Hiding the Decline. Part V: Discussion

by Judith Curry

The other threads are having problems with the reply threading, here is a new thread that will hopefully facilitate the discussion

202 responses to “Hiding the Decline. Part V: Discussion

  1. For Monty,

    Brought over from IV

    Even low latitude trees have more needs than just temperature. There will be divergence and it is known. So the point of the conversation is if it is known, why was it selectively snipped? Is that proper scientific practice?

    Do you use “novel” statistical methods without thorough tests to determine their validity? I thought Annan’s Bayesian with expert prior is a reasonable way to avoid unintentional bias. It may not be perfect, but it is useful. The method Steig et al used was much less that perfect, it was defective. He could have tested it himself before submission. Why didn’t he? Ignorance, arrogance, rush to publish, poor counsel from a peer? Remember that before the dust up, Hu Mc discovered his confidence intervals were incorrect. But that flawed paper made the cover of nature, is referenced by NASA (with the pretty picture). You have to look to find the corrigenda, there is no mention on the NASA site.

    So everything is hunky dory on climate science land, let’s deflect the issue to Italian flags, Slaying Dragons and uncertainty about why people talk about uncertainty.

    There are legitimate questions being asked.

    • Rattus Norvegicus


      Science does not emerge full grown from the brow of Zeus. It progresses in steps. Was the original MBH technique optimal, no. But his papers pointed the way for others (and Mann’s own group) to develop better analysis techniques. Those subsequent analyses have shown that the big picture was correct. Of course if you don’t accept the validity of multi-proxy techniques, nothing will convince you.

      The same holds with Steig. Yes there are weaknesses with his original technique. O’D2010 improved on the original technique (as admitted many times by Steig) but may still hold some weaknesses, which Steig has aired both publicly and in his reviews. This is the sort of dialog which is supposed to occur in scientific discussion. As Eli Rabett has said “it ain’t a tea party” (although these days that should probably read “kaffeeklatsch” to prevent misunderstandings :) ).

      So was the original paper flawed? In some sense yes. Steig found significant warming in West Antarctica and non-significant trends int he rest of the continent with the exception of some cooling in some areas of East Antarctica. O’Donnell found pretty much the same thing although his map of the spatial distribution of trends looks more realistic than Steig’s, and it probably is. Did O’Donnell capture the “ground truth” of the trend at Byrd station in WA? It would appear that he did not, but that is a question open to further investigation. Did Steig look at every possible permutation of his analysis? No. Was his analysis essentially wrong in light of the findings of O’ D2010? No. Could he have done a better job? Yes.

      That last question is true of just about any scientific paper, and is especially true of papers which are publishing results on the cutting edge. My default position on new papers which report surprising findings is “that’s interesting, I’ll withhold judgment pending further investigation”. It is a good skeptical position to hold, I suggest that you adhere to it also.

      • That’s a pretty rosy view of history. MBH didn’t lead to all of the other hocky reconstructs. Steve Mac and gang caused it. And because of him, they’ll keep doing it until they get it right or Steve Mac dies of old age. At which point I’d expect them to quit and proclaim the latest incarnation to be valid and walk away from it.

        Was his analysis essentially wrong in light of the findings of O’ D2010? No. —————— Only the rosiest colored glasses could possibly view it that way. But hey if it lets you and reviewer A sleep at night……cool.

        And, you are entirely correct, when you state “Of course if you don’t accept the validity of multi-proxy techniques, nothing will convince you.”

        I just can’t fathom how anyone lends validity to such precise statements when only generalities can be extracted from tree rings. If someone were to say, 610 years ago, it was warmish/wettish by looking at tree rings, I’d buy it. To tell me within a tenth of a degree it was x or y. Phrenology.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Actually by the time McI got a (heavily criticized) paper published in GRL, Mann had already been working on different techniques for a couple of years. Look at his CV. I am not sure of what motivated other groups to do similar investigations, are you? Many of them were published before the 2005 GRL paper.

        And if you actually bothered to read MBH98 you would have seen that the claim was the the MWP was (to paraphrase) “possibly as warm as mid-20th century temperatures”. Not as cut and dried as you might wish.

      • Err, I’ve a copy of MBH98 on probably 4 different computers. I’m pretty familiar with it. I would say, “possibly as warm as mid-20th century temperatures” is a rather accurate paraphrase.
        Mann knew about SM’s paper well before it was published. And the reason why the others were published was to repair the repeatedly broken stick.

        But again, for people such as myself, it is a rather academic question. I wish they could get their maths right so we can start with the validity of doing such work.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’ve seen a lot of incorrect things stated on the last few threads (and I haven’t even read all the comments), but this takes the cake. First off, MBH98 says in its abstract:

        Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since (at least) AD 1400.

        It is hard to imagine anything in a paper with that in its abstract could be paraphrased to what you claimed MBH98 says. I’d love an actual quote or reference for your claim, but I already know such would be impossible. MBH98 doesn’t cover the Medieval Warm Period. It’s temperature reconstruction only goes back to 1400. The only thing MBH98 says on the subject is:

        Given the high level of skill possible in large-scale reconstruction back to 1400 with the present network, it is reasonable to hope that it may soon be possible to faithfully reconstruct mean global temperatures back over the entire millennium, resolving for example the enigmatic medieval period.

        It is extremely cheeky to say things like, “[I]f you actually bothered to read MBH98” while simultaneously saying things about MBH98 which are obviously untrue. Anyone with the most vague understanding of MBH98 would know what you said is false.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Read the abstract and conclusions from MBH99. Of course this is only valid for the NH. MBH98 was a global reconstruction which did not extend back beyond 1400, well outside of the MWP.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        You cannot simply point to another reference and pretend it justifies your false statement. If you want to do that, say something like, “Oh, I just implied he didn’t read a paper while referring to the wrong paper. That was silly of me.” Admitting mistakes is important. Pretending like you didn’t make them is wrong.

        But even that interpretation doesn’t make sense. suyts specifically referred to temperatures “610 years ago.” 610 years ago was 1400, the time period covered by MBH98, not MBH99. This means suyts referred to a period covered by MBH98, you responded while specifically referring to MBH98, but for some reason you cited a conclusion of MBH99.

        In short, you made a rude comment implying suyts hadn’t read a paper while citing the conclusion to a different, irrelevant paper. That’s ridiculous.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Sorry, I got that wrong. MBH98 didn’t make any claims past 1400. I made an incorrect cite. MBH98 did not make any claims about the MWP. MBH99 did, but only for the northern hemisphere.

        Sorry for appearing to move the goalposts, I made a mistake.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        As a matter of curiosity, I decided to check another inaccuracy with this paraphrase (of MBH99, not MBH98). I didn’t think it would be important, but the paper actually referred to mean 20th century temperatures, not mid-20th century temperatures. This is what I found (data taken from the NCDC website).

        Mean temperature anomaly: -0.0050
        1940-1960 anomaly: 0.0238
        1930-1970 anomaly: 0.0156

        Obviously, the numbers aren’t that different. Still, it seems to me we need to be more precise about what periods are being used.

      • However…you must agree that this sort of ‘pointing the way’ and ‘indicating weakness’ would have NEVER appeared within the peer review if it weren’t for the inordinate persistence of people like SM and RO. Even to this day, ES still would recommend ROs paper not be published, even if it does contribute ‘good things’ (it needs to be ‘fundamentally reworked’).

        There are some in the climate science world who ascribe a ‘fatal flaw’ to any paper that doesn’t present a temperature reconstruction for evaluation, or assemble a temperature trend. For them, simply critiquing the methodology of a prior paper isn’t worth publishing, and it’s certainly a high offense if any conclusion of the paper mentions that data may be too inconclusive, or there be too much uncertainty.

        In Mann and Steig’s case, both corresponding papers of which we speak did make it to press…Not in Nature though. With a growing perspective among editors and reviewers that climate papers must present conclusionary temperature trends, projections, and reconstructions in order to proceed past an initial ‘fatal flaw’ analsys, important contributions to the literature may never make it to the light of day.

        We’ve clearly seen that not all peer-reviews are equal…It should be an easy thing to suggest that papers be allowed to exist that refute methodology of prior papers without having to supply alternate conclusions of their own…or is it?

      • lol, no, All good climate study must have temp trends, projections, and reconstructions…..but that isn’t enough, papers should also come with the conclusion, “its worse than we thought.” If you do that, regardless of the validity of the work, we’ll find a way for it to be publish! Even if we have to redefine what literature is!

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Steig repeatedly stated in his reviews that the paper should be published. How is this trying to block publication? Please explain.

        His initial complaints were that the paper (as originally submitted) made claims which were not supported by the data and that the choice of Kgnd = 7 were not supported by their own SI, which indicated that Kgnd = 5 might have been a better choice.

        The rest of your post is pure BS. If O’Donnell had wanted to publish a strict comment on the methodological inadequacies of S09 they could have tried for a “brief communication arising” comment in Nature, but the format and length restrictions in Nature would have severely limited the content of the paper. And of course Steig would have had an explicit right to review and reply. Choices must be made. JoC is still a top flight journal in the climate field and there is no shame in publishing there, especially when on is publishing a methodological critique, versus publishing in Nature.. Afterall Nature specializes in publishing “groundbreaking” results which will have a high profile, this is both a strength and weakness of the publishing model of their flagship publication. If McI and crew want to get published in Nature do something original rather than picking nits with existing research. This is not to disparage trying to move analytic methodology forward, but it is not what Nature or Science specializes in.

      • Hmm, Rattus, you seem to have a little different take on the ES/RO thing, but that’s probably to be expect seeing that we get most of our information from different sources. It is interesting to see the different views of the different authors reflected by third parties. I’ve followed this fairly closely, even from when ES was first published. And, I’ve tried to look at both sides as best I can. I’d give you my honest assessment of the various issues that arose, but I think it would be seen in poor light and dismissed out of hand. All to the pity. While this may be anathema to you, I’d really recommend wandering over to Climate Audit and looking at what the authors of O’D et al have to say, it is much clearer than a couple of third party observations.

        It was an occasion where 2 worlds collided with neither one fully understanding each other. This is much akin to the dynamic seen when Jerome Ravetz comes and makes a post or two at WUWT.

      • Anonymous Climate Guy

        In the midst of all his finely crafted elements of praise, he said the paper ‘should be published’, subjected to a ‘fundamental’ rework.

        From his first review:

        The paper suffers from serious shortcomings. The
        paper attempts to reach conclusions that are simply not substantiated by the underlying analysis. Indeed, the main thesis of the paper is that the conclusions reached in S09 are in error, whereas in fact the results largely confirm each of the conclusions in S09. Moreover, while most of the technical details appear sound, the discussion is misleading and confusing, and at least one critical aspect of the methodology is flawed. Although the analysis presented is thorough, and has the potential to make an important and useful contribution to the literature, the problems are serious and must be addressed, and another round of reviews conducted before the paper should be considered further for publication in the Journal of Climate. (italics mine)

        From his second review:

        O’Donnell et al. have substantially improved their manuscript and clarified a series of items that led to some confusion on my part (for example, my impression that they had
        detrended the satellite data). I appreciate the great amount of work that has gone into this manuscript, and the thorough documentation of the results. I also am convinced that the methods discussed are a substantive contribution to the literature and represent real improvements to the methods used in earlier work… Unfortunately, the revised manuscript retains several important flaws in the original version, and I cannot support its publication in the Journal of Climate until these are addressed . The main criticism of the manuscript from my first review has not been adequately addressed, and other persistent problems lie in the way that general circulation modeling results and seasonal trends are discussed. All of these aspects of the manuscript need to be revised prior to publication, and another round of reviews conducted. (italics mine)

        From his third (and final) review:

        This manuscript is again much improved… However… the manuscript remains flawed in a very basic way and will need to be re-reviewd in any case….Before the manuscript can be published, these problems need to be corrected. (italics mine)

        I bet any number of us could have been in a similar reviewer/reviewee situation…If they’ve already got their main directive clear to the editor, they can praise the paper all day long.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        And your quotes prove what? Oh yeah, that my characterizations were correct.

        In the second review O’Donnell had reported results from the iridge method of regression which O’Donnell et. al. had suggested might be better, but which they did not highlight in the paper. Steig’s main objection at this point was that they should present their best results in the “take home” graphics rather than the continuing insistence on the presentation of Kgnd = 7 results. Results of iridge were discussed in the revised manuscripts but not presented in the graphics. Requesting (well demanding) that the authors put their (self admitted) best foot forward hardly seems evil. Peer review ain’t a “kaffeeklatsch” and it seems that Steig took his responsibility as a reviewer seriously.

        I would also note that his comment (which you quoted):

        I also am convinced that the methods discussed are a substantive contribution to the literature and represent real improvements to the methods used in earlier work…

        In his final round 3 review he recommended that the paper be published with “minor revisions, although perhaps substantial recalculation”. The principal revision he requested was the tendency of iridge to underestimate trends in exactly the situations encountered in the reconstruction and provided 3 citations which had found this to be true, two from Mann’s group and one from a competing group (Smerdon, et. al., from the literature I take it they are not on friendly terms).

        In the end the paper was published pretty much as is after a further (minor) revision. I’ve read all of the reviewer comments in this episode (since they were reasonably short), but did not want to take the time to read the replies. One only has so much time to deal with this sort of stuff. 20 odd pages of reviews were pretty easy, sixty odd pages of replies plus the revised manuscripts were out of the question. In general I though that Steig’s review comments were apropos and made the paper better in the end. How many papers have you read where the authors thank “an anonymous reviewer” in the acknowledgments section for “improving our paper”. I’ve read more than a few and you can be sure that they weren’t thanking someone who gave them a cream puff review.

      • No, they prove that your characterization was incorrect. In all three reviews he said the paper should not be published. It’s really quite black and white.

      • Is the cup half full or half empty?

        Is the paper that contains important results, but must be improved before publication, publishable or non publishable?

      • You are still writing BS whilst trying to defend the indefensible.

      • Rattus Norvegicus ,

        “Steig found significant warming in West Antarctica and non-significant trends int he rest of the continent with the exception of some cooling in some areas of East Antarctica.”

        Did you agree with Steig? Is there a consensus amongst the AGWers and the Deniers the meanings of “significant warming”, “non-significant”, “some cooling”? Any objective quantifiable terms to use?

      • Rattus,

        “Science does not emerge full grown from the brow of Zeus. It progresses in steps. ”

        True, it is the side steps that are annoying :)

        The progression of Lean et al 2000 is what I expect in science. Some of the Paleo reconstructions just repeat mistakes with more or different proxies. Very few (pay walls limit my reading) seem to address calibration and statistical issues to move the field forward. Tree rings could be more valuable if handled properly. Russian dendros seem to do a better job of including all the data and analyzing with more standard methods (Yes, they could be biased politically).

        Since tree rings are an indication of growing conditions in general rather than temperature in particular, an inverse relationship with temperature would be expected at times (divergence). So better growing conditions moving from one area to another could be a better indication of climatic change over time. That seems to be swept under the rug while trying to force the data to reproduce results it is poorly designed to reproduce.

        Most of the proxies are more influenced by combined climatic change than just temperature. Approached properly, they can produce valuable results. Right now useful information is lost trying to force results instead of trying to understand the data. That is why I feel calibration of individual proxies (to temp, precip and melt water) is so important.

        Standardize statistical methods are a must! Statistics can be easily abused which I think is made obvious by those trying to force results. The flaw with the Steig paper was abuse of statistics. His concept was sound and once fine tuned will make the global temperature average more accurate.

        The reason Dr. Curry started this volatile discussion, I believe, is to improve the way the data is handled to avoid repeat misrepresentations of the story the data is capable of telling.

    • Forget all the “philosophy of statistics” and consensus denial that anything’s wrong, we in the wider world need only remember:

      Steig’s Method Massacred

    • Harold H Doiron

      The most unforgiveable unethical behavior surrounding the entire issue of “hiding the decline” and similar biases in published research, is when climate change scientists who know about their
      – “cherry picking the data”,
      – biased and selective presentation of all data pertinent to published paper
      conclusions, and
      – outright errors in their data and peer-reviewed papers,
      don’t speak out loudly in the media outlets that have misled the general public in reporting about their flawed, misleading research, as well as, associated journals and professional societies, to stop politicians and government regulators from using their flawed and misleading research results to pass laws and regulations that have severe effects on the prosperity and quality of life of their fellow citizens of the US and the world.

      As a result of this selfish misleading of public officials and the general public by many in the climate change research community, valuable resources get mis-used by political bodies trying to prioritize and solve the many different problems they are facing. Police yourselves now, or eventually become ignored and irrelevant.

  2. Alexander Harvey

    In one of his video-recorded lectures Dr Richard Muller discusses confidence intervals with respect to what constitutes a result e.g. something worth publishing.

    I recall that he said:

    90% wasn’t enough,
    95% if it was not an important result,
    99% if was important.

    By those criteria how many climate science conjectures would be fit for publication and hence raised from conjecture to a higher level.

    I think a few would make the cut for important results:

    That the global average temperature (as defined) rose in the 20th Century,
    that the OHC rose during the 2nd half of the 20th century,
    that GHGs (as defined) rose during the same period, etc.

    These I think could be claimed at the 99% level.

    But what of the unprecedented warming of the 20th century, and the more than half of the warming being anthroprogenic since 1950?

    Would the uncertainties attached to these cause such conjectures to be considered as science were it not for the context of GW?

    I might buy the conjectures, but I would not claim them to be more than that.

    This seems to be the bind, the evidence is not at the level I would feel comfortable with but it is all that there is and it does not seem likely that it will get much better soon.

    In a sense they are our best conjectures but perhaps not more. Now that may be enough to guide policy, but should we insist that they be scientific results that raise them from conjecture to established fact? Would it be more honest to freely say that they are conjectures?

    Is it just things like the HS and the 50% claim? How much of the science is proven at a 99% level? Is expert opinion being elevated to a scientific metric, e.g. if 99% of climate scientists insist it be so then it is so.

    If those 90/95/99% criteria are the scientific norm, how much of the science can stand the 99% test? If they be the norm, how much deceit is involved in the transmission of AGW theory to the public at large and perhaps in the IPCC reports as well.

    For what it is worth Dr Muller was referring to specifcally to climate science claims.


    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Muller’s position is probably useful for laboratory based experiment in physics, but in geosciences, where the data is much noiser and because it is culled from almost certainly flawed (and in derived in many cases from problematic measurements of a complex system in the first place) his suggested intervals are just wrong. The canonical p value for most statistical analysis is p < .05.

      Look at it this way, if you were holding poker hand which you believed to have a 95% chance of being the best hand, would you bet the hell out of it? I know I would. Of course I once lost a hand of hold 'em where my opponent had a 1 in 44 chance of being the best hand and I lost a couple of hundred dollars on it. Did I regret having bet the hell out of it? No, it just something that you call a bad beat.

      • Alexander Harvey

        I take what you say as being the case but should the public be informed that there are different standards at play and that the geosciences are not held to the same strict standards as say physics?

        Should the results carry a disclaimer saying that it is science but not perhaps as you know it.

        Would you say that 95% was good enough for a text book, or for it to be taught to a class as if accepted science?

        Your betting question seems to equate to would I bet my all on it. No, I wouldn’t, but once I might have. The question that needs addressing is would I tell someone else that is was a sure fire bet. No, not ever, that would be a deceit.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        I take it that when someone says in a paper that they found a result significant at a level of p < .05 that is an admission of the level of certainty. You need to read the papers to find that though. That is why papers are cited in the IPCC.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        You should read dhogaza’s reply below, but my understanding is that p < .05 (1 in 20 chance of being wrong) is generally accepted in geosciences.

        In the case of the betting question. My opponent was a very good poker player, but he would bluff at times (as would I) . Perhaps in the case I cited I did not take all the information available into my calculations (that he would bluff, that he could be wrong about his hand, and most importantly that he could have had the best hand).

        Playing poker taught me a lot about Bayesian statistics and hold 'em is one of the best games for doing this stuff in you head. Of course the hand I held had a very small chance, based on frequentist statistics, of being second best. Based on his previous betting pattern in the hand my best estimate was that he was trying to bluff me out. His best estimate was that I was trying to bluff him out. But that is the nature of the game. If I had the same hand to play over again would I have bet the hell out of it? Heck yeah. It was a Queen Ace flush, with nothing likely better on the board and his betting pattern up until the river didn't show that he had the king. Pot odds made the bet a good one. But that is the nature of statistics. They only speak to what is likely, not what is certain.

        BTW, I also dealt a bad beat to someone once and won a hundred bucks. I held a pair of sevens and the board had a pair of sevens. My opponent held a boat. But that was an easy hand.

      • Rattus,

        So, your Ace Queen flush lost, on the river, to a King high flush?

        That is definitely a bad beat.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Presumably, he means he held the queen and the Ace was on the table. It’s a sensible interpretation which doesn’t require assuming some fault on his part. This is especially true since normally one refers to that combination held in hand as Ace Queen. Him reversing the order suggests he only held the Queen.

        (The reason he would list the Ace in this situation is to indicate it could not be held by the opponent.)

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Ace on the board.

      • This is a bad analogy. In poker, the “known unknowns” dominate. Of course, there’s some unquantifiable chance that the dealer is dealing seconds, or that your the fish in a long con, but, for the most part, it’s fair to ignore these sources of uncertainty. Not so in climate science, where the “unknown unknowns” dominate. Just because your p value is 0.04 doesn’t mean you’ve established the result with 96% certainty, the way you have if you’re heads up on the river against an opponent on a two-outter.

      • Disagree completely !!
        As somebody who has done tons of publications/patents and the like in another discipline of science/engg where nonlinear or chaotic systems rule the roost, this is not how it is done in other disciplines of science/engg. In disciplines where you cant experiment easily, you could certainly announce an error bar greater than what it would be in easily experimented science and show that your “FORWARD PREDICTIONS” are within that error bar. You dont just start writing papers on your “best bets” and play poker with the scientific community or as in this case the public at large. You state exactly that which you know within an acceptable confidence interval that is the norm for that discipline, but not by hindcasting, but by making predictions of key variables whose values were not determined in the past, to show the validity of your theory/model. Further you explicitly state those key factors about which you are uncertain, ,which arerelevant to the claims you are making, even if your study/model isnt directly about them. These are the normal scientific practices. Serious scientists (particularly climate scientists who need to figure out if we are all truly going to hell in 30 years) should stay away from poker while working in the lab! :-)

      • Au contraire, mon brave

        Surely the interpersonal skills needed to win at poker are bluffing, dissembling and spreading disinformation. Plus some basic statistics and probability theory.

        Ideal training for climatologits!

        Apart from the statistics and probability which often seems to be beyond them.

    • If those 90/95/99% criteria are the scientific norm, how much of the science can stand the 99% test?

      The norm really depends on the field.

      It was Fisher who suggested 95% to be the level of significance for much statistical work, but if you read Fisher you’ll see that he understood that for some fields much greater than 95% should be asked for, and in other, less.

      p < 0.05 has become the norm for many fields, but in the field of experimental physics (where environmental controls are extreme, and where external influences won't reach anywhere near the levels of energy generated by modern accelerators) that's not considered good enough.

      Muller's a physicist, and it sounds like he's trying to extrapolate statistical significance levels accepted by his field to all others, regardless of how controlled the experimental environment might be.

      Fisher, the father of modern frequentist statistical analysis, is undoubtably rolling over in his grave …

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Nailed it.

      • Alexander Harvey

        All we seemed to have nailed is that geosciences are held to a lower standard of tests than physics.

        Now you may know that, and now I may know that, but do you hand out that information as a caveat when informing others. It is a result but it ain’t like it’s physics.

        Regarding betting, a lot depends on what you can afford to lose or on how reckless you are.

        What figure for the minimum gradient (linear least squares fit) in the global temperature metric of your choice (2000-2019 inclusive) would you bet your life on? Half of the period has already happened so that might make it easier, but everythng counts even volcanoes (they are not rare in 20 year periods).

        What would it be?

        The old chestnut of 0.02ºC/annum, perhaps a little less, negative perhaps?

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Dude, it ain’t physics.

      • Alexander Harvey

        The problem is that not everyone is likely to know that it is essentially different to physics, or chemistry for that matter, in terms of what passes for evidence and proof. If you know that to be the case then it seems wise to point it out.

        Anyway got any thoughts on how certain you are on the temperature gradient from 2000-2019? Where is the harm, it is not like you are going to be judged all that soon.

      • Dude – it may be ‘science’.

        But not as we know it.

      • Perhaps climate scientists and their proclamations should come with a health warning, like on fag packets. Just so the general public aren’t fooled:

        ‘Warning. This guy in a white coat might look like a proper scientist like a physicist or a chemist. But he works with stuff that are a lot less certain than either of those. And he has been taught that to discuss uncertainties is a sign of total weakness. Which would only give in to the evil forces of darkness (funded by Cock Industries and Big Oil).

        Please be aware that a lot of what he may say is strewn with unacknowledged or hidden errors (declines are strictly removed prior to publication). Do not ask awkward questions since it only enrages him.

        Be especially wary of his seductive words

        ‘Trust me, I’m a climate scientist’

      • Alexander Harvey

        AGW theory seems to have a serious problem in that perhaps at 95% one has a promising result in this field and well worth publishing, alas it seems that further work commonly fails to narrow it down.

        This is never more true than for climate sensitivity.

        As it happens I think that AGW theory is almost certain to be bourne out, but that is a long way from insisting it is proven. But whereas I might be happy to act on a conjecture, I would not be happy to hide my doubts about the science. Also I do not let my conviction bear on the science, i.e. I do not think that my opinion makes the science more certain, even in mine own eyes.

        It is my impression that there are some voices that are similarly convinced and more so, for whom the weakness in the science is best glossed over. Here I think I mean those voices that go well beyond what is actually said in the IPCC reports.

        Regarding Dr Muller, an awful lot of his work since the late 1980s seems to be related to paleoclimate work including work in collaboration with Gordon MacDonald. Both I think consider AGW a done deal but Muller seems concerned that the certainty is being over sold as am I.

        In my case I think that great harm has been done and is being done whenever anyone overstates the science.

        I will give a case in question:

        Resolving the “missing heat” issue.

        Many are convinced that about 0.9 W/m^2 is going into the oceans, and maybe it is but it is undecided. If say only half that figure turns out to be the case then …

        It would make almost no difference to AGW theory, that is my opinion. CO2 would still be a GHG, volcanoes would still block out sunlight, etc.

        It would mean that some, but not all, of the satellite data is a bit dodgy, and it might mean that some of the models will struggle to replicate the OHC data.

        It might allow us to tighten the sensitivity a little at the high end, but I doubt it would alter the medium term 2010-2050 projections appreciably, again my opinion.

        So why the certainty that it must be 0.9W/m^2 not 0.45W/m^2 that is going into the oceans. To me it seems to be a principled stand, almost a never give an inch mentality. Eventually we may know the answer to this question but until we do it is an unknown. We can consider the consequences of both figures and indeed others higher or lower. Will any of them affect how much warming we have had? Obviously not. Will they affect our projections? That depends on whether certain models are invalidated (they cannot all be right anyway). Would 0.45W/m^2 make everything hunky-dory, not really. I can understand passion but I am afraid that it smells like passion whenever it seems to draw on evidence that we simply lack.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        On the “missing energy” question, there is a recent paper (sorry, I don’t have a link, the paper was paywalled, check SkepticalScience — oops couldn’t find it there) which claims to close the gap. As always it awaits confirmation. The analytical method in the paper seemed rather byzantine to me, but it was interesting.

        As far as why .9/W/m2 rather than .45/W/m2. The number is the amount of energy which cannot be accounted for with our current measurement system (Trenberth’s “travesty”). Currently we just don’t know where this energy is going, but people are looking at it.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Actually I think we don’t know that this flux exists. Saying we don’t know where it is going seems to beg that question.

        Now we can be reasonably speculate the sub 700m ocean is warming, and has been for some time.

        But we have a bind, if we find a lot of warming down there it sorts out the present but makes the past 1993-2003 difficult to understand unless its rate increased dramatically since 2003.

        Similarly if, or when it starts warming again consistently we may have need for that flux to decrease markedly. As far as I am aware rapid fluctuations in sub 700m flux require presently unknown ocean activities.

        What I find foolish is that some people seem to be nailing their colours over finding this flux. If it turns out that it isn’t missing as it is non-existent (not all of it about half) then insisting that it is real and must turn up will make an indifferent situation into a bad one. I can see the headlines now. “Scientists Wrong; Earth Not Warming”

        As far as I can see the science also supports the lower figure, it seems easily inside the suspected limits. It is not as though it would call the science into question.

        But making the theory hostage to fortune and getting it wrong really will call the science into question. Trenberth and others risk betting the farm on this one.

        Interestingly, RealClimate posted their annual review that covered this point and it seemed to me that GISS-E now predicts a lower OHC requirement which I queried here:


        but got no response.

        Anyway it was down to around 0.55W/m^2 (my best estimate from their graph and some reasonable inflationary fudge factors) from around 0.9W/m^2 when the Hansen paper (2003?) came out.

        So perhaps they are ahead of the game on this one.

      • FWIW: Rattus is talking about Song, Y. T., and F. Colberg (2011), Deep ocean warming assessed from altimeters, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, in situ measurements, and a non-Boussinesq ocean general circulation model, J. Geophys. Res., 116, C02020, doi:10.1029/2010JC006601.

      • It is not just the question of what the norm is. Lets say the climate science norm is p<0.05; what the climate scientists need to do is to fit their "future predictions" to that norm and show that their models achieve that standard. It is this part that seems to be clearly missing from climate science, whether it is "global temp" or rainfall or other key parameters of the "global climate".

        In addtion wrt to the current discussion, you have to achieve this standard without deleting any of the measured data (in this case the tree ring data). If you delete part of the data (because it fits badly) and your model fits nicely within the std error bar for that scientific discipline, that should be considered bad for any discipline of science/engg

      • The 95% significance level means that there’s only a 1 in 20 chance that the stated finding (RR) does not lie within the stated confidence interval, ie the probability of a false positive is .05.

        But can we really take that at face value, or do we have to consider the possibility that we’ve actually hit on the 1:20 false positive?
        This is unlikely in a field where a limited amount of research is undertaken, like in drugs trials, however in popular fields such as climatology, it becomes increasingly likely. For example, out of twenty independent researchers researching the same topic, nineteen don’t obtain a significant result, but one does. That 1:20 false positive gets published, and we never get to hear about the 19 ‘failures’.

        And in today’s world of computers, where it’s possible to run billions or trillions of ‘experiments’ in a short space of time, and where easy access to colossal amounts of data lends itself to data mining, can we really continue to trust significance levels of 95%, 99% or even 99.99%?

        And even after we’ve accepted the finding as significant, do we really know that we’re on to something? Does our confidence interval encompass unity, ie there’s a chance that we’re seeing no effect? Is our RR sufficiently far away from unity for us to be confident that the effect we’re seeing is unlikely to be down to biases and other confounding factors?

        In other words, can we really afford to bet the house on the 95% level?

      • Rattus Norvegicus


        You raise a couple of interesting questions here.

        The first one is the published false positive. This is a real problem but what generally happens in this case is that people will then either a) publish either through comments or new papers critiquing the result or b) the paper lands with a big thud and is ignored.

        The other one raised is the question of the number of statistical tests which are run to get a result. This has been discussed at Tamino’s blog and the upshot is that the more variations on a theme you run to get a result, the lower your confidence has to be in the result itself.

        In general I would not think that the availability of data is a problem, in fact it is a good thing. The problem it raises is one of the ability to cherrypick the data one wishes to use in an analysis from the universe of appropriate data.

      • Rattus,

        In an ideal world, yes. But in today’s world, with political and other vested interests, not to mention sincere but misplaced beliefs, and just plain dishonesty (probably not par for the course, but does exist), everything becomes very messy very quickly.

        Contrast two very different pieces of research on the same subject – smoking.

        The first, by Bradford-Hill and Doll, found a link between smoking and lung cancer, with a RR of >20, at the 99% level (P < 0.01)
        This was a very strong result, but did not result in a ban on smoking, as influential people knew that even though the risk of a smoker contracting lung cancer is more than twenty times greater than a non-smoker, the absolute risk is still tiny (twenty times a very small number is still a very small number), and therefore probably not sufficient to deny people whatever small pleasure they may have from smoking. But it did allow governments to put swingeing taxes on tobacco products.

        The second was a meta-study by the EPA into the risks of ETS ('second-hand' smoke). This study found a tiny RR of 0.19, and that only after reducing the significance level to 90% and excluding studies which showed the opposite effect. In fact, in the words of Dr James LeFanu, the link between ETS and lung cancer is both "statistically improbable and biologically implausible".
        But this pitiful piece of 'research' was considered sufficient for a ban on smoking in public places to be enacted.
        Don't get me wrong, I find the smell of cigarette smoke to be unpleasant – in fact doubly so as I'm an ex-smoker – but I'm totally against the ban, especially having seen ridiculous manifestations of the ban, such as no smoking allowed on open-air railway platforms in the UK, but diesel locomotives being permitted to idle for hours on end within enclosed stations.

      • http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa437.pdf
        The settlement of the tobacco litigation, in
        November 1998, was a legal and public policy
        debacle of truly historic proportions.5 The
        tobacco companies agreed to abide by a new
        set of regulatory constraints and to make
        multibillion-dollar payments annually to the
        states (and the trial lawyers from private practice
        who were hired to represent most of them)
        in perpetuity. Although the amounts paid out
        may vary because of inflation and changes in
        the percentage of the population who smoke,
        the total payout to the states during the first
        25 years covered by the settlements
        (1998–2023) will be approximately a quarter
        of a trillion dollars. Although the amount of
        payments to the lawyers during this same period
        is more difficult to predict, a total of $13.75
        billion seems a good ballpark estimate.6 The
        tobacco settlements will thus lead to the
        largest transfer of wealth resulting from litigation
        in the history of the human race!

        This might explain the position of the BBC and other government and academic organizations: http://www.iigcc.org/index.aspx “The group currently has over 50 members, including some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, and represents assets of around €4trillion. A full list of members is available on the membership page”.
        The IIGCC are not alone. And UNEP have their fingers in that as well. http://www.unepfi.org.
        The world’s largest investors released a statement calling on the U.S. and other governments to quickly adopt strong national climate policies that will establish a stable investment climate and thus spur low-carbon investments to reduce emissions causing climate change. At December’s Copenhagen Climate Change Summit it was estimated that private-sector investors will need to finance more than 85 percent of the global transition to a low-carbon economy.
        The Investor Statement on Catalyzing Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy calls for rapid action on carbon emission limits, energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms and other policies. The statement was endorsed by four groups representing more than 190 investors with more than US$ 13 trillion of assets – Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

      • Briggs tells us that anyone who makes the effort can find a way to squeeze a 95% level out of his data. Generally means there is a 50/50 chance their conclusion has any meaning.

    • Harold H Doiron

      Excellent point. This is the crux of why so many engineers are skeptical, not of the facts, but of the climate change community’s proposed world governments’ reaction to the questionable probability of occurrence of their worst fears. An engineer may analyze the data and conclude that the planet is warming unacceptably, and that there is questionable probability of being able to control it, but certainly we could reach a concensus of what we might do to adapt to it, as humans have done for more than 10,000 years with much less science and technology at their disposal.

      If the ancients had known an ice age was coming, would they have spent all of their resources, eg. burning all the wood on the planet, trying to stop the ice-age from happening? Thank God, they didn’t.

      The acceptable probabilities of occurence for engineers is much less than 1%. When aircraft designers design an airplane, they don’t design for a 1% probability of an in-flight structural failure. The events designed for (in terms of maximum limit design loads and aircraft strength) have probabilities less than [1 – (the mean + 3-sigma)] during the service life of the entire fleet of airplanes. Civil engineers design buildings and bridges with even less probability of catastropic structural collapse. If we going to use enormous resources to prevent catastrophic public harm from climate change, how should such enormous, but limited, resources be allocated?

    • Research that produces a new estimate for a physical constant improving the accuracy of knowledge of that constant is worth publishing. The same is true for the estimates on the climate sensitivity or other basic information on climate.

      The criterion is not, whether some particular hypothesis is confirmed or disconfirmed with 95% or 99% certainty. The criterion is: Does the paper add significantly to our prior knowledge either confirming it or modifying it.

      The rules or Muller apply to certain issues, but are totally irrelevant for others.

  3. We’re Still Chasing the Watergate Burglars !

    All this time, and all these audits of details of improper behavior in the Climatgate affair is like forever chasing the five burglars in the Watergate affair!

    Climatgate and Watergate and the subsequent coverups suggest that the affair was organized by someone higher who probably paid the burglars to execute the plan.

    The evidence to date suggests that Climategate involved leaders of the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society, editors of leading research journals – Nature, Science, PNAS, etc., the news media, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, the International Alliance of National Academies, etc.


    This looks like an international version of “1984″

    http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/ and

    With the “scientific-technological elite” in control, as pointed out in Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address


    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    • Hmm, no one seems to care. To paraphrase Jack, “They can’t handle the truth!”

      Oliver, many don’t want to know, nor do they care. I agree, this isn’t simply a case of a couple of well-meaning individuals that made poor choices. It is much worse than that. It is an attitude, a way about which things are done. And it has permeated much further than just climate science. And we’re having conversations about tree rings and imaginary temps they represent.

      • Yes, there are many similarities to the “Watergate Scandal.”


      • Heh, thanks for the link Oliver, but I remember. It was a rough time growing up in the era. The way this may be different is the permissibility of aberrant behavior. It goes back to my mention of the “way things are done”, there are better words for it, but they’re escaping me now. The attitude, a little fudge here, a little fudge there, no one cares. We even had a president defend himself upon the definition of the word “is”. And it worked!! All the while, no one noticed or cared about the Mrs. consecutively winning in the futures commodity markets. To my knowledge, she never missed.

        The public accepts it. The lawyers accept it. Politicians, teachers, cops etc….. this thing has permeated throughout society. Sadly, with this new-found liberty of license, also comes a profound and overwhelming sense of cynicism throughout society. We accept that everybody does these things to the point now, we expect that everybody does these things. This is especially true now with climate science and by extension science in general. I truly believe that many of the alarmist scientists don’t really believe the impending doom that they’re spewing. I know many advocates and politicians don’t. Gore and Rudd have both recently purchased beach front mansions. They can’t possibly believe we’re about to be awash with sea-level rises.

        And now, just today, NOAA issues and exoneration of themselves. A few years ago, I’d be outraged. Now, I’m reduced to admiring the moxie of a public servant that would do that. And, of course, a cynical comment like, “Of course she did, some one had to and the inspector general wasn’t going to do it.”

    • Careful, Ken.

      Seems to me that you are treading a fine line away from what’s strictly relevant to our discussions and into legal matters.

      Just my opinion from an ocean away.

      • Way into legal matters and has potentially put Dr. Curry in an very bad position.

      • Anthony Watts doesn’t seem to be afraid of that, and he has an arguably higher profile.

      • The ‘situation’ upon which he comments is somewhat delicate and confuses many, so I might give him a ‘pass’ there?

      • The ‘situation’ upon which he comments is somewhat delicate and confuses many, so I might give him a ‘pass’ there?

      • My comment was directed towards PDA’s reference to Anthony Watts site, not anything else.

      • Can I enter something for the record? I’m not sure what ‘Ken’ said…I guess the comment was snipped? Regardless, whatever ‘Ken’ said, it was a different ‘Ken’ than me. I’m arriving here late and to date, have made no comment on this thread except for this one. I confess, my curiosity is piqued, can some one hint at or summarize what ‘Ken’ said?

      • Nevermind, I think I figured it out.

    • What the hell? Do you know the disposition of the case? Do you know you’re not putting Dr. Curry at risk here?

  4. Dr. Curry: Bless you for trying so hard. I can barely keep up with these discussions myself. I can’t imagine what you are dealing with.

  5. Judy:
    Do you have a way of limiting the length and frequency of comments? I think your very liberal moderating policy is fine – but some on both sides of any issue seem to lack the courtesy needed to be brief and to the point.

  6. Dr. Curry,
    Perhaps we should be discussing the decline of Susan Solomon’s reputation. Steve McIntyre’s writeup makes it seem her attorneys at NOAA have thrown her under the bus. I am beginning to wonder if she will face criminal prosecution.

    • Not very likely. Ultimately, if anything warranted charges, the decision would be left to the US.AG. You remember, the guys that refused to prosecute a group of thugs that had already plead guilty to voter intimidation?

      It was a cute trick to declare yourself exonerated and then give a press release of your exoneration. That’s gotta have the guys and gals at the CRU green with envy…..Jones is like, “now why didn’t I think of that? All those damned pretend hearings and all I had to do was that?”

      For those not familiar, the exonerating press release isn’t quite what the inspector general said. To steal from Steve Mac, she’s has a different divergence problem. But then, truth should never be allowed to get in the way of climate science, now should it?………..and the beat goes on.

    • An FOI trawling up an interesting fish last year. See


  7. NOTE: This comment brought over from Part IV


    So the four parts of JC’s ‘Hide the Decline’ comes down to some summary?

    I propose this summary statement, “Scientists should have intellectual integrity.”

    My sub-summary statement, “We’ve known that already in Western Civilization for ~2,500 years or more”.

    By saying that I am praising JC for carrying the torch onward for intellectual integrity in science.

    NOTE: Edward Tufte’s book ‘Beautiful Evidence’ does look like a promising read. Thanks for the referral.


  8. Also, brought this over from Part IV because the Post Comment sequencing was acting funny over there.


    We should highlight Rules for Intellectual Integrity in Physical Science.

    Rule #1 of N**: Observations of nature shall be the sole validation of physical science. This means in the physical sciences there is a fundamental primacy of observations of nature. Intellectual integrity in physical science rests on that.

    ** where the number ‘N’ (total # of rules) is to be defined as the dialog develops.

    Regarding the ‘hide the decline’ team and IPCC TAR & AR4 teams, their presentation of the observations of nature are highly controversial. The possibility of intent by those teams to mislead the public can be evaluated and judged by each individual of society who are interested in the future of science. JC ( and WUWT and CA and others) are thankfully providing the forum for us to do that.

    I think there is sufficient information on intent to mislead the public to form a basis of reasonable cause to request more info (docs & critical interviews) from those teams. Let the evaluation expand with additional info.


    • John, I admire the fact that you still hold hope that anybody would be dealt with, with the teams new-found sense of intellectual integrity, in a forthright manner.

    • John,
      Perhaps you already know this but I feel I should point it out for other readers. The contributing authors and even the lead authors did not have a great deal of power in the editorial process of TAR or AR4 and the reviewers had none. In every team of lead authors there were always a few alarmist types who could put the most dangerous spin on any controversial point of science. Other lead authors, like John Christy or Richard Lindzen, were merely overruled when the final decision went to the Coordinating Lead Authors. Same thing, only more so, in the review process. I don’t think Steve McIntyre’s reviews comments were ever adopted, although every comment was well-supported. The number of people who were actually responsible for the alarmist nature of TAR and AR4 is rather small.

      This is why I proposed an alternative to the IPCC assessment process. See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/13/a-modest-proposal-in-lieu-of-disbanding-the-ipcc/

      • Harold H Doiron

        I read your proposal at wattsupwiththat.com. The IPCC is a political organization, with unacceptable biases and questionable scientific usefulness of its published reports. As a US taxpayer, I recommend that US funded climate research and published conclusions of this research be as independent of political influence as possible. I would prefer that US taxpayer funded science or financial support have nothing to do with the IPCC, that is not controlled by US taxpayer elected officials, but is controlled by officials with obvious conflicts of interest.

        I am disgusted that much of what is published on US government websites like NOAA and NASA, are IPCC reports that we are all questioning here.

        Instead, I propose that we focus our climate change research on problem identification (What is the problem? Where is the problem occuring?, When is the Problem occuring and When did it start occuring? What is the extent of the Problem?) and make any related governmental decisions based on what is in the best interests of US taxpayers. I’m trusting that any decisions our government would make would, with high confidence, not cause any harm to US citizens or other citizens on the planet. What is our formidable economic and world political competitor ,China, going to do about climate change? What should we do if they don’t agree with what we want the rest of the world to do, but probably won’t?

      • from: http://www.peopleforwesternheritage.com/PFWHRMAdditionalQuotes.htm

        “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.”
        – Club of Rome, The First Global Revolution

        “The concept of national sovereignty has been immutable, indeed a sacred principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation.”
        – UN Commission on Global Governance report

        “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced – a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”
        – UN Agenda 21

        “A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.”
        – Paul Ehrlich, Professor of Population Studies

        “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
        – Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

        And finally – this anonymous post is a good example of the elephant in the room.
        “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all this fixation on get-it-right, got-it-wrong is obscuring the real issue: the truth is what we define it to be, and the truth is that mankind is a scourge on the planet. The sooner we can limit the right to breed, the sooner the planet will recover. If glacier data is a little incorrect but helps that effort, then the data is true in all but a very narrow and clinical scientific sense.”

  9. Alan Sutherland


    Cherry picking is mentioned in “Hiding the Decline Part IV”, and also mentioned by Sir John Beddington. It is interesting that Beddington infers that skeptics are the ones who are cherry picking, and uses this accusation to encourage the rebuttal of skepticism. On the other hand, Edward Tufte appears to be referring mainly to those making the presentations about a theory/proposition – in other words the climate scientists. They are the ones who should be careful not to cherry pick. Two different perspectives and a very important distinction and thank you for raising it. In my view, climate scientists are the ones who cherry pick and, if a skeptic points this out, it is the skeptic who is accused of cherry picking!

    “The hottest year since records began” is an illustartion – the time period is actually chosen because it fits the desired message. And even that statement is a cherry pick because it refers to only one kind of record. The earth is a lot older than this and the records which existed prior to these cherry picked ones are merely in a different form. Paintings, literature, historical research, diaries, geology. Can we believe that the London plague did not happen because there no measurement records to show it? Ocean heat content from the Argo buoys do not get much prominence because they are not on message – cherry picked out. CO2 levels where chemical measurements are ignored because they are not on message. Radiosonde data is not used because it is not on message. If the data doesn’t fit the theme, don’t use it or, better still, change it through homogenisation or any other means. And then hide what you have done if necessary. If the science was robust and followed the princples advocated by Tufte, then if a skeptic did a bit of cherry picking the scientific analysis would have already covered the point.

    Take sea ice as another example – the choice of “The Arctic” as a proxy for sea ice, when the Antarctic (much larger) does not follow the same trends as the Arctic. The inconvenient Antarctica data needed to be adjusted and who better to do it than Dr Eric Steig. I think that the O’Donnell et al 2010 study clearly showed that Steig cherry picked his data and statistical techniques. Another cherry pick for the Arctic is “since satellite measurements began”. There are many “records” of sea ice from Royal Navy ship logs and fishing boat logs. A most telling one is the picture of 3 submarines on the surface at the North Pole, the picture signed by all three captains. This is a piece of “data”, but it is inconvenient. When a skeptic points it out, how can Beddington infer that this is just cherry picking?

    In the Arctic, the lowest year of summer sea ice “since satellite measurements began” was 2007. For 3 subsequent years the minimum has been higher. Whether or not there is a trend depends on the period you wish to use – from ice cores, when Navy boats kept logs, when the submarines surfaced, when satellite measurements began, or the last 4 years?

    We also know, courtesy of Steve McIntyre, that Mann and Briffa cherry picked their tree proxies and their statistical techniques to produce a desired outcome. Then there is the ultimate cherry pick as revealed by the Climategate emails – the ability to block publication of science papers that are not on message. The unfortunate conclusion is that climate science is not actually a science but a manipulative story.

    Anthony Watts consistently makes available all the data that he can and allows his readers to do their own cherry picking if they want to. And they do!


    • Good post Alan. Who are the individuals in charge of the cherries? Who dictates what is published in the IPCC reports? These are the people that need to be marginalized by other scientists within the discipline.

    • Alan Sutherland | February 26, 2011 at 1:49 am | Reply
      Take sea ice as another example – the choice of “The Arctic” as a proxy for sea ice, when the Antarctic (much larger) does not follow the same trends as the Arctic.

      The Antarctic and Arctic are comparable when it comes to sea ice, (AA ~2-15 million km^2, A ~3-14 million km^2) and are in significantly different geographic situations. The max and min of the Arctic sea ice has been steadily dropping whereas the Antarctic remains approximately constant.

      The inconvenient Antarctica data needed to be adjusted and who better to do it than Dr Eric Steig. I think that the O’Donnell et al 2010 study clearly showed that Steig cherry picked his data and statistical techniques.

      Steig did nothing regarding Antarctic sea ice, nice ‘bait and switch’!

      Another cherry pick for the Arctic is “since satellite measurements began”. There are many “records” of sea ice from Royal Navy ship logs and fishing boat logs. A most telling one is the picture of 3 submarines on the surface at the North Pole, the picture signed by all three captains. This is a piece of “data”, but it is inconvenient. When a skeptic points it out, how can Beddington infer that this is just cherry picking?

      Because it is a completely false claim, the existence of leads anywhere in the Arctic has no bearing on the total area/extent, in fact the ship data confirms that the area/extent is in decline (see CT). Some of the ‘N pole sub photos’ were taken after the subs had in fact broken through thin ice, rather than a lead.
      Wieslaw Maslowski, Department of Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, has access to submarine data as well as satellite and has no doubt that the arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing.

      • Phil. Felton,
        Even if the sea ice is rapidly diminishing, you cannot proof that it is due to CO2. Its a trace gas and also IR radiation spectrum from ground surface and sea surface will not just suit CO2’s 14~16um to change all spectrum to 14~16um so to enable CO2 to absorb all radiation energy. Plus CO2 has physical properties such as specific heat capacity. You have to demonstrate that all radiation from the Earth surface IR radiation converted to 14~16um that CO2 can absorb more than its share of 0.039% content.

  10. Whats worse, cherry picking from actual possibly related to reality results or cherry picking from model results (by varying the input parameters etc.) or cherry picking by selecting different statistical tools and methods? I think we’ve seen pretty much all of the above and more.

  11. Nothing says exoneration better than the words,

    “we were unable to reconcile the divergent accounts [of Solomon versus the NOAA attorneys]”

  12. I would like to think that all this discussion about how to change the process and create open theoretical discussions and verifiable data would be all that would be needed. But it does not take a social psychologist to see that those committed to the most radical and catastrophic views on either side will not be convinced by that process. We can see that the reaction to a lack of warming in the last few years, a few uncommonly cold winters, criticism of the hockey stick, emails from the CRU have only driven many of them to a more intolerant and vociferous stance as the search desperately to find the lost heat or why global warming leads to cold winters. I think the lack of the hard core to attend Lisbon is both telling and indicative of the future. And should the ice recover in the Arctic or a few years of average or even below average temperatures will not create doubt but a frenzied response. We have gone past the point of dispassionate discourse quite awhile back. The idea of opening up the process and setting new rules will be seen as an attack, because nothing needs to be fixed and any implication that it does simply means that you don’t understand that it is too late. The best hope is to create an ideology free area in which to pursue science and move forward. Do not expect anything but obstruction and howls from those who do not see anything wrong, but your unwillingness to accept their truth.

    • “The best hope is to create an ideology free area in which to pursue science……..”

      That would be best, but its impossible. The very nature of climate science is based in politics. Some may disagree, but its been shown over and over again.
      Did you see the exchange with Freeman Dyson?

      Here’s an excerpt…….

      Dyson “we have seen great harm done to poor people around the world by the conversion of maize from a food crop to an energy crop.

      Conner totally ignores that statement, but in his very next e-mail….Conner “it may be true that more people die from cold than heat, but how many die of drought and famine?”

      Apparently, Conner thinks starving people while crops get turned to fuel is way better than potentially starving people from an imaginary famine.

      It is apparent this Conner person doesn’t give two wits about the globe people. He obviously possesses a different motivation.

  13. The fundamental question relating to the use of tree rings as ‘temperature proxies’ is, given that the wide tree rings clearly describe optimal conditions (not too hot, not too cold; not to wet, not to dry; not too fertilised, not too under fertilised; not too much CO2, not to little CO2; etc etc), how can the function supposedly linking tree ring width and temperature be linear, as Mann et al appear to conclude?

    It has been observed that to the extent that tree ring width is a function of temperature (which as observed above is only one of many possible factors applying), that relationship is of the nature of a inverse quadratic rather than linear. So why do the dendro dudes assume it is linear??

    Why cannot this simple question be addressed?

    • Oh, they know its not linear, but it doesn’t make for a good presentation……so, lines.

      Here’s another one……….tree’s don’t grow in the winter. How does one infer an average when one has no way of knowing the base number? It’s a joke and its been played on every person in this world. Yeh, one can almost massage heat, moisture, soil nutrients, insect populations, length of growing seasons etc. in a vague, general way, but how does one detect something from a non-event? It would have to go something like this……”it didn’t grow as much as it usually doesn’t grow in the winter, ergo, the low temps of this area must be 5.5 degrees colder than usual.” and we know this because we calibrated the ones we liked and discarded the ones we didn’t like. And we’re going to make a plethora of papers that show the same things using sub-sets of the same cherry-picked(word of the day!) tree rings. And they’ll essentially show the same thing and this will validate our work! It must be true because we were able to reproduce it! ‘Cause we know maths really good!!!

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      trevor, where has it “been observed that to the extent that tree ring width is a function of temperature, that relationship is of the nature of a inverse quadratic rather than linear”?

      It seems rather strange to think you would know a problem which is just ignored by everyone else.

      • http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Loehle_Divergence_CC.pdf

        “Decreased sensitivity to temperature or actual negative responses to warming could result from frost damage (Hänninen 2006), drought stress, change in seasonal patterns of temperature, or changes in snow pack, among other possible causes (D’Arrigo et al. 2007). An upside down quadratic growth response to temperature (Fritts 1991; Vaganov et al. 1990) has been demonstrated experimentally (e.g. Fritts 1976; Kramer and Kozlowski 1979; Gates 1980; Lyr et al. 1992; Schoettle 2004). Field studies have also shown that exceptionally warm years can turn positive responders into negative responders (Case and Peterson 2005, 2007; Oberhuber et al. 2008; Pichler and Oberhuber 2007), which is diagnostic of an upside down quadratic growth response to temperature. In this study it is shown that such nonlinear growth responses can produce the observed divergence and also pose a mathematical quandary for determining an inverse function (temperature as a function of ring width) because the inverse function is nonunique. Although the existence of an upside down quadratic response to temperature has been known for a long time (e.g., Fritts 1976), current tree ring-based reconstructions universally assume that a linear approximation is not problematic, which is equivalent to the assumption that past climates do not deviate far from those in the calibration period, as will be shown. Furthermore, the implications of divergence for reconstructing paleoclimate do not seem to be appreciated or discussed in the literature.”

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        mt, it is usually poor form to quote a source without adding any input of your own. Your comment here is a good example of why this is true. On the one hand, your response seems to be an answer to the question I posed to trevor. On the other hand, it doesn’t actually respond to the question I asked.

        The quoted text mentions inverse quadratic relations to temperatures have been observed in tree rings. That has never been in dispute. The fact a tree ring can have such a relationship is not surprising or meaningful. trevor claimed tree rings have that relationship not just that they can have it. This means trevor claimed all tree rings have one particular relationship to temperature if they have any relationship to temperature. That’s silly. The slightest amount of research would show it isn’t true.

        Tree rings can have a variety of relationships to temperature. If you quoted that source to show trevor’s claimed relationship exist in some cases, I agree with you. If you quoted it to support trevor’s claim that is the only relationship which can exist, it doesn’t say what you want it to say.

        There may be room to argue the various relations between trees and temperature are inadequately studied. However, it is silly to think the subject has eluded everyone in the various fields, as well as basically everyone posting on blogs, but somehow trevor has noticed it.

      • Brandon –
        IIRC, Craig Loehle published a paper on this subject several years ago. It’s not a new invention. I’d give you the reference, but my computer is in the shop and all my information is with it.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim Owen, I suspect the paper you have in mind is the one mt provided a link to. At least, I’m not aware of any other papers by Craig Loehle which cover the subject. If you have another paper by him in mind, feel free to point it out.

        Now then, after doing some reading, I think I may have been unfair in my comments. It is true plants have an inverse quadratic relation to growth in a very general sense. Plants have an optimum temperature at which they grow, and anything warmer or cooler than that will result in lessened growth. If we ignore all other factors, the stated relationship would exist (though some plants might have multiple optimum temperatures?). In the wild though, there will be many confounding factors.

        On the other hand, this effect is not ignored. One of the most common criteria used in picking trees for temperature comparisons is that the tree is at the tree line. Such a tree will be at the coldest area the tree can survive in. This means it will be nowhere near the optimum growth temperature. This basically ensures a peak should never be hit by the trees, and thus the inverse part of the relationship will never be seen.

        In other words, the relationship trevor described is an ideal relationship, not one which will be practically seen. The thing which bothered me about trevor’s comment was he said, “So why do the dendro dudes assume it is linear??” They don’t do anything of the sort. Dendroclimatologists are well aware of the relationship between trees and temperature. It’s been known for decades, as have many confounding factors which alter it (for example, frost damage and/or drought can create a non-inverse quadratic relationship).

        You could argue people making temperature reconstructions (generally not “dendro dudes”) have failed to properly account for the non-linear relationship between tree rings and temperatures. This is rather different than what trevor said, but it is a real point. Of course, it hasn’t been completely ignored as I demonstrated above, and whatever actual relationship there is may not be noticeably different than a linear relationship.

        Just don’t say people like Rob Wilson have assumed a linear relationship. They haven’t.

    • Are you serious Brandon? Ask any gardener. They will tell you which way is up. A simple question. No answers.

    • The response of the proxies is certainly discussed in many places, the fact that the response of any single tree ring proxy is not linear in temperature has been stated. This does not prove that the reconstruction based on a large number of tree ring proxies would not be much closer to linear. Actually it is rather clear that this is the case, but how good the linearity is, cannot be concluded without a study that concentrates specifically on this problem.

      I have not followed the field enough to tell, how well this issue has been studied, or how conclusive results have been obtained from such studies.

  14. The data points that lie on the anticipated curve are easy to accept, as they confirm exactly what was expected in the first place, and are, therefore, comforting.

    But, as Nassim Taleb and Thomas Kuhn have both observed, coming at the problem from two totally different starting points, it is the outliers that may be telling us exactly what we need to know, yet these were systematically discarded as irrelevant in order to “hide the decline”.

  15. Written in November 2010 by L Carey. Amazing prescience!

    “I second what PDA said above about “made for TV” – my 2 cents is that JC has indeed decided to pursue a new career track that is a lot more fun than, you know, actually doing science and teaching, by monetizing her perceived expertise. It works like so:

    1. Actual climate scientist makes critical claims about climate science on denier websites and starts making allies with prominent deniers. (Interestingly, scientist makes noises about how she was briefly treated as a “rock star” over her hurricane paper – yearning for a return to the public spotlight, maybe?)

    2. Visit semi-prominent ‘teach the controversy” website (CoS) and chat up the moderator (KK) with provocative statements that play to his own worldview. 2a – vanish when rational people start asking what the heck you’re talking about.

    3. Visit prominent “warmist” websites (e.g., Real Climate) and make highly provocative semi-incoherent drive-by comments (making sure not to respond when rational people tell you why your rambling comments are misleading non-sense, but building up your “cred” with deniers by taking on “the keepers of the orthodoxy” – e.g., Gavin). Talk about “peace-making” while selectively criticizing scientists and talking up prominent “citizen-deniers”.

    4. Start your own blog and proceed to accelerate making statements that are both increasingly outlandish (e.g., high priests of the IPCC, etc.) and/or incoherent. Be sure to pointedly ignore rational comments by those knowledgeable and published in technical climate fields (e.g., Eric Steig and James Annan).

    5. Get written up as a “heretic”, thereby scoring the bonus of somebody else highlighting the all-important meme of “climate science as a religion”. Associate with prominent “there’s a lot of uncertainty but I expect it won’t be so bad” talking heads, such as RPJ and Revkin.

    So far, so good – now the tricky part. Since said scientist is second tier (at best) in her field but has a reputable academic position and has no problem getting published, she must somehow trigger at least the appearance of ostracism, retribution and tyranny at the hands of the “high priests of climate”.

    6. Accordingly, scientist eventually has to start doing stuff so wacky and out-of-bounds that her academic colleagues are forced to take notice, and she must do whatever it takes to push for a confrontation of “truth” (well, hers anyway) against the vicious culture of “tribalism”. For the plan to work, she MUST do whatever it takes to get rebuked, censured, fired, or whatever. This of course demonstrates completely unmerited persecution by the warmist cabal (who must at all costs keep all scientists in their thrall, especially heretic, maverick scientists) — this, of course, is catnip for deniers everywhere, and especially Faux News. Almost payday now.

    7. The brave, truth-telling, heretic, maverick scientist now uses her new-found iconic status with the lipstick on a pitbull crowd to cash in as the “go-to” showpiece “real climate scientist” with a Faux News contract, an eagerly sought participant in numerous “fair and balanced” panels and speaking engagements, hired as a senior fellow with Heritage, AEI, CEI, etc., etc. Followed by the sale of movie rights, an autobiography and a book tour. Voila – from obscure middle class real scientist to famous, well paid climate shill adored by billionaires, corporate behemoths and Tea Partiers alike, in 7 easy steps.

    If this is actually the scenario that is underway, then it is pointless to expect JC to start dialing back the rhetoric and trying to make sense. In fact, just the opposite would be true — to bring such a plan to fruition, she MUST keep getting more and more belligerent, intransigent and just plain nutty, to provoke the essential “persecution” and secure her new-found denier rock star status. “

    • Very interesting, No doubt fascinating to conspiracy theorists. And to followers of L Carey – whoever he or she may be.

      But its relevance to ‘hide the decline’ has escaped me.

      • Laitmer is the expert on fact free conspiracies. So take his word as a promenant pruveyor of them on whats good and whats not.

      • You credit me with qualities I neither possess nor wish to.

        I don’t believe in overt conspiracies – far too hard to pull off for more than a few weeks. I *do* believe in ‘groupthink’ and its effects.

        But I still don’t see the relevance of the importunate tirade above to the question of ‘Hide the Decline’.

        Please enlighten me.

      • You tell him dorlomin! Latimer is nothing but an undereducated bus driver whose opinions are pointless and poorly thought out and articulated. And a Brit to boot. Two strikes right there in my book. The Brits simply cannot be trusted. Remember pre 1776? Heck, if it weren’t for them, there would probably not have been an industrial revolution. Then we would be set!

        I saw that post over at the great Eli’s place and was shocked at how close to the truth it is. Why, if Judith isn’t working along side Beck and Hannity by year’s end I will be shocked! Shocked I tells ya.

        The denialists here in the center of the denialosphere deny what is actually happening with Dr. Curry. That she is on a one-woman crusade to prove all climate science is bunk. She is also trying to get rich. Don’t you all see it? From scientist, to blogger, to TV talking head. It’s soooo simple anyone could do it.

        If I were a betting man, I would say there is a good chance she makes it a team effort and we see Steven “Piltdown Mann” Mosher and maybe even that Steven Goddard fellow right there with her. Fox News could give them their own show–“WWJD*–The Troof About the Climates”.

        *What Would Judith Do?

      • Dehogza,

        I guess you are an over-educated bus driver. Now I challenge you if you can account for that K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget of 324W/m2 back radiation. If you no clue and unable to reply than you are not better than an under-educated bus driver, like me, lol.

      • Dear Sam,

        Now, now, don’t try to get all “sciencey” on me. My specialty is rhetoric. The only “back radiation” I know is lying on my belly by the pool. But I do know that the climate science guys can’t be wrong. Ever. About anything. So if what you are saying agrees with the “consensus” then I agree. If not, you are nothing but a denier and anti-science and generally speaking an all-around bad guy who likely lets his car run all night just to spite those of us who are familiar with the truthiness of the reality of CAGW.

        Not to mention you are completely ignoring the reality of what Dr. Curry is doing. Her master plan to get her own show on Fox is insidious and aims to undermine science as a whole, not just climate science. Molecular Biologists beware! She is coming after you next! I know because I read it at Eli’s! And Rabetts are never wrong. Plus, ianash seconded it and posted it here.


      • Not cool, Mosh.

      • Dear PDA,

        I’m not Steven “Piltdown Mann” Mosher.

        And though possibly over the top, it ain’t far from the truth. But don’t blame Mosher, he is innocent.

        Would you prefer if I went as iannassh? Same story, different name.

        Sorry if I offended you or dhogaza’s delicate sensibilities. I know he for sure has never posted anything insulting. Ditto for ianash–except , of course, for the drivel above.

        Carry on…

      • Dehogza,

        ‘The only “back radiation” I know is lying on my belly by the pool. But I do know that the climate science guys can’t be wrong. Ever.’
        There you are. You don’t know your own including problems. I guess most AGWers have this kind of attitude and Dr Curry’s efforts are in vain trying to get AGWers and the Deniers to enter civil discussions to let each has their views. You are not prepared to listen and think. The word gullible comes to my mind. I hope one day you can figure out the 324W/m2 back radiation. Without knowing what it is and make a believe is at best educated at bus driver level, no more.

      • Sam NC for the WIN

      • Dear Sam,

        Sarcasm and satire not your strong suit? I was joking. Would have thought that would have been clear by now. Oh well.

        But I promised PDA I’d be a good boy, so I will no longer press any buttons and the evil Dehogza shall be no more.

        Can’t say the same for the real dhogaza. No doubt he will still post in his normal fashion. Perhaps if he reads this he will even get a laugh.

      • Dehogza,

        English is my second language. I don’t know your sarcacism. Since you promised to be a good boy, play your video games. Don’t mess around here. You have got better things to do.

      • Sam NC,

        As I said, my apologies for misleading you. But I am no boy. Once again, merely a “figure of speech” so to speak. My point was that there really are those who treat others the way I was treating you–with little or no respect despite the fact you seem to know what you are talking about. These people are the ones who actually do the AGW message a disservice as they turn otherwise reasonable people against them due to their condescending tone. Of course, those very people would call me a “tone troll” for taking them to task. But it really does matter. Not everyone who doesn’t buy in to the hyperbole is a fool, an idiot or a “denier”. But some paint all with that opinion with the same brush. And do so in such a way as it detracts from the real message which simply gets lost.

        Very few would argue that we should not look for alternative energy for a secure and prosperous future. But all too often that message–which is really the most important one–simply gets lost in the rhetoric and vitriol of the AGW “debate”.


      • Dehogza,
        Thanks for the reply and the explanation in plain English. No apology is necessary as I didn’t understand your sarcastic way of expressions at 1st. Now I understand after re-read what you had written. Regards.

      • 1. I am not a bus driver. I work on the buses. Driving is not the only job on the buses.

        2. In normal parlance, an MSc in Atmospheric Chemistry is not considered ‘uneducated’.

        I dodn’t bother to read the rest. Presumably had some unpleasant things to say about my friends or family.

        But unlikely to have anything relevant or interesting to say.

      • On further reflection, your post may have been ironic/satirical.

        Suggest that you work on that a bit.

      • Random Poster No Longer Using A Name Similar To Anyone Else Here From Either "Side" Of The Debate


        I attempted to be so over the top that I really did not think it could be misconstrued. To the contrary, I find your posts to clearly be by someone with a sharp mind and solid education. That you work, now, with or on a bus is irrelevant as there are many smart people who do regular jobs. My point is that someone like yourself is often subjected to off-putting remarks due to your views on climate science et al despite that fact that you, very often, make accurate and salient points.

        So you are correct, I was being a smart ass.

        I will take my leave now, but wanted you to know I picked you because you are the opposite of how I described you way above.

    • Words fail me! Is this what the debate has descended to by some fantasists. Ad hominem after ad hominem and attribution of motives.

    • ianash-

      Who pays you to type your drivel?

      RC? Soros? Gore? IPCC? GISS? CRU?

      • “Who pays you to type your drivel?

        RC? Soros? Gore? IPCC? GISS? CRU?” Awesome, this is not a ‘conspiracy’ theory because………..

    • ianash

      play the ball, not the person.

      Unfortunately, that is what a bad sport does when loosing an argument.

      Judith, take his personal attack like water on a ducks back. Or if we continue with a personal attack, why don’t you delete his post that contains personal attacks.

      Judith, I am not allowed to post ANY comment at realClimate, OpenMind, Deltoid. Why don’t you delete (not ban) personal attacks? If they persist, ban them. I hate to read their disrespectful tone.

      • Grma,

        “Judith, I am not allowed to post ANY comment at realClimate, OpenMind, Deltoid. Why don’t you delete (not ban) personal attacks? If they persist, ban them. I hate to read their disrespectful tone.”

        1. You want the Climate ETC to be one of them?
        2. Disrespectful tone has low regard with that person in the public eyes. Let them to be exposed to the public, why care?

      • Agreed.

        Better to let the searing light of debate shine upon them here than force them to slink away in the dark shadows with a festering sore that they were ignored.

      • Currys entire blog is about personal attacks. Nothing to blog on if its not a bunch of insinuations about 12 year old graphs and the evil motivations of the authors. Keeps the morons happy though.

      • Did you actually read the OP, or are you just relying on chinese whispers?

      • More to the point, did you? Perhaps you were referring to the OP of the previous thread?

        “The other threads are having problems with the reply threading, here is a new thread that will hopefully facilitate the discussion “

      • You know full well which one I’m referring to – you provided the context.

      • You must be very happy then.
        What you’re going to whine about personal attacks and then call every one you disagree with “morons”? That’s about par for the course for an alarmist.

      • dorlomin,

        “Keeps the morons happy though.” I don’t understand why you down regard yourself to be among them? I am ready to side track you to the K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget 324W/m2 back radiation. Do some analysis on that figure and then come back to see if you can account for the magic number 324W/m2, OK.

      • “I am ready to side track you ” interesting so this is Sam NC’s hobby horse. Ill take note.

      • dorlomin,

        So you don’t know how K&T got that 324W/m2 back radiation magic figure.

    • Judith,

      Don’t put up with these tactics. It will only continue if allowed to stand. This is nothing but a copy/paste of a comment from Tobis’ site back on Nov 7th or Josh Halpern’s post last night. This odious creature could have put in a link rather than copying the whole thing, but ianash suspected correctly that would likely be ignored.

      To my mind this is a blatant show of disrespect to you personally and to the effort you are expending on the site. It is also disrespectful to other denizens to have to see such tripe while trying to have a rational discussion.

      I haven’t seen ianash contribute anything of intellectual value since first coming here, and this trolling indicates a lack of capacity to ever usefully contribute.

      If it was my site I’d log both the email and IP addresses and ban ianash for a substantial period. (forever?) Even McIntyre has had to do it to a couple people.

      • Bob, I agree that Ianash has contributed nothing of substance. He is providing some comic relief which seems appreciated by some. his comments that violate blog policies are deleted. I tend not to cut posts that criticize me personally, unless the language is overly crude. For now I am allowing this kind of things on the discussion threads (not on the technical threads)

      • An excellent policy.
        I have seen nothing on these threads that makes your detractors look more ridiculous and ill informed than their very own statements.

        Much better, too, the cut and thrust of open and animated debate than the echo chamber that is Real Climate. Censorship has made that Cathedral to the AGW religion an almost empty place, where the preachers and choir have not noticed that the congregation has left.

  16. Oops…Latimer, I was of course referring to ianash’s diatribe.

  17. I have been meaning to reply to some of the posts by Fred Mooleton and John N-G. But these threads are moving really fast and I havent found the time to post until now.

    It looks like one or both of you are climate scientists. My research is in another discipline and I have been fortunate enough to be quite successful and recognized in my research in this field. However your responses to various posts in this blog seem to imply that a different logic applies to climate science and climate publications in the treatment of data as well as deriving conclusions from data. That puzzles me and surprises me.

    Wrt the discussion at hand, whether deleting the post 1960 tree ring data in their graphs, you seem to believe that somehow this is just a bad choice of graphical representation as opposed to fundamental flaw in the author’s arguments. Here is why, to the unbiased observer this looks flawed. I am agnostic wrt global warming, climate change etc, since I havent seen the measured data matching forecast data for a reasonable period of time. I am sure the scientists are sincere and are bright and are working hard. But hey in the disciplines I work, howerver chaotic or non-linear your systems are you need to have validated predictions (I dont mean the hindcasting kind) before your theory/model will be taken seriously. So I am neither a skeptic nor a believer in AGW yet. But being a scientist/engineer I guess I am by default a skeptic at least a little.

    1. THe authors took on the exercise of reconstructing global temperatures for the past 1000+ years (hopefully without any initial bias, which I am not sure they did).
    2. But we only have ~150 (?) years of direct measurements for this variable with instruments
    3. So if we are to accept the rest of the 850 yrs of global temperature reconstruction from proxies, they have a need to show that the proxy reliably tracks temperature (at a minimum for the period for which we have direct measurements of that variable, which I am not sure is a sufficient condition) and further no other significant variable could have interfered with the effects of the chosen proxy. Lets ignore the latter requirement for now
    4. If the measured data shows that the proxy chosen does not track the global temp variable for any significant length of time (say >5%?) then one conclusion you have to come to is that the proxy is not a good indicator of the variable it is a proxy for. precisely because this proxy doesnt track the variable of interest during the only length of time in that entire period when we actually have directly measured data for that variable.
    5. It could be due to the fact that other known factors played an unknown role in that period when the divergence occurred or there are factors which are completely unknown or unaccounted for in your model. Either way in any other discipline of science basic logic would constitute that you would at least conclude that the proxy you are using for the global temp reconstruction is not a good one and would discard it or find other proxies or factors to add to this proxy to complete your model and then use the combined proxies to see if they track the variable in a realiable fashion for the _whole time_.
    6. The above would be the only logical conclusion you would come to in most other areas of science, even if it has been theoretically shown that tree rings directly and strongly correlate to global temps to the exclusion of all other variables.

    But I have seen many here argue somehow that is OK to throw away the data for the period when the divergence occurs because it is not a good indicator of global temp anyway for that period and because it is redundant since we already have measured temp. But that is precisely the data that invalidates the reliance on that proxy for _any_ period in the reconstruction, irrespective of how the proxy tracks the variable in that particular period. The issue is not whether the tree ring data is redundant post 1960, but rather that the tree ring data cannot be expected to reliably represent global temps pre 1960, given that post 1960 it fails to correlate to measured global temps. And further many argue that all of this is only a representation and documentation problem. But as I argue above, summary graph or not, it changes the conclusions you have to reach, if your tree ring data wont correlate measurements during the only period when you have measurements.

    People seem to be implying somehow that there is a different logic for climate science, because the scale and scope of earth’s climate is so vast and chaotic and experimental validation is so hard to do. if so that is scary that we rely so much on data from ” climate science” to large scale changes in how we respond to “climate problems”. On another note, I keep hearing somehow the vast majority of the climate scientific community has concluded that there cannot be negative feedbacks. I get the basic physics of CO2 heating. But that is a far cry from claiming that immediately implies that the earth has to warm, because there is no way there are any negative feedbacks. If anything the entire history of earth shows that there has never been any runaway warming or cooling, implying there are some negative feedback breaks in the system that kick in every time the temp runs too high or too low, irrepsective of what the CO2 level has been. Even if I am wrong about this, how can scientists rule out negative feedback in such a complex system, unless they have a perfect model without negative feedbacks that pretty much correlates to measurements of all key climate variables? From what I see they dont seem to have a model that predicts one variable reliably, let alone all key climate variables. In the disciplines where I work, the model has to make reliable predictions for all key variables of that system for at least 95% of the time the system is operational for someone to accept that as a good model for that system.

    What about climate science makes it an exception to the norms of other sciences including ones where chaos and non-linearity rule the roost?

    So what gives? This is not a rhetorical question. So I would appreciate any valid or real reasons for the divergence between climate science and other sciences in the basic logic used to derive conclusions from data.

    • Shiv, In my own, very inadequate, way, I have been trying to say the sorts of things you have written for many years. What I have found, and I suspect you will find the same, is that the proponents of CAGW simply refuse to discuss the sorts of issues you raise. The reason is, of course, that they know that if they do, they will have to admit that CAGW has no scientific basis whatsoever.

    • Your post was a joy to read.
      I look forward to the answers to your question.
      On reading the posts over the last few days it strikes me that it is skeptics that seem to improve all science and without that skepticism science falters.

    • Boy Shiv, are you way behind! They’ve just about got the missing heat solved, and when they do that, we won’t have find all of the forcings and feedbacks, negative or otherwise.

      As for the reasons why they’re special, its because, well they’re special. Soon, you probably hear derisive comments about how things work differently in the real world vs a lab. Of course those geologist….well. You may also hear that the proxies do track temps, just not after 1960. And that the time span of we’re looking at is much greater than 5%. Of course, if you dig into the details of the study, they do some real interesting mathematical acrobatics to make it so. Sadly, “something changed” with the trees after then and so the can’t apply the same acrobatics to them. So, we happily discard them with the firm knowledge that the change that happened was unique and doesn’t apply to any other time in history. Amazing, and people said we can’t observe evolution! You should look and see what is considered a good distribution for these trees…..that’s another hoot all by itself. And then from that small sampling the selection process. That, too, seems to be exempt from standard science protocol. Well, of course there are other issues, but climate science is special, so your questions and thoughts can be dismissed with a wave of a hand.

      Otherwise, a very good and pointed post.

    • Col. Gavadaffi

      Speech direct from The Bunker:

      Denier! Scumbag! Running Dog of the Forces of Darkness! Oppressor of the People! Violator of Mother Gaia!

      We will fight to defend the Truth of the Theory against the Forces of Big Oil. We will not be seduced by their Propaganda.

      We have no Truck with Big Oil Science. We Have No Truck With Proof and Uncertainties. They are the Spawn of the Devil. We Accept No Questions. We Cast The Devil’s Children into The Hole. We do not Rise to their Bait. We listen only to The Truth and The One True Way.

      People, Begird your Loins to Fight for the Theory You Love. Repel the ‘Scientific’ Invader. Fight to the Last Research Grant! Fight To the Last Model! Fight With Your Last Broken Hockey Stick!

      No Surrender to the Hyenas of ‘Real Science’!

      We are One, We are United (apart from Keef). We will Overcome.

    • I love it when when engineers weigh in. They can’t get away with grand theories and hand-waving. In climate science wrt AGW it is far too acceptable to say “is consistent with” and to completely ignore precision and accuracy. A model that gives an Earth 4 deg C too hot or cold is still used and it’s predicted warming trend over the period reported, but that sort of error seems pretty fundamental to me. In the dendro area, models with pitiful R2 values of .15 or .2 are used as if they were predictive of anything (rather than merely providing some useful food for thought). This is not good practice. I have shown in a number of studies that when comparing competing models it is possible to have multiple models (these are distributional models, not simulations) that all fit the data with R2 better than 0.98 and can’t be separated statistically, so the idea that a model with pitiful fit to the data is proof of anything or suitable for concluding “hottest year in a millenium” (never mind the different time resolutions) just escapes me.

    • Shiv, an excellent post.
      As a programmer, I would like to add one thing to your list of things you would like to have answered.
      With each computer model, I would like to see a sample data set of input that would give a negative temperature trend over the same time periods. (it is the easiest way of checking for an inbuilt bias)

    • I see the people you addressed have not answered yet, and none of us are tree-ring experts, but I have seen explanations along the lines I will state here. Imagine that the response of bristle-cone pines to temperature has a peak, i.e. it does not track temperature monotonically, but has a temperature with a maximum growth rate, then beyond that it slows down again (maybe it is too warm for the pine trees or something like that). Now it looks like it hit that max in the 60’s and possibly previously in the MWP, which would truncate those maxima, but between these times these trees did track temperature. It therefore makes sense to eliminate these proxies when it gets too warm (and at no other time).

      • “It therefore makes sense to eliminate these proxies when it gets too warm (and at no other time).”

        Seems to me to be akin to using a data field in programming that is too small to fit the data all the time (or even one that will only hold unsigned data when the data may contain negatives).

        If you know exactly what the data value was then you might be able to say that in some cases x = y, but you could never fully trust the data, and, if you did not have an independent value to check it against, you could never trust it.

        To put it simply, how can it be a proxy for temperature if you need another proxy to tell you when you can and can’t use its data? If you do have another proxy then how do you know that one is right? A case of who watches the watcher.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Jim D, if anyone could demonstrate such a peak exists at some particular temperature and that temperature was reached in the 1960s, almost nobody would have a problem with the idea of omitting that data. The problem is nobody can demonstrate such.

        You can’t simply say an explanation could exist. You have to give a reason to believe it exists. Otherwise, it is just a convenient assumption.

      • As I showed last year in Climatic Change, if what you postulate is true (and probably is) then dropping the trees after 1960 is also equivalent to censoring any temperatures in the past warmer than 1960, ie the MWP. Further, for individual trees or stands in different regions of different species, we do not have the same temperature as the peak beyond which linearity is violated. It creates a mess.

      • I appreciate your attempt to answer the questions. However how climate science can conclude that only post 1960 the trees responded to some non-linearity while pre-1960 it was all linear and directly and fully correlated to global temps. That links isnt established in any logical data driven way, when all you have is divergence with measured data, where that measured data exists only for that period when the divergence happens. If you had significant data prior to 1960 where tree rings fully tracked global temps, you could have some argument. But that argument will still be conjencture and incomplete, without a clear model/equation that captures both linearities and non-linearities and hence tracks global temps without any divergence for all time. At a minimum this argument exposes the fact that they have vastly inadequate and incomplete model for relating tree rings with global temps.

        If you look at this carefully, all we have data for validating any relationship between tree rings and global temps is the period for which we have instrumental temp record. This instrumental record timeline is too small to actually validate the entire period of 1000 years to begin with. If you have divergence even within this small period, you really have to conclude that you have an incomplete and inadequate model. You cannot conclude that tree growth was linear before and non-linear after, without sufficiently proving that with instrumental measurements of some sort of both tree width and the global temps. As I said earlier this still is not a sufficient condition to make robust conclusions. This explanation is what I mean by different logic applying to climate science.

        However I appreciate your effort to at least try and explain. we all have to search for better explanations to make sense of what is likely to happent to this planet I guess.

  18. Shiv

    An excellent post.

    Thank you.

  19. John Costigane

    Hi Judy,

    Prescience is a good word which has a another meaning, ie before science. Before science they burned women as witches. No doubt, misogyny played a role in that nonsense. It seems nothing has changed!

    On a personal note, I have noticed an increase size of leaf, year by year, on a hypericum bush outback. After cutting dead stalks in Spring, the bush grows from the ground each year. This could be due to increased atmospheric CO2, and if so, why is there only a negative commentary from alarmists? Has anyone else noticed improved plant growth in recent years?

    • The biosphere is blooming quite well. I don’t have the graphics in hand at the moments, but WUWT ran an article about how well the biosphere is doing. No, they entirely dismiss the positive effects of increased CO2 and warming. This is my nature of skepticism. I allow that it is possible man could be warming the planet, I’m not convinced, but I allow for the possibility. I see the possibility as a very good thing. Historically, mankind thrives significantly better in warmer climates than colder. Rarely do we see discussions of such stuff. The alarmists are simply taken at their word that dire consequences will occur if we warm a couple of degrees. It is nonsense and there is no evidence of such.

      • John Costigane

        Thanks for the perspective. My own scepticism is based on a belief in the value of science. When science is corrupted, or even hinted as such, this value is threatened. Judy, among other leading individuals, is promoting good science and gets my full support.

    • Well – I haven’t! The reasons being a late start to germination after icy winters; too much rain and not enough sun during the growing period.
      But that, as we all know is merely weather, where even something as vital to gardeners as the local microclimate is left by the wayside, as are questions of plant predation by insects, slugs, snails, squirrels – which are also influenced by weather and microclimate.
      And that ought to shine a light on the fact that a rise of the global temperature of whatever the latest flavour is, is meaningless for the people who actually live and work on earth.
      What is not meaningless for them, however, are fresh green taxes on their energy supply, leading to higher bills and living costs.

      It might be rather useful if some climate scientists would leave their computer rooms now and then and interacted with the outside world. Even just digging one’s garden and tending the plants therein would be helpful …

      • John Costigane


        Last winter was murder: imagine Spring in April. My fingers and toes are still feeling the chill. The leaf growth has increased over several years and last year bigger again in the short summer.

        If you want to deal with slugs, alcohol baths (of death) work best. I tried feeding the resulting carcasses to birds but they remained uneaten.

      • Aren’t those slugs just a step away from a vodka jelly shot?

  20. Dr Curry,

    I really wish you’d abandon this ‘threading’ – it becomes impossible to follow any discussion, especially if one goes away for an hour and comes back – everything is then ‘messed up’! There must be better ways of ‘referring’ without it? For instance, the original post’s commentary has become almost impossible to read without some persistence and patience – if one wants to elicit salient contributions. I suppose it might be fine for a lightly commentated post but, as you see from your traffic, that’s very unlikely. A chronological system (something that used to work very well on Climate Audit, back in the old days) is my preference but, maybe, there’s a compromise between the two? Just my tuppence worth.

    As a side note – someone remarked about the welcome lack of moderation on this site – what is interesting, is it not, is how the community tends to take responsibility and self-moderates, when you give it that trust? It’s most gratifying but, from my optimistic heart, not unexpected!

    • lewis, my first choice is for consecutive, numbered comments. Can’t do the numbering on the software i am doing, so threading is the compromise. i am going to tighten up the threading a bit, it is currently set at 15, i will pull it back to 10 and see if that helps a bit. I’m trying to start new threads if the old ones hit 400 comments.

      • Dr Curry,
        Thanks for the reply. One can only experiment I suppose. There might be an argument for, on especially popular posts, to turn off threading all together? By the way, as I asked in another comment, whether your software tells you the actual number of commentators (ie discounting the total commentary)? And, statistically, without naming names, of course, their different frequency of commentary?

      • Sorry, I misunderstood – are you saying you can’t have numbered comments only dated? I think what I am saying is that searching by name or date would then possibly be much easier? It’s very unlikely that those who visit your site are not ‘web cognoscenti’?!

      • I made openly available a program to help following these discussion in the New Years thread. At that time the usability of the program was perhaps questionable, but I have improved it since. Now it helps me tremendously in following the discussions. I can switch from a thread to another thread by to clicks, restrict the first time for comments posted and then order links to comments best either on the posting time or location in the thread. After that clicking on the link opens the message in a almost standard browser window. Clicking other links of the same thread causes a immediate jump to the other message.

        Commenting does not work well in this browser, but one can open the message for commenting clicking to “Reply” by right mouse button and selecting “Open in new window”.

        There are a few things to learn. One example is that the browser must be reloaded using “F5” after the links are reloaded to contain new links. A short Help document explains most features.

        The program works in Windows and is available from


      • thanks pekka

      • I realized that one library file was missing from the installation file. Some computers may already have it, but most do not. I have just replaced the installation file by a more complete one.

  21. Hide The Decline posts, in five parts, in three days from 22 to 25 Feb-2011 were 3160!

    Congratulation Judith!

    It is more than the number of posts in a month at RealClimate (about 2200).

    • Which just shows the benefit of fostering open discussion, not restricting the discourse to megaphone propaganda.

      • I wonder, Latimer (one of the sane ‘voices’ of the discussion), if you might feel like me, that this has been somewhat ‘self-involved’? What possible consequences can there be conceived from this rather incestuous blog exercise? I’m not being cynical or attempting to be provacitive, I’m just curious. I would, also, be interested in a breakdown of frequency of commentary. It would be interesting to see what the total population of commenter’s was?

      • What is “the benefit,” Latimer? Do you have any evidence that anyone has learned a single thing, let alone modified the views they had before this blogstorm began?

      • I think, PDA, with such an open platform, people, at least, learned to talk to each other? Isn’t that something?

      • Have we? This is a real question, Lewis. I think people have been talking past each other, or shouting at each other.

        To be perfectly clear, I certainly don’t think that the dynamic’s unique to this site. I just don’t think light vs. heavy moderation makes an appreciable difference.

      • Possibly, PDA, these are all things that are very interesting to me and, I suspect, our venerable host. I was thinking more in a general sense. If people shout at each other, they sometimes do so very affectively and, it seems, create history. And, surely, there has been some progress – I remember 5 or so years back when there was next to no ‘cross fertilization’? If you don’t like this blog, what about Keith Kloors? All I am saying is, have some ‘optimism’ (‘infamous optimism’ as one famous philosopher called it!)

      • No, as I said, it’s not a problem with this blog specifically. And I’ve been around since USENET days… the internet has always been a place where people yell at each other. I’m not that familiar with places where people only agree, but I suspect they are not very popular.

      • PDA, hopefully you’ll catch this ( I think our ‘threading’ reached it’s 10 limit but it’s all very confusing) – you say ‘I’m not that familiar with places where people only agree’ – surely you do? It is part of human nature to return to the comfort of re-affirmation and, if such sites did not exist, they would be invented? But I think you yourself, commendably, wish to mix with the fray and challenge what you don’t agree with? Your knowledge of the ‘real’ internet is spoilt by your own courage!

      • Well, there’s low-traffic sites where most every comment is “yes, I agree,” but most climate sites with comments that have any real readership at all usually devolve into a food fight pretty quickly. To be fair, I think Lucia’s is on the high side of the signal-to-noise ratio, mainly because her posts tend to be quite technical. But it often gets messy there, too.

        I’m not saying it’s a terrible thing, obviously: I mean, I’m here, and I’m contributing to that atmosphere as much as anyone. I’m just not convinced that it adds anything to understanding, dialogue, or the sum total of good in the world. I’d be happy to be persuaded otherwise!

      • Well, PDA, I think I’ve learnt a lot but I’m one of those peoples who are always curious why people have a different opinion. As I say, from that, I’ve learnt a lot!

      • That’s a good point. I’ve definitely learned things about how people form and defend beliefs. So that’s something.


      • Belief in the ignorance of experts is growing. That is very good for science.

        I don’t have evidence for this, just a impresion.

      • The benefit might not be apparent here, after all, some participants have an unshakeable belief that they’re right.
        But it provides the onlooker with an excellent overview of both sides of whatever debate, argument, discussion, disagreement etc is taking place.

    • Congratulations to Barbara Cartland. More read than Tolstoy. Clearly superior.

  22. Hey good people,

    Dumb question. Of course I can readily see how, since the tree ring proxies diverged from actual temps over the ending decades of the hockey stick, one must assume that the rest of the data can’t be trusted. It’s self-evident, even to this math challenged non-scientist.

    What I’m not understanding is what their counter-argument might be. I mean, they must have one, right?

    • The assumption seems to be “it is close enough to linear” and/or “the trees/sites we picked are linear” but with no proof whatsoever and closed eyes. There is so much evidence that this assumption is wrong, and the nonlinearity so screws up the analysis, it just boggles the mind. If tempted to enter the field of dendro reconstruction, a young scientist should seriously consider whether he is building a house of cards.

  23. PDA, hopefully you’ll catch this ( I think our ‘threading’ reached it’s 10 limit but it’s all very confusing) – you say ‘I’m not that familiar with places where people only agree’ – surely you do? It is part of human nature to return to the comfort of re-affirmation and, if such sites did not exist, they would be invented? But I think you yourself, commendably, wish to mix with the fray and challenge what you don’t agree with? Your knowledge of the ‘real’ internet is spoilt by your own courage!

  24. WordPress kind of sh*ts the bed whenever a comment is deleted.

    • It would be a bit more time consuming, but I think this is avoidable by not deleting, and just replacing the post with something like “snipped” or “deleted”.

  25. I have been following this series of threads with great interest. It is a landmark series appealing for impartial scientific honesty and integrity, and rejection of deceptive trickery. It has received a massive response and is sure to find its place in perpetuity for that. Surely that appeal, above all other, should receive unanimous support. The American nation stands for integrity as much as freedom, and it is notable that the principle thread in the series, attracting a huge audience, was posted on 22 February, the anniversary of the birth of the man of principle who founded it and became the first President.

    I’m saddened by a progressive deterioration in the content of much of the commentary latterly. Judith deserves our best or not at all in the wind up thread.

  26. Judith – you started #2 in this series with “The significance of the debate over the hockey stick and “hide the decline” is the following:
    Sir John Houghton made the hockey stick into an icon for the climate change problem, which became of substantial importance in the marketing of climate change to the public; therefore, challenges to the hockey stick, while maybe not being of particular scientific importance are highly important in the public debate on climate change.
    ” [my emphasis]

    I think you have missed something of fundamental scientific importance. Others have touched on it in the comments but I don’t know if they hit the essential factor (I haven’t read them all), which is:

    If the MWP had not been downplayed so much in Mann’s hockey-stick, then it would have been too warm to be attributable to solar irradiation. That would destroy the IPCC’s “climate sensitivity” calculations, and force them to face up to the fact that some other natural factor was at work – one that is not yet allowed for in their models.

    I suspect that this thought was behind the “we have to get rid of the MWP” Climategate(?) email, rather than the more general idea that if today wasn’t a lot warmer than the MWP then people wouldn’t buy CAGW.

  27. It has always been the express mission of the IPCC to find ‘man’ at fault for any real or concieved global warming.
    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change”
    How can one believe anything that comes out of the IPCC? A truely un-biased IPCC mission statement would not include the words “humna-induced”.

  28. What Controls Earth’s Climate ?

    Professor Curry, I hope you will bear with me and allow me to post here our current understanding of what controls Earth’s climate.

    The information posted below is the result of 50+ years (1960-present) of “truthing”: Continuously trying to improve our understanding and knowing that we never have the whole truth. More will always be revealed.

    “Truthing”: Reduces certainty and egoism and increases humility and reverence for Nature.

    Hiding the decline shows the absence of sincere “truthing.”

    1. An image of what controls Earth’s climate.


    2. A manuscript explains how it works.


    3. A video summarizes the experimental evidence.

  29. Steven Sullivan

    some cuckoo clocks aren’t even right twice a day

  30. Sorry I haven’t been following this thread(s) – busy on other things – but I was showing the IPCC WG1 graph (the hockey-stick) to someone today and noticed something else about it. Apologies if it has been done to death already but I don’t recall seeing anyone mention it:

    The “Instrumental data” only starts around 1900. I don’t know which instrumental data they use, but HadCrut certainly goes back to 1850. So about 50 years have been chopped off the start of the available instrumental record.

    Eyeballing HadCrut3, the temperature between 1850 and 1900 appears to go up about 0.25 deg C and then down again. Showing that in the WG1 graph would also make the proxies look very unreliable, because the proxies show completely different patterns between 1850 and 1900.

  31. The HADCRUT data does not show the same trend that NASA and NOAA shows. They have access to the same raw data, but they interpolate and extrapolate and interpret the data differently.
    So, some climate scientists say it is warming and some say it is not.
    That does not sound like there is total consensus among climate scientists on global warming, which is what this thread is about.

  32. Last year had a record Low Sea Ice Extent and we had a record winter for snow and cold.
    Exposed Arctic Water leads to Arctic Ocean Effect Snow. The Medieval Warm Period melted a lot of Arctic Sea Ice and the large amount of Exposed Arctic Water lead to the massive amount of Arctic Ocean Effect Snow that created the Little Ice Age. Look at the Ice Core Data. If the earth gets warm it then gets cold. If it gets really warm it gets really cold.
    The Ice Core Temperature data is not representative of a system that is chaotic and unstable. Look at the Ice Core Data. That data is representative of a very stable system, especially in the past ten thousand years. Can any of you deny that the data is stable? Throw the models out if they say otherwise. Throw the Theories out if they say otherwise.

  33. ネットの靴屋さん チャコペンシル http://jinrixins.ferragamobyheavilyjp.org/