Pielke Jr discusses the Bishop and the Stick

Roger A.Roger Pielke Jr has written a gracious post , following up on Bishop Hill’s post and considering the issues as they pertain to science policy, and, in particular, the processes of peer review and due diligence, which have informed many of my posts.

He refers to and reconsiders a post that I wrote for Prometheus a couple of years ago on the importance, if any, of the Stick debate. It is nice to see that my position on this has been pretty consistent – that I didn’t argue that it turned AGW theory upside down, but neither was it a nothing. In particular, given the prominence of its usage in IPCC TAR and the subsequent problems, I said very clearly that if I had been a manager or principal of the next IPCC report, I would have wanted to understand very clearly what, if anything, was wrong with it, and how we could avoid such mistakes in the future.


  1. DaveM
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Well deserved compliment sir!

  2. Pete
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 at 5:59 PM | Permalink


    I posted this comment on the Bish’s blog. I think it is pertinent to what the folks are discussing here in that it expresses my frustration, as a UK citizen who pays a TV licence, at how your endeavours and the scandal you uncovered aren’t covered by the mainstream media.

    “Dear Sir,

    thank you so much for the post detailing the death of the execrable Hockey Stick graph.

    I live in the UK, and sadly, in paying my TV licence expect the BBC to investigate such matters and present them in the way you’ve just done.

    This is never the case.

    In the world of proper public interest journalism this is a hot story, it should be prominent on the Science/Nature news output – it is an intriguing, revealing, and scandalous story which affords an insightful window onto the whole ‘peer reviewed process’ and the dark arts of the climate science industry.

    It is most definitely in the public interest given the measures planned by government to ‘combat’ climate change and how this will affect the ordinary working citizens of the UK with regard to extra taxes and legislation.

    But waiting on Roger Harrabin or David Shukman or Richard Black to take time out from regurgitating press releases from the Royal Society or the IPCC or the UN generally, is obviously a hope too far.

    Some day, this incident and the BBC’s shameless co-option into the climate change hysteria will be exposed and reputations will be ruined.

    Another example of the BBC’s abject failure in this area is the fact that, despite their virtually unlimited resources and much trumpeted ‘awkward squad’ ethos, not a single BBC journalist felt motivated to highlight the horrendous propaganda of Al Gore’s awful film, and in so doing highlight the scandal that this was being sent – funded by our taxes – the schools to indoctrinate our children.

    Shame on the BBC that this was left to a high court judge to adjudicate on and identify the inaccurracies in this appalling film, and all the while the BBC spent hours of Panorama and Newsnight time on silly side shows like Scientology, feral youths, the endless downs of the housing market and the usual climate change terror.

    Just as long as the reporter can run alongside some non-entity screaming questions in their ear, and all the while portray themselves look like defenders of the truth – then all is right with the world.

    The ‘low-lifes’, criminal opportunists, con artists and the rest of these limited, crude, occasionally violent when confronted (*’Hey, it makes great television!’) fish in a barrel is the main target of this once respected institution.

    Running after the head of the IPCC in the car park of a plush hotel and aggressively questioning him about his air miles and his carbon footprint and his ‘flat earthers’ comment would just bring too much aggro.

    Too much effort. Annoy the wrong type of people. Upset that cushy world they live and work in….

    I understand.

    Would they ever dare run alongside, doorstop, or ‘car-door stop’ an environmentalist who refused a harsh interview on ‘the science’ behind climate change because they claim ‘the debate the is over’?

    In what other sphere of public life would the BBC accept that and remain silent?

    Think about that if you think the corporation is impartial.

    They slam George Bush – rightly, in my opinion – for creating a scare scenario for invading Iraq, yet FAIL miserably in honing in on the Green scare factory and their favourite social control theory known as Climate Change.

    Keep up the good work. The tide is certainly turning…


  3. Pierre Gosselin
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    “…would have wanted to understand very clearly what, if anything, was wrong with it, and how we could avoid such mistakes in the future.”


    You imply innocence here, while your entire case shows a profound pattern of behaviour by scientists and the IPCC – snip. In any other political, corporate or civic area, the body of evidence you have presented – snip. I could never imagine an accountant or taxpayer getting away with such behaviour.

    Looks to me like you have lots of faith in the powers of appeasement. Good luck!

    “I said very clearly that if I had been a manager or principal of the next IPCC report,…”
    Well don’t get your hopes up. I think you are at the top of their list of people NOT to be a principal.

    Steven McIntyre on the IPCC. That’ll be the day.

  4. Perry
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

    From Bishop Hill blog.

    “The Harmless Sky blog has discovered that support for the catastrophic global warming case is official BBC policy. Tony quotes a BBC report as follows:

    The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on anthropogenic climate change].

    The details of the seminar are, as one might expect from an organisation like the BBC which holds the public in such contempt, a secret. An FoI request has revealed that uber-warmer, Lord May, was the driver behind the decision, but the rest of the details are only going to be revealed if the Information Commissioner can force them to toe the line.

    Update: Interesting also to remind ourselves that as recently as a year ago, the head of BBC news was claiming that the Corporation had no line on climate change. Well, what did you expect from a BBC man? The truth?
    AuthorBishop Hill | Comment2 Comments | Share ArticleShare Article
    in CategoryClimate, CategoryBBC

    Reader Comments (2)
    I have been complaining to the BBC recently about bias (an uphill task if ever there was one!!).

    This July I received this response to one of my e-mails:

    “…I take your point that assuming there is a connection between a breaking glacier and climate change is potentially controversial… We appreciate the importance of presenting information fairly and your email underlines the fact that many licence fee payers suspect the BBC of having an agenda. I can assure you that is not the case – we try to report all opinions and facts…”

    I wonder how that fits with this report? Just today I received another e-mail suggesting that I look here for the BBC’s view of Global Warming:




    My personal efforts to gain a reply from the BBC following emails on various AGW themed reports have produced zilch. Dodgy Geezer reports the only example of a reply, of which I am aware!!



  5. DaleC
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:24 AM | Permalink

    Roger Pielke says “While I am not in a position to evaluate the merits of the technical arguments of McIntyre’s criticisms of the Hockey Stick…”

    I am sure that many others echo the sentiment. Is there an easy way to cut through the tangle of statistical jargon and concepts and issues in a way which would require nothing more than basic numeracy to be able to follow? In MM05GRL: “Out of 70 sites in the network, 93% of the variance in the MBH98 PC1 is accounted for by only 15 bristlecone and foxtail pine sites (Table 1)”. ‘93% of the variance in PC1’ sounds like techno-babble to most. So can the import of this statement be reasonably simulated by simply scaling to between -1 and 1 and then comparing the averages with and without? In pseudo-code

    For each series
    ….avg = average of all points in the series
    ….max = maximum value
    ….min = minimum value
    ….diffmax = absolute value of avg – max
    ….diffmin = absolute value of avg – min
    ….diff = maximum of diffmax and diffmin
    ….for each value in the series
    ……..cell = cell value
    ……..plot (cell-avg)/diff
    ….next value
    next series

    This makes the maximum absolute amplitude for each series 1, so they all contribute equally to an average.

    Doing this for all the NOAMER series, and then plotting the average of all series, shows a definite uptick – not as savage as the PC mannomatic delivers, but quite a shift in trend from about 1850 nonetheless. But if repeated without the Graybill series listed in Table 1, the uptick disappears, and the least squares trend line over all points is flat, and from 1850 virtually flat. This seems to me to show that the hockey stick is not robust to the presence or otherwise of the Graybill bristlecones, because removing just them flattens the blade completely.

    Apart from being easy to understand and trivial to implement in Excel, is there any merit to this approach?

  6. Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 5:20 AM | Permalink


    That’s fine as far as it goes, but to assess how well or badly a model behaves when compared to real data requires an understanding of statistical tests like R2. Certainly Steve has shown for a long time, that without the bristlecone series of Graybill and Idso, the Hockey Stick shape disappears.

    What’s even more startling is clear evidence that Mann knew sometime before Steve asked him for his data, that the Stick depended on the bristlecones – which puts a completely different light on whether I believe the HS to be a concatenation of “mistakes” or not.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 5:27 AM | Permalink

    #5. Although one needs to use somewhat technical terms to describe points of dispute, just pretend for a minute that they are batting averages and ERSs or something like that. The key misrepresentation by Ammann is that they got different results from us. But their code reconciles to ours, so it’s not the numbers that differ, it’s their characterization of the numbers – something that they’ve obscured.

    UCAR issued a press release in 2005 that all our results were “unfounded”. Well, let’s look at three key results – and these are issues that I asked about ahead of time. For the AD1400 network, we said (MM, GRL 2005 Table 3) that Mann’s verification r2 was an insignificant 0.02 and CE was -0.26. Wahl and Ammann (and this was withheld until an academic misconduct complaint was filed) reported 0.018 and -0.215, not merely confirming our results but getting virtually identical answers (and the small differences appear to arise from them varying the weighting of proxies from what MBH used.)

    We reported that our emulation got an verification RE of 0.46 (WAhl and Ammann 0.48; MBH 0.51), but that a 99% benchmark of 0.0 was incorrect since MAnnian methods applied to red noise regularly threw up very high verification RE values, reporting in MM2005 Reply to Huybers a 99% standard of 0.54. When I checked the information in their SI (where they belatedly but commendably archived the values from their simulations), the 99% benchmark was 0.52, confirming our observation that very high RE values could be generated by Mannian-style methods applied to red noise. They then manipulated the calculations to “Get” a value of 0.48 and apparent “99% significance” – whatever that unstatistical concept is.

    Change it to earnings per share. In effect, MBH claimed that they were hugely profitable. We reported that they weren’t, that their claims were false. Wahl and Ammann denied our claims, but it turns out that they knew all along that our claims were correct.

  8. Oriz Johnson
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

    OT but would someone please tell me approximately how MANY Bristlecone pine trees were were contributed to the Hockey Stick and secondly where they are growing?

  9. dh
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    Re: Your comment #7

    The UCAR 2005 press release needs to be answered somehow (I just checked and it is still posted on their website.)

    Why don’t you just rewrite comment #7 and give it a separate title “Answer to UCAR press release:

    UCAR Media Advisory: The Hockey Stick Controversy: New Analysis Reproduces Graph of Late 20th Century Temperature Rise (May 11, 2005)

    “? If you post this as your statement it will be picked up by the media.

  10. PaddikJ
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    . . . if I had been a manager or principal of the next IPCC report, I would have wanted to understand very clearly what, if anything, was wrong with it, and how we could avoid such mistakes in the future.

    And instead they just circled the wagons.

    Which pretty much says all one needs to know about the state of Climate Science.

  11. BraudRP
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    To Oriz Johnson

    Look up MM05 (GRL) under the “Articles” links at this site for a table from Graybill and Idso 1993 which identifies the Bristlecone sites.

  12. Craig Loehle
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    Let’s imagine that this is a cancer study. The proponents claim that their “cure” is 99.99% significant (not effective….just significant), using a novel method not known in the statistics literature. Wow! We can cure cancer! Dr. Steve comes along and says their result does not differ from a placebo in a red noise casing. It turns out the authors knew it did not differ from a placebo. Now do you want to trust this medicine to cure your cancer?

  13. Pierre Gosselin
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    Craig Loehle,
    It actually goes steps further.
    With the results, the proponents actually got FDA approval, and then used their results as sales arguments with doctors, hospitals and dying patients.

  14. DaveR
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:25 AM | Permalink


    Which pretty much says all one needs to know about the state of Climate Science.

    You really have to be very careful to distinguish between the broad discipline of climate science, which is probably thousands of academics strong, and the tiny handful of people with whom Steve has an argument.

  15. KeithW
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

    Pete #2

    I think this may answer your questions relating to the BBC.


  16. Pierre Gosselin
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    I disagree with your Snip Policy.

    In Pielke’s report you’ll find:
    “…a remarkable indictment of the corruption and cynicism…”
    “‘…foolhardiness and contemptuousness of the public by the IPCC…'”
    “‘…one sly manouevre after another…'”

    Who is allowed to use this kind of language, and who isn’t?
    Statistically, the snip policy has been applied arbitrarily.
    Please provide me with your Behaviour Guidelines for your website.
    Thank you.

  17. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    You really have to be very careful to distinguish between the broad discipline of climate science, which is probably thousands of academics strong, and the tiny handful of people with whom Steve has an argument.

    The thousands strong give implicit consent by not speaking up as Steve has done. Equal culpability is the only acceptable conclusion.


  18. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    How well did “I was only following orders” work at the trials?

  19. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

    Sins of omission are considered as bad as sins of commission, IIRC.

    “I have done those things I ought not to have done and I have left undone those things I ought to have done…”

  20. stan
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    Steve — I hope you don’t snip this. I am not ranting here. I am trying to pose a very important question in a very civil manner (which question is raised by another comment here).

    Dave R (#13),

    “You really have to be very careful to distinguish between the broad discipline of climate science, which is probably thousands of academics strong, and the tiny handful of people with whom Steve has an argument.”

    This raises an extremely important issue of morality. If a person has evidence of information which would prove the innocence of a man about to be executed, what moral (not legal) duty does he have to come forward? The govt policies presently being demanded by Hansen, Gore and many others will cause billions of the world’s poor (in this and future generations) to be consigned to live in misery and die prematurely. Many alarmists acknowledge this, but say it must be done because the science is settled and catastrophic warming would be even worse.

    If a climate scientist knows that the “studies” being used by the IPCC to convince govts to act are flawed, if he knows the surface temp records are badly flawed, if he knows that much of the science is extremely sloppy, etc., what moral obligation does he have to protect the world’s poor? Especially if he knows that Gore, Hansen, et al are claiming that he and his fellow climate scientists approve of the flawed science?

    I realize that few people choose to be in this position. Most people want to be left alone to pursue their research and enjoy their lives. But the reluctant witness knows the truth about the innocence of the condemned man. Not because he wanted to get involved or chose to be there, but merely because he happened to be at the scene at the “wrong” time. Today, many climate scientists are in that same place. They, however reluctantly, are witnesses. The world is poised to make some extremely significant decisions. They have valuable information. What moral obligation do they have to speak up? [Even if they believe that CO2 is warming the globe, should they point out the problems with the “science”?]

    Is it appropriate to criticize them, if they fail to come forward?

  21. Gunnar
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    >> which is probably thousands of academics strong, and the tiny handful of people with whom Steve has an argument.

    Judging from an analysis of the papers in one year, the thousand don’t really have strong opinions in favor of AGW. The wegman report also made clear that it’s only a small clique that is really at the center of this AGW advocacy.

    Please don’t go a bridge too far. The Wegman report did no such thing. It discussed the small 1000-year paleoclimate field. Gunnar, take a valium. I can’t spend all day picking these sorts of spitballs off the wall and I don’t want the blog to turn into a foodfight over these sorts of claims.

  22. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    The wegman report also made clear that it’s only a small clique that is really at the center of this AGW advocacy.

    The Wegman network analysis was not about “AGW advocacy”, it was about who published paleoclimate papers together and who was sharing HS-related data with whom. The network was small and tight. The network of AGW advocates is HUGE. The lies and distortions from a small number of commenters are driving me crazy. I quit. Enjoy your trolldom.

    Steve: I’m getting tired of my bandwidth getting dominated by a few commenters as well. I may shut down the Unthreaded for a while and enforce thread relevance and see if that helps.

  23. Robinson
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    You aren’t the only one bender, it’s driving me crazy as well ;).

  24. BillBodell
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    I quit

    Please don’t. By correcting those that others would claim are on “our” side, you help maintain the integrity of this site.

    When was the last time you saw someone from the “other” side correct an “alarmist” at deltoid?

  25. trevor
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Some very perceptive and intelligent posts over at RP Jr’s thread on this. I was particularly struck by this one from Francis Oullette:

    “August 14th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with Willis.

    I have followed Climate Audit from a few months after it started. At the time, I was getting interested in the AGW issue, and was annoyed by the talk about “scientific consensus”, and was looking for whatever dissenting voices there were, in the scientific community, just to see what they had to say.

    At first, I thought “Wow, what this guy is doing is really impressing”. He was an amateur, but his points were clear and entirely valid. Most skeptic sites at the time were just rehashing simplistic and tired arguments, but there was someone going at the details in a rigorous way.

    Initially, I thought that the paleoclimate community would quietly distance themselves from Mann and his close associates. His behavior would have, in any other circumstances, been found reprehensible. I thought that the cracks would start appearing in the scientific literature.

    But none of that happened, even after the NAS panel and the Wegman report.

    Maybe if Steve Mc had tried harder to publish his results, things would have started to move. He chose not too, and maybe rightly. For any newcomer in a field, the publishing barrier is always higher. In his case, even though he had sympathizers in the field, he would still have faced hostility from most anonymous reviewers, and his papers would have been endlessly delayed. Why wait months when you can just publish instantly on a blog? So we end up with this strange dialog, because, let’s face it, Steve’s findings are the tacit benchmark for all who publish centennial reconstructions. His shadow is ever present. But that leaves everyone the latitude to confront him with the silliest arguments, because like a ghost, he does not respond directly, only through his blog, and as far as the “official” scientific literature goes, blogs, like ghosts, do not exist.

    But all this points to one thing. The academic world is not equipped to deal with the challenge of the policy response to AGW. But somehow, the world governments have entrusted the academic system in giving them answers, by creating the IPCC, and asking it to rely solely on the peer-reviewed literature. The peer-review system is both good and bad. It has many flaws that are well-known to all who use it. But for most purposes, it is good enough, simply because scientific publications are not expected to be engineering-like documents. The focus is on originality and relevance, and that is mostly what the peer-review is all about. Relying on that system for policy advice (indirectly through the IPCC reports) was an invitation to profit from its flaws to push everybody’s agendas. When the stakes are high, the peer-review system is just too easily corruptible, or just too plain weak, to resist.

    Blogs are no alternative yet. No rules at all is not better than inadequate rules. Governments should have been more creative, and created a body of experts that is independent of the peer-review system, and that would operate on much stricter and more transparent criteria. One does not really need thousands of academic scientists scattered in innumerable institutions around the world, all striving for public attention, and trying to survive the next round of grant applications, to find a suitable scientific advice about AGW. But that’s another problem…”

  26. Lance
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 2:55 PM | Permalink


    The folks you are complaining about are, as Steve says, going a bridge too far, but calling them trolls and then stomping out is reacting in kind.

    They are expressing frustration at the inability of the IPCC to police its own. While the paleo-climate network that is the focus of Steve’s inquiry does not make up the majority of the scientists whose work is reviewed by the IPCC it does reflect an important segment of the evidence presented, and defended by the IPCC.

    Granted these folks, including me sometimes, are looking for that “gotcha” moment where the back of the catastrophic climate change movement will be broken in one triumphant crescendo.

    I know that you and Steve recoil at these triumphal pronouncements and moralizing missives. Steve does a fine job of keeping them in check most of the time, and most of these folks, including me, get a grip and return to rational discussion of the more narrowly focused issues at hand.

    I greatly enjoy your insightful and usually measured posts so cut these guys some slack and return to the discussion.

  27. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for your support.

    There are good reasons for questioning the GCMs – the last leg on which the alarmist argument stands. There is no need to fabricate false reasons, or misrepresent the facts, or distort their meaning. The models must be examined by qualified, but non-partisan, experts. Browning and Vonk clearly have something to say. Koutsoyiannis has now given us his take – in the literature. Others will follow with theirs. Keep an eye tuned on what lucia is doing. She understands the problem … and is willing to do something about it. The alarmist modelers are watching her closely enough to try to steal and pre-empt her ideas. That tells you something. Thoe on the outside can shape the research programs of those on the inside.

    The models are not wrong enough to get them tossed out. So you can forget about that. The best the skeptic can hope for is to identify model biases and fix them. Much as Watts, Goetz et al. have done with the land surface record. The biases they’ve identified may not eliminate the 20th tempearture uptick, but they bring it down to a level that is not so alarming. One wonders what removable biases are built into the GCM parameterizations.

    Now is the time to move forward with this becasue the alarmists are rather upset about the current flatlining temepratures, and they are more than happy now to talk about internal climate variability. 10 years ago, that was not the case. So carpe diem.

  28. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Whoops, I’m in the Pielke & Bishop thread, not “unthreaded”. Snip #26 if necessary.

  29. Jaye Bass
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    Personally, I just want to get as close to the truth, whatever that turns out to be, as possible.

    Wonder what the RC folks think of all this hubbub?

  30. Lance
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    I notice that the consensus blogs are keeping dead silent on Steve’s analysis of A&W’s SI. Maybe they’re hoping it will quietly go away.

  31. Darwin
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    Bender is right that people need to be careful about how they characterize both people and positions. A few years ago Andrew Revkin wrote that Roger Pielke Sr. was a “scientist who has long disagreed with the dominant view that global warming stems mainly from human activity.” Pielke’s position, of course, is far more nuanced than that, as you can read at his blog. Steve’s position is similarly nuanced, as are most positions by so-called skeptics. Indeed, the views of most climate scientists, when you read their studies, are nuanced. But as for the public pronouncements by many, including Holdren’s recent burst in the globe, you’d never suspect it. So, Bender, don’t ever quit, and, Steve, “stick” to it.

  32. SteveSadlov
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    Some NGO out there should issue a legal challenge to the IPCC.

    They have harmed specifiable classes of people and organizations.

    Steve: Please stop venting. There are threads about legal topics and you cn discuss legal things there. You couldn’t get jurisdiction anyway.

  33. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    Wonder what the RC folks think of all this hubbub?

    Lynn Vincentnathan:

    even if this Koutsoyiannis, et al., study in question had failed to reach 95% certainty on GW and its effects in a way acceptable to the community of climate scientists (which apparently it did not bec it confused the random fluctuating noise of weather with the statistical aggregate of climate), it doesn’t really matter from a policy standpoint. It does nothing to derail the urgency of our need to severely mitigate GW, starting immediately, if not 20 years ago as we should have done.

    i.e. We have so much momentum now that nothing will stop us, not even facts.

    [Koutsoyiannis’s study could have been better executed. But that doesn’t mean that its conclusions are wrong!]

  34. deadwood
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    Bender @32:

    Didn’t Wegman warn about the kind of thinking in your bracketed end piece?

    Wrong methods + right answer = Bad Science!

    I realize that Koutsoyiannis’s study doesn’t jump off the tracks like Mann’s, but Wegman’s criticism should apply equally to both.

  35. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

    Didn’t Wegman warn about the kind of thinking in your bracketed end piece? Wrong methods + right answer = Bad Science!

    Koutsoyiannis’s methods were not “wrong”. If you think otherwise, let’s hear it.

    Wegman’s criticism should apply equally to both.

    Of course it should. And the reality is, as you said:

    Koutsoyiannis’s study doesn’t jump off the tracks like Mann’s

    Koutsoyiannis’s study could be improved upon by a simple change in scale. He did not used inherently flawed data or flawed algorithms the way Mann did.

  36. Joe Solters
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    Re: 31 Legal Action Against IPCC. What about initiating some real checks and balances into our own tax-payer-financed government agencies, and their jobs-for-life employees and managers who bombard the public with cataclismic AGW warnings, without solid proof of theories or conclusions? Or refusing to readily disclose every detail associated with their studies, calculations and computer analysis, forcing non-aligned truth seekers (like CA) to guess how the government reached its numbers or conclusions. Our own government should not be an adversary nor a stake-holder in the quest for good, reliable, documented climate science. It should be forced by law to supply ‘all workpapers’ from whatever source, for public review, on the web, which were relied upon to support any and all reports, studies and commentary published by the agency. No private source data could be used by the agency without prior agreement by the source that the underlying data would become publically available. No more obfuscation or stonewalling from our own government. No more secret data either. Let’s get to the truth together.

  37. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    BTW I appreciate the sentiment in #33 (for I loathe double standards). But – at the risk being too nuanced – “right” and “wrong” are awfully black and white when the core issue here (whether you agree or disagree with the paper’s methods and conclusions) hinges on definitions of “weather” versus “climate”. The Koutsoyiannis paper is pushing the envelope, furthering that discussion, trying to get the modelers to clarify what they mean by this dichotomy: climate “signal” and weather “noise”. It is not trying to usurp global environmental policy. It is trying to make a focused scientific point. In that sense, the two pieces of work really ought to be judged by quite different standards.

  38. Fred
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    I may not understand the mathematics, but I do understand the outstanding Team silence.

    Hello Team, anyone there ? ?

  39. John Lang
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    I think it is easier to explain the Hockey Stick as an (extreme) method of cherry-picking disguised as a valid statistical technique.

    That just means that Hockey Stick is not valid historical temperature reconstruction but it doesn’t prove there really was a Medieval Warm Period etc.

    The real problem is the darn Stick keeps getting published and shown to the public even today. To continue the hockey analogy, the fight is not over until the Stick is broken enough so that no player will use it on the ice anymore (or the referees start giving penalities for using it.)

  40. bender
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    #38 If you want to know what they think, go ask them.

  41. Smokey
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    “Forensic science is badly in need of reform.” Good article. Make whatever climate comparison you wish.

  42. Joy
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    “Take a vallium” is self evidently an insult and should be snipped. Whilst I can understand the frustration and outrage of posters who comment on the inferred complicit behaviour of Climate Science the discipline, in the matter of the hockey stick; it is unlikely that any proof existsthat could show wrongdoing on the part of all climate scientists. There are no doubt a few individuals (imo) who could be considered in such a light but to say this runs into the thousands is exageration no doubt brought about by frustration and anger.
    Granted, we all have a duty of care, regardless of profession, to ensure that it is not abused or misrepresented. Not to speak out in matters of misrepresentation is at least cowardly and at worst callus. Only those close to this particular set of circumstances could ever be prooved to bear any responsibility for action or inaction. . The rest is simply a projection of suspician that, given a little thought, cannot be theoretically or practically justified.

  43. Neil Fisher
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    Stan said:

    Is it appropriate to criticize them, if they fail to come forward?

    A difficult question, to be sure. To further your analogy, and perhaps put it in a slightly different perspective, how many people would come forward to testify against a mafia man they had witnessed perform a murder? Certainly you would pause, wouldn’t you? What if you didn’t actually see it happen, but arrived on the scene to find the victim already dead, and the mafia man with gun in hand walking casually way? Or even: he sees you and suggests to you that “You didn’t see nuthin'”? The threat of dire consequences to you personally certainly changes how you think about it.

    But this is one-on-one – and in the case of the HS, it’s more akin to someone being killed in NY Central Park in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of witnesses. You could not expect to get away with it. And it takes only a handful of people who are prepared to take the personal risk of testifying against the killer to begin an avalanche of people willing to take the same risk.

  44. John A
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    Re: Joy

    The problem is that (except for a few valiant exceptions), the silence from the climate science community has been deafening.

  45. Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

    42 Joy

    Taking a Valium I think is most appropriate and not an insult 🙂 One of the problems with this or any blog is that things that should be resolved never seem to be resolved, because due to the vast number of topics and comments few have the time to review all the information.

    Summaries like the Bishop Hill summary are great provided of course they are read. There are several topics that have been covered over the life of this blog that could use summaries to consolidate thoughts.

    For example the Wegman report did not attempt to disprove AGW it only drew attention to questionable methodology and the cliquish nature of peer review in one particular case. With the exception of CO2 fertilization it was a good report.

    There have been many reasonable questions raised on this blog that deserve rational evaluation. None of these will prove or disprove anything about climate change, but could help to better understand what is happening and why politically and climatologically.

    With less snark and sniping more can be accomplished and remarkably things seem to be moving towards the search for truth recently.

    Human nature as it is tends to overly stress pet theories. Sometimes just kicking back and thinking on your own with an open mind is the best thing.

  46. PaddikJ
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    The thousands strong give implicit consent by not speaking up as Steve has done. Equal culpability is the only acceptable conclusion.

    This has also been well discussed over Pielke Jr’s site; but it’s even worse: I haven’t noticed many people from the other so-called hard sciences speaking out against this mass hysteria either. As Crichton remarked in evident high exasperation a few years ago (to the California chapter of the AAAS!), “Has everyone gone crazy?!”

    There is one bright spot: I have yet to hear or read a Geologist who buys into the dangerous, human-induced GW hypothesis. My son took a Geology course a couple of summers ago. I asked him if AGW had been discussed. He said his Prof snorted and said something like “These climatology people have no sense of deep time and natural cycles.” I breathed a long sigh of relief, which got a crooked grin out of my son.

    I also greatly enjoy Bender’s comments and really hope he doesn’t go “lurk = enabled.” I long ago concluded that Gunnar enjoys playing Devil’s Advocate, and would argue with his nose to spite his face.

  47. Joy
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 12:36 AM | Permalink


    “Take a vallium” is an insult: it seeks to imply that the individual to which the order is aimed has not the full control of his nerves. Somewhat hostile, ironic if not contradictory when the comment comes from Steve, who is trying to peel “spit balls” off the wall and has been trying to reduce total snark content of the site. It is purest snark;)
    As far as the rest of your statement goes, I have no argument. It is lost on some that what Steve has been trying to do has been to
    keep the discussion in the realm of

    the central and technical regarding the hockey team. Others want to bring in Uncle
    Tom cobly and all on a moral issue, Steve is
    attempting to stick to the stats and chronology of events surrounding the story of
    the hockey stick.
    Since he has requested this explicitly ad
    nauseam it seems polite to respect this
    request. As for falsifying AGW, which is a, Hydra, Steve has stated that his focus is on the magic HS. It is heroic work and worthy of a knighthood IMHO. Thank you Steve.

  48. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

    It would be a miracle indeed if all climate scientists agreed and if all, or any, of them were falsifying the data to get the right results, although I think there is a prima facie case against Ammann and Wahl that deserves investigation by any professional body that they subscribe to. The purpose of the hockeystick to me seems to be twofold, 1. To suggest there was no MWP, it will lessen the case for AGW if others could point to a chart that showed an increase in temperature before the industrial period and 2. To show that warming is directly associated with the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Neither is disproved by the absence of the hockeystick.

    bender, don’t know much(nothing) about GCMs but I’ve tried to understand the parameters you would need for accurate forecasting and a lot of them are horribly stochastic, at least two of the IPCC modelers have doubted their (the GCMs) ability to make accurate forecasts. (Renshaw and Trenberth)

  49. Louis Hissink
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    Reading some of the comments here and also on Jennifer Marohasy’s (and Roger’s in the post Steve put here, prompts me to refer you all to the lead article of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists Newsletter of Issue 87, Feb 2007.

    Click to access AIGNews_Feb07.pdf

    It’s a fairly broad paraphrasing of Dr. Don Scott’s more succinct chapter in his recent book, The Electric Sky.

    While Scott’s book is specifically targetted at Astronomy, the principles of science remain general, especially the scientific method, and his comments are as applicable to climate science, and any science that has fallen under the thrall of the deductive method. This is particularly so for science in which experimental testing of the fundamental principles is impossible.

    I suggest that those interested read the AIG News article – because what Scott writes, what this site is about, and what the hub-bub over plate tectonics is about, are all variations of a common theme – institutionalised science that, by definition, is political.

    Those wishing to read about a previous instance of politics interfering with science could do no worse than read George Grinnell’s paper on the foundation of the London Geological Society – http://www.mikamar.biz/geology.htm “The origins of Modern Geological Theory”.

    This topic might be better discussed in the CA forum, or not, depends on Steve.

    But the AGW thing gives me a sense of Deja Vu, writing here as a professional geologist.

  50. Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

    Re: #4, Perry

    Interesting also to remind ourselves that as recently as a year ago, the head of BBC news was claiming that the Corporation had no line on climate change.

    I seem to remember this too, but can’t seem to find a reference for it. I’d be very grateful for a pointer if you have one.

    TonyN, harmlesssky.org

  51. KeithW
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    re:Tony N #49

    check post #14. I put a link there that takes
    you to what seems to be the BBCs latest thinking.

  52. Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 5:18 AM | Permalink

    Re: #50, KeithW

    Thanks for that link to my blog.

    I have now tracked down the reference I was after and it is here.

  53. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

    at least two of the IPCC modelers have doubted their (the GCMs) ability to make accurate forecasts. (Renshaw and Trenberth)

    1. Statements like this should be supported with documentation.

    2. Phil suggesting that Willis took his comment “out of context” is absurd. This is “Climate Audit” not “Aviation Audit”. What else was Willis supposed to think? Comments on N-S that are irrelevant to climatology are irrelevant, period.

    3. When someone tells me “take a valium” I understand what they mean, am not insulted. They’re usually right.

    4. Gunnar doesn’t play “Devil’s Advocate”. He plays “Me Monkey”. (And he’s so cute when he does it.)

    5. But the topic here is Pielke on Bishop on Amman. Steve has made it pretty clear that GCM talk should be relegated to a bulletin board. Closing down “unthreaded” means “no OT posts, please”.

  54. Patrick M.
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Re #37 (bender):

    “Climate” vs. “Weather”

    THAT would be an interesting thread topic, (not that this isn’t). I don’t know how many times I’ve seen RC responses that push the Climate/Weather threshold around to suit their needs.

  55. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    People have been asking what the sum effect of all this latest development around Amman is. Here is the shortest possible answer:

    Scientists have FAILED to prove that current temperatures are unprecedented in 1000 years. Some THOUGHT they had proven that, but careful analysis shows they were WRONG. So we fall back to the NAS conclusion: modern temperatures are almost certainly unprecedented in 400 years, and are likely unprecedented in the last 600 years. The claim by some that temperatures are unprecedented in 1,000,000 years are without factual basis.

    Spin. Some people think this is big news. Others do not. But them’s the facts. If Wikipedia were to reflect that, the world would be done a service.

    The Hockey Stick is broken. Thank you Steve McIntyre for shedding light on this most interesting chapter in paleoclimate science.

  56. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM | Permalink


    I don’t know how many times I’ve seen RC responses that push the Climate/Weather threshold around to suit their needs.

    That is an interesting topic that Steve encourages be discussed in bulletin boards, not his primary blog. (But you are right, they stickhandle that one like a hockey puck around a defenceman, twisting and turning, definitions shifting, sliding. As a goaltender, you must keep your eye on the puck. Or as Steve has suggested before watch the “pea under the thimble”. But to answer your question: one might issue a challenge to go through RC archives and COUNT the number of times they waffle on this one to suit their argument at the time.)

    Koutsoyiannis is a damn good hydrologist. He understands more than a little something about the hydrosphere. If I were RC I would want to talk to him about what he might know that they might not. The intelligent part of that crowd willingly admits they know very little about hydrospheric dynamics. So why would they scramble to discredit such an eminent hydrologist?

    They are upping the ante. Which can come back to bite you.

    Steve: I’m OK with this topic on the main board, but I’d prefer that it be attached to a relevant thread. There are so many threads that it’s hard to find, but let’s do this. I’m happy to suggest a thread and ping it, as I’ve done just now, pinging an old discussion of Mandelbrot opining on weather vs climate, an old discussion but Mandelbrot is a big name.

  57. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Note that MBH98 (the original hockey stick paper) was published in 1998 at the height of a powerful El Nino, after a decade of warming. Now, after a decade of flat (but high) temperatures, where is MBH08? The dendroclimatology talk now is all about “divergence”. Try getting the anti-alarmist divergence/flatline story published in Nature. Try.

  58. old construction worker
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    How the new and improved “Hockey Stick” got through the “review process” and into the IPCC report is what has me ticked off. snip

    Steve – OK, you’re ticked off and so am I. But let’s chill the editorializing.

  59. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Climate is weather patterns over some area over some period of time longer than a month (basically the first reported anomaly period, pretty much). So then the question is, is a longer term thing over a large variable area that is a weather pattern climate? I’d say no. But, hey.

    We could also be talking about Köppen zones Tropical, dry, temperate, continental and polar. Or even Köppen regimes; monsoon, savanna, steppe, tundra, humid, desert.
    Or perhaps Bergeron’s spatial synoptic. Or Thornthwaite.

    So pick and choose what temp, humidity, rain, particle count and other meteorological phenomena you want to classify how. Can’t have climate without weather.

    Or as Aristotle said in 350 BC:

    Now the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay, and by its agency the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapour and rises to the upper region, where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth.

  60. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Sam, rather than pollute this important thread with the “weather vs. climate” issue, would it be possible for you to post to a bulletin board, and then announce the link here, so that interested people could be directed elsewhere? I know it’s a bother …

  61. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    Just agreeing with you when you say

    But you are right, they stickhandle that one like a hockey puck around a defenceman, twisting and turning, definitions shifting, sliding. As a goaltender, you must keep your eye on the puck. Or as Steve has suggested before watch the “pea under the thimble”.

    It speaks to their methods in the same way The Bishop’s summarization of W&A and A&W clarifies “where the pea is”.

    But I second the motion, it’s a non-issue. Just wanted to clarify the defintion. Not going any further into it.

  62. Patrick M.
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    Discuss weather vs. climate here:


  63. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    Can somebody update the wiki pages:


  64. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    bender: at least two of the IPCC modelers have doubted their (the GCMs) ability to make accurate forecasts. (Renshaw and Trenberth)

    1. Statements like this should be supported with documentation.

    http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23&Itemid=32 for Renwicks views: I think you will find that Trenberth made his views known on Nature’s blog on 4th June 2007. If you need more I’ll try and get it for you.

  65. mpaul
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    The journalist are professionals and share culpability in this case. A couple of guys here in Palo Alto held a press conference today claiming they had discovered Bigfoot. They refused to provide evidence. The press quickly labeled it a hoax. I think the press can easily recognize this kind of hoax. Mathematical parlor tricks are more difficult for the press to understand. Many journalists are intimidated by the complexity of the math. But they should simply rely on basic journalistic tools. A scientist refusing to provide data and methods should be a red flag as significant as someone claiming they found Bigfoot and not providing evidence. You don’t need a PhD in Climatology to understand that.

  66. Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    (OT) @ John Goetz,

    I am also attempting to port GISSTEMP to computer languages and computer systems with which I am comfortable programming in and operating. While R is a great language for statistics, it does have memory and disk space use limits that other languages do not have, and I am very much a novice using R. Since the link you have associated with your name here is broken, I’m asking if you would be willing to provide another link to your code. I love VB and I’d be willing to help you port the code.


  67. BarryW
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    People with a political bent have a tendency to use data, be it good or bad, to support their positions not to create them. Probably related to the fact that many are lawyer and are trained to pick the facts that support a client’s interest, not the truth. If Mann’s paper had not provided support to a political position it would probably never have seen the light of day outside of the climate science community.

    I think that this controversy is only the tip of the iceberg(so to speak) and that the poor or ignorant application of statistical methods is probably rampant in many other disciplines, especially where much of the science is far removed from mathematics. Sociology, psychology and medicine seem have many of the more egregious examples, but I wonder what other areas have policy decisions being decided by faulty statistical methodology.

    Re 66

    Learn JAVA (or some other modern language), VB is not the way to write code for large programs.

  68. Geoff
    Posted Aug 15, 2008 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    Gary Morrow (#48) says:

    bender, don’t know much(nothing) about GCMs but I’ve tried to understand the parameters you would need for accurate forecasting and a lot of them are horribly stochastic, at least two of the IPCC modelers have doubted their (the GCMs) ability to make accurate forecasts. (Renshaw and Trenberth)

    and bender comments (#53) :

    Statements like this should be supported with documentation

    With regards to Trenberth, his most recent “money” comment is:

    The opening question raised is “Should policy makers base decisions on the results of current climate models?” Of course the answer is no. George Box is credited with saying “All models are wrong, some are useful”. It applies to climate models especially well. No one should base a decision on a climate model and its output without proper evaluation as to whether it is in the useful category. In fact models are used to guide decisions every day: weather forecasts, seasonal forecasts, and so on. But they should not be used as a “black box”.

    As you would expect and appreciate, Trenberth still thinks GCMs can be useful. But he is careful to point out dangers of over-reliance. These subtleties are often lost on the general population.

    Renshaw’s comments were much the same (and as it happens both Renshaw and Tranberth are from New Zealand although now Trenberth is at NCAR). Renshaw has been outraged that “denialists” have used his comments on models to throw all models into the “non-useful” category.

    Most non-scientists do not recognize that even defenders of climate models outputs caution about over-reliance, and more widespread understanding of these caveats would lead to a more realistic evaluation of the current state of the science.

    I would encourage everyone to read the full Trenberth comment and the other comments in the current issue of Ogmius here.

  69. J. Peden
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know how many times I’ve seen RC responses that push the Climate/Weather threshold around to suit their needs.

    The “Climate” vs “Weather” word game is an example of a well-known propagandistic tactic. I learned about it in 1964 while studying Philosophy and have seen unending examples since. Words really don’t mean anything in themselves. After all, they are merely appearances or sounds or tactile receptions, or whatever else one might choose. Therefore, “Weather” and “Climate” can be morphed ad lib, by people who are not interested in applying the wonderous tools that words are, to solve human problems. Such “morphing” of words in disregard to solving human problems just might-could be your “first clue” as to the intent of those doing the morphing.

    Science and rationality stands against this practice.

  70. Geoff
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 4:31 AM | Permalink

    By the way, reinforcing bender’s comment about the importance of climate models in underpinning AGW “alarmism” note the following answer from Dr. John Holgren in an interview last year:

    BAS: Of all of the evidence that supports the theory of climate change, what is the most compelling?

    HOLDREN: The most compelling evidence is the excellent match between the observed pattern of changes in Earth’s climate and what theory and computer models say is expected to result from the changes in atmospheric compositionthat have occurred.


  71. MrPete
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 5:21 AM | Permalink

    re 66,67 – If learning another language for statistical use, it might as well be R.

    FWIW if I’m not mistaken R is no more limited than VB in memory use. If memory is really a problem, a bigmemory addon is available, and one can even reference functions written in some other languages.
    (feel free to snip this subthread; it’s really OT)

  72. Pete
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    #68: Regarding Trenberth’s response to Chase at the Ogmius link, I am having a hard time reading and not sensing that it is an example of a technical authority making obfuscations. How can policy be informed under conditions of obfuscatoriousnessityness?

    “Chase should not mistake the uncertainty in knowledge about the forcing and how it has changed with the uncertainty in the model formulation. Aerosol forcing knowledge is poorly known. That uncertainty does not affect the confidence in the response to specified known forcing.”

    It seems he is simply saying that he is confident that the computer will make all the calculations for some tweaked forcing as directed for the model. That some poorly understood physics are not in the model is immaterial to whether he is confident that the computer will do its calculations following the rules of the model. So the state of aerosol forcing knowledge is a pure obfuscation of a simple “fact” that the computer will do what you ask it to do.

    Also, he says that models “..in helping to guide policy decisions, provided they are used appropriately, with adequate evaluations..”. Are his statements representative of adequate evaluations? For technically uninformed policy makers, the evaluations should not be obfuscating.

  73. Tolz
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    #70 (Geoff)

    Who is this Dr. Holdgren? I’d love to have him bring his “excellent match”, of theory and GCM prediction with observed climate to this site for some lively discussion. That would be fun.

  74. Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    Here is a comment that Dave Rado of the 176-page Ofcom complaint about TGGWS (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3328) posted at Alex Lockwood’s blog .

    It was aimed at some very complimentary remarks about Bishop Hill’s post on the Hockey Stick and scared the proprietor into deleting them and the link to it. I ran out of fingers and toes before I counted all the bloopers, but this is someone who really cares about the accurate reporting of science, and the BBC gave him space on the Opinion section of their site to explain why. So how can he wrong?

    I like what you wrote except for the bit about the so-called “hockey stick”. A report by the US National Research Council’s Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate reviewed all the research that has been done to date on surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years, including the Mann (or MBH) paper that anti-global warming people refer to as the “hockey stick”. The Committee published a report in 2006 that agreed that there were statistical shortcomings in the MBH analysis, but concluded that they were small in effect. (http://tinyurl.com/36dzh3).
    More importantly, the Mann paper was simply the first peer reviewed attempt to qualitatively estimate global temperature trends over the last millennia using palaeoclimatic data, and was published in 1998: since then many other teams of researchers using completely different data sets have carried out independent studies that all came to the same conclusion as the MBH paper had, (as summarised at http://tinyurl.com/37wxu4). The critics of the original Mann paper never criticise the other independent studies – I wonder why not? Even the House of Lords economics affairs committee (which has little or no scientific background, as opposed to the much more qualified Science and Technology Committee, which does; and which was supposed to be investigating the economics rather than the science of climate change) noted that this was very strange, stating that: “One curious feature of the debate over Professor Mann’s time series is that the critics appear to ignore other studies which secure similar hockey stick pictures.” (http://tinyurl.com/j3vgy and http://tinyurl.com/5vp7rn).
    It should also be noted that McIntyre and McKitrick have never published on the subject (or on climate change at all) in any respected peer reviewed scientific journal and have had no formal training in climate science.
    So one has to question the motives of people who still bring up such an old paper despite all of the above, and I’m surprised that you are willing to give credence to such people

  75. bender
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    If Alex Lockwood wants to post incorrect information on his blog, that’s his prerogative. Rado has made a number of mistakes here, as anyone remotely familiar with the story knows, and as told even by the highly doctored wikipedia pages. If I were Lockwood, I would simply (1) investigate the matter further and (2) find out what is motivating Rado to say what he says.

    Mr. Rado can come here, and I will chat with him.

  76. DaleC
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    I would suggest that Mr Rado (and all HS advocates) perform the calculations outlined in my #5 above, and then explain themselves. Surely the fact that an elementary scaling and averaging operation shows nothing if the Graybill bristlecones are removed is all that needs to be said?

    SteveM is always careful to be consistent in his position that in the big scheme of things the HS controversy is a small matter, and from the scientific and evidentiary point of view I don’t disagree, but it has enormous impact in other ways. For example (and I doubt that I am alone) any AGW advocate who endorses the HS and its many progeny as Rado does above immediately loses me – I know it is crap, they know it is crap, so any defence makes the advocate look silly and just annoys me. This is no way to advance a case. The AGW brigade and the IPCC would have done far better to have immediately disavowed the HS as soon as doubts were confirmed, and apologised to us all for the stuff up. Had they done so, I would give them far more credence than I am presently inclined to do.

  77. Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    @ MrPete,

    Thanks for the bigmemory addon tip. I’m thinking of 32 bit systems on 64 bit operating systems here.

    /end OT computer language subthread

  78. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 6:11 PM | Permalink


    For example (and I doubt that I am alone) any AGW advocate who endorses the HS and its many progeny as Rado does above immediately loses me

    Agree. I have the same opinion about those who endorse the various papers that claim in one way or another that radiative transfer calculations are completely wrong (it’s all convection) or irrelevant so changes in ghg concentrations are irrelevant. They aren’t enhancing the reputation of serious skeptics of the alarmist position, to put it mildly.

  79. J. Peden
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

    Roger Pielke Jr has written a gracious post , following up on Bishop Hill’s post and considering the issues as they pertain to science policy, and, in particular, the processes of peer review and due diligence, which have informed many of my posts.

    As far as I can tell, the self-accredited ipcc “Climate Scientists”, in fact, have no Peer Review. Especially, not even that involving themselves – that is, involving their own personal review of their own thoughts.

  80. Ron Cram
    Posted Aug 16, 2008 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    re: 63

    It is very difficult to do a major rewrite of any controversial articles, as both of these are. Exactly what changes would you like to see to the two articles? If you can provide reliable sources I can cite, I would be happy to see whata can be done.

    Lately I have been working on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy
    Surprisingly, the “Global warming controversy” article does not even have a link to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy even though that is common practice on Wikipedia.

  81. Geoff
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    Hi Tolz (#73) commenting on (#70)

    John Holdren may be considered the pinacle of the scientific establishment. He is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School, as well as Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. He is also the Director of the Woods Hole Research Center and from 2005 to 2008 served as President-Elect, President, and Chair of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is the publisher of the journal Science.

    So when bender says GCMs are the key and one of the key leaders in the AGW camp agrees, it’s time to pay attention.

    He has been in the news recently due to an op-ed he wrote for the Boston Globe and International Herald Tribute (here) and Andy Revkin’s blog discussion (here) .

    I have to warm you that the blog discussions contain vitriolic and irrational slurs, and only the occasional voice of reason (for example my comment #175 [insert smiley here]).

    Since he offers no scientific arguments in his op-ed or support piece, there are no direct (although a number of implied) scientific arguments with him to bring up. However, he has very often (in my opinion) displayed extraordinarily bad judgment on policy issues. You might call him a “serial alarmist”.

    He is a co-author with Paul Ehrlich (“By 1980 the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides, and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million.” (1969)). Not only did he co-author with Ehrlich in 1971 on expected disasters from overpopulation, but he endorsed his 1990 book as well.

    He has been wrong on resources. Many people will remember Ehrlich’s wager with the economist Julian Simon (that selected commodity prices would increase over the following decade – they didn’t and Ehrlich sent Simon a check). John Holdren was a “co-better” with Ehrlich in the wager.

    He has been wrong on nuclear power and wrong on resouces policy (he was one of the hit men in the scandalous attach on Byorn Lomborg and his Skeptical Environmentalist).

    Whatever I or others may think of his judgment, his opinion about the key support of AGW being GCMs bears attention.

  82. Raven
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 2:41 AM | Permalink

    #80 Ron, can you explain why WC can get away which such blatent hypocracy when it comes to linking to pro-AGW sources like RC, source watch and other such “self-published” works?

  83. TerryB
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    regarding Roger Pielke Jr’s previous question about the relevance of the hockey stick debate to policy:-

    Surely the Ammann episode is not just about lousy peer review & how it brings discredit on this area of science?

    Surely a fundamental point of AGW proponents is that the recent warming trend is unprecedented & unique in the modern era. Weren’t the Ammann papers supposed to be a re-statement of that point, and hence help prove the anthropogenic influence on climate, and drive home the need for immediate action?

    But as it’s turning out, scientists still don’t know for sure whether it’s warmer now than in the previous 2000 years. If it isn’t, then that must still leave the door open for natural factors.

    Taken in isolation that might only cover a small area of the science – but together with Steve McIntyre’s unsuccessful search for an engineering quality proof of how 2xCO2 is supposed to produce 3 degrees of warming; AND together with the observational evidence showing warming to be lower even than Hansen’s Scenario C; AND together with recent papers by Spencer & Schwartz; AND the continued growth of the southern icecap….

    Take them all together and this surely must set some bells ringing for some policy makers. Surely?
    And if not, then why?

  84. Ron Cram
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 8:06 AM | Permalink



    It is considered bad form for a Wikipedia editor to bad mouth the “effort of the community” in a public forum like this and so I cannot comment personally. However, you might be interested in reading the comments of one of the founders of Wikipedia who left to start Citizendium. His name is Larry Sanders.


    I have chosen to continue working with Wikipedia because I still see the value of the effort. Students should not rely on the text of any article for any school paper. In fact, Wikipedia does not consider itself a “reliable source” and so one article cannot cite another article, but Wikipedia provides a very valuable service to readers. The value is in the great many secondary sources (and some case primary sources) from all perspectives. If readers take the time to read the sources, they can get a full picture of the subject.

    Raven, if you would like to see Wikipedia improved, I would invite you to join the effort. We desperately need sensible editors like yourself. What do you say?

  85. Pat Keating
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    78 DeWitt

    I agree. There is a direct warming effect from CO2, which is about 1.2C for doubling. The key issue is the net feedback — is the fb coefficient positive and about 0.6 turning the ‘dressed’ climate sensitivity into about 3C, as the alarmists claim , or negative and reducing the effect, as the skeptics might claim?

    In my view, a net positive feedback coefficient of around 0.6 is rather unlikely.

    81 Geoff

    Your description of Holdren’s poor judgement reminds me of a chapter in “In-laws and Outlaws” by Parkinson (of Parkinson’s Law fame):
    A company decides it isn’t possible to find an executive who is always right, so decide to interview to find a candidate who is always wrong, much easier to find. Sounds like Holdren might fit the bill.

  86. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    I put a link to Pielke Jr on the wikipedia page
    Apparently a link to an “expert blog” is permitted.

  87. Ron Cram
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 9:22 AM | Permalink


    Nicely done. Blogs are not considered “reliable sources” except regarding the view of the blog’s author/owner who must be considered “notable.” Pielke Jr has his own Wikipedia article, so he has passed the “notable” hurdle.

  88. MrPete
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre also has a Wikipedia article; perhaps he just might qualify? After all, his blog has been awarded “Best Science Blog” 🙂

    Ron, you’re doing a good service to continue. Few readers understand that primary sources of all kinds are generally discouraged while “notable” secondary sources are encouraged. Thus, Wikipedia is more likely to reference popular sources rather than sources with direct knowledge of the truth. With that filter firmly in mind, it’s a great resource.

  89. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    Re #81, #85. In 1972 John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich labelled The Doomsday Syndrome (by John Maddox, editor of Nature) an ‘uninformed assault on the concerns of environmentalists. Here’s an extract from the Holdren/Ehrlich review:

    ‘The most serious of Maddox’s many demographic errors is his invocation of a “demographic transition” as the cure for population growth in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He expects that birth rates there will drop as they did in developed countries following the industrial revolution. Since most underdeveloped countries are unlikely to have an industrial revolution, this seems somewhat optimistic at best. But even if those nations should follow that course, STARTING IMMEDIATELY, their population growth would continue for well over a century – perhaps producing by the year 2100 a world population of twenty thousand million. And that population would probably still be increasing by more than 100 million a year since there is every sign demographic transitions do not lead to stationary populations but to populations growing at 0.5 to1 per cent a year’ (The Times, 26 June 1972, p. 12, emphasis in original)

    Wrong on all counts. Current estimates and projections suggest that the annual growth in global population has never and will never reach 100 million, and it’s now clear that demographic transitions can and do lead to declining populations.

  90. Pat Keating
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    89 Ian
    There was a classic study several decades ago in which lab rats were allowed to increase in population in a fixed large space. When crowded, the male rats turned to homosexuality, and adult rats of both sexes started eating their young. So the rise of open homosexuality and abortion in our cities is perhaps a natural population-control response (supplemented by the technical advance of contraception).

  91. BraudRP
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    90 Pat
    Speaking of classic studies later documented on TV, what about “The Tenth Level” about Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Research which demonstrated how easily an authority, specifically a scientist, could influence people’s behavior by using the authority of science?

  92. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    Re #90. Yes, Lord May, who has been revealed as the driver behind the BBC’s recent decision to deny equal time to the opponents of the consensus on AGW, knew about these studies of overcrowding among rats nearly 40 years ago. In a review of ‘the environmental crisis’ published in Australia in 1971, May wrote:

    ‘Even though abundantly supplied with food and places to live, overcrowded rat communities provide a spectacle of social chaos, with, inter alia, complete disruption of of maternal behaviour, sexual deviations including homosexuality, hyperactive and totally withdrawn individuals: in short all the forms of aberrant behaviour one finds in, say, New York City.’ (May, Robert M., 1971, ‘The environmental crisis: a survey’, ‘Search’, 2, 122-31).

  93. Pat Keating
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    92 Ian
    Interesting. I guess he was using it to tell of those other catastrophes awaiting us. We have them already in the cities, 37 years later. There is actually plenty of space available, but people flock to the cities.

    91 Braud
    I guess you are referring to the study where the subjects cranked up the supposed electric voltage on a human ‘victim’ when told to do so. That was indeed scary.

  94. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    Re #93. Robert May contributed a review of the Club of Rome report (‘The Limits to Growth’) to ‘Search’ some months later. He thought the report should have devoted more attention to the over-riding limits to growth imposed by the second law of thermodynamics. These limits provided ‘a firm upper limit well within the 100 year time scale of the [Club of Rome]study’. In fact, said May,‘This DETAIL INDEPENDENT limit is an effective answer to those idealogues who maintain that man’s measureless ingenuity can solve the problem of indefinite growth on a finite planet’ (‘Search’, Sept. 1971: 109-110, EMPHASIS in original). May’s conclusion was that “more food, more pollution controls, or substitution for present raw materials are NOT solutions [to the environmental crisis], but merely palliatives productive of a more dramatic final crash”.

    Thirty years later, May organised the statement in ‘Science’ by 17 national scientific academies, led by the Royal Society (UK), which proclaimed that Kyoto was ‘a small but essential first step towards stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.’ The President of the Royal Society airily explained to ‘Science’ that the statement ‘was partly provoked by Bush’s recent rejection of the Kyoto Treaty, along with resistance to the Kyoto terms from countries such as Australia’ (‘Science’ 18 May 2001, p. 1275). But why did May want a small ‘first step’, when he’d said that such palliatives would be ‘productive of a more dramatic final crash’?

  95. Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

    Pat and Ian,

    When you get into conversations like this you can give morality to the immoral. AGW could be counteracted by war. Ethanol base economies could starve the world into a greener state. Coal burning related COPD deaths could be good for mankind. Abolish heath care and the world will be a better place. Allow only one child per generation (that’s being done).

    Perhaps Russia is doing their part to combat AGW by reverting to their cold war stance? Perhaps humanitarian aid to people living in deserts is foolish.

    We are in a pretty pacifistic era in human evolution. Maybe as human temperatures rise global temperatures will fall.

  96. bender
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

    #90-94 I could tell you why Bob May – brilliant man (once upon a time) – should not be listened to on AGW. But it would take us far OT.

  97. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 17, 2008 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #90-#96. Apologies for staying OT, but Captain Dallas’s remark about giving morality to the immoral invites a further reflection about Paul Ehrlich.

    In The Population Bomb’ (1968), he argued that ‘We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth: the cancer itself must be cut out’ (p. xi). How? In an article in ‘New Scientist’ Ehrlich advocated that the US should ‘… announce that it will no longer ship food to countries such as India where dispassionate analysis indicates that the unbalance between food and population is hopeless … Our insufficient aid should be reserved for those whom it may save’ (Ehrlich, P R, ‘Paying the Piper’, ‘New Scientist’, 14 December 1967: 652-55). According to Ehrlich it was a ‘fantasy’ to believe that India could feed an additional 120 million people by 1975.

    In 2008, India has nearly 700 million more people than in 1967. Many of them are severely undernourished, but average nutritional standards have improved substantially over the 40-year period. According to UN Population Division estimates, India’s life expectancy at birth has increased from 47 years in 1965-70 to 65 years in 2005-10 and the country’s Net Reproduction Rate (NRR) has decreased from 1.87 to 1.20 over the same period. The UN’s medium forecast for India’s NRR in 2030-35 is 0.85, well below replacement level and also below the UN’s medium forecast for the US (0.89).

    I won’t debate the moral questions here, but will simply observe that Ehrlich’s policy advice to the US 40 years ago was based on assumptions that have proved to be categorically wrong.

  98. MarkR
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Or. Thermodynamics meets Tree Thermometry. Ouch.

  99. Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 3:32 AM | Permalink

    Re: 96, Bender

    It would not be OT here and it would be very useful if you can spare the time.

  100. GeoS
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 4:14 AM | Permalink

    Ian Castles’ # 97 “I won’t debate the moral questions here, but will simply observe that Ehrlich’s policy advice to the US 40 years ago was based on assumptions that have proved to be categorically wrong.”

    Please forgive me for taking bandwidth, but the subject Ian touches on interests me a lot. May I ask Ian whether he’s written an essay on this subject which discussing these issues in detail?

    Thank you

  101. old construction worker
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

    TerryB says-‘Take them all together and this surely must set some bells ringing for some policy makers. Surely?
    And if not, then why?’
    The bells will only sound with someone does the ringing.

  102. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    TonyN #74

    Just a simple sentence in Rado’s post you quoted that shows the colors quite well: “anti-global warming people refer to as the “hockey stick”.

    Yeah, like Jerry Mahlman, the head of NOAA’s GFDL that invented the term?

    Ron #80

    No link? There’s a link from GWarmingC to HStickC in the ‘see also’ section on wikipedia. Or did you add it recently? 🙂

    Pat #85

    There is a direct absorption of infrared from the ground by carbon dioxide, but trying to quantify if it’s 1.2 for a doubling doesn’t take into account what exactly another 380 ppmv would be replacing. Does what’s being replaced in total have a larger forcing than the carbon dioxide? I don’t think anyone can say. Nor what the rest of the system would do to compensate. Or not.

  103. Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    Tony N

    I have been on holiday the last few weeks. Could you please clarify your objectives with regards to your series of posts here and on the link you provided? I have hade a bit of a go at the BBC myself for being less than impartial, particularly in relation to their use of biased guest experts on Home planet (radio 4) who never seem to answer climate related questions in a straightforward manner.


  104. Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    Re: #102, Sam

    I’m sure that ‘Hockey Stick’ is not the preserve of sceptics anyway, and I have heard at least one lecturer with a very decided preference for AGW alarmism use the term. But he did tell his audience that sea levels would rise by 30m by the end of the century too. Not maybe either.

    Re: #103, Tony Brown

    So far as the BBC is concerned, my objective is clearly stated here. I would be very interested to hear your experiences of bias on Home Planet if you would like to comment there, but I think it might be rather OT on this thread.

  105. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Re #100. GeoS, Thanks for your interest. Like Geoff (#81) I was appalled by the attacks on Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist, and wrote a piece defending the book within weeks of its publication: see http://www.assa.edu.au/publications/dial.asp?id=17 . It never occurred to me at that time that leading scientists would continue to assert that Lomborg’s book had not been peer-reviewed even though they knew this was untrue.

    Earlier I’d been the convenor of a Symposium of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) at which several speakers presented perspectives on global economic progress and human development over the preceding half century that were explicitly or implicitly critical of assumptions of the kind made by Ehrlich in the 1967 article cited above. These papers are published at http://www.assa.edu.au/publications/op.asp?id=19 /: you may be interested in those by Angus Maddison, David Henderson, myself and (especially) the eminent Australian demographer John Caldwell.

  106. john mathon
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    I would like to know if there is a historical precedent to the assumption by many of the AGW crowd that the MWP was a localized phenomenon, specifically the idea that certain parts of the globe would experience massively warmer temperatures for 100s of years. I personally am unaware of this phenomenon ever occurring. It seems impossible frankly that a certain part of the globe, i.e. greenland or some slightly more extended area would be 3 or 4 or more degrees centigrade warmer for nearly 300 years. What could possibly cause such a bizarre thing to happen? A giant heat source under greenland? A massive NAO cycle? Some kind of tiltiing of the earth towards the sun centered on greenland? Obviously I’m asking kind of facetiously because I don’t believe such a thing is remotely possible. When the same paleo climatologists look at ice cores for evidence of past ice ages do they assume part of the earth went through an ice age but other parts of the earth were in tropical conditions until they prove the entire earth was in an ice age or do they assume that if ice is located in some location it probably existed in most places?

  107. bender
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    Bob May is a genius. A wonderful man. But I do not trust his judgement on AGW.

    1. Bob May is not and has never been a climatologist. He was a theoretical population ecologist.
    2. His experience is with extremely simple models, nothing like the incredibly complex GCMs, which are the basis for AGW attribution to GHGs.
    3. His confidence in the GCMs is, like that of most ecologists, most likely faith-based.
    4. His lectures project a nihilist view: man is doomed by his own foolish actions. This is philosophy, not science.
    Or rather, hypothesis, not fact.
    5. Nihilism resonates with some. Bob May has no difficulty attracting a large and fervent audience. Of sheep.
    6. His major contribution to ecology was the idea that powerful negative feedbacks can kick in to bring exponential population growth to a precipitous halt, through population collapse, and subsequent chaos. There is only one system where this idea has ever been validated, and it is an experimental one where animals were packed unnaturally densely into an artificial medium (flour beetles in laboratory buckets). Like the rat example cited earlier, he has been forever in search of systems that conform to his unrealistic theory.
    7. The alarmist idea that the human population is likely to be regulated by powerful negative feedbacks (cannibalism, social disorder, and chaos) – like rats or bugs – has been around for many years. So far all indications are that there are negative feedback regulatory forces, but they are not violently nonlinear.
    8. His love of nihilist theory is consistent with his self-love of his nonlinear/chaos hypothesis.
    9. In short, his ecology is theoretical. He has always lived in a fantasy world, with little real concern for whether his ideas are correct or is not.
    10. Given his love of powerful negative feedback control system theory, it is ironic that he is not interested in physical mechanisms by which the hydrosphere could limit CO2 warming. Clouds, moist convection, ocean dynamics – the IPCC consensus is that these are the most uncertain compoenents of the GCMs.
    11. His published work has always displayed a lack of healthy skepticism and an inclination towards confirmationist science. Early in his career his tone was neutral and disinterested, but this seems to have changed with increasing fame, accolades, and power.

    This is not an ad hominem “attack”. It is an objective assessment of a man and his legacy. I love the man. I love his papers. But he is not qualified to preside over fundamental questions of climate science. Best leave that to the ones who actually build and study the climate models that are going to be running our lives from here on in.

    Perhaps I am just not a trusting person. So be it.

  108. Pat Keating
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    Bender, it is difficult for me to consider a man as dogmatically wrong as he is about so many things as “brilliant”, although I know what you mean.

  109. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

    Re #107. Bender, I don’t agree that Robert May’s early work was neutral and disinterested. In my view, the 1971 papers that I cited above were shrill, extreme, dogmatic, dilettantish and contemptuous of other experts and disciplines.

    In one of those articles, May argued that ‘The way to free ourselves from the doomladen logic of the commons is … to enact coercive legislation that governs all equally.’ The ‘best hope’ he could see in 1971 was that ‘when the first truly massive ecological catastrophes begin to occur (pick your own catastrophe), they may again create the 1945 atmosphere of trauma, in which it could be politically feasible to legislate against population growth and waste of resources … [W]e will stagger from calamity to calamity until we do act.’ May sneered at the ‘cornucopian economists’ who had ‘harped upon’ the great increases in food production that had occurred in Africa, the Near and Far East, and Latin America. One can’t know who was doing the harping, but the fact is that the subsequent increase in global food production has been far greater than any leading economist dared to predict 40 years ago.

    So far as the long-term future of the world’s population was concerned, May thought it ‘sufficient to remark that were the population to continue to increase indefinitely at its current rate, then in 400 years there would be one square yard for each inhabitant of the globe; the surface of the earth would be covered from Greenland to the Antarctic like the Hill at a Test Match.’ He praises the authors of ‘Limits to Growth” for justly stressing that ‘most people (and particularly economists) have little intuitive feeling for the ultimate consequences of exponential growth.’ This was a cheap shot.

    You say that Lord May’s confidence in GCMs is ‘like that of most ecologists, most likely faith-based.’ I didn’t know that he had such confidence in GCMs, faith-based or otherwise. Here is what I heard him tell the UNESCO/ICSU World Conference on Science at Budapest in 1998:

    “The emerging message of disciplines such as ‘chaos’ and ‘complexity’ is that the simplest rules which can be imagined, with nothing random or probabilistic in them, can generate behaviour as complicated as anything which can be imagined. Such behaviour is not merely complicated, but so sensitive to the initial condition that long-term prediction is impossible…” (Robert May, “The scientific approach to complex systems” in “World Conference on Science: Science for the twenty-first century”, 2000: 63).

    You may well be right that Lord May has little real concern whether his ideas are correct or not, but this is not an admirable trait in a leader in science. Perhaps he had little concern whether his ideas, or even his facts, were correct when he recently condemned the ‘active and well-funded “denial lobby”‘ and referred to ‘The distractions and misrepresentations of the well-funded [climate change] denial industry.’ As David Henderson has remarked, ‘May provides no evidence of the ample funding that he refers to or of specific recipients of it whose objectivity, and perhaps professional integrity, are therefore to be held in question’ (‘Government and Climate Change Issues’, ‘World Economics’, Apr-Jun 2007: 221). With prominent figures in the Royal Society exhibiting attitudes such as these, it is small wonder that The Lancet declared in 2005 that that the Society had ceased to be ‘a place to discuss the subversive subject of science’ and had become ‘self-serving and parochial’ (‘What is the Royal Society for?’, editorial, 365: 1746).

    I don’t know Lord May personally, and I’ve no reason to doubt that he’s a genius. But he hasn’t been good for science or for the Royal Society.

  110. Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 5:37 AM | Permalink

    Re: #107, Bender


    The question is whether Lord May’s function at the BBC’s seminar was to inform or to persuade. His persuasive powers are well illustrated here:


    And here are a couple of rather strange things that turned up in this TLS article:

    He uses the following quotation from the Stern Review:

    “Ecosystems will be particularly vulnerable to climate change, with around 15–40 per cent of species potentially facing extinction after only 2°C of warming.”
    Stern Review page vi

    But the Stern Review also says:

    Ecosystems will be particularly vulnerable to climate change, with one study estimating that around 15–40% of species face extinction with 2°C of warming.
    Stern Review page 56, my emphasis

    Preferring one quotation to the other moves his argument from the realm of science well into the world of advocacy.

    Referring to the infamous Bob Ward campaign to cut off funding from AGW sceptic think tanks he says:

    Following earlier talks and seeking to exemplify its centuries-old motto – Nullius in Verba (which roughly translates as “respect the facts”) – the Royal Society recently and unprecedentedly wrote to ExxonMobile, complaining about its funding for “organisations that have been misinforming the public about the science of climate change”, ….

    I am not a classicist, but ‘respect the facts’ is not a translation of Nullius in Verba, however rough. It is pure wishful thinking that seems to step back 350 years to the scientific ethos of arguments from authority that preceded the foundation of the Royal Society; a return to the days when scientific debate could be controlled by those with the influence to impose their version of ‘the facts’ on pupils and colleagues. (See also Ian Castles’ reference to the Lancet editorial, end of penult para in his #109)

    The BBC has told me that Lord May was ‘the key speaker at the seminar’, but they refuse to give me detailed information about who was listening. Why?

  111. Louis Hissink
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 6:47 AM | Permalink



    Sometimes the Gods decide to make a genius out of a madman to auger in the next global travail.

  112. stan
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    Mental facility and good judgment are not very well correlated. Hence the term “common sense” which likely arose from one too many encounters with someone who was too clever by half.

  113. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    Mental facility and good judgment are not very well correlated.

    A common claim. But (1) is it supported by data? And (2) even if they are well-correlated among individuals, there are some individuals that are outliers. In both directions.

    [Remember the Larson comic – the nerdy kid with the coke-bottle glasses pushing like hell on the door to the “School for the Gifted”? The door that was labelled “Pull to Open”.]

  114. KevinUK
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    #106 JM

    The fact is Greenland was habitable for 3 decades due to natural variability in the climate and that conversely the Thames froze over during the Little Ice Age. That such diverse differences in temperature occured in the past when CO2 was supposedly only at 280 ppm is and will continue to always be an Inconvenient Truth to those who seek to claim that our current climate is high sensitive to the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere.

    This is why such people despite the volumes of documented evidence that exists will always deny the existence of the MWP and LIA and if not deny their existence attempt to underplay them by claiming that they were confined to only one small part of the globe.

    If such diverse variations in the earth’s past millenial timescale climate can occur due to WHOLLY natural causes and certainly not be capable of being attributed to GHG (excluding water vapour) concentrations in our atmosphere, most definitely leave open the possibility (to be constantly denied by AGW proponents) that the recent warming trend at the end of the 20th century was more likely caused by similar (to the MWP and LIA) natural causes.


  115. Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    TonyN #110

    I understand the motto translates as
    ‘Nobodys word is final’ which is rather different to ‘respect the facts’. I fear the Royal Society somewhat lost its way under May and Ward with regards to its ancient guiding principles with regards to either translation.


  116. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’, roughly translated as ‘Take nobody’s word for it’, dates back to 1663 …

  117. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    One of the unofficial mottos of CA is “Trust, but verify”. Not that far from The Royal Society’s motto, when you think about it.

  118. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    BTW #117 is an inference based on the fact that this phrase can be found in dozens of CA posts:

  119. jeez
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    RE: 113 bender.

    For you.


  120. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    Acta non verba

  121. Stan Palmer
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Trust but verify === Fiducia tamen quin

  122. jeez
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    Cum Catapultae Proscriptae Erunt Tum Soli Proscripti Catapultas Habebunt

  123. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    ‘Respect the facts’ isn’t even a rough translation of ‘Nullius in verba’: it drains the phrase of meaning and begs the question ‘What are facts?’ Sir William Petty, one of the Royal Society’s founders, answered that question in his injunction to his RS Fellows: ‘No word might be used but what marks either number, weight or measure.’ It was Petty who first measured the national income, and the World Bank quoted his phrase at the masthead of the first chapter of the first issue of its annual ‘World Development Indicators’ (1997).

    In his ‘Political Arithmetick’ (1676), Petty wrote: “Now the Observations or Positions expressed by NUMBER, WEIGHT and MEASURE, upon which I bottom the ensuing Discourses, are either true, or not apparently false … I hope all ingenious and candid persons will rectifie the Errors, Defects and Imperfections, which probably may be found in any of [my] Positions.’

    Petty was inviting refutation based on experiment and measurement based on evidence. This is the opposite of May’s approach of seeking to silence dissenting views by labelling them ‘misrepresentation.’

  124. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of “misrepresentation” out there, especially in the blogosphere. Alarmists and “inactivists” alike need to be careful to distinguish nonsense from valid criticism. I am confident May knows the difference. I doubt it’s the legitimate scientific criticism that he wants silenced. It’s the obvious distortions that bother him. And should they not bother us all?

  125. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    It is nice to see that my position on this has been pretty consistent – that I didn’t argue that it turned AGW theory upside down, but neither was it a nothing.

    Steve, to me your work has shown that AGW has not been elevated to the level of theory, but remains a hypothesis, yet to be validated experimentally or observationally. As Einstein said, all that’s needed to invalidate it is one fact, and I think there are several which do so.

  126. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

    Re #124. Bender, I’m not sure that May does know the difference. His own grasp of the facts is woeful. In the same review article in which he flung around his unsubstantiated allegations against a supposedly well-funded ‘denial lobby’ he said that the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report ‘estimates that global warming will (sic) be in the range of 2.4 C to 6.4 C by 2100.’ In fact, this was the range of warming for the HIGHEST scenario – the range for the lowest scenario, which he could equally well have singled out, was 1.1 C to 2.9 C. Moreover, May said of the temperasture range that he misleadingly cited that it ‘assumes that we will manage to stabilize greenhouse has concentrations at around 450-550 ppm [by 2100].’ No it doesn’t – it assumes a concentration of 1550 ppm CO2 equivalent in 2100: see footnote 14 on p. 12 of the WGI Summary for Policymakers. Projected concentrations in 2100 for the five other scenarios range from 600 to 1250 ppm. Lord May grossly misrepresented one of the IPCC’s central findings, presumably because of a failure to consult the Report or even the Summary for Policymakers.

  127. bender
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    #126 I make mistakes sometimes too. I am sure he admits when he’s wrong and appreciates being corrected.

  128. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    bender, you say:

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of “misrepresentation” out there, especially in the blogosphere. Alarmists and “inactivists” alike need to be careful to distinguish nonsense from valid criticism. I am confident May knows the difference. I doubt it’s the legitimate scientific criticism that he wants silenced. It’s the obvious distortions that bother him. And should they not bother us all?

    Yes, they should bother us all. However, I doubt that his method (rail against the choice of what scientific research/commentary any given person/organization wants to fund) would be successful even if it could legally be implemented. Restricting science that hasn’t been done yet and comments which have not been made yet is an odd way to cut down on distortion …


  129. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 19, 2008 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    It’s not that Lord May makes mistakes (I make them too): it’s that he seems to make statements such as these ‘recklessly, not caring whether they are true or false.’ I’m surprised that someone in his position contributes a review article to ‘The Times Literary Supplement’ in which he’s highly critical of others, but doesn’t trouble to check basic facts. Doesn’t the Royal Society have someone who could have helped him? David Henderson pointed out the errors cited in #126 in an article in ‘World Economics’ more than a year ago, but as far as I know Lord May hasn’t corrected them.

    Under the heading ‘Scientists in glass houses’, Henderson also cited May’s statement in his review article that ‘the rich nations … currently OWN a bit more than half of global GDP” (EMPHASIS added). David commented that ‘World GDP is not an item or inventoru of property which countries or governments ‘own’, but … a flow of goods and services.’ This is right outside May’s area of expertise: why does he make such statements without checking? William Petty, FRS knew that one needed to measure an economy in terms of flows of aggregate income and expenditure 350 years ago. Why can’t May (and the Royal Society) smarten up their act in areas such as these?

  130. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 at 2:42 AM | Permalink

    Re # 129 Ian Castles,

    re Scientists in glass houses, Prime Minister Rudd thinks scientists live in glass test tubes:

    Climate change is real, an international panel of climate change scientists, 4,000 essentially humourless guys in white shirts and white coats with their heads stuck down test tubes … 18 July 2008 — Interview with Rhys Muldoon, 666 AM Radio, Canberra

  131. Max
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 at 4:16 AM | Permalink

    This could be the wrong place for this, but last Sunday , Christopher Monckton and Richard Littlemore had an open debate on the Roy Green show. Littlemore is the editor for Desmogblog. It was interesting and I have to give Richard Littlemore credit for actually having the guts to put himself out there, unike any others from that camp. The sky is falling bunch all want to debate our political leaders, to me thats a chicken**** aproach so that they can try to harrass a politician into policy changes with motherhood issus, instead of a debate on the methodology of Agw and its impacts. Littlemore also is affiliated with the Suzuki foundation, so it was a good time to see what that camp was using for science. Everyone knows who Monckton is of course.
    Right from the start Monckton went for the jugular about the money trail on the AGW side, not really about what it should have been about, but it scored a few points.
    It got down to the hockeystick quickly, with Mockton pointing out its construction based on faulty statistical approaches and being cherry picked from proxies that gave up the wanted results.
    But to no avail, Littlemore proved to be quite a stickboy for the team, laughing off any such assertion that it had been discredited, and citing Wikipedia as solid reference for the stick and AGW… Yes, wikipedia..
    Apparently the stick is alive and well despite the corrections made to it over the years, now its even playing with an illegal curve and there seems to be no referee who wants to check it with a quarter.
    I am glad Bishop hill boiled it down for us no stats people, but the realities of the stick still hasnt made it past the first row of the parade watchers yet.

  132. fFreddy
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    This could be the wrong place for this, but things are getting bad in the UK.

    Hope remains …

  133. DeWitt Payne
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 at 3:05 PM | Permalink


    I so want that on a bumper sticker. It would be a perfect match for my other sticker: Cthulhu 2008: Why vote for a lesser evil

  134. Craig Loehle
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    So…Bender knows Lord May’s work in detail…which both suggests an age and profession for our famous Bender–could he be a colleague of mine? A fellow mathematical ecologist? mmmm though I chose long ago to follow a practical form of math that involves data and hypothesis tests. What May has in common with GCM modelers is the assumption that the model is true a priori and not much interest in testing it.

  135. David L. Hagen
    Posted Aug 23, 2008 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Another chance to make comments on climate change
    Chapter 1 Executive Summary 1
    CCSP Synthesis and Assessment 1 Product 1.2
    2 Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes

    This cites Mann et al, but no reference to your papers.
    Good opportunity to get your side formally included in the official policy document.



    Aerosol properties and their impacts on climate

    Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.3

    11 July 2008. Public review draft of report is posted. Comments will be accepted from 11 July through 25 August 2008.”

    Calling on Hockey Stick specialists to weigh in. This report references
    Mann et al (1998),
    Mann et al (1999), but not
    Mann et al (2004) Corrigendum.

    There also does not appear to be any reference to McIntyre & McKitrick.

    e.g., Note the following (with left line numbers):

    2340 Figure 5.35 Updated composite proxy-data reconstruction of Northern
    2341 Hemisphere temperatures for most of the last 2000 years, compared with other published
    2342 reconstructions. Estimated confidence limits, 95%. All series have been smoothed with a
    2343 40-year lowpass filter. The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), about 950–1200 AD.
    2344 The array of reconstructions demonstrate that the warming documented by instrumental
    2345 data during the past few decades exceeds that of any warm interval of the past 2000
    2346 years, including that estimated for the MCA. (Figure from Mann et al. (in press).”

    The figure 5.35 and figure description is given later:

    Figure 5.35. Updated composite proxy-data reconstruction
    2774 of Northern Hemisphere
    2775 temperatures for most of the last 2000 years, compared with other published reconstructions.
    2776 Estimated confidence limits, 95%. All series have been smoothed with a 40-year lowpass filter.
    2777 The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), about 950–1200 AD. The array of reconstructions
    2778 demonstrate that the warming documented by instrumental data during the past few decades
    2779 exceeds that of any warm interval of the past 2000 years, including that estimated for the MCA.

    One may take further confidence from the following on page 2:

    26 Chapter 5 Temperature and Precipitation
    1 Statistically valid confidence levels often can be attached to scientific findings, but commonly require many
    independent samples from a large population. Such a standard can be applied to paleoclimatic data in only some
    cases, whereas in other cases the necessary archives or interpretative tools are not available. However, expert
    judgment can also be used to assess confidence. The key findings here cannot all be evaluated rigorously using
    parametric statistics, but on the basis of assessment by the authors, all of the key findings are at least “likely” as
    used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (more than 66% chance of being correct); the authors
    believe that the most of the findings are “very likely” (more than a 90% chance of being correct).

    See especially section:
    1728 5.4.9d Climate of the past millennium and the Little Ice Age

  136. bender
    Posted Aug 24, 2008 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    Re #135
    Fig 5.35 must not be allowed to stand “as is”:

    Click to access sap1-2-prd-all.pdf

    Steve M, when you get back you may want to examine this case of “spot the hockey stick”

  137. James Lane
    Posted Aug 25, 2008 at 2:34 AM | Permalink

    # 136 Bender

    Of course, no-one would splice the instrumental record onto the reconstructions. That would be an incorrect and foolish thing to do.

  138. bender
    Posted Aug 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    #137 It is a mental trick. Rather than them physically splice the data together, they leave it up to the reader’s imagination to do it. They color the instrumental and reconstruction curves differently in order to absolve themselves of the responsbility of placing the curves on the same set of axes. It is a devilish trick.

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