Boston Globe on Ray Bradley

The Boston Globe has an interesting puff piece on Ray Bradley.

According to the Boston Globe here, Ray Bradley’s feeling a little sorry for himself because he’s been asked some questions by the Barton Committee. The article informs us that Bradley learned of the Barton letter while he was hiking in the Pyrenees; we are left with the distinct impression that it was an unwelcome intrusion (by a Texas Republican no less) which somewhat spoiled the zen of the experience.

We learn that Bradley drives a Volvo – why am I not surprised? (One geologist has told me rather acidly that one of the marks of the influx of big money into climate was that the professors traded their Volvo’s in for Lexuses and SUVs. It’s nice that Bradley didn’t.) We learn that Bradley has traveled to remote places for many years. So do thousands of geologists, except that they don’t have tenure and don’t just do it in summer holidays. Despite all the grants for Arctic research, Bradley’s archiving of Arctic data is negligible (contrary to his reply to Barton). While Mann has been out front of MBH98-99, the NSF funding was to the University of Massachusetts and Bradley was the PI. I think that the source code is probably the property of the University of Massachusetts and that Bradley, as PI, has the principal obligation for properly archiving the code and responding to inquiries. I sent a very polite letter to Bradley in November 2003 without any answer (as well as polite letters to Mann) prior to seeking assistance by the National Science Foundation (where I had no luck either as I’ve written about before).


  1. John Hekman
    Posted Aug 25, 2005 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Volvos ain’t cheap these days.

  2. John G. Bell
    Posted Aug 25, 2005 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    Bartered my wrecked 63 Ford Falcon for an 84 Volvo 242 a couple of years ago. Who said Volvos ain’t cheap. Hey you don’t think I got a climate change vehicle? How would I tell? Tree cores in the trunk? Antartic smog test stickers?

  3. T J Olson
    Posted Aug 25, 2005 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

    Two words: puff piece.
    (Just what students need to warm up with as they gear up for the fall semester.)

  4. Paul
    Posted Aug 26, 2005 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    Speaking of climate scientists and Lexus cars, I was on my way to work the other morning and looked over to the car next to me and who was driving it? Why, Bob Watson, former head of the IPCC (and, yes I’m aware that calling Watson a climate scientist is a bit of a stretch.).

  5. Paul
    Posted Aug 26, 2005 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    Oh, the car was a Lexus.

  6. John G. Bell
    Posted Aug 26, 2005 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    Oh, my old Volvo came from a disreputable car lot next to the University of Texas. It passes the local smog tests brilliantly. I consider myself to be an environmentalist and think wasteful energy consumption a sin. Almost every vacation I’ve had in the last 20 years has been spent backpacking. Corrupting science for ones personal gain must be the rare case. Do you think most of the rule breaking is done by folk who think they are acting for the good of the world? Is Climate Science different in this respect? The connections to politics and the media do give Climate Science a particular stink. Some of these folks obviously know how far off the path they have wandered. That has to hurt.

  7. Jeff Norman
    Posted Aug 26, 2005 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    Given the frequent Arctic references it the article should be referred to as a puffin piece.

  8. Posted Aug 28, 2005 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    I sincerely apologize for Jeff’s puns. He shall be severely chastised.

  9. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    Bradley writes (July 10, 2000) of severe issues with MBH98/99 papers for making any claims about “unprecedented” warming or reliable, significant millenial reconstruction. I don’t see this email discussed on CA (from search for it), so I hope it’s relevant to park it here even if an old thread. Ray Bradley in July 2000 shows that he knows 1000 yr. proxy reconstruction in which he participated with Mann and Hughes is full of wide uncertainties, even while he still over-values the quality of the reconstruction and assumes non-existent statistical significance. Prior to M&M’s work Bradley seems to have only a weak grasp of the issues, even though he is supposed to be one of the eminences of the field.

    I read this email now, which was copied to Briffa, Hughes, Mann, and others, and think it’s clear they knew (or should have known) how shaky the MBH98/99 reconstructions were. Proper error bars would say the results were not significant, but of course they had to find a way to cobble up what they wanted for the IPCC TAR.

    Bradley’s email, while acknowledging problems in a limited way, shows an astonishing lack of curiosity about the real statistical and scientific issues, and it also reeks of confirmation bias: “We tried to demonstrate that this was not a problem of the tree ring data we used”…. “This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to….” … “We can only call on evidence from many other proxies for “unprecedented” states in recent years”….

    Careless phrasing, or a clear indication of how he/they want the results to turn out?? I’d say the latter.


    from pp. 17-18 of the ATI doc “Petitioners Exemplars”:

    [my emphasis]

    From: “Raymond S. Bradley”
    To: Frank Oldfield
    Subject: Re: the ghost of futures past
    Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 08:57:19 -0400
    Cc: alverson@pages, jto@u.xxxx, k.briffa@uea.xxxx, mhughes@xxxx, pedersen@xxxx, whitlock@xxxx, mann@multiproxy.xxxx


    “….But there are real questions to be asked of the paleo reconstruction. First, I should point out that we calibrated versus 1902-1980, then “verified” the approach using an independent data set for 1854-1901. The results were good, giving me confidence that if we had a comparable proxy data set for post-1980 (we don’t!) our proxy-based reconstruction would capture that period well. Unfortunately, the proxy network we used has not been updated, and furthermore there are many/some/ tree ring sites where there has been a “decoupling” between the long-term relationship between climate and tree growth, so that things fall apart in recent decades….this makes it very difficult to demonstrate what I just claimed. We can only call on evidence from many other proxies for “unprecedented” states in recent years (e.g. glaciers, isotopes in tropical ice etc..). But there are (at least) two other problems — Keith Briffa points out that the very strong trend in the 20th century calibration period accounts for much of the success of our calibration and makes it unlikely that we would be able be able to reconstruct such an extraordinary period as the 1990s with much success (I may be mis-quoting him somewhat, but that is the general thrust of his criticism). Indeed, in the verification period, the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all. This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to (they have not yet risen to this level of sophistication, but they are “on the scent”). Furthermore, it may be that Mann et al simply don’t have the long-term trend right, due to underestimation of low frequency info. in the (very few) proxies that we used. We tried to demonstrate that this was not a problem of the tree ring data we used by re-running the reconstruction with & without tree rings, and indeed the two efforts were very similar – but we could only do this back to about 1700. Whether we have the 1000 year trend right is far less certain (& one reason why I hedge my bets on whether there were any periods in Medieval times that might have been “warm”, to the irritation of my co-authors!). So, possibly if you crank up the trend over 1000 years, you find that the envelope of uncertainty is comparable with at least some of the future scenarios, which of course begs the question as to what the likely forcing was 1000 years ago….”

    • Skiphil
      Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

      Bradley’s protected “private confessions” to fellow climate scientists (which never would have been public except for Climategate 9 years later) about the grave weaknesses of MBH98/99 and in particular regarding issues of MWP vs. present temps calls to mind a comparison with the vitriolic hysteria directed at McIntyre and McKittrick (and others) in the past decade. Bradley et al “know” even before all the statistical work of M&M just how weak MBH98/99 are…. yet not only do they not engage and welcome the studies by M&M, but as we all know “The Team” has been noxious in the level and frequency of personal attacks and dismissive disdain.

      Then compare the coddled privileged status and posturings of Bradley, Mann, Briffa, et al over the years with treatments of “dissident” scientific papers by Soon and Balunias (2003), Spencer and Christy (2011) etc.

      e.g., regardless of the merits of the S&B statement that late 20th century warming was not unprecedented, look at how leading climate scientists with “The Team” know in July 2000 that there is such serious weakness with their “unprecedented” claims in the context of dendro studies, at least. How differently the field (and the IPCC) has treated “The Team” vs. how S&B have been treated.

%d bloggers like this: