Notes from the Santa Fe Conference

by Judith Curry

I am currently in Santa Fe, attending the Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate.

The conference web site has little information.   The conference agenda is posted [santa fe schedule].  The abstracts of the talks are presented [santa fe abstracts].  [Note:  I assembled the pdf of the abstracts from an emailed folder with the individual abstracts, many of which were pdfs.  The laborious task of integrating all this into a single file (and dealing with line breaks) was done at 10% of my bandwidth while listening to the talks.  Equations may be missing, etc. The abstracts were edited to delete email addresses.]

There will be a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research for papers from the conference whose authors chose to submit a paper.  There are no plans to post the talks on the internet.  I have offered to post any talks emailed to me on the web, lets see how many I receive.  If I receive a significant number of them, we will have another thread next week.

This is an unusual conference.  The conference organizer is Petr Chylek, generally regarded as a skeptic.  In his opening comments, Chylek stated that this conference is open to people from all scientifically valid points of view.  I’m not exactly sure how to interpret the ‘scientifically valid,’ but the conference includes IPCC authors as well as noted skeptics such as Fred Singer.   Apparently some people on the ‘warm’ side declined to attend because they would not attend a conference with certain skeptics in the room.  A number of talks began with a comment or disclaimer to the effect that they only care about science, and pay relatively little attention or care little about the public debate and noise surrounding it.


The talks were a mix of excellent, boring, and rather wacky; of course the categorization of individual talks is subjective :)  I’ll mention a few talks that are relevant to topics discussed recently at Climate Etc.

With regards to my talk on the IPCC attribution argument, one participant asked the session chair Ramaswamy for his reactions (Ramaswamy is Director of GFDL and has been heavily involved in the IPCC).  He said that he can’t argue against my four main points, particularly my statements about lack of traceability and subjectivity of the uncertainty estimate.  He then discussed the challenges associated with improving the situation.

Several talks on aerosols and clouds by leading scientists in the field argued that the estimated aerosol indirect forcing is too large, since internal cloud processes act to minimize the effects (Stephens and Stevens).

There were several very good sessions on the Arctic climate, too much to summarize here.

In the feedback session, Steve Schwartz had a  provocative analysis (he has sent me his presentation, we will discuss it at some point).  Peter Webster addressed the temperature “bump” ca 1940.  Amy Solomon had a very interesting paper on tropical sea surface temperature trends and decadal predictability.

In the observations session, Steve Wofsy gave an excellent presentation on HIPPO.  Muller and Rohde of BEST both gave presentations.  Rohde’s  clearly explained the BEST methods and how they differ from others without the use of equations.  I’ve encouraged them to post the the two talks on their web site.

The solar session was very informative to me.  The comments and discussion were also interesting.  Graeme Stephens argued that the solar forcing was one of the better understood parts of the record, with uncertainties of a several W/m2 at most.  Whereas the uncertainties in the surface energy budget were on the order of 20 W m-2.

The AMO and PDO were frequently brought up in the presentations.


On Tuesday night, a conference dinner was held.  I gave a keynote presentation entitled “The uncertainty monster at the climate science-policy interface.”  The talk is on youtube.  My talk was interrupted by an irate audience member (who is an AR5 author).

A second keynote talk was given by  Anjuli Bamzai, who is program manager of Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics at NSF.  She discussed relevant NSF initiatives.

At the end, the floor was opened to discussion.  The Chair of the Program Petr Chylek made some critical comments regarding NSF funding (i.e. no funding for skeptics).  Some people complained that he was out of line in pushing this as the moderator of the evenings activities.  The two talks were opened up for discussion.  As controversial as my talk (presumably) was, most of the discussion was about funding issues.  The conversation frankly degenerated and people started leaving.   Anjuli did a good job in defending and describing NSF practices, but a few people did make valid (IMO) points regarding the funding.


Today I had lunch with Richard Muller and Christopher Monckton (!)  Topics covered included Climategate, the IPCC, climate sensitivity, trend analysis.  I was relatively passive, just taking it all in :)  What an amazing conversation.

Random conversations

Apart from Tues dinner, the conference has for the most part been quite congenial, with a few exceptions.  Bill Gray wanted to refight the 2005/2006 hurricane wars with Peter Webster.

I had the opportunity to meet many people for the first time, including Muller, Tsonis and Loehle whose papers have been discussed extensively at Climate Etc.

I am heading back to Atlanta tomorrow (Thurs) so I will miss the last two days of the conference.

318 responses to “Notes from the Santa Fe Conference

  1. Any feedback about your blog/blogging?

    • It was mentioned to me by some people, including Richard Lindzen (apparently Lindzen visits at least occasionally). It seems that most of the hard-core scientists don’t pay much attention to the blogs. I’ve made a blanket invitation to host a guest post from any of the participants, will see if anyone takes me up on the offer.

      • I’ve made a blanket invitation to host a guest post from any of the participants, will see if anyone takes me up on the offer.

        I think that invitation could be made attractive to one or more of the experts, but perhapsy only for a specially moderated thread that departs (for the occasion, not permanently) from the usual format. It might require comments to be held for moderation before posting, and rigorously filtered to eliminate all that are irrelevant or uncivil. Although the guest should not have censorship rights, he or she should have a chance to review comments before they are posted in order to prepare a response. There should also be a strict limit on the extent of threading.

        It might be worth a try, and if one guest finds it congenial, the word will spread and others will be more willing to participate. After their stint ends, the blog could go back to its usual free-for-all format.

      • Geez Fred, are the scientists you know so fragile they can’t have a conversation with extraordinary precautions? Are you really afraid they are going to have their feelings hurt by difficult questions?

      • I was trying to be practical, Ron. Many of these scientists have full schedules and are not falling all over themselves trying to be invited here. If Judith Curry wants to attract them, she needs to make the format attractive – but notice that I didn’t suggest censoring relevant comments presented in a civil manner.

        On the other hand, Ron, as soon as I had clicked on the Post Comment button, I had a pang. Maybe she would take me up on the suggestion and invite Monckton. Oh NO!

      • I agree to an extent Fred. Plenty of interesting scientists who are unfamiliar with blog behaviour might be horrified at the carnage if they waltzed in to an everyday Climate etc thread. Then again, maybe throwing them in at the deep end might also work. Who knows and who are we to judge?
        Moncton? Hm – not sure. He wouldn’t care about any abuse, but I’m not sure he’d add much to anyone’s understanding…
        How about Lindzen and Trenberth in a two-hander? Then we can all just watch :)

      • Fred
        Is not “Variety is the spice of life”?!
        How can you prove your position without being challenged?
        Would not science die without skeptics?

      • Fred wants to protect serious guests from Joshua’s inane filibustering.

      • Would not science die without skeptics?

        1) You have to find some first

        2) They have to be very well-versed in the subject

        I think most people in the semi-popular debate have no idea what skepticism is, let alone how to practise it. For many it seems as if they think it means quibbling with whatever smells wrong. Some particularly dull people have co-opted the word to mean “doesn’t believe in CAGW.”

        If 2) is not fulfilled, the same automatically for 1). No one who ‘challenges’ an expert on a subject is skeptical if they themselves don’t know the subject. That’s just contrarianism. The first rule of skepticism is to know your own limits and operate within them.This is the primary problem with most people who call themselves skeptics in the blog debates.

        Therefore, if Judith wants to attract experts, she’ll have to censor the stupid. Let’s not kid ourselves that there isn’t plenty of that when there is a free-for-all approach (I include myself). These people owe us nothing, why would they volunteer to throw pearls at an unruly mob of agendas?

      • Fred,
        We might as well call it, I don’t know….”Climate Progress”? or….”Real Climate”?
        So now it seems scientists are not only above being audited by mere lay people, and inerrant, they have to be protected from the rabble?

      • Climate Scientists are well-known for their delicate sensitivities. It’s be like wearing high heels out around the farm. Clash of cultures.


      • Steven Mosher

        I think given the crowd we have here ( luv em all ) I would suggest that Judith do some extra moderation. [snip] snip here snip snip there and explain why
        pretty soon people learn how to treat guests.

        She can look at Climatesuidt to see how steve does it

      • Mosh

        The trouble is that the nesting system encourages lots of dog fights all over the place. It’s easier to moderate when its a linear discussionn and anyone snipped or chastised would quickly see it and perhaps start to moderate themselves. There are certain people here who would pick an argument over anything, or who parse a comment to the bone. If they saw their comments lined up one after the other they would perhaps see their contributions in the same manner as many of the rest of us do-sometimes tedious and unhelpful and often disruptive to the flow of a discussion.

        On the whole the free for all is often (but not always) quite entertaining, but perhaps a thoroughly moderated thread on serious topics written by some of the big names might encourage them to contribute.


      • Steven Mosher

        thanks for your nit picking observation

      • I fully agree with this Fred. Good suggestion.

      • Mosh

        ….and thanks for your condesencion . Have you had a bad day?

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Fred –

        I certainly hope Dr. Curry follows your advice.

        What is the harm in a ‘little’ reduction in noise level? I am OK with sitting at the children’s table for an evening of eavesdropping.

      • Well, it was only a suggestion, but it might be worth a try. I’m baffled by some of the comments resisting the idea on the grounds we would be treating guest scientists like delicate flowers who would wilt under assault. Their argument, as I understand it, is that we should tell these prospective guests, “Well, if you don’t like the way we do things here, you can just stay away”. Guess what their response to that would be.

        It’s like a hotel you run with bedbugs but no other occupants. Someone tells you to get rid of the bedbugs, and you say, “Bedbugs are part of life, and if the guests don’t like it, they can stay home”. That might please the bedbugs, but it won’t pay the bills.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Fred –

        Perhaps a simultaneous parallel thread could be maintained for the unruly rabble. The guest scientist’s thread could select and copy certain comments from the denizen thread over for discussion. One plus is that rewarding intelligent comments encourages more of the same.

  2. Were there specific names mentioned of ‘warmist’ climate scientists declining to attend, or just general rumour?

  3. Very discreet. I don’t suppose you can elaborate on the Monckton-Muller talk? Having your keynote interrupted is nuts, a sign of the times.

  4. Dr. Petr Chylek…

    adjunct professor, Dept. of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax Dr./Cdr. M. R. Morgan, FRMS, climate consultant, former meteorology advisor to the World Meteorological Organization. Previously research scientist in climatology at University of Exeter, U.K…

    … was one of the signatories to the Apr 8, 2006 open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper–e.g.,

    “We believe the Canadian public and government decision-makers need and deserve to hear the whole story concerning this very complex issue. It was only 30 years ago that many of today’s global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.”

    • I think I signed that letter. Good times.

      • Very true …

      • David, if you signed the letter, would you identify some of todays global warming “alarmist” who 30 years ago were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe?

      • M: I did not particularly agree with that sentence, especially the “many” word. The letter asked for an open review of the science, one that presents both sides, something we are still waiting for some country to do.

        I think there was a Time (or Newsweek?) cover story on the cooling catastrophe to come. You might check who they cited.

      • back in the 1990s (I think) my neighbor was one of the scientists working on the genome at UT Southwestern. I once asked him about some scientific issue had I read about in Newsweek, which he answered, and then he said something like:

        if you know your research is totally worthless, you go to Newsweek.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Yes. Thirty years ago only a few cooling alarmist diehards yet remained. Coldism peaked in the early 70’s, about 40 years ago with the ecology movement’s first few Earth Days. Within a few years, Newsweek (1975) had no good answer to Broecker, Science, (1975).

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Notable Coldists 40 yrs ago may have included James Hansen and U.S. Senator John Kerry.

        James Hansen’s well publicized computer modeling circa 1971 predicted fossil fuel emissions.could cause an ice-age within 10 years. It is inferred that Hansen is a former Coldist.

        John Kerry is a founder of Earth Day in Massachusetts. He has proposed legislation aimed at limiting black carbon emissions because soot reaching polar regions contributes to warming. One early Earth Day proposal was to combat global cooling by spreading soot over the Antarctic. It is inferred that Kerry is a former Coldist.

      • I love reading James Hansen’s looney scientific papers. Could you provide a link?

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        JCH –

        I love reading James Hansen’s looney scientific papers. Could you provide a link?

        Why do you find James Hansen’s papers looney? I do not.

        Anyway, as I wrote, it was Hansen’s modeling code that predicted drastic cooling. His boss (and Steven Schneider – another notable former Coldist turned warmist) used it as the basis for the ice-age prediction. Perhaps Hansen depised his boss’s conclusions and kept quiet about it even when it became an cooling alarmist news story. However, Hansen has long proven to be anything but a shrinking violet. A mum Hansen would be the looney idea, no? Hence, I infer that Hansen is a former Coldist.

      • That’s a reach.

      • BlueIce2HotSea,
        You remind of an important thing about Schneider, Ehrlich, Hansen, etc.:
        They have always been catastrophists. They do not really care from where the catastrophe is coming. And they have never been right.
        Yet they are sustained by the credulity of their peers, and the huge grants their peers have been in postiion to direct their way.
        I find this one of the more interesting aspects of big science over the last ~50 years or so.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        JCH –

        I searched for a link for you and also to refresh my memory with the news story I mentioned. However, it is behind a paywall. In trying locate a copy, I have seen references elsewhere that Hansen’s modeling was by a colleague and not by his boss, so his silence at that time would be even more anomalous, and it increases the likelihood that he is a former coldist.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        JCH –

        “That’s a reach.”

        No. Hansen was one of the earliest scientists to understand the role of sulphates in Venus’ atmosphere and clearly extrapolated that knowledge to Earth’s atmosphere. He believes that China’s sulphate emissions has given us a ‘faustian bargain’ wrt to temp rise. Isn’t more of a reach to believe that Hansen believed differently about US and UK sulphate emissions?

      • BI2HS – I’m aware of the Venus papers, but haven’t read them. In the late 1960s it appears he was writing papers abut the earth’s atmosphere, so that fits your theory.

        Still, he’s not an author on the paper in 1971, and they supposedly retracted their findings in ~1974. If the pay-walled article says they used Hansen’s model, does that mean his code determined their result? If so, wouldn’t GIGO reduce to GO.

        I actually love reading his papers. He has style. So I think I will email him and ask him. How’s that?

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        JCH –

        “How’s that?”

        That is fine. Hansen is definitely worth paying attention to. Just keep in mind, you know, that his full commitment to the politics could have introduced a certain confirmation bias.

        I confess to enjoying Ken Briffa’s early papers – pre-IPCC & climategate scandals. I actually feel grateful to him for sharing his thinking process. IMO, he was attempting the near impossible, but nevertheless manages to make an impressive effort. Post-trouble, I feel physically nauseous whenever I think of Briffa’s fail.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        JCH –

        If so, wouldn’t GIGO reduce to GO?

        Ha ha, you’re good.. Yes. Hansen’s early model may have not have been the problem, meaning only GO.

      • Hansen could have, might have, may have …….. thought the world was going to get cooler rather than warmer, but forgot to tell anyone. Ha Ha !

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Here. This a starting place. It will give you a better notion of what Hansen and others studying Venus’ atmosphere were thinking in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Certainly Hansen was thinking and speaking before the age of 35, no?

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        One last thing.

        In the early 70’s, U.S. had not yet mandated SO2 scrubbers for all new coal fired plants (Clean Air Act, 1977), plus cooling had been underway for some 25 years. Until something was done about all that SO2, Hansen was most likely a coldist. Afterall, he was an early expert in the role of temperature lowering sulphates. After 1977, it’s a different story.

      • Timing is everything…e.g.,

        Time is important for sure. What goes around comes around all over again—e.g.: BOOMS–> tulip bubble, dot-com bubble, housing bubble, silver bubble, gold bubble; BUSTS–> ’29, ’87, ’00; BANK FAILURES–> ’30s, ‘80s, ’08; HYSTERICAL FEAR OF GLOBAL COOLING–> ‘70s; SUPERSTITIOUS FEAR OF AGW–> ’90’s…

      • Wagathon, What do you think will be the count, on the ‘Far Side’ of the Grand Super Cycle, top? 1,2,3,4,5?

      • That question is really easy to answer, Tom. The Fourth Wave could see a time when tent cities will occupy the 1st and 4th lanes of all Interstates in the US with schoolteachers being turnid out of their ivory towners by red-shirted children who beat them with sticks to turn the soil in freeway medians to grow turnips. Or not. Who knows? That’s Futurology not reality. The only thing we know for sure is that Western civilization is dying–it is rotting from inside from the self-defeating nihilism of the Left.

      • Bummer.

      • Yeah, bummer.
        I thought things were looking OK for a while….

      • Look on the bright side: global warming is not a problem.

  5. It sounds like a good conference. I have enjoyed reading several of Chylek’s papers. He is an impressive scientist who has published papers which have cheered both camps. It is a little disappointing some people will not attend just because others will be in attendance. But I am glad to see Ramaswamy and Bamzai participated. That’s encouraging.

    Did the recent lecture by Matt Ridley get discussed at all? It is discussed on Bishop Hill and WUWT. Quite a good lecture.

  6. In his opening comments, Chylek stated that this conference is open to people from all scientifically valid points of view.

    The following is my point of view which I strongly believe is scientifically valid.

    According to the data from NASA and the Hadley Center, the global mean temperature pattern has not changed since record begun 160 years ago.
    This single pattern has a long-term global warming rate of 0.06 deg C per decade and an oscillation due to ocean cycles ( of 0.5 deg C every 30 years as shown in the following graph.

    Before the 2000s:

    There is also early evidence for the above pattern continuing with current slight global cooing as shown in the following graph.

    After 2002:

    It is a travesty that they have convinced our kids of man caused inundation:

    It is a travesty that the educated class has not yet said the emperor has no clothes regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming

    • Girma –
      Just because you are a lone voice, doesn’t mean you are not being heard

      I like the idea that at least two of the temperature records will have a 15 year cooling trend come next summer. I don’t necessarily accord it huge significance – it’s just a semi-round number, but I like it nonetheless..

    • But the trend doesn’t end in 2000….

      • Iolwot

        And the trend didn’t START in 1880. It goes all the way through the temperature record and can be traced to 1607.

      • And there are other trends. We are possibly still coming out of an ice age too.

    • Girma this link should be of interest.
      It puts the global temperature time series in an historical context.

      • Notice their trick to hide the recent incline in their Central England Temperature graph. They squash the data on the y-axis so you can’t see the rises and falls that easily. Here’s CET plotted competently, showing you the feature that WUWT doesn’t want you to see:

      • A case of “hide the incline” perhaps? The point remains however, that the overall trend for the past 300 years seems to be a relatively gentle incline and that this trend line will need a lot to shift it markedly in the next decade or so. Short term movements upwards or downwards do not prove very much IMO.

      • I’m just a dumb cowboy who is bad at arithmetic, but my pony is fightin’ the bit on this incline.

        I need some arguments to soothe his inner chicken.

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks for the plot. Interesting to see it plotted that way.

        And reassures me yet again that there really isn’t very much to worry about wrt tempearature. It went up quite a bit between 1890 and 1900 and nobody really noticed any dire effects. I’d need a lot of persuasion that a similar increase will somehow bring dire consequences this time around. AFAIK there is no fundamental reason why 282K is a ‘good’ average temperature for Central England and 283K is a ‘bad’ one. Correct me if I am wrong.

        But a question. What caused the big declines in the running mean in about 1810 and about 1890? And is it the same thing that is causing the similar decline at about the same rate in the 2100s? Just wondered.

      • Plotted completely? I think you speak an untruth. For one thing a hundred years is missing. Didn’t you notice?
        Also, have you seen the graph without highlighting tricks and an arbitrary central line? Of course – it looks totally different.
        You’re embarrassing yourself.

      • At the MetOffice site they said they adjusted for UHI.
        1. Anyone knows how they adjusted ?
        2. If the MetOffice adjusts for UHI doesn’t it contradict BEST, who concluded that no adjustment is needed ?

      • Jacob
        You asked about UHI.
        In a private email to me the Met office described the amount of UHI as follows;

        “The urbanisation corrections to the CET series have been applied since 1974. Initially they were just 0.1 degree C, in certain months, then gradually for more months of the year; from about 1995 onwards some of the corrections increased to 0.2 deg C, and by about 2002 all the corrections were 0.2 deg C.

        The above applies to Mean CET. The urban heat island effect is much more noticeable for minimum temperatures than for maximum, so for the Minimum CET series the corrections are double those for Mean Temperature, whereas for Maximum Temperature it was deemed in fact that no correction was required.”


  7. Thanks, Professor Curry, for exposing one of the root problems:

    “As controversial as my talk (presumably) was, most of the discussion was about funding issues.”

    Another is ignoring experimental observations and data by individual scientists in favor of computer models of consensus opinions of yesteryear.

    Belatedly the space sciences community is waking up to the consequences of their insatiable desire for government funds.

  8. Excellent video presentation JC. Well done! A very coherent and articulate analysis of the problems inherent in the undertainties in climate science and rational views on how we might consider them.
    It’s a great pity the IPCC and the consensus proponents didn’t arrive at this stage many years ago. The voice of reason must be heard.

  9. So at what point was the talk interrupted? And by whom exactly?

  10. Gotta love La Fonda. Great place.

  11. Judith,

    I could not make out what the person who interrupted your speech was saying.

    Can you provide a nutshell of what he was objecting to or advocating?



    • John – if I heard correctly he was objecting to Judith saying there were ‘many’ who shared Kevin Trenberth’s assertion that the crucial issue in the world today was being muddied, blocked and obfuscated by ‘deniers’. It sounded like he was saying (relatively reasonably..) that ‘we’re not all like that’.
      Maybe I’ll listen again – I found it very interesting.

      • How ironic.

      • Irony isn’t the right word, maybe surreal is.

        On the slide she was on, one part of a quote she read said “…It is important that climate scientists learn how to counter the distraction strategies of denier” she continues for another couple lines. Then the climate scientist pipes up trying to(get this) counter her with a strategy of distraction saying she shouldn’t lump all of them in the same pot or something. Maybe he was acting under a sort of hypnotic-like subconcious impulse to the suggestion.

      • Alex Heyworth

        Neurolinguistic programming, perhaps.

    • I was right – he says ‘you’re tarring us with the same brush!!’
      Trenberth is obviously something of a folk-hero in Santa Fe..

      • Anteros,

        Hey, thanks.

        I like your turn of phrase, “something of a folk-hero in Santa-Fe”. : )


      • The rupture gapes widely;
        Roofing tar, cover it up.
        Ready, steady, drip.

      • If the warming hiatus continues, It may be tar and feathers. You bring the tar, I will fetch the feathers.

        Have you noticed what a dysfunctional science, the climate game is. Oh, the drama!

      • Between the woof end warp of the rich tapestry of special interest groups comprising the climate porn industry, Trenberth is like a makeup artist for Hustler Magazine.

  12. I’m with Omno. Could we get a little hint as to when in your talk the irate audience member lost it?

    • 14.50 :)

    • It was on the kevin trenberth slide. The person objected me to lumping all scientists including him in with Kevin Trenberth (which is clearly not what i was doing). Seems he definitely didn’t want to be lumped in with Trenberth tho.

      • Dr. Curry,
        It sounds like that person has very high standards.
        Congratulations on what sounds like a very good conference.
        It is clear you are unshakeable.
        It is a real privilege for us to see so much of your work.
        Thanks and best regards,

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Yes. And he also may have taken exception to the word ‘many’ as used to describe the number sharing a Trenberthian mind-set. Wasn’t he also asking for a more precise quantification? Or was I unfairly finding irony with one who might also defend IPCC qualitative assessments?

  13. Nice presentation. Definately worth watching.

  14. Dr. Curry,
    I do have a question regarding uncertainty, and it is not meant snarky.
    I read someone mention a problem between uncertainty and ignorance.
    What is the difference between uncertainty and ignorance?

    • from the uncertainty lexicon of my uncertainty monster paper:

      Walker et al. (2003) provides a complete logical structure of the level of uncertainty, characterized as a progression between deterministic understanding and total ignorance: statistical uncertainty, scenario uncertainty, and recognized ignorance.

      Statistical uncertainty is the aspect of uncertainty that is described in statistical terms. An example of statistical uncertainty is measurement uncertainty, which can be due to sampling error or inaccuracy or imprecision in measurements.

      Scenario uncertainty implies that it is not possible to formulate the probability of occurrence of one particular outcome. A scenario is a plausible but unverifiable description of how the system and/or its driving forces may develop over time. Scenarios may be regarded as a range of discrete possibilities with no a priori allocation of likelihood.

      Recognized ignorance refers to fundamental uncertainty in the mechanisms being studied and a weak scientific basis for developing scenarios. Reducible ignorance may be resolved by conducting further research, whereas irreducible ignorance implies that research cannot improve knowledge.

      • The uncertainty involved in the fair flip of a coin or the legit roll of a die hardly falls into a category called “recognized ignorance”. Knowing the irreducible probabilities of various outcomes is not ignorant. It may be impossible to know which radon atom will decay in the next minute, but there is high knowledge in knowing half-life of a substance. These events do not fall under “Statistical uncertainty” as you defined it above, because the uncertainty is a fact of nature, not sampling uncertainty nor measurement error.

        “Recognized ignorance” is more accurately the identification of what is potentially reducible ignorance. “Known unknowns” includes both “Recognized ignorance” where additional research may reduce uncertainty and fundamentally uncertain chaotic processes such as the flip of a coin where further research is unlikely to reduce uncertainty.

        “Unknown unknowns” are real and I do not think are covered in the definitions above. They certainly cannot be called “recognized.”

      • The flip of a coin can be put under the umbrella of “Statistical Uncertainty”, but the umbrella is too big. Somewhere the distiction need to be made what uncertainty is irreducible due to chaos and quantum mechanics, and what uncertainty can still be reduced by further gathering of data, better instrumentation, better control, and/or bayesian conditions.

      • What’s needed is simple:
        Skills & intuition to non-assumptively interpret existing data.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Thank you very much.
        So If I am following you correctly on this, you define ignorance as one extreme of a spectrum that is possibly three dimensional?

      • You mean, instead of a linear relationship where ignorance and knowledge are at opposite ends of the spectrum, you wonder if possible a three-dimensional relationship would be more accurate–e.g., if ignorance was a large body much like the Earth knowledge would be like the peaks fo the tallest mountains peaking through the clouds?

        If so, you may be onto something there. And, perhaps we need to add more ‘dimensions’ and also give some credit were credit may be due to a sort of built-in knowledge that comes with the package that requires no instructions, understanding or even appreciation on our part to know exactly what should done.

        But more than that, existentialism is… simply… more than that. Consider, for a moment, what must feel like to be both an atheist, believed to be borne of immortal genes—the product of millions of years of Darwinian evolution—and, believe too in free will? Perhaps, to begin with, you have to be comfortable with the fact that life is just a gut-bomb, impelled to erupt by the very nature of its own existence and your feelings about it are irrelevant. Add to that the full extent of your own free will: you can either give vent to this nauseating manifestation of self or vainly fight against and rise above or fall below such material corruption. For no better reason than, e.g., “it’s Tuesday, I’d never kill myself midweek,” you decide to go on another day. There certainly can be no higher purpose for your existence. Moreover, no matter what you freely decide of your own will, there is no joy in any of it, either to yourself or anyone else. An “accomplishment” is an idea devoid of consequence because all actions and all existence are without meaning.

      • Recognized ignorance

        I like that phrase.

        I have been trying to make a point about inaccuracy in relationships that are fundamentally sound but not accurate enough for a particular purpose (equilibrium relationships applied to systems not in equilibrium.) Statisticians sometimes call that “model bias”. If recognized as inaccuracy, it’s presumptive evidence for ignorance of part of the mechanism that is described by the relationship.

        Ignorance may be “recognized” by some but not others. In which case we onlookers would have to say that it is “asserted” by some but not others. Trenberth and Fissulo made a case that not all the heat in the climate heat flow is accounted for; that would seem to be a example of recognized ignorance, only some readers don’t seem to see it that way. I don’t know where I read the following, but someone proposed that it was mismeasurement of outgoing radiation.

        Another example of recognized ignorance is the time required for the climate system to equilibrate to a doubling of CO2 concentration. I am not sure that everyone recognizes that as something that we don’t know.

        Dr Curry, although our association is only virtual, I am really glad that you are having a good time. I am reading, rather slowly, the paper by Dr. Stephen Schwartz.

      • reposted from another thread: Last word on equilibrium: at equilibrium, the ocean surface does not have waves, but in real time it has waves. Whether any wave is a large departure from the equilibrium depends on the purpose of your analysis and the scale by which you judge “large”. The arguably slight disequilbrium in the Pacific Ocean N.E. of Tokyo last March destroyed billions of dollars worth of buildings and killed thousands of people.

        Many relationships in climate science are derived as equilibrium relationships, or derived from other relationships that are equilibrium relationships. Although undoubtedly useful and accurate enough for some purposes, and hence “correct”, they have not been shown to be accurate enough to derive the sign of the climate sensitivity (i.e., the change in climate from what it is now if the concentration of atmospheric CO2 were to increase.)

      • –> “Recognized ignorance I like that phrase.

        Note: The opposite is unconscious incompetence.

    • One of those infamous analogies of Vaughn Pratt might go something like–e.g., ignorance is believing you can fly whereas uncertainty lies in the unwillingness to take that leap.

  15. Judith, Great talk. I have noticed that Rich Muller gave an interview in which he corrected some of the out of context PR. I am encouraged by that too.

    • Muller supplied the context for the PR. Is he disowning his own PR?

      • Yea, kind of. I mean some people just talk off the cuff and aren’t totally consistent. Muller is one of those people. Anyway, he said BEST was NOT the end of scepticism and that we don’t know what is causing the warming.

      • Proof that he talks out of both sides of his mouth. He tells you what you want to hear. What he wrote in the WSJ article he meant to say.
        But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer. Muller, WSJ Eur Oct. 21, 2011.

      • Exactly correct. It’s amazing after so many similar episodes with so many of these parties and in fact the entire climate consensus game we go through the phony surprise talking points over and over. Again the board plays the same game by giving Dr. Curry way too much credit for what essentially overly nuanced and wimpy reactions to what is plain to see in Muller’s PR performance.

      • David, if the link is the Muller interview you have in mind, he never said we don’t know what is causing the warming.


      • He simply can’t quantify or prove his claims, the fatal flaw at the core of all junk science. I don’t distinguish much between 90 Proof hokem of Muller or the water downed 20 Proof versions of this double talk from our host.

        The debate is dominated by people who just keep on talking, getting funded to blow smoke and not reach obvious conclusions about how politically motivated and corrupt the backbone directives have been. After all these years we get the idiot delight of talking about “if” its getting warmer or colder as if this has anything to do with causation evidence or rationalizing a massive power shift to central planners. Only a century of socialized and politicized public and higher education could make a pig like that fly with a good chunk of the general population who have been raised like sheep.

        As for the core of the “science” consensus? Criminally complicite, gutless wonders who share the same left-wing rationalizations as you.

      • cwon14 sounds like a conspiracy theorist. I think conspiracy theories are entertaining. My all-time favorite was John Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s claim that Ike’s brain was being controlled by Communist through his brother Milton.

  16. Judith,

    Have you been invited to deliver this talk in Durban? Don’t go! It’s a trap!

  17. For the guy who threw the hissy fit, If you think there aren’t many climate scientists who think like Ternberth, you are either not paying attention or you are one of them.

  18. Michael Larkin


    I enjoyed your lecture very much. I have to ‘fess up that there was a stage a while back (When BEST was first being mooted as I recall) when I was agonising about whether you were sincere or not and whether I should trust you. I’m glad to report that I’ve got over that. I think that if you were to provide a permanent link to this video on the main menu (or maybe include it in the “About” section), it would be a good place for newcomers to the blog to start.

    I noted what Fred Moolten said earlier, and although we’re on opposite sides of the fence, I think I agree with him that if more climate scientists take you up on your offer and make guest posts, there should be careful moderation for relevance and tone. I recognise that would place an extra burden on you, but this blog is big enough now so that you could engage the services of willing and able moderators from both sides to ensure even-handedness.

    I’m only suggesting this should apply to guest scientists; the free-for-all we often have could continue in other circumstances. I guess what I am concerned about on your behalf is the impression it creates of you if there are irrelevant, and even worse, ill-mannered contributions.

    • A splendid idea about the permanent link to the video.

      There have been a number of comments upthread about the issue of whether denizen behaviour might be a concern for a guest scientist.

      It seems strange in a way – are professional climate scientists particularly sensitive souls? I think it might just be a non-issue – would you or Judith or anyone not feel a little patronised if you turned up on a blog and usual behaviour was moderated out ‘to give an impression’? I understand your sentiment, but personally I’d rather (if it was me) find out the truth about somewhere, and decide for myself if I liked it or not.

      I just think that excluding Joshua from the discussion, even for a day, would be a bit mean… :)

      • If commenters took the blog rules to heart, there would be no need of moderation, and I think climate scientists would consider doing articles and replying to comments.

        I suspect the traffic here is too great for her to moderate, so it can get pretty wild.

      • The keepers of the climate science consensus dogma will not come here. They will not engage with deniers and heretics. Bad for business.

    • “I think I agree with [Fred] that if more climate scientists take you up on your offer and make guest posts, there should be careful moderation for relevance and tone.”

      Yes, like “town halls” where the politicians stack the audience with their own campaign workers.

      Better yet, if Dr. Curry wants to really improve the “impression” the activist consensus scientists might have of her, rather than censoring comments on consensus guest posts, she should probably just close down the blog.

      I mean, how ever could she raise the level of comments here to that of the oh so genteel Climate Progress of Real Climate?

      • Michael Larkin

        Gary M,

        I think you should give careful thought to the difference between moderating for relevance and tone and moderating for content, which I don’t hold with. If someone disagrees with a climate scientist posting here, then I don’t think that should automatically be moderated out. I’m only talking about common courtesy, like the intervention Petr Chylek made during Judith’s talk. It staggers me that some people react vehemently to suggestions that it’s not okay to behave like a boor.

        If you want to see one of the best-moderated climate blogs, I suggest you look at Climateaudit. Steve McIntyre is fastidious about moderating out irrelevancies and ad hom, even when the likes of Gavin Schmidt post. As a result, you get some of the most productive and civilised debates on the Web.

      • Michael –

        I think you make a good point about Steve McIntyre – he is as fastidious about his moderating as he is with his auditing.
        Climate etc is much more organic in the sense that if you wish for a civilised discussion it’s not hard to find. If you’re bolshy, a bolshy exchange will come your way. Of course we’d all like everybody else to behave in a particular way but life isn’t like that…

        This must be the least moderated popular climate blog around and yet it works – and works well. I’m not sure a sudden change to heavier moderation would have the simple beneficial effect you suppose. Perhaps especially if it’s a one off.

        Having said all that, there have been times when Robert has been calling every one under the sun a ‘denier; and a ‘fake sceptic’ that I’ve felt I just don’t want to come back. Hm. I’d be interested to hear Dr Curry’s thoughts on the matter.

      • If Curry wants real scientists to do her the favour of posting here, she needs to restrain all the incontinent puppies from pooping on visitors’ shoes the moment they walk in the door. You folks have no self-discipline.

      • Michael Larkin


        You behaviour is no better than that of the people you seek to denigrate. Your post is snidey and without merit, when with a little reflection and politeness, it could have been different.

      • Michael, sometimes you have to rub the puppies’ nose in it.

      • Michael,

        For what it’s worth, I’ve developed a perspective on Holly that has allowed me to not only appreciate her comments but to actually relish her comments.

        In particular, the “warmists” that some might regard as nothing more than cull-prone, make-a-buck, make-a-gulag greenshirts working a scam, Holly sees as her darlin’ boys doin’ her proud. So, of course, if you “mess” with one of her boys, “mom” is gonna get in your face–it’s what moms do (though Holly does reveal an incongruous, female-jealousy mean-streak with her little personalized “digs” at Dr. Curry, I must admit). But for the most part, Holly is just a mom. I think it’s as simple as that.

        Otherwise, Holly has carved out for herself a very sweet, even lovely alternative universe in the nasty, ego-driven, agenda-fueled world of CAGW debate. Holly’s universe is one of naughty puppies, endearing Tolkein characters and the like–you know, good old-fashioned mom sorta stuff.

        I mean, compare Holly to someone like boss-hen shewonk and her retinue of hen-house groupies and egg-head, useless-pecker capons. I’ll take Holly every time.

      • John Carpenter

        “sometimes you have to rub the puppies’ nose in it.”

        Anyone who has ever raised a puppy knows this is no way to teach the puppy how to behave.

      • Climateaudit is civil and it’s debates probably are more productive than those on most climate blogs. However, I appreciate Judith Curry’s tolerance here at Climate, etc. I have never had a comment snipped here. I have had so many snipped at WUWT that I no longer even attempt to post there.

      • Michael Larkin

        They are more productive in the sense that there are more responses, and for most threads, that’s okay. But if Judith wants to build bridges with some of her climate scientist colleagues, I suspect guest posts would benefit from better moderation.

    • Considering what I’ve seen elsewhere, I vote against extra moderation. I mean insults should be moderated, but what goes on here is usually I would think not a problem. Most scientists are probably mature enough to know what should be just ignored and what is worth replying to. You might have more trouble with a guest climate scientist insulting skeptics!! But we can take it.

      • Well said :)
        I think we should take deep breaths, gird our loins and let them do their worst. Who’s afraid of the big bad climate scientist?

      • simon abingdon

        If it were the Manhattan project rather than the theory of climatology, to invite all and sundry to offer their views on the design of implosion lenses might somewhat irk the guys at the coal face.

      • Latimer Alder

        But the Manhattan Project had a very simple test of whether the work had been done right…did the bomb go phut or bang?

        Climatology has no such test (indeed it has a collective wet knicker attack at the mere idea of experimental/observational verification of any of its work), and instead we are obliged to rely on

        ‘Trust Us – We Are Climate Scientists’

        …which seems a less and less believable proposition as we learn more and more about the inner workings of the ‘science’.

      • John Carpenter

        Consider the guest post by Andrew Lacis. Many disagreed with his post… he entered hostile territory and many comments were not appropriate, however, Andy did respond to comments that were on topic and relevant. The comments that deserved to be ignored were. Climate scientists are ‘grown ups’…. mostly. I think they would tend to respond a lot like Andy did.

  19. David Young writes : “Yea, kind of. I mean some people just talk off the cuff and aren’t totally consistent. Muller is one of those people”

    This seems to be true, and in that regard my opinion on Muller has softened a bit over the last few days. That is to say, I no longer believe he’s some sort of Machiavellian, master manipulator. Now I see him more as well intended but extremely careless.

    • Off the cuff is one thing, a carefully written article in the WSJ is another. The WSJ article was a well crafted piece of propaganda. The theme was meticulously and purposefully laid out. Climate skeptics’ former doubts have been erased by BEST. Those doubts were enumerated, and then disposed of with the four BEST papers that have not been peer-reviewed, and are based on data and methods that are not quite ready to be revealed.

      Well Muller casually mentioned, way down at the bottom in the fine print afterthought section, that they had not looked into attribution. But that was not one of the objections that climate skeptics had, according to the rest of the article. Why did he not mention that the BIG BONE OF CONTENTION in the climate debate ain’t surface station quality, it is attribution? I will help you. It is because Muller is a disingenuous propagandist. And he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. Neither side telling the whole truth. He is a clever businessman, but a hack scientist.

      • “Climate skeptics’ former doubts have been erased by BEST.”

        Yes indeed they should have been. All the doubts about cold stations being deleted, Hansen and Jones fudging the code, history being rewritten should have been erased by BEST.

        But deniers like you just won’t admit it. You pretend it’s a case of “we already knew that”, “nothing to see here”.

        I am going to start collecting the URLs of the various claims debunked by BEST so you can deny it no longer. here’s one for example:

        The fact is BEST did debunk countless skeptic arguments. What deniers don’t like is being told they were wrong publicly.

        “Why did he not mention that the BIG BONE OF CONTENTION in the climate debate ain’t surface station quality, it is attribution”

        Hey why didn’t DENIERS make that clear? They didn’t. You guys have had whole reports written about the state of the surface records. You know full well your smears are designed to undermine public trust in the surface records so that they doubt the warming itself.

        There’s no use trying to pretend that wasn’t a major offsensive now that it’s failed. It’s plain dishonest.

      • “He is a clever businessman, but a hack scientist.”
        That’s my impression too.
        On UHI, I didn’t see a true attempt to get to the heart of the matter. He just grabbed the first “method” that proved his point, and didn’t do an in-depth investigation.

    • Now I see him more as well intended but extremely careless.

      How do you evaluate a lack of total consistency in Judith’s statements?

      First let me make it absolutely clear that to my knowledge Muller et al are not hiding any data or otherwise engaging in any scientifically questionable practice.


      The issue of hide the decline arose from Rose’s discussion of a particular graph that was a 10 year running mean and ended in 2006. Rose used the hide the decline phrase, and I agreed that such an analysis is misleading and would hide a decline (in this case, in a rate of increase of surface temperature).

      • Steven Mosher

        in case you are wondering, there was somebody using your name who made an anti semetic remark to Lindzen up thread. It’s been removed.
        something about eugenics

    • Muller is a progressive who happens to be a scientist who accepts the consensus. He also values integrity and the scientific method. Unfortunately, those two aspects of his world view are not consistent.

      As a progressive CAGW believer, he believes it is imperative the public accept global warming as man caused, severe and sufficiently threatening to justify the kind of centralization of power in the state that is called for by his progressivism. So when the opportunity presents itself to protect the consensus from the danger posed by something like the project, he leads an attempt to get the consensus view of that data out before Anthony Watts et al. can. He even testifies before congress regarding data he was given in confidence, and essentially says the debate is over. The headlines in progressive media and blogs don’t care about the fine print, the footnotes or even the data.

      Months later, he sending out his preliminary findings to the media, writes an op-ed and gives interviews again claiming, surprise, that the debate is over. Once again, the headlines are there regardless of the data or the preliminary aspects of the analysis.

      But Muller, like so many default progressives, values integrity, especially his own. So we later get qualifications and walk backs, all of which somehow seem to be ignored by the progressive press and blogs that trumpeted his earlier misrepresentations.

      When he is writing his op-eds or giving interviews, he is a progressive activist trying to save the world from the poor misguided skeptics. After the fact, to remind himself of his own integrity (and when it doesn’t really matter in the PR war), he revises and extends his remarks back to something more consistent with being a scientist, and a man with integrity.

      The root problem with Muller is that when it really matters, he is a progressive first, and honest scientist second. It’s too bad really. Muller is trading his reputation for integrity for a miniscule political advantage for the CAGW movement, at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that the cause is lost.

  20. Muller is a hack scientist because you don’t like what he said. If he had said what you like, he would be a good scientist.

    • Carey,

      Yours was a hack reply. I will humor you and stipulate that he is not a hack scientist. He is a great scientist, who just happens to be a self-serving publicity hound with a business that profits from climate alarmism. Why don’t you address the fact that he failed to mention that attribution is the BIG BONE OF CONTENTION? You missed that, right? You are another propagandist, but a very pathetic practitioner of the art. You can’t carry Muller’s jockstrap. That’s all the time I have for you.

      • Attribution was a subject beyond the scope of BEST’s mission. Because you have criticized Dr. Muller and our host, Dr. Curry, for not addressing a subject they weren’t supposed to address, you probably are feeling guilty now.
        They probably would appreciate an apology, and it might make you feel better too.

      • OK you little genius, I will have to give you some more time, but not much. Putting an end to climate skepticism was beyond the scope of BEST’s mission. Didn’t stop Muller from proclaiming that he had done just that, without mentioning that he had not addressed the real BONE OF CONTENTION of attribution. Follow me now, little genius? You make Joshua look clever.

      • Listen to Muller’s own words. Then do the right thing by apologizing to him and our host. I can write the apology for you if you don’t know how to apologize.


      • You go ahead and apologize to Muller for me. I don’t think he really cares, as long as he is getting attention, and getting paid. He is playing both sides against the middle. And you are just playing dumb.

    • Michael Larkin

      I can see why you might have got snipped at WUWT. It is so simple to make the point of your post without resorting to a personal attack on the poster. But you create the impression that you prefer snark to content. What possible worth do you feel your post had? What did it achieve?

      • Michael,While I have been snipped at WUWT, I have never been snipped at Climateaudit, the Blackboard, Climate, etc or any other climate blogs where I have posted. That should tell you something.

        The last purely content post I made here got no response. I don’t come here to talk to myself.

        “Snark” is in the eyes of the interpreter. What you may interpret as snark, I may interpret as kidding.

        I try to draw the line when it comes to calling names. I may slip occasionally, but I don’t believe you will find many posts where I have called someone a name.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Kidding’ on a blog doesn’t work very well unless you signal it so heavily that the point is lost. Especially British joshing does not work with American audiences who in general are far more literally minded.

      • I’m not sure I agree. Americans seem to appreciate Mark Twain.

      • BTW, Michael, read the exchange between Don Monfort and me starting with my response to his 12:28 AM post.

  21. Your talk at the dinner was a fantastic logical argument. The reason there was relatively little discussion afterward is because you stated nothing that even the most unreasonable person could counter.

    • No, she told you the reason. Funding is a more important topic for the climate scientists.

      • Latimer Alder

        Why am I not surprised by this? Spondulix come before science. Don’t let uncertainty and doubt get in the way of the pocketbook.

        I hope that funding will continue to be an urgent topic for them as the gravy train dries up. I cannot believe that we really need more climate models making more predictions that cannot be/are not verified. Nor more climatologists telling us that

        ‘Its worse than we thought! Send more grants!’

        Durban will be a huge failure…but a nice holiday destination. And it should mark the time when climatology starts the long slide down the public funding list to its rightful place in the third or fourth rank.

      • If anything there would be more funding with more uncertainty.

        No idea why you guys think funding for climate science would dry up if less was known about the climate. Indeed if scientists really wanted additional funding they would bend over backwards to entertain nutty theories like “global cooling” and “imminent little ice age”.

        Even deniers admit climate change is an important subject of study, albeit “natural climate change”. So in what imaginary world do you think funding would dry up?

        It’s like the equally vacuous claim that funding for biologists. paleontologists, etc would dry up if the theory of evolution went away.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘So in what imaginary world do you think funding would dry up?’

        In the world where the funders (governements, and the eventual payers – taxpayers) look at the close to $100 billion wasted so far on climatology, observe that there have been no practical results from this fire hose of money and decide that the next $100 billion should be used on more useful stuff.

        When money is tight – and it looks to be getting tighter by the day – the question is not whether something is worthwhile in the abstract, but whether that something has a higher priority than another even more worthwhile field.

        And I’d argue that given the paucity of anything of real value in the past (who really wants 29 freaking climate models that can’t predict anything with any degree of accuracy?), there is almost no case to continue this topic at anything other than tickover level.

        That imaginary world. The one where the magic money tree stops working its magic. Like the rest of us live in.

      • Latimer Alder


        I think you need to learn a little history outside of your climatological bubble. Consider for example, the Apollo programme. In July 1969 NASA planned a total of ten missions to the moon. Apollo 11–> Apollo 20.

        But 17 was the last one that flew. The budget for 18, 19 and 20 disappeared. In just three and a half years from Armstrong’s historic words, the Apollo programme was dead as a doornail.
        The public had got bored with space as a spectacle. The Moon was a pretty uninteresting place and when the hard times came it was the easiest to kill. From hero to zero in little more than a thousand days.

        The graveyards are full of people who thought themseleves indispensable. For them – like for you and your colleagues – when the hard times come you will be extremely ill-prepared if you genuinely believe that they will never arrive.

        Up until 20 November 2009, climatilogy had a pretty good reputation and it would have been a brave politician who had wanted to seriously cut the budget. But all the revelations from that day and since have tarnished its image bigtime. It is hard to imagine any pollie trying to increase the budget ..and there is plenty of scope for cuts year on year. If we lost 2 models per year – from 29 to 27 to 25 to 23 to 21 and so on, would anybody notice or care? The man on the street already knows that whatever he funds in climatology the answer will be ‘its worse than we thought’, and is getting enormous climate fatigue. Climatology is not frontpage news anymore. It is yesterday’s ’cause du jour’.

        So be very careful in fooling yourself that you are immune to funding cuts. The guys at Lehman Brothers probably though that they were too big and too important to fail. They weren’t. Neither are you guys.

      • lolwot,
        “uncertainty” is very close to “ignorance”.
        Spending more money on specific policies based on ignorance is unlikely to yield success.
        And since bigotry and ignorance are siblings, and you demonstrate so much bigotry, perhaps it is time to recognize that you are simply an ignorant bigot?

      • simon abingdon

        “And since bigotry and ignorance are siblings, and you demonstrate so much bigotry, perhaps it is time to recognize that you are simply an ignorant bigot?” Hunter, saying stuff like this adds nothing to a civilised debate. At its very poor best it’s only a “smart” remark. Just a wank, nothing more.

      • How much funding did the climate scientists get before they discovered the CAGW gold mine? Most of the climate scientists today would be in a different line of work, if not for the IPCC and the big scare. Hell, they might be botanists, or animal husbandrists, cab drivers, laboring in obscurity, with no free junkets to attend.

      • Talking about ignorance. The term ignorance has a very specific meaning when it comes to probability theory. I refer to the work of ET Jaynes and how he effectively includes this in his work on maximum entropy. The classic case is if you have an unknown probability distribution and you know the mean but are ignorant of any higher-order statistical moments, such as variance, etc. The way that nature tends to disorder, you can make a good guess at the actual distribution by invoking maximum entropy. In this case you will get the damped exponential PDF, and you may be conservatively correct in many cases. There are some profound philosophical interpretations to this behavior that Jaynes and others have discussed, one of those is that human uncertainty through ignorance parallels that of nature’s — nature is ignorant of the exact state it wants to be in so that it statistically assumes a range of states that maximize entropy subject to physical constraints. Jaynes used information theory of Shannon and the statistical mechanics of Gibbs and Boltzmann to decode mathematically how nature does this by applying variational principles.

        The bottom line is that ignorance is not always bad. By applying only the information you know, you can let entropy and probability thery derive the rest and you end up with a more parsimonious result with the fewest parameters. In terms of modeling these will also often have the best scores on information criteria measures because they rely on so few assumptions.

      • simon,
        Hmmmm…..lolwot gets to toss his frothing-at-the-mouth bigotry around, and I point that it is bigoted and reflects ignorance on his part, and I am the ‘wank’?
        You might want to check your critical thinking paths on that one, my friend.

      • simon abingdon

        Don’t you start calling me my friend pal.

      • simon,
        Chill dude. ;^)
        Civility is good for even wicked denialist scum.
        In my experience, person-to-person communication is much more civil and reasonable than what occurs in the virtual blogosphere.

      • Don,

        I was there and the situation was this: Dr. Curry’s talk was first and was interrupted with the previously documented minor “don’t paint us all with the same brush” statement. Immediately after, Dr. Curry’s talk, the moderator asked that discussion occur after the second talk about NSF funding opportunities. Immediately following that talk, most questions were about funding, with a slight diversion which went something like: “You deniers treat us advocates badly because you accuse us of improper scientific behavior.” At which time, I defended the deniers by noting that they often get lumped in with “evolution deniers,” “flat-earthers,” and even “holocaust deniers.” It was a short, useless exchange. I truly believe that Dr. Curry’s statements, especially those about the tone of the debate and the folly of the “precautionary” approach to managing AGW (i.e., AGW is so potentially dire that it doesn’t matter what level of certainty we have — we must act now), that the mere quality of her arguments had the effect of supressing further discussion. In short, Dr. Curry did such a great job in her presentation there wasn’t much to argue about.

      • Thanks Bob, very interesting. Pardon me if I laugh a bit. Normally if one defers comments until all speakers aure done the last speaker gets the action. If the last speaker is the “money giver” they get hall the attention, there being no money in uncertainty.

        But your “skeptics are not really crazy” defense may not have helped. Just a thought.

  22. As controversial as my talk (presumably) was, most of the discussion was about funding issues.

    Face it, Dr. Curry. The only uncertainty they care about is “how much will be my next grant?”

    “Follow the money. ” Good advice not limited to Watergate.

    • Face it, Dr. Curry. The only uncertainty they care about is “how much will be my next grant?”

      And is there anything wrong with that?

      ” “Follow the money. ” Good advice not limited to Watergate.”

      Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems the most amount made in the “global warming” thing is by Al Gore. Somewhere around hundreds of millions.
      Hansen also make a fair amount money- but not as much as Al.
      So if they were only interested in money, how could repeat what former vice president Al Gore did?
      Al Gore said something like it’s all over in 5 years- about 5 years ago.
      It seems the gravy train is mostly done.
      it seems the successful elements were being famous political and slide shows.
      Gore seems to beginning to focus on ways of handling global over-population. Not sure how he going make much money with that.

    • Hmmm.

      The big oil and coal companies have a little bit of money, do they not?

      • And they are spending it where?
        And where is Greenpeace, WWF,etc.etc. spending theirs?

      • Ask Scott Mandia, I heard he has been acquiring legal funds.


      • Indeed. Pity the poor gigantic corporations being savaged by a bunch of hippies.

      • Andrew,
        That is more than a bit deceptive. The hippies are doing more than talking loudly. they are hurting people. I wonder how the longshoremen, dock workers, truckers, shipping companies paying demurage, the idle ship’s crews, the warehouse workers waiting strike-bound goods, feel about the hippies who have shut down the Port of Oakland?

      • How will they feel when the port disappears?

      • Andrew,
        When will the Port of Oakland disappear, and how?
        In the last major ice age, with the mouth of the Bay several miles out into what is now the Pacific, and a reat cataract pouring through the Golden gate, I guess there was no place for an Oakland Port.
        “The present estuary originated when the Pacific Ocean
        entered the Golden Gate about 10,000 years ago. Most of the growth of this estuary occurred
        during the next 5,000 years.”
        There is nothing hapening now in San Francisco bay / Port of Oakland that is going to shut down that Port’s usefulness except the stupidity of the AGW community and mindlessness of the OWS mob.

      • The last time temperatures reached 3K over holocene was, I believe, in the Pliocene when sea levels were up to 27m higher than today.

        Temperatures perhaps 1K higher are associated with sea levels 6-8m higher, due to the reduction of the WAIS and to a lesser extent GIS, during the Eemian interglacial.

        Given that a climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling in the region of 2.5-3K is not seriously disputed and that we are rushing headlong to achieve this within 50 years, the only questions are where between 6 and 27m higher is sea level going to end up and how long it will take.

      • Latimer Alder

        Simple answer. At the current rate of sealevel rise of 2.5mm per annum, it will take about 10,000 years to get to your worst case of 27m. Five times longer in the future than the Romans were in the past.

        I’m content to let future genertions worry about that as the time comes.

      • Why would you expect the rate of sea level rise to remain constant?

        Seems a fairly bizarre assumption to make..

      • Latimer Alder

        @andrew dodds

        ‘Why would you expect the rate of sea level rise to remain constant?’

        Thank you for reminding me that it has actually been slowing a little IIRC.

        But even if it doubled, it would still take 5000 years (250 human generations) to reach your worts case scenario. And with the current standstill in warming, that is probably an underestimate.

        Unless you have good reason to indicate otherwise, it is still way, way down the list of ‘global problems’ we need to worry about now.

      • Latimer Alder

        And just to put 5000 and 10000 years in perspective.

        5000 years ago was the very beginning of the Bronze Age. The first cities (which today we woudl consider to be small towns) were in their infancy. The Age of the Pyramids was still 1500 years in teh future.

        10,000 years ago the English Channel did not exist and Great Britain was part of Continental Europe. The Bosphprus had not yet formed and you could walk dryshod from the west of Ireland to the
        southern tip of India. It was a loooooong time ago.

        I’m still content to let futire generations worry about the ‘problem’ if it really is one.

  23. The list of people who have made good coin on Global Warming is quite large. Geoffry Immelt comes to mind. So does the business man who puts solar cells on his roof to collect a subsidy check in the mail. It is hundreds of millions of people, mostly tax payers, being bribed with their own money.

  24. Dr Curry –

    While you were in Santa Fe, did you catch the back end of the BEST kerfuffle from the BBC? I think either you or the Mail or possibly the GWPF have made Richard Black very angry indeed –

    He even drags in ‘enigmatic climate blogger Tamino’ to do some debunking, and to reassure everybody that global warming is continuing as planned and there is absolutely no cause for scepticism.

    I haven’t seen him so agitated since Climategate, so perhaps don’t hold your breath for a Christmas card :)

    • Maybe if Tamino spent less in soliciting donations for fairies at the bottom of the garden,and spent more time with Farey trees and Geometry,then mathematical physicists would start taking him serious.

      • Funny I haven’t seen one denier call Taminos point into question. You all seem to be avoiding the issue.

        The deniers are simply hypocrites. If a climate scientist had pulled the stunt the GWPF had done they would go ape. The GWPF’s graph contains no trend line, no uncertainty ranges. Their conclusions are also bogus.

        Deniers will falsely attack Muller for perceived dishonesty, but they will gloss over the GWPF’s error.

        Deniers will attack Muller for talking to the media, but the GWPF get a free pass. No denier ever asks about the cosy relationship between the GWPF and certain tabloids that is almost as if the GWPF only has to say jump and certain journalists will avidly publish an article for them.

      • Minkowski’s question is the point.

      • “If a climate scientist had pulled the stunt the GWPF had done they would go ape. The GWPF’s graph contains no trend line, no uncertainty ranges.”
        In fact, at least one did. Here’s Matt Briggs, “BEST’s Worst Work; What Is Significant?”. He sternly condemns BEST’s supposed mesdemeanors, but of course, it is GWPF.

      • Why would anyone talk to a moron whose every other word is ‘denier’
        It’s a waste of breath.

      • Last time we had this sort of behaviour – rampant use of ‘denier;’ it was snipped.. like Lucia said, a fighting word… that becomes a distraction from the topic..

        lolwot – what are you trying to achieve.. a UK climate scientist and modellor Dr Tamsin Edwards said this at Bishop Hill:

        “I am an example of a consensusist who has stopped using denier directly because of Barry, Bish and this forum.
        Name calling is ever so counterproductive. Today I was defending you lot to (particle physics) friends, yesterday to climate/stats friends, saying that denier offends and there is a spectrum of opinions anyway”
        lolwot: Whatever you think you are achieving, is ever so counter productive.

        Richard Betts (Met Office, Head of impacts, IPCC lead athor AR5) actually tweeted pretty much the same thing to Michael Mann just recently as well. And I had a very civil conversation with him just yesterday (telephone)!/Realclim8gate/status/124570002887155714!/richardabetts/status/124573478329389058

        I would definately agree, that all labels are bad for any sort of civil discussion

      • Michael Mann had been tweeting about deniers again..

      • Barry Woods –
        Hear hear.
        If Judith wished to improve Climate Etc in one simple way, it would be to make the use of ‘denier’ unacceptable.
        It’s not controlling the language, it’s simply recognising that many of us find it incredibly offensive.

      • lolwot,
        It was clear that things were changing in the racist south when the bigots were reduced to spittle flecked cries of “ni**er” when railing about how uppity and terrible African Americans were in daring to challenge the status quo.

  25. quote
    Peter Webster addressed the temperature “bump” ca 1940.

    Professor Curry, any chance of a follow-up post on this? Presumably it refers to Tom Wigley’s ‘why the blip’: I looked into this, initially because I thought it might be an artifact of the changed shipping routes. I found on the web, and subsequently lost, an FAO paper about fish productivity which had graphs of windspeeds across the appropriate dates and showed a concomitant increase, with the max being 7 m/s in the NA. Probably not just a measurement change, then.

    Goofball, huh?

  26. Alexej Buergin

    ” I had the opportunity to meet many people for the first time, including Muller, Tsonis and Loehle whose papers have been discussed extensively at Climate Etc.”

    THE Muller? Really?

  27. I have never seen the following excellent quote before:

    “…people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

    Mark Twain

    Thank you.

    • Girma,

      That Mark Twain quote is also prominently used in Donna Laframboise’s very recent expose book on the IPCC titled “The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert”


  28. JC

    Options for decision makers confronted with deep uncertainty:

    – Wait and see=>
    – Delay, gather more info
    – Target critical uncertainties
    – Enlarge the knowledge base for decision
    – Precautionary Principle
    – Adaptive management
    – Build a resilient society

    JC, thanks very much for a valuable presentation.

  29. Lunch with Muller and Monckton? I think I just heard Anna Hayne’s head explode.

  30. Dr. Curry
    Just viewed your presentation:
    Enjoyed it, you may like to borrow my graph for the Natural Variability, a must for every climate scientist:
    for sometime in future.

  31. Judith, I enjoyed your presentation, but not for the first time gagged on the “Uncertainty Monster”. In my view he is a harmless pygmy compared to the “Certainty Monster”, a massive, slobbering grantophage, the hideous love-child of an infantile craving for certainty on the part of consumers of climate “science”, and the priestly delusion on the part of its practitioners that they are providing it. We have, so far as the climate is concerned, far more to lose at the hands of the purveyors of misplaced certitude than from “deep uncertainty” about the weather turning horrid on us.

    Let’s have a “Certainty Monster” thread!

    • TomFP,
      Yes, “certainty” has been far deadlier than “uncertainty” in history.
      You make an excellent point that is far more than a turn of phrase.

      • Thanks, hunter. Can I take that as a second to my Certainty-Monster-thread suggestion? I wasn’t simply being flippant. The Certainty Monster I have described above played an indispensable role in Eugenics, DDT and many other follies, and most sceptics would agree that it is at least playing a part (I would say an essential part) in the present persecution of carbon. I would love to see one of our denizens write such the head post. Aitkin? Wojick?

        How about it, Judith?


      • TomFP,
        I will thrid the motion for a Certainty Monster thread. ;^)
        Frankly I think you have come up with a great way to sum up what I bet many people see as one of the major failings of the AGW movement: unwarranted certainty justifiying policies that do not help and do great harm.

      • I would suggest a title change to the Vanity Monster. It’s not as pithy, and does not play off the pre-existing Uncertainty Monster posts, but it perhaps more accurately describes the phenomenon. Inflated certainty comes from intellectual vanity, and it is vanity that makes that certainty impervious to contradictory evidence.

        While everyone looks for complex psychological explanations for confirmation bias etc., the simple truth is that there is nothing new in the climate debate. Their vanity has led elitists throughout history to push humanity ever closer to the abyss, including eugenics, DDT, CAGW, socialism….

      • Gary M,
        You make a very valid point regarding vanity (pride).
        Vanity/pride is the bane of humanity, but when it manifests as a certainty monster, we get AGW etc.

    • TomFP

      I agree entirely about the certainty monster.

      It reminds me of my answer to MIKE Hulme’s question ‘Why we disagree about climate change’ – it is because we are dichotomous creatures! That’s how we think and understand the world – either/or, good/bad, disaster/safety, etc etc.
      The problem, however is intractable. Depending on personality type, we only have a certain amount of ‘flexibility’ in the way we see see issues. And of course, the more inflexible our thinking, the more certain we are that our understanding is ‘true’.
      Our friend Holly Stick is an example. I don’t hear any flexibility at all – no doubt, no room for uncertainty. She says –

      “You guys don’t know how bad it’s gonna be…”

      But Holly does. What she believes, she believes to be true. She is certain. The people who KNOW (her priests, the scientists) have spoken – and amazingly she has only heard certainty – even our hearing is affected by our need for certainty!

      Just in passing, the mechanism whereby we construct, then reinforce and defend our certainty? Confirmation bias. And the more we become experts, the more we are suckered by confirmation bias! Trust ‘certain’ experts at your peril!

      Finally, what are we most certain of on the least available evidence? – our religious beliefs. And to the extent that the future 100 years from now is essentially unknowable, our beliefs about it are fundamentally religious in nature. And with a religious flavour to our certain expectations about the catastrophic distant future we have all we need to demonise dissenters. It is our (religious) certainty in the face of a paucity of evidence that leads us to describe those who merely disagree with us as DENIERS.

    • I second the motion.

  32. Judith –

    Here on Climate Etc. there are discussions about whether, when you said that Muller is “hiding the decline,” you were referring to an attempt on his part to hide data the support a conclusion that there is no longer a long-term trend of warming.

    We have headlines being written in newspaper reports saying that you meant that “warming is over.”

    Why haven’t you yet made an unambiguous statement?

    Let’s say that you have a perfectly accurate means of measurement, and you have records that show a steady rate of rise over 1,000 years but variation from day to day (and more notably, over the most recent few days) that might be in contrast to that 1,000 year trend. Are you actually saying that one would be “hiding the decline” by failing to point out that the day-to-day variation (in the most recent few days) does not meet a bar of statistical significance (within an infinitesimally tiny range of error)?

    It seems to me that how people view the data on temperatures, and their determination of what is or is not “statistically significant’ is, at some level inherently subjective. However, at another level, some people’s subjective determination of “statistical significance” is inherently ridiculous.

    What are the criteria you use for determining “statistical significance” in the climate debate? Do you think that the “decline” that you said was being hid reaches a bar of statistical significance? It’s clear that like everyone, your determination of statistical significance is subjective – but if you don’t spell out the criteria on which you base your determination, how can I judge whether or not it is ridiculous?

    • Meaningful statistical inference is not yet possible since careful data exploration has not yet been conducted by mainstreamers. Brush up on Simpson’s Paradox. Untenable assumptions don’t provide a sensible foundation.

      • Coincidental, the Berkeley gender bias case demonstrated Simpsons Paradox. By combining data from unequal departments, a misleading statistical conclusion was reached that Berkeley was discriminating against women.

        However, when the departments were each examined individually it was found that Berkeley was discriminating in favor of women. The same data set gives opposite results depending on how the data is combined, because the underlying data sets were not equal in all respects.

        Simpsons Paradox argues strongly that since the data sets from various weather reporting stations around the globe are not equal with respect to quality, methodology, time scales, etc, you are at risk of creating a false statistical significance by combining them into an average.

        Whenever you see aggregated data sets combined to create an average, there is a risk that the trend in this average is a false trend.

      • fred,
        you show the seeds of awareness needed to understand what I’ve written here:

        You can add to your list:
        Unequal physical properties – for example ocean-continent heat-capacity differences – in which case you get REAL, PHYSICAL summary leveraging (no statistical illusion).

  33. On WUWT, Matt Ridley article, poster Sirius has an apt quote on uncertainty by French skeptic, Socrates: ‘Je sais seulement une chose, c’est que je suis ignorant!’

    • He probably meant the famous Greek philosopher Socrates.

      Montaigne, who was French said something related about science, “La vraie science est une ignorance qui se sait”

      • Montaigne might very well have been paraphrasing Plato there. In that case, both should be taken to refer to something more like wisdom (sapience, sapientia) than knowledge. In Montaigne’s time, science and philosophy were not as divided as today.

        A good thing for us that there were no inquiries for plagiarism back then, for Montaigne’s paraphrase is sexier than Socrates’ logical quandary. In fact, I vaguely recall that it was welcomed, since it was a good way to dissiminate ideas. The Internet was a bit slower back then.

      • “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts”, said Richard Feynman.

      • And how did Feynman call the neverending, self-organizing, and almost predictable disbelief in the ignorance of the experts, Wagathon?

      • … probably something like–e.g., GCMs compared to climate are like what a voxel in a digital image of a camel’s hump is to question of what it take to cross the desert.

      • We have to remember that Feynman, although great, also potentially didn’t practice what he preached. The last issue he addressed during his career was supervising the examination of the Challenger Space Shuttle failure. He closed the report by saying the catastrophe was due to O-Rings alone, whereas enough evidence was available that the actual mechanism was a systemic launch structure design failure. This was corrected and essentially covered-up with redesign of the launchpad on ensuing missions. Feynman may have chosen the politically expedient path at the expense of arriving at the truth.

        So that quote is telling. Instead, I would say that science is the belief in the honesty of the experts. If you don’t believe that then you don’t have to believe that we made it to the moon. And disasters happen and mistakes are made.

        see this link in the verification thread

      • There is no truth for those with no honor.

        You are not telling the truth about Feynmn are you?


        The Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, also known as the Rogers Commission (after its chairman), was formed to investigate the disaster. The commission members were Chairman William P. Rogers, Vice Chairman Neil Armstrong, David Acheson, Eugene Covert, Richard Feynman, Robert Hotz, Donald Kutyna, Sally Ride, Robert Rummel, Joseph Sutter, Arthur Walker, Albert Wheelon, and Chuck Yeager. The commission worked for several months and published a report of its findings. It found that the Challenger accident was caused by a failure in the O-rings sealing a joint on the right solid rocket booster, which allowed pressurized hot gases and eventually flame to “blow by” the O-ring and make contact with the adjacent external tank, causing structural failure. The failure of the O-rings was attributed to a faulty design, whose performance could be too easily compromised by factors including the low temperature on the day of launch.[37]

        Members of the Rogers Commission arrive at Kennedy Space Center.More broadly, the report also considered the contributing causes of the accident. Most salient was the failure of both NASA and Morton Thiokol to respond adequately to the danger posed by the deficient joint design. Rather than redesigning the joint, they came to define the problem as an acceptable flight risk. The report found that managers at Marshall had known about the flawed design since 1977, but never discussed the problem outside their reporting channels with Thiokol—a flagrant violation of NASA regulations. Even when it became more apparent how serious the flaw was, no one at Marshall considered grounding the shuttles until a fix could be implemented. On the contrary, Marshall managers went as far as to issue and waive six launch constraints related to the O-rings.[38] The report also strongly criticized the decision making process that led to the launch of Challenger, saying that it was seriously flawed.[39]

        “ …failures in communication… resulted in a decision to launch 51-L based on incomplete and sometimes misleading information, a conflict between engineering data and management judgments, and a NASA management structure that permitted internal flight safety problems to bypass key Shuttle managers.[40] ”

        One of the commission’s most well-known members was theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. During a televised hearing, he famously demonstrated how the O-rings became less resilient and subject to seal failures at ice-cold temperatures by immersing a sample of the material in a glass of ice water. He was so critical of flaws in NASA’s “safety culture” that he threatened to remove his name from the report unless it included his personal observations on the reliability of the shuttle, which appeared as Appendix F.[41] In the appendix, he argued that the estimates of reliability offered by NASA management were wildly unrealistic, differing as much as a thousandfold from the estimates of working engineers. “For a successful technology,” he concluded, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”[42]

      • > There is no truth for those with no honor.

        I like this quote, Wagathon. It underlines my point that the contrarian stance is primarily a moral one.

        I’m not saying I agree with this quote, though. You can call me old-fashioned if you will, but I still believe that truth corresponds to facts, and that facts are quite independent from the moral fortitude of those you wish to shame here.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        If my memory serves me correctly, Richard Feynman later expressed his regret at blaming O-rings as he did. He apparently felt he was lead to that conclusion so he wouldn’t notice other issues, and he didn’t realize this until later.

        My memory may be off on this point, but if not, it indicates he does follow his own principles. He just makes mistakes, like everyone else.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Web Hub Telescope

        Let us be clear. Not only are you ‘not telling the truth’ abit Feynman’s role in the Shuttle investigation, you are actively lying about it. You say

        ‘He closed the report by saying the catastrophe was due to O-Rings alone, whereas enough evidence was available that the actual mechanism was a systemic launch structure design failure’ and
        ‘Feynman may have chosen the politically expedient path at the expense of arriving at the truth’.

        And had he done so, you might have been right.

        But he didn’t. He chose the harder road of integrity, and you should withdraw your remark. He insisted that his personal vews be added as a lengthy Appendix to the official report. You can read it here

        In it, he explains how the steady erosion of the safety culture within NASA (good men not speaking out as the rot set in because of Groupthink) set the scene where a faliure like the O rings …or the launchpad design or another factor (RF list 13 prior known ones, undoubtedly many more unknown) was likely to go unchallenged and lead to disaster.

        In doing so, he did not take a ‘politically expedient path’. he chose to follow the clues right back to the underlying causes and by changing the management systems to prevent such lapses help reduce the risk of further such tragedies occurring. Not just in O rings of launchoads but anywhere.

        I am sure that in so doing he would have annoyed and disconcerted may powerful people in NASA and eleswhere. But like his book says ‘What do I care what other people think’.

        Feynam was the last guy to worry about political expediency. Climatologits might do well to ponder his example.

      • Whether it is about Feynman or anyone else on the commission who lost friends in the disaster, it should irk anyone to see obvious and easily disproven lies about good men as if no one wouled notice or care. And it should be particularly painful for scientists to see pretenders to science print such lies about other scientists.

        “The seventeenth-century modern rhetoric which rejected trust and authority signaled skepticism about ancient authority and credulous acceptance of hearsay testimony. It did not, in practice, mean the wholesale rejection of trust in other people’s narrations as an adequate basis for empirical scientific knowledge. The Royal Society’s motto-Nullius in verba-meant, in operational terms, Do not give ancient authority or indirect testimony your whole and unconditional trust.” ~Steven Shapin

      • You are not telling the truth about Feynmn are you?

        Hey Wangathon, I think I captured it pretty well. Feynman should have removed his name from the commission report if he didn’t believe the report’s findings (sound familiar?). He shouldn’t have been a publicity hound by giving that O-ring demonstration with a glass of ice water that everyone remembers seeing on TV at the time. The breathless news reporting was the seal of approval : “Nobel Prize winner demonstrates O-Ring failure, live during a hearing!”

        It is indeed smart that Feynman insisted on attaching his personal opinions as an appendix (classic CYA move, eh?) and later second-guessed the causes as Brandon mentioned below. I really respect Feynman and learned everything by reading his Lectures on QM, but this is one mistake of agreeing to jump to conclusions that he has made.

        In the public opinion sphere, everything has to have a single well-defined cause with some certainty attached to it. I don’t believe that at all, which is the reason I brought up this case history.

      • Whether it is about Feynman or anyone else on the commission who lost friends in the disaster, it should irk anyone to see obvious and easily disproven lies about good men as if no one wouled notice or care. And it should be particularly painful for scientists to see pretenders to science print such lies about other scientists.

        Wangathon,. I don’t know what bothers me most about your type — the ignorance or the hypocrisy. I took a shot at Feynman, yes and with some knowledge of the way that he played up his reputation, yet you constantly yammer away against the credibility of climate scientists, calling them the equivalent of some arguably horrible people (in this comment thread, Larry Flynt ???) and also IIRC communists and dictators, and recently invoking the scenario of of people burning their books to stay warm because of climate scientists.

        It is really absolutely pitiful, and I am glad to have been able to drag this rank hypocrisy out of you. Alas, as if it really matters.

      • The greatest terror for AGW True Believers is be awake when truth happens.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Web Hub Telescope

        You say…

        ‘In the public opinion sphere, everything has to have a single well-defined cause with some certainty attached to it. I don’t believe that at all’

        …and yet you deride and insult those of us who think like that about climate. Climate alarmism positively requires a single well-defined cause to be near certain. If you don’t believ that wholeheartedly you are a sceptic.How peculiar your philosophy must be.

        Mind you, tryng to equate Trenbeth’s ‘scientific acheivements’ with Feynman’s work was a bit peculiar as well. Showed a lack of proportion that maybe symptomatic of deeper problems.

      • We all should exercise a greater degree of scientific skepticism on the science forum. Obviously, there are many ideologically-motivated Leftists who do not care about the truth but while it may be idiotic for AGW True Believers to deny that as soon as accurate data was available from satellites we see that the Earth’s oceans have been in a cooling trend, it is a clear demonstration of ill will to launch ad hom attacks against Feynmen and essentially smear every paticipant on the Roger’s Commision who investigated the facts surrounding the failure of a Thiokol rubber gasket.

  34. On the subject of global temperatures, Roy Spencer reports that the October 2011 figure is 0.11 C, a significant drop from September. As he notes, this is consistent with the idea of a cooling world.

    • Only in the strangely inverted world of amateur climate scientists is a one-month positive temperature anomaly “consistent with the idea of a cooling world”.


      But why stop there with the ‘new math’?
      If you want to be completely obtuse about it, ANY negative slope in the monthly averages can taken as “proof” of a “cooling world”… even if it is preceded by decades worth of warming. That way, a “cooling world” will happen several times per year… even as the polar ice melts and sea-level rises!

      • I am working on a petition demanding Wood for Trees provide minute-by-minute data so the pause-resumption cycle can be more closely monitored, which is obviously needed.

      • What about second-by-second?


        Have we really eliminated “uncertainty” if we don’t have nanosecond-by-nanosecond data?

      • You bet. Obviously you can type that fast!

      • Yes – The only way to be sure about the long term evolution of the Earth’s climate is to focus on shorter and short time-scales. Sure, the S/N ratio goes south, but that’s the price to pay for getting the results you want.

      • I’m really stupid about this stuff. Is there a scientific basis for the South-North ratio not going north/south?

        Anyway, I figured out the part about a decade having 120 months. But how the hell many nanoseconds are there in a decade? Just scrolling to the end of the raw data could take a lifetime.

      • S/N is signal to noise.

        Your posts prove noise is going up here.

      • “Only in the strangely inverted world of amateur climate scientists is a one-month positive temperature anomaly ‘consistent with the idea of a cooling world’”.

        Wonderful. Now maybe we can get rid of “X is consistent with global warming” as an equally content free phrase.

      • Knock yourself out, “we”.

        However. Some instances of “X is consistent with global warming (or cooling)” are not content-free.

        My objection is not to consistency, but to the lack of meaningful content in a one-month temp anomaly.

        The fact that it’s a positive anomaly – as are the six previous monthly anomalies from UAH – is just icing on the irony-cake.

      • Yeah, the “we” was satyrical, because I figured you wouldn’t be willing to admit how ridiculous the term is when reversed.

        Perhaps you can give us an example of a transitory phenomenon that is not consistent with global warming. Because unless you missed the rest of the intended sarcasm, if everything is consistent with something, then saying “X is consistent with” that something is a content free phrase – always.

      • Perhaps you can give us an example of a transitory phenomenon that is not consistent with global warming.

        “Arctic ice volume and area are increasing by an average of 10% per year.”
        “The UAH temperature record now shows more negative anomalies than positive anaomalies.”

        Hope that helps.

      • BTW, GaryM, please aim your objections to the “is consistent” line of argument at Jim Cripwell too – or would that amount to some kind of social taboo amongst True Sceptics?

      • I took the comment from Jim Cripwell to be a tweaking of consensus advocates who are constantly crowing how this or that phenomenon is “consistent with global warming.” If he meant it as something more, ie. “probabtive” or “indicative” of long term cooling, then it is simply wrong.

        The problem with that empty phrase is that it is used to create the impression with the public who read such comments that the phenomenon spoken of is probative of (ie. is evidence that it is more likely than not) the longer term trend claimed by global warming enthusiasts. It is merely misdirection, at least by those who understand the meaning of the words “consistent with,” and therefore content free.

        By the way, your examples are of a multi year trend and a shift in the historical published monthly averages, not the type of transitory event ( eg, a one month average) that he was referring to. So your defense of the term is in itself rather content free.

      • Paul Matthews

        Tom, look at Spencer’s post. There is a smiley :) after this comment – he is being ironic.

    • The drop in the UAH global temperature anomaly from September to October 2011 is large but not unprecedented. Similar September to October drops occurred in 2010 (0.48 to 0.31), 1994 (-0.06 to -0.24) , and 1983 (-0.04 to -0.26).

    • Drat and double drat!
      That is the first news I’ve heard of the October anomaly – you are the bearer of news that confirms I have lost my wager (a whole five quatloos) over at Lucia’s. The algorithm in my trillion dollar xbox will have to be tweaked (again) just so it matches the recent past.

      How tiresome!

  35. This is off topic, but apparently the soon to be released IPCC report on extreme events has established a new benchmark for ridiculous overconfidence. According to this news item on the leaked SPM the IPCC says “It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale…” See

    The IPCC is now 99-100% sure about the next 90 years climate. Insane. But then this is part of the run up to Durban.

    • And I am 99-100% certain that Durban will be a big flop. But the endangered ice will be tinkling in the cocktail glasses and a good time will be had by all.

    • And BEST is all about Durban. High risk-taking for high gains: “hide the decline” in public opinion.

    • Certainty is refreshing. Wishy-washy climate skeptics are tiresome. These weenies say maybe it will, maybe it won”t, we can’t tell, nobody knows, it’s too complicated …. blah…blah…blah.

      But I will wait to see the published IPCC report rather than rely on a reporters interpretation of drafts.

      • Yes, you better wait for the official release of the IPCC climate bible to get your programming and talking points updated. Baaaa! Baaaaa!

    • I can’t believe you people are this oblivious to what the IPCC is about to do. See you in the funny papers.

    • IPCC says “It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale…”

      Talk about the “Certainty Monster”!

      The agenda for the (Nov. 14-17) Joint WG I & II session (at which the “line by line” approval of the SRREX SPM has been set. So has that of the (Nov. 18-19) IPCC meeting at which the “actions” of WG I & II will be “accepted” (no changes allowed, ‘cuz the “approval” session is open to all!). Exactly the same “process” that transpired in Abu Dhabi with SRREN.

      No sign of any actual report draft in the mountain of documentation available for these Kampala Konfabs. So I’m not sure how prepared/informed any of the participants charged with “approving” (or “accepting”) the SPM is likely to be!

      Makes one wonder if prerequisites for participation include highly advanced “speed-reading” skills.

      There is, however, a Progress Report which makes it “virtually certain” that – notwithstanding this rather obvious gap in process – everything will go according to (someone’s) plan:

      4. WGI/WGII Joint Session (Kampala, Uganda • 14-17 November 2011)

      A pre-plenary preparatory meeting will be held with the SREX CLAs on 11-13 November for the First Joint Session of Working Groups I and II that will consider the approval of the Summary for Policymakers of the SREX and acceptance of the scientific and technical assessment in the underlying chapters.

      5. SREX Outreach Activities

      The action plan for SREX outreach is led by and coordinated through WGI and WGII, with involvement of the rest of the IPCC organization, including the Chairman, the Secretariat and the Executive Committee. The action plan, for which external funding has been sought, comprises a series of six outreach events in developing countries and one in Norway; preparation of outreach materials that are thoroughly grounded in the SPM but accessible to general audiences; an SREX website that is integrated in the IPCC web environment; and training sessions for SREX authors to effectively present the SPM’s key messages.

      There will be two phases to the SREX launch. Phase I will focus on the release of the SPM and will include a press briefing at IPCC XXXIV, and side events at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 17th Conference of the Parties (Durban, South Africa • 28 Nov – 9 Dec 2011). Phase II will focus on the release of the underlying chapters in February 2012.[emphasis added -hro]

      Btw, this “progress report” also includes an item on Conflict of Interest:

      the Co-Chairs concluded that the immediate introduction and implementation of a policy on disclosure of interests, together with a declaration of compliance with IPCC Principles and Procedures, could still provide great value for the SREX. Therefore, in July 2011, a mandatory policy was introduced for the SREX, which applies to the SREX CLAs, LAs and REs as well as to all members of the WGI and WGII Bureaux and the WGI and WGII TSUs.

      Such an impressive display of “transparency”, eh?! Why do they bother?! Why not just put up a big sign and send out a Press Release: “Whatever we told you last time, trust us, it’s worse than we thought – and we must act now.”

  36. Judy:
    I just finished watching your presentation. I found it very clear and well-constructed. Your personal journey was instructive.
    As you probably recognize from the tone and content of what you see here in different commenters’ responses to almost any topic, people’s reactions are a reflection of their own psychological make-up and the way they see the world. For some the uncertainty monster is a puzzle, for others it appears as a threat to their very self-esteem and the contemplation of it shakes their view of science and the world. For me, there are obvious parallels to how people respond to discussions of politics and religion. Some folks never develop a sense of perspective, while others are never sufficiently passionate to get anything really difficult done. People who can combine both characteristics are indeed rare.

    • Bernie –
      well put.
      There is an interesting perspective about 15 comments up from here (at the mo’..) about the ‘certainty monster’. I have been making some similar points to yours – particularly about psychological make-up. I have doubts that even if we wish to, we can become more like people who can combine both of your characteristics. But maybe the wish is a start!

  37. After watching Judith’s presentation (which I agree should have a link somewhere on the blog), I found this talk by Dr. Singer given in 2009 at OSU. It’s lengthy and I’ve only got through half so far, but it lays out as lucid and compelling a case for climate change skepticism as I’ve seen.

    He’s also comes across as humble and quite likable. Can’t recommend it enough.

    • Thanks pokerguy. That cast out some of my prejudices about Singer. very helpful

      • It was helpful for me too, Anteros. NIce to get a sense of the flesh and blood man. I bet he’s a terrific teacher.

      • He says

        ‘I’m very data-oriented. I believe in observations’

        That’ll make sure he gets no Xmas card from the Climatologists Guild this year………..

    • Fred is a gentleman. One of the few in this game.

    • Hi Pokerguy

      Can you give a link to Parts 2 and subsequent please? I was really enjoying it……

      • I think if you just go to Youtube and put in ‘Fred Singer’ you’ll get both parts. At least that’s what I did, although by and large I have very little clue what I’m doing :)

  38. Interesting recap on Bishop Hill on Scientific Heresy
    (“I’m grateful to Matt Ridley for allowing me to post the text of his Angus Millar lecture at the RSA in Edinburgh…”)

    My topic today is scientific heresy. When are scientific heretics right and when are they mad? How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?

    Let us run through some issues, starting with the easy ones.

    Astronomy is a science; astrology is a pseudoscience.

    Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.

    Molecular biology is science; homeopathy is pseudoscience.

    Vaccination is science; the MMR scare is pseudoscience.

    Oxygen is science; phlogiston was pseudoscience.

    Chemistry is science; alchemy was pseudoscience.

    Are you with me so far?

  39. We should not and we cannot continue to ignoe the failure of academia and its role in the collapse of Western civilization from Dodgers to Greece:

    “To see confirmation bias in action, you only have to read the climategate emails, documents that have undermined my faith in this country’s scientific institutions. It is bad enough that the emails unambiguously showed scientists plotting to cherry-pick data, subvert peer review, bully editors and evade freedom of information requests. What’s worse, to a science groupie like me, is that so much of the rest of the scientific community seemed OK with that. They essentially shrugged their shoulders and said, yeh, big deal, boys will be boys.” ~Angus Millar

  40. Blue, I don’t know how you get Hansen was a “coolist” out of this link you furnished:

  41. Great talk Judith!

    Watching your presentation was a great calming influence and an ‘oasis’ within all the recent distasteful madness. If only we could all follow your lead to help restore some ‘normal’ science and sanity within this highly politicised area. You are a great scientific role model in the way you conduct yourself. Keep up the good work.

  42. Judith –

    It’s your blog and you make the rules.

    But I am curious as to why you deleted my post about eugencists. Have you read Lindzen’s essay?”

    For present purposes, there are obvious analogies between fears of environmental degradation and fears of genetic degradation, the environmental movement and the eugenics movement, and environmental legislation and immigration legislation

    It’s your blog – and I’m only here at your discretion – but I was wondering if you might at least explain why you deleted my post. If Lindzen feels comfortable comparing me to a eugenicist, why are you uncomfortable with me sending him greetings from a proto-eugenicist?

    steven mosher apparently thinks my comment was racist. Do you agree? If so, why would it be racist? Would it be similarly racist for me to greet Monckton as a proto-fascist – given that he calls environmentalists fascists?

    • Joshua, all of this is off topic, pls drop it.

    • Josh,

      Have you gone and added race baiting to religion baiting? Why do you do these things Josh? You are an intelligent and articulate boy. We will notice you without your resorting to this kind of uncivilized crap. Stop it.

    • Joshua –

      I’m sorry in a way that it took so long for me to see what sort of person you are. I’m disappointed, but I can see now why you smile quietly in the presence of Robert’s bigotry. You’ve kept your prejudices hidden for a very good reason.

  43. John Carpenter

    Judith, I enjoyed your keynote talk… however, I found it interesting you didn’t even crack a smile when Peter suggested you ‘changed’ and maybe it was because you ‘started using your brain’. That was funny… didn’t you hear it?

  44. “M. carey | November 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    The drop in the UAH global temperature anomaly from September to October 2011 is large but not unprecedented. Similar September to October drops occurred in 2010 (0.48 to 0.31), 1994 (-0.06 to -0.24) , and 1983 (-0.04 to -0.26). ”

    What you write is a vivid illustration of what Girma points out, and with which I am in complete agreement. If you plot the last 160 years or so of data, it shows a linear trend of 0.06 C per decade, with most data points lying within +/- 0.25 C of this trend line. I am sure no-one is suggesting that this trend has lasted for thousands of years, and I am equally sure no-one expects it to last for thousands of years into the future. Sooner or later, some other natural trend will assert itself.

    What you point out, M. carey, is that the recent changes in global surface temperatures are no different from what has happened before in the 160 year old record. We may have pumped umpteen gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, but there is no sign of any form of CO2 signature in the data from the last 50 years or so. It is just the same old, same old thing that has been occurring for 160 years.

  45. We may have pumped umpteen gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, but there is no sign of any form of CO2 signature in the data from the last 50 years or so.

    No sign at all.

    Except for these:

    • Major Tom, I really do wish you would not deliberately misread what I have written. I would have thought from the context that it was clear I was talking about a CO2 signature in the surface temperature record. Maybe for idiots like yourself, I need to be more explicit. There is no CO2 signature in the surface temperature record. Is that clear?

      In any event, there is no way, using proper physics, to turn a change of radiative forcing for a doubling of CO2 into a change of surface temperature. So who cares if we can detect a change in radiative balance of the atmosphere.

      • Jim, I hate to break this to you, but you are not the determinant of “proper physics”.

        Case in point: how exactly would you measure a “CO2 signature” in a surface temperature record. Do you think the extra thermal energy comes with a causal explanation stamped on it? What physically impossible measurements are you waiting for now?

        “Who cares if we can detect a change in the energy balance of the atmosphere?”
        Well, many people who are far more scientifically competent than you.

        You think I’m an idiot. I think I understand you better than you would like. You may be intelligent, but your intelligence is completely wasted on straw-grasping advocacy.

        Truth be told – I owe you a note of thanks, Jim. When we first crossed verbal swords on years ago, I knew so little of the science of climate that I took your criticisms seriously. It was only through my studying the publication record that I came to realize that you have virtually no skills or expertise in the discipline, and that your objections are scientifically vacuous.

      • Major Tom writes “Case in point: how exactly would you measure a “CO2 signature” in a surface temperature record. Do you think the extra thermal energy comes with a causal explanation stamped on it? What physically impossible measurements are you waiting for now?”

        Let me continue with your education. About 200 years ago, statisticians thought up what is now called “signal to noise ratio” physics. There are very well established methods of determining whether there is a statistically significant signal against a background of noise. In other words, when CO2 levels rise significantly, as they have done, then there needs to be a statistically significant signal in the surface temperature data to show that a CO2 signal exists.

        This means one examines the temperature/time graph, and determines whether there is a statistically significant signal against the background of the noise. No such signal exists. It is as simple as that.

  46. “Apparently some people on the ‘warm’ side declined to attend because they would not attend a conference with certain skeptics in the room.”

    Doesn’t that really say it all about Climate Science?

    • I guess the alarmists are too frightened to cross the road without their Mummy in case the Big Bad Bogeyman comes to get them.

      Seems to me that just about everything scares their pants off. Especially us sceptics. Poor dears.

      • You ‘sceptics’ actually seem to believe that real scientists have the time to read this bloggery – and think they would find it frightening!

        I love it here. No pesky self-criticism or evidence to contaminate the beautiful tribal-bonding rhetoric, and the resulting irony is so thick even neutrinos can’t get a pass.

      • Ground control to Major tom:
        Yet here you are.
        As to why you love it here: If you are able to ignore the self-criticism here, you should find Climate Progress or Real Climate a little piece of heaven. The density of the on going irony there is rapidly passing that of neutron star and close to developing an event horizon with an escape velocity > c.
        BTW, thanks for the new word, “bloggery”. It can be a verb or a noun.
        That will be fun.
        By the way, if bloggeries are so unimportant, why are so many workers in the science running them?

      • You’re welcome. I was going to go with “bloggoreah” or just “self-congratulatory puffery”. I’m glad you appreciate the subtle nuances.

      • Major Tom,
        Before your signal fades out, I as hoping you would appreciate the referall to sites with true insularity as well as my Schwarzchild radius reference.
        Enjoy the bloggery… ;^)
        Ground Control

      • @ hunter
        I see that you’ve discovered the provenance of my user-name.
        Congratulations. Brilliant.
        With crackerjacks like you on the blogs, how will climate science ever survive?

      • Ground Control to Major Tom,
        The David Bowie song was the first thing that came to mind when I first read your name.
        This is simply the first conversation I have had the pleasure of having with you and thought you would appreciate a bit of the (very) young David Bowie.
        As to Climate Science, it will survive very well as soon as the catastrophists and their pals are moved out of the control booth.
        That video, by the way, is supposed to be a copy of the original film Bowie made back in 1969. Dig his glasses.
        And just ~ 7 year later he made “The Man Who Fell To Earth”.

        Which was a great movie, imho.

      • They’re frightened of a barely detectable temeprature rise, a minor rise in sealevel, hot weather, cold weather, being in the same room as sceptics (do they feel that scepticism is so contagious that isolation is the only strategy?), shownig their working, disclosing their data, having their work reviewed by anybody other than their chums…..

        Its a long long long list …I wonder how they manage to get out of bed in the morning…..the poor wee cowering timorous beasties. Bless!

  47. Towards the elimination of ignorance…

    Between a crank shaft and a drive wheel there are a good many parts that can locally mask the underlying crank signal to a naive eye that is ignorant of the global properties of the drive system. However, most do understand that accelerating the crank accelerates a drive wheel, even when there are gearing & differential channeling changes.

    Earth provides solar traction that varies with the seasons. Since the physical properties of the northern hemisphere are different from those of the southern hemisphere, the aliased solar cranking leverages asymmetrically:

    Multidecadal terrestrial oscillations are simple.

  48. It may be worth noting that the EPA is at it again. Given concerns that the Earth may warm up because of fossil fuel combustion (CO2), EPA appears to have had a different program to assure it happens. :-)

    EPA. 2009. SO2 Reductions and Allowance Trading under the Acid Rain Program. Governmental. Clean Air Markets. April 14.

    This page provides an overview of how reductions in SO2 emissions are to be achieved under the Acid Rain Program.

    The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 set a goal of reducing annual SO2 emissions by 10 million tons below 1980 levels. To achieve these reductions, the law required a two-phase tightening of the restrictions placed on fossil fuel-fired power plants.

    • The aggressive tactics against CO2 show that the EPA is an anti-business, Leftist enabler of a hard line takeover of US energy and industry.

  49. Secular, socialist Big Gov-EPA anti-energy bureaucrats and their comrades in academia have turned the corner to communism and it’s all downhill now from California to Greece.

  50. Apparently some people on the ‘warm’ side declined to attend because they would not attend a conference with certain skeptics in the room.

    An admission of intellectual bankruptcy if ever there was one. Name some names…

  51. … comments regarding NSF funding (i.e. no funding for skeptics).

    So it’s beginning to dawn now – is it? – that if you only fund alarmists, an alarmist consensus emerges.

    • Punksta

      He who pays the piper calls the tune.
      [Prov. If you are paying for someone’s services, you can dictate exactly what you want that person to do. When Mrs. Dalton told the artist what she wanted her portrait to look like, the artist cringed to think that anyone could have such bad taste. Still, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and Mrs. Dalton got what she wanted.]

      Another version is the modified “Golden Rule”

      He who hath the Gold, maketh the Rule


  52. RealClimate has an interesting (and different) take on the Santa Fe conference:

    • When I read the RC post, I went back to a draft of your MIT talk to see whether you had included the Michael Mann cartoon in it, thinking that if you had and I had failed to advise you that it would be a mistake, I had been remiss. However, it wasn’t there, and so I decided I hadn’t failed to give you a candid opinion.

      I expect, though, that if you find praise in this thread for including the cartoon, you’ll have evidence that it was a figure designed to stir partisan passions and increase polarization. Whether that’s what you want to do is up to you.

      I continue to think that your focus on the IPCC attribution statement is a losing proposition, but having made that point several times already, I can’t add further to it. There’s plenty of uncertainty to go around, and you should really consider focusing on a different example.

      • Fred, you should really consider focusing on what you should really consider focusing on.

      • By the way, Fred, let me point you to a tiny bit of self-unconsciousness that you’ve blundered into. We don’t want Judy focussing on what you think she should focus upon. Focussing on what you want to focus on is what has gotten into this mess, this pretty pass.

      • I continue to think that your focus on the IPCC attribution statement is a losing proposition, but having made that point several times already,

        The proposition is being debated in the European sphere,where the focus is on better transpearancy eg EGU.

        A good example is from the Belgian scientific community eg Crucifix who uses the debate from Berger and Hunyadi.

        “If scientists were to soberly and rationally recognise the uncertainties of their own knowledge, the margins of error of their data, not to mention the hypothetical nature of their predictions, the public would not be so quick to seize on the slightest indication of these uncertainties.”


        This may take experts aback, as one of the aims of the IPCC is precisely to apply nuance and, via consensus, to sift what appears to be certain from what is more speculative. Having said this, Professor Hunyadi’s comment is not without foundation: numerical simulators are sometimes presented to the public as a way of obtaining accurate predictions based on the laws of physics, and therefore must be objective. In particular, Hulme (2009, p. 90) pointed out that climatologists tend not
        to mention in public their margin of interpretation (a “subjective” approach) with respect to the numerical simulator, which provides “objective” numerical values. This attitude is understandable, as it aims to convince the general public, who are still very positivistic (certainty is the norm; only the “exact” sciences are reliable), but it is risky, knowing as we do that simulations inevitably contain errors.

        He also briefly outlines the parametization problem ie fingeprints under the hood.

        Another more fundamental problem is that the theoretical hypotheses from which a parameterisation is deduced are not always met in practice. For example, it is rare to find a region the size of the resolution field of a GCM (around 10,000 km2), characterised by a homogeneous set of convective clouds in equilibrium with the large-scale vertical airflow. Yet this hypothesis underlies most
        parameterisations of atmospheric convection (Palmer, 2005). It is for these reasons that the scientific community is not always in a position to decide which parameterisation is the most suitable for a given process. So the simulators differ from one another in respect of the chosen parameterisations. Finally, the parameters that have been left undetermined are recalibrated once the simulator has been
        assembled so that it reproduces the large-scale climate most accurately, within the limits judged to be reasonable for each parameter. This process is called tuning.

      • I don’t recall anyone mentioning the cartoon in the Santa Fe thread, in any even it wasn’t much discussed. I have not used this particular cartoon in academic presentations on the topic. My uncertainty monster talk at the santa fe conference was an after dinner keynote talk, which is expected to be lighter fare. Listen to the youtube video of my presentation, i do not trash mann in any way in the words that I said associated with this cartoon. In fact I said something like this: I don’t blame Michael Mann for the hockey stick uncertainty hiding in the IPCC TAR . . .

        In using cartoons in my talks on this topic (including cartoons of myself), I am experimenting with a communication technique that is trying to put people at ease in confronting uncomfortable topics. Personally I think this is more effective than Mann’s attempts to discredit his opponents via introducing irrelevant topics (e.g. cuccinelli) and trenberths denier polemic.

      • In fact I said something like this: I don’t blame Michael Mann for the hockey stick uncertainty hiding in the IPCC TAR . . .

        The problem here is that Mann’s massive error bars, which were removed in the graph you showed, also appear in the IPCC graphs – both in SPM and WGI of the TAR (link).

        AFAIK, the only versions without the uncertainty bars seem to come from the skeptic literature. Including the one you showed in your talk.

        So basically you are accusing people of “hiding uncertainty” by showing a picture where uncertainty was originally showed, but was actually doctored away by skeptics.

        Can you see how this kind of things might not exactly contribute to trust or civility?

      • Can you explain to me, toto, why Mann’s hockey stick, showing nothing of scientific value earlier than 1500AD, is still defended to the death, and why is the goal of subsequent Team studies to validate that hockey stick, no matter what pea under the thimble tricks are necessary to do so?

      • “In using cartoons in my talks on this topic (including cartoons of myself), I am experimenting with a communication technique that is trying to put people at ease in confronting uncomfortable topics.”

        I think your use of cartoons is brilliant in general. I’ve already stolen two of yours for climate talks I’ve given – the boiling frogs and the dinosaurs. I also don’t think the Mann cartoon was deliberately hostile, but I’m not sure you anticipated how it comes across either to audiences not at the conference or those present who are concerned about polarization. Ironically, if Mann had actually been there, it would have been more innocuous – a form of joshing – but making fun of him in his absence was more problematic, even if you intended it as a light touch. From the RC post, it seems that at least one participant didn’t see it as putting people at ease.

        Anyway, I hope Michael Mann doesn’t sue you (No, no, I’m just kidding – really – it’s just that litigiousness seems to be in the air these days for any insult, real or imaginary. At least, it’s better than a few hundred years ago when the offense wouldn’t be met with a lawsuit but with an invitation to a duel).

      • If somebody wants to bash me (and it seems many do), they seize on stuff like this. And Michael Mann doesn’t have much of a sense of humor in this regard.

        There have been three general reactions to my talk in santa fe:
        1) thank god somebody actually came out and said this, it really needed saying (I heard this from many people)
        2) two people (at least that i heard about) felt uncomfortable when I said that many climate scientists subscribe to this ideology. These two people seemed to think I was referring to them. Well if the shoe fits . . . And there is nothing wrong with ideology; its just not science.
        3) the reaction seen at RC (and this is the first i’ve come across that particular reaction to my talk). It is a pretty big misinterpretation of what I actually said.

      • I challenge you, Fred, to answer my question to Toto just above, about the bizarre persistence in the literature of the phony hockey stick.

      • Hi Kim – You’re one of my favorite groupies. If you ever fail to show up for one of my comments, I’ll be very worried.

      • I mostly ignore you Fred, because I can’t trust you for unbiased information, just as I can’t trust Nick Stokes. Sure, that’s throwing the bath toy out with the bathwater, because you and he have much of interest to toy with. It’s just not trustworthy. It’s hard enough to find trustworthy information in this debate, and you cripple yourself with your blitzkrieg bias.

        You must be worried sick, Fred, because I only occasionally respond to you. Now, can you answer the question instead of trying this lame diversion. What is with this hockey stick bizness?

      • Fred Moolten

        You berate Judith Curry for focusing on the IPCC attribution (“most…”very likely”…) statement.

        Hey, man, don’t you realize that this very short statement is the key to the whole premise that “AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of past warming and, thus, represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment”

        Take away that attribution statement (or demonstrate that it is not valid, based on the empirical data at hand) and you have brought the whole house of cards down.

        That is why it is so important to “focus on the attribution statement”.

        I realize that challenging this statement scientifically is a very difficult endeavor since the statement is already a bit wishy-washy in itself, but as a rational skeptic, I would like to see it challenged scientifically (as Judith is doing) until it can either be validated or shown to be invalid and discarded.

        If the former is the case, much of AR4 WG1 is also validated.

        If the latter will prove to be the case, one can toss most of the projections of AR4 WG1 report into the trash heap and start from scratch.

        So yes, it is very important.

        (My opinion.)


    • Dr. curry,
      You are experiencing an attempt to punish you for leaving the RC plantation.
      Ignore the undignified, fact-free rants from unrealistic, uninformed dogma enforcers.
      You are doing far better than those losers.

    • Judith Curry

      After going through the RC post by Mark Boslough – and some of the many comments – it is clear to me that you “rattled the cage” of the keepers of the consensus dogma.

      To your “monster” presentation Boslough writes:

      My impression was that her presentation was intended to be more of a vehicle to criticize her adversaries than to talk about uncertainty.

      I read your “monster” paper – if this is what you presented, Boslough’s “impression” shows he must not have been watching or paying very good attention.

      Referring to your uncertainty cartoon of Michael Mann with a hockey stick as a personal attack against him seemed like a bit of a humorless stretch -especially since the record has demonstrated very clearly that he and his co-authors stretched the limits of uncertainty to the breaking point in the original hockey stick (and even more in the extension back beyond 1500).

      Boslough then describes what apparently caused the most grief among the true believers in the IPCC consensus dogma:

      Curry described her transition from a scientist who felt that it was the responsible thing to do to support the IPCC conclusions to someone who is “about 50% a denier”.

      While most observers of the description of your transition would find it informative and interesting, I can imagine that the reaction among the true believers is like the one you would get from describing to a Bible-thumping fundamentalist preacher how and why you moved away from believing in the true faith he preaches. (This is not a way to win friends, Judith, but honesty often is not.)

      From his reaction it appears that Boslough must be one of those true believers.

      Tossing in the “remark by a colleague” regarding the English major and Thomas Kuhn (whether it was really true or not) was simply a side jab.

      I’d say this RC piece is about as good (or bad) as most pieces there.

      While the faithful regular RC denizens have clucked with approval, I think most unbiased observers will see it for what it is.


    • My reaction to the RC post is that it is an example of looking for the worst and finding the worst by distorting the material, in this case by focusing on minor details and failing to see the main points in the talk. The issue of Judith’s making fun of Mann is a very small matter. I personally think the near canonization of Mann by the establishment makes him a fitting target for humor. The only other ethical alternative is anger which is usually counterproductive in a conference forum. The idea put forward at RC that Judith has made no contributions to quantifying uncertainty is simply not true.

      It is counterproductive to try as Fred seems to be suggesting to think ahead of time who might be offended and bend over backward to avoid it. Sometimes things must be said that are uncomfortable for some in the audience. My experience is that you can be polite, but trying to sanitize is counterproductive. Maybe climate scientists have unusually fragile egos or are especially litigious. Certainly Mann is especially prone to seek recourse under libel laws. Since he’s a public figure, in the US, its pretty much a losing proposition.

      Judith, you can find some comfort in the very mild comments at RC on this post. Either someone is moderating with the goal of avoiding the witch hunt complete with name calling that often happens there or the post failed to be very convincing. I hope its the latter.

  53. Toto,

    Why are you fooling your self?
    You just ask Mann’s for his data and methodolgy and than show that what he has done is right (up to Mann 2009).
    You can do it.
    GO FOR IT.

  54. I tried to post this at RC, but I think it got hung up somehow. In it I am talking about the Mark Boslough piece:

    The reactions to this post are interesting, specifically the differences between the RC groupies and climate scientists who actually attended the conference (thanks, Chick and Manvendra). I would also note that Curry’s views on the conference (based on her posts) seemed to be reasonably in line with those of Chick and Manvendra. Sounds like it was a good conference.

    Question for Mark, were you the one who interrupted Curry’s talk about halfway through?

    • No, it wasn’t Mark that interrupted me. The RC blog post is the first time I have come across Mark (I did not meet him at the meeting, at least that I can remember)

      • I just posted at RC the links to the youtube and the ppt, will see if there is any reaction.

      • It looks like the only reaction so far is from Colose who apparently doesn’t think Judith is doing science any more but has veered off into philosophy. I disagree as I usually do when Colose posts here. There is a gratuitous comment that the person who interrupted Judith’s presentation was justified. I’m not quite sure why, but I guess the truth sometimes hurts those who might feel a little guilty themselves.

        It does seem that Mark has admitted that the errors bars were not left out as he originally asserted.

      • Here is what I think you should do,
        Don’t participate at RC, they are unfair and it is a circus. Invite Mark to participate in a discusion here, limit comments only to those who attended the conference, and invite everyone who attended the conference to participate. It might be fun reading for the holidays.

      • Well, the first time I posted at RC, I think the comment got screwed up with the recaptcha thing. I posted again and it went straight to their borehole. How screwed up are they? I think I made a reasonable comment (other than calling their brood of regulars “groupies”), especially considering most of the other comments that preceded mine. I guess my comment just wasn’t helping the cause.
        Keep doing what you are doing Judith, you are a beacon of light in a dense fog.

  55. I am curious to find out what blog system you’re utilizing?

    I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest website and I’d like to
    find something more risk-free. Do you have any suggestions?