400 Prominent Scientists Dispute Global Warming - Bunk

Fri, 2007-12-21 22:19Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

400 Prominent Scientists Dispute Global Warming - Bunk

Climate change denial lives - though not nearly to the extent that Swiftboater Marc Morano would have you believe in his latest overstatement about “prominent scientists” who dispute man-made global warming.

Morano's list of “over 400” alleged climate quibblers includes the usual deniers for hire Fred Singer, Tim Ball, Christoper Monckton, PR people who have no credibility on issues scientific and who each have a handsome record of saying things widely and demonstrably at variance with the truth.

There is also a group of second-order “scientists,” who are not scientists at all.

There's “Dr. Richard Courtney, a British coal journal editor whose PhD is rumoured to have issued from a Crackerjack box. There's Stephen McIntyre, the one-time mining promoter and amateur statistician who has earned unending fame by constantly attacking the same, remarkably resilient climate reconstruction.

There's the climate quibbler's latest star, “Dr. John Mclean,” apparently another amateur who has neither a PhD nor any specific training in climate science. One might also legitimately question whether a panel of TV weather forecasters actually qualify as “prominent scientists.”

Finally, Morano includes a group of legitimate scientists who are not deniers at all, but who are often quoted out of context.

For example, Morano quotes Dr. Eigil Friis-Christensen, Director of the Danish National Space Centre offering this banal statement of the obvious:

The sun is the source of the energy that causes the motion of the atmosphere and thereby controls weather and climate. Any change in the energy from the sun received at the Earth's surface will therefore affect climate.”

Morano, however, neglects to mention that Dr. Friis-Christensen says, quite clearly, that change is solar radiation CANNOT be demonstrated to have caused the climate change of recent years.

In fact, he says:

There is no reason to neglect a contribution from man made greenhouse gases.”

Giving credit where it's due, Morano is a tireless and creative writer of fiction.

His long screed on this occasion links liberally back to his early bouts of disinformation, making it appear as though he actually has legitimate sources for many of the points that he makes. And this list of 400 includes many names that are new to the DeSmogBlog - people whose qualifications and true positions are difficult to ascertain four days before Christmas.

But given the quality and credibility of Morano's previous work, it seems fair to assume that this, too, is an ideologically driven document with no merit whatsoever, either as a piece of research of, even more laughably, a reliable comment on science.

Previous Comments

I admire your persistence in following through on the 400, Richard. I wouldn’t have had the stomach to get past the name Marc Morano in the opening volley.

… Merry, merry, Femack. It’s reassuring to know there are discriminating readers out there. Best of the season and may we all enjoy a more sane 2008.

I’m going to put the Illustrious 400 out of my mind (since they are so clearly out of theirs) for now and get down to some serious Christmas decorating. All the best to deSmog!

You might also note, if you read the Wash Times article on this, that Inhofe (who issued the origonal list) is already expecting defections in the ranks. Scientists being “bullied” out of their statements of dissent.

I looked up four at random. They’re not strong sources or necessarily deniers:

Another “prominent scientist” is listed as “Chemist Frank Britton” who wrote his condemnation “in a July 28, 2007 article in the Pasadena Star.” Well. Letter to the editor/opinion piece, actually. At the end of his published piece (no longer available on the Star News web site but archived at http://accboards.com/forums/archive/index.php/thread-2995.html) he lists his impressive credentials: Frank Britton has a degree in chemistry from Cal State L.A. He lives in Pasadena. Yessiree, an undergraduate degree in chemistry does a “prominent scientist” make. No background in climate science.

Another “prominent scientist” is a retired professor, electronics engineer “Dr. John Brignell is a UK Emeritus Engineering Professor of Northampton Engineering College.” He’s such a prominent scientist, he self-published both of his books on sale at Amazon.co.uk. No background in climate science.

Another “prominent scientist” is “Retired Air Force atmospheric scientist Dr. Edward F Blick, Professor of Meteorology and Engineering at University of Oklahoma” who published his anti-global warming tract on the website of the Twin Cities Creation Science website. Dr. Blick’s current book on sale at Amazon is the Scientific Analysis of Genesis in which he “concludes that scientific evidence supports the Genesis account of special creation.” Oh, and he’s also listed elsewhere as: Edward F. Blick, Ph.D., Professor of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, Retired, University of Oklahoma. So he’s an oilman and a creationist. Neat!

Another “prominent scientist” is Iowa State Climatologist Dr. Elwynn Taylor, Professor of Meteorology at Iowa State University. The 400 list cherry-picks some quotes to make him a skeptic. The same article the 400-list cherry picks also states, ” ‘The point that Taylor makes with his ozone story is not, “Hey people, the ozone hole is our fault, so global warming probably is, too,” but rather, “Hey people, human beings have cooperated and stopped the ozone hole from getting worse, so we just might be able to stop global warming from getting worse, too.’ ” More clearly, he states his position on his website: “The only responsible computation (to date to my knowledge) of the contribution people have made to climate change is 5% of the observed change. Bankers care about 5%, we should too.– Elwynn.” So basically, he neither denies AGW or that we should be taking action. And hey, what a coincidence–he has a background in climate science.

Thanks, megansprius! You made my day. I am trying to figure out how an oilman (fossil fuels forming over millions of years & all) can be a Creationist as well.

One side of the brain does not know what the other side is thinking.

It strikes me that a wiki would be a good way to make all of this data easily found by all concerned.

Thank you.

A Dutchman I know drew my attention to the Dutch contribution to the original list of 100 of those characters. He was rather impressed by their academic credentials. But when I had a closer look it turned out that among this group of nine there was 1 economist, 1 military officer, 1 geneticist, 2 geologists (of whom one is called a ‘planetary’ one), 1 civil engineer, 1 expert who had something to do with ‘energy conversion’, 1 chemical engineer and yes, lo and behold, one meteorologist (Tennekes)who left his position with the Dutch meteorological institute many years ago.

What is it about climate science that gives people the idea that anyone can meddle in it? Geologists in particular seem to have that illusion - and judging by some Australian ones I know a bit more about (Carter and Plimer)on very flimsy grounds indeed.

I wonder whether their meddlesomeness has something to do with the shift in the relative prestige of the various ‘earth sciences’. Judging by the situation in the time that I was a student myself (many, many years ago) I dare say that geology was then a lot more prestigious than climatology. I believe that, for a variety of reasons, that situation has changed somewhat in favour of climate science.

So are we dealing with a bit of ‘jalousie du metier’ here?

“What is it about climate science that gives people the idea that anyone can meddle in it?”

Perhaps part of it is that one of the high priests of Global Warming is a U.S. ex-politician with degree in government.

Dan, Al Gore is a popularizer, not a scientist. He has no voice in the scientific process. You’re welcome to give him whatever credibility you wish, but I listen only to the scientists.

Deniers are quick to label Suzuki “the fruit fly scientist” and to point out that he has no credentials in climate science. Suzuki doesn’t claim to have done the research himself, but as a qualified scientist and a media personality he is in a unique position to understand the method & findings of the science, and to convey that understanding to a huge audience in a meaningful way. He has done science a huge service, not unlike Carl Sagan. He may have an irritating manner (apparently so did Sagan), but I don’t think he deserves the criticism heaped upon him.

5% of observed climate change due to AGW is very low indeed, and I would say that does place Elwynn Taylor well out of the consensus and in the “denier” camp. But he’s certainly not a “prominent” scientist anyway, so who cares!

1) I see Morano mentioned McLean 5 times in the report. Mclean is making a lot of noise worldwide and hence deserves some careful recognition.

2) The *first* time I’ve seen McLean ascribed a PhD was in the National Post. Has anyone seen any earlier?

3) Perhaps some Canadian might like to politely question the Post as to where they got McLean’s PhD? [From McLean, or did they add it, or did they get it elsewhere?]

I’m still trying to find out if he indeed has one, and also to see if there are Ozzie computer scientists who actually know him:
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/12/monckton_watch_2.php#comment-681752 .

Hi, John. I assume you’ve seen his web site at http://mclean.ch/, which has a link to his global warming page? There is plenty of reason for him to state his qualifications here (if he has any) to establish his credibility, but he makes no claim of a PhD in any field. When I searched the http://www.nzclimatescience.org site for “McLean” I found a list of references that includes one to “John McLean, BArch (Melbourne)” and also a link to his global warming website, describing him thus: “John McLean, of Melbourne, is a valued and longstanding member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition”. I should think if he has a PhD it would certainly be mentioned in both of these places.

And have asked that he clarify whether he has a PhD - let you know what he says.

Yes, if you look at that post over in Deltoid, I rummaged around, but I didn’t want to make assumptions…. After all, in some places, people who have PhDs don’t bother to say so, except on official bios. Some PhDs dont’t say so when commenting outside the discipline of their degree.

Kevin: I assume that if the answer is that there is no PhD, that Mr McLean will happily write to anyone who has mis-ascribed this to askt them to correct it.

Why are people here constantly astounded that there are scientists (including some climate scientists) who disagree with the consensus on AGW?

A consensus never implies unanimity, so why the constant tar-and-feathering for those who deviate from the “official” line?

To disagree is not heretical, nor does it necessarily make one a “denier”.

Isn’t the boot on the other foot?

It is the people in the Inhofe-camp who are continuously suggesting that consensus should mean 100 % unanimity so that, when they have rounded up a few people with halfway acceptable credentials in climate science and a lot more with no credentials in that discipline at all, they can crow that that much vaunted consensus doesn’t exist.

The most comical action in that vein, according to an item on Deltoid, was taken by a fellow who called in to Andrew Dessler’s recent radio talk to peremptorily forbid him to speak about ‘consensus’ because he, the caller, didn’t agree.

The concerns about the scientific consensus are that a herd psychology can develop among groups of people who then, by being part of the group, reinforce their own consensus, independent of outside influences.

Personally, I think there is a touch of mania running through the IPCC. The democratic process, however, is usually very good at stopping manias, which may be one of the reasons Canada is not getting on a “war footing” as the UN suggests.

Paul S/G, if you spent some time understanding science (yes, even simple science) you would be able to tell the difference between disagreement and the lies, distortions, misrepresentation and cherry picking that these supposed “prominent scientists” are using.

I’m sure you do realize the difference which makes your comments even more disgusting.

You are either a complete non-educated ignoramus or a liar just like those listed. Take your pick. You have not presented one shred of evidence to back your support for these people. With you it’s politics and to heck with truth and accuracy.

Ian Forrester

I highly doubt all 400 people on that list are liars Ian. There are honest skeptics you know.

A healthy dose of skepticism is often a good thing. Look at what skepticism did to the unfounded claims of the Hockey Stick.

Paul S/G, once again you show that you never, ever, read what is in reports.

Yes there are a few decent scientists on that list (maybe 5-10%). However, Morano cherry picks statements from them to make them appear as if they are dissenting.

Here is a word of advice Paul, be more skeptical of things you read on right wing web sites. I would suggest that most of the people on the honest side of the science are much more skeptical of what they read than the “AGW skeptics.” That is why they are not really skeptics but deniers.

Ian Forrester

“Paul S/G, if you spent some time understanding science (yes, even simple science) you would be able to tell the difference between disagreement and the lies, distortions, misrepresentation and cherry picking that these supposed “prominent scientists” are using.

I’m sure you do realize the difference which makes your comments even more disgusting.

You are either a complete non-educated ignoramus or a liar just like those listed. Take your pick. You have not presented one shred of evidence to back your support for these people. With you it’s politics and to heck with truth and accuracy.

Ian Forrester”

Poor Ian,

You are so “non-educated” that you don’t see the difference between your own comments and the ones you criticize. Does this make Ian an ignoramus?

Smarten up Ian.

If the people who have been checked out from this list so far are typical of the rest, calling them “scientists” is generous and probably undeserved. I suspect that I am as qualified to comment on the science as some of these people. For ex., John McLean is a B.Arch., I am an M.A.(Architectural History). Which would be closer to climate science in your view? I, too, have “an amateur interest in global warming” (McLean’s description of himself) and have done extensive reading in the scientific literature on climate science (not just op-eds and web pages). Who’s to say which of us understands it better?

“done extensive reading in the scientific literature on climate science”… with all that reading, can you show any proof? one shred other than 1 degree warmer. and futher… can you explain the lunar affect on our climate, im sure you can since youre so intelligent.

Don’t get your dander up. I was not trying to set myself up as some kind of climate genius. I am simply pointing out that, on the face of it, some of the signatories to this letter have no more expertise in the field of climate science than I do.

Since you ask, I have indeed read some very compelling and lucid analysis of the science in a range of sources, some of which I list for you here:

http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/data.html;
http://www.eia.doe.gov/iea/carbon.html;
http://www.igbp.net/;
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/;
http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer;
http://www.realclimate.org/;
http://royalsociety.org/;
http://www.sciencemag.org/magazine.dtl;
http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11462;
http://climate.pembina.org/

As for proof, please see the discussion re: whether the concept of “proof” applies in this case. There’s evidence everywhere, all of which bears out the predicted outcomes of AGW.

“Why are people here constantly astounded that there are scientists (including some climate scientists) who disagree with the consensus on AGW?

A consensus never implies unanimity, so why the constant tar-and-feathering for those who deviate from the “official” line?

To disagree is not heretical, nor does it necessarily make one a “denier”.”

Because the fate of humanity and the planet really upon universal consensus. Think of Pascal’s Wager on this one. If we are all wrong on climate change then we will have a better world to live in. If we’re wrong fuck heads like McLean and the greedy who listen to him won’t be around to take the blame.

Check out N3xus6’ blog for more on MacLean. Poor man sounds more tan a little unhinged.

Paul S:

“A healthy dose of skepticism is often a good thing. Look at what skepticism did to the unfounded claims of the Hockey Stick.”

Oh dear, he keeps clinging to his hockey stick, broken as it allegedly is.

And who was the admirable sceptic in this matter, Paul? Wasn’t it you who recently referred to the ‘gifted amateur’ (didn’t you use those words) McKitrick in this context?

Well, somewhat better equipped hockey stick commentators probably agree on that ‘amateur’ bit.

I followed up the link that Richard provides above where he refers to the hockey stick as this ‘remarkably resilient climate reconstruction’ and arrived at the Wiki entry on the matter.

According to this piece, when Von Storch, who, whatever else he is, is certainly not an amateur, provided an overview of the affair, McKitrick protested about the fact that his contribution to it had not been highlighted.

Von Storch is quoted here as reacting to this by saying:

” … we do not think that McIntyre has substantially contributed in the published peer-reviewed literature to the debate about the statistical merits of the MBH and related method. They have published one peer-reviewed article on a statistical aspect, and we have published a response – acknowledging that they would have a valid point in principle, but the critique would not matter in the case of the hockey-stick … we see in principle two scientific inputs of McIntyre into the general debate – one valid point, which is however probably not relevant in this context, and another which has not been properly documented.”

Ouch.

Incidentally, Von Storch’s own view on the hockey stick is, according to his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, certainly not that it is broken. He agrees with the form of the blade but believes the shaft to be too smooth.

Correction: the protest actually came from McIntyre who commented on the fact that McKitrick’s and his role in the affair had allegedly not been brought out adequately.

The promoters of AGW theory have, to various degrees, engaged in the following:

1) Refusal to archive (make available to the public) the data used in their studies.

2) Refusal to release computer codes or descriptions of their methodologies to permit replication of their studies.

3) Truncation of data series (i.e. hiding the conflicting data from public view) in paleo temperature reconstructions when the data series begins to contradict the attempt to show that recent warming is “unprecedented”.

4) Use of algorithms that “mine” the various data series to find ones that produce the desired “hockey stick” shape, thereby guaranteeing that the outcome of the study will produce the desired results no matter what the underlying data show.

5) Continued use of proxies (like BCP) even after they’ve been shown to be influenced by many factors other than temperature.

6) Refusal to update the proxies, instead preferring to splice an instrument record onto the proxy data.

7) Continued use of a surface instrument data that is clearly still contaminated with UHI, land use changes and other non-GHG influences.

8) Failure to calculate and publicize error bars for their climatic predictions, thereby creating a false impression of certainty.

9) Invoking of “argument from consensus” instead of argument from data, that is, advancing the argument that AGW must be true because the majority says so.

10) Use of smear tactics – instead of arguing from science – against those who disagree, such as attacking their credentials, implying that they are dishonest, bribed industry stooges, impugning their intelligence, etc.

11) Attempting to shut down all the research efforts of those who disagree and have the debate declared “over”.

These are not the behaviors of scientists who are confident of their theory.

A confident scientist is happy to release his data and his methods - because he knows that any honest analysis will confirm his findings, and any dishonest analysis can be exposed, thereby discrediting his opponents.

A confident scientist is happy to have additional research conducted – because he knows it will merely confirm his findings.

A confident scientist meets those who disagree with facts and reason, not hostility and smears.

A confident scientist does not seek to exclude or hide inconvenient data – because he knows he can explain why it doesn’t alter his conclusions.

A confident scientist doesn’t hide the uncertainty of his conclusions by refusing to calculate standard measures of statistical uncertainty – because he knows that the facts on his side outweigh the uncertainty.

It is clear to me that the pro-AGW scientists have significant doubts and fears about their conclusions. As a result, so do I.

OK, let’s go over your assertions one by one:

1. It is true that a few of the papers that have been written about AGW have not yet made their data available. However, there are literally thousands of such papers and we are talking about terabytes of data. I was involved in a scientific experiment in 1999 and the raw data have STILL not yet been reduced to a form that can be released to the public. Tthere have been numerous papers published based on the data. The data has been made available to reputable scientists who requested it – indeed, I don’t know of any case of anybody who requested it being turned down. But in most cases the preparation of raw data for public release costs a great deal of money, money that’s better spent on other pursuits. And don’t forget that the raw data of many studies HAS been released. There’s no conspiracy here.

2. Could you cite cases in which computer codes have been kept secret? I don’t know of any. I could well imagine that a scientist would not want to release a work in progress but I do know that there are about a dozen major models that are frequently cited in the literature – are any of these kept secret?

3. I’d sure appreciate it if you could cite an instance of the truncation of data series, and demonstrate that such truncation is not due to reasonable considerations.

4. This appears to be a variation on accusation #3. Could you cite an example?

5. The very concept of a proxy incorporates the recognition that it may be affected by outside factors. The use of a proxy under such circumstances is not unreasonable, if the other factors can be shown to play a role significantly smaller than the primary factor. I think you are applying far too strict a constraint upon the use of proxies.

6. I think you need to provide some specifics for this accusation. As presented, it is too vague to have much logical utility.

7. Again, you make a vague accusation here. What does “contaminated” mean? Is the reliability of the data reduced by 0.01%? 10%? 90%? Without such specifications, your accusation doesn’t add up to much.

8. This is really a wild generalization. The IPCC reports are full of careful presentations of the reliability of each of the individual claims. On this point, I think you’re just plain wrong.

9. The argument from consensus is a political point, not a scientific point. Scientists never consider any question closed; they treat every point as open to later challenge. However, when translating a scientific result into public policy, some indication of the reliability of the scientific conclusions is necessary, and here is where the opinions of a large number of scientists offer some utility. Within the scientific world, the matter is always controlled by the analysis; but when society needs an answer from the scientific world, the best answer is the one supported by a strong majority of scientists.

10. The smear tactics are appropriate against nonscientists who intrude into the scientific debate. Science has developed a careful mechanism for arguing out scientific issues: the peer review process. But most of the deniers sneak around this process and go straight to the public with their claims. I think it’s appropriate to shoot these guys down when they do that. Even more important, when somebody offers themselves to the public as an expert, their qualifications are definitely subject to scrutiny.

11. If you have any evidence of attempts to shut down the research efforts of critics, I’d sure like to see it.

Your comment would have been much more useful if you had provided links to substantiate your accusations. As written, it’s just a bunch of wild accusations. Can you please back it up with some evidence?

Hey, I think this was fairly well-presented, relative to most of the AGW denial stuff that gets posted here. Good job, Michael. I see someone else has done an item by item response asking for more meat; I’m going to take a different tack.

Points 1-6 appear to come from ClimateAudit discussions about paleoreconstructions. Unlike a lot of folks, I think McIntyre performs a useful service, although it pertains to really only one aspect of evidence for AGW. I should admit now that I don’t approve of how the CA website is run and so am only an infrequent (and superficial) visitor there, but I am satisfied that some scientists have not been entirely forthcoming with respect to sharing, archiving, accurately describing their work. And I’m also satisfied that some of the methods used show a bias.** AFAIK, however, McIntyre’s focus has been to demonstrate that the proxy reconstructions are presented as having greater confidence than they really should, while sprinkling in talk about the MWP as a real global phenomenon. Contrary to what AGW deniers assert, he has not shown that claims of unprecedented warmth over the last 1000-2000 years to be false. I suspect that McIntyre is right that too much confidence has been given to that conclusion. I hope more proxy data are recovered to facilitate better and more independent reconstructions that might resolve some of these problems. I wish fossil fuel interests would invest in that kind of research rather than NRSP etc op-ed pieces – if they really thought it would acquit CO2, you think they’d put some money into that research. But they don’t.

[Note (see ** above): I have not delved into the statistics enough to come to a strong conclusion on these issues – it’s more that I’m not convinced that the AGW denier group is wrong. The reason I haven’t researched these issues more diligently is because I don’t think it really matters. For me the issue is whether more greenhouse gases enhance the greenhouse effect, so almost all of McIntyre’s work seems to be of low relevance to me. See: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/what-if-the-hockey-stick-were-wrong/ ]

Regarding Bristlecones (your item #5 above), see Osborn and Briffa 2006. They show the hockeystick to be a robust outcome, even when you exclude Bristlecones. You may get just as much out of the summary here (Hans Erren [a relatively good skeptic, in my opinion] asks your question at comment #2): http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/a-new-take-on-an-old-millennium/

If you want to see dishonest presentation of paleoclimate, look to the AGW denier productions for the best examples, e.g.: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/the-weirdest-millennium/
But as I’ve said, I don’t find the paleo stuff very important and I’m willing to say (and I suspect almost all scientists in the field would agree) that the science has a long way to go to address some questions regarding paleoclimate. Even Mann says that some interesting questions probably will not be resolved (see his response to my comment #6 in the realclimate write-up on Osborn and Briffa).

So that carries us through your points regarding paleoclimate. I don’t think your remaining points are very good. For example, your #7 regarding contaminated data is off-the mark: the Earth has been warming and you can see that in a variety of independent ways (use marine data, or alpine glacier melt, or notice that high latitude temperatures have increased the most despite less urbanization there); trying to recover a more global dataset requires using the other records while adjusting them to correct for various effects. What would you rather they do? Aside: McIntyre provided another service wrt concerns regarding some of these measurements, and his concerns were acknowledged and addressed (see http://skepticalscience.com/surface-temperature-measurements.htm).

You then make a lot of unsubstantiated accusations and go into a sociological argument to address scientific confidence rather than focus on the science. I think those arguments have their place, but you should be equitable in applying your sociological filter. I mean, who is on the receiving end of more baseless attacks? The scientists and the IPCC are subject to accusations that they’re either supporting a communist conspiracy or are ensuring more funding by making increasingly alarmist claims (they are somehow often at the same time accused of ruining prospects for the poor and revising their predictions of warming downward) with no evidence presented. In contrast, people who make unsubstantiated claims against the consensus position, who refuse to stop making demostrably false claims, who try to cover up their funding by fossil fuel interests, who have been caught distorting the truth in the past (consider Tim Ball and Fred Singer as examples) … when they won’t address questions about their scientific claims, they shouldn’t be subject to some personal scrutiny that includes actual evidence (your #10 above)? Geez, if credentials weren’t important to the AGW-denier side, why would folks like Tim Ball misrepresent themselves?

Hi. My comment above was long, and although I still think it can be useful, I’d just like to reiterate Chris Crawford’s request for more supporting evidence for your claims and also offer an “I’ll second that” to John Mashey’s Cults & reality post below. I also want to say that it would be truly wonderful if the respectable skeptics would disassociate themselves from people like Tim Ball and Fred Singer so that more focus and effort could be directed to reasonable questions.

When a cultic belief system will not survive scrutiny, cult members shout it louder and recruit others to repeat it - more voices and louder delivery make it true.

When inconsistency and error is revealed the cultic system attacks the person who points this out - usually by impugning their motivation. The inconsistencies and errors never get discussed.

In a cultic system, those who disagree with the belief system are said to be morally corrupt, intellectually defective and are labeled with thought-stopping names (deniers-for-hire?) Read Han Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” - it feel quite familiar.

When the inconsistency, the error and the problems become too obvious, the cultic system turns to urgency to divert discussion. “We don’t have time for debate…….”

When this happens, it is time to encourage debate. Someone is trying to avoid scrutiny and I wonder why.

Steve, the place for open debate is the extensive literature on climate change. Have you read any of that literature? Have you read the IPCC reports? This literature is full of questions, challenges, and disagreements – and they’re upfront about those disagreements. The only conclusions that they present to the public are those for which the debate appears to have settled down. If you or anybody wishes to challenge any of the conclusion, you are perfectly welcome to do so. Write up a scientific paper presenting your analysis. Submit it to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal. If it passes muster, it will become part of the debate. What’s your beef?

:-) :-)
Cultish medical researchers found that smoking increased the risk of disease, and then wouldn’t listen to the “it’s my right to smoke wherever I want” folks and the honest experts working for the tobacco companies. We should suspend smoking restrictions, in particular, the ones that inhibit kids from starting smoking, while we go back and re-run every experiment done in the 1950s, because I’m sure we’ll find some minor statistical errors, or at least one, and that will invalidate everything, and then we can start over. In particular, we can ignore any study whose data isn’t provided on the Web in a form to our liking.

And we certainly could go back and redo the research on acid rain and CFCs, to scrutinize the cultish scientists who found problems with them.

And then there are those cultists who think mercury is bad for you, whereas “Mercury (Hg) is an element that has existed (and will continue to exist) naturally…”

Fortunately, there are fine people like Fred Singer (SEPP, go look at his website) who has bravely fought *all* of these terrible cults, for *your* benefit. Singer and his friend Frederick Seitz have labored long, but are getting. Fortunately, there are younger paragons or virtue like Steve Milloy to replace them. Sourcewatch or exxonsecrets can provide information on the organizations represented by these folks.

=== Seriously
If you’re new to this turf, I recommend:

1) Allan Brandt’s “The Cigarette Century” is an excellent history of the prototype modern effort for large-scale interference with science, from which the others learned a lot. [Well, some of them were the same people, so they got practice.] It is particularly useful, because unlike the other topics, thsi si one where a huge amount of *internal* correspondence is available, on the web, due to court cases.

2) Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science” is a good overall history of the post-George H. W. Bush descent into anti-science.
“Scrutiny” == “Data Quality Act”, “paralysis by analysis”, courtesy of James Tozzi.

3) For something short specifically on climate denialists, see the Newsweek cover article:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/32482, which only scratches the surface of the giant iceberg.

4) Of course, it helps to talk to *real* climate researchers. Many universities have public seminars, or offer speakers’ programs. If people don’t live nearby, try to get a speaker. I hate to say this, but the Internet is *not* the real world, and asking questions of real experts, live, is rather different from blathering anonymously on blogs.

I have little to add to the earlier excellent responses to the letters by Michael Smith and Steve C.

On one specific point however I would like to add a few items that can be found in the historical record.

Smith wrote under his point 2 as a sort of general accusation against ‘promoters of AWG theory’:

” Refusal to release computer codes or descriptions of their methodologies to permit replication of their studies.”

Allegedly the ‘promoters’ referred to above have, according to Smith, ‘to various degrees’ engaged in this practice, but I think that I am not far off the mark in thinking that he mainly has the dispute between Steve McIntyre and later Joe Barton (from the US House Energy and Commerce Committee)on one side, and that of MBH on the other,in mind here.

Let me remind Smith that the original refusal of MBH to release this computer code was backed up by the National Science Foundation. Here is the relevant letter from David Verardo, Director of the Paleoclimate Program in the Division of Atmospheric Sciences of that Foundation, dated 17th December 2003:

Dear Mr. McIntyre,

I apologize if my last electronic message [see here http://www.climate2003.com/correspondence/nsf.031215.htm] was not clear but let me clarify the US NSF’s view in this current message. Dr. Mann and his other US colleagues are under no obligation to provide you with any additional data beyond the extensive data sets they have already made available. He is not required to provide you with computer programs, codes, etc. His research is published in the peer-reviewed literature which has passed muster with the editors of those journals and other scientists who have reviewed his manuscripts.

You are free to your analysis of climate data and he is free to his. The passing of time and evolving new knowledge about Earth’s climate will eventually tell the full story of changing climate. I would expect that you would respect the views of the US NSF on the issue of data access and intellectual property for US investigators as articulated by me to you in my last message under the advisement of the US NSF’s Office of General Counsel.

Respectfully,

David J. Verardo

Director, Paleoclimate Program

Roger Pielke Jr. commented on this part of the dispute by saying that people from outside the climate science community came here with a demand that might have been justified in their own research tradition but was alien to that community, and not for the nefarious motivation Smith seems to find here.

The dispute became highly politicised when Joe Barton, of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, a climate sceptic, peremptorily summoned Mann et al. to release all the data.

Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,came up with an apt comment on this demand when he said that the Barton letters “give the impression of a search for some basis on which to discredit these particular scientists and findings,
rather than a search for understanding.”

I understand that the present situation is as indicated on Realclimate:

“All the data that were used in MBH98 are freely available for download at ftp://holocene.evsc.virginia.edu/pub/sdr/temp/nature/MANNETAL98/ (and also as supplementary data at Nature) along with a thorough description of the algorithm.”

I referred above to a comment by Roger Pielke Jr. and would like to add here the excellent advice he gave to McIntyre and McKitrick two and a half years ago:

“For MM. Continue to publish your work in the peer reviewed literature. Steer clear of those with political designs on your work, you’ll have more standing if you focus on the substance (M has done better than M in this regard.) Work to understand the norms of the climate science community, and don’t place blame for these norms on MBH. You might have a case to make for changing these norms, but make that case in the right venue. Focus more of your attention on the IPCC and its processes rather than MBH. There are larger issues here. Think about taking on another project. I am confident that the hockey stick issue will very soon resemble a dead horse.”

I leave it to more regular readers of ClimateAudit to judge to what extent MM have followed this advice. I have a suspicion though that some of their hangers on are still, to use the words of Pielke, gnawing on the hockey stick as a dog on a bone.It is probably all that is left to them of the ‘dead horse’.

Dr. Mann and his other US colleagues are under no obligation to provide you with any additional data beyond the extensive data sets they have already made available. He is not required to provide you with computer programs, codes, etc. His research is published in the peer-reviewed literature which has passed muster with the editors of those journals and other scientists who have reviewed his manuscripts.

Mann may not be required to release additional data and we are not required to accept his proclamations.

Peer review is not independently verified so “passing muster” in the peer review process signifies little.

are you qualified to analyse the data etc. if it IS released? You haven’t registered here so nobody knows what your expertise might entail. From my point of view, it seems as though the average joe denier thinks he/she is capable of the same kind of critical analysis of the raw data as people who do nothing all day every day but crunch the data in the context of years of research and looking at the “big picture”. Is that what you do?

No climate scientist in the world could analyze Mann’s data if he witholds it.

A big question is how Mann’s Hockey Stick ended up being featured so prominently in IPCC reports without anything more then peer review. If The Stick can’t be independently verified, the general public can feel free to reject it.

Showing your ignorance of science again Paul S/G? If you care to read the peer reviewed scientific literature you will find that the general shape of the temperature trends over the past 1000 or so years have been verified by a number of research groups, using similar proxies to Mann’s and by using others. This is how science works, not the fraudulent and petty techniques of the “statisticians” on CA. By the way, I doubt very much if Wegman’s opinion on the statistical methods used by Mann carry much weight after he signed that fraudulent letter showing that he, and others, don’t really know very much about how statistics are used.

Ian Forrester

You are being disingenuous Ian. Mann’s faulty statistics can not be validated by comparing his work to other studies. If Mann’s work is faulty, that’s the end of the story.

How science “works” is by exposing faulty studies like Mann’s. Unfortunately, the public was misled to believe that peer review was enough when in reality it wasn’t.

You claim: “Mann’s faulty statistics can not be validated by comparing his work to other studies.” Of course you can! Other climate scientists were working on the same type of study and independently of Mann’s work they came up with conclusions – several times – that produced a pretty good facsimile of a hockey stick. Dump Mann et al altogether, and you STILL have a heap of research and analysis that comes to the same conclusion. Why is this so hard for you to grasp? In addition, if you look at the adjusted “hockey stick” that was produced when the error in Mann’s statistics was corrected, you will find that it makes almost no difference at all.

Bottom line: several groups of climate scientists working independently and from first principles with “untainted” data came to the same conclusion.

I think you are stuck in some kind of repetitive loop, Rob.

That’s Paul S. I know, all these trolls look alike. :)

Using largely the same datasets as Mann is hardly “independent”.

Which study do you use now to boast that it is warmer now then in 2000 years? Surely you’re not going to refer me back to Mann’s updated study.

Paul S/G, if you knew anything about how science worked you would see that the rubbish you read over on CA is not accurate but is dishonest bordering on fraudulent.

Just because someone who claims to be a statistical “expert” (Wegman) makes the claim that Mann used faulty statistics does not make it so. There was no backing for this claim, just Wegman’s opinion, an opinion that has now been shown to be completely biased. If you use other methods you get the same result. This is not a case of wrong method but right answer, it is a case of there being more than one way to skin a cat.

I will give you a very simple example to (hopefully) let you see your errors.

I publish a paper with a number of mathematical formulae and calculations. As is usual, I did not spell out what method I used for the calculations, it could have been counting on my fingers, use of log tables, use of a slide rule, use of a calculator or some sophisticated computer program. Some other researcher who has a personal grudge against me as well as not liking the direction my results are taking (perhaps a possible conflict with some big business which supports him) decides to claim my results are suspect because I did not specify my mathematical techniques. He finds some sympathetic supporter who says he will investigate. When I tell him that I did the mathematical calculations by counting on my fingers he says “that method is wrong” even though I point out that he would get the same result if he used the other methods to do my calculations.

Does any of this ring a bell yet Paul or are you too dim to see the connection between this and CA and Wegman?

The only scientific way to prove or disprove someone’s results is to start from scratch and repeat the whole series of experiments (using a different protocol if possible) then compare the results.

Nitpicking, such as M, M and W have done is a disservice to science and the scientific method.

Once you have found some one to do that, get it accepted for publication in a reputable scientific journal, then we can start to discuss the results in a rational manner. Until then you, and CA, have nothing but sordid innuendo and slander.

Ian Forrester

It was the National Academy of Science, of which Wegman was a part, that critiqued, and exposed the errors in Mann’s work. Care to try your character assassination on the NAS Ian?

Mann’s assumptions were faulty (warmest in 2000 years) because the data and science did not support it. McIntyre demonstrated that hockey sticks were built into the calculations, independent of the data.

If you have a disagreement with these conclusions, you might try taking it up with the National Academy of Science.

Pages