Built Like an “Outhouse”

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Raymond Bradley said that the hockey stick is built like an “outhouse”.

Bradley told the reporter that he’d built his outhouse out of brick – fancying himself, I guess, as the academic equivalent of the Third Little Pig.

No one has ever accused the Team of statistical sophistication and Bradley’s present distinction of reconstruction validity according (presumably) to the broad outhouse categories of brick, sticks and straw is perhaps an improvement on past statistical standards.

Most CA readers know that the MBH outhouse was actually built of bristlecone pine from the high and dry US southwest – the outhouse shown at left also coming from the high (9126 feet) dry US southwest (hike described here.)

The more recent Mann et al 2008 was built at least, in part, out of mud. While the part using mud may well have been built robustly, it was also built upside down. A definite disadvantage when the outhouse is put to use.

Update: Jeff Id reports the two-level outhouse shown in the following picture. As in MBH98-99, calibration is done on the upper level and verification on the lower level, with the verification statistics finding their own level. The canonical hockey stick shape is robustly derived from the altitude of the Team member as he climbs up the stairs in order to do his calibration.


  1. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Like an outhouse in that it stinks.

  2. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 9:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Humor is appropriate, Steve, now that the outhouse has collapsed with many world leaders and leaders of the scientific community inside.

    Thanks for your part in this, Steve. – Oliver

    • Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The outhouse collapsed, but people keep using it. That makes for a REAL mess!

  3. PJB
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Does the climate-science community not repudiate Mann et al because they are so intimately linked together?

    Their conclusions and data (not to mention their ethics and morals) are so conspicuously errant that there must be some movement towards a distancing from the source of the scat.

  4. Tom Ganley
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The hike link is giving me only the picture.

    • Paul
      Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 3:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Article describing the hike is

  5. stan
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “dragged into politics” ??!!

    Hmmmm. More like “riding to the sound of the guns” of politics. Perhaps the reason for the divergence of opinion on the science of world’s climate is due to his spending too much time in a looking glass world.

    “When I use a word,it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

  6. golf charley
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A brick outhouse with a timber roof is a good idea, however if you make the walls out of timber, and the roof out of brick, implosion is likely, and claims you used brickwork in the original construction are not going to impress people.

  7. Sundance
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The good news is that the model used in building the outhouse pictured above is still indicating that the outhouse was perfectly conceived.

  8. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hughes is playing the victim card as others involved in the ClimateGate fiasco have done. For example, it was used by Jones among others in their argument that FOI requests were being used to divert clever scientists from their important work.

    Tolstoi explained the intellectual blindness in Hughes’ position many years ago when he said,

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

    • Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Tim, thanks for that. It’s time we had a bit more Tolstoy around here. The epic quality, but with a fox’s grasp of the detail (if you follow Berlin in seeing the novelist as a fox who longed to be a hedgehog). We need both of those. As for our host, it’s like a cross between Leo Nikolayevich and Perelman. Hilarious.

  9. Richard T. Fowler
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Check out the set-up of skeptics in this quote of Bradley in the Boston Globe article Steve links to:

    Despite his initial horror at being dragged into the public arena, Bradley recognizes that the battle will be won or lost there. He said, “We have to take on global warming as a political issue. Scientists need to stop self-flagellating if they can’t convince Rush Limbaugh and his followers. Let’s go for the other 60 percent who will listen. Right now, that’s basically a Democrat and left group. [. . .]”

    This raises a number of issues that I find interesting and/or disturbing. One of the biggest ones for me is that it seems Bradley is trying (in a seemingly underhanded and unfair way) to give newcomers to the debate the impression that argument was started by the skeptics. We of course know that the argument was started through the pushing of junk science and false information, and the intransigence of the pushers over a period of years — their unwillingness to admit errors that must by now be obvious to everyone who takes a serious interest in these matters.

  10. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The upside down outhouse is still statistically superior to the two level.


    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Is that an ocean front one to account for rising sea levels?

    • Pat Frank
      Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Is that the restroom at your company, Jeff? :-)

      • Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 7:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Well Pat, for some reason I often think my office is on the lower level. Poor engineering IMO.

        When I meet other corporate owners at trade shows, sometimes I break the ice with ‘right at the bottom of the pile with me’. It usually is well received.

  11. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Did they rent out the basement suite?

  12. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Strangely, the journalist did not ask Bradley about his well paid Fritts transcription service.

  13. Stacey
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder if he wanted to say “built like a brick shit house” and realised that it was literally true.

    Any structural engineer will tell you it matters not one jot how the superstructure is built if the foundations are inadequate.

  14. Derek Walton
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Some time ago I met a French Canadian who was practising his English at a marine station in New Zealand:

    “he was built like a shit brick house” he said

    Now I know what he meant.

  15. John T
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t care what they make it out of. It still stinks.

  16. Fred
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Regardless of what the building is made of, an outhouse is nothing more than a hole in the ground where people dump crap.

    The symbology is too rich.

  17. TAC
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Great post, Steve!

    Of course Bradley deserves credit for a truly hilarious metaphor. I guess he is finally admitting that the hockey stick involved unorthodox techniques and materials — about time!

  18. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think he forgot the mortar …

  19. Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I guess if we want to develop the hockeystick as an outhouse/brick shit house further, should we mention that “forcing” is relevant to both?

  20. kuhnkat
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Not to be too picky, BUT, the Three Little Pigs built residences, NOT Outhouses. As has been mentioned, outhouses are still full of excrement, just like Bradley’s Hockey Stick. A Freudian Slip by Bradley per chance? I believe Mann has been more careful and not worn his slip in public, only in publicized e-mails and certain private computer file folders.

    I love his claimed surprise at being dragged into politics. He creates, with Mann, a false POLITICAL SLEDGEHAMMER, incidentally making previous paleo scientists look like fools, and then claims to be surprised that he is dragged into politics.


  21. Hank Henry
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One of the drawbacks of the brick outhouse is that it can’t be moved as is occasionally done to wooden ones. It just remains, full of _______!

    Raymond Bradley should just let Mann do the all talking. I guess they had a tiff though. Isn’t Bradley the one that said about Mann, “excuse me while I puke?”

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Maybe that is why they cannot “move on”.

  22. kuhnkat
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sundance, yes the model will always match the outhouse no matter how many observations have to be adjusted or by how much!!


  23. Hank Henry
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Is this the one he meant?

  24. Douglas Hoyt
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t Chris Mooney say that 4 climate scientists were building hideaways to survive the coming climate crisis? If Bradley is building an outhouse, it seems that he is one of those scientists.

    Anyone have a link to the Mooney story?

    • Douglas Hoyt
      Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It seems to be Greg Craven who said it (see http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/18/agu-fall-meeting-part-iii-an-open-letter-from-greg-craven/)
      He says:

      “It might surprise, and hopefully disturb you, to hear that in my short time at AGU, I discovered four scientists who are already creating some form of survival retreat for their family, and they told me there are many more. But they are all too scared of being ostracized in the scientific community if they speak of it. It struck me that they aren’t even “in the closet” yet. They still think they are isolated freaks of nature, ashamed to share what they truly feel.”

      • Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Showing that these guys really ‘believe it’, where ‘it’ is hard to specify exactly but sure is catastrophic. Whatever shortcuts (at worst, deceptions) are uncovered in the science this must be kept in mind. It’s not a scam in the most facile sense. Noble cause corruption some call it, though I’ve never gone that far. Jeff’s two-level outhouse has become my model.

  25. Steven Mosher
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The funny thing is that somebody who is built like “brick **** house” usually has an abundance of natural curves. And the curves BALANCE. So if the MWP Bumps were balanced with the modern Bumps, well you get the idea


    I’ll stop with that since …… oh nevermind

  26. Steven Mosher
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    totally Off topic.

    making simple R packages on windows


    10 easy steps. err kinda.

    Anyway, steve, it should work for you and others. Write if you have any trouble.
    Later I’ll dive into the details of incorporating C code or fortran ( I think chad likes this)

    • Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

      he Roman I got your Note. I actually Met Hadley this past Monday. He gave a lecture on interactive R graphics that he is working on. very nice stuff. I use a bunch of his stuff.

  27. theduke
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Clearly, Bradley is trying to gin up interest in his book.

    One statement caught my eye:

    “Inhofe put out this anti-IPCC report and coupled it with a call for 17 scientists to be indicted. It got on the front page of every newspaper.’’

    I could find no verification of this, even on green websites.

  28. Green Sand
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 4:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry for this but being brought up in the “back to back” streets of Northern England where each house had a brick outhouse (very polite description) at the end of the yard we were regaled of tales of how during the night in the bygone years the “Muck Men” would pull their cart down the “entry” between the houses and shovel out the “privies” (brick outhouses). There was even a school yard song:-

    Muck Men, Muck Men, toilers of the night
    Muck Men, Muck Men, with barrows full of sh*te
    Straw on the wheels so not to make a sound
    Sorting out the yellow from the brown

    That’s my recollection, the web finds:-


    Sadly I am forced to think as to who the modern day “toilers of the night” maybe.

  29. Jimmy Haigh
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Did you hear the one about the constipated climate ‘scientist’?

    • GrantB
      Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 9:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Worked it out with a pencil?

  30. sky
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bradley’s “brick outhouse” analogy fits most of climate science perfectly. It’s a repository for inferences based on crappy data. And what really stinks is the flow of dollars it attracts in a spree of wasteful spending.

  31. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jun 8, 2011 at 11:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mountains in Australia do not rise higher than 7,310 feet, so we use gravitational priciples and send it downwards in the famous “long drop”. There have been several photographic and descriptive books on the Australian Dunny, with the earliest, I think, being:
    Dunnies, dykes and longdrops / Douglass Baglin, Yvonne Austin
    Book Bib ID 1332676 Format Book, Online – Google Books
    Author Baglin, Douglass, 1926- Edition 1st ed. Description Auckland, N.Z. : Beckett-Sterling ; Brookvale, N.S.W. : Child & Henry Publishing, 1984. 55 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. ISBN 0908676107 Subjects Outhouses – Pictorial works.

    Feom Wikipedia, we have this 1960s photo. pre-sewerage, of lines of dunnies in Brisbane, showing how thorough we were in replicating experiments. Wiki also gives the origin of “dunny”, “thunderbox”, “long drop”, “dyke”, “crapper”, “bog” and other synonyms.


    Once again, the NH and the SH might have to be treated as discrete cases (of crap).

  32. Jimmy Haigh
    Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 3:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Worked it out with a hockey stick.

  33. monty
    Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 5:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Odd that ‘hockey sticks’ turn up in lots of other proxies which aren’t associated with tree rings (glacier length records, ocean floor foram records, permafrost temperatures, borehole records, ammonium concentrations from tropical ice cores, sediment fluxes to valley bottoms). Maybe they exist after all?

  34. David Anderson
    Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 5:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I would have compared the Hockey Stick to a stool you might find in an outhouse, given its propensity to bend in compliance with more recent reconstructions…


  35. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    From the Bradley interview linked above it is rather obvious that Bradley is and has been very much the advocate/scientist. That he plays the politics well is evident in his attempt to portray the scientist/advocate as a victim and state that scientists must now become advocates for the cause. In other words, these scientists have been quietly going about their businesses, and have been pulled into the debate unwillingly – and apparently forced Bradley to write a book about it.

    Washington politicians can indeed be pompous and overbearing in their hearings, but I think all that does is allow scientists like Bradley to avoid discussing the details of the evidence and change the subject to their being victims. Why would a scientist refer to a works of theirs as being robust like a brick outhouse? That is a metaphor expected of a politician with no content.

  36. Paul_in_CT
    Posted Jun 24, 2011 at 2:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Funniest post ever, many thanks!

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] descended into a joke, still thinks it relevant. Despite the thorough kicking it has been handed by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, Raymond Bradley has defended this disgrace to science. ‘Scientifically, [...]

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