Letter to NAS on Panel Composition and Balance

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has presumably been criticized in the past for the composition of panels (from the evidence of the mere existence of the 1997 law on committee balance and composition). This law and resulting policies provide for a comment period on proposed committees. Ross and I have exercised our rights under this policy and today sent the following letter to NAS.

We are writing to protest three of the appointments to the Panel because of bias, lack of objectivity and/or conflict of interest and to protest the failure of the Panel as presently constituted to meet policies of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) regarding committee composition and balance. We have suggested several alternatives whose appointment would at least partly mitigate these problems.

Dr. Otto-Bliesner
The “Policy on Committee Composition and Balance and Conflicts of Interest for Committees Used in the Development of Reports”, a policy statement of the National Academy of Science (NAS) issued in compliance with section 15 of the federal Advisory Committee Act, provides explicit statements about the issues of bias, lack of objectivity and conflict of interest. It states, with respect to conflict of interest:

It is essential that the work of committees of the institution used in the development of reports not be compromised by any significant conflict of interest. For this purpose, the term "conflict of interest" means any financial or other interest which conflicts with the service of the individual because it (1) could significantly impair the individual’s objectivity or (2) could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization. Except for those situations in which the institution determines that a conflict of interest is unavoidable and promptly and publicly discloses the conflict of interest, no individual can be appointed to serve (or continue to serve) on a committee of the institution used in the development of reports if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed. [bold in original]

and, with respect to bias and lack of objectivity:

Finally, it is essential that the work of committees that are used by the institution in the development of reports not be compromised by issues of bias and lack of objectivity. … Questions of lack of objectivity and bias ordinarily relate to views stated or positions taken that are largely intellectually motivated or that arise from the close identification or association of an individual with a particular point of view or the positions or perspectives of a particular group

The Panel is obviously going to have to consider our various criticisms of Mann et al. and will undoubtedly hear reference to a national Media Advisory by UCAR in May 2005 declaring that UCAR employee Caspar Ammann had shown that our various criticisms were “unfounded”. This press release has been relied upon in material presented to the U.S. Congress by Sir John Houghton of IPCC, by Dr Mann and by the European Geophysical Union. Ammann has advised one of us that he has used these two unpublished articles in his annual employment review at UCAR.

One of the proposed panellists, Dr Otto-Bliesner, has not only been a frequent coauthor and presenter with Ammann, but is Ammann’s immediate supervisor at UCAR (see http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/paleo/images/Bette1.jpg). As such, she has presumably considered Ammann’s articles on our work in the course of carrying out Ammann’s annual review. We presume that she would have been involved in preparing and/or approving the UCAR press release on Ammann’s work last May. In addition, last year, she co-authored an article with Bradley (of Mann, Bradley and Hughes) and served on a committee with him. It appears to us that her association with Ammann rises to a conflict of interest within NAS policy, but, in the alternative, her associations with Ammann and Bradley certainly rise to bias and lack of objectivity. While she is undoubtedly a meritorious person, the field of candidates is not so limited that her participation in the panel is necessary to its functioning and indeed her continued participation might well diminish the actual and/or perceived ability of the panel to provide objective advice. For example, *** would be an equally competent alternate without the accompanying problems of bias, lack of objectivity and conflict of interest.

Dr. Nychka
Another proposed panellist, Dr Nychka, also a UCAR employee, is listed at Ammann’s webpage as presently collaborating not only with Ammann, but with Mann (see http://www.assessment.ucar.edu/paleo/past_stationarity.html). This ongoing collaboration certainly creates the appearance of a “close identification or association of an individual with a particular point of view or the positions or perspectives of a particular group”. Again, while Nychka is undoubtedly a meritorious person, the field of candidates is not so limited that he is irreplaceable on the panel and indeed his continued participation might well diminish both the actual ability and the perceived ability of the panel to provide objective advice.

Dr. Cuffey
We are also concerned about apparent bias and lack of objectivity in a third proposed panellist, Dr Cuffey, who in a newspaper op-ed recently wrote:

Mounting evidence has forced an end to any serious scientific debate on whether humans are causing global warming. This is an event of historical significance, but one obscured from public view by the arcane technical literature and the noise generated by perpetual partisans.
(see http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/10/09/ING5FF2U031.DTL&type=printable )

The panel is being asked to consider the “historical significance” of present climate change. A panellist who has a priori dismissed questions on the matter, some of which are necessarily quite technical, as being “arcane” and “noise generated by perpetual partisans” can be “reasonably perceived to be unwilling, to consider other perspectives or relevant evidence to the contrary” as defined in NAS policy.

Lack of Appropriate Expertise on Proposed Panel
NAS policies require NAS committees to achieve standards of composition and balance. The brochure “Ensuring Independent, Objective Advice” advertises that NAS committees provide”

“An appropriate range of expertise for the task. The committee must include experts with the specific expertise and experience needed to address the study’s statement of task. One of the strengths of the National Academies is the tradition of bringing together recognized experts from diverse disciplines and backgrounds who might not otherwise collaborate. These diverse groups are encouraged to conceive new ways of thinking about a problem.”

The NAS policy statement “Policy On Committee Composition And Balance And Conflicts Of Interest” states:

For example, if a particular study requires the expertise of microbiologists, epidemiologists, statistical experts, and others with broader public health expertise, the significant omission of any required discipline from the committee might seriously compromise the quality of the committee’s analysis and judgments, even though it is clear to all that the committee is composed of highly qualified and distinguished individuals. Even within a particular discipline, there may be very important differences and distinctions within the field, or regarding the particular subject matter to be addressed, that require careful consideration in the committee composition and appointment process….

In our opinion, the committee as presently composed fails to comply with this policy on several counts:
1. Without implying that any of the panellists are not “qualified and distinguished individuals” within the meaning of NAS policy, to our knowledge, none of the panellists would be regarded as experts in assessing statistical significance in multivariate models using highly autocorrelated time series, a central topics in the debate. While the panellists have all published articles that pertain to, or use, climate statistics, the issues currently being disputed call for specialist input. NAS policy requires attention to “important differences and distinctions within the field”. We suggest that *** or *** would be qualified candidates in this respect.
2. To our knowledge, none of the panellists would be regarded as experts in the area of replication policy. The entire topic of replicability has been one of the most prominent aspects of disputes surrounding millennial paleoclimate studies. Indeed, it was only after Dr Mann was quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as saying that he would not be “intimidated” into disclosing his algorithm that millennial reconstructions attracted the interest of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and, subsequently, the House Science Committee and National Academy of Science. Expertise in this area requires familiarity with journal policies, statistical methods, software evaluation, and the current literature on replication experiments. We suggest that *** would be a qualified candidate in this respect.
3. The issue of disclosure adequacy and possible omission of material results has also been one of the most prominent aspects of the debate. Last summer, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent questions to Drs Mann, Bradley and Hughes regarding the omission of material results, such as the cross-validation R2 statistic and the impact of bristlecone pines. The President of the National Academy of Science wrote to the House Energy and Commerce Committee stating that a congressional committee was an inappropriate forum for the investigation of such matters and that a NAS expert panel would be more appropriate. We presume that the present panel has been composed at least in part in response to this initiative by the President of NAS. However, the panel as presently composed lacks any obvious expertise in this area. We suggest that NAS consider one or more of the members of the commission chaired by Kenneth Ryan on Integrity and Misconduct in Research as panellists.

We further refer to the following NAS policy:

A balance of perspectives. Having the right expertise is not sufficient for success. It is also essential to evaluate the overall composition of the committee in terms of different experiences and perspectives. The goal is to ensure that the relevant points of view are, in the National Academies’ judgment, reasonably balanced so that the committee can carry out its charge objectively and credibly.

and elsewhere:

For some studies, for example, it may be important to have an "industrial" perspective or an "environmental" perspective. This is not because such individuals are "representatives" of industrial or environmental interests, because no one is appointed by the institution to a study committee to represent a particular point of view or special interest. Rather it is because such individuals, through their particular knowledge and experience, are often vital to achieving an informed, comprehensive, and authoritative understanding and analysis of the specific problems and potential solutions to be considered by the committee.

Aside from the particular expertise of *** and ***, our own criticisms of paleoclimate practices and policies are very much influenced by our own experiences in handling economic and business data. Analysis of time series data is a common issue for economics and paleoclimatology. Many issues studied by econometricians are highly pertinent to paleoclimate applications and yet come from points of view that are different, and different in ways that the panel will find constructive to consider. In our view, econometrics has superior methodologies to paleoclimatology in addressing problems of spurious inference and data mining in the presence of strong autocorrelation and integrated processes. Paleoclimatologists, including even some of the panelists, have applied some econometric methods, but that is no substitute for the “point of view” or for up-to-date specialization.

Stephen McIntyre
Ross McKitrick


  1. jae
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    Great letter. You present some very troubling issues that they will certainly have to consider carefully. Wish I could be a fly on the wall of the meeting rooms where the hours of deliberations on this will be conducted.

  2. Mark
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 1:03 PM | Permalink


    I’m assuming that the *** names are actual individuals that you have recommended, but chosen not to mention here for privacy purposes?


    Steve: Yes.

  3. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 1:29 PM | Permalink


    Why don’t they just get Hwang to clone Mann a few times and make the panel Mann, Mann, Mann and Mann.

    Then they could go on afterwards to do more “independent studies”

    I can honestly see the discussion here.

    “The Mann 2008 hockey stick is completely different from the Mann 1998 study. The 2007 study was done by clone (3) not the original Mann, and of course he had to use the same pool of data. And on line 457 of the code he uses the variable EpKss instead of EpKs. Obviously they are different studies.”

    One of my favorite lines from Father Ted.

    Dougal “Right, it’s a one word film. There can’t be too many of them… Salem’s Lot… Eh tongue, mouth, teeth… Is there a film called tongue… tongue tongue… Eh… mmm… Tongue Fish… Swim Tongue… eh eh eh… Fish… Attack of the Giant Killer Fish… Tongue Fish… Eh The Deep, Piranha… Jaws 2, eh close then… eh… Ghostbusters 2, Superman 2, … Batman Returns!”
    Father Ted “No, you had it it was Jaws!”
    Dougal “No, I’d Jaws 2, Ted. It’s a different film, it’s a very different film. It’s a different shark.”

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    Their schedule points to an interesting problem for them: the comment period on the panel expires in 11 days. From their process, I take it that the panel is supposed to meet and review itself at its first meeting with respect to composition and balance. How are they are supposed to do that and then start hearings on March 2? And how are they supposed to do that and still maintain due process in their consideration of composition and balance – the imminent start of the hearings gives a great incentive to railroad the proposed slate. Then they’ll say: it’s too late to change anything because we’ve already started.

  5. jae
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    FYI: There’s a well-written article about science and global warming over at Realclimate that puts us sceptics in our place.

  6. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    That “well written” article seems to rehash all the same old arguments.

  7. jae
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    RE: #4. What a conundrum! But if they don’t make some changes, it’s time for NAS to convene the commission chaired by Kenneth Ryan on Integrity and Misconduct in Research to investigate NAS (fat chance).

  8. JerryB
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

    Regarding the group photo at http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/paleo/images/Bette1.jpg , it is linked by
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/paleo/group.html , which includes group member names and which in turn is linked by
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/paleo/index.htm .

    The setting, BTW, seems to be the NCAR site at Boulder, CO.

  9. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    A reader has sent in the following interesting article by Michael D. Mann on ethics.

  10. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    Man I was freaking till I realized it was a different Mann.


  11. Frank H. Scammell
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    Letter sounds great. Unfortunately, I don’t expect much to happen. To me at least, it is evident that Mann has committed fraud. The ‘mistakes” are too biased to be accidental. And,what will be the consequences? I don’t expect much. Not in the “cloning” category, yet. Best of luck!

  12. Mike Carney
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Excellent letter, I hope it makes a difference. I have a relative that has worked with DOE and DOD scientists for 50 years. When I describe some of the poor methods used by some climatologists he simply does not believe me: “Scientists don’t work that way”. Hopefully you can get some fresh blood on the panel.

    Hopefully too, there can be some climatologists speak up for a better process. It is not Mann’s methods that are the core problem. It is the lack of critique from community. It is not that Mann made a mistake; that is part of learning. It is that other climatologists didn’t say, “you really should show your work”. My teenage son knows to do that. Had early issues been resolved then, we really could “move on”. Mann’s mistakes are not nearly so troublesome as the President of NAS saying: How dare you ask my scientists for information! Imagine that, asking scientists for information. Or the rest of community being silent. Or Real Climate coming up with excuses on why data could not be archived. Those people covering up and excusing are more culpable and their damage to science far greater.

  13. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    #3 “Why don’t they just get Hwang to clone Mann a few times and make the panel Mann, Mann, Mann and Mann.”

    Reminds me of that great Monty Python skit about “Spam, wonderful Spam,” with the chant, “SPAM, spam, spam, spam,…”

    It could be adapated to spoofing the IPCC, with various Pythons looking like Houghton, Pachauri, and Stocker, singing “MANN, Mann, Mann, Mann, wonderful Mann, wonderful Mann.” The breakfast scene could be someone looking like Ammann and Otto-Bliesner (Eric Idle in drag) sitting in a restaurant saying (in Python screech), ‘I’ll have Mann, Mann, Mann, scrambled proxies, Mann, and Mann.’

    It would be a great skit.

  14. Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    I find Steve’s point 3 in particular ‘nails the thumbs to the table’ to mix my methaphors. I hope the NAS responds to a broadening of the scope, for the sake of all involved. It was a bit of a cop-out sticking to the science. I wonder if more mention could be made of the number of responses to the Barton Committee letters and the broad shared interest in these issues outside of the immediate scientific questions?

  15. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    My letter:

    As I see it, for this committee to be truly objective regarding this matter, members need to have a certain degree of separation from Mann et al.

    Of course, it may also be desirable to similarly ensure a degree of separation from McIntyre and McKitrick as well.

    Final recommendation is to include experts in network stabilty analysis, systems engineering and other fields where there is typically in depth exposure to issues with noise, harmonics, oscillatory responses, filter theory, feedback loops, fourier transforms, etc. Ideas regarding where to find them would include the geophysical, electronics and particularly, analog electronics for defense systems communities. In other words, content experts in complex systems who have little bias since they have typically not been close to climate science.

  16. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    May I remind readers that they can send feedback to NAS here . If you feel that some valid issues have been raised, then NAS should be informed. If people don’t speak up, they’re easy to ignore.

  17. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    #14. David, these issues pertain to methodology in its most general sense, are well within the present terms of reference and do not require any change in scope.

  18. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 8:07 PM | Permalink


    Steve your very correct. You build someothing one brick at a time, you don’t try to lay bricks 7, 8, and 9 while laying brick 1.

    Might I offer a little inspiration for those rough days Steve. The Un-official Marine Corps Motto.

    “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”

    I think it hold well here as well.

  19. jae
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

    I posted the following to NAS. It may be stupid, but I do have some connections.

    There are a lot of people watching these proceedings. You need to balance this committee in the way the law and your policies dictate. If you do not, I will do my best to explain what is going on with my Congressmen. You have stacked the deck on this one, and it may have grave consequences to your integrity and funding.

  20. Andre
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 4:09 AM | Permalink

    Pretty impressive indeed. What does it say about the bias of those who selected the committee.

    Anyway, no doubt a redundant remark, Steve, but such a long letter would gain in clarity if you added a quick summary of your proposals.

  21. kim
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 5:57 AM | Permalink

    I’m writing them with what I believe to be telling; when even a non-scientist such as I can see the problem, it’s gotten big. The devil is in the methods, but what the devil are the methods?

  22. BradH
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    Impressive, Steve & Ross. [You sure neither of you are closet lawyers?]


  23. kim
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:43 AM | Permalink

    Summarized tellingly by the inclusion of a reference to the committee chaired by Kenneth Ryan. Something tells me, though, that this upcoming committee isn’t going to know what 2X4 hit them.

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    Actually, I missed a really obvious "point of view" issue. I often feel like an anthropologist in the world of academics since I notice, and do not accept as natural or obvious, various trade practices. For example, I view "peer review" as practiced by journals as merely a form of "due diligence" and I view documents like IPCC reports as a form of scientific "prospectus" and I assess such documents according to standards of "full, true and plain disclosure". This generates a different point of view than that of an academic on tenure contributing to journals and reviewing for journals. There are several readers of this blog who are mining people and they understand some points of this type very quickly and perhaps more deeply than an academic. For example, the unique handling of the Gaspe series is very suspicious to someone with a business background and bothers me more than Ross.

    While the Hockey Team often tries to disparage my background, maybe this argument should be stood on its head. NAS and the House Science Committee have acknowledged that the issues are worth investigating merely by forming the panel. Maybe my "point of view" should be given some credit for this. Maybe the NAS panel should include someone who is not an academic and who does not get NSF (or equivalent) grants; someone who is familiar with corporate audit and prospectus procedures. Why not?

  25. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

    #22 Brad H –  For amusement, maybe you should read my post on The Tort of Conversion. I don’t think that many readers twigged to exactly how amusing that was – the idea that a letter in reply to a congressional committee could itself be the act of conversion, an assertion of title inconsistent with the right of the true owner, is something for a law school exam question.

  26. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Maybe the NAS panel should include someone who is not an academic and who does not get NSF (or equivalent) grants; someone who is familiar with corporate audit and prospectus procedures.

    Well, Steve, clearly I’m the first part, and, since you seem to have soon got to grips with both climatology and are set on sorting the whole of the science out single handledly, I rekon I could master the rather less demanding latter part! Heck I know accountants and I’ve chipped a few rocks in my time – care to put my name down ;). Or perhaps, while it’s OK to belittle climatologists, you wont care for me belittling YOUR field? Yup, I rekon…

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    Peter, when you’ve mastered the “less demanding latter part”, let me know.

    Look, I’m just observing things about how they do things. If I’m wrong about any specific observation about a climate matter or methodology, please tell me and I’ll edit or amend. I’d like to know. If making a true observation ends up “belittling” someone, then they caused their own problem, not me.

  28. jae
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    re: 24. Steve, you are spot on with these observations. It is always important that things are reviewed by people with different perspectives. You would be amazed how much good input you can get by just picking someone at random to read something. I really get a fresh perspective when my wife reads a paper I have prepared!

  29. Ray Soper
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    re #24: As a mining person who is used to ensuring that prospectuses and similar documents deliver “true, plain and fair” disclosure, I understand the detailed due diligence and verification processes that are involved in companies making public statements. The industry has made great strides in developing responsible self-regulatory practices over the past 30 years (it needed to mind you). You can add to that the development of demanding prudential control and corporate governance disciplines in the corporate world generally as governments have realised that voters don’t really like being ripped of through bad practices. As well, those in the corporate world have their 6 month encounter with auditors who check and question the annual and half yearly accounts.

    The outcome has been that, while there have been obvious exceptions, the corporate world has developed a deep and widespread understanding that those responsible for making statements must do so in a responsible fashion.

    Unfortunately, if what I see emanating from many areas of science is any guide, science is yet to get its act together in these areas. It appears that too many scientists don’t even understand that a fundamental requirement of the scientific method, let alone good practice, is that they properly archive their results and data, and when they publish, they must make available their data and methods so that other scientists can replicate (ie effectively audit) their work. It also appears that too many scientists are not yet educated on the principles of “full plain and fair” disclosure. Nor, it seems, are they educated in the need for due diligence processes including verification where the supporting information underlying EVERY statement or assertion is checked and recorded in ring-bound files that must be kept for posterity.

    Sadly, it appears that many of the science journals fail to understand these requirements either, unlike their counterparts in the financial and commercial worlds. In fact, the business journals provide another layer of checking and audit of practices in the business world. Woe betide a company that plays fast and loose with journalists in this area.

    Perhaps the reason that this problem has developed is because many scientists are on the public payroll one way or another, or if working for a corporation are sequestered away in a lab somewhere, and are never exposed to the demanding disciplines that those active in the corporate world are exposed to all the time.

    It therefore makes sense that the NAS should follow Steve’s suggestion and appoint someone from a commercial background who is familiar with audit and prospectus procedures.

  30. Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    Steve and/or Ross (or anyone else), do you know who else will be presenting to the panel? I’ve been examining the proposal and I’m pondering who should be ON the panel versus who should be presenting TO the panel. The proposal does indeed acknowledges that a controversy exist:

    There has been significant controversy over the techniques used to make such projections

    and it also states that and “authoritative evaluation” would help resolve these controversies. On one hand, the panel needs to be an authority on the subject. On the other hand, some of the authoritive figures are connected to the controversy. I’d like to be confident that both sides are fairly evaluated and presented in the final report.

  31. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    #30. no info on who’s presenting. The only other one that I know of is Mann. I presume that most of the other presenters will be of the same ilk, but don’t know for sure.

  32. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

    #24 Steve, as a pretty well published scientist of a couple of decades standing, the due diligence you describe typifies most of the science papers I’ve read and most of the reviewing I’ve done, Ray Soper’s (#29) rather self-serving essay notwithstanding.

    Every published paper is supposed to have a “Materials and Methods” section where the details of every experiment and every measurement are plainly laid out so that other workers can replicate them without any further information. The chemistry journals I publish in enforce that, in my experience especially following a reviewer demand.

    Sometimes this standard is not met, and when one is familiar with a field one can pretty readily see where the slipping and sliding are in the methodology section. Such papers are in the minority, but they do exist.

    One large difference between business, and perhaps mining, practice as opposed to common scientific practice, is that science demands for its very existence, the integrity of the workers and the trust of their peers. The reason is that no one can replicate everything on which their work depends. There just isn’t the time, the money, the personnel, or the equipment. That’s why the breach of trust is so very serious in science. In science, as in coinage, bad coin drives good coin out of circulation. Absent integrity, science would dry right up because no one would know on which results they could safely build.

    To illustrate the difference in basic attitude, the term “sharp business practices” needs no explanation, whereas ‘sharp scientific practices’ might imply just the opposite of the prior phrase. In business, in other words, the assumption is that someone will cheat if they can get away with it. In science, the assumption is exactly, and necessarily, the opposite of that. Hence the ideal of dispassion. So due diligence in science is not as publicly demanded because of the basic and private assumption, demand, and absolute necessity of integrity.

    Despite this, however, scientists commonly ask one another for published data. I’ve done that, as have others, and it’s almost invariably forthcoming. In my reviews of other’s work, I’ve taken data from figures and recalculated results. Those who’ve reviewed my work have a few times held my feet to the fire to fix a problem they found.

    In my own experience, the problems you’ve had in getting data, and the intransigence of Mann and of Jones, are virtually unprecedented; certainly very unusual. It speaks badly for their field, and honestly, as I noted in the letter to the NAS, the circular thinking I’ve found pervading the AGW literature, and in the tree ring proxy work as you’ve pointed out, makes climatology more like politics than science.

    A large part of the problem is that none of the claims from theory are readily falsifiable, because the relevant theories are very incomplete. That leaves interpretations open to opinion-mongering. Few workers seem to want to do the basic grunt work to refine the theory. Instead, it’s all about political grandstanding; mainly, I think, because no media or environmental group sits up and lionizes the scientist who keeps a nose to the unspectacular, but ultimately rewarding, grindstone. Maybe, for that reason, climatology actually attracts grandstanders.

  33. Ray Soper
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Pat, thank you for your clear post re practices in the science area. I acknowledge that I am not a scientist, and so not familiar with the practices that you describe which are clearly in accordance with practice in the commercial area. In fact, I think that yours is the first post that I have seen that clearly explains such matters.

    Unfortunately, as you acknowledge, practices in the area of climate science, at least in some quarters, would seem to leave something to be desired. Because the issues in climate science are so highly visible and of great interest to many lay people, it is perhaps the case that some people (like me) are forming views based on an unrepresentative subset of scientists who may not be following sound practice.

    The NAS Panel has a great opportunity to set these matters right.

  34. John A
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Re: #32

    *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*


  35. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    re #32

    I was trained in chemistry myself. But there’s a difference between a ‘hard’ science like chemistry and a ‘mushy’ science like climate change. If someone publishes a paper which states that using their method they got 24-30% yield from their raw material, you can assume that you’ll get over 10% yield with a bit of practice and probably not 50% no matter how good you are. So if you only get 5% at best you can assume there’s something wrongly specified in the procedure and ask the author what’s up.

    In the multiproxy reconstructions, it’s quite likely you can get good procedures for how to core trees, measure width and density, etc. But that doesn’t help you decide if the trees being used are good proxies for temperature, or how the individual trees were selected, or what manipulations were done to the actual measurements before they became values in a database. As has been discussed in other threads things like altitude, compass direction on hill, etc. would be quite useful for follow-up as well.

    I suppose a chemistry analogy is if you described how you produced one kind of ceramic superconductor and then provided a list of 70 other similar-formulation ceramics with your run number but refused to tell someone who asked what the composition was of each one. You might claim that the upper superconductivity temperature was proportional to some parameter, but without the compositions it would be impossible to check it out.

  36. Jim Mangles
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    The current issue of ‘The Economist’ reports that in Moscow, the mayor has proposed fining meteorologists who make wrong forecasts, as the cost of gearing up to remove forecast snow that fails to fall, or failing to gear up to remove unforecast snow that does fall, is so great.

    Now could we not figure out some way to impliment a similar scheme, perhaps with the added incentive of jail time, for false-forecasting climatologists? The costs of wrong climate forecasting make Moscow’s snow problem pale in comparison.

    And like the prospect of hanging tomorrow, it might just concentrate the minds of Mann, Jones, and company — the ‘false prophets’, as I call them.

  37. John A
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

    Re: #36

    Then all climate modellers would only project a minimum of 50 years into the future, and call anything less than that time “weather”.

    Since we don’t have a time machine, all we can do is check their methodology in the way they purport to reconstruct the past.

  38. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    #33, Ray, thank-you for your gracious reply. I apologize if I seemed rude. I share your worries about the damage that could result to science. Climate science is hugely parlayed in the media and by environmental groups. If it has entertained a political fraud, science at large is likely to suffer, and, off topic, the event will play right into the hands of the post-modern critics of objective knowledge. They will have a field-day. I also agree about the importance of the NAS committee. IMO, if they give in to politics a huge loss will accrue, not least to society given the costs of Kyoto-like impositions.

    #35, Dave, organic synthesis, such as you describe, is some of the most technically demanding science of all. I’ve done small amounts but enough to really respect those who do it professionally. Your chemistry analogy is right on, and to my knowledge no one in academic science would (should) get away with it. Patent literature, of course, gets away with as much of that as it can. 🙂

    As I see it, the problem with tree-ring proxies is that no one actually knows what they’re talking about. Steve has shown that up in spades with respect to climate reconstruction methods. But the revelation of tendentious cherry-picking plus the uncertainty whether TRs consistently follow temperature linearly means that conclusions are entirely unwarranted. The workers in the field don’t seem to know that they ought to know that.

    #34, John, thanks. 🙂

  39. jae
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    re: #32, #35: I, too, am a chemist. The problems that are discussed here about climatologists are not an issue in my field, and I don’t think they are in most scientific areas (well, maybe in cloning…). If you can’t provide methods that allow replication, you are in real deep trouble in chemistry, believe me. The more I read on this site, the more that I question whether climatology is really a science!

  40. Jim Clarke
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 1:08 AM | Permalink


    Climatology is a science, but unlike chemistry, it is burdened with an unusually large laboratory, poor measuring ability, inadequate record keeping (for several billion years) and interconnected variables that can be interpreted in many different, yet legitimate ways. It is a forensic science on the grandest scale!

    AGW, on the other hand, is a religion.

    The science of climatology does not support the AGW religion. That is why the ‘Hockey Team’ has been so important to the religion of AGW. The ‘Hockey Stick’ basically made past climate and climatology irrelevant to the belief in AGW.

  41. John A
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

    Copied here. My response on RealClimate’s linking of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution with AGW:

    The attempt to link the theory of evolution with the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis has to be the most pathetic comparison ever made on this blog (and there is strong competition for the title).

    Is evolution falsifiable? Yes – you find modern man in carboniferous strata and the game is over.

    Is AGW falsifiable?

    No. The climate models are not falsifiable. The multiproxy studies of past climate are not falsifiable because they cannot properly be replicated (mainly because the data and methodology are kept a closely guarded secret available only to a small political cabal known as the Hockey Team)

    The predictions of AGW are increased storminess, drought, flooding, cold, heat, snow, ice build-up, ice break-up IN THE FUTURE over and above the normal variation of climate. None of the above has ever been demonstrated to be taking place. Instead we have had crude attempts with poorly done and flawed multiproxy studies with cherrypicked proxies which purport to eliminate the natural variation of climate prior to the instrumental record.

    AGW is not falsifiable. The assumptions of laboratory testing of carbon dioxide and water vapor have not been borne out in the real world and it is a gross oversimplification and misleading to call those laboratory experiments “proof”. No high resolution ice core record, for example, has shown carbon dioxide or methane enrichment of the atmosphere to precede temperature rise. None. Not ever. In point of fact, all show the reverse. Falsifiable? Don’t make me laugh.

    Instead of consideration of contrary evidence, which is in the realm of proper scientific investigation we have smear, innuendo, comparison to Holocaust deniers, censorship of scientific viewpoints, historical revisionism, grandstanding and abuse.

    Where is the reference to Darwin where he advocates hiding data from independent replication, non-publication of adverse statistics, scientific announcement by press release, attempts to prevent publication by writing to journal editors alleging involvement of authors in fossil fuel conspiracies to suppress the Truth, and rhetorical attempts to end debate by declarations that the “science is settled” and an endless series of “smoking guns” that turn out to be false? Where in the Origin of Species did Darwin advocate that scientists should not talk to well-informed critics based on the evidence?

    If Arrhenius made a prediction of carbon dioxide rise causing (ie leading) temperature rise, then surely the 20th Century falsified that proposition when the carbon dioxide level rose sharply in mid-century yet global temperatures worldwide FELL from around 1940 to the mid-to-late 1970s. Ah yes, but we can invent a “holding mechanism” by which such a thing could occur, and put it in our climate models, but that isn’t evidence that such a mechanism exists.

    By the way, you haven’t mentioned the NAS Panel, but I can guess that you’ll try to treat it as another attempt to grandstand AGW rather than deal with the issues of statistical technique, robustness and replication.

    Copied to ClimateAudit, because I know that you’d rather delete than deal with issues of science. You’re all welcome to challenge Steve McIntyre to a real debate on multiproxy studies on his weblog, but I suspect that you’d rather engage in abuse on this weblog than get to grips with the issues he has written on.

  42. fFreddy
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

    John, good stuff. Somehow, I can’t see this making it through their spam/independent thinking filter…
    Two dumb questions :
    Do you know of any study which provides a concise summary of sources for your point about CO2 increases lagging temperature increases ?
    Do you know of any study that has looked at how much oil you would have to burn to produce a global 1 ppm increase in CO2 levels, and compares it to the total size of the global oil market ?

  43. Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 7:22 AM | Permalink

    Who might McIntyre be recommending to the NAS panel? I might nominate John A, if only to find out who he is. Let me suggest that open-minded free thinkers untainted by preconceived opinions would also be a good choice. I’d like to nominate Joe Barton and James Inhofe, since we know that they have no preconceived opinions in the matter, and are unsullied by having actually done work in the field of climate science. We know that Steve Milloy, Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, and Michael Crichton doubt that mounting evidence indicates that humans are causing global warming, and so would make excellent choices to investigate the charade of proxy studies of past climate. I understand that George Deutsch is looking for a job. And we know that he isn’t tainted by the idea that puny humans are responsible for changing the climate, regardless of what any NASA scientist says.

    Clearly the Greenland ice cap has melted in the past, sea levels have risen 20 feet in the past, and CO2 has been this high millions of years ago, long before there were SUV’s, and still humans evolved. What’s the big deal about removing the carbon that has been buried in the earth’s crust for millions of years and spilling it into the atmosphere?

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

    #43. Michael, I think that all of the above suggestions would be perceived to be biased on the matter; they are not the sort of person that we suggested. I think that NAS policies (which appear sensible to me in this respect) suggest a preference for having two unbiased people on the panel, rather than merely setting Ammann’s boss and collaborator against a biased person with an opposite point of view.

    BTW the topic of the panel is the specialized issue of climate reconstructions for the past 1000-2000 years, not the broader issue of AGW.

  45. kim
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    There is another Greenland Ice study just published in Science. Why’d they compare with 1996?

  46. Jeff Norman
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Re #40

    “AGW, on the other hand, is a religion.”

    I think it is very important to the continuing integrity of this web site that statements like the one quoted here do not remain unanswered.

    The idea that athropogenically derived changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere could change the radiative balance of the earth resulting in a general global warming (AGW) is a legitimate hypothesis (some would say theory) derived from observations of the real world. To say AGW is religion is just wrong.

    However there are certain people who believe the hypothesis/theory of is a proven fact and any questioning is unacceptable. This too is wrong.

    Given the current level of information available it is impossible to know one way or the other.

    Denegrading or dismissing people who do not believe the same way you do is not very constructive.

    So ends today’s sermon.

  47. Jeff Norman
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    Re #45

    Why’d they compare with 1996?

    Ten years of data?

  48. kim
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    I think a recent year was compared with 1996.

  49. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 19, 2006 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    #46. Jeff, thanks for saying this. I agree entirely.

  50. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

    Re #46 and #49, Wow, really, WOW! It’s a delight to be able to agree! Of course AGW isn’t a religion, but, of course people like me don’t accept it unquestioningly. However, I also think we need to draw a distinction between AGW and it’s magnitude. I think AGW is a fact (by which I mean that if you add ghg’s to the atmosphere you get an effect – fact, though there is probably a better shorthand than AGW for this) otoh I DON’T think the future (or indeed past) magnitude of this effect is known with absolute certainty – no absolute facts.

    Will it warm much more or only a little? I don’t know – but I accept (my view) it will most likely be somewhere within the predictions.

  51. jae
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    re: 50. Peter, that post really makes sense, for a change, and I almost agree! While there may be A caused GW, I’m not sure it is significant. It could be that the effects of addition of greenhouse gases are canceled by some negative feedback mechanism.

  52. kim
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    We are, in fact, functionally agnostic and will remain so longer, perhaps perilously so, with phonied, irrelevant data.

  53. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    Peter, I agree with you.

    GW is a fact, although measuring it from the depths of the LIA makes it appear to be much more dramatic than it would appear if compared to Holocene or MWP maximum temperatures. This is true in any data set. Pick any minima as your reference point and even the mean value appears to be dramtically higher.

    The “A” portion of AGW certainly does have a finite value, but I have yet to find any data which can establish what that value is. On the other hand, I have heard many people who assume that the value is close to 1.0. They unfortunately base their assumptions on the same sort of logic which lead people to believe for thousands of years that the earth was the center of the universe.

    The prediction of the future by way of computer models would be (IMHO) called a SWAG.

  54. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    Re 50, Peter, a reasonable post for a change.

    While we can’t say the amount of A in the GW, we can place some limits:

    Increase in forcing from change in CO2 (per IPCC), 1900-2000, ~1.2 w/m2

    Increase in forcing from change in total solar irradiation (TSI), 1900-2000, ~1.4 w/m2

    Temperature change, 1900-2000, ~0.4 -0.6°C, let’s call it 0.5°

    Change in forcings ~2.6 w/m2

    Climate sensitivity, 0.5°/2.6 w/m2 = ~0.2°/watt-m2.

    IPCC states forcing from CO2 doubling is ~3.7 w/m2

    Expected temperature change from CO2 doubling = 3.7 * 0.2 =0.74°

    Note that this is quite close to the direct thermodynamic calculation of a 3.7 w/m2 forcing at the earth’s surface, based on the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, which gives 0.68° or so …

    In other words … not enough to worry about.


  55. Paul
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    RE #54 –

    Willis, If your numbers are “true”…then why the hype, hysteria, “chickenlittleism”? I ask in seriousness.

  56. jae
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    Re: 54 And Peter, I think Willis is being very cautious and may have over estimated the CO2 effects. My selected source estimates that the total solar forcing over the 10-year period 1992-2002 has actually been 6.8 watts/M^2. http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/articles/V8/N41/EDIT.jsp If this is correct and IPPC’s guess on the effects of CO2 are correct, then the energy from CO2 would be even less significant. Climate sensitivity = 0.5/8.0 = 0.062 C m^2/watt. Expected temperature change = 3.7*0.062 = 0.22 C.

  57. jae
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    By the way, CO2 science comes out week after week with a temperature graph for some location, all showing a decline in temperature. Can someone here steer me to data for a non-urban site where the temperature has increased significantly in the last 100 years? Urban sites that have not experience any significant growth are OK, too.

  58. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Conserted niceness – steady people 🙂

    Re #54. No feedbacks? Why do you ignore them?

    Re #57. Firstly, remember, 1, feedbacks, and 2, AGW is still a future thing. Ok how about the Antarctic penninsula?

  59. John A
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    0.22C ! We’re all going to die…eventually

    The reasons for the chickenlittleism are twofold: sensation gets published, “noting to worry about” does not. Nobody likes to be shown to be completely wrong, so its preferable to go for something that can’t be replicated that looks like science (climate modelling) with colorful phrases for possible influences on climate (forcing), fudge factors used to prevent climate model meltdown (parameterization), invention of fudge factors that no-one has ever measured (sulfate and black carbon aerosols) and straight out-and-out guessing the answer (positive feedbacks). Then go straight to an international news agency know for its gullibility to all things climate modelling (the BBC) and force feed them the choicest scary soundbites (BBC science journalism).

    Of course you could be honest and say “we don’t know” but where the fun in that? Publication meands points and points mean prizes like trips to conferences and keynote speeches and maybe the odd profile or six in Scientific American.

    Then move on. Quickly, so that nobody catches you standing still, because as every Texas lawyer knows, if the guy with the gun is tanked up and you’re not moving then you could get buckshot in the face.

  60. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    “Ok how about the Antarctic penninsula?”

    More importantly how about the remaining 97% of Antarctica

  61. Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Re #45 and #48,

    While this is off-topic (in the context of the NAS panel composition), the latest Science article about the Greenland ice cap is interesting, as it indeed looks only at the past decade, but doesn’t place that decade in a historic perspective.
    See my more elaborated reaction at RealClimate (if I may refer to the opponents)…

  62. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    #59, This is far off-topic, but I think climate “chickenlittleism” runs much deeper than sensationalism. It’s been heavily promoted by the environmental groups that are generally staffed by people with serious political and philosophical antipathies toward western civilization, toward science and technology, toward the Enlightenment project of factual rationalism (though they may not think of that explicitly), and toward capitalism.

    That is, I think climate alarmism is part of, and primarily based in, a studied ideologically-driven effort to fully discredit western and technological civilization, as presently constituted. In this effort, CO2-as-pollutant is offered as yet one more cardinal sin in the on-going offense represented by a cruel and heartlessly venal technological/capitalistic west. That indictment is easily shown up to be a crock, but factual refutation never overturned an irrationally held position.

    There is, in short, a different clash of civilizations going on, which is more basic than the one usually mooted about. It’s the clash between romanticism and rationalism; between ideological thinking and scientific thinking; between political passion and intellectual dispassion as a touchstone for civil decisions. I don’t see any conflict more important than that one. I’d encourage you rationalists out there to be explicitly aware of this conflict, as you cruise through the news and views of the day, and to engage it. I honestly think our survival as a species strictly depends on a rationalist outcome.

  63. jae
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    re 62: Great post, and I entirely agree.

  64. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    Pat I think the term your looking for, that I have used here before, is 20th century

  65. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    Gah hit the wrong key.

    21st century Luddites.

  66. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    #62: Pat I agree 100% and you have hit on exactly why I am so involved in this issue. Global Warming is being used as an excuse for Global Planning, more government, socialism, and worse. Funny that alarmists always propose “more government” approaches to “solving” global warming instead of “less government” approaches like ending direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. It’s because at the root they want to control and centrally plan the world.

  67. Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    Re: #62. Pat Frank writes:

    “It’s the clash between romanticism and rationalism; between ideological thinking and scientific thinking; between political passion and intellectual dispassion as a touchstone for civil decisions.”

    As a freelance writer I have written on global warming issues and have interviewed political staffers in multiple states who believe as the Governor of California does, “the debate is over. We know the science, we see the threat and we know the time for action is now.”

    As a result, the California EPA has crafted as series of greenhouse gas regulations, using the UN IPCC report as justification for their actions. The staff’s ideological thinking coupled with their political passion is driving civil decisions. Decisions which are based on the questionable science we discuss here everyday, but their passion leaves no room for doubt. Humans are the cause, therefore we must pay the price for our economic gluttony.

    Until reason trumps this misplaced ideological passion, we will all pay the economic piper with higher fuel and energy taxes. We will all owe Steve and Ross a debt of gratitude if they can supply the rational for a more dispassionate look at the science of global warming.

  68. Paul Linsay
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    #61: What do you think of the evidence for glacier growth provided by the “Lost Squadron” that was found under 250 feet of ice after 50 years in Greenland? They were apparently still in formation, not nose down, when found so they didn’t sink through the ice but had been covered by accumulating snow. This would seem to make it very hard to claim any sort of warming. http://www.thelostsquadron.com/p-38-pages/p-38-lightning-history.htm

  69. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Paul while a point it isn’t hard proof.

    Warming from -5C to -3C would not induce snow melt.

    More importantly in many cases faster calving of the terminus of glaciers can be induced by higher pile up of snow and Ice can push the extremities outward.

  70. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 1:21 AM | Permalink

    #65 Sid they may be Luddites, but they’re a different brand of well-educated, highly trained, and expressively eloquent Luddites.

    #66 Government isn’t bad, nanny, tyranny is bad.

    #67, Thanks for the empirical confirmation, Russ. I live in CA and have heard stories, but have never heard a direct experience like yours.

    And as an aside, the CA staffers you mention are probably using the IPCC Technical Summary or the Summary for Policy Makers. I’ve read a bit within the body of the IPCC TAR, and anyone who reads that will find the many caveats, the admissions of ignorance, and the cautions that will dissuade them from any certainty at all that “we know the science.”

  71. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

    “Government isn’t bad, nanny, tyranny is bad.”

    Show me a system of government that doesn’t wind up being tyrannical given enough time. The natural tendency is for government to grow, like a fire. We need to continually act to stomp it out or we’ll eventually be consumed in tyranny.

  72. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

    I posted a reply to #62 which I think addressed what it said. It’s gone, can it be explained why?John replies: Yes. it was a troll post designed to provoke.  It contained no scientific information or reasoned argument. Try answering questions rather than poisoning the well for a change.

  73. Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 7:22 AM | Permalink

    RE: 41 John A: I think you misunderstand the Realclimate post regarding Evolution and Global Warming. [snip] Just because Global Warming Theory may be wrong, doesn’t mean that there is nothing to worry about. As we see with melting of the Greenland Ice Cap, the climate models in this regard are useless. The truth turns out to be much worse than climate models predict.

    Raypierre offers numerous specific examples of falsifiable predictions from Global Warming Theory. Yet you reply with a straw man argument with the ludicrous idea that the theory must demonstrate “Increased storminess, drought, flooding, cold, heat, snow, ice build-up, ice break-up IN THE FUTURE over and above the normal variation of climate. None of the above has ever been demonstrated to be taking place.” How can you expect a theory to demonstrate something that will happen in the future? That verification will have to wait until the future arrives. Hence, the theory is falsifiable, according to whether or not future observations are consistent with predictions. In fact, current observations of surface temperature, tropical storm intensity, ice sheet melting, glacial retreat, ocean heat content, species extinction, and endless other observations are uniformly consistent with the theory of Global Warming.

    You claim that no one “has shown carbon dioxide or methane enrichment of the atmosphere to precede temperature rise. None. Not ever.” Greenhouse gases are being released 30 times faster than the emissions that led to a period of extreme global warming 55 million years ago. There is no precedent in the historical record for what we are seeing today.

    [snip] AWG denial isn’t even a theory. It fails to explain the mechanism by which human sources of greenhouse gases will NOT warm the climate. AWG denial isn’t about explaining the climate.It is obsessively devoted to discrediting and undermining the credibility of the science. The way in which detractors focus on arguing against arcane technicalities of statistical methods of others, rather than perform there own analysis, is analogous to [ … snip] AWG denial isn’t necessarily right just because Global Warming Theory may prove to be superseded someday by another theory that better explains the evidence. In fact, to the extent that the data is uncertain and ambiguous, there is no guarantee that the truth will turn out to be benign. In deed, it is just as likely to be much worse than we expect.

    And to the extent that skeptics have been bold enough to make predictions, they have failed to be verified by the evidence. Fred Singer said, “This question is not at all settled. It can only be settled by actual measurements, data. And the data are ambiguous…. since 1979, our best measurements show that the climate has been cooling just slightly. Certainly, it has not been warming.” Here is a conclusion that has failed. And yet the denial continues. [snip]

    Steve: Michael, I don’t like to snip comments by critics, but this is an ID-free zone as I’m not interested in ID constroversy, so I’ve snipped the ID stuff.

  74. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

    Re #72 Oh well, I guess I should have kept a copy, because it was a reply questioning post #62 and pointing to why I thought it wrong.

  75. beng
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 8:56 AM | Permalink

    Re #73

    The way in which detractors focus on arguing against arcane technicalities of statistical methods of others, rather than perform there own analysis, is analogous to the way in which ID proponents argue for their belief by attacking the supposed holes in the theory of evolution, rather than propose an alternative mechanism to explain biological evolution.

    Michael, you’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favor w/that….

  76. JerryB
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    John A,

    You want reasoned argument from PH? 🙂

    More to the point, his comment seemed to be merely another sample of his usual fluff, not something that rated deletion.

  77. Paul
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    RE #73:


    Is information derived from tree rings good proxies for temperature reconstructions? Particularly the tree rings in the current reconstructions?
    Is information derived from ice cores good proxies to create temperature reconstructions? Are the GCM able to account for positive and negative feedback correctly?

    If you cannot answer these questions then you can’t answer the question about GW… Not only that, but we still can’t answer the question about how much of the apparent warming is due to natural climate cycles (including solar).

    This argument is nothing like the ID/Evolution argument. The things that Steve posts on this site show: 1) There are serious, unanswered, issues with the math used to create the temperature reconstructions. 2) There are serious issues, unanswered, with the proxies. 3) There are serious issues with the “scientists” who have created the reconstructions not archiving their data, not providing their source code, and not being interested in finding the truth. Steve and Ross and all those who work to understand what is really happening are advancing the science. It might be more in the direction of “this is not correct” than this is correct. Even so, eliminating what is not true does help discover what is true.

    What Steve shows, on this site, in code and data that is accessible to anyone to check, is that the math is bad, the proxy data is suspect and the proxies themselves are problematic. All of this can be checked, cross-checked, debated and discussed. Steve doesn’t hide behind anything. It’s a debate not based on “faith”, but on math and data and facts.

    Like ID, AWG denial isn’t even a theory. It fails to explain the mechanism by which human sources of greenhouse gases will NOT warm the climate. AWG denial isn’t about explaining the climate.It is obsessively devoted to discrediting and undermining the credibility of the science.

    Why would “AWG denial” be a theory? It is simply the idea that there isn’t sufficient evidence (because there hasn’t been enough good science) to understand how much of “A” there is in “GW” (most will agree it appears to be getting warmer). Is the warming due to solar forcing? Is it due to a natural cycle coming out of the LIA? Is it because the the CO2 levels have “spilled over the brim” causing the climate to go out of wack? P

    In science, we propose a theory, test the theory and then either accept the theory as “true” (as in evolution) or reject the theory and then look for another one to explain what is observed. If we cannot show that a theory fits the observations, it’s time for a new theory. Steve has knocked out, through math and reasoning, some of the legs holding up the theory of AGW. This does nothing to destroy the theory of AGW. That theory is still argued about and the science isn’t settle (as evidenced by the questions asked above–questions that have not been definitively answered).

    Not only that, but there are other theories for why the earth might be warming… solar forcings, natural cycles (not completely understood…after all, what caused significant warming and CO2 levels in the distant past)?

    In the end, it appears your idea that intelligent design is akin to AGW skepticism and AGW is evolution might need to be reversed, at least in part.

  78. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    It seems obvious to me that the hockey stick is intelligently desinged.

  79. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 10:23 AM | Permalink


    Steve: Let’s end the ID stuff, OK? ID is now going to be treated as spam.


  80. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    RE: Actually, I missed a really obvious “point of view” issue. I often feel like an anthropologist in the world of academics since I notice, and do not accept as natural or obvious, various trade practices. For example, I view “peer review” as practiced by journals as merely a form of “due diligence” and I view documents like IPCC reports as a form of scientific “prospectus” and I assess such documents according to standards of “full, true and plain disclosure”.

    There is something down here in the US, bemoaned by many, known as the Sarbannes-Oxley Act (aka “SOX”) which has driven much of the current costernation regarding “corporate compliance” (more cynically, as some may put it, a “job creation program for accountants!”). Meanwhile, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) have linked many of the SOX requirements with ISO9000 best practices. Perhaps there is more applicability of both SOX and ISO9000 to the realm of scientific research than there is in business, since in business, ultimately, the bankruptcy courts and securities markets are the ultimate arbiters of the wages of fraud?

  81. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    RE: #32. Now you can see why I usually put “climate science” in quotation marks. From what I can see, a sadly large number of “climate scientists” do not behave like real scientists at all.

  82. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    I’m hurt. There was a pearl there about faith in naturalism.

  83. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    Ray has compared AGW skepticism and ID and Paul has contrasted them. I think it is a subject fit for discussion, but probably not on this thread. Sorry. kim

  84. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

    Interesting article talking about some of these issues, even mentions Steve-O (Now I’m picturing Steve as kind of a Jack Lord of staticticians). It’s a reprint but I just saw it on Brignell’s site where he was as impressed with it as I was.


  85. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    RE: #84. I had mentioned on another thread about the domination of the NZ geological community by alarmists. And in their midst, a few voices of reason, such as the one who wrote that article.

  86. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    #84 – maybe we should Jack Bauer of 24 onto getting the proxy data.

  87. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    No you need a top class detective, one that will see through everything.

    You need Monk.

  88. Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    It would seem that Steve McIntyre doesn’t want you to read any criticism of his claims since my trackback was deleted. Here is a link to the post he doesn’t want you to see.

  89. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    #88. I didn’t touch your trackback. I’m too busy to investigate what happened to it, but it wasn’t me.

  90. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    RE: #88. Why woudn’t Steve want us to see that post? There are posts here at this blog that are more inflamatory than that. Aren’t you being just a wee bit paranoid? The problem was probably with the trackback itself. It may have been slowing down the server or something. I noticed simply trying to load this thread, it went really slooooooow. It was not that way before you posted your trackback. It probably screwed something up.

  91. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

    There is of course the posibility too that since he posted the same trackback post twice (exact same wording copy/paste) he did so a third time and thus triggered spam karma.

    There is also the possibility he did this intentionally so that he could complain about it since post 88 came up almost immediately after the previous disapeared.

    When the evidence to prove a point you want proven doesn’t exist, manufacture it.

  92. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    #88 Tim, the comments at your recent blog entry seem to be running pretty heavily against you right now. Are you sure you want people from this site to visit there? You might want to circle your wagons.

  93. kim
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    Tim, Cuffey isn’t on the same time scale as the hockey stick. I’m a fool and I can see that.

  94. Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

    SidVicous, I linked to two posts here so there were two trackbacks. You seem to have actually seen the trackbacks, so obviously Spam Karma didn’t block them. If Steve didn’t delete them, it would seem that it was John A, who last time I linked here, boasted that he had deleted my trackback.

  95. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

    If you post a third time and hit sparm Karma, it retroactively delets previous posts.

    Happend to me, and has happened to others. Screws with the post numbering.

    But then you know that. And I’m sure John explained why, and there was a reason. Your just manufacturing something to have sour grapes over, and well know it.

  96. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 27, 2006 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    One of the ongoing difficulties with the inventor of the Fourier theory of hockey sticks is his claims to knowledge when he is merely speculating. It is of course “possible” that Spam Karma was not involved and that John A was involved, but it is not “obvious” especially when there are two posts with identical language and with webpage links. In fact, the two posts were picked up and were treated as spam by Spam Karma daily report. Some people might view Spam Karma’s decision as being very insightful.

    Report on comment number 11 (id=15130)
    Comment Author: Deltoid
    Comment Type: trackback
    Comment Content:

    NAS Panel deja vu

    I wrote earlier about McIntyre’s attack on the NAS Panel on temperature reconstructions. McIntyre objected to two panelists because they were co-authors of co-authors of Mann, but not to the panelist who was a co-author of a co-author of…

    etc. etc….

  97. Posted Feb 28, 2006 at 1:05 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I already pointed out that the two trackbacks appeared in comments. Sidvicous noticed them. So they weren’t picked as spam by Spam Karma because it doesn’t operate that way. Yes, it sometimes retroactively classifies things as spam, but only when it gets another comment from the same source. Which it didn’t, since I only left two trackbacks and you only found two trackbacks.

    If you didn’t mark it as spam, then John A did. This, by the way, is what he did lsst time I linked to your blog.

  98. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 28, 2006 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

    Not true.

    I’ve been retroactively Karmad a time or two.

  99. John A
    Posted Feb 28, 2006 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Tim Lambert:

    Yes, I marked your trackback as spam since I have no interest in allowing you to redirect posters from this site to your troll weblog. Since you also linked the same lies to two different posts by Steve it makes it that much easier to justify it as spam, being as its designed to increase your traffic by attaching yourself to this one.

  100. Posted Feb 28, 2006 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    Readers who are unfamiliar with Spam Karma might be interested in the fact that the control panel for Spam Karma lets you see the reasons that SK classifies any particular comment as spam, so it would have been trivial for Steve to find out that my trackbacks were marked as spam by John A. Instead he jumped to a false conclusion, something that seems to be a bit of a habit with Steve.

    Note that neither Steve nor John A have responded to the substrance of my criticism. Instead, they have tried to hide it.

    Steve: Tim. I’ve geting reading for the NAS Panel and have got many other things to do than to argue with you about Spam Karma. Maybe I’ll look at it in a week or two.

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