Mike Mann On Point of Inquiry: "Dishonesty, Dirtiness, and Cynicism"

By Chris Mooney | March 3, 2010 9:05 am

There are now over 60 comments at the Point of Inquiry forums on the latest show. So this one has clearly produced a lot of dialogue.

I want to continue to blog about some of the most memorable content–and in this respect, there was nothing like the show’s closing. I asked for Mann’s final words, and boy did I get them. He pointed out that the strength of climate science alone was clearly insufficient to stop the denial movement, and said that we probably should have expected a revival of that movement in the past three months–although even he didn’t expect how low it would go:

Despite all the talk a few years ago about ‘the debate being over’…the forces of anti-scientific disinformation were just lying dormant. But they would be back. And so this didn’t surprise me at all, and in fact, I fully expected that, in advance of the Copenhagen summit, that we would see an increased number of in attacks.

I guess what we all underestimated was the degree, the depth of dishonesty, dirtiness, and cynicism to which the climate change denial movement would be willing to stoop to advance their agenda. That’s the only thing that I think surprised many of us.

You can catch it all at around minute 39-40. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to listen to the Mike Mann interview here, and to subscribe to the Point of Inquiry podcast via iTunes.

Comments (76)

  1. Busiturtle

    Dr. Mann doth protest too much. There are valid concerns about the methodology he and his colleagues used to produce the claims on which so much of current climate policy is based. It is far too easy and convenient to dismiss one’s critics as dishonest, dirty or cynical. Although based on the CRU e-mails it appears he has been paranoid for a long time.

    “Mann to Osborn: I’m providing these [MBH residuals] for your own personal use, since you’re a trusted colleague. So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first. This is the sort of “dirty laundry” one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things.”

    http://www.climateaudit.info/pdf/mcintyre-scitech.pdf

    If fudging data standard practice?

    Is cherry picking data standard practice?

    Is hiding inconvenient data standard practice?

    Is fighting disclosure of methods standard practice?

    Your only enemy, Mr. Mann, is the scientific truth and it appears on this standard you fall well short of the mark.

  2. Katharine

    Busiturtle, you’ve been debunked time and time again. There has been no fudged data, no cherry-picked data, no hiding of inconvenient data, and no fight against disclosure of methods. Repeating it does not make it true.

  3. Katharine

    It is not the fault of us who know better that you can’t read something without either wildly misinterpreting it or quote-mining the @#$% out of it.

  4. Passerby

    As usual, Mr. Mooney, you and Mr. Mann fail to realize that the forces of “anti-science” that you are talking about include many people who have genuine problems and questions about the science, the computer models and the complexity of the system. Although the other side also includes many politically motivated industry lobbyists, you can be assured that the reasonable and informed critics among us will never disappear since they have always been important for the progress of science; science always thrives only in the presence of vigorous debate between opposing points of view. As usual you fail to discern the denialists from the informed skeptics.

    If you and Mr. Mann wish this criticism to disappear, that means you are wishing for the scientific process to be subverted, and for the world to consist of a bunch of yes-men who keep on chanting that the science is settled. Fortunately for the sake of science this is never going to happen, so stop getting surprised that your critics have “re-surfaced”. As usual it is tragically biased for you to dismiss everyone who has questions about climate change as anti-science right-wing hacks who indulge in dishonesty, “dirtiness” and cynicism.

  5. Does anyone know a good way to get around the confirmation bias? Opinions not based on evidence cannot be changed by evidence.

  6. So, what’s busiturtle’s problem? What is the underlying driver fo his/her repeated restatement of the same well worn disinformation? Why do we keep fighting this fight?

    I think it starts with the frame that says individuals, not communities, not countries, not science – individuals - are responsible for both their own actions and the consequences of those actions. Then it grows to add that because individuals are the primary actors, individuals who engage in “immoral” behavior are not to be trusted. Hence busitrutles’ requests are, at their heart, and expression of distrust of institutions AND individuals who he/she sees as acting immorally because those institutions and individuals want to make societal changes based on scientific observations – rathe rthen leaving it up to each person to make a reasoned decision.

    Given that framing, we can spout all the facts, statistics, and rebuttals we want – and we’ll still loose the argument. Because this isn’t an argument about science, it isn’t an argument about observations, it isn’t an argument about statistics.

    This is an argument about WHO has the right to decide how a person lives their life and responds to the world. If the community has that right, then I believe we get a clear path to significant change that can deal effectively with the Climate Crisis. If, on the otherhand (as I suspect busiturtle believes) ONLY The individual has that right, then we get denial, distraction and subterfudge.

    Sadly, none of this surprised me, and if it really surprised Dr. Mann, he needs to get out more.

  7. Katherine,
    The email from Mann indicates that the data were problematic, or “red,” and that he didn’t want skeptics to get a hold of it. This is bad scientific practice. Simply denying there’s a problem with this doesn’t make it go away.

  8. Busiturtle

    Come on AGW fans, all I am asking is for you to address McIntyres’s claims. Leave the theatrics to the drama department.

    http://www.climateaudit.info/pdf/mcintyre-scitech.pdf

    “Bodging”, Withholding Adverse Data, “Cherry-picking”, The “Trick … to Hide the Decline”, Unbecoming Conduct

    Did it happen?

    Why did it happen?

    That is all you have to explain.

  9. Busiturtle

    Philip H. @ 6: “So, what’s busiturtle’s problem?”

    To borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, I am not offended as an American citizen, I am offended as a scientist.

    Some thoughts courtesy of Richard Feynman (a real Nobel Prize winning scientist):

    - If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should
    always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of results.

    - It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.

  10. Jon

    The email from Mann indicates that the data were problematic, or “red,” and that he didn’t want skeptics to get a hold of it

    But you are examining alleged defects in a study that is more than 10 years old now.

    Now you can construct proxies that don’t even involve tree rings, don’t involve Mann, or his research center:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-stick-without-tree-rings.html

    Further, proxies aren’t even the basis for AGW. There is plenty of other evidence.

    So, really, you are just looking for small defects of little consequence in outdated studies in order to generate outrage. It’s par for the course for the Tobacco Strategy.

  11. Colin Philips

    The climate change religion is not the same thing as climate research science. As the great Randall Munroe once said ” You don’t use science to prove you’re right, you use science to become right.” Just like the Catholic Church in the 1500s saw everything in terms of their view of good and evil, Mann, a priest of the climate change religion if ever there was one, sees everyone who agrees with him as Science, and anyone who expresses any scepticism of his proclamations as “dirty.” Seriously, “dirty” ?

    This is getting silly.

  12. Gaythia

    Chris, enough already! The significant problems with the interactions of science with contemporary American society have been well documented in books such as your “The Republican War on Science” and “Unscientific America”. Dr. David Michaels, currently Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health gives an excellent analysis of how corporate interests attempt to drive public opinion in “Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s War on Science Threatens Your Health”

    It’s time to move on.

    Imagine some interested, but not yet knowledgeable person dropping in on this website for the first time. What they see here is that there seems to be a controversy. This only re-enforces the credibility of the denialists who are telling the public that not only is there a controversy, but that it is one that undermines all of the science involved.

    As a journalist, your primary interests seem to lie at “the intersection” of science and policy. I believe that it is time to further develop your science journalistic expertise in providing the public with strategies for analyzing science related information. They need to understand how science works. They need to understand how and why special interest groups try to bend public perceptions to suit their own needs. The public needs to develop the ability to sort through the science and non-science that they encounter.

    Focus on the people who actually do want to be better informed citizens and not the troublemakers.

  13. SLC

    Re Katharine

    It slhould be obvious by now that no evidence will convince clowns like Mr. Busiturtle, Mr. Fikes, Mr. neuroconservative and their ilk that AGW is real. They are like Mr. cooler who now posts his HIV/AIDS denial screeds on Abbie Smiths’ blog and Mr. JonS who posts his YEC evolution denial screeds on Jason Rosenhouses’ blog. Their minds are made up, the facts are irrelevant.

  14. Deech56

    Back to Dr. Mann’s point. Yes, he is absolutely correct, and part of the response can be seen in the following article from Scientific American:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-cyber-bullying

    It’s basically open season on scientists, and no matter how many times anti-science talking points are refuted, they keep coming back. MBH98/99 were not the last words on paleoclimate reconstructions – Mann has published two papers in PNAS and Science, complete with scads of supplementary information and alternate analyses, yet certain people are still stuck on 10+ year-old papers. And the people buy this kind of behavior.

  15. Katharine

    SLC, I suspect part of the problem is that many of these people treat science as some sort of ‘unreachable’.

    Which it’s not, if you have the brains and the ability and the discipline.

    If you don’t have one of those three, you’ve got bigger problems.

  16. moptop

    “Busiturtle, you’ve been debunked time and time again. There has been no fudged data, no cherry-picked data, no hiding of inconvenient data, and no fight against disclosure of methods.”

    If you are really interested Katherine, we could go through this. It will be somewhat time consuming on your part, given your predispositions, to overcome your prejudices, but in fact there is “cherry picked” data, there is “fudged data”, there is hiding of “inconvenient data” and there was a “fight against disclosure of methods.”

    Before we start, what would you accept as evidence? Would it be Dr Jones’s word that blocking access to climate data was “standard procedure in climate science”? Would it be a parliamentary hearing in the UK into why prominent scientists working for the govt at the CRU flouted the Freedom of Information Act? Would it be a thorough analysis of Mann’s hockey stick which shows that for the most controversial era, the Medieval Warm Period, he used very few proxy series, and it just so happened that his result could only be replicated if you used his exact set of trees, even though there were other series available?

    I just want to know before I go to too much trouble here.

  17. Philip H. @ 6: “So, what’s busiturtle’s problem?”

    To borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, I am not offended as an American citizen, I am offended as a scientist.

    Some thoughts courtesy of Richard Feynman (a real Nobel Prize winning scientist):

    - If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of results.

    - It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.

    busiturtle,
    One of your clearest,most concise posts to date – and the most free of UNNECESSARY attacks I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks for that.

    To your points -

    1) I know of no “contradictory” papers that have been withehld from publication in any peer reviewed journal over the last decade on this topic (or any related to it). If you do, I want to read them – but I need citations, not plattitudes.And to be really clear, by citations I mean Author(s), title, journal, date, and volume/issue number. You keep asking the climate scienctists to show their hand by releasing their data (which is almost always already available) – do us the courtesy of doing the same with specifics to back up your point. FWIW I do know of at least two papers (Soon and Baliunas, 2003; Soon et al, 2003) which tried to take apart the “hockey stick” but which were resoundingly debunked later that same year.

    2) I write that “science says” because I have read hundreds of papers over the last decade in the disciplines of climate, oceanography, terrestrial and ocean ecology, physics, chemistry andaligned disciplines which both model the climate crisis (ala Dr Mann and his colleagues) and REPORT on actual OBSERVATIONS made of degradation to the Earth and its ecosystems. As more and more papers are published that do noth, it becomes harder and harder as a matter of written semantics, to go back through and list every one of the with your suggested language of “this experiment shows that . . .” If that shorthand appears to you to be a politically motivated contrivence, so be it. I only have so many hours in the day to read and write, lest I leave aside my other obligations – like raising my children.

  18. Guy

    The “depths of dishonesty” parts remind of a tale about a dedicated liar. They will tell lies on top of lies rather than ever face the truth. Once they tell a lie often enough they start to believe it themselves. The denial movement is so caught up in their own lies they’ve started believing them rather than face the truth that is staring right at them.

  19. Deech56

    Moptop, would you please expand on your charge, “Would it be a thorough analysis of Mann’s hockey stick which shows that for the most controversial era, the Medieval Warm Period, he used very few proxy series, and it just so happened that his result could only be replicated if you used his exact set of trees, even though there were other series available?”

    References, please. And which scientific paper discussed the replication of Mann’s results? The 2009 Science paper wasn’t published that long ago.

    Please see my point above: “MBH98/99 were not the last words on paleoclimate reconstructions – Mann has published two papers in PNAS and Science, complete with scads of supplementary information and alternate analyses…”

  20. Busiturtle

    Philip H. @ 15: “I know of no “contradictory” papers”

    The more important question is whether there is contradictory evidence that has been not included in the published research. McIntyre says there is and he provides specific examples.

    It is a red herring, used by some on this forum, to say that since no one has proved AGW false it must be true.

    The scientific question that matters is what is the climate forcing of industrial CO2? It is insufficient to have a hunch or a belief. The effect, to be scientific, has to be observed, measured and successfully predicted.

    Now I appreciate the complexity of the climate makes predictions difficult. But that is not an excuse to not adhere to the scientific standard.

  21. Second opinion

    To me it seems quite naive to think that the debate was over. This debate is not going to go away for a long time. Simply because there is going to be a hard core of people who will never be convinced and that will always keep the debate alive, as you can see in this blog. Like it is in many other areas. To this day there are still people who think the hole in the ozone layer never existed or was not caused by man.

  22. Busiturtle,
    I make no such claim. What I do say is that the scientific literature published to date shows AGW to be the most likely explanation for the global mean temperature increases, as well as the rise in ocean acid content, the existance of a summer ice free artic, increased glacial melting rates. Unpublished data is great – scientists use it all the time – but if you and others who oppose policy action on AGW continue to do so by trying to take apart published peer reviewed science, eventually you and others need to publish that data which you belive supports your claims, or you will be just as guilty of the actions that you accuse climate scientists of. Its a double standard (Show me yours but I’ll never show you mine) and its at least unethical in this context.

    And as to the complexities and adherence to the scientific standard – we’ve had climate model predictions published for over 3 decades. The observed data in that same period has been more severe then the models predicted. Politically inconvenient for those who want to protect the status quo – you bet, but not an indication of unethical, unscientific or illegal behavior.

  23. moptop

    Hey Jon,
    If you will notice in that hockey stick without tree rings link you gave, either the series ends at about 1500, avoiding the medieval warm period, or the blade comes from temp records spliced onto the end to “hide the decline.” ;) Temps that have been heavily adjusted, btw. Why not look at that borehole proxy back 10k years? That is how far back they go, why didn’t that proxy go back to 1000, the way that spaghetti graph did? Those are what are known as rhetorical graphs, and one of the key tools of rhetoric is omission, that is why rhetoric is not science.

    The point about the MWP is that it is quite possible for it to get this warm without AGW, so the fact that it is this warm now is not proof of AGW. Whatever statistically significant trends you might find.

    “the existance of a summer ice free arctic” – Philip H

    Are you saying that there exists a summer ice free arctic?

  24. Katharine

    moptop, Busiturtle, I would advise you to look in the previous thread about global warming. There is a discussion going on about confidence intervals again. Essentially, one of your ilk – the nefarious Lubos Motl – said that if the data set was extended to 1994, the confidence interval would be around 96%, and he purposefully omitted it to try to make the data support his opinions, when it didn’t.

  25. Second opinion

    I wholeheartedly agree with Gaythia No. 12.

  26. ChrisD

    @moptop:

    The point about the MWP is that it is quite possible for it to get this warm without AGW, so the fact that it is this warm now is not proof of AGW.

    Strawman. Nobody says that it is proof of AGW. Nobody says, either, that it has never been this warm before.

    The key question is, what other explanation can we find for the current rise in temperatures? So far, none.

  27. Moptop

    Katherine,
    I posted that link to Motl knowing what it said. You are a world champion point misser. The point was, and Motl was quite open about it, that despite constantly increasing CO2, the warming trend is hardly detectable over the past 15 years in the satellite record, despite the constant drumbeat that Greenland’s glaciers are going to melt in the next hundred years, yada yada yada.

    Strawman. Nobody says that it is proof of AGW. Nobody says, either, that it has never been this warm before.

    “Each of the last 12 years (1997-2008) was one of the warmest on record. These years could be the warmest years for the last several thousand” Wikipedia

    “(CNN) — Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. ”

    Oh look, here is our hero, Mike Mann claiming it, complete with his spaghetti graph where he hides the decline by pasting the CRU temp series over the proxy graphs.

    The key question is, what other explanation can we find for the current rise in temperatures? So far, none.

    Argument from ignorance. This argument can only carry weight if it has been established that we understand all of the factors affecting climate, which we clearly don’t.

  28. Moptop

    Sorry, here is the link to Mike Mann claiming what you said nobody claimed.

    http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0901-temperatures.html

  29. Jon

    But you are examining alleged defects in a study that is more than 10 years old now.

    Now you can construct proxies that don’t even involve tree rings, don’t involve Mann, or his research center:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-stick-without-tree-rings.html

    Further, proxies aren’t even the basis for AGW. There is plenty of other evidence.

    So, really, you are just looking for small defects of little consequence in outdated studies in order to generate outrage. It’s par for the course for the Tobacco Strategy.

    The familiar tropes miss the point: Michael Mann’s behavior was unprofessional and unethical and has rendered him radioactive. Mann has betrayed the trust people have in the high ethics of scientists, and for the public, trust is what it’s all about. How can we trust anything Mann says if his conduct is unethical? And the lack of outrage against Mann in the AGW community makes them look complicit. That’s a big reason why AGW is viewed with increasing skepticism by the public.

    Mooney’s defense of Mann seems more like loyalty to a person than to the integrity of science. Dishonesty, dirtiness and cynicism, indeed!

  30. Jon

    Michael Mann’s behavior was unprofessional and unethical and has rendered him radioactive.

    His university begs to differ:

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Climategate+inquiry+shows+scientist+didn+falsify+data/2518522/story.html

    “The report praised Mann for his “composure” and “forthright response” to all questions, finding no evidence that he had attempted to hide or destroy information, e-mails or data from his research. It also cleared him of allegations of misusing any privileged or confidential information he had access to as an academic scholar.”

    We’ll see what happens during the second phase of the report, but this doesn’t seem like his employer thinks he’s “radioactive.”

  31. Jon

    You’ve lost the science debate. So now you’re just manufacturing outrage–ad hominem attacks against scientists themselves as a PR strategy.

  32. Jon

    “…AGW community…”

    What the heck is that? Why don’t you say the “scientific community” instead, since practically every scientific organization in the world signs off on the consensus except for the petroleum geologists (who have declared themselves neutral).

  33. bad Jim

    Doesn’t everyone understand that personal attacks on Mann, as well as all claims about “Climategate”, are nothing more than ad hominem arguments?

  34. Jon

    Right, bad Jim, because if there is anything the public should be hearing about, it’s the alleged defects of almost no consequence in 10-year-old studies dealing with proxies that could be tossed out with almost no consequence to climate research. (Unless, of course, your object is to attack the researcher.)

  35. ChrisD

    @moptop

    “Each of the last 12 years (1997-2008) was one of the warmest on record. These years could be the warmest years for the last several thousand” Wikipedia

    “(CNN) — Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. ”

    Still searching your two quotes for where they say that the warming is “proof of AGW”, which is what you claimed. Not finding it.

    The point was, and Motl was quite open about it, that despite constantly increasing CO2, the warming trend is hardly detectable over the past 15 years in the satellite record

    No, you still don’t get it. It’s not “hardly detectable” at all. That is not what confidence levels mean. But I give up. If you don’t understand it by now, either you never will or you’re trolling.

    Argument from ignorance. This argument can only carry weight if it has been established that we understand all of the factors affecting climate, which we clearly don’t.

    Wrong. What I said was not an argument at all. It was a question that anyone who wants to disprove AGW has to find an answer for. Read it again:

    The key question is, what other explanation can we find for the current rise in temperatures? So far, none.

  36. ThomasL

    ChrisD,

    “Unprecedented” would seem to be an attempt to imply that it has not previously been this warm in human history. This has been the claim (we are experiencing unprecedented warming…), and up until recently even suggesting that the MWP might have been close, let alone as warm or even slightly warmer, would have got one flamed endlessly. That’s why it has been (and remains) such an issue in these threads -> this is not what we were all getting told even 6 months ago. It should also be noted that all reconstructions flattened it out to encourage such thinking (another reason why some doubt the integrity of this sciences practitioners). There is also the issue of the 1940’s era warmth that was also “adjusted” out of existence in many of the papers. Thus one could say there has been a pattern of such behavior…

    Thus it would be hard to show it is actually a “straw man”. Uncomfortable to address perhaps.

    And in regards to #35 I don’t have to prove anything. Most of the skeptics claims are “warming, but largely within the bounds of natural variation with a high probability that there has been *some* impacted by humanity”. The arguments are over how much the *some* is and what, if anything can be seen as most influential in the hopes that there may be some way to modify such affects. Personally I think quite a lot can be directly related to some four billion more humans heating and cooling their homes than at any other time in history releasing black soot amongst other things in the process, clearing forests for farming, farming and massive water works projects that have greatly affected natural runoff along with all the artificial lakes we’ve created amongst other things (think land use changes), and then there are things such as the high altitude contrails left from flying thousands of planes a day around the globe that affect the energy budget.

    So we are left with: Man caused? Most likely at some meaningful level, yes. Co2 as the primarily the cause? See above, I think there are lots of other things in play (for example black soot and contrail severity has only been uncovered over the past year). Solutions? Short of killing most the world’s population I’m not sure anyone has any real suggestions yet.

    This is rather like the claims in here that were I to accept all the warming claims in AGW I must also accept the “have to do something” conclusion. Except the “have to do something” isn’t a conclusion, it is a separate discussion. In fact the two together require quite a leap, and one that has absolutely no logical connection. Just because one accepts argument A, an observed “phenomena” does not mean they must accept argument B, the “solution”. The two are separate discussions.

    I have to agree with Bradley (#29),

    The first thread I posted anything into concerning any of this was Dr. Kerry’s open letter over at Climate Progress. My post in that thread basically stated that in every other field I know of and have ever worked in such conduct would literally have pretty much ended any “career” one would hope to have had – and if they were one of the higher ranking people they would suddenly want to go spend time with their families and retire as quietly as they could. What many here seem to fail to realize is “c-gate” has been a mess for everyone involved in techsciencemedicine. What we have is the public’s trust -> in fact as things have gotten ever more complex and less understandable to the average citizen that requirement to uphold the trust grows ever greater. We have that trust because we’ve worked hard to obtain it and are rather unforgiving to those in our fields who screw with it (self preservation). Drug companies are the only area I can think of that has a history of such lapses, and I think everyone knows the direction their trust charts have been heading… This field seems to have a very strange sense of ethics, and the implied acceptance of such behavior through staying quiet, or, as in here, actually supporting it is just beyond my comprehension.

    If it only affected those in climate science it would annoy me still as an erosion of both expected scientific openness and a warping of integrity, but I’d view it as “their problem” rather than “everyone’s problem”. As this is such a high public profile area it ends up reflecting poorly on everyone even remotely involved in science. And that reflection is not positive. Quite a lot of that negative light is that those practicing in this field imply such behavior is “normal”.

    Perhaps AGWclimate science is just too young a field and became high profilepolitical too fast to learn how to self police and deal with breaches of etiquette. I do not know anyone from any other field that accepts such behavior and tactics as “acceptable”, despite the spinning.

  37. Hi Chris and Sheril, sorry to be off topic, but did you read this article from today’s NYT? It’s appalling beyond contempt. The “War on Science” is still very much alive and kicking. I would be very interested in hearing your views on it.

    Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets

  38. Jon
    “The report praised Mann for his “composure” and “forthright response” to all questions, finding no evidence that he had attempted to hide or destroy information, e-mails or data from his research. It also cleared him of allegations of misusing any privileged or confidential information he had access to as an academic scholar.”

    We’ll see what happens during the second phase of the report, but this doesn’t seem like his employer thinks he’s “radioactive.”

    That whitewash has no credibility. The investigation didn’t even contact Mann’s critics, and the evidence of his misconduct is right there in the emails. All people have to do is read what Mann wrote and decide if this is someone they’d trust.

    This has gone past the stage where deny, deny, deny, has any effect.

    You’ve lost the science debate. So now you’re just manufacturing outrage–ad hominem attacks against scientists themselves as a PR strategy.

    Deliberately keeping data from critical examination is scientifically unethical. It’s truly amazing what you’ll excuse – if it’s done by people you’ll agree with.

  39. SLC

    Actually, the argument about the 95% confidence level and whether the increases in temperatures over the last 12 years are inside those limits ignores the fact that the reason that they do is because of the data point for 1998. It is quite clear that 1998 is an outlier for the time period around it. If the data point for 1998 is excluded and the statistical analysis repeated, I would be willing to bet big money that the confidence limits for temperature increases over the past 12 years lie far outside the 95 % level. As I understand it, there are explanations for the 1998 result (e.g. strong El Nino conditions) that explain its outlier status.

  40. Jon
    What the heck is that? Why don’t you say the “scientific community” instead, since practically every scientific organization in the world signs off on the consensus except for the petroleum geologists (who have declared themselves neutral).

    Okay, I’ll clarify. “AGW activists,” means people like Mann, Mooney, Joe Romm, etc. These are the people spreading the “we stand to get fried” trope, which is simply hysterical rhetoric. that political campaign had a good deal of success, but now it’s been discredited with most of the public.

    This bluster about a “consensus” isn’t helping you any, either. And asking Mann for advice on how to rehabilitate AGW is the most boneheaded move I’ve seen yet from the AGW activists.

  41. These are the people spreading the “we stand to get fried” trope, which is simply hysterical rhetoric.

    Why don’t you give us an example of Mike Mann or Chris Mooney saying anything remotely close to “we stand to get fried”. I’m curious what level of argument rises to your standard for hysterical rhetoric.

  42. Jon

    The investigation didn’t even contact Mann’s critics, and the evidence of his misconduct is right there in the emails.

    I think they can be excused for not contacting Marc Morano. As for his conduct in the emails, here’s factcheck.org:

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/12/climategate/

    Yes, in 13 years of confidential emails, you can find Mann and others being intemperate in their private communications. I’m sure if you took 13 years of my private emails you could find ones with me being intemperate too. But there was no manipulation of data, as his university also found.

  43. Jon

    “…AGW activists…”

    All the world’s scientific organizations (see my link above) are made up of “AGW activists”?

  44. The point was, and Motl was quite open about it, that despite constantly increasing CO2, the warming trend is hardly detectable over the past 15 years in the satellite record

    No you still don’t get it. The trend is perfectly detectable. The question is whether it predicts what the long term trend will be. Right now, the 15 year trend is exactly where we expect it to be given the long term trend. A 1.5 C/century trend over 15 years simply doesn’t quite rise to the 95% standard and this will be true no matter how precise our thermometers get. A 5 C/century trend wouldn’t rise to the level over 5 years and a 25 C/century trend wouldn’t rise to the level over 1 year. None of these are “insignificant trends”, they simply require a certain amount of time before they exceed the 95% threshold.

  45. Jon

    As for why your “AGW activists” (and I’ll accept your calling Joe Romm an activist) didn’t join in the Mann pile on–the reason is what I stated above, that there was no data manipulation, mean things said in stolen private emails are generally not significant in the scheme of things, and the intention and MO of those who stole and publicized the emails is obvious.

  46. marie

    I am a 59 year old grandmother, not a scientist. I read all the East Anglia e-mails. Here’s the gist….Not much confidence in the strength of AGW results…which in turn produced lying, deceit, manipulation of data, hiding of data, discrediting of fellow scientists who were in opposition, black mail of science journal outlets to not post AGW skeptic research data. Refusal to acknowledge FOIA., to the point of saying data would be destroyed rather than share it., fear of too much government involvement and what would be expected in return….hidden agendas, belittling each others methods or models. Coordinating studies to produce the same results through manipulation of data in order to bolster confidence. None of this sounded very scientific to me…..AGW will have to do better than this to convince little old me to believe. I might not know science but I know people who are confident in what they know and these guys aren’t. If they aren’t confident then why should I be? This just my unscientific opinion. Read the e-mails….see for yourself.

    http//www.eastangliaemails.com/index.php

  47. Busiturtle

    How do we interpret the unusually thick ice in the Baltic sea? I’ve observed that the expert analysis of freezing water is so counter-intuitive I thought I might allow the participants on this forum to explain it.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100304/ap_on_re_eu/eu_baltic_ferries_stuck_5

    “Heavy ice cover is not uncommon further north, but the ice rarely gets thick enough in the Stockholm archipelago to trap powerful passenger ferries like the Amorella.”

  48. Deech56

    If moptop replied to my post #19, I must have missed it. No problem, but I do notice that if the only argument that “skeptics” have is to attack the character of the scientists whose data make up the foundations of climate research, that’s pretty much conceding the point that “skeptics” have little in the way of science. Picking the earliest point at which the temperature trend is not significant at p<0.05 as a basis to make a point about temperature trends is disingenuous at best. A more complete story (what happens if the start point is changed?) needs to be addressed for a scientific discussion.

  49. Nullius in Verba

    “I know of no “contradictory” papers that have been withehld from publication in any peer reviewed journal over the last decade on this topic (or any related to it). If you do, I want to read them – but I need citations, not plattitudes.And to be really clear, by citations I mean Author(s), title, journal, date, and volume/issue number.”

    “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”

    from 1054756929.txt, title is “Re: Review- confidential REALLY URGENT”, author is Ed Cook, date is 4th June 2003.

    Now, shout out if you’re not here…

  50. marie

    I read that one too….I think you have to read them all to put into context exactly how “as a whole” the GWers stand. One e-mail on its own could be misconstrued…..but there is a thread of deceit that is woven throughout connecting the dots.

  51. ChrisD

    @Busiturtle:

    How do we interpret the unusually thick ice in the Baltic sea?

    We interpret it the same way we interpret “It snowed a lot in DC this winter” and “There was a frost last Tuesday in East Flapjack, IA, and it’s APRIL, you MORONS!!!!!.”

    We interpret it as someone trying to make a point about long-term global climate using short-term regional conditions.

    We interpret it as being a comment from someone who thinks that a rise of a few degrees in global average temperatures means that it won’t ever get really, really cold in the Baltic Sea in winter.

    (Then we express our surprise that those who do this sort of thing never, ever take note of unusually warm weather, anywhere.)

  52. Nullius in Verba

    “How do we interpret the unusually thick ice in the Baltic sea?”

    We interpret it in exactly the same way we interpreted the low Arctic ice coverage in 2007.

    In 2007, changing wind patterns blew the pack ice south past Greenland into warmer waters, resulting in a faster melt. i.e. it wasn’t due to changing temperature. This year, gale force winds have blown pack ice into the Baltic, compressing and thickening it unusually. (Although not all that unusually – it last happened in the early 80s.) Generally speaking, wind has a significant effect on sea ice, and better explains the short-term variations than changing temperature. In fact, the wind blowing the sea ice to where it can melt exposes sea which absorbs sunlight and raises the temperature. The causality is the other way round.

    The reason it gets brought up is the frequent use of the reduction in Arctic sea ice as a “sign” of global warming. Despite all the warnings about using short-term local-scale weather events, heart-wrenching pictures of polar bears keep on getting used. The Arctic ice shows a small step down in 1995-6, possibly associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) switching phase, and a linear decline from about 2001 to 2007, which has subsequently stopped. Thus, it is a 6-year trend on less than 3% of the Earth’s surface. Does that count as a change in climate?

    The problem is one of the campaigners’ own making. By connecting Arctic ice to global warming, without nuance, they have created a particular public understanding of science. By using short-term regional weather events themselves, they have declared it to be scientifically legitimate. And now, as the winds change direction, they find their own weapon being picked up and used against them. Poetic justice.

  53. ChrisD

    @NiV:

    The Arctic ice shows a small step down in 1995-6, possibly associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) switching phase, and a linear decline from about 2001 to 2007, which has subsequently stopped.

    WTF? Let’s all have a look at NSIDC’s latest chart of the Arctic ice extent:

    http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20100303_Figure3.png

    Now let’s compare that to NiV’s summary of the state of Arctic ice: A small step down in 1995-1996 and a decline in 2001-2007, which has “stopped.” Really? Is that all we see?

    After looking at the chart, does what NiV said strike anyone as a reasonable summary of the goings-on up North? Who agrees with NiV’s apparent belief that what’s happening in the Arctic is nothing but a short-term event? Hands up, please?

    (We won’t even get into the fact that this is the ice extent, not the ice volume, which is both more dramatic and more important, though admittedly harder to measure.)

  54. Busiturtle

    ChrisD,

    What constitutes a trend?

    What constitutes a break of that trend?

    Is the assumption that climate patterns can be characterized as a Guassian distribution a valid one?

    AGW advocates seem to be playing both sides of the fence here. When ice is melting that is touted as proof of AGW. But when ice is found growing suddenly it is the trend that matters, even when the trend is non-determinate.

  55. ChrisD

    Busiturtle:

    What constitutes a trend?

    Did you look at the NSIDC graph? That’s what a trend looks like, my friend, and that’s what “AGW advocates” (a misnomer–nobody “advocates” AGW) are talking about. The whole graph.

    Now, the “skeptics” look at the whole graph, too. They have to look at the whole graph in order to isolate the little bits they can use:

    “Look, Arctic ice GREW from 2005 through 2008!!!!”

    “THERE WAS MORE ICE IN 2008 THAN IN 2004, YOU MORAN”

    Both of those claims are true–but when you look at the chart you can see just how utterly meaningless they are in context.

  56. Nullius in Verba

    ChrisD,

    The data in your link is heavily smoothed. It is potentially misleading and statistically poor practice to try to draw conclusions about trends from smoothed data. (Which is possibly why some people persist in doing it.) It is also generally poor practice to draw linear trend lines on heavily autocorrelated data known not to follow a linear model – especially after smoothing and averaging the data which disguise that fact. Trend lines imply a particular statistical model for the errors, which in this case isn’t valid making the result spurious.

    This one shows the sea ice extent:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.area.arctic.png

    And this one shows the anomaly:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png

    Looking at the second graph, you can see that the level is roughly constant up to 1995, the variations up and down show only short term stochastic trends as expected from this sort of noise, and the resulting gradient is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Then in 1995 there is a sharp drop, which apart from a spike in 1996 is roughly constant until some time around 2001-2005; the start of the decline still being within the expected noise level until then. Then from 2005 to late 2007 there is a significant reduction. And finally, the last two years show a large variance about what might or might not be a constant level.

    These sort of conclusions depend on the statistical model you assume underlies the data. It’s quite clear from the unsmoothed version that a ‘linear trend plus noise’ model doesn’t fit. Using a more sophisticated ARIMA model, it’s quite easy to simulate data with no trend that looks just like that graph, at least up until 2005. (If you have Excel or something similar, I can tell you how.) That implies that the data up until then cannot be shown to have any significant trend in it, and any trend lines people draw have such wide error bands around them that they are effectively meaningless.

    I will admit that this sort of maths isn’t taught until after most people have left school, so it’s quite understandable that the general public could be misled. I don’t have a problem with that. But NSIDC certainly ought to know better.

  57. Nullius in Verba

    “Did you look at the NSIDC graph? That’s what a trend looks like, my friend, and that’s what “AGW advocates” (a misnomer–nobody “advocates” AGW) are talking about. The whole graph.”

    Yes. Unfortunately it’s also what a total lack of trend looks like if you take autocorrelated data without a trend, oversmooth it, and then fit a line to it using an inappropriate statistical model.

    The problem is, it may be the whole graph, but it isn’t all the data. Most of it has been thrown away by the smoothing. And that other data is what the sceptics are talking about.

  58. ChrisD

    @Nullius in Verba:

    The data in your link is heavily smoothed. It is potentially misleading and statistically poor practice to try to draw conclusions about trends from smoothed data.

    How has it been “heavily smoothed”? This is a simple graph of the average February sea ice extents since 1979. What smoothing has been applied?

  59. Nullius in Verba

    ChrisD,

    Is it now? I had carelessly assumed that since there was one point a year, that it was annual averages. Putting up the February averages is even worse, because it doesn’t even have the limited virtue of reducing the noise. I should have checked the title more carefully, shouldn’t I? :-)

    The averaging over a month does constitute smoothing, but I concede the point since it wasn’t the smoothing I had thought. Throwing away the other 11 months constitutes something else entirely…

    But that doesn’t affect my point about spurious regression. Whether the autocorrelation is disguised by smoothing or deleting the data, it’s still poor statistical practice.

    Just as an experiment, cover the last part of the graph from 2004 on with your hand, ignore the trend line, and look at the rest of the data. If someone told you that it was level at around 15.6, would you have believed them? Can you see that the dramatic slope of the graph rests entirely on the last few points?

  60. ChrisD

    Nullius in Verba Says:

    Just as an experiment, cover the last part of the graph from 2004 on with your hand, ignore the trend line, and look at the rest of the data. If someone told you that it was level at around 15.6, would you have believed them? Can you see that the dramatic slope of the graph rests entirely on the last few points?

    Well, not really. The data from 2004-2010 includes an uptick as well as the downward slope of the last three years. But, even so, if I cover 2004-2010, the rest of the graph still has a pretty clear downard trend to my eye (not that eyeballing a chart is a particularly rigorous way to analyze anything).

    I’m also going to dispute that taking a simple average (not a moving average) constitutes “smoothing.”

  61. ChrisD

    Correction: In the previous, should be “if I cover 2008-2010″, not 2004-2010.

    In other words, I still eyeball a noticeable downward trend even if I include the uptick of 2004-2007 in what I’m looking at.

  62. Nullius in Verba

    That wasn’t the question I asked. But never mind.

  63. I am a 59 year old grandmother, not a scientist. I read all the East Anglia e-mails.

    Well, the rest of the post pretty much writes itself, doesn’t it.

  64. attietewd

    At least I am not closing myself off from learning and taking pot shots.

  65. Marcel Kincaid

    the reasonable and informed critics among us

    There is no one for whom both those adjectives apply.

    Chris Mooney talks a lot about science education: I suggest that the number of AGW skeptics among his commenters indicates that he has a lot of educating to do.

  66. Marcel Kincaid

    Not much confidence in the strength of AGW results … This just my unscientific opinion.

    Indeed, it’s your unscientific — that is, unsupported by evidence — opinion.

    Read the e-mails….see for yourself.

    Sorry, but that’s not how it’s done. If you have read the emails and they support your claim, then you should be able to quote supporting passages (in context).

  67. Marcel Kincaid

    When ice is melting that is touted as proof of AGW. But when ice is found growing suddenly it is the trend that matters, even when the trend is non-determinate.

    Is it really hard to understand that that the melting of ice that hasn’t melted for a very very long time, or more ice melting year after year, has a significance that ice growing seasonally — as one expects — does not?

  68. Marcel Kincaid

    The point was, and Motl was quite open about it, that despite constantly increasing CO2, the warming trend is hardly detectable over the past 15 years in the satellite record

    Factually and conceptually wrong, but you’re not likely to admit the objective truth or change your mind upon learning it. The warming trend over the past 15 years has p > 92% — not quite enough to meet the arbitrary (and statistically incorrect) convention of 95% for statistical significance, but far from “hardly detectable”. The trend over the last 16 years, OTOH, is statistically significant, which is why Motl picked 15 years — cherry picked, as in intellectually dishonest selection. And most of the heat goes into the oceans, and the trend there is statistically significant over a much shorter period.

  69. Marcel Kincaid

    Nobody says, either, that it has never been this warm before.

    “Each of the last 12 years (1997-2008) was one of the warmest on record. These years could be the warmest years for the last several thousand” Wikipedia

    Which does not say that it’s never been this warm before.

    “(CNN) — Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. ”

    Nor does that.

    Oh look, here is our hero, Mike Mann claiming it

    Sorry, he doesn’t claim that it’s never been this warm before at your link. You do know that Earth is more than 1700 years old, don’t you?

    complete with his spaghetti graph where he hides the decline by pasting the CRU temp series over the proxy graphs.

    The decline in tree ring growth that doesn’t match actual temperature measurements, which did not decline. No one who still talks about “hide the decline” as if that were an indication either of dishonesty or that GW is not occurring can be taken seriously.

  70. Nullius in Verba

    Marcel,

    A lot of interesting points. I’ll try to take them one by one.

    “Sorry, but that’s not how it’s done. If you have read the emails and they support your claim, then you should be able to quote supporting passages (in context).”

    We can, and have.

    e.g. See above “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”.

    When you say “unsupported by evidence”, you have to distinguish unsupported by evidence here and unsupported by evidence anywhere. Now I’m very much in favour of the evidence being presented rather than merely cited, but it would have been better to simply ask for the evidence, rather than try to suggest it didn’t exist. For example, on an earlier thread I asked to see the mathematical argument supporting the validity of Mann’s decentered PCA method, which after several attempts nobody was able to provide. It would appear that Mann’s 1998 Hockeystick graph is unsupported by evidence anywhere. People who have read the emails may indeed have support for their beliefs.

  71. Nullius in Verba

    “Is it really hard to understand that that the melting of ice that hasn’t melted for a very very long time, or more ice melting year after year, has a significance that ice growing seasonally — as one expects — does not?”

    No. But that doesn’t apply to Arctic sea ice, does it?

    “Factually and conceptually wrong, but you’re not likely to admit the objective truth or change your mind upon learning it.”

    You say that it’s factually wrong, but then admit in the next sentence that it was factually correct. The problem with stochastic data is that it is rising and falling all the time naturally. The problem is to distinguish natural rises and falls (assuming a certain statistical model for the natural variation) and “significant” change that doesn’t fit the model. Until it has passed the threshold, it hasn’t been detected. Any rise you see could be noise. So you can argue for a different threshold (so long as you do so before you have seen the result) but you can’t claim that a near-significant result is significant.

    And Motl reports the significance of the rise for intervals longer than 16 years, so it isn’t dishonest. Incidentally, Phil Jones reported the same thing.

    “And most of the heat goes into the oceans,”

    An unproven hypothesis, at present.

  72. Nullius in Verba

    “The decline in tree ring growth that doesn’t match actual temperature measurements, which did not decline. No one who still talks about “hide the decline” as if that were an indication either of dishonesty or that GW is not occurring can be taken seriously.”

    There is an obvious question over whether tree rings are good thermometers, and whether the processing method is able to extract the global mean temperature (to an accuracy of tenths of a degree) from the noise of all the other factors affecting tree growth. If the tree ring data does not match temperatures, it indicates that they are not good thermometers, and this needs to be borne in mind in interpreting the reconstruction of earlier times for which a thermometer comparison is not available. They are not trying to hide a decline in temperature (because obviously the temperature didn’t decline), they are trying to hide the fact that their reconstruction method doesn’t work. It doesn’t reconstruct temperature.

    This fact is well-known in the scientific literature, but not so well-known to the policy-making audience of the IPCC reports. So when they draw a graph and label it as a temperature reconstruction, they don’t want to be showing data that proves that it isn’t reconstructing temperature. That would lead people to ask questions, and then they’d have to explain.

    The correct procedure, as the IPCC reviewer said at the time, would be to present all the data, and then explain your reasons for believing that this bit didn’t matter. The reader could accept those reasons or not, but they would at least be aware that there was an issue. Instead, they simply deleted the inconvenient data.

  73. And Motl reports the significance of the rise for intervals longer than 16 years, so it isn’t dishonest.

    Yes it is dishonest. Here’s what Motl writes at his blog:

    [The] BBC has inconveniently asked Phil Jones whether there had been a significant global warming since 1995. Recall that he had to answer that there was none – because it’s damn too easy to check that there was none.

    Motl here is explicitly stating that warming since 1995 has been “insignificant”. Insignificant means close to zero. This is not even close to what the data say and he knows it.

    The data show that:

    1.) The globe has been warming since 1995.
    2.) This warming follows a trend of 1.5 C/century.
    3.) That is nearly identical to the 1.6 C/century 30 year trend.
    4.) There is greater than a 90% chance that this is reflective of a long-term trend.
    5.) There is less than a 10% chance that we may have entered a time of “insignificant” warming and even less chance that we’ve entered a time of cooling.
    6.) This is exactly what we expect after 15 years if the warming trend has not changed at all.

    Jones stated that the 15 year trend doesn’t quite reach the 95% standard for statistical confirmation of long term warming. But anything less than 2 C/century will never reach that threshhold over 15 years. This is why climatologists don’t use a 15 year standard, even in years when it would have bolstered their case. Skeptics have far lower standards for themselves.

    15 years of data are too short to prove whether or not the globe is warming. Skeptics like to drop the or not part of that equation. You cannot demonstrate with the last 15 years of data that the globe is not warming significantly if you accept a 95% standard. The evidence against that position is stronger by an order of magnitude.

  74. Nullius in Verba

    “Insignificant means close to zero.”

    The problem is with how you define “close”. For some definitions of “close” it is, and for others, it isn’t. The definition used by scientists says it is close. You can use another definition if you like, but you need to tell us what it is.

    Now, as for what the data says…
    1.) Very probably true.
    2.) Not true. “Trend” implies a particular statistical model, which does not apply to weather data. You can have a change without it being the result of a trend.
    3.) See 2.
    4.) Not true. There is a greater than 90% chance that weather does not follow the zero-trend case of the statistical model implicit in your test. But you have not factored in the probability of the real weather actually fitting within your class of statistical models. Without this assumption, the probability is unknowable.
    5.) Again, this is assuming a statistical model based on AOGCM outputs, which on current understanding are unlikely to be correct.
    6.) True. The data fits a model with no long-term warming, and it fits a model with a constant long-term warming as you describe above. In other words, the data set is too short to distinguish whether there is a genuine change.

    Sceptics are not using the 15 year figure to either confirm or deny long-term warming. Generally speaking, sceptics do not deny long-term warming. The question is, how do we determine how much of the long term warming observed is natural, and how much is due to added CO2. Sceptics believe it warmed for the Minoan warm period, cooled, warmed for the Roman warm period, cooled, warmed for the Medieval warm period, cooled a lot for the little ice age, and has now warmed again for a modern warm period. They’re called interstadials, and they’re perfectly respectable climatology. Sceptics are fully on board with the idea of the climate changing. We’re not trying to say that is hasn’t warmed. What we’re trying to say is that the data does not follow a simple straight line, or rising curve. It’s noisy. It’s complicated. It starts and stops, goes both up and down. It depends on the time scale you pick, and there are time scales in which the data shows the earlier rise slowing to a halt. There is no reason to think that a 30 year time scale is any more accurate than 10 years, or 60 years, or 1500 years, because weather doesn’t work like that. The past does not necessarily predict the future. It has natural variations on every time scale, and averaging over an arbitrary choice of 30 years will not cancel it out.

    The reason the 15 year subject comes up is because people ask the question about how long would we have to go without further global warming before you admitted that you were wrong? It’s an important question, as to whether the AGW hypothesis is falsifiable. If things are not falsifiable, then they’re not scientific. If they’re not falsifiable within the next 30 years (or whatever), then they’re not firm scientific conclusions until the 30 years (or whatever) is up. If a hypothesis cannot be disproved, you can conclude nothing about its truth from a failure to disprove it. So far, we’ve got to around 10-15 years. What’s the magic number we’re all waiting for?

    So, sceptics report the number to say how far we’ve got towards this falsification. The temperature has risen over the 20th century, but if it is natural, then it would be expected to eventually stop. If the AGWers are right, it will rise further.

    If you can have short-term dips, you can have short-term rises. How do you know that the late 20th century rise was not such a short-term excursion?

  75. J: “Insignificant means close to zero.”
    The problem is with how you define “close”…The definition used by scientists says it is close.

    No. A 1.5 C/century increase in global temperature is not insignificant by any scientific standard. It’s using a 15, 8 or 5 year time period that is below scientific standards. Only skeptics use time ranges that short, because those are the only ranges in which their arguments aren’t rejected outright.

    “Trend” implies a particular statistical model, which does not apply to weather data. You can have a change without it being the result of a trend.

    Which is the point climatologists have been making for decades, now. Again, it’s the skeptic community which wants to interpret short term changes in weather as proof of their arguments. Jones was quite diligent in not interpreting the 15 year record that way, despite the fact that he has the stronger case.

    There is a greater than 90% chance that weather does not follow the zero-trend case of the statistical model implicit in your test.

    This is not my test it’s the skeptic’s test. In particular, it’s Lubos Motl’s test. The standard theory of global warming beats the skeptic theory that warming has stopped 90% to 10% using their own standard.

    Sceptics are not using the 15 year figure to either confirm or deny long-term warming.

    This is flat out false. This was the headline from the Daily Mail:

    Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

    And here is a quote from FOX news:

    The embattled ex-head of the research center at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal dropped a bombshell over the weekend, admitting in an interview with the BBC that there has been no global warming over the past 15 years.

    Both these statements are false. And virtually every skeptic columnist and website has interpreted the comment in the same way.

    The reason the 15 year subject comes up is because people ask the question about how long would we have to go without further global warming before you admitted that you were wrong

    Scientific standards have been known for decades now. Skeptics choose to ignore them.

  76. Nullius in Verba

    “No. A 1.5 C/century increase in global temperature is not insignificant by any scientific standard. “

    You are confusing the scientific and everyday meanings of the term “significant”. For a scientist, “significant” means distinguishable from the null hypothesis. If you have a natural noise level in which short-term rises and falls of 15C/century are common, a 1.5C/century would not be distinguishable from noise.

    The same thing happens when scientists say the a proposed medicine has no significant effect. From the point of view of the person who has just got better, the effect may be very significant, but it’s indistinguishable from what happens naturally due to the placebo effect.

    “Which is the point climatologists have been making for decades, now.”

    Only when it suits them.
    If the line goes up, that’s global warming. If the line goes down, that’s meaningless noise.

    “This is flat out false. [...] Both these statements are false.”

    I said that sceptics were not using the figure to confirm or deny long-term warming. So you show two examples where only short-term warming was being discussed.

    Over a 15-year period, which I’m sure you would agree is not “long-term”, global warming (meaning temperature change) has stopped. How is that a statement that “long-term warming” has stopped?

    By the same argument, the government could claim we are not in recession and the economy is still expanding because over the past 30 year period, it has. The critics say it hasn’t expanded significantly over the past 18 months, and therefore has “stopped expanding”, and the government call that a lie. Is it?

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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