an academic seminar find it necessary to “issue a public statement” after a guest’s visit. Politics is clearly corrupting, in a big way, the process by which science is translated into public policy (and, it almost goes without saying, in many other fields as well). What a shame. It should be embarrassing, or at the very least piss you off, to have to make such a statement.

    Nonetheless, I hope it is a productive event for both the skeptic and the scientists (budding or full grown). I look forward to reading about the aftermath.

  102. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    I am baffled by the anxieties on this thread on Steve’s behalf. To the CA regulars, let me emphasize 2 things. 1st, Steve was invited to do a seminar, which is an inherently critical environment. In an economics seminar, probably like other fields, you expect courtesy, but the audience’s job is to scrutinize and criticize your work. If people think you’re saying gibberish then you can expect to get ripped apart. They’ll buy you drinks and dinner after, but a seminar is for some proper critical scrutiny of your work, not genteel applause. 2nd, I am quite sure that those in attendance hoping to see Steve get his clocks cleaned will leave sorely disappointed.

    Judith, the discipline of economics addresses lots of politically-sensitive debates, many with much larger public policy implications than climatology. Yet in my experience, economists stay comparatively much more civil about it than climate scientists. A big reason, in my view, is that the major economics associations have in their constitutions a provision barring them from issuing policy statements. The American Economics Association and the Canadian Economics Association both cite the need to preserve their members’ freedom to debate and conduct research as a reason. Issuing statements, especially in the absence of a supporting survey of members, only serves to polarize and alienate the membership.

    I raised this issue on Roger Pielke Sr’s blog last year and Franco Einaudi wrote a response here.

  103. bender
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    So the GT team will issue a media statement. So what?
    Immediately following, CA will undoubtedly issue a barrage of “media statements”. What’s the big deal?

  104. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    bender says:

    So the GT team will issue a media statement. So what?
    Immediately following, CA will undoubtedly issue a barrage of “media statements”. What’s the big deal?

    No Big Deal. I’m quite sure that Steve will doggedly pursue his usual course. And at a woof guess, the committed protagonists will continue barking either at or on behalf of bristle-cone-pine-mann.

  105. Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    Re John Hekman #18,
    Hi, John!
    I don’t really know much about Principal Components — what Steve McI and Ross McK say sounds very reasonable, but I’ve never tried using it, let alone replicating their Monte Carlo study.

    As it happens, PCA is probably going to be a big growth industry in econometrics, given that Ben Bernanke recently had an article on it, “Econometrics in a Data Rich Environment”, with Jean Boivin in J. Monetary Economics, 2003. I think the idea is that if you want to predict say GDP or inflation, and have 100 observations on these variables plus 1000 potential explanatory variables, you can’t just run a VAR regression or you run out of degrees of freedom. But if you find the first 5 or 10 PCs of the 1000 variables, you can regress your 100 observations on these 5 or 10 variables and still capture the essence of the full data set.

    Similarly in climate, if you have 100 years of observations on 1000 proxies, you can’t regress instrumental temperature on them all, but perhaps 5 or 10 PCs might capture the essence of the full data set. Of course, if your 1000 proxies include 100 trees on the same hilltop, it would make sense to average these together and call them a single proxy before proceeding.

    So maybe using PCA is not unreasonable per se, though it sounds as though the way MBH normalized their variables led to spurious results.

    But then, in MV calibration per Brown (J Royal Stat Soc 1982) and CA’s own UC, one shouldn’t regress instrumental temperature on the proxies anyway, but rather the proxies (one at a time) on temperature. There is then no problem having more proxies than observations. Of course, the unrestricted covariance matrix of the residuals may then be singular, but a few simple restrictions like making covariances be a two-parameter (level and decay rate) function of great circle angular distance will make it well-behaved. If this is done right, it shouldn’t matter whether much what the level of aggregation is.

    (This is all On Topic, because I assume Steve’s talk will include mention and brief explanation of his debunking, with Ross, of the Mann HS.)

  106. Bill Derryberry
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

    Enjoy your time Steve. Hotlanta is a great town. Wish I could join you for coffee but can’t get the time to come over that way. It is only about 70 miles to the airport from the house.

    Have a great time.

    Bill

  107. conard
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

    Eric,

    Judging from your comment here and in unthreaded I can only assume you had a memorable lecture in freshman history class today? First and second triumvirates as I recall.

    Maybe tomorrow you can tackle spelling. Antony or Antonius are acceptable.

  108. Bill
    Posted Feb 6, 2008 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    until the skeptics are all confronted head on with logically sound arguments

    JEG: While you’re setting up this melee in the name of a joust:

    I read with curiosity your link about Bushido warriors, who, it says, “followed a code of conduct and a way of life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry.”

    The link to chivalry was interesting, too, though I wouldn’t have credited the typical medieval knight with giving a fig for why it was so damned hot outside.

  109. Ron Cram
    Posted Feb 7, 2008 at 12:13 AM | Permalink

    re: 170
    Ross,

    Great comment. I agree that Steve will do well and probably win some friends. Thank you also for the link to your Pielke blog posting. Your thoughts are very sensible.

  110. BradH
    Posted Feb 7, 2008 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    Does anyone else have trouble with the characterization of SteveM as a “skeptic”?

    I would put myself (and many other posters here) in that category. However, in my recollection, Steve has always been careful to says that AGW could be happening, it’s just that the evidence presented to date is faulty on many levels.

    In this respect, I’d say he could be properly classified as a “critic”, but to lump him in with the “skeptics” seems a tad unfair.

  111. Posted Feb 7, 2008 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

    Dr Curry wrote:

    my little experiment

    A defence of the heart of science: open debate, freely chosen? Not so little, Dr Curry. When the sociologists write up the great GW debate, they will point to this.

    JF
    I hope you’ve looked at the effect of oil and surfactant pollution of droplets on cloud physics.. and it would be nice to calibrate SSTs against lighthouse data… and… and…

  112. James Lane
    Posted Feb 7, 2008 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

    I must say I find many of the comments on this thread dispiriting. Judith and JEG have invited Steve to present at Georgia Tech, to their credit. I would be very surprised if Steve is not made to feel welcome, and if the proceedings are not civil.

    I suggest that everyone pull their head in and wait for Steve’s report on his visit, no doubt with comments from other attendees.

    Some of the comments on the thread make it less likely that similar invitations will be offered in the future.

  113. Arnost
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 3:47 AM | Permalink

    Can I please echo Jimmy Lane’s post above:

    Speculation on “assumed” shadowy agendas serves little purpose, and indeed only serves to discourages the (IMHO) worthwhile contributions that Judith and Julien make here.

    Let’s wait until Steve reports before the (presumed and only guessed at) motives underlying the invitation are thrashed out.

    cheers

  114. Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    That means, PG, that statements from authority should be treated as data, and not proof.

    In CAGW, poorly supported claims by “authority” are too often treated as proof.

  115. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 4:56 AM | Permalink

    Re # 39 Sam Urbinto

    Site has been down and busy, so please pardon early reference.

    You charted a number of factors. I did this recreationally in the late 70s- early 80s and then did a simple correlation analysis with sunspots using geostatics.

    There is vastly better data now and better computers. As an inquisitive person, could I entice you to do a modern correlation of the data that span enough decades, to see what correlates with what? I used sunspots because their record covered the longest span and so all could be compared with the count. I was surprised at how high industrial/agricultural/fiancial factors correlated, sometimes with a lag and sometimes with a 22-year pattern rather than the approx 11 year.

  116. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:14 AM | Permalink

    Re #42 Judith Curry,

    While I commend most of your attitude, it was upsetting that you added that no more anti-AGWs would be appearing for a while. This implies a personal belief on your part that the pro-AGW people are better teaching scientists than the skeptics are. This is not a reasonable assumption and you would need to support it with evidence. The popularity of CA and the qualifications of its contributors indicate that CA exists because many people think that much AGW science is quite poor – at least as commonly reported in both press and much literature, to the point of fakery and cover-up. A further measure is that the responses from pro-AGWs to skeptics are often unsatisfying in the sense of an objective, clear response. Politics of belief enter the response, needlessly, far too often.

    AGW is a far less important imperative for the world than disease reduction, increased longevity, better nutrition, cheaper power, even personal mental well-being. I hate to see my granchildren being taught dubious material that could frighten them about the future, but I am proud of them for seeing through the worst of it.

    May you learn from S McI that you need to have more sceptical guests, not fewer. I trust that all goes well.

  117. Kim Cobb
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

    This is my first and possibly only entry on CA, wherein I intend to make clear my intentions surrounding Steve M’s visit here.
    First of all, when Julien and Judy proposed to invite Steve to GT, I thought it was an interesting and worthwhile idea, coming on the heels of a seminar spent discussing the science, the ideological wars, and the policy implications of the Hockey Stick debate. I thought (and still think) it would be interesting to hold a discussion with our students who took the class, who ended up with a lot of questions and opinions by semester’s end. Having combed through M&M05, I think I understand the nature of the scientific rub (though disagree about its implications), and being intricately familiar with high-res paleo-proxies, I agree that they are imperfect (but not fatally flawed) indicators of climate. That said, I think that the HS debate has been appropriated and inflamed by the anti-AGWers (many of whom enjoy patting each other on the back here, understandably so). It is a real pity that the HS debate may have stalled public sentiment and policy regarding the reality of global warming, in my view.
    So I will engage Steve in a scientific debate tomorrow, although in Steve’s case it is very hard to separate his science from the effects of his science and blog. I am curious to hear him speak to the latter, both in our own 1-hour-long private meeting and in a 1-hour-long Q&A with my Hockey Stick students and other GT students. I am profoundly interested in the intersection of science and policy in the public arena, so I’m looking forward to all my interactions with Steve.

    Let the barking begin (but don’t expect a response).

  118. bender
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    Kim Cobb, thanks for your comments. Very reasonable.

    I’m wondering: How would you characterize your attitude toward the GCMs and EBMs as tools for GHG/AGW attribution? Would you say you have faith in them? Or would you say that your acceptance of the hypothesis is purely science-based? I’m trying to figure out the role of faith in scientific consensus building, where you have specialists in one area (paleoclimatology, say) working with specialists from another area (physical modeling, say). Would you say that faith plays an important role in the community’s acceptance of the hypothesis? For example, do the paleoclimatologists, in your experience, actually understand the physics and math and stastistics behind GCM construction and analysis? Or do they just accept it uncritically?

    Be honest, here. Because let’s face it: you can’t be a world-leading paleoclimatologist and be spending all hours of the day reading canonical papers on GCM physics.

  119. Greg F
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:28 AM | Permalink

    Kim Cobb wrote:

    That said, I think that the HS debate has been appropriated and inflamed by the anti-AGWers (many of whom enjoy patting each other on the back here, understandably so).

    Yea … right. The hockey stick, of dubious scientific value, was first hijacked by the pro-AGW’ers to promote their agenda. It appeared as “proof” just about any place you cared to look. You are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts. Taking the war analogy, the one starting the war is the one taking the first shot. The promotion of the HS by the pro-AGW’ers was the first shot.

  120. MrPete
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    Aye bender, that’s the crux of the matter.

    I’m quite pleased that Steve’s been invited… because at least a real conversation has a possibility of being ignited.

    We really *are* getting somewhere, folks.

  121. Raven
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:37 AM | Permalink

    One of the main arguments put forward by alarmists and moderate skeptics like Steve Mc is that we should assume that the experts have done their job and are probably right.

    This argument rests on the assumption that the experts are knowledgeable but also that they know what they don’t know and take that into account when coming to conclusions.

    The attitudes expressed by Dr. Curry, JEG and Dr. Cobb in thread certainly don’t give me any reason to believe that they have accounted properly for uncertainty. It makes me wonder why they think the general public should place any trust in them.

    If is worth noting that the automatic respect granted to someone in a professional occupation no longer exists in our society which means the onus is on the experts to demonstrate than they should be trusted. The “I’m a climate scientist and I know everything” mantra is getting quite tedious and will undermine their arguments in the long run.

  122. Stephen Richards
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Mr Pete

    I can see why SteveM takes you on ‘holiday’ with him to the mountains, great humour. The ‘possibilty’ does seem a little slim reading Kim’s post above.

  123. Joe Black
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Kim,

    “intricately familiar with high-res paleo-proxies, I agree that they are imperfect (but not fatally flawed) indicators of climate”

    So just where is the “climate” discussion beyond the factor of temperature? Especially from paleo-proxies?

    The claim of “climate” study seems to ring hollow given that the only specifics discussed in detail seem to be temperature (and “global” temperature (never well defined) at that).

  124. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    Wow, I’m too stunned to bark. When Dr. Cobb argues that Anti-AGWers inflamed the HS debate. I’m
    just too stunned. Part of you wants to point out the hiding of data, and the refusal to supply
    code, and the refusal to correct simple mistakes. And then you realize, I’d be arguing with a
    scientific method denialist. I’d be telling Cobb the sky was blue and she would insist that it
    was chartruese. But we all know the science is settled. Mann’s reconstruction is broken, it’s not robust with respect
    to the removal of BCP. There is no Debate.

    Hey, I guess I havent been stripped of my bark.

    No more dendro jokes I promise, I’ll leaf them alone and branch into d018 jokes. root for me ok?

  125. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    I have recently given lectures on my climate work, largely related to hockey sticks, for 2 industry groups, and 3 university departments. 99% of the attendees were polite and asked the usual questions (how do you know that? What about x?) At 2 of the universities, 2 and 1 profs of geology respectively got almost violent in their reactions. They were insisting that the ice caps could slide into the ocean at a moments notice in response to my response to a question about ice caps. One of them openly called me incompetent in a talk where ice caps didn’t even come up (though without citing any evidence to back up the assertion). I thought he might hit me. Clearly, I violated some norm that only allowed true believers to talk.

  126. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    A few minutes to post, can’t cover everything that has been mentioned.

    First, risk is the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen, and the probability of it happening. What the IPCC has done is to assess the published scientific literature, lay out some scenarios (i.e. what can happen), and then give their best estimate of the likely range. Uncertainty estimates ring loud and clear in the IPCC assessment, anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the document. The IPCC has given its warming range an uncertainty estimate of “likely”, implying >66% probability of being in this range. The IPCC does not preclude the possibility of it actually being lower or higher than this range.

    Risk management is done by the financial sector, our military leaders, etc., based upon incomplete knowledge and typically much lower levels of certainty than we have on the climate issue (e.g., decision to go to war in Iraq, as just one example). To completely ignore this risk, until we have 100% uncertainty on every aspect, would mean that if the IPCC projections turn out to be true, we have the potential for major economic losses, some loss of life, damages to ecosystems that will take centuries to recover from, and major political unrest. At 66% level of certainty, there is no question that we should be pondering prudent policy solutions. Even at 50% level of certainty, we should be pondering prudent policy solutions. Arguably even at 20% level of certainty, we should also be pondering. When I met with Governor Jeb Bush, who is extremely concerned about the impact of hurricanes on Florida, this is how I put it to him: even if there is only 50% chance that we are correct, or that the impact will be only half of what we estimate, is this still something for you to be concerned about? He said absolutely yes. Note, my idea of a policy solution does not mean trashing the economy and go off and live in a cave. The key word is “prudent”.

    I would also ask anyone criticizing what I am up to, to actually read what i write. How did anyone infer from what I wrote that i think Steve M is funded by Exxon Mobil?

    And I would also ask for those of you that are insulting myself, JEG, Kim Cobb and questioning our motives, to wait until Steve gets back and reports.

  127. MPaul
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    snip

    Inviting Steve to speak was a really good idea. And if you want to reduce skepticism among the general public, you should do more of this. And, climate science should not feel threatened if some of their students become contrarians. This is a healthy thing.

  128. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Got to agree with #183

    Dr Curry has spent a huge amount of time on this blog, and while many of us hold different scientific opinions, she has (or rather, deserves to have) earned our respect and trust in terms of commitment to objective and reasoned scientific debate on this topic. Let’s not make assumptions on motives without evidence. And let’s hold a little stock in the fact that if a “hot” scientific debate is to be had, Steve will give as good as he gets.

  129. Paul
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    Judith,

    You say the following:

    “Risk management is done by the financial sector, our military leaders, etc., based upon incomplete knowledge and typically much lower levels of certainty than we have on the climate issue ”

    and then go on to give Iraq as an example. I would suggest that the US Administration and intelligence services believed the diametrically opposite to what you believe. They had evidence and greater certainty.

    And there is the rub in my experience. Those closest and at the most granular level exhibit and excessive level of confidence. And further I believe that is why many of the stylised facts (I believe we only have stylised facts, in climate science, much like economics) are called into question by experts in external disciplines. E.g. econmetricians and statisticians with FAR less confidence in data, statistical inference or models deployed in climate science or held up by the IPCC.

    While you strike me as a genuinely diligent and well reasoned scientist, I don’t think you are immune to such common human failings as we all are.

  130. Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    @Bender- 172

    In fact, GT’s media announcement will cause media types to contact Steve Mc for his view. That’s what media types do!

    I think that’s all for the good, but some likely think it’s a bad thing. That’s why Judy Curry and JEG will catch some flak for inviting SteveM.

    I’m still hoping for the YouTube video because I want to see SteveM’s presentation, and the audience Q/A session. I think many people would enjoy this. (In fact, if audience anyone acts badly, the video could go viral!)

  131. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    I see too many “outsiders” to this blog seemingly assuming that what goes on here is confined to the HS when in fact Steve M introduces a variety of issues dealing with climate science. There have been many interesting climate science papers analyzed here by Steve M and posters that have not dealt directly or indirectly with the HS.

    If I were asked what I benefit the most from participating at CA it would be the analyses of climate science papers. I have particularly enjoyed analyzing papers that have dealt with historical global and NATL TC trends.

    Analyzing papers, while not rising to the level of publishing them, is a very important part, in my judgment, of processing information that eventually relates to climate policy. A big part of this has to do with the “certainty” disconnect between that revealed by detailed analysis of climate science papers and that one might otherwise surmise from less restricted and more off-handed statements made by climate scientists and policy advocates.

    I have been very disappointed that too many climate scientists come here seemingly to preach AGW and come up short when it comes to the detailed analysis of important papers in the field. If Steve M can overcome JEG’s histrionics expressed here and keep the discussion At GA Tech to paper analyses, I would see it as a major step forward.

    By the way, I am totally unimpressed with the references of Dr. Curry and JEG to their peers’ apparent disapproval of their contact with the unworthy and implying how that somehow makes their efforts more heroic and brave. Their very mention of that situation in the terms they have chosen negates any bravery I would connect to their actions.

  132. bender
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    “Are current temperatures ‘unprecedented’ or was the MWP warmer?”

    This is the only debate that the proxies can address. And we know [yawn] the answer: the uncertainty is large enough on the historical record that we can not say with certainty which was warmer. Dr Cobb? Dr Loehle. I can not imagine this debate gaining much airtime. The GCMs are the seat of attribution. That’s where the debate lies.

    I disagree very strongly with Dr Curry’s sentiment that uncertainty is a prominent feature in the IPCC reports. The uncertainty in key areas was, and still is, actively suppressed. The hirst hockey sticks had absurdly optimistic (i.e. narrow) confidence intervals, or none at all. Infinite precision! The spaghettigrams still do. No wonder things appear “unprecedented” today. The GCM outputs are equally mistreated.

    I’m all for a “precautionary principle” based on hard data. Just leave the pseudoscience fiction to the scientologists. Ok?

  133. jae
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    211, Judith:

    To completely ignore this risk, until we have 100% uncertainty on every aspect, would mean that if the IPCC projections turn out to be true, we have the potential for major economic losses, some loss of life, damages to ecosystems that will take centuries to recover from, and major political unrest. At 66% level of certainty, there is no question that we should be pondering prudent policy solutions. Even at 50% level of certainty, we should be pondering prudent policy solutions. Arguably even at 20% level of certainty, we should also be pondering.

    Pondering, yes. Acting, no, especially when it is clearly demonstrable that the proposed actions won’t make any significant difference (see Lomborg’s book and other writings on the subject). Do you REALLY think China and India will even consider in joining activities to reduce carbon dioxide? If so, you are clearly very ensconced in the academic la-la-land, IMHO.

  134. NTaylor
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    Re: Raven,

    You’ve touched on what has all along seemed to be a fundamental problem in the whole debate.
    The thought I’ve had throughout the discourse w/ the GT faculty (my first university) is of an answer in a DOD briefing given by Donald Rumsfeld as follows:

    As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don’t know
    We don’t know.

    It seems to me there is too little respect for the importance of the already ‘known unknowns’ but no sign of recognition of the importance of the ‘unknown unknowns’ with respect to the whole “what to do about it” part of the debate. This would seem to lead to hasty actions which would/always seem to amplify the effects of the law of unintended consequences.

    Whereas I expect such of policy makers, I would have hoped for more from ‘leading scientists’ in the field.

    My field is clinical medicine. The (old) dictum was: primum non nocere

    I try repeatedly to have younger physicians (any who are interested in listening–fewer seem to be) that the best rule at times is:
    “Don’t just do something! Stand there!”

    Probably my first and only comment here; however I am a fairly faithful reader.

  135. Pierre Gosselin
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    @Craig Loehle
    It’s difficult to win a debate if the debater himself does not even believe in his own science.
    I recently got into a tussle with Gavin at RealCensorship.org, ooops-sorry…I meant RealClimate.org. If you really want to find out just how much confidence these alarmists have in their own science, then demand that they put their (own) money down where their mouths are. Put up, or shut up.
    And that’s what I did with Gavin and Co. We all know how they all love to use SLRs to scare the bejesus out of the public. “Sea levels wil rise 1, 3 or even 6 metres – and soon! Them poles are melting faster than anyone expected!”, they’re always telling us. I’ve heard more polar ice melt stories than I care to count.

    So I demanded Gavin bet $100K on SLR. If the sea level rises LESS than 100 mm in 10 years (i.e. less than one meter per century, which is at the very low end of alarmists’ predictions, but still just moderately above the IPCC upper end), then Gavin would have to pay $100K to charity. But, if the sea levels rise 100mm or more in the next 10 years, meaning “catastrophe”, then I would have to pay the $100K to charity.

    Of course, Gavin’s no fool. He knows damn well whereabouts sea levels are gonna wind up in 10 years, and probably in 100 years. Not surprisingly he performed his little tap dance, and ducked away. So I asked him at what sea level rise after 10 years he would bet a 100K: 50mm? 20mm? or 5mm? Other than censoring the bulk of my argumentation, he did not reply. In short, he shut up (believe it or not).
    Heck, I thought with all them hot-shot models and consensus-backed science, these alarmists would at least provide us with a “very likely” SLR, at least one safe enough to bet on. No way.
    Imagine! These are the very scientists and politicians who insist they know what’s headed our way, have the temerity to demand we radically change our lifestyles and pay out the nose, but yet are still not confident enough to bet on their own science. I think that says a lot.
    Does anyone know if it’s possible to place bets on climate change, SLRs etc. in Vegas, etc.?

  136. MrPete
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    Judith,

    First, risk is the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen, and the probability of it happening. What the IPCC has done is to assess the published scientific literature, lay out some scenarios (i.e. what can happen)… The IPCC has given its warming range an uncertainty estimate of “likely”, implying >66% probability of being in this range. The IPCC does not preclude the possibility of it actually being lower or higher than this range.

    The phrase I emphasized above is where this argument becomes weak. The IPCC lays out “some” scenarios. All of them are AGW scenarios.
    Where are scenarios for future:
    * non-A warming: there is GW but not AGW; our efforts will not “fix” it
    * null hypothesis: the warming is “natural” — within natural variability, and will dissipate
    * non-A cooling: GC is around the bend; our efforts will not “fix” it
    * AGW necessary: GC is around the bend; if we work hard we can “fix” it through more AGW effort
    The excuse of the IPCC is that such investigations are outside their portfolio (which is to assess risk of AGW). Yet ignoring the other possibilities leaves a weaker understanding of the primary-focus scenario.
    AFAIK, having 66% confidence in the preferred scenario does not obviate 66% or higher confidence in other scenarios. I.e., the CI of the various scenarios may have significant overlap. And examination of other scenarios easily could provide sufficient information to modify our CI for the current scenario.

  137. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    RE: #211

    First, risk is the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen, and the probability of it happening. What the IPCC has done is to assess the published scientific literature, lay out some scenarios (i.e. what can happen), and then give their best estimate of the likely range. Uncertainty estimates ring loud and clear in the IPCC assessment, anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the document. The IPCC has given its warming range an uncertainty estimate of “likely”, implying >66% probability of being in this range. The IPCC does not preclude the possibility of it actually being lower or higher than this range.

    A more detailed view of the uncertainty decided by the IPCC would in fact reveal that it was decided by the individual groups responsible for writing their groups contribution to the AR4 report. While the IPCC provided guidelines for deriving uncertainties, the groups used their own and individual methods for arriving at the uncertainty levels published in AR4. The IPCC called for a documented and traceable account of these individual methods used. Since those methods, unfortunately, are not reproduced anywhere we have no real way of knowing how in detail the uncertainties were arrived at.

    Being able to quote uncertainty levels without stating the details is a good marketing ploy and may give some readers the intended warm and fuzzy feeling about it, but it is hardly an objective and/or statistical approach.

    To completely ignore this risk, until we have 100% uncertainty on every aspect, would mean that if the IPCC projections turn out to be true, we have the potential for major economic losses, some loss of life, damages to ecosystems that will take centuries to recover from, and major political unrest.

    100% uncertainty??

    You have failed to talk about the flip side and that is: what are the unintended consequences that might derive from government mitigation. (Think Iraq). We can spend and waste substantial moneys doing warm and fuzzy mitigation that will not affect any potential AGW outcome. (Think Kyoto).

    And I would also ask for those of you that are insulting myself, JEG, Kim Cobb and questioning our motives, to wait until Steve gets back and reports.

    While I judge my criticism of you and JEG to be of a more objective nature than insults or questioning motives as I am sure you think your criticisms of CA have been, you might consider presenting what you see as insults here to those disapproving peers. If anyone can rise above the fray, I am betting on Steve M and that he can return with some new insights into climate science.

  138. Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry:

    The IPCC has given its warming range an uncertainty estimate of “likely”, implying > 66% probability of being in this range. The IPCC does not preclude the possibility of it actually being lower or higher than this range.

    I’m always puzzled why people use the 66% interval. I typically use the 95%, though with uncertainties (and even uncertainties in uncertainties) being so large in this case, I’m not sure this would tell you much in the case of the IPCC report.

    But in any case, when I see scientific data plotted that way, my skepticism flag about the quality of the data is immediately raised. (For my best data, the error bars fit inside the line for the data. Very satisfying to have somebody ask you snottily where your error bars are and be able to nonchalantly say they’re buried in the data line.)

  139. bender
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    OT? I don’t think so. While waiting for Steve’s report we are having a wide-ranging mostly one-sided debate with the hornets. The topic is basically GT’s POV.

  140. MarkW
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    Actually it’s – While the zamboni’s away, the dogs will skate.

  141. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    #231 — Craig wrote: “Please note that the 66% confidence that the IPCC has is NOT a scientific confidence interval, but a subjective measure of how the chapter authors feel about the projections. I have witnessed debates within ecology where protagonists for opposing viewpoints were each 95% certain they were right–but obviously could not both be right. Their confidence was not based on data…

    And that’s the whole ball of wax. There isn’t an objective theory-driven estimate of net GCM projection uncertainty in the entire corpus of climate science. It’s all subjective guesstimates, whether best-guess parameterizations or IPCC guesses of scenario likelihood. The supposed uncertainty limits on climate projections in the 4AR are mere numerical average standard deviations. These mislead the public and reporters with a false air of accuracy. And yet we have Judith, who really should know better, in #211 taking such estimates seriously. Meanwhile, the damning significance of Mathew Collins’ 2002 demonstration that the HadCM3 GCM not only can’t reproduce the very same artifical climate it, itself, generated, but can’t even get close to it, goes ignored by the field.

    IPCC scenarios do not tell us “what can happen,” or “the probability of it happening.” (#211)” IPCC scenarios don’t tell us anything about the structure of future Earth climates. GCMs are entirely unreliable in this regard. That is the message transmitted by the errors reported deep inside WG1 Chapter 8 of the 4AR, and transmitted by the peer-reviewed literature that reports tests on GCMs as well.

    It doesn’t take full familiarity with the physics of GCMs to understand this (pace, bender #200). It takes critical reading of the literature and some understanding of the meaning of unfit residuals.

    There is no exclusivity of understanding granted to climate scientists. The beauty of science is that it is open and democratic. Anyone with understanding can make a valid contribution, or a critical assessment; amateur or professional, in-group or out.

  142. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    #252 Larry,

    I’ve cycled to work for most of my carreer, even when I was myself a University professor (to the dismay of some of my colleagues!), and even when I was president of my company. We have been recycling and composting in our house for 28 years. When I was, briefly, member of Friends of the Earth, our local “leader”, a reknowned environmentalist, would always take his car to come to our meetings. I left soon after I realized that some of our “claims” were just not scientifically founded (that’s at the time I was doing my Ph.D.). For environmentalists, the “cause” is more important than the science. I just feel the cause is important in itself, but that sound science is just as much, if not more important.

  143. Will C.
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    I am taking some heat for all this from my peers outside Georgia Tech. The climate blog police were very upset by my congratulations to Steve upon winning the best science blog award. A recent seminar speaker was apalled to be included in the same seminar series as steve and pat, and told me i was misleading my students. I got some support for what I am doing from a program manager at NSF who I spoke with recently, who appreciated my “missionary work” over at climate audit. Another NSF program manager is apparently not at all happy about this. Some people think that my participation over here in someway “legitimizes” CA; my participation over here is not all that relevant in the overall scheme of CA. I am fully aware that many of my peers think i am crazy for doing this.

    Well Mrs. Curry, I guess I would have ask you a question in context to a popular 60’s sci-fi movie.
    Are you Zira (and Cornelius), or are you Dr. Zaius?
    There certainly seem to be parallels in this debate.

  144. J. Peden
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    IPCC scenarios don’t tell us anything about the structure of future Earth climates. GCMs are entirely unreliable in this regard.

    Didn’t Kevin Trenberth admit just this very point? [I'd always wondered why it was that the ipcc designed the Kyoto Protocols so that they couldn't possibly work.]

  145. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    re 236. Ya, It’s way beyond the tipping point in here. Zamboni time.

    I’ll say this and shut up.

    1. Thank for inviting Steve. Thank you for listening. It was kind and open minded.
    2. I’m puzzled by the need for a Public comment after his visit, but I’ll suspend judgement
    until I see it.
    3. Whatever you say in the public comment, my “thank you” stands.

  146. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    Re scientists “making a policy statement.” As scientists, we are warning the public of a risk. We are not advocating for any specific policy solutions (there are certainly some exceptions, Jim Hansen being one.) Given the risk, as a citizen I would like to see our government examine this risk and consider it in their policy making. This attitude, and what I have been doing, is a very far cry from “making a policy statement.”
    However, every time I give some sort of climate change talk to policy makers (and I always talk a great deal about unertainty), they always ask me what i think should be done, and emphasize the need for scientists to help them in identifying policies that would make sense. They want scientists involved in the policy process, but not prescribing policy.

  147. BillBodell
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    I’m an AGW skeptic. I am dismayed when “my side” behaves badly. I am impressed when the “other side” behaves well. This thread hasn’t been going well for “my side”.

    All the time I’ve been lurking here my respect for Dr. Curry has grown and grown. Only to see this:

    Climate scientists had been under attack by Exxon Mobil funded advocacy groups

    Then, luckily, I read #123 and my faith was restored.

    Inviting Steve to speak was a good and brave thing to do. Perhaps, in a more perfect world, it shouldn’t brave. But, in this world, it is.

    Here are a couple of Climate Scientists finally willing to engage us in a rational discussion. This is exactly what I’ve always wanted to see happen. If occasionally JEG gets a bit out of hand, the proper action is to respond in a rational, respectful manner. To the trolls that attack Dr. Curry and JEG, all I can do is quote Cameron from the movie Crash “You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.”

  148. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    #267 Judith

    I undertand what you’re saying, but I still disagree. There are countless examples, even in the primary literature, of explicit or implicit policy statements. Not to mention press conferences (like the one Trenberth gave that led Chris Lansea to resign from IPCC)and press releases. And you let the advocates use the science to promote policy, indeed many do so very actively. You may not be guilty at the individual level, but the community as a whole certainly is. In fact, it has become so pervasive that it now sounds “normal”. But understand that an external observer can have a different perspective.

    In my field (fiber optics), we went through an enormous bubble at the end of the 90’s. Suddenly, we were all very hot, and we were all going to revolutionize technology, with the information superhighway and all that (yes! even we had Al Gore on our side). This has led many to make completely wild statements, both in the scientific literature and in the media, about the “real” state of the science and the technology. You could get all the grants you wanted to develop your pet gizmo, and that’s not to mention that you could get millions in venture capital in a blink with the most unrealistic proposal. After the bubble burst, the picture changed completely, and most of my former colleagues in academia had to reinvent themselves, and move to the next hot topic (now it’s nanotech). No one will fund you now to develop the next fiber optic gizmo. Such is life…

    Beware, though, the climate bubble.

  149. pk
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Kenneth, there’s more that goes on here than analyzing climate science papers. This blog has a fairly large readership and it’s starting to make a difference. My guess is that a lot of the readers/lurkers don’t get into the details of the climate science papers yet they are influenced by what is said by the more fair-minded and science oriented contributors.

    Honest, open communication between the different “sides” can only help with coming to a true understanding of what’s going on with our climate, or if anything out of the normal really is.

    I’d guess too that Dr. Curry’s statement that you quoted was open and honest (a constructive criticism coming from a climate scientist’s point of view)…I bet she has gotten some heat for her participation here. I also note that she has been completely professional…not at all like what goes on over at RC.

  150. John Lang
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Judith Curry and her Georgia Tech colleagues are clearly in the pro-AGW camp. So, Steve has entered the lion’s den and will receive a few scratches there. Nothing new, Steve has entered a few lion and bear dens before.

    The key will be the reports made after the meeting. Dr. Curry has shown before that she is not above posting one thing here and posting/discussing something completely different in other venues. Hopefully Steve’s charm will win her over.

  151. J. Peden
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    #261 I find the denia and skeptics talk rather childish personally. If your argument is sound then stick to it and promote it but to fear the opposite view seems to me to demonstrate that you have an inherent weakness in your own point of view.

    paul, I haven’t seen any “skeptic” here who fears the scientific method and its associated practices. At this site that would almost be a contradiction in terms, and I’m pretty sure that simple allegience to the well-established scientific process is the standpoint from which Steve M. approaches his work and this Ga.Tech presentation.

    Without a reasonably well applied scientific process, there aren’t even any scientific views to either support or oppose to begin with, imo.

  152. deadwood
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    This site can benefit from more people who have a skeptical view of AGW skepticism. If for no better reason than for us to see how AGW’ers respond to contrary science. And they too can benefit from some of the good debate here among those who are regulars at CA.

    Echo chambers help only those who want to hear their own voices. So those who think it necessary to emulate RC, please back off a bit.

  153. Lance
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Curry and JEG have shown that they are willing to at least respond to rational scientific criticisms. For that they are to be commended. Extending Steve an invitation to speak is a very magnimous gesture considering the current political climate (sorry the only other word that came to mind was atmosphere which is almost as bad a pun).

    Some of JEG’s and Dr. Curry’s remarks have been insulting and dismissive of “skeptics”. I find this dissapointing but considering the tone of the current debate not surprising. I am hopeful that after meeting with Steve and putting a human face on ClimateAudit a new dialogue can be established. Even though Steve is not technically a “skeptic” per se.

    All that matters is the science. Everything else is noise. (I’m not sure if “barking” is red or white noise.)

  154. John Norris
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    I attended Steve’s presentation at Georgia Tech. It was interesting to see Steve, Dr. Curry, Kim Bass JEG live and engaged, prior to his presentation. The GT crowd was hospitable. It was made up of mostly students and a few professors. No boos or fruit thrown.

    Steve’s slides reviewed quite a bit of his CA material regarding proxies and hockey sticks. I suspect he will post them here. I don’t think I saw much beyond what I have read here over the last 18 months, but it certainly was enjoyable to hear him speak to it – and all in one fell swoop. It was great just to hear how some of those freak’n proxies are pronounced.

    Dr Curry, JEG, and Kim Bass seem to have a great deal of respect for Steve and what he has done with his hobby. At the same time they seem perhaps frustrated with the results, and certainly frustrated with the AGW battle in general. Steve was very narrow in his arguments, as he is here, focusing on what his look into proxy data shows. He only points out that the proxies are pretty bad, and because of that you can’t tell if the recent spike in warming is unusual, or not. With his extensive knowledge of proxies, he is pretty hard to derail.

    For the future it sounded as if Dr. Curry is looking to find ways to keep the AGW discussion flowing, but seeking a path where healthy disagreement doesn’t melt down into insults.

    I would challenge you to offer the Georgia Tech crowd the same respect here that they, their students, and fellow faculty offered Steve in their house. They all seemed to be very nice people.

  155. Larry M
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    John #283

    Very happy to hear that. Bravo to Steve

  156. bender
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    It’s hard not to respect Steve M. Nobody knows the proxies better and is also willing to discuss them openly and honestly. The conclusion from that work is beyond debate: there is insufficient data to infer that current temperatures warmer than they were 600+ years ago. This is what NAS said, and it is the correct conclusion. Yawn.

    Maybe someone someday will go get some better data and prove otherwise. But there is no motivation for doing that if you believe your hockey stick has settled the science. Well, it hasn’t. New and better data are needed.

  157. Lance
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

    John Norris,

    It is a bit late now, and maybe someone else has already anticipated my question, but did anyone think to record Steve’s presentation? I would love to see it. I would also like to hear how to pronounce Juckes etc.

    Glad to hear that people were civil to Steve. I expected nothing less. Our physics department has a weekly colloquium and while questions can be direct and blunt, respect for the guest speaker before and after the presentation is always in evidence.

  158. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    RE: #283

    I would challenge you to offer the Georgia Tech crowd the same respect here that they, their students, and fellow faculty offered Steve in their house. They all seemed to be very nice people.

    I am sure that they are very nice (and sincere) people but what piques my interest are the questions that were posed to Steve M’s presentation — as narrow as it might be. I eagerly await that information.

  159. bender
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    If you see your purpose as to alert the outside world of a danger, then of course you’re going to believe that there’s a danger.

    If you see your purpose as to investigate a danger, then of course you’re not necessarily going to believe that there’s a danger.

    Let the modelers alone stand up and defend the attribution. They are the only ones who can account for what the GCMs and EBMs say. The rest is alarmist noise.

  160. trevor
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    This thread is a fascinating example of a blog at work. And we are seeing it without moderation since Steve McIntyre is away at GTech. A couple of points:

    1. There is clearly a range of views, and some cheeky, provocative or plain cussed comments from a wide range of contributors. However, compared with some other blogs, the tone is positively genteel.

    2. It is intriguing how much each poster reveals about him/herself by what they choose to type into the “reply” box. “By their fruits ye shall know them!”

    Of course, this post reveals quite a bit about me too!! :-)

  161. John Norris
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    re 289, Lance

    I didn’t see anyone record it. Although I was up front and someone behind me could have. I didn’t have the crust to march in with a camera, as the seminar was for Georgia Tech folks, and I kind of crashed the party, and have no idea what policy they have towards that. If Steve does this again, and you have the opportunity to record it, I would check with him to make sure he is comfortable with it.

  162. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Re: #296

    Ken: I would think this wouldn’t suprise you, but most people you meet don’t even care about you, much less anyone you know, and more much less than they care about your future generations. Heck, most of them probably don’t even care about their own future generations.

    I think you missed my point completely. I care about my family and its future generations and not a wit about someone who posts about the futility of it all. I was saying if you have given up go lay down somewhere and let the rest of us carry on.

  163. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    Re: the tone of this blog. I notice a few people who focus on the motives or internal thought processes of posters, which is a little presumptuous and can lead off into insults. Otherwise, I see the insistent AGW posters as the rudest in general.

  164. Gary
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    All in all, this blog is a pretty decent pick-up hockey game, ably refereed by bender with Mosh as the saavy linesman [Zamboni time ;-)]. Slashing and spearing are kept to a minimum even if it gets a little chippy at times. My thanks also to the GT folks for inviting Steve and for putting in their ice time here. Don’t feed the goons.

  165. Frank
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

    Hi Folks.
    I also attended the seminar today. This is my first post, so please keep the flames on low, thank you very much.
    I am a GT alum, BEE 77,and as a correction to a post above, the mascot is not a hornet, but a “Yellow Jacket”.
    Anyway, I was slightly nervous planning my trip downtown, after reading the earlier posts about angry voices and such, but I was mostly proud of the hospitality shown to Steve. The small lecture hall seated around 100, with very few empty seats scattered about, and a few folks lining the back wall. It was a little bit hard to hear , sitting in the back row, but everyone was very quiet during the presentation. The student next to me kept her Ocean textbook open the whole time. We all applauded at the end of the presentation, and I waited until the crowd left, and introduced myself to Steve, Dr. Curry, Dr. Cobb, and Dr. Emile-Geay. They were all very cordial. I did not stay for the reception, as I had dinner plans with my wife and Atlanta traffic is particularly bad on Friday evenings.
    I probably will not comment too much on the technical aspects of the presentation because I am not quite up to speed. I have been reading the blog for only a few months. The presentation did appear to be slightly rushed, as you can imagine in trying to cover the statistical basics of the issues discussed here, and also tell the stories of data access and non-archiving – all within the span of 60 minutes. (it did run over a few minutes).
    Speaking of running out of time, I have to quit for now. Sorry I missed meeting John Norris.

    Thank you Dr.’s Curry, Cobb, and Emile-Geay, and the EAS school.

  166. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Feb 8, 2008 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    #309 They’re amateurish in the sense the Steve has noted many times: an engineering report would be more precise, more rigourous, and less verbose. There’s really no need for all those chapters. The real question is attribution. The report could, for example, focus on that problem alone, and make a detailed, quantitative exposition of how the warming is (or isn’t) attributed to GHG’s. All we have now is a literature review, and a lot of handwaving. If there is a proof, let us see it once and for all.

  167. Mike B
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    This is my first post, so please keep the flames on low, thank you very much.
    I am a GT alum, BEE 77,and as a correction to a post above, the mascot is not a hornet, but a “Yellow Jacket”.

    Hornet has evolved into the CA slang for Yellow Jacket. As in, “I’ve got 20 quatloos on Math Guy vs the Hornet.”

  168. Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    John A: thanks for the tip on the cookies.

    Looks like the site shut down for a while. I also noticed that my name no longer appears automatically in the posting box.

  169. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Re: #311

    Frank, from yours and John Norris’ accounts the mood seemed conducive to having a civil exchange, but I am disappointed not to hear any of the students’ questions — I hope there were questions. I’ll await Steve M’s account of the seminar and the informal exchanges with the GT staff as he seems to always provide some insights. Perhaps Judy Curry and JEG will also comment here.

  170. fFreddy
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    Re #131, Judith Curry

    However, we have a really good statistician in our group, Carlos Hoyos

    Interesting. What does Carlos think of M&M’s criticisms of MBH ?

  171. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

    re 318 What did you expect. Some hornet to go “waterboy” on SteveMc

  172. bender
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

    What?! Still no vespid reply to the question of the day!?
    Are current temperatures “unprecedented”? Is the current rate of warming “unprecedented”? Over what time scale?
    (a) 400 yrs
    (b) 600 yrs
    (c) 1000 yrs
    (d) 5000 yrs
    (e) a millllll-yun yrs

    Vespid intelligentsia, the floor is yours.

  173. steven mosher
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    RE 131. Judith. I find it odd that you would not want to subject your paper to the Craziness
    that Loehle was subject to. In the end, judge the result. Bender made some apt comments,
    Lot’s of idiots howled at the moon. I think I had a dozen dumb comments.
    In the end, Hu and others offered some help and a better paper came out. After locking onto the right
    frequency, Craig was able to tune out the noise, or enjoy it for what it was.

    When my dog barks I dont leave the room. I dont yell at him. I cock my head dog like and stare him
    down. Then he comes over for belly rubs.

  174. Larry
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    312, Francois, you may have missed this in a different thread, but there’s a very specific reason why the IPCC ARs are literature reviews. It’s in the IPCC mandate. That’s what they’re chartered to do, and they’re not chartered to do an actual report as many here think appropriate. If you want to trace the lack of an appropriate engineering-style report to it’s root, it’s in the charter itself.

    As I said in another thread, they left a step out. The IPCC approach is:

    1. Survey the literature.
    3. Act.

    They left a step out in there:

    2. Get it right.

  175. Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry (#211) writes,

    Uncertainty estimates ring loud and clear in the IPCC assessment, anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the document. The IPCC has given its warming range an uncertainty estimate of “likely”, implying >66% probability of being in this range. The IPCC does not preclude the possibility of it actually being lower or higher than this range.

    Carrick (#235) then asks,

    I’m always puzzled why people use the 66% interval. I typically use the 95%, though with uncertainties (and even uncertainties in uncertainties) being so large in this case, I’m not sure this would tell you much in the case of the IPCC report.

    In fact, no one that I know of but the IPCC uses 66% confidence levels to indicate any kind of significance. The IPCC’s “Guidance Notes for Lead Authors” of AR4 carefully specify that the word “likely” (in gushy italics) shall indicate .gt. 66% probability of occurrence, “very likely” .gt. 90% probability, and “virtually certain” .gt. 99% probability, and so forth for “unlikely” etc.

    Thus on p. 12 of the Summary for Policymakers, we find “Temperatures of the most extreme hot nights, cold nights, and cold days are likely to have increased due to anthropogenic forcing.” That is to say, there is a 66% probability that this is true, and a 33% probability that these temperatures have not increased. In other words, zero change lies outside a 33% confidence interval (point estimate plus or minus 0.43*sigma), so that the t-value for no change may be as low as 0.44. Translated into ordinary statistics terminology this means, “the point estimate is that there was an increase, but the difference from zero is not statistically significant at any level worth mentioning.”

    If the increase had instead been “very likely” (aka “with very high confidence” in the Summary), that would just mean that zero lies outside an 80% confidence interval, with 10% outside on each side, in other words a t statistic for no change that might be as ridiculously low as 1.28.

    Judith’s example is a little stronger, since it refers to a 2-sided range rather than a mere 1-sided direction. She may in fact have in mind the statement, also on p. 12:

    The equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure of the climate system response to sustained radiative forcing. It is not a projection but is defined as the global average surface warming following a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. It is likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5dC with a best estimate of about 3dC, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5dC.

    Here, 2-4.5dC is a 66% CI (corresponding in the ordinary symmetric Gaussian case to a t critical value of 0.97), though the 1.5dC only purports to be the 10th percentile of the distribution, i.e. the lower bound of an 80% CI.

    Craig and I were at one point considering using an 80% CI in the corrected reconstruction in order to conform to IPCC’s absurdly low hurdle for “very likely,” but then thought better of it and went with a standard 95% CI instead.

    Worse yet, as Craig points out (#231), these IPCC confidence statements may in fact just be subjective judgments by the cronies of the lead authors rather than the outcomes of actual computations: “Likelihood [as defined in the above IPCC scale] may be based on quantitative analysis or an elicitation of expert views.” (“Guidance Notes,” p. 4)

  176. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Re: #329

    What is the distribution of a show of hands? It cannot be less than zero so perhaps a Poisson?

  177. MrPete
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    Why didn’t I ever connect this IPCC play on words with some of the venerable books about how to lie with statistics?!! Gotta go dig up a few quotes…

  178. Craig Loehle
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

    Take people largely committed to the AGW proposition, and then take a show of hands as your measure of certainty: amazing. Really.

  179. Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    #332 Another exercise for in-house seminars.
    Ask how much sea level is projected to rise by the year 2100 and construct a histogram on the whiteboard. Then mark in the linear projection
    of increase for the last 100 years. The difference between
    that value and the mean (or mode) is a measure of the AGW bias
    of the group.

  180. tim
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    329 says,

    these IPCC confidence statements may in fact just be subjective judgments by the cronies of the lead authors rather than the outcomes of actual computations: “Likelihood [as defined in the above IPCC scale] may be based on quantitative analysis or an elicitation of expert views.” (”Guidance Notes,” p. 4)

    The Delphi technique?–sweet.

    330, I recall one such study (unrelated to climate), I believe a distribution in the gamma family was chosen.

  181. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    Re # 259 Sam Urbinto

    Thank you for your response about multiparameter modelling re my # 188.

    My reasoning is:

    In climate science there are many paramaters that extend back 100 years, some much more, for which measurements have been made. Some are treated as proxies for temperature as by Craig Loehle. There is argument about the confidence that should be put on these proxies. Some of the argument arises from statistical methods.

    In real life there are many parameters for which records have been kept, also some for a century or more. Prima facie some of these parameters are unrelated; on the other hand, many might be related to a common attractor as yet unidentified well (to use the term wrongly).

    Since you mentioned you had a data collection, I thought it might be a profitable exercise to hide the identities of each number series, assume they were all climatic factors, then do a multiple regression or similar correlation study to see what came out in the wash in a blind test.

    This would be another way to estimate the credibility of variance claims; and perhaps another way to demonstrate how hockey sticks can be made. Make a meta-stats study of a whole heap of variables then try to explain the correlations.

    I did not intend my # 188 to question your background or experience. I was merely interested in the fact of your collection and the hope that a prominent ststistician might want to take on this exercise and give it a run.

  182. John Norris
    Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    re #318, Kenneth Fritsch

    Three questions that I can recall. Steve spoke a little longer then 45 minutes, so the ~15 minute Q&A period was compressed to 5 or 10 minutes.

    1. There was one question from the back of the room, from whom I am guessing was a student, regarding weighting of different PC’s for the hockey stick. Steve expanded a little beyond what he said during his presentation, but echoed that whatever weird statistical method (my terminology, not his) you use, eventually you end up with weighting factors for the different proxies. Whatever weighting factors you end up with, you ought to publish them along with your results. No argument from the audience. They had all just seen Steve present the great lengths he went to, to derive the MBH weighting factors. Steve went on further to explain that whatever future Mann output surfaces, he expects it to weigh heavy on the same proxies; if Mann wants to produce another HS.

    2. There was a short question from the front right side (audience perspective), from whom I am guessing was a professor, about Mann claiming that he had his financial records subpoenaed during the congressional testimony on the HS. Steve expressed that he didn’t think that was the case, that Congress issued a pro forma question, as they sent to Steve, regarding who was funding his work. It was not like checking bank account statements or anything. Steve stated his MBH research was self funded.

    3. There was a question from the front left (audience perspective), on other evidence that there is significant GW, like artic ice melting, rising sea levels, etc… I believe Steve started to reiterate his narrow scope that the MBH HS calculation was bad, he wasn’t claiming that it wasn’t getting warmer, but went further to say that the proxies suck (again, my terminology) so how do you really know over the last 1000 years or so what happened. The questioner followed up stating that there should have been oral history from 1000 years ago (or so) from northern societies if significant warming occurred back then. Steve disputed that, he sited some specifics about Inuit and other northern societies and how long they have been in place, and whether you could trust the oral history to be accurate to remember a significant warm period. The question came from a gentleman that was sitting between JEG and I; it is possible that JEG knows him.

    #311, Frank, anything you can add?

    As you said Kenneth, hopefully Steve will come back with a summary. That should clean up any of my misunderstandings or misrepresentations.

  183. Posted Feb 9, 2008 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

    Kenneth Fritsch (#330) writes,

    Re: #329

    What is the distribution of a show of hands? It cannot be less than zero so perhaps a Poisson?

    With a finite electorate of independent voters, it would be binomial, and hence bounded by the number of voters. The Poisson distribution is unbounded, but closely approximates the binomial when the number of voters is large and the probability of a hand is small.

    But I think we are veering off topic. So how were the dinners, Steve? Does Julien, Judith or Kim play a decent game of squash?

  184. Judith Curry
    Posted Feb 10, 2008 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    One quick comment. Steve met with a number of small groups, ranging from undergraduate classes to graduate student paleoclimatologists, to faculty members. The more probing and interesting questions almost certainly came in these smaller groups; I noted that the questions in the main public seminar came from people that had not previously met with Steve in a smaller group.

  185. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 10, 2008 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

    I’m back from Georgia Tech, where I was treated very cordially, particularly by Judith Curry and JEG, both of whom receive much (undeserved) criticism in their own circles for doing so. Some of the comments on this thread have been very unfair. I’m closing this thread until I report on my trip and I’m going to snip some of the more churlish remarks when I get some time.

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