In today’s post, I’ll show that even Andrew Weaver was tricked by Mann’s IPCC 2001 hide-the-decline. Weaver’s incorrect belief that the IPCC diagram showed “four” “independent” “hockey sticks” constructed using “different techniques” led him to believe that the research was much solider than it really was (or is), to say that our focus on the Mann reconstruction was “vindictive” and that any suggestion that our work might impact IPCC conclusions on the topic was “pure and unadulterated rubbish”. Because of Weaver’s rhetorical style (see yesterday’s post), the National Post news reporter slightly misunderstood Weaver as saying that our research was “pure and unadulterated rubbish” – a view that Weaver probably held – as opposed to saying that the idea that our research would have any impact on IPCC conclusions on the topic was “pure and unadulterated rubbish”
On January 27, 2005, James Cowan, a news reporter for National Post, published an article about our work. (In the background section of her decision, J Burke referred to this article, but incorrectly attributed it to defendant Corcoran, rather than Cowan – a distinction that seems relevant to me if the incident is relevant.) Cowan had interviewed Weaver in connection with this article and summarized his interview as follows:
Andrew Weaver, a professor and Canadian Research Chair at the University of Victoria, also dismissed the research. “This is simply pure and unadulterated rubbish,” he said.”
For his part, Prof. Weaver described the researchers’ focus on Dr. Mann’s work as “vindictive,” noting numerous independent studies have reflected the hockey stick trend. “If you look in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [reports], there are four hockey sticks and they all show the same thing. And they were all done with very different techniques, so why focus on just the work of Dr. Mann?” Prof. Weaver said.
To the extent that this article attracted attention, it has been because of the phrase “pure and unadulterated rubbish” – a phrase that seems not to fall too far from the phrases used in connection with our earlier article: “random diatribes of absolute, incorrect nonsense” and “absolute balderdash” – see here.
However, today, I want to visit Weaver’s other statements that criticism of Mann’s incorrect methodology was “vindictive” and that the IPCC report contained “four hockey sticks and they all show the same thing” and “they were all done with very different techniques” and were “independent”, as Weaver’s statements were, as CA readers now know, untrue.
Here is the relevant Figure from IPCC AR3. It shows four reconstructions: two variations of the Mann et al 1999 reconstruction (obviously not independent); the Jones et al 1998 reconstruction and the Briffa et al 2001 reconstruction. Take a reminder look – comments follow.
Figure 1. Left – IPCC AR3 Figure 2-21 showing variations of the Mann et al 1999 reconstruction, the Jones et al 1998 reconstruction and the truncated Briffa et al 2001 reconstruction. Right- cover of Hiding the Decline, showing the actual Briffa reconstruction from data in Climategate dossier.
Obviously, Weaver’s claim that the 30-70N variation of the Mann reconstruction was an “independent” reconstruction using a “very different technique” was total bilge. It comes from Mann et al 2000 and uses the same data and methodology as the main reconstruction, but regresses onto 30-70N instrumental data. (Also, it only starts in 1600 and is not relevant to reconstructions starting in 1400 and earlier.)
The Briffa reconstruction actually is “independent” but, as CA readers know, it is not a “hockey stick”. At the time, no one, including myself, knew that Mann and Briffa had chopped off the offending portion of the Briffa reconstruction. Weaver was fooled by their deception just like everyone else. The first report of the trickery in the IPCC diagram came a couple of months later – at CA here.
Thus, the only “independent” “hockey stick” in the actual IPCC diagram was the Jones et al reconstruction, which also had multiple defects. It only had three series contributing to its medieval portion and there were serious issues with two of them: (1) the Tornetrask series used in the reconstruction was not the actual chronology, but one that had had a highly arbitrary bodge (an issue that attracted attention in Climategate); (2) the Polar Urals chronology looked very different when updated information was incorporated, a longstanding CA issue.
While Weaver only intended to say that it was “simply pure and unadulterated rubbish” to say that our research could impact the conclusions presented in the IPCC diagram with its four hockey sticks (as opposed to saying that our research was in itself “pure and unadulterated rubbish”, even Weaver’s intended meaning was unwarranted, given that Weaver had been tricked by hiding the decline and had mistakenly considered the two Mann variations as “independent”.
Weaver and Rutherford et al 2005
There’s a further interesting issue in Weaver being tricked about the Briffa hide-the-decline that I will note, but not discuss in detail today. Weaver had been editor of Rutherford et al 2005, which contained false statements about our work that Weaver refused to correct. Rutherford et al 2005 was a joint enterprise of Mann et al and Jones, Briffa and Osborn. One of its component datasets was the Briffa MXD data. So, out of all the climate scientists in the world, Weaver ought to have been uniquely able to spot the deletion of adverse data in the IPCC diagram t0 hide the decline in the Briffa reconstruction. Yet even Weaver was tricked.
I had written to Weaver at the time asking him to correct the false (even defamatory) statements about our work in Rutherford et al 2005. Weaver flatly refused, offering us only the right to submit a comment. In retrospect, there seems to be a considerable discrepancy in the redress offered to us, as opposed to the redress insisted upon by Weaver – again a topic for another day.
Another Reporter Wrongfooted by Weaver
In yesterday’s post, I discussed Witt’s analysis of Karl Rove-style insinuations, in which Witt observed that a key ingredient was placing a malicious phrase in the consciousness of the listener.
As Weaver had previously done in connection with our 2003 article, he had once again used a very malicious phrase in association with our work but, like Karl Rove, did not directly use the phrase as a descriptor of our research (only of its potential impact) in his interview with Cowan. Reporter Cowan missed Weaver’s segue and interpreted Weaver’s derogation of the suggestion that our work would impact IPCC conclusions as “pure and absolute balderdash” to derogation of our research as “pure and absolute balderdash”.
In terms of what Weaver believed, there is some collateral information that while he had not actually told the reporter that our research was “balderdash”, he did in fact believe that our work was “balderdash”. On the day that Cowan’s article was published, Weaver slagged us to a member of the University of Victoria faculty as follows:
I had a chance to speak to Andrew Weaver today, which resulted in a lot of heat and not much light… He hadn’t seen the Nat Post. As it happened, there was a copy handy, and I showed him the article. He checked directly for the bit quoting him, and, ignoring the rest, went on to say some things about you and McIntyre that were not, to put it politely, very nice. Something about being so ignorant as not to know the difference between radians and degrees, and so dishonest as to not recognize your error after the fact, and other things of the same sort. He explained how all of us, me included, will have a lot to answer for when the world meets its doom later in the century. [SM: As a note, the radians-degrees issue relates to a mistake in a paper by Ross and Pat Michaels, which was identified because Ross placed his code online and which Ross had immediately acknowledged and corrected with a corrigendum.]
Weaver subsequently (and independently) gave his side of the incident as follows:
A colleague at Uvic told me on Thursday [Jan 28] that he had read that I thought your research was “unadulterated rubbish”. I asked him what he was talking about and he pointed to a copy of the post that was on the floor nearby. When I read it I was steaming angry as this sort of stuff is precisely what causes controversy. As I explained I never said that about your research (in fact I specifically said I am unable to assess the research as I havent got the paper). I was reacting to the statement that does this mean its an end to the issue of climate change. As soon I was back in the office I sent a letter to the reporter.
Weaver’s letter to Cowan stated that he had not directly said that our research was “pure and unadulterated rubbish”, only that it was “pure and unadulterated rubbish” to think that our research impacted IPCC conclusions on the topic, reminding Cowan that Weaver had “explained” to him the “existence of other hockey sticks”:
Just for the record, I was a little dismayed that you have me quoted as saying “This is simply pure and unadulterated rubbish”. Immediately after a statement that “I “dismissed the research”. I think this might mistakenly be interpreted as I think their GRL paper is “pure and unadulterated rubbish”.
As you will recall, you read to me a piece from the press release they sent out that said something like: “Since the graph was published in Nature and Geophysical Research Letters by University of Virginia professor Michael Mann in the late 1990s, it’s been the basis for showing the effects of global warming.
You then asked me something like: “Does this mean that the theory of global warming has been disproven”.
I then said: “absolutely not”. Any statement like that is simply pure and unadulterated rubbish”. I then went on to explain the existence of other hockey sticks as you pointed out in an article.
Cowan didn’t respond to Weaver.
Meanwhile, I was irritated by the statement attributed to Weaver, with whom I’d had civilized correspondence about false statements in Rutherford et al 2005, though Weaver refused to do anything about them) and wrote him on January 29 as follows (giving a link to a preprint):
In the National Post, Jan. 27, 2005, you are quoted as saying that our research in Geophysical Research Letters is “simply pure and unadulterated rubbish”. This is intemperate language, especially in public discourse, and is inconsistent with the tone of your emails earlier in the month.
In terms of the substance of the comment, I would appreciate it if you would promptly clarify for me which specific claims or findings in our GRL article (see pre-publication version at http://www.climate2003.com/pdfs/2004GL012750.pdf) are “pure and unadulterated rubbish”. If you cannot do so, I would appreciate it if you would forthwith communicate an unambiguous withdrawal of these comments to the National Post, including an explicit statement that, on further reflection, you have been unable to identify any specific claims or findings in our GRL article which you can assert to be incorrect.
Weaver responded that he had been quoted out of context and that he did “not like being misquoted or being quoted out of context.”:
Thank you for your email. You will notice from my communication to the National Post below that I was dismayed that I was quoted the way I was. This email was sent on Thursday immediately after the article was brought to my attention. I do not like being misquoted or being quoted out of context.
The irony here is I told him that I did not have access to the published article yet. In fact, a question to you, why is it that GRL has not published it yet but you are issuing press releases suggesting it was to have appeared on Thursday. I specifically told the reporter, who I am copying on this communication, that I couldn’t comment directly on the papers as I did not have access to the published version. It seems very strange to me that press releases were being issued.
I replied to Weaver as follows:
I am pleased that your position is that you did not make the statements attributed to you. Given the wide circulation of the statement, I think that it would be appropriate if you sent a letter to the National Post clarifying the matter, in addition to your complaint to the reporter, and request that you do so.
As to your other points, I did not issue a press release. [… explanation]
I’ve received feedback from some prominent scientists saying that they find the analysis convincing – including from von Storch, who has been quoted publicly, and, in your field, Carl Wunsch (Wunsch does not want to be involved publicly).. What are your views?
Weaver replied on January 29 as follows:
Thanks Steve, I would be happy to send in such a letter. I was contemplating doing that anyway before you wrote but I was awaiting a response from Cowan, the reporter (none has been forthcoming). I do look forward to reading your article and will do so when I can find a few seconds.
He then sent a letter to National Post, with the following key paragraphs:
I was a little dismayed that you have me quoted as saying “This is simply pure and unadulterated rubbish”, immediately after a statement that “I dismissed the research”. I think this might mistakenly be interpreted as I think the McKitrick and McIntyre GRL paper is “pure and unadulterated rubbish”….
I also specifically noted that I couldn’t comment directly on the paper as I did not have access to the published version. In fact the Post purports that the article was “published today in Geophysical Research Letters”. As of the time of my writing this letter, the paper by McKitrick and McIntyre is still not published by GRL. [SM: this last sentence is a little cute to say the least, as it had been accepted, was in press and I had provided a preprint link to him.]
Ross had also sent an email to Weaver, also asking for a statement of clarification:
It is of course your prerogative to respond to our papers according to your professional judgment, but given your stature and the apparently complete misrepresentation of what you meant, a statement of clarification would seem to be important.
Weaver responded to Ross on Jan 31 as follows:
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the community reacts to your GRL piece. I scanned it on the weekend and came to the conclusion that a quick scan does not do it justice. I also scanned the ‘realclimate.org’ site and noted a response which also required more in depth analysis too.
The next day (Feb 1), Weaver emailed Ross and I saying that reporter Cowan had reviewed his tapes and agreed that he had made an “honest error” in respect to Weaver’s comment:
I got an email from the reporter of the National Post. He concurred that he made an ‘honest error’ quoting me (he reviewed his tapes). He told me that the National Post would be formally publishing a correction likely in tomorrows paper.
The next day (Feb 2), the Post made a sarcastic correction as follows:
Andrew Weaver, a professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, has described the contention that the theory of global warming is reliant on research published by Dr. Michael Mann as “unadulterated rubbish,” but he has not read a recent paper challenging Dr. Mann’s work, by Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre, published in Geophysical Research Letters. Incorrect information appeared in the National Post of Jan. 27. The Post regrets the error.
This incident was discussed in J Burke’s decision as an example of Weaver requiring National Post to publish corrections without mentioning the fact that it was our insistence that prompted Weaver to actually insist on a correction. The incident was recalled in numerous later incidents, all concerning Weaver’s dismissal of our work – a backstory that I’ll discuss separately.
For the purposes of today’s post, it is interesting to see how Mann’s hiding the decline in the IPCC 2001 report impacted Weaver’s dismissal of any potential impact of our research – a connection that I had not noticed until today. At the time of the original incident, I, like everyone else, was unaware of the trick or of its connection to Weaver’s dismissal. There are also some loose ends connected with Rutherford et al 2005, which I was not aware of at the time of my correspondence with Weaver – some of which are quite ironic.
As a further strand to the discussion, I’ve never previously reported or discussed Weaver’s accusations that Climate Audit, then very new, had published material “defamatory” to Weaver. I corresponded with Weaver about it and his view about what was “defamatory” is quite interesting given subsequent events.