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In Denial: Global Warming Hoaxes Dismantled

| 57 Comments

The Weekly Standard does a very good job documenting all of the scandals and forced retractions by the IPCC. As you might expect, there are rather more of them than have been published in the "mainstream" media. It makes for a long article, and taken together, they are incredibly damning. Having read them, I do not think "hoax" is too strong a word to describe these instances - and the comparison of Climategate to The Pentagon Papers is apt.

Though the cover drawing of an unclothed Al Gore isn't really something I wanted seared into my brain....

57 Comments

It occurred to me a while ago that the only thing missing in this colossal cluster-coitus was Paul Ehrlich. Had Dr. Ehrlich accidentally locked himself in his basement?

Silly of me to worry, as the NYT has wheeled out "biologist" Paul Ehrlich like a V-2 rocket. Boy, those skeptics are doomed now. Of course, not a word about Ehrlich's past predictions to the NYT readership, who have enough trouble suspending disbelief.

There has to be some way they can employ Freud and Kinsey in their defense. How about Wilhelm Reich, or Immanuel Velikovsky? J. B. Rhine? Nostradamus?

And stay tuned, something new seems to come out every day.

Like this set of emails documenting James Hansen advising that CRU's global dataset was superior to his own at GISS.

Which is odd, because now everyone is claiming the CRU's scandal is immaterial... because we still have GISS.

Cataclysmic global warming has all the symptoms of a conspiracy theory- it doesn't matter how many assertions prove false or how that affects all the other alleged evidence built on top of it. There is always 'all the other' evidence to point to. At some point you have to wonder. Logically, if the core evidence is so rock solid and indisputable, why in gods name would you bother to pad it with junk at all?

Of course, a true skeptic might be expected to take an opinion piece from a partisan conservative think tank, which may or may not have received $1.6 million in funding from Exxon, and which appears to have a former Exxon CEO on its board of trustees, and which cites no actual research papers or data, and which is published under cover of a disrespectful charicature, with a large grain of salt.

So whatever happened to the Winds project of looking at the global warming research articles to ferret out common data?

[How would one find that AL post? Is the archive searchable by keyword?]

Roland, are any of the fraudulent acts and forced retractions they document in this article false? Please point to one, if you can. I'm pretty confident here, because unlike America's media, Britain's media has actually been reporting this stuff as it comes out and the IPCC must disavow yet another area of "settled science". The Weekly Standard simply does us all the service of collecting these in one place - and for that, no research paper cites are required.

As for A.L.'s post, I do not know what happened. There is a keyword search function in the upper left corner of the site - it's Google-based, but restricted to Winds.

Thanks, Joe. rn

Hi, Roland. I stopped doing the research, because it was acknowledged (I think in Climate Progress) that there were only 3 datasets - HADCRU, GISTEMP and one other that I can't recall...

That had been mycore question - whether there were few or many datasets that were the basis for much of the analysis. The answer is 'few'.

The recent stated plans by ACU and others to 'open source' the data will resolve my concerns - if it is really done - and I look forward to seeing what happens to the data and models at that point.

Marc

Why is some tangential connection by a magazine de facto evidence of a conflict of interest but direct funding laboratories rely for their existence dependent on the scope and alarming quality of their work is immaterial? Just curious. If the fact that I filled up at Shell this morning is used to prove I'm biased, what about the people who would almost certainly be out of jobs (or at least shunted off to the dark recesses of academia) if their results aren't quite literally earth shattering? Good for the gander?

For those who want to follow the discussion and analysis on the existing temperature datasets, you may want to check out E. M. "Chiefio" Smith, who has been looking at them a country/region at a time. See, for instance, Turkey and Germany - read back in his archives for more. Steve McIntyre who started asking some of the awkward questions that in part led to ClimateGate, seems to be relatively inactive right now, due to 'day job' issues.

I stopped doing the research, because it was acknowledged (I think in Climate Progress) that there were only 3 datasets - HADCRU, GISTEMP and one other that I can't recall...

The third is NOAA/GHCN, which is the mother of the others, asserted to be the source of "almost all" of their raw data. Which sounds to me like one data set, with two modded versions.

Whether the others rely on GHCN for all of their data or only some of it, obviously the data sets are not independent or unique, and are far fewer in number than some people have implied.

There is a call for a single, transparent data set, which sounds great, but I think it's flatly impossible. If there's one thing climate scientists have proven, it's their own proprietary attitudes. What country would host this data set, and under whose bureaucratic aegis? Who gets to sit on top of the giant egg and gobble the funds? Who gets to be the Eisenhower of climate science?

Even if all of that could be settled - and it can't - you would end up with something that looks like a bigger elitist conspiracy than ever. And it would not fail to act the part, either.

Glen may be right, which is a problem.

Right now, my default stance to Global Warming as a whole puts it in the near vicinity of creationist "science." The instances of lying and politics/religion over science are too frequent, and too serious, for me to take this area at all seriously - even if I had faith in computer models, which I do not.

At the same time, it is not impossible that the liars could wind up being right, for reasons they themselves do not yet fully grasp just yet. Complex systems can be nasty that way. And the best way to keep an eye on that possibility is through transparent, open source data and collection methods that are always available to query and scrutiny. One set certainly makes that a lot easier.

Not doing that has potential costs. Mind you, the level and degree of bad behaviour here suggests that there are also costs associated with continuing to feed this field at all. As opposed to just defunding it en masse for several years a la cold fusion, and forcing the whole field to start over via a "hard" reboot and new personnel.

Marc would prefer option A, the transparent data set and continued funding, subject to promises of good behaviour. It's not yet obvious to me which approach is better.

The earth is an extremely complex system, with many (known and unknown) components in dynamic equilibrium with each other. The complexity of the system means that we humans have at best only a rudimentary understanding of how the system functions. Because our understanding is so rudimentary, we can not say with certainty what is going on with either the base system, or the system as influenced by the many (known and unknown) factors which affect it. Given the scale and scope of human interaction with the system especially over the period since the industrial revolution began, however, we can say that our interactions (e.g. releasing carbon from plant and hydrocarbon sources into the atmosphere) will have some effect or effects on the system. We just can not say what those effects will be; they may be small, large, or in between, or some combination.

Is the earth warming? Relative to what/when? If it is warming, why? What effect, if any, do our actions have on the system?

What we can say, is that we'd better damn well understand the system well enough to know how changing it will affect it, and us. Lack of definitive understanding of what is occurring means that we should strive to change it as little as we possibly can unless & until we do understand it. Well, we're just a wee bit past that point, but it is the height of irresponsible absurdity to say that we should just keep doing what we've been doing because we don't understand the system exactly.

My point is that understanding gets lost in the politicking about this issue, and we've got an obligation to our children to do better than that.

(carbonyl-induced thermohaline inversion causing a deliciously ironic Eurasian mini ice-age, anyone?)

Mark

Frabjus, the choice isn't between the dreaded "Do Something!!!!1!!111!!!" - ie, a massive global bureaucracy devoted to stopping "climate change", and "nothing".

There's plenty of low-hanging fruit, much of which was already being gathered, even by the supposedly oil-loving Bushies. But the crony capitalists like those running General Electric, bureaucratic "entrepreneurs" like Pachauri and Gore, and Wall Street types looking for a new government-backed trading gig don't stand to get as rich from low-hanging fruit.

Foobarista/#12 - Agreed.

My point is that arguing that: "because we don't understand the science completely we shouldn't do anything" is specious at best, and tendentious (in the same way, as you note, as those who wish to profit on cap and trade) at worst.

Mark

Lack of definitive understanding of what is occurring means that we should strive to change it as little as we possibly can unless & until we do understand it.

The fact that I lack definitive understanding on how my car works does not mean that I can't drive it. Moreover, that is no longer in your hands, since developing nations will proceeded with their industrialization plans - they made their point clear at Copenhaguen -, and what developed nations may do won't have any impact.

We humans like to see things static, as in frames, but they truly are continuously changing.

Hi, Roland. I stopped doing the research, because it was acknowledged (I think in Climate Progress) that there were only 3 datasets - HADCRU, GISTEMP and one other that I can't recall...

That had been mycore question - whether there were few or many datasets that were the basis for much of the analysis. The answer is 'few'.

Interestingly enough, the post in question is here and I didn't come away with the idea that AL's "core" question was how many data sets there were, but rather whether the data was publicly available. (And for all the knocks against HADCRU, the vast, vast majority of that data is available - not to mention that those three data sets are only one type of evidence out there, the others ranging from ice cores to tree rings to ocean temps to satellite records, all pointing in the same direction).

That said, it's entirely consistent with AL's past behavior that he'd redefine the question and declare victory without following up on a declared course of action. Likewise, it's entirely consistent with what I'd expect to find on WoC that the site would hype a Weekly Standard article that blows up a few retractions and accusations into the grossly overblown conclusion that AGW is false.

And heck, while I'm at it, I can point out at least one point in which the Standard article is, at best, grossly misleading - while the vast majority of the article makes a great deal out of whether the effects of global warming will or won't be as bad as predicted, the only thing it really says about whether the basic theory of AGW is a quick pointer to a pair of research papers that question the climate's sensitivity to CO2. The problem is, at least one of those papers, by Lindzen, is highly suspect from a scientific standpoint.

Actually, that's as good a point as any to make here - Joe's accusation that AGW is just like creationism is ironic considering the vast majority of anti-AGW work completely skirts actual data and actual science and ends up making petty accusations of fraud and conspiracy. The AGW folks, on the other hand, actually go to the trouble of mucking about with math, physics, data collection, analysis, and all the other hard work that's recognized as actual science in dozens of other fields.

In fact, if you actually look at the arguments anti-evolution people have made over the past century, it looks a hell of a lot like what's going on with AGW right now - the guys who are actually in the day-to-day business of messing with the science, be it fossils or temp readings, are on one side, whereas the guys with minimal relevant technical experience but an intense dislike of some of the implications of an important scientific theory are on the other.

In fact, if you actually look at the arguments anti-evolution people have made over the past century, it looks a hell of a lot like what's going on with AGW right now - the guys who are actually in the day-to-day business of messing with the science, be it fossils or temp readings, are on one side, whereas the guys with minimal relevant technical experience but an intense dislike of some of the implications of an important scientific theory are on the other.

Of course, there's the minor difference that evolutionary theory is proven to the point that it can be used in engineering practice, while even AGW advocates are now admitting that there's no statistically significant warming observed in the last 15 years. A mere bagatelle to the true believer, I understand.

Tim, as comforting as I suspect that line of attack is for you, no matter how many times it gets repeated on Fox and conservative blogs, it doesn't really stand up to scrutiny

(There's that darn practice of actually paying attention to what technical terms like "statistically significant" really mean, rather than just latching on to them and claiming falsehoods and conspiracy. Are you perhaps starting to see how this whole "science" thing works?)

The disadvantage of ad homs, Chris, is that sometimes you find out that the target has a graduate degree with a minor in statistics. And what this:

BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

...says to me is that even with the CRU's 'value added' data that is apparently laced with artificial upward adjustments, you still don't get significance. It makes Marc's call for an open set of global climatological data even more poignant, and certainly doesn't lead one to conclude - with any sense of confidence - that the proper political outcome is to cripple our economy, or turn the commanding heights over to global statists in fear of warming.

My own investigation into this topic, FWIW, has focused on the modeling assumptions. Not having dug into this in any detail before Cimategate, I had been giving far too much credibility to the 'CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and we're emitting a lot of it' argument. In reality, CO2 is a relatively mild greenhouse gas, present as very low concentrations even after all mankind's efforts. To show runaway AGW, the models are making assumptions about some type of amplification of the effect of CO2, usually through a water vapor mechanism. There is little to no evidence to show this mechanism exists, and plenty of evidence that there have been warm (&cold) cycles in the past in which man and CO2 were not implicated as causes.

The 'science' of AGW is as shabby as the underlying models and data. Time for both to be dragged out into the light.

The question that led to "are the datasets publicly available" was "are we talking about one or few datasets or many independent datasets" -

OK, this is - if true - the answer to one of the questions I hoped to get to in my 'pet project.' Without making any judgment on the quality of the datasets, the interesting issue is that if AGW scientists rely on one sole 'master dataset' rather than heterogeneous sets of data - and if the social pressure is to conform to that one master dataset - the risk of social drift and groupthink get raised substantially. Now I'm not convinced that's true - one reason I want to do my project is so that I can rule it in or out. But it is to me a vastly important issue, and one that needs to be exposed to the light of common understanding as quickly as possible.

Tim-

The disadvantage of ad homs, Chris, is that sometimes you find out that the target has a graduate degree with a minor in statistics.

And yet, despite your claim of technically relevant training you're still missing Jones' (and others') point - that the interval under consideration isn't long enough to come to a statistically significant conclusion at the 95% confidence interval. That's not the same thing as saying there hasn't been warming, and it's entirely consistent with the behavior we'd expect to see near the start of a centuries-long process.

Or, to put it another way, if I rolled two 6-sided die, one weighted and one not, 15 times, I might not get a statistically significant difference in distribution from them either. This doesn't mean the dice aren't weighted, and doesn't mean that I should proceed as if they aren't - especially if the last 20 rolls do produce a statistically significant difference between data sets, which is essentially the case with AGW data.

Of course, speaking of ad hominem, your crack about "value added" data is telling - there's the buried assumption that of course scientists are manipulating data, coupled with the reality that said scientists are not claiming 95% statistical significance for the period in question. I guess the implication is that they're just not competent enough to perpetrate the kind of fraud you're accusing them of?

I've said in the past that I'd be a lot more willing to argue about the detrimental economic effects of a carbon tax and/or cap-and-trade if the folks I were arguing with weren't largely responsible for racking up a 10 trillion dollar debt that's causing us to blow about 15% of tax revenue on interest payments. When you're willing to have a serious conversation about the relative magnitude of the one vs. the other, and to what extent AGW mitigation really will damage the economy, rather than just stating massive harm as a given, let me now.

There's actually fairly substantial evidence that water vapor feedback occurs - a good primer is here

Meanwhile, you're absolutely correct that there've been substantial climate changes in the past that were primarily caused by factors other than CO2. (You know how we know? Because of the same climate scientists you're talking trash about now.) That doesn't mean, however, that CO2 isn't the primary driver of climate change now, or that it's somehow impossible to show that CO2 is the primary driver.

Any other weak tea arguments you'd like to "drag out into the light", Tim?

The question that led to "are the datasets publicly available" was "are we talking about one or few datasets or many independent datasets"

AL, just to review, on November 20th, 2009, you were asking are the data sets publicly available

On December 8, 2009, you said that one of the questions you were hoping to answer was how many data sets are there

Basic causation says that it's impossible for question B to lead to question A when you were asking question A before question B.

Want to try again?

Chris, there are times when you almost make sense...and then there's today.

My first question was whether the datasets were publicly available. Why was I asking that? What would be proved by having them be available?

Well, one this is that we'd be able to see if there was an ur-dataset or if there were a bunch of independent datasets.

When asked about the projects I then clarified.

I specifically started to trace dependencies in papers, in order to see if there were a few ur-papers that provided the data to the later papers - or if each investigator had their own independent dataset.

That question was answered pretty conclusively by a third party.

I also was interested in whether they were publicly available, but when Jones explained that he'd destroyed much of his data, I believe that question was answered.

Marc

And yet, despite your claim of technically relevant training you're still missing Jones' (and others') point - that the interval under consideration isn't long enough to come to a statistically significant conclusion at the 95% confidence interval. That's not the same thing as saying there hasn't been warming, and it's entirely consistent with the behavior we'd expect to see near the start of a centuries-long process.

No, the point is that in science you presume the null hypothesis - no warming, in this case - and assemble evidence to disprove that null. If you can't get that evidence due to the circumstances of the probem, well tant pis, but the case is unproven. Continue to collect data, and do your best to calibrate and refine the precision of that data, but don't jump to a politicized campaign to put a large chunk of the world's economy at the mercy of statists.

Of course, speaking of ad hominem, your crack about "value added" data is telling - there's the buried assumption that of course scientists are manipulating data, coupled with the reality that said scientists are not claiming 95% statistical significance for the period in question. I guess the implication is that they're just not competent enough to perpetrate the kind of fraud you're accusing them of?

No what I think is that many scientists have 'stayed in their lanes', some under peer or funding pressure, and not asked a lot of questions about the data collections emanating from 'official' sources. Given both Climategate and the large political and economic stakes involved, that data and how it has been managed and massaged is getting picked apart, and it doesn't look very pretty.

You can follow the links I posted earlier for some examples. Here's another with examples from the Caribbean islands, where we can wonder what 'MOD FLAG' means, since it's undocumented but always corresponds to an upward adjustment. Others looking at the data sources have found a single thermometer being used as a proxy for all of northern Canada, urban heat island effects in Australia being averaged into surrounding areas rather than deleted, and the beat goes on.

Any statistical process or model is dependent on the integrity of the data being fed into it. That's why AL's concerns about data sourcing are right on point, and why there needs to be a public, fully documented set of climatological data. Without that, significance claims aren't going to be much better than arguments from authority.

And since you're so concerned about fiscal matters, I'm sure you're just up in arms about this past month having the largest public deficit in US history. Why should we want to further cripple our economy by sending payments for doing nothing overseas, or creating another regulatory bureaucracy?

Revenue neutral taxes on imported energy, or carbon taxes - let's talk about those. There are good reasons for wanting to shift away from oil that don't involve unproven climatology theories.

My first question was whether the datasets were publicly available. Why was I asking that? What would be proved by having them be available?

Well, one this is that we'd be able to see if there was an ur-dataset or if there were a bunch of independent datasets.

...and can you actually point to any remarks of yours on the November 20 thread that say as much? Or is this you trying to rewrite what your "core" question was until you find something that fits your predetermined answer?

Because pretty much everything you do and say w/r/t AGW suggests you're looking for any excuse to write the vast majority of climate science off on whatever pretext you can grab, no matter how flaky.

That said, a few clarifications:

A) Whatever HADCRU is missing, it's a small minority of the complete HADCRU data set.

B) Nobody has proven - or even provided anything beyond innuendo - that the HADCRU data was purposefully "destroyed" as you say, rather than just mistakenly discarded. The former is fraud, the latter happens all the time in science.

C) Whatever problems there are with the land temp records, there are numerous other sources that point in the direction of AGW - tree ring data, ice cores, sat temp readings, ocean temp readings.

But the fact that you can't - or won't - understand such disticntions says a great deal about the likely validity of any "research project" you'd attempt, AL, so none of this actually matters that much.

Chris, I'm not in the mood to play with you today.

Just wanted to say that so you'd know why I'm ignoring you.

We'll talk later.

Marc

No, the point is that in science you presume the null hypothesis - no warming, in this case - and assemble evidence to disprove that null. If you can't get that evidence due to the circumstances of the probem, well tant pis, but the case is unproven.

And, as I said before, if you look at data beyond the 15 year time frame the anti-AGW people are obsessing over, you do disprove the null hypothesis because you do get statistically significant warming. You're trying to cast this as a case of AGW not doing their homework, whereas the reality is it's actually a case of anti-AGW people seizing on a small - but still highly suggestive - part of the picture and acting as if that disproves everything.

In other words, its y'all that are cherrypicking the data.

Others can, and have, gotten into the minutiae of how valid specific climate research papers are - but for all the links the AGW side can come up with, I've never seen anything that stands up to scrutiny for long - the eventual fate of McKitrick and McIntyre's attack on Mann being a prime example.

And since you're so concerned about fiscal matters, I'm sure you're just up in arms about this past month having the largest public deficit in US history. Why should we want to further cripple our economy by sending payments for doing nothing overseas, or creating another regulatory bureaucracy?

I think there's a substantial difference between large debts being run up during a time of crisis - which the banking collapse surely was - and running up debts during otherwise good and normal economic times. And, again, until you guys get some perspective on what the actual costs of supply side economics actually are, we have no common ground for discussing whether, or how much a carbon control "regulatory bureaucracy" would actually "cripple" the economy. Given that virtually every pollution control measure of the past century has had similar claims made about it - claims that ultimately didn't stand up to scrutiny - I remain skeptical of the skeptics.

AL, make your arguments, or don't - I don't think anybody's that impressed with your attempts at argument that we're wondering where your posts are.

Chris:

As noted above, A.L.'s anniversary's this weekend; I think he was suggesting he wasn't capitulating, but simply had better things to do with his time.

I've met Tenacious G. While Marc likes an argument as much as the next guy, (even if the next guy's me) if he'd chosen to have spent additional time debating this weekend, I'd have wanted his head examined.

So Chris -

I'm back and let's have some fun.

Using the pull-down box on the lower right of the site, I selected "Sci-Tech:Eco-tech" which is how I tag my AGW posts.

I then scanned down through the result set and pulled out the following posts:

The original project and bet doesn't show up; the (badly-formatted and limited in scope - I need to get someone to look at that), but here's what does:

Data Destruction? This Is Gonna Be Interesting...

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

I'd say that pretty much puts 'paid' to the question of the public availability of core raw data...and in fact, I said that here:

My Pet Climate Project

In spite of the appearance that my bet with Chris having been settled by the admission that the raw climate data is pinned to its perch, I'm genuinely interested what the research has to say. I'd like to crowdsource a small research project with the intent of putting together two things - an influence diagram and a checklist of datasets and models cited so that we can in turn explore the availability and state of them.

Now there's a valid point to be made that there is other data than the ACU data behind HADCRU; and none of this is dispositive of the broader question of what is happening to global temperatures (much less what the mechanisms driving them might be).

But when it's announced that there are three datasets, and that virtually all the global modeling that's been done is driven by those three models - the broader influence map I wanted to do seems...kinda pointless.

Now none of this concludes the big question of what's going on with global climate.

It does, however, lead to a decent claim that could be made that the state of climate modeling is...not good, and needs to be better.

That's been acknowledged by the authorities in the area, who said:

Best News Of The Week

At a meeting Monday of 150 climate scientists, representatives of Britain's weather office proposed that the world's climatologists start all over again and produce a new trove of global temperature data that is open to public scrutiny and "rigorous" peer review.

So, if they believed, as Chris seems to, that the data behind AGW is beyond reproach or challenge ... why did they suggest this?

And Chris, I've gotta ask....are you as belligerent and narrowminded in real life as you are online? And if not, which aspect of your life do you think you might consider changing?

Marc

Chris, you owe me a new keyboard. Unfortunately, I was drinking juice when I read your reply to Tim.

You're accusing him of "cherrypicking" by saying that fifteen years is a long enough period of time that GW should be showing up?

Did you read the ACU emails?Did you note the cherrypicking that went on there?

To your other points...

A) no, the newspaper clearly says the majority of the HADCRU raw data was destroyed - whether accidentally or deliberately is immaterial...

B) no one cares whether it was deliberately or accidentally destroyed. But it isn't available to validate the work that AGW proponents claim justifies the policy changes that would resolve AGW...

C) Yes, there is other data that 'points in the direction of' AGW. Until the raw data from those sources is exposed and reviewed...etc. etc.

Marc

The original project and bet doesn't show up; the (badly-formatted and limited in scope - I need to get someone to look at that), but here's what does:

AL, I already linked to the original post that kicked this all off, but here is is again

Likewise, here's the comment that kicked this all off. Note the relevant dates: 11/20/09 and 11/22/09.

The posts you quote above aren't until at least a week later - and let's remember that the genesis of this current exchange of ours was you saying, above:

The question that led to "are the datasets publicly available" was "are we talking about one or few datasets or many independent datasets"

That is, again, not possible, because you weren't asking "how many data sets are there" until after you were asking "are the data sets available".

If you wish to disprove this, you need to point to somewhere in the Nov. 20th thread - which I've now linked to twice - where you say that you're really interested in how many data sets there are, not whether those data sets are available.

It's pretty simple.

If you can do that, great, I'll address the rest of your points, which are essentially a rehash of what we were arguing during the 20th thread. If not, then... well, I'll still probably address the rest of your points, but for now I'd rather just resolve this one issue.

Here's a timeline that might help you...

Original bet - Nov 22, in comments.

November 29, the news arrived that the ACU data wasn't around any more (I used the term 'pinned to the perch').

I'd assumed that took care of the bet...

Then on Dec 4, I decided to look and see if there were few or many datasets at the core of the models that were done.

Then on Dec 8, I posted a quote that - if true - demonstrated that there were only 3 datasets.

So the two issues I was looking at - availability and quantity had been dealt with by Dec 8.

I don't remotely understand the claim you're making. Help me out?

Marc

I don't remotely understand the claim you're making.

I can't put it any more clearly than I did in #21 above.

Read the remark of yours I'm quoting, then take a look at why question A cannot have "led to" question B when question B was asked before question A.

You may think this is a nitpick, but if we can't agree on basic causation, then discussing higher-level science may be a moot point.

Chris, let me try one last time.

When I (or anyone else) ask a question, there is typically a motive. The motive may be to get the answer to that question and be done, or - possibly - it may be a part of a larger question.

The ultimate question on the dataset(s) around global temperature is simple - are they any good? (note that by dataset, I mean raw data and models for 'improving' the data to some final state)

If there are multiple independent datasets, by multiple independent authors, the picture they paint is clearly more robust than that painted by one dataset by one author.

How do we know whether there are many or few datasets, and how do we know if they are any good?

Well, to start with, are they publicly available for examination?

That leads us to the two next questions, which are - are they any good? and how many and what's the provenance?

I'll certainly agree that more qualified people need to review the datasets and critique them (and people with robust math backgrounds have and are). But I don't think it's arguable that one of the most-used datasets isn't publicly available (no raw data, incomplete disclosure of the models used) and that there are three such datasets, developed in (some level) of collaboration.

So while I enjoy your conviction that you've found some kind of smoking gun...really, I don't see it.

Does anyone else?

Marc

AL, the problem here is that you don't recognize how fundamentally sloppy your thinking is.

Today, you claim the "ultimate question" is "are the data sets any good?" Last Thursday you claimed your "core question" was "how many data sets are there?" Back in November, you were asking if the data had been released, and then you were asking me to provide you with the "foundational papers" of AGW theory.

It's not that the questions aren't unrelated, but you're all over the map as to which question is your "core" question at any given moment. And you don't seem to be capable of recognizing the order in which you actually asked them... at least not without a lot of prodding on my part.

Is that a "smoking gun"? Nope, never said it was - but it is suggestive of someone who's already settled on an answer (i.e. "AGW science is obviously flawed") and who's ready to bend his arguments in whatever direction is necessary to support his conclusion.

In contrast, actual science is rigorously asking questions, in a logical order, and following those answers wherever they lead, no matter how scary the answers. (And for the record, I'd actually like for AGW to be wrong - I'm pretty sure the worst I'll ever see from it are more strange ENSO frequencies, but I don't envy the world my kids and grandkids will be living in.)

But if you're not capable of stringing arguments together in a logically rigorous way - in a way I'm sure you'd classify as "narrowminded" and "nitpicky" - then you'll never be able to understand the scientific process behind global warming, let along verify or disprove it.

Case in point, here's another bit of sloppy argument:

note that by dataset, I mean raw data and models for 'improving' the data to some final state

See, that's not what models are, AL. What you're mistakenly calling "models" are actually a preprocessing phase which normalizes a set of raw data for meaningful comparison. "Models", w/r/t AGW science, are actually large-scale simulations that are partially built on - and "trained" on - the global climate record, which HADCRU is one version of. (These models are also built on a ton of other research... but let's set that aside for now.) And while HADCRU is valuable because it represents the global temperature record and because it feeds into the models, it's the models themselves that provide a huge amount of evidence for global warming - and those models, as I pointed out months ago, ARE AVAILABLE.

Again, you may think that's a trivial detail - maybe you'll argue that you knew the difference and just mistyped - but it's again suggestive as hell about how rigorous your actual reasoning skills are. The first step to understanding any complex body of knowledge is getting a basic grasp of the concepts and terminology. The fact that you haven't done so while still condemning AGW science as invalid says a great deal about the validity of your own opinion.

Now, all that said, as much fun as analyzing your reasoning skills are, I should probably knock down some of the fictions you were repeating up in comment #29. Next post...

So, the gist of what you were saying in #29 was you attempting to prove that you didn't need to complete your project because, viola, one of Murdoch's papers says the data is missing.

Of course, in the very first comment to that thread we have this remark from Mark Buehner - not exactly a fan of mine - who says:

Chris was correct that the raw data is indeed still available at the GHCN and NCAR. The question is whether the code and metadata used to construct the datasets still exist (HADCRUT3 in particular) and a list of which station data was taken from where (the data apparently doesn't match exactly). The FOIA requests that started a lot of the email chains was asking for the list of stations used to construct HADCRUT3 and the raw data attributed to each (see here. ) So in essence, the raw data does exist, but the 'key' to which data was used to construct the dataset may not.

Of course, Jones published papers on exactly how that data was modified back in 2006, and in years before that, but that was before Climategate so nobody gave a damn. And now that the entire conservative blogosphere is positive that the data's invalid (based on what everybody else is saying), nobody's bothered to go see if those papers are valid or invalid because that's too much like, y'know, work. Way easier just to yell about the integrity of science and declare it all a fraud, right?

You also say:

But when it's announced that there are three datasets, and that virtually all the global modeling that's been done is driven by those three models - the broader influence map I wanted to do seems...kinda pointless.

Except you didn't start to talk about influence maps (which haven't a damn thing to do with actual science, btw) until a week after you were asking me to provide the foundational papers you were going to go over and that was in turn a few days after you were telling us that

The basis of the claim on AGW is a set of computer models, which have never, to my knowledge been released to be peer-reviewed.

(Which I disproved here )

That last link also cuts through your line that "all the global modeling that's being done is driven by those three models." The models - roughly 24 of them in the IPCC FAR, if I remember correctly - are built on a wide variety of physical rules, modeling techniques, underlying assumptions, and starting data sets which come from a wide variety of data sources (surface temp measurements, sure, but also sat measurements, wind and ocean currents, solar measurements, carbon sequestration measurements, etc.).

As for your suggestion that the state of climate science is poor, forgive me if I'm not terribly swayed by the opinion of someone who was ready to judge climate science based on the perceived absence of computer models that he'd never even bothered to look for.

Seriously. Can you even begin to justify that? If you can justify how you could claim that the models weren't available, despite the appearance of not even really understanding what the models were, let alone having done a 2-second Google search for them, I swear on all I hold dear I will never post another word on this blog for the rest of my life.

And as for your characterization of what the British Met office actually proposed, I highly suggest you actually read what they wrote, rather than taking Fox News' word on it:

The current surface temperature datasets were first put together in the 1980s to the best standards of dataset development at that time; they are independent analyses and give the same results, thereby corroborating each other. In the case of the CRU land surface temperature dataset (CRUTEM3, which forms the landcomponent of the HadCRUT dataset) there are substantial IPR issues around the raw station data that underpin the dataset; we are actively pursuing resolution of these issues so that the base data can be made openly available. We know that several stations have already been explicitly forbidden from release by the rights’ holders so we will not be able to release all the under-pinning station data.

In other words, it's lack of access rights that's causing them to move towards a new database, not any supposed problems with the current data set.

You're accusing him of "cherrypicking" by saying that fifteen years is a long enough period of time that GW should be showing up?

AL, I'm accusing Tim of cherrypicking by him essentially saying that A) statistically significant warming has occurred over a 20 year timeframe, B) warming has clearly occurred over the past 15 years, but because C) said warming in the specific timeframe of the last 15 years hasn't met the 95% certainty threshold, all of AGW is wrong. He can certainly argue that the case is weaker than if the 95% threshold had been met during some arbitrary time frame, but declaring AGW fake on that point isn't science, it's rhetoric.

Did you read the ACU emails? Did you note the cherrypicking that went on there?

AL, I dare you to point to specific evidence from the stolen emails that directly proves cherrypicking. No, I haven't read through all 160 megs of stolen data, but I have yet to see anything in any skeptic blog that clearly and unambiguously points to fraud... as opposed to a bunch of out-of-context quotes desperately being spun as conspiracy.

Yes, there is other data that 'points in the direction of' AGW. Until the raw data from those sources is exposed and reviewed...etc. etc.

AL, we've been over this - the data from those sources is already available If it's flawed, put up or shut up - show where it's flawed. (Something the AGW skeptics haven't been able to conclusively do despite at least a decade and a few billion dollars worth of effort.) Otherwise your remarks are textbook FUD, with no relationship to how actual science is supposed to function.

And Chris, I've gotta ask....are you as belligerent and narrowminded in real life as you are online? And if not, which aspect of your life do you think you might consider changing?

AL, the longer we go at this, the more you mix these sad little personal attacks in with your attempts at argument. Let's just take it for granted that you think I'm a basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing troll who's distracting you from doing the "real work" of making influence maps, playing semantic games about what "core" data sets actually mean, and explaining to everybody how you know how to save the Democratic party from those darn liberals.

That's fine. I don't particularly care what you think of me, and I don't particularly care what you think of my arguments. If you think they're of such poor quality, here's my suggestion - ignore them. If my logic is as flaky as you say, then you can happily walk away knowing everybody else sees through my foolishness. After all, it's OBVIOUS that you REALLY understand what's going on with climate science no matter what I say, right?

Me, I just think you're saying some poorly thought-out, intellectually lazy things that attempt to rationalize a personal ideological re-orientation by attacking groups and principles that I hold dear. And I enjoy pointing out the numerous flaws in your arguments and approaches, and will continue to do so (without resorting to the kind of condescending, back-handed insults you're increasingly forced to rely on) as long as it pleases me to do so.

Comprende?

Sigh.

Chris, it's a conversation, not a formal essay or a published paper. I'm genuinely sorry that I've been careless in terms like "what the core issue is" - and I acknowledge that I have.

But none of that lack of intellectual rigor changes the plain points - obvious, I think to anyone who reads them with any neutral intent - that I intend to make.

So if that's what you've got, I have to say - so?

And then you pile on with ridiculous claims like a claim that the ACU data is apparently only missing in claims made by Murdoch papers - do you have any - any - plausible counterclaim to that?

And then - you claim that the preprocessing of temperature data doesn't constitute a model (not of climate, but of temperatures). Have you read Brohan et al 2006? How can anyone who reads that suggest that the creation of a global temperature grid isn't an exercise in statistical modeling?

Re cherrypicking, check Yaffa please.

I've actually been reading the papers...

And I love the slight ad hominem that "I'm looking to confirm my ideological bias"

I'm the pro-environmental regulation guy who drives a natural gas car, drove a hybrid, owns one car, has PV solar on my roof etc. etc. What - exact - ideological bias am I confirming here?

Chris, I appreciate your efforts to get your point across. But what I see is someone who simply is a team player and will defend Da Bears to the end, no matter what the score may be.

Marc

But none of that lack of intellectual rigor changes the plain points - obvious, I think to anyone who reads them with any neutral intent - that I intend to make.

That is true insofar as your primary purpose seems to be to cast doubt on AGW theory; actually judging the validity of AGW does require that kind of rigor, because that kind of rigor is the whole point of the scientific process. Hence, it's worth pointing out once more that one side of this debate is engaged in actual science, while the other is basically playing word games.

And then you pile on with ridiculous claims like a claim that the ACU data is apparently only missing in claims made by Murdoch papers - do you have any - any - plausible counterclaim to that?

I don't think this sentence parses as you wanted it to - I'm supposed to provide a counterclaim to my own claim?

At any rate, reread Mark B's comment above - there is missing data, but it's the detailed intermediate processing metadata, not the raw data (which more or less comes from the same sources as GISS and other climate records) and it's not the final data, which is available on HADCRU's website. Now, missing this data is not completely trivial, but it's not anywhere near the deathblow to AGW theory that you claim it is, in part because the broad outlines of how the data was processed are available in Jones' published work, and those papers are in keeping with good scientific practice.

And then - you claim that the preprocessing of temperature data doesn't constitute a model (not of climate, but of temperatures). Have you read Brohan et al 2006? How can anyone who reads that suggest that the creation of a global temperature grid isn't an exercise in statistical modeling?

AL, the common use of the term "model" in terms of climatology does not refer to reconstruction work, either within the community or in the popular press, in part because the actual models are far more model-like. What's more, way back in November, you (correctly) pointed out that the models were key in determining whether AGW was occuring (as opposed to just warming occurring) - and the models that determine such are the actual climate models, not the reconstruction work.

You may well be making a good faith effort to apply your economics knowledge to climate study, but the two aren't compatible in this regard, sorry.

Re cherrypicking, check Yaffa please.

Cite, link, and/or quote, please?

I'm the pro-environmental regulation guy who drives a natural gas car, drove a hybrid, owns one car, has PV solar on my roof etc. etc. What - exact - ideological bias am I confirming here?

That libeals and democrats have lost their way and that it's up to you to point out and correct their mistakes? It seems to have been the defining purpose of your blogging over the past five years...

Chris, I appreciate your efforts to get your point across. But what I see is someone who simply is a team player and will defend Da Bears to the end, no matter what the score may be.

Tell you what, AL - when you're the one making rigorous arguments (as even you admit you haven't been so far) and making detailed, specific links to relevant scientific concepts and papers... and I'm the one misusing scientific terminology and making broad, unsupported claims, then you can make that claim.

Until then, keep reading those papers.

See, that's not what models are, AL. What you're mistakenly calling "models" are actually a preprocessing phase which normalizes a set of raw data for meaningful comparison.

Rubbish. Models are an embodiment of theory in mathematics. Anything that intervenes between the raw input data, and the predicted output, is part of the model, parse it how you will.

When Michael Mann takes his theory of tree growth under stress, and uses it to map tree ring sizes from the Siberia taiga into proxies for global temperature patterns, he's operating a model. When that result is used to drive an embodiment of climatology theory, the tree ring model becomes part of the overall model.

When you take diminishing number of temperature sensors, and say that they are adequate proxies for large landmasses or ice-covered areas, that's a theory and the inherent extrapolations of data are a model, once again compounded in the overall model.

When you look at any of the 'value added' datasets, anything other than the raw data, you are looking at the output of someone's theory, a model, of how actual measurements map to their idea of global temperatures. If their theory is garbage, then their estimates of temperature are garbage, and a climatological theory calibrated using those estimates will yield garbage. Like, for instance, a forecast of rising temperature that doesn't happen for 15 years.

AL is right on in asking about the provenance of the 'data', and Chris is playing an intellectual and political shell game, trying to keep us occupied guessing where the bad science may lie.

Chris, if you're thinking that AGW will be conclusively proved or disproved in blogs you've got bigger issues than I can help you with.

What blogs can - and I believe have - done is to suggest that the emperor has no clothes. There's a world of difference between pointing out that standard accounting practices haven't been followed - and therefore we ought to recheck the books - and actually re-auditing GM's annual financial statement.

I do think that you're deluding yourself - and you're not alone - by suggesting that AGW is 'science' as we've practiced it for the last few centuries. There's an epistic problem that comes from the fact that AGW is inherently a wicked problem - we can't run global climates in labs, over and over again and check what happens in the empirical world.

Instead we run computer models.

Now in a century, we'll be able to validate (or invalidate) the predictive power of those models.

Until then, they are exercises in quant science, which is likely to be as successful as quant finance has been for us in the last decade.

Both work well in limited domains (what Taleb calls 'mediocrestan') and fail catastrophically outside them.

Science is empirically reproduceable. Feynman said (I think it's in the Lectures) "The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific 'truth'."

When AGW advocates start running reproduceable experiments, let us all know. I'd even settle for reproduceable base data.

That's pretty much all I have for this thread. You're welcome to respond, advocate, cavort, or whatever in response.

Marc

Re cherrypicking, check Yaffa please. Cite, link, and/or quote, please?
I think he means Briffa, and oh if you are unaware of that level of cherrypicking, I can't grasp how you can in all honesty have a conversation on AGW.

Thanks, Satan - you're 100% right. I conflated the place name and scientist's name...

Marc

I think he means Briffa, and oh if you are unaware of that level of cherrypicking, I can't grasp how you can in all honesty have a conversation on AGW.

Ah, yes, the definitively debunked Briffa controversy.

McIntyre really doesn't have the greatest record on these kinds of attacks, guys; you might want to look elsewhere for a white knight on this.

My apologies for the double post.

Rubbish. Models are an embodiment of theory in mathematics. Anything that intervenes between the raw input data, and the predicted output, is part of the model, parse it how you will.

Tim, you might want to take a look at my response to AL in #38:

AL, the common use of the term "model" in terms of climatology does not refer to reconstruction work, either within the community or in the popular press, in part because the actual models are far more model-like. What's more, way back in November, you (correctly) pointed out that the models were key in determining whether AGW was occuring (as opposed to just warming occurring) - and the models that determine such are the actual climate models, not the reconstruction work.

That said, one more thing worth commenting on:

If their theory is garbage, then their estimates of temperature are garbage, and a climatological theory calibrated using those estimates will yield garbage. Like, for instance, a forecast of rising temperature that doesn't happen for 15 years.

We're back to this, Tim? The 2000s were the hottest decade on record but according to you the temperature didn't rise because it didn't meet a statistical significance test for an arbitrary window of time?

I restate my point about you cherrypicking to find conclusions more comforting to your ideology.

Is that the NASA data that relies on the utterly compromised GISS data? I mean these are the same people who have repeatedly had to re-game their data due to loss, bad math, or outright fraud. The same data that has a 61% non-compliance rate with CRN4?

Oh and should I just take your simple sentence dismissal of McIntyre's work as par for the course in the longstanding ad-homesque attempts to smear a guy who has obviously spent more of his own time and money to bring to light the massive failings of MBH98, and the IPCC? The guy who lays all of his data out for scrutiny and doesn't hide behind "tricks" or gaming of the peer review process? I'd say that McIntyre is by far and away the more honest broker when it comes to the scientific method. His record of providing his analysis to all comers speaks volumes compared to the CRU clan who have done everything in their power to thwart the disinfectant sunshine that so many have asked for on their work.

I so tire of the attack the messenger tactic, especially from the AGW crowd who fails to apply the same standard to the "scientists" they prop up. If their work was really that legit, they wouldn't have hidden their methods for so many years. Trust, yet verify shouldn't only apply to the government. Ignoring the fundamental tennants of the scientific method should be a red flag for anyone in pursuit of pure science and the truth.

There is a nearly uniform tactic employed by the Gore crowd. Never debate anyone who is smarter than you or anyone who actually works in the field of climateology who disagrees with you. Use only friendly media to get out your message. Ignore any evidence that you are wrong. Oh and I forgot, enrich yourself and your acolytes in the process of spreading junk science and fear mongering all the while practice the most hypocritical lifestyle possible in your own consumption of carbon. I dont need a G4 to have attend a conference, neither does Al Gore. Alas, that would remove the photo op, and thus the press. Al Gore, and many like him have done more damage to the environment simply in jet travel than the state of Vermont combined annually for vehicle emissions.

Chris, if you're thinking that AGW will be conclusively proved or disproved in blogs you've got bigger issues than I can help you with.

"Conclusively proved" are your words, AL, not mine. That said, the good folks at Real Climate, among other places, seem to be doing a pretty good job at pushing back at anti-AGW information.

What blogs can - and I believe have - done is to suggest that the emperor has no clothes. There's a world of difference between pointing out that standard accounting practices haven't been followed - and therefore we ought to recheck the books - and actually re-auditing GM's annual financial statement.

Nice double standard there, AL - you can attack scientists' credibility, claim conspiracy and falsification of data and whatever else you please, but those claims can't be answered in the same forums they originate in, by your reasoning.

I do think that you're deluding yourself - and you're not alone - by suggesting that AGW is 'science' as we've practiced it for the last few centuries. There's an epistic problem that comes from the fact that AGW is inherently a wicked problem - we can't run global climates in labs, over and over again and check what happens in the empirical world.

This latter part is true. But there's plenty of stuff that qualifies as science that doesn't meet your definition of "only stuff we can directly experiment on counts as science." Of the top of my head there's astrophysics, astronomy, geology, and big chunks of biology. Or do you think that Stephen Hawking or Stephen J. Gould aren't/weren't scientists?

On the flip side, there are fields where we can conduct experiments, but that aren't nearly as scientifically rigorous as some of the fields listed above - economics and psychology, to name two.

Or here's a more concrete example - evolution. Yes, in the past few decades there've been lab experiments - really long term lab experiments that rival AGW in demanding a decades-long timeframe to see results - that demonstrate what our Creationist friends call "macro-evolution". But for most of the time since Darwin, we only had observational evidence to go on... and fossils and "hey, these finches look very similar, and yet strikingly different!" observations the were the focus of just as many falsehood and conspiracy claims as AGW is currently seeing. Heck, we still can't show that h. sapiens derived from a common primate ancestor, by your logic, since we can't reproduce it as an experiment, right?

It's not actually a bad thing that you rely heavily on Feynman, but you gotta remember the guy was in a unique and enviable position of studying a field that is highly amenable to direct experimentation, and, more importantly, was completely awash in money when he was in his prime as a researcher. The rest of the scientific world isn't so lucky. But what they do does still count as science, because they play by the basic rules of science: make hypotheses, and test those hypotheses by (as much as possible) objectively comparing them against evidence, whether obtained by experiment or observation.

When AGW advocates start running reproduceable experiments, let us all know. I'd even settle for reproduceable base data.

AL, what exactly is stopping you - or anybody - from grabbing your own ice cores from the arctic and antarctic and conducting your own analyses on that data? Or collecting bristlecone pine samples? Or starting with the same, publicly available raw temp data that HADCRU did and building your own normalized temp record?

And don't say money - the oil companies have spent hundreds of millions, if not billions, on PR and lobbying efforts against global warming initiatives. Surely they can spare a few million for independent research efforts to come to truly objective conclusions?

That's pretty much all I have for this thread. You're welcome to respond, advocate, cavort, or whatever in response.

Thanks terribly for giving me permission, AL. I think I'll close with a recap of what we've covered thus far:

- You jump back and forth on what the "core" question you're asking actually is, and you can't keep the order of what questions you ask straight.

- You're certain that the HADCRU data is missing and/or worthless, even when one of the commenters on your own side says the raw data is still available.

- You're willing to embrace the spin Fox News puts on... just about anything climate-related, it seems, without actually looking at the underlying info.

- You still haven't owned up to why you were willing to judge climate science for a lack of available models... when you hadn't even bothered to look for any.

- You're willing to buy in to McIntyre's attacks on, say, Keith Briffa... and somehow I'm skeptical that you ever took the time to see if there were any counter-arguments to McIntyre's claims.

- Likewise, you seem pretty sure the rest of climate science is sure to be fake, but you don't seem to have any actual reason to believe that aside from a predetermined belief that it must be so.

- You're endorsing a system where conservative blogs can spread FUD about climate science, but those attacks can't be answered in turn. Heck, you're doing your best to suggest climate science isn't even climate science, based on an overly literal reading of Feynman.

I doubt that list will make much impact on you, or most of the people who're reading this blog. But I'm fairly certain that "anyone who reads them with neutral intent" would come to a pretty firm conclusion about the actual reliability of your arguments.

And that's all I got.

Wow, GS, seem to have touched a nerve. Let me just hit this point:

Oh and should I just take your simple sentence dismissal of McIntyre's work as par for the course in the longstanding ad-homesque attempts to smear a guy who has obviously spent more of his own time and money to bring to light the massive failings of MBH98, and the IPCC?

A) It wasn't a single sentence dismissal, it was a single-sentence link to two quite detailed takedowns of McIntyre's work. And, unlike what you linked to, it actually talked about why McIntyre's attack was wrong by using data and analysis, rather than just presenting a narrative of the heroic McIntyre tirelessly fighting the forces of evil.

B) Whatever you think of McIntyre, it remains the case that his attack on Mann was largely dismissed by the National Research Council, which conducted a fairly in-depth analysis of Mann's work. That being the case, it seems like you have basically two possible hypotheses:

1. McIntyre was wrong then, and may be wrong now.

2. The entire scientific establishment is basically engaged in a giant conspiracy to protect faulty AGW science.

If it's the former, we can talk further. If it's the latter, I'm not sure we have much more to say.

Cheers, GS.

Oh, and one more thing, GS - about the surface stations, you might want to take a look at this and rethink how important that "non-compliance rate" is.

You are aware that the same person whose "peer reviewed" study is cited in the NCDC response, wrote the response, in essence the NCDC had a "ghost writer". Par for the course for this group.

I'd suggest reading Watt's response and then getting back to me. It's far more detailed than the simple minded talking points NCDC pushed out.

I'll tackle your McIntyre points in a bit.

Chris, if you think there are no experiments in evolutionary biology, astrophysics, cosmology or geology...I'm not sure what to say except you need to get out a lot more.

And re Feynman, I can't think of anything better to say about AGW science than his comments on "cargo cult" science:
But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

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.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil doesn't soak through food. Well, that's true. It's not dishonest; but the thing I'm talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest, it's a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will-- including Wesson oil. So it's the implication which has been conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.

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.

A great deal of their difficulty is, of course, the difficulty of the subject and the inapplicability of the scientific method to the subject. Nevertheless it should be remarked that this is not the only difficulty. That's why the planes didn't land--but they don't land.

We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bigger than Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.

Why didn't they discover that the new number was higher right away? It's a thing that scientists are ashamed of--this history--because it's apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan's, they thought something must be wrong--and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to Millikan's value they didn't look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We've learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don't have that kind of a disease.

But this long history of learning how not to fool ourselves--of having utter scientific integrity--is, I'm sorry to say, something that we haven't specifically included in any particular course that I know of.
Marc

You are aware that the same person whose "peer reviewed" study is cited in the NCDC response, wrote the response, in essence the NCDC had a "ghost writer". Par for the course for this group.

..and I see we've decided to opt for option 2: The entire scientific establishment is basically engaged in a giant conspiracy to protect faulty AGW science.

That's all I needed to know; adios, GS.

As opposed, of course, to today's Michael Mann quote:

Who might have done the hacking? It appears to have been extremely well orchestrated, a very professional job. There also appears to have been a well-organized PR campaign that was all ready to go at the time these e-mails were released. And that campaign, involving all sorts of organizations that have lobbied against climate change legislation, has led some people to conclude that this is connected to a larger campaign by special interests to attack the science of climate change, to prevent policy action from being taken to deal with the problem.

From this great pair of interviews w/him and Judith Curry.

Marc

Chris, if you think there are no experiments in evolutionary biology, astrophysics, cosmology or geology...I'm not sure what to say except you need to get out a lot more.

AL, there are experiments in those fields to the same extent there are experiments in climate science - you can test small parts of the science in the lab, (e.g. that a higher percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere retains more heat) but the big theories generally cannot be proved by direct experimentation, they have to have supporting evidence accumulate through detailed observation of the natural world. There is no one experiment that we can run in a lab that makes or breaks current stellar formation theory; rather, it makes predictions that we see come true (or not) through observation. Likewise, there's no one experiment we can run to tell us if a given species belongs in a given clade in evolutionary terms. The same is true of climate science.

Again, if you were capable of understanding precise points, and subtle distinctions, you might have picked up on this from the rest of my post above, which specifically mentions lab experiments related to evolution. But you don't seem capable of writing with precision in your own arguments - see again the fuzziness of your "core question" above - so I suppose it's too much to ask for you to recognize any subtler points in anybody else's work.

That said, it's just kind pathetic that you usually go for the easy straw man attack ("Ha ha, Chris doesn't think there are experiments in evolutionary biology!") as your main method of argument.

As for quoting Feynman, you've already done so in the past, and it's not like I wasn't familiar with the essay long before I ever heard of you. Here's the thing, AL - if there's a specific point you're using Feynman to make, go ahead and do so. Otherwise you're just waving the guy's work around like a talisman, which is pretty much the very definition of argument from authority, and is actually quite antithetical to the spirit of what he was saying.

As for the Mann quote, he doesn't actually sound that far off from what Judith Curry wrote not that long ago :

As a result of the politicization of climate science, climate tribes (consisting of a small number of climate researchers) were established in response to the politically motivated climate disinformation machine that was associated with e.g. ExxonMobil, CEI, Inhofe/Morano etc. The reaction of the climate tribes to the political assault has been to circle the wagons and point the guns outward in an attempt to discredit misinformation from politicized advocacy groups. The motivation of scientists in the pro AGW tribes appears to be less about politics and more about professional ego and scientific integrity as their research was under assault for nonscientific reasons (I’m sure there are individual exceptions, but this is my overall perception).

Emphasis added.

And hey, while I'm thinking of it, one more thing that's worth pointing out about your style of argument - you never actually bother to follow through on most of your attack points. For example, you were quite angry that I'd suggest Tim Oren was cherrypicking the 15 year timeframe, and demanded I look at the Briffa controversy. When I pointed out that Briffa and others had made quite a stirring rebuttal, you said...

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

I'd think you'd either come up with some kind of reason why Briffa's defense is flawed, or suggest another example of cherrypicking on the pro-AGW side, or perhaps even recognize that Briffa was in the right on that issue, which in turn might convince you to rethink, to however small a degree, your position on AGW.

Instead you said nothing, and just moved on to the next attack point.

So, while it's not proof positive of anything, that is another piece of observational evidence for those willing to look at what your actual motives in these kinds of posts are.

And I do believe I'll let you have the last word here, AL, should you choose to take it.

Chris sometimes arguing with you is like living in "The Rigor of Science" (Borges' story).

I'm not going to go get a doctorate and climatology and do a dissertation on climate science; if that's the ante to play then the problem of the corruption of the process contained in the ACU emails ought to explain why there was such seeming consensus in the field.

The hard reality is that there are far - far - more experiments and concrete observations in evolutionary biology (where the mechanism of interspecies competition,as one example, is pretty well documented) and where the mainstream itself brought down frauds like Piltdown Man.

They did so because they maintained the attitude held out in Feynman's lecture - one that you seem to have missed - that's best summed up here:
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. In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
If you can point to a respectable number of examples where the warmists have taken that position, I'd love to see them. You Dowdified the Judith Curry quote. Here's more that kind of calls your interpretation into question:
After becoming more knowledgeable about the politics of climate change (both the external politics and the internal politics within the climate field), I became concerned about some of the tribes pointing their guns inward at other climate researchers who question their research or don’t pass various loyalty tests. I even started spending time at climateaudit, and my public congratulations to Steve McIntyre when climateaudit won the “best science blog award” was greeted with a rather unpleasant email from one of the tribal members.
Again, your own behavior here has been a perfect example of that; instead of pointing us to the data that so obviously exists, the core of your arguments here have been arguments from authority (the weakest form of argument according to Boethius - my favorite joke from Aquinas) and ad hominem.

Put those two together - Feynman and Curry - and tell me what you see.

Marc

If you can point to a respectable number of examples where the warmists have taken that position, I'd love to see them.

Very well, you asked:

From Real Climate on Uncertainty, Noise, and the the Art of Model Data Comparison

In the real world, there are other sources of uncertainty which add to the ‘noise’ part of this discussion. First of all there is the uncertainty that any particular climate metric is actually representing what it claims to be. This can be due to sparse sampling or it can relate to the procedure by which the raw data is put together. It can either be random or systematic and there are a couple of good examples of this in the various surface or near-surface temperature records.

Sampling biases are easy to see in the difference between the GISTEMP surface temperature data product (which extrapolates over the Arctic region) and the HADCRUT3v product which assumes that Arctic temperature anomalies don’t extend past the land. These are both defendable choices, but when calculating global mean anomalies in a situation where the Arctic is warming up rapidly, there is an obvious offset between the two records (and indeed GISTEMP has been trending higher). However, the long term trends are very similar.

A more systematic bias is seen in the differences between the RSS and UAH versions of the MSU-LT (lower troposphere) satellite temperature record. Both groups are nominally trying to estimate the same thing from the same data, but because of assumptions and methods used in tying together the different satellites involved, there can be large differences in trends. Given that we only have two examples of this metric, the true systematic uncertainty is clearly larger than the simply the difference between them.

What we are really after is how to evaluate our understanding of what’s driving climate change as encapsulated in models of the climate system. Those models though can be as simple as an extrapolated trend, or as complex as a state-of-the-art GCM. Whatever the source of an estimate of what ’should’ be happening, there are three issues that need to be addressed:

Firstly, are the drivers changing as we expected? It’s all very well to predict that a pedestrian will likely be knocked over if they step into the path of a truck, but the prediction can only be validated if they actually step off the curb! In the climate case, we need to know how well we estimated forcings (greenhouse gases, volcanic effects, aerosols, solar etc.) in the projections.

Secondly, what is the uncertainty in that prediction given a particular forcing? For instance, how often is our poor pedestrian saved because the truck manages to swerve out of the way? For temperature changes this is equivalent to the uncertainty in the long-term projected trends. This uncertainty depends on climate sensitivity, the length of time and the size of the unforced variability.
bq. Thirdly, we need to compare like with like and be careful about what questions are really being asked. This has become easier with the archive of model simulations for the 20th Century (but more about this in a future post).

It’s worthwhile expanding on the third point since it is often the one that trips people up. In model projections, it is now standard practice to do a number of different simulations that have different initial conditions in order to span the range of possible weather states. Any individual simulation will have the same forced climate change, but will have a different realisation of the unforced noise. By averaging over the runs, the noise (which is uncorrelated from one run to another) averages out, and what is left is an estimate of the forced signal and its uncertainty. This is somewhat analogous to the averaging of all the short trends in the figure above, and as there, you can often get a very good estimate of the forced change (or long term mean).

Problems can occur though if the estimate of the forced change is compared directly to the real trend in order to see if they are consistent. You need to remember that the real world consists of both a (potentially) forced trend but also a random weather component. This was an issue with the recent Douglass et al paper, where they claimed the observations were outside the mean model tropospheric trend and its uncertainty. They confused the uncertainty in how well we can estimate the forced signal (the mean of the all the models) with the distribution of trends+noise.

Now, that's just some offhand remarks about the known limitations and difficulties of dealing with climate modeling from a blog post, let alone an actual scientific paper. To find a ton of scientific papers purely about uncertainty in climate models you need only execute this search on Google Scholar. And, of course, in just about any serious climate science paper you'll at the very least find multiple citations to papers describing the known uncertainties, difficulties, and open questions they're dealing with, if not entire sections on the topic.

That said...

Again, your own behavior here has been a perfect example of that; instead of pointing us to the data that so obviously exists, the core of your arguments here have been arguments from authority...

You seem to have forgotten about this post and this post from back in November, which linked more than a little data, not to mention my link to this data index in post #36 on this thread.

On the other hand, you do admit the data "so obviously exists", which is a step up from last November's claim that the data had "never, to my knowledge been released."

Progress!

I can't believe we're still back here.

And here's Judith Curry:
Q: Where do you come down on the whole subject of uncertainty in the climate science?
I’m very concerned about the way uncertainty is being treated. The IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] took a shortcut on the actual scientific uncertainty analysis on a lot of the issues, particularly the temperature records.

Don’t individual studies do uncertainty analysis?

Not as much as they should. It’s a weakness. When you have two data sets that disagree, often nobody digs in to figure out all the different sources of uncertainty in the different analysis. Once you do that, you can identify mistakes or determine how significant a certain data set is.

Is this a case of politics getting in the way of science?

No. It’s sloppiness. It’s just how our field has evolved. One of the things that McIntyre and McKitrick pointed out was that a lot of the statistical methods used in our field are sloppy. We have trends for which we don’t even give a confidence interval. The IPCC concluded that most of the warming of the latter 20th century was very likely caused by humans. Well, as far as I know, that conclusion was mostly a negotiation, in terms of calling it “likely” or “very likely.” Exactly what does “most” mean? What percentage of the warming are we actually talking about? More than 50 percent? A number greater than 50 percent?

Are you saying that the scientific community, through the IPCC, is asking the world to restructure its entire mode of producing and consuming energy and yet hasn’t done a scientific uncertainty analysis?

Yes. The IPCC itself doesn’t recommend policies or whatever; they just do an assessment of the science. But it’s sort of framed in the context of the UNFCCC [the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. That’s who they work for, basically. The UNFCCC has a particular policy agenda—Kyoto, Copenhagen, cap-and-trade, and all that—so the questions that they pose at the IPCC have been framed in terms of the UNFCCC agenda. That’s caused a narrowing of the kind of things the IPCC focuses on. It’s not a policy-free assessment of the science. That actually torques the science in certain directions, because a lot of people are doing research specifically targeted at issues of relevance to the IPCC. Scientists want to see their papers quoted in the IPCC report.
You can cite all the throat-clearings you want, but the hard truth is that warmist science has been all about boosterism for much of the last decade. It has been 'policy-driven' rather than 'fact-driven,' and that's the pluperfect definition of 'cargo-cult science per Feynman.

And when I talked about 'widely available' apparently the irony tag didn't come across.

Marc

Actually, this is good. You're boldly stating that you know - as a "hard truth" - that "warmist science has been all about boosterism for much of the last decade."

And we've already had it established that you refuse to recognize any science that argues on behalf of AGW because you believe the HADCRU record doesn't exist... or something.

And you're sure the rest of the science behind AGW will be revealed as fraudulent as soon as it's properly examined by skeptics.

And you ask for pointers to climate scientists recognizing the limitations of their work, but once you get just that, you hand-wave it all away as "throat clearings."

In other words, you really are bending over backwards to demonstrate that you've arrived at a hard and fast conclusion, and are completely determined to ignore any evidence that might challenge that belief.

And then you lecture me on not understanding Feynman.

Bravo, AL - Sophocles himself couldn't have set the irony up better.

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