Some Thoughts on Disclosure and Due Diligence in Climate Science

This post seems to have caught a chord and has quickly become the most read posting on the site. It was was cited approvingly by Roger Pielke at his blog [now here] and re-printed with slight edits by National Post on Feb. 15, 2005.

I have spent much of the past 2 years analyzing and re-constructing some of the basic studies used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to support their conclusions about global warming and, in turn, to promote policies on climate change. It started as a hobby and it evolved into a full time avocation, resulting to date in 3 peer-reviewed publications, which Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, the National Post and the Wall Street Journal have recently reported on. Previously, I spent about 35 years in the mining and mineral exploration business. During the last 20 years of this, I worked in the micro-cap exploration business and have a great deal of practical experience in dealing with prospectus and securities issues from the company point of view. Concepts like audit trails, due diligence and full, true and plain disclosure become second nature when you work in such an environment.

I have not before stepped into academic disputes, where very different standards of disclosure and procedures for due diligence apply. I think that many non-academic people, who would be put off by technical questions like the validity of principal components algorithms, may very well be interested in what I have learned about these processes as they apply to modern climate studies. In a corporate world, there is simply no question about providing audit trails, and while they can take many different forms they all serve the purpose of ensuring the validity of information used for investment decisions. In addition to familiar forms of financial audit trails, the splitting and retention of drill cores is a form of audit trail in the exploration business. In my opinion, the absence of drill core at the Bre-X exploration site, if publicly known, would have alarmed investors long prior to the final demise. (See my notes Bre-X#1, Bre-X#2 and Bre-X #3)

The 2001 IPCC report produced findings that have guided investment decisions, which vastly exceed the sums involved in even the largest financial scandals of recent years. Since the IPCC leaned heavily on a novel approach called a “multiproxy climate study” and in particular the “hockey stick graph” of Mann et al., this is where I’ve focused my attention. An audit trail in this case is easily defined: the data in the form used by the authors and the computer scripts used to generate the results. In principle, these can be easily buttoned up and publicly archived. I think that most civilians would assume (as I did prior to starting my studies in this area) that such packages would be standard as part of a peer review process.

In fact, this is not the case. None of the major multiproxy studies have anything remotely like a complete due diligence packages and most have none at all. The author of one of the most quoted studies [Crowley and Lowery, 2000] told me that he has “mis-placed” his data.

In the case of the Mann et al [1998,1999] study, used for the IPCC’s “hockey stick” graph, Mann was initially unable to remember where the data was located, then provided inaccurate data, then provided a new version of the data which was inconsistent with previously published material, etc. The National Post has recently reported on my experience as this unfolded.

In addition to the lack of due diligence packages, authors typically refuse to make their source code and data available for verification, even with a specific request. Even after inaccuracies in a major study had been proven, when we sought source code, the original journal (Nature) and the original funding agency (the U.S. National Science Foundation) refused to intervene. In the opinion of the latter, the code is Mann’s personal commercial property. Mann recently told the Wall Street Journal that “Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people employ”. My first request for source code was a very simple request and could in now way be construed as “intimidation”.

However, the issue neatly illustrates the disconnect.

IPCC proponents place great emphasis on the merit of articles that have been “peer reviewed” by a journal. However, as a form of due diligence, journal peer review in the multiproxy climate field is remarkably cursory, as compared with the due diligence of business processes. Peer review for climate publications, even by eminent journals like Nature or Science, is typically a quick unpaid read by two (or sometimes three) knowledgeable persons, usually close colleagues of the author.

It is unheard of for a peer reviewer to actually check the data and calculations. In 2004, I was asked by a journal (Climatic Change) to peer review an article. I asked to see the source code and supporting calculations. The editor said that no one had ever asked for such things in 28 years of his editing the journal. He refused to ask for source code; the author refused to provide supporting calculations. Out of my involvement, the journal ended up with a new data policy, which was all to the good. But there is nothing at the journal peer review stage in climate publications which is remotely like an audit.

It’s my view that this is all the more reason why source code and data should be archived. There is a great deal of public misconception of the forms of due diligence actually carried out by the IPCC. Although the IPCC and similar agencies have many meetings and committees (usually in nice places), they do not carry out any audit or verification activities. While this has long been known by insiders, it was recently admitted in written answers, see especially questions 30-40, by Michael Mann to the US Senate in fall 2003.

30. Did IPCC carry out any independent programs to verify the calculations that you made in MBH98 or MBH99? If so, please provide copies of the reports resulting from such studies. It is distinctly against the mission of the IPCC to "carry out independent programs", so the premise of the question is false. However, the IPCC’s author team did engage in a lively interchanges about the quality and overall consistency of all of the papers as the chapter was drafted and revised in the course of review.

Thus, if a paper has passed the cursory journal peer review process, there were no subsequent audit or verification steps prior to adoption by the IPCC. Ross McKitrick and I have demonstrated that there were serious calculation errors in the most famous IPCC graph–the 1000 year climate hockey stick. In this case, the methodology had been incorrectly described in the journal publication. I also found that there had been an influential but unreported alteration to a key data series, where the alteration had been disguised by a (perhaps unintentional) misrepresentation of the start date of the underlying data. We published these findings recently in Geophysical Research Letters and Energy & Environment. But the math involved is not particularly sophisticated: the errors would have been discovered long ago had there been even routine checking.

It still amazes me that for all the billions of dollars being spent on the climate change industry (which I suspect dwarfs the mineral exploration industry in dollar volume [SM Note, Feb. 16, 2005 – I’m thinking here of hard rock exploration, the business that I’ve mostly been in, rather than oil exploration. It’s quite possible that the climate industry is (say) only half the size of hard rock exploration. But my impression and what I’m trying to convey is that it’s not a small industry], and the thousands of people working full time on this issue just in Canada, it was nobody’s job to check if the IPCC’s main piece of evidence was right. The inattentiveness of IPCC to verification is exacerbated by the lack of independ
ence between authors with strong vested interests in previously published intellectual positions and IPCC section authors.

For example, Michael Mann had published an academic article announcing that the 1990s were the warmest decade in human history. He then became IPCC section author for the critical section surveying climate history of the last millennium, adopting the very graph used in his own paper on behalf of IPCC. For someone used to processes where prospectuses require qualifying reports from independent geologists, the lack of independence is simply breathtaking and a recipe for problems, regardless of the reasons initially prompting this strange arrangement. It seems to me that prospectus-like disclosure must become the standard in climate science, certainly for documents like IPCC reports (which are like scientific prospectuses), but even for journals. The American Economic Review last year adopted such a rule; I hope they enforce it.

In business, “full, true and plain disclosure” is a control on stock promoters. While it may not always be successful, it gives an enforcement mechanism. There is no such standard in climate science. In the Mann study there are important examples of pertinent adverse results, known to the authors, which were not reported. In fairness, the journals do not require authors to warrant full, true and plain disclosure and there is little guidance to such authors as to what is required reporting and what is not required.

I’ve found that scientists strongly resent any attempt to verify their results. One of the typical reactions is: don’t check our studies, do your own study. I don’t think that businesses like being checked either, but one of the preconditions of being allowed to operate is that they are checked. Many of the most highly paid professionals in our society–securities lawyers, auditors–earn much of their income simply by verifying other people’s results. Businesses developed checks and balances because other peoples’ money was involved, not because businessmen are more virtuous than academics.

Back when paleoclimate research had little implication outside academic seminar rooms, the lack of any adequate control procedures probably didn’t matter much. However, now that huge public policy decisions are based, at least in part, on such studies, sophisticated procedural controls need to be developed and imposed. Climate scientists cannot expect to be the beneficiaries of public money and to influence public policy without also accepting the responsibility of providing much more adequate disclosure and due diligence.


  1. Posted Feb 14, 2005 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

    Good essay. Well, in business, it’s eventually about your money and your company’s money, so you might really care and do things right. In science with implications on policy, it’s only the money of the taxpayers and all/other corporations that are put in risk – but that’s OK, no one needs to care about them. They’re for free: whatever the government does is great, and one does not need to worry whether it costs a lot. 😉

    When one reviews a paper say in theoretical particle physics, it is usually difficult to check every piece of data. I admit that in many cases I am not doing it. As a referee, I reject about 50 percent of the papers simply because serious problems can be seen quite easily. On the other hand, if a paper looks fine and it’s hard to find errors – and there is at least something new about the paper – I usually approve it, even though I could not promise that everything is perfect. This is work that we’re not paid for, which makes a difference. The papers usually don’t bring any economical losses to the society.

    The climate science should be different because these papers are used to make multi-billion decisions. Michael Crichton proposed another algorithm what could be done – teams checking one another; dividing the work to those who plan the experiments; those who perform them; those who analyze the data. And also, mixed funding of science by industry, government, and something else I don’t remember – so that no one knows who is really paying her. Not sure whether it’s the perfect idea, but such things should be considered.

  2. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 14, 2005 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    Lubos, I don’t think that it’s practical for journal peer reviewers to check every piece of data and every calculation – nobody would ever do reviews. But people should realize that even “peer reviewed” journal articles are (in business terms) unaudited. It doesn’t mean that they are wrong; it only means that they are unaudited. The crunch comes if people rely on them as though they were audited. Steve

    • Skiphil
      Posted May 7, 2013 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

      8 years on and the new furor over the Harvard economist putting a fundamental error into worldwide circulation has brought some attention to such issues.

      Climate science is hardly alone in having incentives working against confirmation and replication of research. Here is a good article on lack of replication of data and studies in economics:

      Replication, replication, replication

      Replication rarely leads to career success. “Ideas” people — those exciting scholars generating new insights into how society functions — are the stars of the profession. Those who do the grindingly difficult work of checking whether the stars’ insights are actually true rarely get recognized. Who can name an economist who achieved fame through replication?

      Editors of academic journals prefer to give what scarce space they have to exciting new ideas, rather than rehashing old debates. They commonly ignore even clear evidence of errors. In one case, according to the economist Mark Thoma, the flagship American Economic Review declined to correct a mistake in a paper written by Ben S. Bernanke and Alan Blinder, even though the authors acknowledged the error.

      For a scholar, replication offers an unappealing bet. Heads, you discover that the findings of an original study are largely correct, and no journal will publish your paper because there’s no interest in learning that something is still true. Tails, you find a serious flaw, but your results still probably won’t be published and you’ve earned enemies who may try to land some reputational punches against you.

  3. John A.
    Posted Feb 14, 2005 at 4:54 PM | Permalink


    See this paper by Ron Errico of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He definitely saw coming what you experienced.

  4. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 15, 2005 at 7:00 AM | Permalink


    What are you really about? Do you want to know what the climate of the past millenia or two has been, or just to scrutinse the work of others? Is your mind open to the possibility of real and serious climate change, or utterly dismissive of it? Is it open to the possibility that we can mitigate these changes at minimal cost or utterly dismissive of it? Why don’t you audit economic model work that shows Kyoto to have a, to my mind, fantasy land price tag? Finally, if I ever visit Cananda (nice place but highly unlikely, don’t have the money) can I come to you, demand all you work, data, files and then proceed to start a public bit by bit disection of it, egged on by people some of whom will be very rude to you, for one sole purpose of my choosing? Frankly no, nor do I want to do that (I’m not competent for a start!). I want to know, not to seem to persue one individuals reputation.

    Can I assume all your papers have been and are properly audited?

  5. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 15, 2005 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    re post #4

    I’m sure Steve will answer for himself, but I’d like to return a question.

    Do you think government policy (and therefore the science that steers it) on such an important topic should be open, transparent and traceable?

    My answer is as follows: I certainly do and it seems likely that basic standards of housekeeping are not being maintained. Such housekeeping is neither costly or time consuming if done properly from the start. These are serious accusations aimed not so much at one individual, but at the institution of the IPCC. It just so happens that one paper appears to embody so many of the problems.

    It actually takes a lot of guts to stand up and say that there is something wrong with the system, as there are a lot of people who have vested interest in the system just the way it is. I would say it takes a lot of guts or a degree of madness to take on such a task, the ripples of this work should go far and wide if accepted.

  6. Hans Erren
    Posted Feb 15, 2005 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    “full, true and plain disclosure” is condensed nicely in this cartoon by Sydney Harris:

    from Sydney Harris’ website

  7. per
    Posted Feb 15, 2005 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

    I agree with Steve that scientists who refuse reasonable requests for data, etc., are a disgrace. To be fair, I think they are in a minority, but nevertheless, the issue of rogue scientists publishing dodgy material is a very important issue. There has been extensive discussion, but no way has been found to cure the problem.

    The principal issue is money. To create “auditable” science increases the cost of science by 50-100 %, without even considering the change in attitudes required in academia. This is the “GLP” found in the pharmaceutical industry- where yes, studies were falsified, hence the introduction of GLP.

    However, even GLP does not guarantee against all sorts of “bad” science, such as misconduct, or inadequate methodology.

    But I will opine on one more thing. I was drawn to this issue by early (perhaps garbled) reports of MBH behaviour. A scientist who hides his data and does not practice full disclosure is likely to face severe censure. If it is found that this behaviour hides bad scientific practice, I would imagine the scientific community would be particularly unforgiving.


  8. Richard Lewis
    Posted Feb 15, 2005 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

    Excellent commentary on a critical issue. I have followed your reports of your audit of Mann, et al, for many months and have consistently wondered not only why, but how legally or ethically or scientifically, crucial data and algorithms could be withheld. Reproducibility of results has always been at the heart of the scientific enterprise. It is my understanding that Mann, et al, did none of the science of actually gathering the tree-ring data. Rather, they selected the already-published data to be analyzed and then they applied analytical tools from the public scientific domain. To then hide behind the “do your own study” smoke-screen seems indefensible. Most troubling to me, though,is that Mann is employed by the taxpayers of Virginia and almost certainly is a recipient of U.S. Government research grants. In the absence of national security issues and the seeming absence of a valid intellectual property interest, a “Freedom of Information” demand upon Mann, et al, might prove fruitful, either directly or through embarrassment.

  9. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

    Per said “I agree with Steve that scientists who refuse reasonable requests for data, etc., are a disgrace.”. Would it be reasonable to ask who you are, just to clear up any vested interest you might, or might not, have. Put your own house in order first? People don’t hide identies except for a reason. And, in a contentious debate like this, there is more reason to wonder what that reason might be…

    Spence UK. You think I want government to be secretive, opaque and to cover their tracks. No I do not. Do I want to see good scientists harried by those not interested in furthering knowledge but simply out to get them? NO! But that is what is being done, it’s very unpleasant. I take no lectures from supporter of such things, especially when they try an duck that by making out the attack is wider. Perhaps it now is, if so it’s a sign that the personalisng of the attack on Mann was wrong 🙂

  10. Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    I would imagine that doing mechanical checks of mathematical accuracy would not be difficult in the least. The NYC Citibank building structural repairs were prompted by an engineering class discovering the issue. There is no reason that studies can’t be placed in a database system and picked for verification by professors across the world looking to create lessons that show real world use of the concepts they teach. This form of verification would make independent review of studies used to justify expensive public policy decision much more likely. John replies:But the costs resulting from mistakes in climate studies, could measured in billions of dollars. Isn’t it time that climate scientists started demanding from their peers that all data sources, source codes, notes and methodologies be archived for open review prior to publication? It’s no longer a $5 mistake when climate reconstructions go wrong…

  11. John A.
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    Peter Hearnden wrote:

    Do I want to see good scientists harried by those not interested in furthering knowledge but simply out to get them? NO! But that is what is being done, it’s very unpleasant. I take no lectures from supporter of such things, especially when they try an duck that by making out the attack is wider. Perhaps it now is, if so it’s a sign that the personalisng of the attack on Mann was wrong

    Really? To simply ask a climate scientist to justify his results by showing his working out is harrying him? How so? Since when has it been that we simply accept published results without checking them? Is there a “Get out of critical scrutiny” card out there to be played by climate scientists? Do we base billion dollar judgements about the future of the world based on claims we cannot check?

    I think the much more likely reason is because the Mann Hockey Stick, the poster child of greenhouse warming and justifying the Kyoto Protocol, has been shown to be a dud, and some people are having difficulty coping with that reality.

    Good scientists show all their working. They are happy to do so, because if they make demonstrable mistakes then they want them to be spotted and corrected.

    It’s the other kind who hide their methodologies and sources, yet claim “robustness, with moderately high levels of confidence” who are causing the problem here.

  12. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    John A said

    “Good scientists show all their working. They are happy to do so, because if they make demonstrable mistakes then they want them to be spotted and corrected.” indeed, by their peers…but we don’t expect spanner salesmen (or farmers for that matter) to be able to mend fighter jets.

    Why don’t we focus on your background? Who are you? What have you had published? What mistakes corrected? Will you send me all your climate related data and papers just so I can go through them? (And if your specialism isn’t climate no matter, you don’t need to be a specialist to criticse others work in other areas here.) Finally, do you have things to hide?

    Me? My name is clear, my interest purely amateur, I’ve had nothing published (I’ve got a website – nothing much there to go on though), I’m a farmer, and a waste too much time persuing those out to rubbish accepted climate science and data. So, somethings to use while you dodge my questions 🙂 And no, you can’t go through my books 😉 and yes I stand by what I said.

  13. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    Peter, thanks for answering my question, and I think we are in agreement on principle to both the questions: we both want open and transparent science to feed into public policy making, and we do not want personal attacks on scientists, with criticisms on the science and scientific process being acceptable and personal insults being unacceptable.

    It would be most unfortunate if Professor Mann was made the scapegoat of the (alledged) failings of the IPCC, I sincerely doubt anyone would want that to be the outcome. For one thing, it could be used as an excuse to effect a change of personnel but not to change to the checks and balances in place at the IPCC. That would not be a satisfactory outcome from any point of view.

    It so happens that the Mann et al paper highlights better than any other the problems associated with the route from science to media and to policy; because it is such a good example it is likely to get the most attention. I don’t know the best solution to this issue, other than conciously stressing that change is desired in the process, not the people. Mistakes happen (fact of life), different people will simply make different mistakes, which is equally bad. We want to pick them up before they get to the stage they are changing the way our world is run.

    Postscript: This postscript isn’t a direct reflection on any one post here, just a general observation.

    The internet brings rapid communications and the ability for anyone to get their voice heard. It is inevitable that some – typically a minority – on both sides of the argument will throw insults. So how do we deal with this? Shying away from criticism will not stop the insults, but it will hinder balanced scientific progress. In my opinion, this is a weak solution.

    I believe the best way forward requires us all to raise the standard of our own game and double check everything posted to avoid personal attacks, unintended or otherwise; but also, not to be so blind as to believe that the personal attacks come from one side and not the other, or believe that all of one side of the debate are implicit in the insults. Both sides of this highly polarised, charged debate contain elements that are willing to use personal attacks in these discussions. If we turn a blind eye to one side and not to the other, we are part of the problem.

  14. John A.
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    Me? My name is clear, my interest purely amateur, I’ve had nothing published (I’ve got a website – nothing much there to go on though), I’m a farmer, and a waste too much time persuing those out to rubbish accepted climate science and data. So, somethings to use while you dodge my questions And no, you can’t go through my books and yes I stand by what I said.

    Such a shame you don’t spend any time looking at the evidence to see whether that accepted climate science should have been accepted in the first place. Perhaps as a farmer you don’t need to spend any time deciding whether an insecticide, or herbicide, or fertilizer or agricultural technique is effective, safe or useful. After all you’re not a qualified biochemist, are you?

    I claim no special scientific interest. But I reserve the right to say what I think and justify what I say with evidence that people can check for themselves. Unless they really don’t want to.

  15. Patrick Boyle
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    The point that I found to be most interesting is the notion that business or administrative practices have higher standards than do actual scientific practices. This is an important and seldom recognized idea.

    I used to explain to my statistics students that survey sampling was a proceedure to trade error for bias. Error can be controlled by methods like the Neimann-Pearson lemma (the basis for statistical significance)whereas bias even if recognized could not be well controlled. This is the “scientific” procedure that underlies all public polling. We can eliminate biases that might occur in a large population by careful attention on a small sample. The problem of course with this procedure is this procedure is not immune to deliberately introduced biases in the sample. Science assumes fairness and impartiality to exist in the mind of the researcher. When such an assumption may not be made the math and science are worse than worthless because they mask the truth.

    For example consider financial transactions. We do not allow a person or organization to report expenditures or income by means of an estimation based on sampling. We rightfully expect financial bias to operate. We demand actual bookeeping. Or consider political polling. As we all learned this last year there is such a thing as a Democratic pollster and a Republican pollster. We are not surprised when these pollsters report different results on the same day. We understand that even though they use the same statistical methods the overwhelming factor is party bias.

    So when we examine the climate change debate we should consider whether this issue is like a dispassionate scientific question where we may assume that the math will be used in a neutral manner or is it like a financial or political issue where no sensible person would accept the assumption of neutrality. Clearly climate change has a very, very large financial bias. Billions (trillions?)of dollars are at issue. Climate change likewise has a very, very large political bias. Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party use Kyoto and global warming in a highly partisan manner.

    We know that it was in the interest of the Democrats to report on polls that showed John Kerry was ahead. Just those kind of poll results appeared. We know that it is in the interest of the Democrats for there to be reports of global warming. Just those kind of reports now appear. We know that one’s career and income are closely related to one’s position on global warming. Both sides of the debate have advocates who have benefitted from their advocacy.

    Fortunately we know how to deal with bias in the business world and in the world of politics. In those realms we demand much more scrutiny than in disinterested science. Mann and his defenders – like Peter Hearnden above – are offended by the request for records. They stand on their dignity and demand that they be simply trusted. I suggest that they not try that approach with the IRS.

  16. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 5:18 PM | Permalink


    Dear me, look: I’ve not used the word trust! I’ve not demanded anyone trust anything! Jese, talk about putting words into people mouths. John A, say’s of me “Such a shame you don’t spend any time looking at the evidence to see whether that accepted climate science should have been accepted in the first place” when it’s clear I’m here reading stuff I disagree with and discussing it…Then, after more baseless accusation of me unsupported by any evidence bar extrapolation from the details of myself I gave, he goes on to say “I reserve the right to say what I think and justify what I say with evidence that people can check for themselves”. What evidence? Well, I suspect that ‘evidence’ also means dismiss everything bar the work of the two M’s and Spencer and Christy. Yep, that’s what it’s come to!

    Spence UK, I try, honest 🙂

  17. Posted Feb 16, 2005 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

    Steve: congratulations! As a geologist long interested in climatic cycles, I had long ago rejected the Mann curve as an unsuitable representation of late Holocene climatic variation. The discovery by Bond et. al (2001) that D/O cycles of about 1500 yr duration can be recognized in North Atlantic Holocene marine sediments with warm and cold peaks that coincide with the MWP and LIA was enough to convince me that Mann’s data were deeply flawed. Thus, it is welcome news that their methodology is also unacceptable. On the other hand, Esper’s data appear to be in close agreement with variations in cosmogenic isotopes whose production rates are indicators of variation in solar irradiance, and thus, global temperatures on Earth. Have you looked into his reconstructions? In direct response to the matter of peer review, 40 years of publishing geologic reports (over 300) has convinced me that peer review is a sham: your friends write glowing reviews, your enemies slam you.It will never change. Keep up the good work!

  18. Hans Erren
    Posted Feb 17, 2005 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    The Roger Pielke link doesn’t work for me…

    John writes: Thanks for spotting that, Hans. It should work now.

  19. per
    Posted Feb 17, 2005 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    For Peter Hearnden:
    I note your rapid attempt to play the man, and not the ball. Who I am is nothing to do with the arguments I deploy; this is about the arguments deployed.

    Regarding Steve McIntyre, you can get full disclosure for all the M&M work on the websites of M & M. Since it is data analysis, all the files for the earlier work are available on the web.

    As to what Steve’s motivations are, I could care less if he had cloven feet, a tail and horns. It is a perfectly respectable thing to replicate scientific work no matter what your motivation. The big issue here is MBH’s dissembling and obfuscation. That is awful science.

  20. Michael Neibel
    Posted Feb 17, 2005 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    I’m not a scientist of any kind. I do think that peer review of all science should be part of the paid-for process. This is especially so with climate science. Are we to believe that in the context in which it is generally presented–Doom Looms, Everything is irreversable in ten years, all life becomes extinct thereafter,–we can’t afford a few extra bucks to double check and make sure? Give me a break. I think sloppy science happens because those at the top are letting it happen and I think they do so because the general population wasn’t aware of it. With the internet though, they’re learning of it and I think things will get better in the future. That’s my 2 cents.

  21. Ed Snack
    Posted Feb 17, 2005 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

    Peter Hearnden, you have made 4 posts so far, and have not once mentioned any of the scientific issues involved. You have also posted in a similar vein on other discussion boards I read. Perhaps you would gain more credibility if you picked on a scientific point raised by the M&M or MBH papers, and stated an objection or opinion. For example, do you accept, as I assert from the information only now publically available, that at least some of the Bristlecone Pine records show a clear lack of a linear relationship to the local temperature records where these available, and that this makes them a problematic proxy for temperature. It would therefore be an entirely sensible and indeed I suggest almost an essential exercise to carry out a trial as to the effects of omitting those records. If such a test is carried out, and the end result is significantly different, then that fact should be disclosed, and suitable caveats be given as to the results. As it appears, and this could be subject to revision or correction, MBH did carry out such an exercise, but did not disclose the significant variance this created to their published results. Is this, in your opinion, a correct interpretation of the facts as we now know, and a reasonable position to hold ? If not, why not.

  22. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 3:24 AM | Permalink


    I’m not a leading climatologist. I’m not going to pretend I am. I do accept that those invloved in reconstructing past climate know more than I do. But, to be clear, these reconstructions are not the be all and end all of it. There probably are errors. Do these errors materially affect our undertanding of climate? The experts say not. Those here not experts may cry out a lot but that don’t change that.

  23. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

    Per said

    “For Peter Hearnden:
    I note your rapid attempt to play the man, and not the ball. Who I am is nothing to do with the arguments I deploy; this is about the arguments deployed.”

    LOL, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask who you are, and to be cynical if you hide you identity.

    In cricket the umpire tell the batsman what arm the bowler bowls with, and the batsman knows who the bowler is. It’s called ‘a level playing field’. But hey, perhaps in ‘perworld’ the bowler should alllways run downhill?? No! Fight dirty and I send dirt back, play me fair and I’m fair back 🙂

  24. David H
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

    For the benefit of Peter, I am a retired engineer. Trained in science and maths, engineers it might be said, are the folk that do something useful with what scientist find out. Throughout my education, replication of classic experiments was a constant theme.

    In last night’s BBC Horizon programme on Cold Fusion Professor Seth Putterman of UCLA said “Nothing is too wonderful to be true that it can’t be reproduced in another experiment. And this is what distinguishes science from religion.”

    A couple of weeks ago the Horizon programme showed how Chadwick’s neutron discovery changed the consensus, which included Einstein, on nuclear fission. Chadwick’s paper is a model of full disclosure and can be seen at

    Though not invariably the case, people refuse to answer questions concerning what they did, when and how because, usually, it will show them to have lied, been foolish or just made a mistake. This is not exclusive to science and is why in civilised societies witnesses are cross examined.

    As for auditing –that is to say checking not just the sums but the validity of the data being summed, it is simply absurd to suggest that is not absolutely essential. Even the treasurer of our local fishing club expects to have his accounts audited! It is equally absurd to suggest that only a climatologist can audit a climatologist’s work.

    Despite opinion polls saying that climate change is not in the top ten of elector’s concerns, the UK government is about to spend several millions of taxpayers money on propaganda to try to persuade us that Climate Change is the problem they tell us it is. For a lot less expense they could independently audit the disputed science. If a consensus of respected mathematicians and scientists from outside the field of climatology and with no preconceived views on climate change tell me that the basis of the IPCC TAR is valid (not possibly or probably valid), I will start to worry about climate change.

  25. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    David, I watched Horizon too – well, I did other things until the obvious conclusion came at the end and then watched that. Cold fusion all over again and a case of one unrepeated and unrepeatable experiment. Very salutory. Does that make me think the climate science is wrong? Nope, it’s all been repeated ad infintum. Climate change isn’t a one unrepeated experiment kind of thing, there is tonnes of evidence.

    As to your audit, well, if you wont accept the word of several thousand scientist up to now I very much thing you wouldn’t accept any new audit. I look forward to your dismissal of the FAR.

    I guess this is preconcieved too? –

  26. John A
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    I think the point is, Peter, is that the work of Mann, Bradley and Hughes has never been replicated, never mind "ad infinitum". It cannot be, since Mann refuses to disclose his all of his methodology and source software.

    In point of fact, the question of whether other studies back up the Hockey Stick is dealt with by Steve at this link

    There are not "several thousand scientists" whose word I have to accept. Science is not decided by popularity but by theoretic insights leading to empirical confirmation. In any case there are thousands of scientists whose word you won’t accept.

    It is noticeable that you won’t exactly tell us what scientific criteria you use to decide whether the Hockey Stick is correct or not. It appears that you don’t have any – that its a "gut instinct" and nothing more. For those of us who don’t think with our guts, it may not be as simple as "which theory is most popular?"

  27. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Err, no John A, reads my comments above (post 23) about MBH. It’s not the be all and end all of it. It is one of several similar reconstructions.

    John A replies: And those similar reconstructions use practically the same flawed data set that Steve McIntyre has described. One of them has lost his original data, the others have ignored McIntyre’s requests for their methodology.

    What do I think? I think, I’m talking N. Hemisphere btw, it’s probably warmer now than at any time for at least two millenia. I think that it was probably warmer in the middle ages than five hundred years ago. I think CO2 is a ghg, I think it’s conc has risen from 280ppm to about 370pmm due to our activities and will rise a lot more. I think we will see another 1-3C warming and there is a risk of a good deal more.

    John A., replies: There are some 240 reconstructions of regional climate from around the world, and many contemporaneous records of agricultural activity, observations of treelines and vineyards which show that the Medieval Warm Period was a) a global event (something Mann et al, denied and b) warmer than today. I think CO2 is a ghg but its a very minor one. The fallacious reasoning is because temperature is rising at the moment, and CO2 is rising, therefore rising CO2 is causing temperature rise. "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" – "It came after therefore it was caused by". It remains to be seen whether a rise of even a degree will occur. There are much more important forcings to the climate than CO2 has ever been.

    I think precaution is more sensible that recklessness. Oh, and I’m well aware science isn’t decided by popularity… Oh no, I’ve just seen your osim link. Dear me! So science IS settled by the votes of thousands of anyones who might be scientists, but not thousands of experts in the field? An odd way to go. Thanks for the kind compliment to my intelligence btw. I guess that’s what you get here when your’re open and honest about your knowledge rather than secretive as others are. You expertese in this field is???

    John A., replies: My expertise is that I can spot a weak argument, full of fallacies and rhetorical absurdities, from a long way away.

  28. David H
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 8:44 AM | Permalink

    Hold on Peter, I did not say it is not getting warmer. Of course it is. I was commenting on how much hotter the sun seemed when an impending ice age was the popular scare. I am not even saying that I think more CO2 will not make the planet warmer. I am not disputing the fact that mankind has increased the level of CO2. I am not even saying we should not stop wasting the scarce resources of this earth.

    Another thing I was taught was that when two variables follow each other up and down then most likely one is the cause of the other or some other variable is driving them both. When it suites our government as in the case of the arguments over MMR and Autism they also say this. The proposition sceptics make is that the “hockey stick” is just too convenient and came along when those trying to make a case against fossil fuels were not making much headway. If the “hockey stick” is a true account of past temperatures, CO2 does look likely to be the culprit. Before 1998 the consensus was that there was much more variability in past temperatures and very little correlation with CO2 on the other hand temperature did seem to correlate with solar cycle length. Look at Armagh: This is real science not computer modelling. Also look at: In England we have instrument records that tell us that in the past temperature changed by two degrees in a few decades without significant CO2 changes. Compared with what happened in the past today’s warming is not exceptional. Finally look at fig 1.1 at: . Now, why when Professor Mann is happy to use CET data prior to 1772 does our DEFRA omit it? It is because it does not support the argument they are promoting?

    What the scientific debate is about is what proportion of the warming is natural and what proportion is man made. This is a very important question because it affects the political question as to whether it is worth impoverishing ourselves. Only a bit of needs to outside our control to make a nonsense of Kyoto.

  29. David H
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    Just another thought Peter. I do not really mind if we do the Kyoto thing. It won’t stop my enjoyment of life. I am not and was never in the pay of the oil industry. There might even be some benefits. Remember we got sewers in London because the consensus of the day was that Miasma caused Cholera. Sadly Dr Snow was dead before it became accepted that his scientific evidence, ridiculed at the time, was absolutely right. Public policy should be fully open to scrutiny and informed by science not prejudice.

  30. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Humm, are you the ‘mod’ here John A? You must be, because my post 28 rather than being replied to seems to have been invaded 😦 (unless we can all do such things?). Still no reply as to your area of expertese, though I see you do seem to have rewritten the properties of CO2 somewhat…CO2 is an important ghg, responsible for around 7C warming. See many meteorology/climatology reference books for confimation of this.

    David H, actually I could have written your post 30, I’m very well aware of the time it took for London to, literally, clean up it’s act. Some people back then, few in number no doubt, said both the filth wasn’t a problem and that it was to expensive to be worth solving… I suspect we’d both see Snow as a hero, but from differing perspectives. If we fix agw we’ll look back and wonder what the fuss was about – if…


  31. David H
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    Peter, you are a bit of an enigma. Why are you so pre-occupied with who’s who on this and other blogs (where your smilies turn up)?. You seem to be totally objective when it comes to bees and rocks and are doing a great job with your weather stations down in Devon. Can you look at the Armagh data and tell me that you do not think the sun has just a little bit to do with the current warming?

    Where we seem to differ on Snow is that if we had been objective then many poor Londoners would not have died horribly leaving dependants to struggle if they did not also die. The stink from open sewers would sooner or later persuaded their Lordships to build the sewers which was an idea whose time had come. Relating it to Kyoto, I think clean water Malaria, poverty and AIDS rate far above Global Warming which until we have some real science I would put with the foxes. The trend to energy efficiency and low CO2 emissions long predates this climate scare and is just common sense. We will eventually have sustainable energy and will have it regardless of Kyoto.

  32. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 2:17 PM | Permalink


    to rather take over this place I DO think the sun has played a role in the warming, a significant one, up to 50% of the earlier warming I think I remember. But in the past. The people who do the sums say it doesn’t figure anything like so much now – I trust them.

    I am, you are right, interested in who I’m talking to. I’m speaking publicly here (and you’ve clearly a good idea who I am) one of the principles of speaking your publically views is you stand by them. Anonymity is at odds with that, and it’s usually, in contentious debates, for a reason. It give the anonymous a chance to snipe from cover. It’s bad for debate. I don’t like it – at all.

    Now, I’ve had my say, over to others 🙂

  33. David H
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Peter, why solar forcing only in the past? The point about the Armagh data is that from 1740 to 1920 the cycle length lengthened significantly after each period of shortening that was associated with higher measured surface temperatures. But after 1940 it only lengthened a bit. In fact at its longest in 1960 it was still only as long as the shortest it got to in 1840. (Incidentally all observations and not a model in sight.) Since then it has steadily become shorter. Put another way the area under the curve for solar cycle length (drawn upside down as shorter cycles correlate with warmer climate) shows a significant increase from 1920 onwards. I can not see anything in the observed solar cycle length to suggest that it stopped having an effect after 1950 if you believe that it did play a part before.

    Now I have no idea exactly how the solar cycle length translates to surface temperature but with so obvious a visual correlation it seems very unlikely that there is no relationship. The reason the “experts” say the sun and not CO2 caused the warming in the first half of the 20th century but not in the second half is they have to in order to retain CO2 as their main cause of recent warming. If you take into account that virtually all the world’s concrete and asphalt which causes the positive feedback of UHI (urban heat island ) was made after 1940 you could tweak up the model inputs for solar and down for CO2 and get just the same result for surface temperature. They have so many tweaks they could probably make their models play reveille. But then a lot of guys would be looking for new careers.

  34. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    The problem with most of the discussion here is that so much is treated as certainty when in reality we are drawing numbers from statistics from proxy records which are statistics that are loosely correlated with something that might have happened in the past…

    For example, the relatively benign statement from Peter:

    (about CO2) I think it’s conc has risen from 280ppm to about 370pmm due to our activities and will rise a lot more

    This is based on the ice core record, but there are other measures of CO2 that strongly disagree with the ice core record: for example, the leaf stomata record generated by Wagner et al shows significant variation in the Holocene period, indicating that rapid fluctuations do occur and that 370ppm is “high” but not outside typical variability.

    I’m not saying the leaf stomata measurements are the best measure of CO2 in the atmosphere: they have their critics and their supporters. Likewise, the ice core records have critics and supporters. What I do notice is as follows: the CO2 record is chosen from the above to suit the story to be told. So those who want to sell anthropogenic global warming like the ice core records because they tell the “right” story, and those who want to discredit the theory pick the leaf stomata evidence, because that tells the “right” story.

    No-one will ever stop and say “actually, lets face it, we haven’t got a clue” because it is a weak position. Yes it is weak but it is probably the most accurate. Even more frightening is that the group of scientists that cannot even agree on what happened in the past believe they can tell us (with some degree of certainty) what will happen in the future based on the prediction of a non-linear chaotic computer model. And this model probably has more input parameters than it has test data to validate it. The models can tell us some things – but at this stage its role must be to tell us what we don’t know, not what we do know.

    As for the question, can a non climatologist audit a climatologists work: the answer has to be, in part, yes. Not only that, but some aspects (e.g. the statistical process applied in MBH) would be best analysed by an independent statistician who has little or no knowledge of climate science, because they are most likely to spot a lack of rigour or bias in the process, because they will view the data with a more independent eye. Statistics is a peculiar branch of mathematics, with much of it being quite counter-intuitive and not easy to analyse, with particular problems associated with things like sub concious data selection by those who are closely associated with the field.

  35. Empiricist
    Posted Feb 18, 2005 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    I think that the experience McIntyre describes points to a deficiency in the scientific publication process in climate science. Perhaps journals should adopt the following general principle: The data and algorithms used in peer-reviewed scientific papers should be widely available for analysis and reanalysis. The data sets should be well annotated, and the algorithms should be programmed in a widely available computer language with code that is well commented. The information should be placed in the public domain or the authors should select a flexible “creative commons” style license.

    McIntyre says “The author of one of the most quoted studies [Crowley and Lowery, 2000] told me that he has “mis-placed” his data.” This is quite unfortunate. If the data had been placed in a publicly available archive then this would not have happened.

  36. Andre Bijkerk
    Posted Feb 19, 2005 at 8:20 AM | Permalink


    Why do I have such an overwhelming deja vu experience. The good guy wrong, the bad guys right routine. Anyway, one of the problems of climatology is that we have a long string of thin -unaudited- hypotheses that together form a slippery slope, centered around the CO2 with…

    …Wagner et al ( on one side and the ice cores on the other. Is this contradictory? I think not. The ice cores have a poor resolution for trace gasses due to the open firn stage that may last up to centuries whilst the CO2 spikes in the stomata may last much shorter. There is a simple explanation, ask Mark Maslin.

    But what this also means is that palaeo climatology has to start all over again, from scratch and that is even before 1830 and the observations of Louis Agassiz about Ice ages.

  37. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 19, 2005 at 10:41 AM | Permalink


    Thanks for adding your comment, and the link, looking back at my post I realise the term “strongly disagree” in there isn’t right; I hadn’t intended to question the details in the CO2 records, more provide an example of how the higher level debates and discussion tend to develop. The point I was trying to focus on was more about the selectiveness and lack of neutrality that is so evident even from the “experts” when debating climate change issues – particularly visible within the IPCC when producing headline and summary reports. It is a part of human nature to do this I guess, but usually the scientific process would have checks and balances to try to prevent it. The consequence of this is that there are strong claims that we know more than we actually do, which seems to tie in (I think?) well with your last sentence.

    Perhaps my choice of example wasn’t the best, but I wanted to add something other than the temperature charts which have been pretty well covered here already!

  38. David C. Greene
    Posted Feb 19, 2005 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    I’ve read most (but not all) comments and found nothing about the Svensmark effect (cosmic ray influence on cloud cover). This effect causes a total swing of about three percent change in cloud cover. ONE perent change in cloud cover is about equivalent to doubling CO2 from pre-industrial levels. This is a larger solar influence (variation depends on solar magnetic field) than the variation in solar output intensity. Hansen never mentions it. Ive seen no mention by Mann. Neither side seems to think it is important. How come?

  39. per
    Posted Feb 19, 2005 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    Peter Hearnden
    > Do these errors materially affect our undertanding of climate? The experts say not.
    In fact Peter, you are wrong. Moberg et al explicitly make the case that there are natural factors affecting the climate that are not represented in current models. Just one example.

    Regarding your post #4, will you agree that SM’s work is fully auditable ?
    As Ed Snack pointed out, you are not as keen to address any scientific issue, as opposed to personal attacks. What do you think about MBH not fully disclosing the data and methodology ?

  40. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 19, 2005 at 4:40 PM | Permalink


    Please note the word materially. I’ll get a chance to read the Moberg paper more fully soon, if my mind is changed I’ll let you know.

    I asked SM the following question (post #4)’Can I assume all your papers have been and are properly audited?’ when I recieve a reply I can answer your question, I can’t answer for SM though…

    Clearly you are trying to portray my approach as one of personnal attack. It’s not the way I’m trying to go, so I apologise if that’s how it’s been taken. Btw, presumably I can I take it as read you are not the ‘per’ banned from ‘deltiod’?

    I see no reason not to have the highest respect for MBH.

    Peter Hearnden.

    Steve’s comments: As I stated in my Op Ed, journal peer reviews at even the most eminent journals are not audits, as I use the term. I have archived source code and data as used for MM03, for MM05(GRL) and will do so for MM05 (EE) so that interested parties can verify these results if they choose. This is a completely different approach from Mann et al. who have refused to provide verification statistics for the controversial 15th century step of their calculations or digital versions of these steps or source code. On the present record, it is, for example, impossible to verify their claimed RE statistic for their early 15th century calculation.

  41. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 3:57 AM | Permalink


    Thank you for your reply.

    It’s clear you have audited both MBH and yourself to your honest satisfaction. But have your result been *independently* audited and the results of this audit published? Please tell me where I can read this audit of an audit – after all you expect such a level of scrutiny of MBH I don’t see why we shouldn’t expect it of you. Nor, if you wont accept MBH without doing your own full open published audit, do I see why I should accept your result without similar treatment of your work by others. Who is independently auditing your work?

    I note you haven’t answered my other questions in #4. So, I’ll ask again one I think important.

    Is your mind open to the possibility that humainties action might cause serious (say 2C plus)climate change this century? I think to be impartial you have to be – as you do to the possibilty warming may be minimal (i.e. just direct CO2 forcing, no feedbacks, say 1C). My mind is.


  42. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    Regarding post #42

    I think your discussion about anthropogenic global warming is a little “off topic” in this blog entry, which is about due diligence in climate science, but with the permission of those running the blog, I’d like to explore it a little further.

    You state that you have an open mind, but you have cited two possibilities: serious climate change (+2 deg C), “minimal” climate change (+1 deg C).

    You have not cited a third possibility (out of the infinite range of possibilities), no climate change associated with CO2 (due to, for example, cloud cover providing negative feedback), with current increase due to natural variability; or how about possibility four, that increase in CO2 concentrations are caused by the temperature rise, which is in turn caused by (for example) increased solar activity resulting in increased biomass activity etc. etc.

    There are a massive range of hypotheses which are not really provable due to our limited understanding of the science behind them. Why have you chosen two very narrow possibilities? Doesn’t strike me as being particularly “open minded” at all!

    For the record, I have no idea which of the above are right or wrong. I am not a climate scientist. I am interested, however, in ensuring that the scientific processes that guide and influence our government are appropriately accurate and traceable as befits the situation, which is the topic of this blog entry and not affected by which of the above turn out not to be true. [Note it would be incorrect to say “which of the above turn out to be true” as none of them might – just keeping an open mind ;)]

  43. David H
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Peter, what’s the point of anyone auditing M&M until they have all the code, methodology and data and we can all see exactly how the “hockey stick” is built? Who knows if they hand it all over they might turn out to be right. If you had done some research that said every man woman and child on this earth must make big sacrifices to save the planet and you really believed it was true wouldn’t you show everything you had?”.

    Why don’t you press Prof. Mann at Real Climate to open up? You would be wasting your time, of course, because, unlike this forum, even mildly critical or searching comments do not get put up.

    Congratulations Steve on a genuinely open forum.

  44. N. Joseph Potts
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    Peter, your comments reek of the Thought Police. You seek to learn a participant’s predilections, in the process as much as saying that one’s tentative conclusions (as all conclusions ultimately are) indict everything a person might do or say in connection with those predilections. Well, it’s widely understood that investigation without an underlying theory is pointless and unfocusable. IS YOUR MIND OPEN (or, are you now or have you ever been a member . . .)? Your loyalty tests impress me as the sort of intimidating technique of which Michael Mann complains when he refers to Steve’s inquiries into his work. YOUR inquiries are not into a person’s WORK – they are into a person’s MIND. I think I will keep my beliefs to myself and extend to you the right to do the same. As for theories, I think I’ll state my theory in this area (you didn’t ask for it, but Steve’s may be similar): I have a theory that humanity’s actions might NOT cause serious (say 2C plus) climate change this century. And I’m interested in investigating that theory.

  45. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    I’m picking up on one point of Peter Hearnden’s here, when he repeated his question about whether there had been an “independent audit” of our work. Once again, I point out that journals do not carry out audits – whether it be of our work or Mann’s work.

    Journals point out that they can’t do audits; they don’t have the resources. My point is not that journals should carry out audits; I tend to agree with the journals on this point. My point is simply that prople should realize that an article in even the finest journal is “unaudited” and that peer review is very cursory form of due diligence.

    Once again, we have made code available for all simulations so that interested parties can check.

    I’m not sure who’s job it should have been to check MBH, only that someone should have, before it was used in such heavy promotions.

    There have been reports in newspapers and journals that von Storch, Zorita and Zweiers have already verified our finding that Mann’s PC method produces hockey sticks from random data. Mann has argued that this error “doesn’t matter” and I think that I’ve provided a fairly exhaustive analysis of his arguments on this board. The new realclimate post re-cycles old material and does not consider any of this analysis. I don’t see that any revisions are required to accommodate the new realclimate posting.

  46. Michael Mayson
    Posted Feb 20, 2005 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    I am very interested in why satellite measurements of climate properties do not seem to feature much in "global warming" discussions. They apparently indicate a smaller warming trend ( even a reverse trend in the troposhere) compared to traditional measurements. This issue is so important that a NOAA study is underway called "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere:
    Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences". A final prospectus for this extremely important study was released on 2nd February. Prior to this a draft prospectus was open to public discussion and review comments were made public on 4th February. They can be found here:
    The issues of transparenecy and independance are common themes.

    Steve’s comment: I’ve experimented with splicing satellite measurements onto Moberg. It makes a pretty interesting graphic. Mind, it wouldn’t sell much IPCC stock.

  47. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

    “Peter, your comments reek of the Thought Police. You seek to learn a participant’s predilections, in the process as much as saying that one’s tentative conclusions (as all conclusions ultimately are) indict everything a person might do or say in connection with those predilections. Well, it’s widely understood that investigation without an underlying theory is pointless and unfocusable. IS YOUR MIND OPEN (or, are you now or have you ever been a member . . .)? Your loyalty tests impress me as the sort of intimidating technique of which Michael Mann complains when he refers to Steve’s inquiries into his work. YOUR inquiries are not into a person’s WORK – they are into a person’s MIND. I think I will keep my beliefs to myself and extend to you the right to do the same. As for theories, I think I’ll state my theory in this area (you didn’t ask for it, but Steve’s may be similar): I have a theory that humanity’s actions might NOT cause serious (say 2C plus) climate change this century. And I’m interested in investigating that theory.”

    NJP, I’m sorry, but it’s a huge overreaction to claim what you do of me.

    I don’t dismiss any outcome but I suspect we’ll see 2C warming at least this century and I think it highly unlikely, given the present evidence and science, we won’t see at least as much more warming as we’ve had.

    It’s not a loyalty test to ask what someone thinks. Asking question is basic science, asking questions of other is the way to find out what they think! It’s called ‘debate!! Blimey, I only asked Steve a quesiton – to his credit he actually answers some of them. Feel free to ask me a question – generally I answer them, I do’t feel I’m under some kind of siege when someone asks *me* a question. Indeed the best question really make you think (you can, I think, discover what a good/difficult question is if it’s not answered, some of mine haven’t been, some I’ve been asked likewise). Really, I’m still gobsmaked, I ask a question and I’m the thought police, amazing…

    I’ll ask a slightly different question (yeah, yeah, thought police). If a audit is necessary for those like most, if not all, here to even consider MBH right, why should I accept M&M (as everyone hese does so realiy) before I seen s similar public disecting of their work? I wont – I’m (alone it seems…) going to practice what you lot preach 🙂

  48. Michael Mayson
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    Steve – This is not on topic but I don’t know where else to put it! It does hwoever follow on from #47.

    You may already have read this paper in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 31, L05204, 2004

    “Industrial CO2 emissions as a proxy for anthropogenic influence on
    lower tropospheric temperature trends” A. T. J. de Laat and A. N. Maurellis
    National Institute for Space Research (SRON), Utrecht, Netherlands

    They propose an explanation for the difference between satellite tropospheric temperature measurements and surface measurements.
    In it they say :
    “It is very clear that modeled surface temperature
    trends subjected to the industrial surface CO2
    emissions thresholding technique are principally different
    from what is observed (cf. Figure 1). Instead of an increase
    in temperature trends with increasing industrial surface CO2
    emissions, the temperature trend is constant or even
    decreases slightly.”

  49. David H
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    Peter, I have a question for you. You said you were a farmer. Looking at your prolific rate of submissions to so many blogs and the times you make them when do you fit in the farming not to mention running a weather station, bee keeping, geology and moderation on ?

  50. Patrick
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    I find the comparison with auditing a little odd.

    On public access to data – I challenge any one of you to call up a private company, and ask even for a *summary* of their accounts, and get them. For a listed company, you’ll get what’s in the annual reports and filings, as required by law, and that’s it. If you were to call me and ask, “how much do you earn in a year”, I’d probably punch you.

    Yes there are auditors who sign off on things. Any auditor in the business longer than a day will be able to tell you wonderful stories about customers who have lost just about every document under the sun, from (kidding you not) the company’s share register, list of accounts receivable, large assets (buildings!) etc. The fact that a researcher lost some data probably just means he’s human, and pretty much in line with most businesses today.

    And then we could go into what audits miss – Enron, Worldcom?

    I wouldn’t hold up the business audit process as a gold standard.

  51. N. Joseph Potts
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    Peter, you end a comment, part of which is addressed to me, with a question, so I’ll consider the question addressed to me. You don’t have to accept ANYBODY’s findings until they have been confirmed to your satisfaction – by you, your designate, or just happenstance by someone whose judgement you happen to trust. And that’s the point: DON’T BELIEVE THIS STUFF. You can disbelieve, for example, Steve’s debunking of Michael’s work, but disbelieving Steve’s work does NOT support believing Michael’s work – this is not a binary matter (he’s wrong, so she must be right). If we’re more-careful about what we believe/accept (I do not accept the work of professional climatologists or used-car salesmen or politicians in general), we’ll enact less destructive stupidity like Kyoto. The more time and effort someone has invested into knowing about a subject, the greater interest he acquires in having people think a certain way about it. This is true everywhere and always in human affairs. Different people react to these conditions in different ways, but Michael’s behavior (as I interpret it) is in keeping with the bulk of human tendency over the 60 or so years I’ve been observing it (in myself and others).

  52. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 10:48 AM | Permalink


    As far as I am aware, at present, no government body is taking expensive or high-risk decisions as a direct result of M&M ’05. If this ever becomes the case, yes I hope the work is thoroughly audited, and I believe Steve would also expect this – which is why he has made ALL of his work available in the public domain.

    As to believing without checking, I have the advantage of being a statistician and I have already coded up Professor Manns PCA method in the tool of my choice, MATLab by The Mathworks, Inc. This is a powerful matrix handling tool and with the statistics toolbox includes a suite of multivariate statistical analysis tools including principal components analysis. Unfortunately I have to pay the bills and I’m only grabbing a few minutes here and there to investigate (I seem to spend more time surfing blogs than useful analysis… hmmm) but once my own, independent assessment is complete I will be happy to pass comment. I hope to be able to put up MATLab source code to enable other MATLab users to draw their own conclusions.

    In the meantime, several other people have already checked Mann’s PCA method, and found in Steve’s favour, as mentioned here. How many people would it take to convince you? I suspect your mind is already closed to the potential outcome.

  53. James Wadsley
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

    Your preprints are in terrible shape (e.g MM05 (GRL)). It is hard to determine which figure or sub-figure is which because they are not labeled on the figure pages. If you believe your work should be taken seriously you need to offer usable digital copies.

    From what I have seen, your central “no hockey-stick” contention is that long term change in the past temperature history on the scale of 1000-2000 years is slowly decreasing rather than flat. This implies that the Earth was as warm as it is now roughly 1000-2000 years ago. Both this and the flat long term projections are consistent with the error bars I have seen in your and other work. This doesn’t change the Green House problem. Regardless of the specific gradient of the past history of slow changes, there has been a very rapid jump in temperatures in the last 50-100 years. This appears on all the graphs, including yours. In fact, we should be more alarmed if this jump has managed to reverse a long term cooling trend. Furthermore, I have not seen claims from the groups you disagree with that the temperature itself has yet exceeded the typical range. Their suggestion is to act now before it does. This seems like a reasonable argument to me. I am neither pro- nor anti-Kyoto as the best response. However, I think the evidence favours a significant climate impact due to human carbon emissions and therefore some response is required.

    Unless you are claiming that there has not been a remarkably rapid temperature rise in the last century I don’t see how your work brings anything special to the Green House debate. You seem to favour right leaning media outlets (e.g. National Post) which to me raises a concern that you are allowing you work to be over-represented by groups with anti-Kyoto interests.

  54. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    James (comment #54), your reading of M&M ’05 is nothing like what the content represents. I don’t know how you managed to draw those conclusions. Perhaps the poor copy is to blame?

    The view of global temperature prior to MBH98 was of considerable variability, with both hotter and considerably colder times (in comparison with today) over the last two thousand years, with significant temperature swings over comparatively short time periods.

    MBH98 claimed that their “improved” statistical process gave a very different view of history; in effect, MBH98 re-wrote the history books. This would be no bad thing, if the previous view was wrong and the new view was right. Unfortunately, it now appears that there are problems with the data used and the statistical method used, which means that the MBH98 reconstruction is almost certainly an artefact entirely unrelated to global temperature.

    M&M ’05 main point is that we know today, no more than we knew before MBH98 on the historical global temperature record, and that the early guesses are probably a better indication (with massive uncertainty bars) than the statistical reconstructions presented by Mann et al.

    These analyses, whilst not disproving the anthropogenic global warming theory, do show that the climate we are in today is not unusual in recent history, and therefore the possibility of natural variability causing the warming cannot be ruled out, as it seemingly has been by many “independent” scientists, and the IPCC.

  55. Ken Robinson
    Posted Feb 21, 2005 at 8:13 PM | Permalink


    Obviously Steve can make his own reply, but here’s my take on some of the items you raise.

    First, I don’t believe that Steve has a “no hockey stick” contention per se. However, whether he “believes” in the hockey stick or not is irrelevant to his point, and to the contribution he’s making to the discussion.

    The fact that Mann’s work is seriously flawed was only revealed once Steve undertook a detailed audit of that work. Mann’s paper passed through the peer review process unscathed, and went on to become a key cornerstone of the entire anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis and the subsequent policy debate. Steve’s fundamental point is that major policy decisions must be informed by clear and accurate evidence. If the very poster child for global warming (the hockey stick) abjectly fails this test, how much of the other evidence is also suspect? We simply don’t know. Clearly, the traditional peer review process, while still valuable, was by itself insufficient to catch Mann’s errors. If we’re going to make multi-billion dollar spending decisions on the basis of published science, shouldn’t we at least check to make sure the numbers add up first? This strikes me as a highly important point!

    It would be less important if the hockey stick was the only piece of evidence that was suspect, but such is not the case. There are other instances of the IPCC relying on questionable evidence. Their CO2 emission “scenarios”, for example, are based on economic models that don’t conform to the UN’s own standard economic methodologies (for example, using currency exchange rates instead of purchasing power parity). The IPCC models lead to conclusions of third world economic growth that are clearly stupid (for example, South Africa will have higher per capita GDP than the US by the end of the century). These models have been revealed as silly by people like David Henderson, the former chief economist of the OECD, and yet to date the IPCC stoutly refuses to modify their methods (and hence their emission projections). These projections are absolutely vital to predictions of increased temperature. After all, if the emission predictions are patently wrong, how can the temperature predictions possibly be right, even if (and it’s a big if) the climate models are accurate? For information on this point, see

    Whenever these kinds of points get raised, the collective response from supporters of the AGW hypothesis seems to be “We’ve done the science, we’ve published peer-reviewed papers, we all agree, so trust us.” Well, I’m sorry, but given the gross errors that have been so clearly demonstrated by people like Steve, “trust us” just doesn’t cut it as far as I’m concerned. Not when you’re talking about decisions with such huge economic and societal implications.

    By the way, here’s full disclosure of my business interests in case you’re interested in seeing my biases. I develop large energy efficiency and renewable energy generation projects (which incidentally gives me some insight into the utter futility of Kyoto as a policy response, regardless of its rationale. But that’s a whole different post!) To the extent that AGW is actually happening, I therefore stand to gain considerable financial benefit from it. Furthermore, I’ve always been keenly interested in science and for many years had unbridled faith in the objectivity of the scientific community and its dedication to the pursuit of truth. Certainly I had no reason to doubt that global warming was a significant threat. Sadly, as I’ve explored the issue in detail, my faith in “science” has been badly shaken by what I perceive to be the deliberate suppression of debate and the quick, unquestioning embrace of terribly flawed studies that happen to support AGW.

    At the same time, I haven’t become some raving mad contrarian. I acknowledge that many very good scientists have done excellent work in climate research. Having said this, the process has become hopelessly polarized, some might say politicized, and I believe this has seriously compromised the integrity of much of the published work. There is clearly now so much junk in the body of climate science literature relied upon by the IPCC that only rigorous examination of their inputs, methods and results would have any hope of establishing the veracity of their conclusions. Sadly, I predict that a large percentage of the studies in this field would fail such an examination. I would be happy to be proven wrong, have my faith restored and get on with making money with a clearer conscience by helping people reduce their emissions. (I don’t use AGW as a justification for projects, by the way, but my customers do.)

    This is why Steve’s contribution to the discussion is so important. He’s not disputing (or supporting) the existence of global warming as such. He’s simply pointing out that a rigorous audit of Mann’s work reveals it to be meaningless, a statistical artefact, irrelevant to the question, and therefore it should be removed from consideration. Steve’s work makes no comment on studies of, say, sea level or the validity of the global temperature instrument record, proxy studies unrelated to MBH, or any of the other myriad pieces that the IPCC relies on. They may be perfectly valid. However, the clear implication of Steve’s results is that, given the huge stakes involved, similar checks should be made of other key pillars of the AGW theory, to see whether they’re valid or not. For that matter, a similar analysis should be made of some of the surprisingly large body of published, peer-reviewed research which contradicts, or at least questions, the AGW hypothesis. Properly staffed and funded, such a review needn’t take long and its cost would be a small fraction of what’s already being spent in climate research. If two independent researchers, working without a budget in their spare time and with little cooperation from the authors, can effectively review MBH in the space of a year, then a quite small staff could, with full disclosure, review the seminal papers in fairly short order. This analysis should be conducted now, before we spend vast sums trying to mitigate global warming (and even then, one can make a very good argument that adapting to warming is cheaper than preventing it, but again that’s a different post). This position seems so eminently reasonable and full of common sense that it’s difficult to fathom resistance to it.

    As a fringe benefit, knowing that an audit of their papers might be conducted would in my humble opinion cause researchers to be a good deal more diligent in their methods and controls. Others in this thread have commented that business audits didn’t catch Enron or Worldcom, implying that business audits aren’t useful. I would argue the opposite; it’s the fact that good audits weren’t conducted in time that allowed these companies to get away with their shady practices for so long. This is exactly the same as Steve’s Bre-X example. Just because good, independent audits weren’t conducted in these cases doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have been, or that audits aren’t a good idea. Quite the contrary. For that matter, any ethical, publicly traded company will fully disclose, and allow independent audits of, its books and operating practices. Certainly mine does, and for that matter we conduct quite rigorous internal audits to ensure compliance with our governance policies, knowing all the while that we might be held to account by an external auditor at any time. There’s no reason why big science can’t be held to the same standards.


    Steve: Thanks for the kind words. I quite agree that much of the auditing would be easier than people think and probably most papers would be fine. A big percentage of the time in MBH98 has been fighting through the obstruction. I don’t mind doing that and I’m pretty patient, but it leads to a lot of wasted time.

  56. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    “Peter, I have a question for you. You said you were a farmer. Looking at your prolific rate of submissions to so many blogs and the times you make them when do you fit in the farming not to mention running a weather station, bee keeping, geology and moderation on ? ”

    That I’m underemployed is the answer! (and that I type fast and climate is my interest and concern).Weather stations run themselves.

  57. David H
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

    Peter, that’s great. Then why not do an audit of M&M yourself and publish it
    (with all the data and methodology of course)?

  58. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    “Peter, that’s great. Then why not do an audit of M&M yourself and publish it
    (with all the data and methodology of course)?”

    You wouldn’t accept it! As you said in post #25 “If a consensus of respected mathematicians and scientists from outside the field of climatology…” That’s something I’m going to be hard pushed to be! Besides, I’m not, as I keep saying, a trained climatologist either – that’s why I don’t think I know better than them.

  59. David H
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Peter, I was not suggesting you did it for the benefit of sceptics like me but to satisfy your own doubts. The experts you quote speak of the uncertainties in the science.

  60. Spence_UK
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 12:34 PM | Permalink


    I misunderstood your original post #48. I thought that you meant you intended to conduct a review of Steve’s work, but I now realise that you had no intention of doing so. Your assertion was simply a refusal to accept Steve’s work because it hadn’t been audited.

    This is disappointing. I’ve nearly completed my own separate analysis of the MBH98 PCA method, admittedly partly because I was interested in it, and have found the same flaw as identified by Steve here. I am now completely sure that the statistical process used by Mann et al is fundamentally flawed. I don’t need any knowledge of climate science to know this, although a basic knowledge of statistical methods is required, because this is the area that contains the flaw.

    I may not know as much as they do regarding climate, but the field of statistics is a very different area: and I know a sufficient amount about statistics to know that if they truly believe their PCA method is valid, they are kidding themselves.

    I would say, please, if you have any stats skills, have a go at the method they propose for conducting a PCA, the flawed normalisation step is that of subtracting a mean value from a small subset (say less than half) of the main data sets. In a tool such as R or MATLAB, it requires just a few lines of code. It is a real eye-opener.

  61. Doug Parent
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    The other day I noticed a fairly typical news release on CNN about a study published by a scientist at Scripps named Tim Barnett. The study apparently (yet presumably, because the article really doesn’t say what the study found other than that it proves global warming) shows a steady rise in ocean temp. Ok, fair enough conclusion I suppose. I found alot of things striking about this article. Namely, the nature of the scientist’s comments of the study are out of line with what I remember the practice of scentists (and economists for that matter) that I studied under. I don’t remember my professors ever saying anything like “this study proves such and such” or “the debate is over” as this author seems to be saying. In fact, our profs lectured us to no end about using judgemental comments like this in discussions or in papers. This ideal was so overwhelming that it is little more than the lack of this ideal among news reports of climate studies that has made me a skeptic about the global warming issue. Too bad there isnt enough time to audit all studies….. Any insights on this study?

  62. John A.
    Posted Feb 22, 2005 at 3:44 PM | Permalink


    The study does not show a rise in ocean temp so much as it attempts to model the variation of ocean temperature in order to pick out the forcings. It is the two computer models that are the center of this story, but notice: the work has not even been published, the handling and provenance of the data is unknown, the assumptions of the climate models are not stated and the scientists are “95% confident”

    This brings the second issue: how do you check the validity of a climate model? They are unfalsifiable (even the IPCC says so), and they do not predict anything with any level of certainty, and yet they give 20/20 hindsight?

    I’m deeply cynical about the use of climate models in climate science.

  63. Louis Hissink
    Posted Feb 24, 2005 at 5:14 AM | Permalink

    I notice in all the comments and published papers, that (and correct me if I am wrong) no one seems to have used the simple graphing of the earth’s mean temperature, over time, as evidence of “global warming”.

    Instead temperature anomalies and all sorts of esoteric manipulations of the data are used.

    Of course measured temperature only goes back, what, circa 1800?, but not even that has been shown.

    Very strange. Almost as if simply plotting the mean temperature over time shows no warming or cooling.

    Interesting area for research I suspect.

  64. David H
    Posted Feb 24, 2005 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    Re#64 Yes they do Louis. Look at Fig 1.1 on the UK’s DEFRA web site at: . Then look at the less politically correct website of our Environment Agency at:

    Now why do you think DEFRA, who are responsible for our IPCC policy, truncate the CET data at 1772? DEFRA say its because the way they measured it earlier was different and the Met Office are looking at adding error bars to the earlier data. This will take a couple of years to get Peer Reviewed, they tell me, by which time maybe they hope we will all have given up.

    But wait a minute don’t Steve and Ross say (MM03 p753) that Mann et al. used the CET data back to 1730? Why would they use 40 odd years that that DEFRA says is dodgey and needs to be peer reviewed? Could it be because those 40 years were almost as hot as now — indeed actually warmer than today’s global average! So those 40 years are OK to put in the MBH cooking pot to raise Little Ice Age averages but not OK to show on a propaganda graph selling anthropogenic global warming.

    And why can’t DEFRA show us the Little Ice Age? Until the Met Office have massaged the figures they would have to live with a two centigrade increase in Central England Temperatures that occurred in just four decades. We cant have that can we?

    The whole spoof depends upon convincing the world that temperatures have never moved as fast as they did in the last century. DEFRA policy is that the LIA and MWP were local regional events and not all that big anyway. Right?

    This is about as honest as the New Zealanders (see John’s recent post) being told someone had “observed”(!!) the average temperature back to 1000AD and it hardly changed till 1900. But what do expect from guys that bring in a fart tax?

  65. David H
    Posted Feb 24, 2005 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Before seeing Louis’ posting I was going to ask who had listened to Prof. Mann on the BBC Today Programme at:
    Presumably Steve will offer his services …..

    The BBC are quite biased so far as global warming is concerned but almost every week there is one documentary or another on gardening or archaeology in which they drop in evidence which to the common man says that we must have had periods when it warmed as much and as quickly as recent decades.

    Last night BBC4 transmitted a programme from 1969 from one of our great historians Kenneth Clark. (Wasn’t that when we thought we were heading for another ice age?) It is a bit long but this is how he started:

    “There have been times in the history of mankind when the earth seems suddenly to have grown warmer, or more radio active. I do not put this forward as a scientific proposition, but the fact remains that three or four times in history, man has made a leap forward that would have been unthinkable under ordinary evolutionary conditions.

    “One such time was about the year 3000 BC when, quite suddenly, civilisation appeared not only in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but in the Indus Valley. Another was in the late 6th Century BC when there was not only the miracle of Ionia and Greece: philosophy, science, poetry, all reaching a point that wasn’t reached again for 2000 years, but also in India a spiritual enlightenment that has perhaps never been equalled.

    “And another was round about the year 1100. It seems to have affected the whole world: India, China, Byzantium; but its strongest and most dramatic effect was in Western Europe, where it was most needed. It was like a Russian Spring. In every branch of life: action, philosophy, organisation, technology, there was an extraordinary outpouring of energy, an intensification of existence. Popes, emperors, kings, bishops, saints, scholars philosophers. They were all larger than life and incidents of history are great heroic dramas or symbolic acts that still stir our hearts. The evidence of this heroic energy, this confidence, this strength of will and intellect is still visible to us.”

    He later quoted Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and I think I will pinch it for my signature line. “I must understand in order that I may believe. By doubting we come to questioning and by questioning we perceive the truth.”

  66. Chas
    Posted Feb 24, 2005 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    Re 65, but what is the CET?

    John replies: the CET is the Central England Temperature, which is the longest instrumental record of surface temperature in the world, with data going back to 1659

  67. Dub
    Posted Feb 25, 2005 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    Re. #62:
    What has been glossed over, or completely ignored in media reports about this study is that Tim Barnett told an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “climate models based on air temperature are weak
    because most of the evidence is not even there”.

    Huh? Come again. Aren’t these the very same climate models that the IPCC has bet its…I mean, our houses on? Wasn’t the science “settled”? It seems that Barnett believes that it was not – until now of course (after Kyoto). (So what about the consensus among the majority of scientists??)

    It remains to be seen if Tim Barnett’s study is more robust than the studies he now claims were so “weak”. Already that seems doubtful.

  68. Michael Mayson
    Posted Feb 26, 2005 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

    Getting back to the topic of disclosure and due diligence (the search for the truth?) – the current debate and the heated (excuse the pun) claims from both sides has led me to look into the “psychology of science”. I came across this, and excerpt from which is:

    “There are some myths about science and scientists that need to be dispelled. Science gets mistaken as a body of knowledge for its method. Scientists are regarded as having superhuman abilities of rationality inside objectivity. Many studies in the psychology of science, however, indicate that scientists are at least as dogmatic and authoritarian, at least as foolish and illogical as everybody else, including when they do science. In one study on falsifiability, an experiment was described, an hypothesis was given to the participants, the results were stated, and the test was to see whether the participants would say, “This falsifies the hypothesis”. The results indicated denial, since most of the scientists refused to falsify their hypotheses, sticking with them despite a lack of evidence! Strangely, clergymen were much more frequent in recognizing that the hypotheses were false.”

    I don’t know whether to be relieved ( that scientists are human afterall ) or frightened to death! So much for peer review.

  69. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 1, 2005 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    Re #9 Peter Hearden says “Put your own house in order first? People don’t hide identies (sic) except for a reason. And, in a contentious debate like this, there is more reason to wonder what that reason might be…”

    Might this be the same Peter Hearden who goes by the pseudonym “Devonian” on

  70. David H
    Posted Mar 2, 2005 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    Michael, to be fair to Peter, he does add his name after Devonian on and if you Google him you find a reference to him at UKWW. You also find his the home page of his web site. He seems slightly coy about his site but it is creditable and demonstrates that he takes the weather very seriously and is very knowledgeable. He does seem to have taken the hint though and removed his latitude and longitude. The only thing that disappoints me is that with his numerous posting he has not linked to this site though, again to be fair, he does link to that of the late John Daly.

  71. Paul Gosling
    Posted Mar 8, 2005 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    Am I missing something here? Am I correct in assuming that Mann and all the other recent attempts at reconstructing recent climate did not use new data, rather they used already published data from many sources? If so then what is all the fuss about. If people what to challenge the reconstructions they should go and do their own, using the same data. That is the way to prove or disprove Mann.

  72. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 9, 2005 at 9:38 AM | Permalink


    The published data needs to be massaged in a way that it can be compared to those of different regions and time periods to project a continuous picture of the world’s climate over the past 1000 years. The published data isn’t so much the problem (although it certainly could be contended that some data is better than others, and/or that some data is either flawed or at least needs to be updated) – it’s the mathematical analysis and reconstructions of that data that is the root of the issue. And as far as reconstructions go: doing your own reconstruction and getting different results using the same data would not “disprove Mann.” It simply would show that treating the data differently would produce different results. Mann and his backers would just stand behind his methodology. Finding flaws with Mann’s methodology, on the other hand, and bringing them to light (and possibly forcing Mann to correct things himself) is another thing! If Mann’s methodology were exposed and corrected by his peers, and if the end results were drastically different than the “hockey stick,” Mann himself would have no choice but to admit much different conclusions than he’s maintained over the years. Nevertheless, if you read M&M’s documentation, I think you’ll find they have taken the same data Mann used and shown you get different results with different methods they (and others) believe to be more acceptable. And while you read M&M’s documentation, I think you’ll also find that it was quite difficult to even obtain the data Mann used in the first place. There are also plenty of other reconstructions which conflict with the so-called MBH98, but starting with MBH98, you’ll find that one sole (and apparently flawed) reconstruction has become the torch-bearer for public policy.

    Regardless, the point of this post was to discuss due dilligence. With Mann’s methods being held in secret, it’s impossible. As an engineer, my calculations need to be made available on short notice. All of my methods both in engineering and while I was in research are either widely recognized (and referenced) or explained in detail. Anything and everything I do can be both checked and duplicated. No research should EVER be published that cannot be duplicated, and no research can be duplicated if the methods are kept in secret.

    For the benefit of the curious Peter (and since this is my first post), I am a professional civil engineer in the US with an M.S. in civil (environmental) engineering and a B.S. in applied mathematics. I’ve been interested in climate change for close to two decades now, particularly the last decade, but my past research and current work are not directly related to climate change. I have been peer-review published for conference journal proceedings but not in actual literary journals (my journal submission based on M.S. research was lacking in one area). For what it’s worth, I have seen the comments on peer-reviewed articles both that I had submitted and that fellow researchers had submitted to journals, and I was invited to submit comments to my professor on articles she peer-reviewed for journal publication. Also FWIW, while I was in research, I read a paper that had methods similar to what I wanted to use for an upcoming experiment. I emailed the primary author for a simple clarification on the methodology and told him I planned to do something similar. He immediately sent me the computer spreadsheets he had used (formulas included) for me to use. 180 degrees from Mann, to say the least!

  73. Paul Gosling
    Posted Mar 10, 2005 at 5:15 AM | Permalink

    I feel rather sorry for Mann. I cannot comment on the validity of his statistical analysis as my stats aren’t up to it, except to say that in my experience statistics is wholly subjective and no two statisticians will give you the same answer to the same question. Though as I understand it he has conceded some of his data selection was dubious, particularly his reliance in Bristlecone pine data. Anyway, he produced a paper which maybe was not 100% (In my experience few are and we could all have done things better in retrospect, but we have to publish if we want to keep our jobs (I also work in research)). When it received so much publicity he was probably very pleased, as it increases your chances of getting the next funding grant. However, because of the way it has become this totem of the debate he has been totally backed into a corner, both by the IPCC’s use of his graph and the vitriolic way he has been attacked by sceptics. His entire reputation now rests on that one paper, no matter what he has done before or after. He cannot admit he was wrong (even if the thinks he was) and if he fully discloses his methods he knows there will be even more criticism because, as I pointed out above, there will always be statisticians who disagree with his methods.

    As for the wider point about disclosure. I have been amused by the thought that there is full and honest disclosure in business, as suggested by some posts (Enron is all that needs to be said). In my experience researchers are only willing to disclose methods so far, especially if they are novel, though in this case, in view of the importance of the subject Mann probably should fully disclose (except he can’t for the reasons I state above). The peer review process, which I have been involved in from both sides, is far from perfect, but generally works, because if something gets through which is rubbish subsequent work will just show this, as I believe is the case with the Mann paper. Full disclosure of data used, apart from being impractical, would not work as it is not the data which is included that will show the weakness of the paper, but the data which was excluded.

  74. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 11, 2005 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    I cannot comment on the validity of his statistical analysis as my stats aren’t up to it

    Fair enough

    to say that in my experience statistics is wholly subjective and no two statisticians will give you the same answer to the same question

    I strongly disagree with this statement. Statistics is most certainly not “wholly subjective” and no, two statisticians will not give you different answers to the same question! Two statisticians might pose the question in a different way, and the trick is to work out which is the correct question to ask in a given situation. Unfortunately it seems to be a consistent thread throughout climate science that statistics are used very loosely, as opposed to the rigour in which statistics should be applied, which is the most effective way to prevent criticism. This is what “due diligence”, this thread, is all about. There are so many ways to “cheat” statistics that if you want to ensure a study is not skewed, the degree of openness in the approach has to be above and beyond that applied in any other scientific field. Prof. Mann chose to apply statistics to this problem, his decision to do so must be accompanied by the requirements of such a technique.

    However, because of the way it has become this totem of the debate he has been totally backed into a corner, both by the IPCC’s use of his graph

    I have a fair degree of sympathy for this point, and I would extend it as not only the IPCC have used it but also the media and environmental groups have jumped on it as well.

    and the vitriolic way he has been attacked by sceptics.

    I think I would have sympathy for this point as well, but I find it difficult to do so because his tactics could be described as “vitriolic” also – rather than address the scientific issues he is all too quick to call on smear campaigns himself.

  75. Paul Gosling
    Posted Mar 14, 2005 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    Your experience of statisticians is obviously very different to mine. I have had two different statisticians give me totally opposite answers to the question of the validity of tests for certain data sets and on more than one occasion been told that either my data collection or analysis methods will depend on what I want to find out. And as I work in agricultural research we are not even dealing with very complex stats. I can’t see there ever being agreement on Mann’s use of stats. In my opinion it would be better if the hockey stick was laid to rest as just another piece of controversial evidence in the climate change debate.

  76. Hans Erren
    Posted Mar 14, 2005 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    In my opinion it would be better if the hockeystick was fully replicated by Cubasch and Mcintyre

  77. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 15, 2005 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

    I have had two different statisticians give me totally opposite answers to the question of the validity of tests for certain data sets and on more than one occasion been told that either my data collection or analysis methods will depend on what I want to find out.

    What you want to find out affects how the question is phrased – things which sound the same to most people can sound very different to the statistician, and many people who are not statisticians often misinterpret these things. Even seemingly straightforward questions, for example “is X safe” and “is X not safe” seem like (effectively) asking the same question but they may require entirely different analysis and give different results – because of uncertainty in the data, in the results, the logical conclusions/inference required etc. etc.

    I will admit that this does often mean it takes a statistician to assess the results of another statistician. This can be a bit of a problem and this is why often independent replication is considered a necessary aspect of contentious statistical studies.

    I can’t see there ever being agreement on Mann’s use of stats.

    Amongst climate scientists, yes I agree – because most climate scientists are not statisticians and may not grasp the more technical aspects – I suspect you would have trouble finding a single competent, independent statistician who would support Professor Mann’s approach after looking into it in any depth. The problems with the hockey stick are not subtle, arguable points, they are big problems.

  78. David H
    Posted Mar 17, 2005 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    While there are many issues that raise concerns over the hockey stick, the most obvious are the BCP proxies and the statistics. What surprises me is that the debate over the “hockey stick” is well known to all the politicians pushing for the US to ratify Kyoto and they must know that the argument is slowing down progress towards their goals and costing a fortune in enhanced PR budgets. If I were Tony Blair I would phone Michael Mann and say “Why don’t you get our best statisticians to look at your maths and tell the world that it its OK?”

    Problem is and Michael Mann knows it some have looked and they (including one authority Mann cites) are not saying its OK. I challenge Michael Mann to get one internationally accepted PCA expert to put his (or her) stamp of approval on his work.

  79. John Hunter
    Posted Mar 25, 2005 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    Steve: I’m getting pretty sick of posting to climateaudit and receiving abusive responses from people who appear to run the site and are not prepared to address the actual issues in hand, and are also not prepared to identify themselves. First it was “John A” and now it is someone called “John”. You will probably have realised that I really object to such anonymity – realclimate is happy to provide a full listing (with full details including email addresses) of its contributors. So how about a bit of “full disclosure” and a similar list of climateaudit contributors?

  80. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 25, 2005 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    Here is a good article on The Ethics of Collecting and Processing Data and Publishing Results of Scientific Research.
    There’s a certain irony here because the author is one Michael D. Mann, Ph.D.

  81. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 26, 2005 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    Here is a better link to #80:

  82. Hans Erren
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    John Hunter,

    I agree, isn’t it frustrating debating with anonymous people on the internet?

  83. John Hunter
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    Hans Erren: you say “I agree, isn’t it frustrating debating with anonymous people on the internet?” — I don’t understand what you are getting at — could you please explain (the link at “anonymous” doesn’t seem to help a lot)?

  84. Hans Erren
    Posted Mar 31, 2005 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    re: #84
    You must be new to blogosphere, never heard of Dano?

  85. John Hunter
    Posted Mar 31, 2005 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Hans Erren: No, I haven’t heard of Dano. But I have read a fair bit within the blogosphere, which seems to consist mainly of ill-informed drivel from the blog writer, with comments provided by (generally) anonymous and equally uninformed people. So, are you telling me that climateaudit is just part of this?

    And I am still waiting for a reply from Steve about my posting #80 which asked why this site is so secretive about its ownership, while realclimate is so open. I have also asked Steve this in a personal email — again unanswered. I just wonder what there is to hide.

    Steve: I "own" this site and pay the vast carrying cost of CDN$15 /month or so myself. This has been posted up before [I’ll try to add in the link as a follow-up]. I presumed that your inquiry had been asked and answered, but there it is one more time. It’s a reasonable enough idea to put this information on a frame somewhere and we’ll try to figure out how to do so. This slight design inefficiency is a price for being on a shoestring on a public server, rather than being hosted by associates of the Environmental Defense Fund. However, once we figure out how to do it, we will do so.

    As to Mann’s "openness", they did not voluntarily disclose that their site was hosted by an organization related to the Environmental Defense Fund, until they were outed by the Wall Street Journal. While realclimate then denied any other links to Environmental Defence Fund associates, Mann personally circulated a scurrilous Environmental Defense Fund article, suggesting that I was being funded by ExxonMobil (which I’m not) to Natuurwetenschap & Techniek and has possibly distributed similar material to other journals (New Scientist, GRL, Nature) in his efforts to block publication of our material. How ad hominem is that?

  86. John Hunter
    Posted Apr 3, 2005 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    Steve: as usual, you duck the important question, so please read posting #80 again. For a start, who are "John A", "John" and any other people who have control of the input to and output from this site? I do realise (from running my own sites) how cheap the internet charges are. But people’s time (spent sifting through the postings and responding) is not …..

    Please note that if I want to have a private technical discussion with any of the realclimate contributors, I can easily contact them. This is not true of climataudit.

    And your excuse that you can’t insert information about your funding and support on this site because you are running "on a shoestring on a public server" is frankly laughable.

    Steve: First, I have control over this site. No one pays me to sift through and respond. Doing climate research has cost me a lot of money in terms of opportunity cost – I doubt that any other person in this debate can say the same thing. Climate researchers have benefited enormously in economic terms by getting the public excited; they (presumably including yourself) have a vested interest in maintaining this level of concern. There is remarkably little self-criticism about this.

    John A. is a computer consultant, who is interested in climate matters also as a hobby. No one pays him for his assistance here. I have put contact information for myself in the Overview. You have had no trouble sending me private emails nor has anyone else to my knowledge.

    As I told you, I have no objection to putting info into the right frame; I just don’t know how to do it right now, but, as I said before, have no objection to doing so and will do so. In the meantime, I have on several occasions provided information on how this site was funded.

    I wish that you would spend a little time asking Mann for his source code or why he sent scurrilous information from Environmental Defense Fund to journals in an effort to interfere with publication of our material.

    You have also not justified the misrepresentations by Mann (and subsequently by the IPCC) on the statistical skill and robustness of the hockeystick graph.

  87. John Hunter
    Posted Apr 4, 2005 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    Steve: Asking you for something is a bit like pulling teeth. If you were to come anywhere near the openness of realclimate, you would provide full details (e.g. CVs, real names and email addresses) of "John A", "John" and anyone else who contributes material to your site. You haven’t yet done so.

    As to your other comments:

    1. If you have the slightest evidence for claiming that I have a "vested interest in maintaining this level of concern" then please provide it — otherwise please withraw this statement.

    2. You say "I wish that you would spend a little time asking Mann for his source code or why he sent scurrilous information from Environmental Defense Fund to journals in an effort to interfere with publication of our material". Why should I? Firstly, I have no need of Mann’s code (this isn’t my field) and secondly, I have only your word about the second issue — this is your dispute, not mine and I am certainly not your messenger boy.

    3. You also say "you have also not justified the misrepresentations by Mann (and subsequently by the IPCC) on the statistical skill and robustness of the hockeystick graph". Again, why should I? This is your technical dispute with Mann, not mine.

    I think you need to appreciate that my commenting on material on climateaudit does not give you the right to expect me to question anybody else, or justify anything else.

    Steve: Openness at realclimate – ROTFLOL: any critical comments are censored at realclimate. Mann’s sending of Environmental Defense Fund material to Natuurwetenschap & Techniek and making of slanderous comments is a matter of public record: see Technical disputes over the use of multiproxy records is what I am working on and what this website is about: if you’re not interested in these technical matters, I don’t understand why you are attending this website. The reason why you should consider making inquiries to Mann would be if you had a bona fide interest in understanding how and if his multiproxy analysis can be used to reconstruct past temperature history. John A. is a computer consultant who is concerned about economic and personal reprisals and does not wish personal details to be made available to you. Unfortunately, people like you have created a sufficiently poisonous climate that this is unfortunately a legitimate concern. I have full control over this site – so any responsibility is mine. In the future, I will adopt the stated realclimate policy of limiting posted comments to questions about science and technical matters.

  88. Terry
    Posted May 22, 2005 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    I just listened to Mann’t inteview with the BBC. There, he commented about the criticism of MBH that it was based on faulty data. He said that M&M had got hold of corrupted data which caused M&M to think that they had made various data errors when they had not.

    My question:

    How did M&M "get hold" of bad data? Was it given to them by MBH? If not, is there some gray market in proxy data where you can "get hold" of some "bad stuff"? If so, shouldn’t Mann have mentioned that he (or his shop) were responsible for the bad data and been a little bit apologetic about causing that particular foo faw? Did M&M corrupt the data somehow, and if they did, have they apologized for doing so?

    Steve: There’s a lot of disinformation in Mann’s comments. First, all of it relates to our 2003 paper. So it has nothing to do with any 2005 results, which are all synchronized to the data archived in the new SI at Nature in July 2004 (which was established because of our complaint.) Second, we downloaded the data used in 2003 from Mann’s FTP site from the URL given to us by Mann’s associate, Scott Rutherford, in response to a specific request for the data used in MBH98. We noticed problems with the data set, emailed the entire dataset back to Mann and asked for confirmation that this was the data used in MBH98. He said that he was too busy to respond. So we reported on many problems in the dataset. See MM03 Scorecard on this site. MM03 got a lot of publicity and Mann then said that we used the “wrong” dataset, that we had asked for an Excel spreadsheet (which was untrue), that the spreadsheet had been specially prepared for us (untrue – it was dated long before our inquiry). He then deleted the dataset to which we had been referred from his FTP site and suddenly a brand new dataset materialized, which had never been referred to in any of Mann’s webpage links before and which was (and is) the only dataset at this FTP set in the public (indexed) area. We analyzed the differences between the two versions and most of the criticisms in MM03 carried over to the new dataset. I don’t like to use adjectives to describe behavior, but you can easily imagine my attitude. At the same time, once a well-known scientist made such statements, which were both untrue and easily disproven, you can imagine that my interest in this topic increased even more.

    Mann then went on to say that we hadn’t noticed the flaws in the data set – this after we had written over 20 pages describing data problems in the MBH98 in miscroscopic detail and went to considerable lengths to re-collate most of the data from original sources. Mann’s statements on this were total disinformation.

    In MM03 Scorecard (and previously), we have acknowledged that a couple of the criticisms (especially collation errors) may only pertain to that data set. It is possible that the collation errors did not exist in actual MBH98 calculations. However, no one has any way of knowing how data was actually collated into MBH98 calculations as the source code demonstrating correct collation has never been made available.

    We ourselves did not handle the data incorrectly. At the time, I felt that, at a minimum, Mann should have accepted blame and also owned up to the errors. He chose not to do so. It makes me mad writing about this stuff. Regards, Steve

    PS Check Ross McKitrick’s website – see right frame URL – for some contemporary accounts of these events.

  89. Roger Bell
    Posted Jul 6, 2005 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    This discussion is very interesting, but I have to disagree (or at least quibble) with the comment in post #73 that “no research should ever be published that cannot be duplicated.” In astronomy, the demand for time on large public telescopes is tremendous. If you are lucky enough to get the time, it’s unlikely that other people will get time to do the same problem. Nor are they likely to want to do the same problem unless they feel that you have blundered.
    To change the subject, when a scientific society publishes journals, it is running a vanity press, since the authors pay the typesetting fee. Perhaps in some sciences – medicine, climate change, … the Federal Government should give grants to the society to allow them to pay the referees.

  90. John A
    Posted Jul 7, 2005 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

    Re #90


    I do not see why your specific example does not also qualify. Supposing an astronomer makes a discovery of some object never seen before – he or she puts all the observations, supporting calculations in an archive and writes a report. Others will want to verify so that the astronomer can legitimately claim discovery.

    On the other hand, supposing the astronomer discovers a comet, does some calculations and then inserts a report into the next IPCC review claiming that the comet will strike the earth. The astronomer refuses to publish the calculation, claiming that it is proprietary and denouncing another amateur astronomer who tries to replicate the calculation as a “tool of big business”.

    What then? Should we accept the astronomer’s word? A consensus of astronomers? Should we launch a big expensive mission to deflect the comet without checking?

  91. TCO
    Posted Sep 11, 2005 at 12:49 PM | Permalink


    Don’t cry for Mann if he “knows he is wrong, but refuses to admit it because he is backed into a corner”. That’s ethical cowardice. It’s childish.

  92. jonas
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    I would reference TCO (#92) and his appraisal of Dr. Mann’s ethical merit to several letters from Professor Mann and others to the powers that be and hope that people whom attempt to discredit what is clearly good science on behalf of thier agenda will quietly recess.

    I would point out that the journal that published the refutation of Mann et al is not a peered reveiwed journal, and its editor at the time citing clear political motivations as its pretense.

    I would suggest a good bit a reading be done by the critics of Dr. Mann before they dispell thier fury of judgement on a case that is clearly not drawn to thier policy directives. This would be an excellent place to start.

    I would now posit that ethical cowardice and immaturity will be defined by the critics of Mann et al, and the decent work of scientist in global climate change

  93. fFreddy
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    Welcome, Jonas.
    If you think of yourself as having an open mind, then I recommend that you read some of the posts on this site. Start with the ones on the ‘Favorite posts’ sidebar on the right.
    If your maths is up to it, you will rapidly find yourself questioning Mann’s claim to good science.

  94. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Re #93: Geophysical Research Letters is a peer-reviewed journal and is the very journal that MBH99 was published in. Peer review is no guarantee of validity; even in the most eminent journals (e.g. Nature), peer reviewers don’t audit results. Peer review is merely a screening device. Our particular articles in E&E were peer reviewed.

  95. Posted Dec 16, 2005 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    Those following energy issues might be interested to know that there is a new techno-thriller novel about the American nuclear power industry, written by a longtime nuclear engineer (me), and available at no cost on the web. This book provides an entertaining and accurate portrait of the nuclear industry today and how a nuclear accident would be handled. It is called “Rad Decision”, and is at

  96. Theo Richel
    Posted Dec 17, 2005 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    re #98 James, thanks for the ref to your novel, but before I start to read it, please tell me whether this book is based on the ‘Linear No Theshold’-hypothesis, that says that any radiation is dangerous and possibly carcinogenic. I hope it is not since this LNT-hypothesis kills more people then radiation itself, as has once again been shown in Chernobyl (or any other place where radiation is much higher then average background). See also my piece here

  97. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    RE: ” I don’t like to use adjectives to describe behavior, but you can easily imagine my attitude.”

    If a scientist or engineer working for me engaged in the sort of behavior demonstrated by Mann, I’d fire him or her. Depending on the context, a further criminal investigation might be a possibility.

  98. jae
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Theo: I read your article and concur. The same LNT philosophy has been adopted by EPA and other regulatory agencies, relative to chemical hazards. With only one exception that I know of, they will simply not consider safe threshold levels, no matter how much science there is to support it. Their inevitable defense: “We have to assume the worst” (precautionary principle). Thus, we are wasting ever increasing amounts of money to control ever decreasing amounts of toxic chemicals in our environment–resources that could be better used elsewhere. One notable exception (and bright spot) is EPA’s current risk analysis of formaldehyde under some of the NESHAPS regulations, where a threshold is finally being accepted, as a result of the expense of millions of dollars for research by the Chemical Industry Institute of Technology.

  99. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    LNT hypothesis is fundamentally argumentum ad absurdem.

  100. Posted Sep 4, 2006 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    So to recap you’re a mining consultant who knows jack squat about climate. Appeal to appropriate authority would render you and your partner to the reject bin. I know I have on the face of the facts.

  101. bender
    Posted Sep 4, 2006 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    Re #103 The source of the initial skepticism (“biases” resulting from working in the economics/minerals sectors) is irrelevant. What is relevant is that when you look at the facts, those skeptical hunches of M&M turned out to be quite correct. One doesn’t have to be a climatologist to know statistics or analysis.

  102. bender
    Posted Sep 4, 2006 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    P.S. Fisheries biologists don’t have the world’s greatest record when it comes to quantitative analysis in the case of collapsing fish stocks. What makes you so extraordinary, Mark A. York? If your math skills are up to it, keep reading the blog. Don’t stop reading, and don’t bother posting again until you can tell me in your own words how the Mannomatic pattern-matching algorithm works.

  103. charles
    Posted Sep 4, 2006 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    103 mark

    How would you characterize your understanding of the issues being discussed on this blog?

  104. Chris H
    Posted Dec 5, 2006 at 6:13 AM | Permalink


    I think precaution is more sensible that recklessness

    But it’s not a question of precaution vs. recklessness. It’s a question of how to allocate limited resources. When the costs of a policy substantially outweigh the benefits, you end up causing uneccassary human suffering.

  105. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 5, 2006 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

    #108 Chris, did you read the hyperlink in his name? It’s for a hangover remedy. You’d think he’d take his own advice; I think it would apply? LOL Maybe it’s spam or a joke?

  106. Chris H
    Posted Dec 5, 2006 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    #109. Oops thought it was a comment on LNT. Anyway I already have my own hangover remedy: 2 pints of water, 2 paracetamol and a 2 hour walk!

  107. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Dec 5, 2006 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    A stray comment on an old thread like this is unusual. It takes some doing to find old threads on a blog. His comments appear to me to be based on the straw man argument that everyone on this site believes that no money should be spent on programs which have a positive effect on the environment and that we are all being paid by the fossil fuel industry. If he had spent time reading posts on this blog he would understand this straw man for what it is, an attempt to restrict discussion on any subject which is anti-alarmist.

    It appears to me that he followed a link to this thread from a site which would love to tie up CA’s limited bandwidth. In other words, I beleive that he found troll bait.

    Please don’t feed the trolls.

  108. Ross Berteig
    Posted Jul 25, 2007 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    As a long time browser of blogs on lots of topics, posts like #116 and #107 raise all the red flags needed to call them spam. Both fail to advance any part of the conversation or present any useful information, and both (coincidentally) link to external commercial sites of questionable value.

    Perhaps a plug in exists to provide a “report this” button for individual posts so that the spam filter can be assisted by the collective wisdom of the readers…

  109. John A
    Posted Jul 25, 2007 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    I agree. They’re going to get marked as spam. So if anyone wonders about the numbers mentioned in the post above, its because those two spam messages have been deleted.

  110. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 5, 2007 at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    This thread on “Some thoughts on disclosure and due diligence in climate science” seems a suitable place to report to CA readers that the just-released issue of the UK-based journal World Economics (vol. 8, no. 2, April-June 2007) features several articles on climate change, including a major piece by David Henderson. The abstract of David’s paper follows:

    Governments, and in particular the governments of the OECD member countries, are mishandling climate change issues. Both the basis and the content of official policies are open to serious question. Too much reliance is placed on the established process of review and inquiry which is conducted through the agency of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This process, which is wrongly taken to be objective and authoritative, has been made the point of departure for over-presumptive conclusions which are biased towards alarm, in the mistaken belief that the science’ is settled’. Rather than pursuing as a matter of urgency ambitious and costly targets for drastic further curbing of CO2 emissions, governments should take prompt steps to ensure that they and their citizens are more fully and more objectively informed and advised. This implies both improving the IPCC process and going beyond it. As to the content of policy, it is not the case that the choice now lies between two extremes, of no action and the immediate adoption of much stronger measures to curb emissions. The orientation of policies should be made more evolutionary and less presumptive, with actual policy measures focusing more on carbon taxes rather than the present and prospective array of costly and intrusive regulatory initiatives.

    In an article in the London Financial Times (2 August 2007, p. 9) Clive Crook, a Washington, DC-based columnist for the newspaper, writes that the IPCC is a seriously flawed enterprise and unworthy of the slavish respect accorded to it by most governments and the media’ and goes on:

    For a fully documented indictment, read the article by David Henderson in the current issue of World Economics. Mr. Henderson, a distinguished academic economist and former head of economics at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has been tangling with the IPCC for some time. Five years ago, he and Ian Castles (a former chief of the Australian Bureau of Statistics) first drew attention to a straightforward error in the way emissions scenarios were being calculated. The projections had used long-range cross-country projections of gross domestic product that were based on exchange rates unadjusted for purchasing power. The mistake yielded projections for individual countries that were in some cases patently absurd. Far from acknowledging the point and correcting the projections, the IPCC treated these eminent former civil servants as uncredentialed troublemakers. Its head, Rajendra Pachauri, issued a prickly statement complaining about the spread of disinformation.

    As Mr. Henderson’s new article makes clear, the episode was symptomatic of a wider pattern of error (often, in the case of economics, elementary error) and failure to correct it. How can this be possible? The IPCC prides itself on the extent of its network of scientific contributors and on its rigorous peer review. The problem is, although the contributors and peers are impressively numerous, they are drawn from a narrow professional circle. Expertise in economics and statistics is not to the fore; sympathetic clusters of co-authorship and pre-commitment to the urgency of the climate cause, on the other hand, are.

    Add to this a sustained reluctance ‘€” and sometimes a refusal ‘€” to disclose data and methods that would allow results to be replicated. (Disclosure of that sort is common practice these days in leading scholarly journals). As a result, arresting but subsequently discredited findings ‘€” such as the notorious hockey stick’ chart showing the 1990s as the northern hemisphere’s hottest decade of the millennium ‘€” are left to be challenged by troublesome outsiders …

    With the environmental risks calmly laid out, framing the right policies demands proper political accountability and a much wider range of opinion and expertise than the IPCC currently provides. One incompetent institution, committed to its own agenda, should never have been granted this degree of actual and moral authority over the science, over public presentation of the science and over calls for more serious action’ that go well beyond the science.’

    • Skiphil
      Posted Dec 9, 2012 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

      Fascinating comment by the late Ian Castles, whose work was discussed recently in a memorable thread on Bishop Hill.

      I am also returning to many of the comments above on this thread, since there is a lot of good commentary in response to a couple of angry apologists for Mann et al above.

  111. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 14, 2008 at 5:20 AM | Permalink

    When hi-level nuclear waste began accumulating from military and civil operations, it would have made very little difference to the world if the whole lot was spread over the oceans. The effect would be barely measurable. But that was not considered the correct way to go, because alternatives were being considered. It was known that storage of the waste under water in controlled conditions for a few decades hugely reduced the radiation output. This was calculated from known physics and it was calculated correctly. There have been no problems. The next logical stage was isolation. If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas, as they say, so the answer was to isolate the waste from people. Besides, the waste had later potential value, too much to throw away.

    While this was happening, the control of ideas, methods, regulation and cost allocation was moving from those close to the action, to artificial regulatory bodies whose theory was often faulted. It was these regulatory bodies who spread fear about radioactivity. After all, if it was harmless, why regulate it?

    There are close parallels with the IPCC. They are not even regulators, they are mostly spreaders of fear. If the whole world decided tomorrow that the global temperature needed raising a degree or two, like turning on a room heater, the IPCC would not know how to do it. It would turn for answers to the very scientists who have purveyed belief in place of evidence.

    The scientists I have worked with were some of the World’s best in their fields. We welcomed discussion of results because improvement often resulted. As a group of 50 or so graduate earth scientists, we had our internal newsletter and a week-long conference about every two years. We formed many joint ventures with companies world-wide and shared ideas. Many of our people gave presentations in other countries.

    One required ingredient for success is allowing others to throw absolute heaps at you when you are wrong. You become wrong less often through Darwinian reaction. Another ingredient is to avoid the curve of command that runs loosely from invention, innovation, early adoption, prototyping, etc etc through to getting lawyer protection of ideas, patents, grants, finance committees to allocate fund and pick winners, to professional corporate types to strip the profits away before moving on with a big bonus to wreck another venture. We used to call it “keeping the bean counters out”.

  112. mikep
    Posted Jun 13, 2008 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

    Just been looking at Charles Jones (economics Berkeley) site and came across this advice to graduate students writing their theses

    “when you read a paper close to your topic, you must read it thoroughly: take pencil and paper in hand, derive every equation and theoretical result. Get the data the authors are using and reproduce every empirical result. Researchers always want to make their results looks as good as possible, so they tend to hide or shade the big problems with their research. If you only read a paper casually, you will miss these, but if you derive every result yourself, the problems will jump out at you.”

    The site reference is

    Seems like good advice in other fields too. Note also the assumption that you can get the data the authors are using..

    • Shona
      Posted Nov 22, 2009 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

      Re: mikep (#119),

      Note also the assumption that you can get the data the authors are using..

      When I was doing O Level biology, it had to be appended to the paper.

      Times seem to have changed.

  113. Posted Oct 11, 2008 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    Excellent commentary on a critical issue. I have followed your reports of your audit of Mann, et al, for many months and have consistently wondered not only why, but how legally or ethically or scientifically, crucial data and algorithms could be withheld. Reproducibility of results has always been at the heart of the scientific enterprise. It is my understanding that Mann, et al, did none of the science of actually gathering the tree-ring data. Rather, they selected the already-published data to be analyzed and then they applied analytical tools from the public scientific domain. To then hide behind the “do your own study” smoke-screen seems indefensible.

  114. nevket240
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    On topic??


  115. mikep
    Posted Dec 5, 2008 at 5:54 AM | Permalink

    Economics journals have been held up as good examples for making replication possible. But there have in fact been numerous problems in getting replication policies to work properly, with an associated literature. Ca readers may find a couple of papers interesting. The first is from authors from the federal Reserve Bank of St Louis from 2005

    Click to access 0109_1300_0303.pdf

    and the second from 2007 by Daniel Hamermesh from the University of Texas Austin at

    Click to access dp2760.pdf

    The flavour of this paper is nicely captured by the opening sentence

    “Economists treat replication the way teenagers treat chastity — as an ideal to be professed but not to be practiced.”

  116. Chris Colbert
    Posted Nov 28, 2009 at 2:23 AM | Permalink

    To the anti-Global Warming/Climate Change layman (me), you are a GOD! For Christ’s sake, keep these fuckers honest! Try to keep ’em honest I mean.
    There’s a world of regular people out there that know GW/CC is bullshit. We just don’t have your talent, or your incredible way with words. Please continue to say what we would, if only we could. Bravo. Brav-fucking-O!

  117. Speed
    Posted Feb 9, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    From The Guardian.

    If you’re going to do good science, release the computer code too
    Programs do more and more scientific work – but you need to be able to check them as well as the original data, as the recent row over climate change documentation shows.

  118. Don Benjamin
    Posted Mar 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

    I believe Steve’s perspective in business auditing is useful.

    I approach this climate debate from two other different perspectives: medical, where confidence levels are calculated quite accurately, and risk management.

    My question is, can someone identify the flaw in the following simplistic analysis:

    Anthropogenic global warming requires three assumptions or ifs to be valid:
    1. there is continued global warming, not just a recent upward part of a cycle;
    2. This is due to increasing CO2 levels;
    3. This in turn is due to human activities.

    My risk management expertise suggests that for AGW to be valid requires a multiplication of the three risks to result in a high value, eg IPCC puts the first at 100 percent and the second two combined at greater than 90 percent, giving a ‘very likely’ conclusion.

    However my medical expertise suggests that while calculating confidence levels for a series of points on a time graph is relatively easy, similar calculations for correlation factors is not, particularly when there are many inter-related effects and sometimes positive or negative feedback links between these factors.

    How then can anyone give a greater than 90 percent confidence level for the second and third ‘if’s combined?

    My simplistic guess is that with the recent stabilisation of the global temperature the first is likely to be a lot less than 100 percent. The second and third assumptions are widely disputed by many geologists and some climate scientists so would have confidence levels well below 80 percent.

    The combined risk is therefore likely to be less than 50 percent. In which case what then?

    I would appreciate an explanation of the flaw in my reasoning. Lord Monckton simply said my mathematics is unsound but did not say why.

  119. Skiphil
    Posted Nov 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    Another important post which I have been thinking about now. As a relative newbie it is still fascinating (if distressing) to review how this has all played out over the years. Huge kudos to Steve and all who have aided him through the years.

    Perhaps someone who knows these matters thoroughly could assist Steve (who has so much to keep him busy) and all with an updated article on data, disclosure, transparency, and best practices for climate sciences.

16 Trackbacks

  1. By Flit(tm) on Feb 16, 2005 at 9:30 AM

    Poor Scientific Review
    Vol. 81, No. 6 (June 2000) of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society contains an extremely eye opening article on poorly conducted, peer reviewed science. According to the article, meteorology has been on a 20 year slide in scientific…

  2. By Musing » Peer review reviewed on Dec 16, 2005 at 3:08 PM

    […] Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog has an interesting post on the concept of peer review – as it relates to Climate Change research. I have not before stepped into academic disputes, where very different standards of disclosure and procedures for due diligence apply. I think that many non-academic people, who would be put off by technical questions like the validity of principal components algorithms, may very well be interested in what I have learned about these processes as they apply to modern climate studies. In a corporate world, there is simply no question about providing audit trails, and while they can take many different forms they all serve the purpose of ensuring the validity of information used for investment decisions. In addition to familiar forms of financial audit trails, the splitting and retention of drill cores is a form of audit trail in the exploration business. … […]

  3. By » on Dec 16, 2005 at 10:28 PM

    […] […]

  4. […] there is this comment at the same post: I don’t think that it’s practical for journal peer reviewers to check every […]

  5. […] 10, March 6: A number of links that I have received from this Climate Audit post from last year remind me that much of the “science” supposedly backing up global […]

  6. […]   […]

  7. […] Alexandre a laissé un lien des plus intéressants en commentaire à  un billet précédent. Mais je crois que ce lien mérite d’être lu. C’est un article qui parle entre autres de la transparence en science (accessibilité aux calculs, aux données, etc.).⡃€ lire ici. […]

  8. By Blogging Academe « Disparate on Nov 18, 2008 at 4:14 PM

    […] reviewed publications” have become the hallmark of scholarly writing. Yet, as Steve McIntyre claims, the current state of academic peer review may not be as efficient at ensuring scholarly quality as […]

  9. By It's on... on Jan 17, 2009 at 11:48 PM

    […] summarizes his findings on the care and feeding of data sets in the climate science field in “Some Thoughts on Disclosure and Due Diligence in Climate Science” (14 Feb 2005). McIntyre concludes: Back when paleoclimate research had little implication […]

  10. […] reviews, says the OxFam adviser, support the IPCC’s warmist theories. See Steve McIntyre on the disclosure and due diligence in climate science. […]

  11. […] let others have access to this (”full disclosure“) because, again, we expect to make mistakes, and so we need to let other people check every […]

  12. […] Full disclosure is a basic requirement of openness. Such disclosure is not necessarily public; it just means you have to show your working – all your working – so that other people can come along and check it. […]

  13. By The Goreinch « TWAWKI on Dec 24, 2009 at 4:10 AM

    […] The present system has been fatally compromised by the very organizations that resist Independent Review and Verification. The New Zealand effect in Australia,  Reality and models diverge, Met Office and the CRU data, Due diligence, […]

  14. […] This is not the norm for what is being passed off as ‘climate science’ – see Disclosure and due diligence It is common sense to disregard any papers that have closed data, methods that can not be […]

  15. By More on Requests for Data « Climate Audit on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    […] also posted some thoughts on these matters in a couple of op-eds at the National Post – one on due diligence, one on bringing the proxies up to date This entry was written by Steve McIntyre, […]

  16. […] blog by global warming advocate Michael Mann, creator of the now-discredited “hockey stick” graph that purported to show a sharp spike in global temperatures over the last few decades. […]

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