Let’s audit Climate Audit !

19 11 2007

Hi kids ! It’s been an interesting week-end …

On thursday, Nov 15th, i was notified by the Chair of my department, Dr Judith Curry, that a new reconstruction of global temperature had been published (Loehle,2007), and that a thread on it had been started at ClimateAudit.org.

For those not involved in blog wars, the latter is an interesting blog animated by Steve McIntyre, a climate skeptic with merciless talent for tearing apart a dataset. The word on the street is (some readers may want to correct me here) that McIntyre created this blog after getting frustrated that his comments were never addressed, or even posted, on RealClimate.org .

I am a regular reader of RealClimate.org which gathers distinguished scientists of the likes of David Archer, Stefan Rahmstorf, Ray Pierrehumbert, Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann. These people are personally ersponsible for some of the msot exciting work in climatology, their blog has won a few awards and it is increasingly taken as authority by a number of newspapers, including my own “Le Monde” from Frogland. Blog posts on RealClimate are often entertaining, always informative, but it arguably leaves little room for heterodox climate views and it sometimes leaves the strange aftertaste that its authors are defending and selling their own research, while not explicitly acknowledging this partisanship. In particular, Michael Mann is the lead author behind the illustrious Hockey Stick graph, which is by any means a very controversial piece of research, and RealClimate.org (RC) has proven somewhat closed to discussion on the topic – at least coming from McIntyre’s clique. Though i have not personally experienced censorship on RC, i have heard many accounts thereof. It is perfectly sensible to block global-warming-denialist trolls from spewing out insults on the forum, but not intelligent laymen who ask inconvenient questions. So quite a few people (climate scientists included) have gotten frustrated with RC as well. (today’s post about my former ministre de l’Education and his apprentice Courtillot is an absolute gem, however. Highly recommended).

On the other side of the aisle, you have Steve McIntyre and his now growing number of readers on ClimateAudit.org (CA). McIntyre apparently jumped into the climate game because of some (legitimate) concerns he had with the Hockey Stick graph, and has since turned his attention to just about every piece of data that is being used in the media in climate discussions. The man seems a rather interesting fellow , with a solid math background, a painstaking attention to detail, and a devastating verve that makes his blogposts rather entertaining to read. More recently, he has deeply impressed me by undertaking some tree-ring research out of his own free time and on his own funds : there are a lot of armchair skeptics out there, but this man is doing serious work.

The strength of CA has been its openness to comments from all sides, which fostered the growth of a crowd of hard-to-please data analysts, crafting ever-more-well-posed questions and challenges to the climate science community. It is, in my view, a much needed addition to the climate debate, with expertise from various fields of mathematics, statistics and data analysis. As a scientist i wish they were taken more seriously by our community. It is natural for every society to get a little complacent and it runs the risk of resting on its laurels, unless challenged by an Opposition.

The main problem is that until recently, the Opposition was mostly represented by the despicable breed of “climate obscurantists” who have been polluting the blogosphere with a pure disinformation campaign, motivating their disparaging comments on all states of climate science by their own unwillingness to change anything about their fossil-fueled existence. These comments are always easily debunkable because they are not based on any scientific knowledge or reasoning. I would hate to be guilty of referring you to such pieces of junk, but if you want a taste , Texas Rainmaker, America’s Future or the editorials of the Wall Street Journal are quite good examples – there are unfortunately many, many more.

Hence, for a climate obscurantist, if you are with the IPCC, you are for the “climate terrorists”, no lie is above you and no punch is too low. Fortunately, CA started on very different premises. While i know little about his underlying motives, McIntyre is a very sharp fellow whose pointed questions help create a healthy debate in the field. If the IPCC consensus is as indestructible as we claim, then it must be able to weather these storms. Better still, it could be a little shaken by said storms and would emerge stronger and more legitimate.

Further, McIntyre is joined in his investigation by a vocal group of readers and commentators, some of which are quite on-point. The CA crowd is a tough one for sure : the educated skeptics in there, while decently equipped in verbal courtesy, are entirely exempt of magnanimity, and don’t let you get away with much. It’s a bit like the All Blacks rugby pack. That’s all right : i have no problem with tough players. Unfortunately, the openness and the global-warming-trashing bent of CA means that some of its participants are of the “obscurantist” breed, and are more vocal than warranted by their science credentials.

One also finds a distinct self-congratulatory tone in there, and when McIntyre makes a sneering cheap shot at a prominent climate scientist, the joke is greeted with loud cheers and pats in the back that are more reminiscent of a low-grade frat house than a respectable scientific society. This is corny at best, and most often downright tiring. Hence the somewhat playful urge of yours truly to go challenge the pack on its own turf at some opportune moment….

The opportunity materialized last thursday with the publication of a new indepdendent temperature reconstruction, one that shows a very warm “Medieval Warm Period” (aka “Medieval Climate Anomaly” because it was almost certainly not warm everywhere – more on this later), and thus poses a particular challenge to CA. Are they going to scrutinize it as ruthlessly and righteously as reconstructions that support the idea that the twentieth century warming is anomalous in the context of the past millennium ? Or are they going to congratulate the author for his “unbiased” work, pat each other in the back, and go on insulting Mann, Hansen and tutti quanti ? Does CA stand for Climate Audit or Curmudgeon Association ? Is the “skeptic” crowd even skeptical of its own children or is it a privilege reserved to mainstream climatologists ?

So on friday yours truly posted a review of it on CA. If you are curious enough to read some of comments in there (477 at the time of writing), you will find that my little post generated quite a storm.

I spent most of friday answering some of the rebuttals and other comments, and i have to say it was quite enthralling. I evidently pushed some buttons there, and undeniably some of them were quite sensitive spots. The best compliment was by Pat Keating :

You have a nice turn of phrase, and would love to read more of your critiques, preferably in the context of the AGW acolytes’ work<

So apparently i am good enough to join the Dark Side. Exciting…

Later, McIntyre started his audit and so far i am pleased to see he is not giving Loehle a free ride. This is only the beginning.

I acknowledge, however, that i wrote my CA posts in the heat of the battle, which is never a good thing. As a Kokikai Aikido practitioner, i should know better. Whenever i am given an article to review, i usually make sure to do it over a period of a few days, so that the second (or third ) reading might provide a different light and help me be more objective – particularly if i thought the article unacceptable at first read. I violated this rule on friday because i was too eager to go make a splash on CA – to make a statement that they were also being watched and that some people will prove just as picky about the Opposition’s statements than they are about the Establishment. That was quite shallow, ego-driven, and i took somewhat of a sadistic pleasure in lacerating that article – while i could be more constructive.

As my neighbor Dr Martin Luther King Jr used to say : “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”. As it turns out, my former NY roommate was in town this week-end and I had a fantastic time : full of laughter, Venezualian aged dark rum, frisbee-tossing in Piedmont park, rosemary pork loin roast, neighbors dropping by the dinner table all night, and late night jam sessions till we fell asleep on the instruments. Today the Sun was so intense that we could suntan on my rooftop with a good cup of tea, and i just got out of a very grounding yoga session.

So let’s chill out for a bit : true, Loehle’s article (in its present form) is a poorly-written piece of pseudo-scientific gibberish – but now that i have the watchdogs’ attention there’s no need to be barking anymore. It would be a poor tribute to a gorgeous week-end than to remain sulky.

In the following post, i will thus summarize the article in question, present the issues i have with it and respond to as many CA comments as i can before falling asleep. We’ll see where it leads…

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31 responses

19 11 2007
John A

The word on the street is (some readers may want to correct me here) that McIntyre created this blog after getting frustrated that his comments were never addressed, or even posted, on RealClimate.org

Not really. Climateaudit.org was created to provide instant rebuttal and further analysis in regard to McIntyre & McKitrick’s papers on the MBH1999 reconstruction of past climate (aka “the Hockey Stick”)

That serious scientific comments and questions get deleted from RealClimate is a matter of record. My take is that RC is a political blog written mainly by climate modelers.

Of course Steve got his comments and requests for information blocked by RC, but then with the advent of CA, it is RC that becomes less and less relevant.

I would encourage you to return to CA and continue the analysis done on the Loehle reconstruction to the others (Moberg, Briffa, Jones, Mann).

Then we’ll see where the “denial” really lies.

19 11 2007
PaulM

Congratulations on a very balanced blog entry – almost unheard of in the AGW field! Yes, RC does censor any skeptic comments they can’t deal with (just try posting anything about CA or Mcintyre). And yes, CA does get involved in personal vendettas. Please continue posting such balanced articles, which will be really welcome.

The question you raise – why does CA audit Mann and Hansen so thoroughly but not Loehle – has a very simple answer (in addition to the answer that CA is now questioning Loehle). Loehle’s work does not demand that we all completely change our lifestyle and spend billions of dollars to avert an alleged imminent disaster; Hansen and Mann’s work is being used by them and others to say this, so their claims need to be carefully investigated before taking such drastic action.

19 11 2007
Anonymous

Let the force be with you.
===============

19 11 2007
Carrick

Interesting post. My only comment here is if you aren’t a skeptic, you aren’t really a scientist but perhaps instead a salesman. So the word choice “climate skeptic” to contrast (I suppose) with “climate believers” is a bit of an odd choice.

Anyway, I’m not sure they are skeptic e.g. that we are changing climate, but rather are questioning the narrowing issue of whether we are significantly affecting annual global mean temperature.

I would go further to offer a distinction between a cynic (a person who disbelieves without regards to the evidence) and a skeptic (who disbelieves claims that are not adequately backed up with data). The first is really anti-intellectual whether as the second is a necessity for any healthy scientific debate.

I wanted to point this out because there are too many people who are casting aspersions at anybody who dares to train a skeptical eye on any of the climate research out there, and in many cases, start by denigrating the motives of anybody who asks critical questions. It’s just interesting that being labeled a “skeptic” has become a bit of insult in some circles…

19 11 2007
Dallas

I enjoyed your posting here and the lively discussion on CA.

Should you find the time, there are a variety of other topics you might find of interest.

19 11 2007
rhodeymark

I’m the one who made the “fresh baked experts” comment, and thought it best that I come here and apologize. I don’t doubt your qualifications. Please do try to avoid stereotyping the “Opposition” though, as I am sure I’m not alone in investing considerable sums in energy conscious improvements. We’re really not against common sense. Peace.

19 11 2007
El Niño

“I wanted to point this out because there are too many people who are casting aspersions at anybody who dares to train a skeptical eye on any of the climate research out there, and in many cases, start by denigrating the motives of anybody who asks critical questions. It’s just interesting that being labeled a “skeptic” has become a bit of insult in some circles…”

I fully agree. I should come up with a better term. “Climate obscurantist” is for me the wrong kind of “skeptics” (those you call “cynics”), while skepticism is of course the basis of independent thought.

20 11 2007
Anonymous

Since I think that the human effect on global climate is rather small compared to natural variations, I sometimes call myself an “AGW minimalist.”

20 11 2007
Anonymous

Both sides of the global warming argument are routinely guilty of spreading disinformation on the web, and this makes it difficult for non-scientists to reach an informed opinion. But it is not impossible.

Anyone who has followed both ClimateAudit and RealClimate over the last four years will know that there is a marked contrast in the style of these blogs. At CA there is an often-ruthless determination to get at the truth, even if at times that is an uncomfortable process. All too often RC seem to be attempting to reinforce an orthodoxy far beyond the point where this can be done by using fair and objective arguments. Put another way, CA tends to ask questions without knowing where the answers might lead, whereas RC seems to provide answers for those whose commitment to a cause has gone far beyond the point of questioning its tenets.

For the informed layman it is possible to reach a perfectly rational view on the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument without having more than a rudimentary understanding of the science. Exaggeration, and unwillingness to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, are symptoms of a weak argument. Unconstrained curiosity about the foundations of an orthodoxy, or the kind of scepticism that motivates people to pose questions even when they know that doing so will incur the hostility and even contempt of the majority, is far more likely to lead to the truth.

Your post is generally a very welcome and well-balanced critique of both ClimateAudit and RealClimate, so it is a pity that you have spoiled it with a reference to:

‘Opposition … mostly represented by the despicable breed of “climate obscurantists” who have been polluting the blogosphere with a pure disinformation campaign, motivating their disparaging comments on all states of climate science by their own unwillingness to change anything about their fossil-fueled existence. These comments are always easily debunkable because they are not based on any scientific knowledge or reasoning. I would hate to be guilty of referring you to such pieces of junk …’

Showing such contempt for the views of those who do not have higher scientific qualifications and who happen to have formed opinions with which you disagree could be mistaken for arrogance. In the real world, outside academia, it is frequently necessary to act on matters of importance without having expert knowledge. And knowledge does not confer infallibility on anyone; not even climate scientists.

20 11 2007
Anonymous

“My only comment here is if you aren’t a skeptic, you aren’t really a scientist but perhaps instead a salesman.”

Opportunist is more appropriate…

20 11 2007
El Niño

Hi anonymous !
thanks for being so darn courageous and sharing your name : it’s inspiring for the youth.

“Showing such contempt for the views of those who do not have higher scientific qualifications and who happen to have formed opinions with which you disagree could be mistaken for arrogance. In the real world, outside academia, it is frequently necessary to act on matters of importance without having expert knowledge. And knowledge does not confer infallibility on anyone; not even climate scientists.”

I have contempt for people who manipulate facts to support their personal, political bias – regardless of this bias. And those people i will fight to death.

The IPCC’s fourth assessment, strong of the expertise of ~450 authors, forcefully concludes that the current warming is already unequivocal, is ‘likely’ due to anthropogenic forcing, and that projected changes in temperature, precipitation, sea-ice, snowpacks, sea-level and just about any physical variable that matters for humans and ecosystems, is ‘very likely’ to reach values that will make this planet (or that of our children) much more difficult to live on within a century.

Further, it does so in a summary for policy-makers that is meant for a layman audience – and is thus exempt from the academic snobbery you speak of.

One is certainly entitled to be skeptic about details of the IPCC reports (the “last millennium section, perhaps ?), but the convergence of arguments from so many independent sources makes doubting the AR4’s big picture as rotundly misguided at pretending that is Earth is flat.

Of course, no IPCC scientist in infallible – that is the point of gathering 450 of them and 600 reviewers. But by denying the expertise of one of the largest body of scientists ever assembled to answer a question, one arguably displays the highest form of arrogance.

Not only is it arrogant, but it is irresponsible, fallacious, and doing so in print in order to serve private interest is worthy of the highest contempt (mine at least, you may have looser standards). It is as despicable as the religious fanaticism of the Inquisition, and as such fully worthy of the term “obscurantism”. In decades and centuries to come, i take with you the bet that people questioning the basic premises of anthropogenic global warming will come to be viewed on the exact same footing as the catholic Church denying Galileo the right to state that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

I’m sorry if you’re not pleased with that : that’s not what i’m here for.

21 11 2007
TCO

Positive:
a. McIntyre has found a few interesting things.
b. Has more free play allowed on his blog then on RC.

Negative:
a. Has only published one real paper in a regular journal (the 2005 GRL paper). He tends to claim the EE papers and rebuttals to comments as publications, but of course they are not real papers as most people define that.
b. Failure to publish would not be an issue if he wrote top notch “working papers”, but he does not.
c. On his blog, his analyses are sloppy in many ways:
(1) confounding factors (he will note a change in variable x when he also changed variable y at the same time…note he did this in GRL paper also.) Note that Gerd Burger actually has a great paper doing a full factorial on method choices.
(2) taking single stations or series and making implicit assessments of an overall data set from them.
(3) does not supply citations.
(4) often grammar or style mistakes which make it hard to discern even what is being asserted…clearly
(5) writes in a mystery story style…tells a long story of how he got to a result…what he examined…rather than making a comment about how some algorithm handles some data or the like.
(6) Mixes in lots of snark…offputting and just annoying…as well as a distraction from following a math/physics logic train.
(7) Often has mislabeled graphs and poorly written equations (which makes it hard to disaggregate issues of controversy from mistakes).
d. Controls the conversation. Note…more freedom is allowed than on RC. But it is still not equal treatment. Someone who makes mindless egging on comments from the skeptic side is allowed to stay…but the opposite is squashed. Note, that this is the opposite of RC with Vincenthaven. Also, note that such remarks in controversy draw more ire…and thus are more notable. Still it is not equal.
e. There is an unresolved issue of whether the blog is for discussion, whether results should be taken seriously and need to be responded to…versus just being a scratch pad. McIntyre likes to have it either way depending on how it helps him at the moment.
f. On points where he is weak or maybe in error, McIntyre avoids being pinned down and complains about tediousness. Burger and I have both had this experience. He has a Clintonian tendancy to avoid being pinned down.
g. At times, he will complain that he lacks the time for serious discussion on issue analysis…but he has the time for lots of silliness.
h. His treatment of the Phoenix airport was dishonest (not his initial assertion…but his failure to correct the misimpression when notified. In a sense, he has STILL failed to correct it…as he has posted complaints about people complaining about his failure to make a correction…rather than just making the note that the predicate to his analysis was off (if A then B becomes meaningless when A shown to be wrong assumption.)
i. He is still delinquint on supplying code to show his revised RE benchmarking results. (I am worried that he made an error and refuses to come clean.)
j. He has been too late for reviews and has written papers days before meetings (and it showed).
k. Tends to wander and want to leave a basic point and throw in other things “that the bad guys did” even when it’s not part of the topic as hand. As if he sees some sort of contest at all times rather than an examination of what choices in data analysis are appropriate…of how certain algorithms deal with certain data tending to give certain results.

Bottom line: It is pretty tedious and oily to read his work. But he’s (somewhat) bright…and the other side is prone to sophistry as well. However, I would not dispair. I have found people like Zorita, Wegman, Mosher, JohnV, the phsics guy from Argonne (can’t remember the name), even Bender when he can get his head straight from having it kicked, etc. to be willing to be direct and honest and more what the ideal of a scientist is.

I say this as a life-long, far-right Republican, wannabe skeptic, and someone who takes the ethic of science and of science publishing seriously.

21 11 2007
Anonymous

El Niño

I apologise for setting such a bad example to ‘the youth’ by posting anonymously, but of course this does not in any way effect what I said, which was that the integrity of an argument can be evaluated by the way in which it is formulated and expressed. Only sound, fallacy free, arguments are likely to persuade AGW sceptics to join the ranks of the orthodox. And sceptics do have to be persuaded, they are unlikely to be coerced by name calling, abuse, or peer pressure.

In your response, you have impugned my courage, suggested that I am a corrupter of the young and managed to work in the ‘flat earther’ insult too. Then, as if one fallacy (ad hominem attack) was not enough, you cite ‘the expertise of ~450 authors’ of the IPCC, a blatant appeal to authority. Unfortunately you have not addressed the substance of my comment, which is a pity because I would have been interested to hear your views.

Hippikos seems to have responded to your analogy involving the Inquisition, Galileo, and the Catholic Church with far more elegance and humour than I can manage. But I am puzzled! Surely the Church’s model of the universe was orthodox in those days, and Galileo was a sceptic who got into trouble for posing the wrong kind of questions. Could it be that you used a false analogy, making a total of three fallacies?

As to remaining anonymous, that is probably the only thing I have in common with one Eli Rabett.

21 11 2007
Anonymous

One also finds a distinct self-congratulatory tone in there, and when McIntyre makes a sneering cheap shot at a prominent climate scientist, the joke is greeted with loud cheers and pats in the back that are more reminiscent of a low-grade frat house than a respectable scientific society.

Oh please, have you read realclimate lately? The sneer factor over there is off the charts, and they religiously excise nearly all dissenting comments.

As for cheap shots, those same “prominent climate scientists” routinely use the term septic or denialist (with its deliberate holocaust denialist association) to describe anyone who questions their authority. Some of us doing the questioning are very well-qualified indeed. Needless to say, such an attitude from supposedly professional scientists has very much hardened opinions against them.

21 11 2007
non-anon

I have contempt for people who manipulate facts to support their personal, political bias – regardless of this bias. And those people i will fight to death.

On that basis you should be fighting hardest against the realclimate scientists. These guys are (almost to a man/woman) pushing a negative growth, nature over humanity political agenda, and they are using AGW alarmism to do so. They truck no criticism, nor any questioning of their authority, just like the catholic church of yore.

21 11 2007
Hippikos

Are y’all aware of the effect it makes on the public with all that sneering of each other.

It’s juvenile, arrogant, pedantic, unproductive, asocial and highly amusing but not very scientific.

Why don’t you all get along together and stop acting like high school keyboard warriors.

21 11 2007
non-anon

they started it… 🙂

21 11 2007
Anonymous

Hippikos

Lots of people like blogs that are not very scientific, but how many people read blogs that aren’t amusing?

21 11 2007
Anonymous

Steve McIntyre is pretty tedious. He’s been picked apart numerous times and he keeps coming.

Like a zombie.

It’s pretty amazing that he has been able to take a single peer-reviewed study and parlay it into so much attention.

How McIntyre Got Famous

Skeptics Get a Journal

But that’s what you get from the internets…..

22 11 2007
TCO

More CA negatives:
A Confusion (seemingly deliberate) of PC1 versus overall Mann Hockey stick effects.

Note that by doing so, this helps SM to make out the effects of Mann’s sins to be worse than what they are. Helps falsely convince his cheering section.

B. This is compounded by REFUSAL to calculate the numerical effect of individual Mann mistakes on the end result Hockey stick. I always agreed with the Heinleinian, “if it doesn’t have numbers it’s not science” or the business consultant view that value is created by translating qualitative discussions to quantitative analysis. But SM seems to play an Artful Dodger game here of avoiding coming to grips. And numerical displays of this kind show that some of his posited mistakes are low impact. But he wants to avoid the hoi polloi seeing that.

The other thing is that at any time with a judgement call of a method choice or what have you in a simulation, he will always pick the choices that are most extreme in making his opponents’ papers look bad. He will not adequately show how other choices could be made and a smaller impact exist. He does not play fair here. this is really penny-ante crap and unfortunate as some of his points are true even if of less extent than what he likes to show. But this is a sign that he values rhetoric and PR over math/science exploration.

One thing he does is tries to get the “signature” Mann mistake (acentric transformation in PCA), which really was a mistake…wasn’t properly described by Mike….has not been adequately admitted by stubborn Mike….and having it carry the weight of other method choices (proxy selection, etc.)

C. On one occasion, he REFUSED to disclose or have meaty discussions with his method of calculating red noise (while criticizing others). When I finally pushed hard, he got very testy…told me to look at the code. Which by the way uses a prepackaged algorithm that IS NOT well described…which I actually had to go the author of that code package to get a description of. Note that he also MIS-DESCRIBED his code as “involving fractional differencing…and that’s way tough math even for me”. AND IT WASN’T fractional differencing. Not sure if he was just making a mistake here or deliberately telling a fib. Either way, he was making an obvious attempt to brush off investigation. And when shown in error on the fractional differencing, he refused to address it. He is very passive aggressive about acknowledging mistakes. Resists it like crazy. Like a schoolboy. Oh…and by the way, his method involves a LOT of parameterization of the actual data set. So that it is questionable, how much his “noise” is really noise…is independant of the initial data set.

22 11 2007
Anonymous

MBH 1999 is the zombie. A Bristlecone stake through its heart, and still it stumbles on. The apparition marches prominently in Bali, as we speak.

What is going to happen if the earth cools as CO2 continues to rise? Science needs a champion, now.
==========================

22 11 2007
TCO

Others have also had issues with Steve. Gerd Burger has tried to chase down comments that McI made about partial least squares. And Steve refuses to get down to specifics. But repeats the assertions at new times.

Actually that leads to a new complaint about Climate Audit. The recycling of topics. Sometimes it is just an offhand remark. Sometimes it is an entire post essentially getting rehashed and rerun. Such behavior shows more interest in boosterism than in science exploration.

22 11 2007
TCO

It’s classic, how Steve M. has resisted disaggregating issues and estimating numerical extent. He blathers about how bcps AND acentric transformation are an “interaction” but shows no full factorial that examines each effect in isolation and combination.

I’m scared to think that he may not understand what this basic concept means in a statistical sense. He has never said anything that shows he understands that an interaction is MORE than the additive effect of two factor effects. That it means a mutliplicative term is needed in the regression. And he has made a few comments that implied he was confused here. This is basic DOE, six sigma, Box Hunter Hunter stuff.

He also blathers about how the bcps are the critical thing. Well, then that’s the SAME as saying that the acentricity is NOT key. What he’s really trying to do is have a (pretty much other than recalcitrant Mike) undeniably flawed transform (acentricity) carry the RHETORICAL weight of a more debatable point wrt proxy selection/exclusion. Of course this is the behaviour of a blog game player or of a lawyer…not of a scientist, of an issue analyzer OR OF A GOOD BUSINESS ANALYST.

If challenged, he’ll come back and say they have an effect together. But then he refuses to do a full factorial. The refusal to come to grips, the refusal to show numbers towards probing questions, the recursion to confounded (in the statistical sense) cases, the refusal to answer a precise question but rather rebuttal to an anticipated inference is fricking Clintonian.

It’s too bad, his old man or his platoon leader didn’t kick his ass a bit more and beat the evasive sea lawyer out of him.

What a twisted snail shell. I used to think it was sophistry. Now, I’m wondering if he just has a logic screw loose in his head. I mean looking at the mass confusion of his presentations for AGU, just shows really shoddy thought organization.

Now, everyone can be disorganized on a complex issue and need to do some honing to think things through. But he ACCEPTS that level of crappiness. That shows he doesn’t give a flying fuck about science, about communication of results, about falsifiable hypotheses. I think Dick Feynman should rise out of the grave and kick his ass.

P.s. The location thingie with precipitation looks tight though. (this doesn’t change anything I wrote above…see unlike McI, I can disaggregate.)

22 11 2007
Hippikos

Surely you’re joking, TCO.

Me thinks that Feynman will kick ass but not those you think. Follwing a quote from his 1974 Cargo Cult Science speech:

“Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.

http://wwwcdf.pd.infn.it/~loreti/science.html

22 11 2007
TCO

He would kick both asses. Remember…disaggregation! Even if AGW is wrong and shown to be so…even if methods of current paleo are wrong and shown and agreed to be so…it does not excuse lapses by Steve. This is not childhood where Johny misbehaved so I get to is relevant. Actually it wasn’t relevant then either.

24 11 2007
gianni

I quote from your reply on CA. It goes a long way to illustrate one of the underlying problems with paleoclimatology

“What i read on these pages often underestimates the difficulty to obtain paleoclimate data, where it can take years of work to retrieve and analyze a sediment core, for instance. The result is that many authors are emotionally attached to their baby and have a hard time letting go of it. It is obviously easier for me to criticize, as i sit behind a computer and their precious data is all but a table to me. Clearly many of them (no names…) would be wise to let go a little, but i wish CA-dwellers had a deeper understanding of how this data comes about instead of rudely demanding it like it’s their birthright. Perhaps, in the end, everyone will understand each other a little better”.

While we may admire the perseverance of some researchers for developing the data, that does not mean that the conclusions should be accepted with out challenge. Should we give them a pass and be more understanding? What kind of science is that?

As a retired physicist I am appalled at at the secrecy in many of the climate disciplines.

I do believe that there is a RIGHT to obtain the data that has been developed with the assistance of public funding in a public university.

Nobody would care about the antics of paleoclimatologist if it were not for the fact that many of them want to change society back into some sort of hunter gather community. Sorry, forget about the hunter bit, we probably would not be allowed to eat the animals anyway!

29 11 2007
Sandon

I am intrigued by your use of the word “obscurantist”. Do you mean people who strenuously avoid the established practice of peer review by keeping their data sets and analytical methodology secret? Or do you mean the people attempting to engage in such empirically valid behavior? I ask because “obscurantist” bears such a worrisome resemblance to “obstructionist”, or the currently more popular “denialist”.

Also, while you mention RealClimate.org by name, I don’t see any reference to Environmental Media Services, Science Communication Network, or Fenton Communications. Are you aware of their relation to each other? If so, does it concern you? Even just a little bit?

Thanks for your time.

30 11 2007
El Niño

Hi Sandon,
thanks for your well-posed question.

By obscurantist i mean “those preventing the light of Truth from shining”, whatever Truth may be.

And yes there are some of them amongst climate scientists worried that their work could be attacked… and a LOT of them amongst people whose business interests lie in the perpetuation of the current fossil-fuel-based economy. (cf Editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, most oil, power and car companies i have read statements from). So while both sides are plagued by biases, my own experience suggest a heavy Obscurantist bias in the anti-AGW crowd, but if you have data showing the opposite, i am all ears.


Also, while you mention RealClimate.org by name, I don’t see any reference to Environmental Media Services, Science Communication Network, or Fenton Communications. Are you aware of their relation to each other? If so, does it concern you? Even just a little bit?

Indeed, I am not aware of these links, and i’m willing to read if it is serious investigation (no oil propaganda, please !).

Please explain here OR email if you feel like sending documents.
Best,
E.N.

1 12 2007
Anonymous

El Niño:

“… whatever Truth may be.”

If a scientist doesn’t know what truth is, how does he know what he is looking for?

3 12 2007
El Niño

If a scientist doesn’t know what truth is, how does he know what he is looking for?

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” –

Albert Einstein

Seriously, if Truth is known then the game is over… although, with that many deniers out there, there clearly is still a big PR combat to be fought…

5 12 2007
Hank Roberts

> a better term

http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=857#comment-52757

_The_ better term, per Dr. Lindzen, as quoted by Dr. Curry.

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