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Mea culpa and au revoir

Richard Black | 17:40 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

As several readers have pointed out in comments on my previous post, and several more by e-mail, I made a schoolboy howler in this week's article about how rice yields are responding to temperature rise in Asia.

Rice growing in CambodiaThere are 101 reasons I could bore you with as to why it happened, but essentially it's my error for mis-reading a scientific paper. And I've been kicking myself ever since, because it was such a crass mistake.

So the news article has been changed, and in line with BBC News website policy it's explicitly acknowledged on the story page.

In terms of what the research might suggest about the world of several decades hence, the paper in question doesn't materially change the picture painted in reports from such bodies as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

In 2006, CGIAR released as comprehensive an assessment as science would then allow. It's worth re-visiting what one of the authors, Louis Verchot, told me was the central message of that assessment:

"We're talking about challenges that have to be dealt with at every level, from ideas about social justice to the technology of food production.
 
"We're talking about large-scale human migration and the return to large-scale famines in developing countries, something which we decided 40 or 50 years ago was unacceptable and did something about."

This is not just a climate issue. Human population growth, growing demand for water, and declining biodiversity are other issues wrapped up in the warnings of a coming food crisis.

There is another school of thought - that human ingenuity and economic progress will get round the problem, as they have in the past, notably in the Green Revolution that transformed food-scarce countries such as India into lands of abundance, with food exports contributing to the national coffers.

In principle, of course it could happen again. But as others have pointed out, there seems to be a gap between the resources going into agricultural research now and the size of the potential challenge.

Hungry childAnyway, in contrast to some e-mails I've had about the amended version of this week's article, the headline is accurate - a decline in yields hasn't been seen here, but it is projected from this research, and that is consistent with other studies.

Projections may not turn into reality, of course - but there it is.

Last month, on the occasion of Stephen Schneider's death, I blogged on the extraordinary vitriol to which he and some of his fellow climate scientists have been subjected.

Some of the same stuff comes the way of journalists too; and so it may not surprise to you learn that some of the e-mails I've received on the rice story have accused me not of sloppiness, but of deliberate manipulation of the conclusions through a desire, or possibly a remit, to promulgate some underlying theological stance.

That is not the case, and it's extraordinary to me that anyone could seriously reach such a conclusion - but clearly, some do.

If any positives can come out of a piece of poor reporting, here's one I would highlight.

A number of readers went beyond the news report into the press release - and presumably if Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) were an open-access journal, a number of you would have gone into the scientific paper as well.

Press releases sometimes don't give an entirely accurate account of a piece or work, so going into the paper itself has to be desirable, and that's as much a challenge for PNAS and other subscription journals as it was when the issue of open-access publishing first arose.

The web is the only news medium that offers you the opportunity. When we journalists make mistakes, it means we are more likely to be called to account, and that has to be a positive thing.

Boom and shorelineThis blog is now about to be left untended for several weeks, as I head off for a badly-needed holiday.

But there's a couple of other things I want to flag up.

I had an e-mail this week from my former colleague Tim Hirsch. He sent me a link to an article he wrote for the then fledgling BBC News website back in 1999, a few years after the oil tanker Sea Empress ran aground on the coast of Wales, spilling more than 72,000 tonnes of crude along a coastline that's a favourite for ramblers and nature enthusiasts, not to mention the fishing grounds.

When Tim visited the site, three years had passed since the spill, and there were few signs of oil to be found. With the Deepwater Horizon leak fresh in mind, and questions abounding over whether its environmental effect has been exaggerated, his article made instructive reading.

The second issue is that in a couple of weeks' time - 30 August, to be precise - we should see the release of the InterAcademy Council's review of the IPCC.

It's the last of the major inquiries and reviews surrounding climate science that were commissioned in the wake of "ClimateGate", "HimalayaGate" and so on - and probably the most important, as it could significantly affect how the organisation pursues its work towards its fifth major assessment of climate change, due out in 2013.

You'll have to do without my reporting on that one as I'll still be on leave. But as I understand things, the report itself will be fully available online - so you'll be able to check and doublecheck interpretations put on it by we fallible journalists.

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:37pm on 13 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    I for one will be very saddened not to have your regular updates and input. Irritating as I have found much of what you have written, irritation is a sign of being engaged, and of confronting ideas with which one disagrees. Socrates was the irritating "gadfly of Athens", and disagreement is the lifeblood of science and philosophy.

    Interestingly, I joined the blog when I thought (and said) that the BBC should pay more attention to the Sun's activity. The following page has just appeared on the BBC website:

    Sun's 'quiet period' explained

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10967292

    One thing the article doesn't mention is that cyclic phenomena such as the Sun's activity are a lot like waves: high peaks and low troughs occur together. If the recent/current solar minimum is especially long and low, it is likely to have been preceded by an especially long and high maximum. This must be looked at before we flush our economies even further down the toilet in the name of greenhouse gases!



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  • 2. At 7:48pm on 13 Aug 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black.

    "Human population growth, growing demand for water, and declining biodiversity are other issues wrapped up in the warnings of a coming food crisis. There is another school of thought - that human ingenuity and economic progress will get round the problem, as they have in the past.."

    no problem, 'we' will simply escalate our little wars into a bigger war and bingo.

    still, enjoy your holiday. (not a "Holiday in Cambodia", I trust. :-))

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  • 3. At 7:55pm on 13 Aug 2010, Jack Hughes wrote:

    Richard,

    Your apology starts off well and you should have ended after the 3rd paragraph.

    Reading stories and summarising them correctly is your job - so you can expect some heat when you get it so badly wrong.

    Can I just remind you what yousaid last year about climate skeptics:

    "...we shouldn't be talking about the science but about something unpleasant that happened in their childhood"

    So, please, cut the accusations of skeptics being nasty or unpleasant - snarkiness comes from both sides of the aisle. And enjoy your holiday.

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  • 4. At 8:25pm on 13 Aug 2010, spectrum wrote:

    Stephen Schneider said arguably the dumbest thing a public figure has ever uttered. It isn't merely slimy, it is also incredibly stupid in so many ways.


    "On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well.

    And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both"

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  • 5. At 8:55pm on 13 Aug 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Richard,

    Thanks for a good year of on-line reports. You deserve a good holiday.

    Don't get too up-tight about the odd boob in public; it happens to everybody; it happened to me many times, and still does - even in my postings on your site!

    I think it is worth saying again - you offer more information, background and insight in your postings c.f. the other Editors & HYS. Your regular clientelle of respondees is better blessed than they acknowledge, and grace to give you credit sometimes comes with great difficulty.

    Have a good holiday & return invigorated - in the meantime I shall learn Stephanomics, Eatonism and Robinsonesque. Sagaman - here we come!!

    Regards, Geoff.

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  • 6. At 9:37pm on 13 Aug 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    Richard

    Congratulations on acknowledging this error! But I must agree with Jack Hughes (#3) about where you should have concluded your comment. The first thing I noticed in reading it was your 'yes, but' spin starting with the fourth paragraph:

    "In terms of what the research might suggest about the world of several decades hence, the paper in question doesn't materially change the picture painted in reports from such bodies as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)."

    What these dubious sources "paint" in general is irrelevant to this particular point, and this dodge reminds of of who knows how many occasions when the IPCC has made similar 'yes, but' admissions of errors.
    We can expect more from the next whitewash review you mentioned.

    Perhaps they'll get Tony Bliar, now a highly paid climate expert, to testify about it, Iraq-style.

    Its called denial.

    To your credit, it wasn't just your "error for mis-reading a scientific paper." It is just another junk science paper from the PNAS junk climate 'science' factory.

    But since it did fit your chosen world view, you too eagerly accepted what it claimed. People do that all the time - from both sides of any debate - and in the pre-Climategate era the BBC broadcast ANYTHING that could remotely support the AGW story, no matter how ludicrous it was. (You might want to console your colleague David Shukman (sp?) about that incredible era.)

    In any case, this episode will no doubt give you something to ponder in the quiet times of your holiday. Perhaps you might want to become more sceptical in the future.

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  • 7. At 03:22am on 14 Aug 2010, TJ wrote:

    I was about to comment on the previous bog but it is closed. It still seems appropriate here. Reading about the lofty topics of evolution, creationism, AGW and yes, even Rice Yields. It brought to mind a quote that I just dug out:

    **Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it,
    no matter if I have said it,
    unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.**
    The Buddha

    Creationism is a belief based on the interpretation of multitudes of original historic documents going back centuries. Evolution and AGW are theories (some would say belief) based on the modern idea of the scientific process. None of them has been "proven" and the more we look the more and larger holes we find. The veil over our understanding just continues to get wider and thicker.

    All have been corrupted and taken over by powerful bodies and used to gain control, wealth and power. So it is little wonder that they need to be sustained and bolstered as we have observed. IMO we have got ourselves into an enormous rut and we cannot see the light for the trees. I think The Buddha has a point.

    Have a great vacation Richard and thanks for the blog....






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  • 8. At 04:04am on 14 Aug 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Methinks the blogger doth protest too much. What convenient timing. Mere coincidence or head for the hills, lay low, and hope it'll all be fogotten and blown over when you get back? Somehow we shall all muddle through without you. At least for a few weeks.

    The miracle strains of grains deveolped in the 1960s along with spectacular advances in agriculture brought an end to famines the human race had known since the beginning. Famines in the interim were a matter of inadequate distribution of food, not inadequacy of quantity. That was an opportunity to think long and hard about what the world could sustain and what it couldn't. The time that bought was wasted.

    The stress on the ecosystem that increasing population has brought with it has hastened the end of that period. Few concerned scientists and politicians ever mention population control let alone discuss it seriously yet that is the only option there is to a return to suffering and death on a mass scale. And so as time ticks by the human race acts as though things can go on the way they have been in the recent past forever, more and more people without limit. Those who worry about the climate advise us to make drastic but inevitably futile sacrifices in our quality of life, to cut back on what we do, how we live. To restrict our own freedom, comfort, enjoyment of life because others will not reduce the number of children they have. It is small wonder they are being ignored. They are not thinking very clearly.

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  • 9. At 05:06am on 14 Aug 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    #7. Titus wrote:

    "**Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it,
    no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.**
    The Buddha"

    Wow. I just realized I've been a Buddhist all these years! Who knew?

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  • 10. At 05:43am on 14 Aug 2010, Robyn81 wrote:

    When I read 'au revoir', I thought you were winding up your blog... but not so. THANK GOD.

    Have a marvellous holiday, Richard.

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  • 11. At 09:11am on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #1 bowmanthebard

    "This must be looked at before we flush our economies even further down the toilet in the name of greenhouse gases!"

    that would be the economies that the global free market economic system has sent half way to the sewage farm already i presume.

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  • 12. At 09:21am on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    richard

    good to see the aploogy (contrast and compare with the likes of monckton, morano etc). however don;t beat youself up too much, everyone makes mistakes and check out this article by johann hari for a healthy perspective

    http://johannhari.com/2010/08/13/we-need-to-change-how-we-think-about-our-errors

    spot on for labmunkey to raise it but unfortunately you're working in an area where too many are hunting for teacups just so they can stir up supposed storms.

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  • 13. At 09:22am on 14 Aug 2010, Barry Woods wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 14. At 09:35am on 14 Aug 2010, Barry Woods wrote:

    Fantasy Climate Joke:

    BBC internal memo:

    BBC journalists salaries 'to increase' due to the recession

    ie 'post normal' spin/journalism,

    The real story, the rate of increase in Percentage salary cuts for BBC environmental journalists have gone up. ;)

    -------------

    The headline is misleading,

    Rice Yields 'to fall' under Global Warming

    (presumably left out the man made bit, as a bit of spin as well)

    It implies that rice yield has fallen, now in the REAL world, perhaps forcing prices up for the world's poorest people.

    Food prices has risen due to catastrophic man made global warming alarmism.

    Well done BBC...

    As Richard Black says above:

    "Projections may not turn into reality, of course - but there it is. "

    Real world story ever higher rice production, but let's have a story about projections that promote an CAGW alarmist agenda, at he BBC, instead.

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  • 15. At 09:39am on 14 Aug 2010, Paul Kerr wrote:

    To err is human, and to publicly admit it takes a little grit which is not that common in science reporting.
    The benefit is your readers feel quite a bit more confident they are getting an honest view of things.

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  • 16. At 10:17am on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #12 wrote:

    check out this article by johann hari for a healthy perspective

    I mostly approve of this article, but Johann Hari has something terribly, tragically wrong: science is no more immune to error than any other field. It is idiotically and embarrassingly naive of him to suppose it is.

    Assuming science -- or what passes for "science" in the climatology community -- does in fact give us knowledge, it gives deep knowledge, not reliable knowledge. Until non-sceptics grasp the difference, they look to me like complete fools. I do not see the beginnings of even a hint of whiff of any such grasp in anything any non-sceptic has written on this blog or anywhere else.

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  • 17. At 10:55am on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    People who swallow inductivism in medicine, psychology, sociology and "climate science" should frame the following quotation (from Thursday's London Times):

    At the time of his trial everyone in the courtroom believed that pregnant women hardly ever took their own lives and certainly not just before the baby was due. This was confirmed by research.

    The new statistics reveal that not only was suicide the main cause of maternal deaths, but that hanging was the most frequent method.


    "Confirmed by research", believed by everyone -- then un-confirmed by the "new statistics". Both the original "research" and the "new statistics" are obviously complete garbage. This should be obvious to everyone with half a brain.

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  • 18. At 1:07pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #16 bowman

    as a true sceptic myself i have to agree with you that scientists and the scientific process has flaws and makes mistakes. only a fool would pretend otherwise.

    however, as a true sceptic i take all the information i can find and look at it and its provenance and make decisions which i think will allow me to come closest to the truth. my reading, as i decided some years ago and has only been reinforced over the years, is that agw is the most likely explanation of climate change by a long, long margin. if that makes me a fool in your eyes so be it.

    on a slightly different tack, a point you made some time ago about my views on biodiversity leading to the gas chamber prompted me to dig up some of my old books (which i always enjoy). i understand the issues that many have with european romanticism a la rousseau, nietzsche etc and the ideas of 'the general will' and 'will to power' which neither author explains clearly enough. and i understand how, when these ideas are taken out of context and distorted by evil ideologies can lead to horrible outcomes.

    however, that does not mean that ideas that are not purely based on rational cost/benefit are bereft of any merit or will inevitable lead to nazism or an equivalent. it just means that we have to be ever vigilant that ideas are not distorted and misused (the best example of which i can think of is the iraq war - started by the manipulation of anglo-saxon cultural heritage).

    so although rousseau's ideas, totally distorted, may have been hijacked by french revolutionaries and may have contributed to the rise of napoleon, i believe they have finally found a home in the european social market capitalism which by my reckoning is the only route we currently have to solving 21st issues.

    although i'm sure you'll vehemently disagree (since we agree on so little!).

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  • 19. At 1:10pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #17 bowmanthebard

    what you have highlighted is the scientific process. research is sometimes superseded. to then argue from that the a whole branch of science being wrong is utter nonsense.

    ross (with half a brain.....well two halves actually although that is not a statistically significant number)

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  • 20. At 1:25pm on 14 Aug 2010, Barry Woods wrote:

    Imagine, as an analogy..
    If the BBC business section had written an article titled.

    House Prices ‘to fall’

    When in fact the rate INCREASE of house price had fallen slightly….. ( they have increased, but only by say, for example, 4% this year compared to, say, for example 5% the previous year)

    Imagine, if it had been pointed out to them, this was factually wrong, and they issued a minor correction and left the same title, and bulk of the story/spin..

    The BBC would be (rightly) accused of spinning a headline against the facts, as a political statement, and there would be trouble (lots of it, poltical and otherwise – ie markets)..

    (remembering, at all times, the BBC is publically funded, and has a charter that say it should be impartial and accurate, and provide an apolitical public service. It is not some sort of newspaper or media channel with a party line, or political bent)

    So prior to the correction, ‘sloppy’ journalism….. possibly?
    Following the correction, the facts having been spelt out to them by many people.

    As Richard Black says above:

    "Projections may not turn into reality, of course - but there it is. "

    Real world story ever higher rice production, but let's have a story about 'projections' that promote an CAGW alarmist agenda, at the BBC, instead.

    Then deliberate ‘spin’ to keep that headline, and not rewrite the article to get it accurate now in the real World vs 'projections'
    Totally unacceptable for the BBC

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  • 21. At 1:29pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Richard Black

    Hope you enjoy your holiday.

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  • 22. At 1:38pm on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #19 wrote:

    what you have highlighted is the scientific process.

    Inductive methods are pseudo-scientific processes, used only by pseudo-

    research is sometimes superseded.

    That sort of "research" -- statistical extrapolation -- is nearly always superseded. It gives the newspapers something to write about, and psychology and medical "research" students something to fatten their CVs with. It's worse than worthless.

    a whole branch of science being wrong is utter nonsense.

    Why are you calling it a "science"? -- Neither you nor any other AGW-believers have ever made the slightest effort to distinguish between genuine science and pseudo-science, and I conclude that you are simply unable to do so.

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  • 23. At 1:42pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Jack Hughes #3

    On the previous blog you managed to quote Richard correctly.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/08/last_year_you_could_hardly.html#P99358815

    However on this blog your quote is incomplete and potentially misleading. Here's a fuller version of that quote, where Richard appears to be explaining a range of views on the subject:

    "There are two distinct views of why climate scepticism exists in the way it does today.

    One - promulgated by many sceptics themselves - speaks to a rigorous, analytical deconstruction of a deeply-flawed scientific edifice that is maintained by a self-interested cabal of tax-hungry politicians and careerist scientists.

    The other is that climate scepticism has psychological roots; that it stems from a deep-seated inability or unwillingness to accept the overwhelming evidence that humanity has built with coal and lubricated with oil its own handcart whose destination board reads "climate hell".

    As one ex-scientist and now climate action advocate put it to me rather caustically a while back: "I've been debating the science with them for years, but recently I realised we shouldn't be talking about the science but about something unpleasant that happened in their childhood"."


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/12/cop15_questions_about_sex.html

    I trust that you recognise it is important to make reasonable efforts to quote people correctly.

    Incidentally I feel sorry for you if you think that there is no space for any error in an ordinary job such as journalism. We're hardly talking open heart surgery or air traffic control here.

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  • 24. At 1:51pm on 14 Aug 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    RobynHood;

    "When I read 'au revoir', I thought you were winding up your blog... but not so."

    That's what I thought too at first. So then it's only a hiatus. After making you think it's good-bye forever, you find he's just taking a break and therefore you will hopefully give him a free pass. OK, you get a free pass. Even the best of us make an occasional mistake, why should journalists be any different.

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  • 25. At 1:58pm on 14 Aug 2010, Charles Howie wrote:

    Hi Richard.

    Bad luck Richard, yields and yield trends aren't the same things, but its an easily made mistake. Yield trends need to keep in line with population growth or many people will be even hungrier in a few years time. An unfortunate consequence of the arrival of Labour in government in 1997 was a belief that 'poverty reduction' was so important that it should override agricultural research as a spending priority. It took some time to correct this and recognise the two are linked. I hope the new government doesn't make the same mistake and cut down funding for agricultural research. Maintaining positive yield trends in food crops is essential for world food security until such time as the population stops growing and existing food poverty is eliminated. Charles

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  • 26. At 2:01pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Titus #7

    Creationism, at least the better publicised forms that certain people want taught in schools, is a category error.

    Imagine a work of fiction. In the work of fiction someone has a game of tennis. Now does the ball in the game of tennis behave as it does because of the law of gravity (and other basic laws of physics), or because the author "tells" the ball where to go?

    Or are both true? Fully true? And if both are true then surely the law of gravity deserves full respect, and dissing the law of gravity could be seen as dissing the author, or at least not fully appreciating the author.

    Meanwhile many creationists come out with variations on the tedious line "any science theory that doesn't agree with the Bible is wrong". As if the Bible was written as a science textbook. As if the Bible wasn't chock full of overt parables and metaphors. (No I am not denying a historical Jesus.) As if parables and metaphors weren't a powerful way of honestly conveying religious and moral ideas. As if the genealogies of Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3 actually match. As if God's instructions to Noah in Genesis chapter 6 and Genesis chapter 7 actually match. And those two examples are the tip of the iceberg with respect to problems taking the Bible too literally.

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  • 27. At 2:10pm on 14 Aug 2010, Barry Woods wrote:

    Some holiday reading below?

    everyone needs a break to realx and gather ones thoughts, just got back myself, a whole week without internet or phones. Actually it was bliss

    A couple of extracts:

    "Satellite Failure Means Decade of Global Warming Data Doubtful

    US Government admits satellite temperature readings “degraded.”

    All data taken offline in shock move. Global warming temperatures may be 10 to 15 degrees too high. The fault was first detected after a tip off from an anonymous member of the public to climate skeptic blog, Climate Change Fraud 09 August 2010.

    Caught in the center of the controversy is the beleaguered taxpayer funded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s Program Coordinator, Chuck Pistis has now confirmed that the fast spreading story on the respected climate skeptic blog is true.

    However, NOAA spokesman, Program Coordinator, Chuck Pistis declined to state how long the fault might have gone undetected. Nor would the shaken spokesman engage in speculation as to the damage done to the credibility of a decade’s worth of temperature readings taken from the problematic ‘NOAA-16’ satellite."

    AND:

    "NOAA has reported a succession of record warm temperatures in recent years based on such satellite readings but these may now all be undermined. World-renowned Canadian climatologist, Dr. Timothy Ball, after casting his expert eye over the shocking findings concluded, “At best the entire incident indicates gross incompetence, at worst it indicates a deliberate attempt to create a temperature record that suits the political message of the day.”

    Great Lakes users of the satellite service were the first to blow the whistle on the wildly distorted readings that showed a multitude of impossibly high temperatures. NOAA admits that the machine-generated readings are not continuously monitored so that absurdly high false temperatures could have become hidden amidst the bulk of automated readings...."

    And More below:

    http://www.climatechangefraud.com/climate-reports/...

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  • 28. At 2:21pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @spectrum #4

    Your Schneider quote is out of context, especially with your use of the word "slimy". He is actually condemning the sort of misinformation your own text refers to.

    I also remind you that in this context "effective" also applies to the challenge of honestly communicating difficult technical ideas. Here's Schneider's own description of what his text refers to:

    "I tried to explain to Schell how to be both effective and honest: by using metaphors that simultaneously convey both urgency and uncertainty, and also by producing supporting documents of all types and lengths (see the "scientist popularizer"). Unfortunately, this clarification is absent from the Discover article, and this omission opened the door for fifteen years of subsequent distortions and attacks. Ironically, this is the consummate example of my grievance about problems arising from short reports of long interviews."

    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Mediarology/Mediarology.html

    I remind you that the current official topics of this thread include getting quotes right.

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  • 29. At 2:41pm on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #26 wrote:

    many creationists come out with variations on the tedious line "any science theory that doesn't agree with the Bible is wrong".

    But most Creationism is much more insidious than that -- it is dressed up as "intelligent design" theory, or even more cunningly disguised as the idea that there is a "way things were meant to be". This is really the source of panic at the thought that a "delicate balance" in nature will be disrupted unless we strive to restore it, and get things back to the way they were "meant to be".

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  • 30. At 2:47pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #22 bowmanthebard

    "Neither you nor any other AGW-believers have ever made the slightest effort to distinguish between genuine science and pseudo-science, and I conclude that you are simply unable to do so."

    pseudo-science means nothing. your definition will be different to the next non-sceptic. why would anyone want to spend time distinguishing two abstract concepts in your head?

    your attempt to rubbish inductive science reminds me a bit of the vienna circle's verification principle....here is our rule for measuring a valid statement....sorry our rule is not a valid statement.

    "It's worse than worthless." - you're not even wrong.

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  • 31. At 3:15pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #27 barry woods

    yawn, another non-story. still it was a useful exercise googling the text since i now have a pretty comprehensive list of the agw denial websites. useful in the future to see where stories come from.

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  • 32. At 3:23pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #28 janebasingstoke

    "I remind you that the current official topics of this thread include getting quotes right."

    valid point jane. but in reality we're mostly dealing with cut and paste merchants from the denial websites where i'm sure all the nuances are missing. the internet is a fantastic medium for promulgating memes....good and bad.

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  • 33. At 3:24pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @BarryWoods

    First of all, rubbish link. You want a link that actually works.

    (crosses fingers and hopes rubbish link wasn't the result of some technical limitation)
    http://www.climatechangefraud.com/climate-reports/7491-official-satellite-failure-means-decade-of-global-warming-data-doubtful

    And in case it was a technical limitation, here's the site's home page
    http://www.climatechangefraud.com/

    Secondly given the hyperbole in this article something needs to be clarified. This problem satellite does not appear from the article to be anything to do with the main satellite temperature data sets RSS and UAH.

    Now according to the article the problem satellite is NOAA-16. Now I found the following comment dated February 2007 at the remss.com website (RSS temperature set):

    "Data from NOAA-16 AMSU are no longer used.
    NOAA-16 data appear to be drifting relative to data from earlier satellites."


    (sorry, no link, problems with either remss.com or the relevant webpage meant I had to look at the Google cache)

    UAH seem even less interested. I found one reference to NOAA-16 at Roy Spencer's site - a comparison between NOAA-15 and NOAA-16 - and that only in a paper examining clouds and radiation budgets.

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  • 34. At 3:26pm on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #30 wrote:

    pseudo-science means nothing.

    I rest my case.

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  • 35. At 3:51pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #27

    The really sneaky thing about ID is that it is frequently just dressing up. So engaging with someone signed up to ID normally means engaging with someone who won't admit that their real problem with evolution is that they expect science theories to conform to the Bible.

    In the meantime I remind you that as well as the action demanding "this is the way the world ought to be" types we have the Dr Panglosses of this world with their action sapping "we live in the best of all possible worlds". And there are plenty of things in the world that are straightforwardly unpleasant that need tackling for reasons entirely sympathetic to your hero Mill's philosophy.

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  • 36. At 3:51pm on 14 Aug 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 4:09pm on 14 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #34 bowmanthebard

    ""pseudo-science means nothing.""

    "I rest my case."

    very drole. so can i look forward to reading less drivel about "pseudo-science" then.....some chance.

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  • 38. At 5:26pm on 14 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @rossglory #32

    I think if we want to tackle some of the unpleasant results of quote mining we need to acknowledge the motivation behind it.

    For the most part it is enthusiastic bloggers with a cause. And they do not realise the way extracting a short piece of text to highlight issues they have with it can result in a loss of context that distorts and sometimes even reverses the meaning.

    Finally a reminder. Quote mining hurts both sides.

    It hurts the individual whose quote has been distorted by loss of context. But it also hurts the credibility of anyone who distorts the quote in this way, and creates booby traps for those on their own side of the debate who pick up on the distorted quote. And it helps foster unnecessary bad feeling between both sides.

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  • 39. At 7:48pm on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #30 wrote:

    why would anyone want to spend time distinguishing two abstract concepts in your head?

    Concepts/words such as 'science' and 'pseudoscience' stand for real things, and for thousands of years intelligent people have tried to distinguish between "truth conducive" practices and mere fakery. For example, Plato detested sophistry (sophists were academic/lawyer types who sold convincing-sounding ideas to a gullible public instead of using reflection, argument, reason, etc.).

    If you look at the history of ideas, you will see that many of the most popular ones used dodgy methodology. For example, the Romans were much into "reading the entrails" as a means of predicting the future. In the Middle Ages, alchemy and comets meant big business. The "jury is still out" on more recent ideas -- such as whether slips of the tongue or dreams really reveal one's inner desires.

    Surely you can see how important it is to distinguish between crummy practices and practices that help us arrive at truth (however infallibly)?

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  • 40. At 8:01pm on 14 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #35 wrote:

    I remind you that as well as the action demanding "this is the way the world ought to be" types we have the Dr Panglosses of this world with their action sapping "we live in the best of all possible worlds".

    I like that analogy, as I share Voltaire's furious anticlericalism!

    For me, the Panglosses are unregulated-market ideologues who think an "invisible hand" will guide us to the broad sunlit uplands of an ideal world -- much the same as the pessimists who think we have "fallen from grace" from ditto. At least optimists are a bit more likable than pessimists!

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  • 41. At 07:55am on 15 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #39 bowmanthebard

    "Surely you can see how important it is to distinguish between crummy practices and practices that help us arrive at truth (however infallibly)?"

    indeed. but you have created a false dichotomy between "science" and "psudo-science" that i believe is purely arbitrary and therefore unrelated to anything meaningful in the context of the discussion here.

    of course the delineation into categories is a useful evolutionary trait to help recognise different species, separate healthy animals from sick animals in a wild herd etc and has reached its apotheosis in the train spotter. but it is also easy to think you have discovered an important distinction when none exists, e.g. before linnaeus animals species were named based on a wide range of traits (e.g. their usefulness to humans) rather than traits that identified their genealogy.

    in essence i think you have made a category error and then worse than that have imposed your subjective ethical view on them.

    so, maybe as a good linguistic analyst you should define your terms. perhaps:
    science: scientific processes that support bowmanthebard's world view and prejudices.
    pseudo-science: scientific processes that do not support bowmanthebard's world view and prejudices.

    i can accept these definitions and since in one sense they describe something in the real world (i.e. your head) then maybe we no longer need to debate this matter.

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  • 42. At 07:58am on 15 Aug 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #40 bowmanthebard

    "At least optimists are a bit more likable than pessimists!"

    i knew a very optimistic glider pilot once. he doesn't fly anymore after his accident. but he was likable.

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  • 43. At 11:19am on 15 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #41 wrote:

    you have created a false dichotomy between "science" and "psudo-science" that i believe is purely arbitrary and therefore unrelated to anything meaningful in the context of the discussion here.

    I have repeatedly given clear and unambiguous explanation in terms of the reliability of induction as a form of inference, and the centrality of the hypothetico-deductive method. What is "purely arbitrary" about that?

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  • 44. At 12:22pm on 15 Aug 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    @RichardBlack

    Enjoy your holiday and come back refreshed.

    I still am none the wiser as to who is right and who is wrong in these debates. I especially miss the responses from manysummits. One thing is for sure, there are few reliable truths except death and taxes.

    At least these debates help us iron out popular misconceptions.

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  • 45. At 3:26pm on 15 Aug 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    .
    When does Weather become Climate?
    .
    I am getting a bit concerned that the 'weather' I am seeing on the world news each day might actually be 'climate'.
    Greenland, Russia, China, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, Brazil - and that is only this week!
    .
    Does anybody think that there might actually be something Really Large going on?
    .

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  • 46. At 5:44pm on 15 Aug 2010, Dr Brian wrote:

    45. GeoffWard wrote:
    'When does Weather become Climate?,

    Easy answer.
    According to the government, weather becomes climate when events occur that favour a diagnosis of 'man made global warming'. Examples might be the recent fires in Russia or the Pakistani floods.
    When similar events occur that go against the paradigm (the 2009 cold winter and summer) these are airily dismissed as 'only weather'.
    There is nothing Really Large going on it's just that with a global news service it only takes a warm day in Tuvalu or a cool one in Timbuctoo for some over-exited cub reporter to start trumpeting the global warming mantra.
    Take a cool pill and watch the football.

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  • 47. At 8:24pm on 15 Aug 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    GeoffWard wrote @45: 'When does Weather become Climate?
    I am getting a bit concerned that the 'weather' I am seeing on the world news each day might actually be 'climate'.
    Greenland, Russia, China, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, Brazil - and that is only this week!
    .
    Does anybody think that there might actually be something Really Large going on?
    .........................
    .
    DrBrianS wrote @ 46: "Easy answer: According to the Government, weather becomes climate when events occur that favour a diagnosis of 'man made global warming'...".
    ........................
    .
    Brian, you mistake the simplicity of my questions as needing a simple, or even flippant, answer.
    I was hoping that there would be intelligent people out there with sensible thoughts and considered answers. I know these are within your scope. I think that there is rational discussion to be had and I´d rather discuss it than 'go' like the proverbial boiled frog, watching footie on the TV (to give a visual image to your advice).
    .
    [I´m wanting to step back from the minute arguments about a particular satellite going on the blink, or a 0.005 degrees C increase or decrease at one particular monitoring device...]
    .
    This is a Big Question about asking us to try to see a Big Picture. Because sometimes things become so 'everyday' that we fail to see them for what they might be. We fail to see significance in lots of things that, together, make a Very Big Thing.
    .
    We know from geological evidence that full-blown climate flips have occured in less than a decade. If the 'weather' continues doing its present thing ("Greenland, Russia, China, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, Brazil", etc.) for the next few years, .............................. what do YOU (my blog-friends) think we should REALLY be looking at and looking for to RECOGNISE our situation as The Very Big Thing?

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  • 48. At 8:51pm on 15 Aug 2010, Dr Brian wrote:

    47. GeoffWard wrote:
    'I was hoping that there would be intelligent people out there with sensible thoughts and considered answers.'

    Don't be silly Geoff. Nobody is concerned about saving the world on a Sunday evening. Wait until tomorrow or, better still, wait until the holiday season is over. Nothing works better at conquering that overwhelming feeling of wanting to shout "The sky is falling. The sky is falling" than sleeping on it. All your night fears will vanish and the world will be a bright place.
    Instead of worrying you can watch 'Titanic 2' on Syfy. A truly dreadful movie. Definitely more of a disaster than man-made global warming.

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  • 49. At 9:46pm on 15 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ 44 sensible
    "At least these debates help us iron out popular misconceptions."

    Then it's all working well i'd say, as it's a very good goal.

    @ richard.

    I actually had more sympathy for you than most (which is suprising given our past discussions). You were mislead by a very poorley written summary piece, which then can quite easily make 'spotting' the mistake in the actual paper exceptionally difficult. The summary sets the expectatoins, so to speak, so your (collective) mind misses the details.

    Scientists are trained to look for this kind of thing, hence i and others picking it up- but i completely understand why others didn't.

    Your virtually immediate re-write and note HIGhLIGHTING the re-write do you tremendous credit. Though, i must say the piece is STILL misleading and the conclusions in the piece and your post above are not supported by the paper.

    However, as bowman aptly wrote in post #1, i disagree with a lot of what you say (on climate change, other subjects not so much) but i always find your posts interesting and enjoyable to 'go in to'. As i too, find it enjoyable and exceptionally informative discussing with bloggers on here too.

    Enjoy your holiday Richard- don't forget the sunscreen. It'll all look better over a pint or three!

    And, this just in :

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/14/breaking-new-paper-makes-a-hockey-sticky-wicket-of-mann-et-al-99/#more-23450

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  • 50. At 10:04pm on 15 Aug 2010, quake wrote:

    Re 45. GeoffWard:

    It's possible that the recent regional events are tied together and have been enabled by the particularly warm global temperatures in recent months. It's hard for that to become more than a possibility unless such events become common during warm periods in coming years as well.

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  • 51. At 08:46am on 16 Aug 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    GeoffWard at post 47 and post 45

    'When does Weather become Climate'

    I for one, take your question seriously. I can't answer it, obviously, but the BBC have produced an explanation about the position of the jet stream at the moment (with graphics) On a different site, the normal graph pattern looks quite unlike the distinctive shape it normally forms, but I KNOW that I could easily misinterpret data.

    I watched the film 'Knowing' yesterday. Worth a 'gander', if you want to scare yourself half to death.

    Doesn't the jet stream behave differently when sea temperatures rise?

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  • 52. At 09:18am on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    And on a lighter note....
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/16/new-zealands-niwa-sued-over-climate-data-adjustments/

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  • 53. At 10:35am on 16 Aug 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    For those of you interested in education:

    google:
    jet stream and sea temperature rise
    find:
    NWS JetStream-The Sea Breeze

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  • 54. At 10:43am on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @GeoffWard
    @DrBrianS
    @quake
    @sensibleoldgrannie

    "Weather" versus "Climate"

    No easy cut off point. Also climate can work on a number of timescales.

    Personally I'd say that even grouped together most of those recent weather stories are still weather.

    However their link to weird stuff with the jet stream and possibly the sunspot cycle may make them part of a climate feature.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727730.101-frozen-jet-stream-links-pakistan-floods-russian-fires.html

    I have found sensible articles on the topic at both sceptic and warmist sites. (Note, in both cases they are mirroring articles from elsewhere.)

    http://www.thegwpf.org/international-news/1362-meteorologists-blame-jet-stream-for-unusual-weather-pattern.html
    http://www.350resources.org.uk/2010/08/11/frozen-jet-stream-links-pakistan-floods-russian-fires/

    And here's a related article on jet stream weirdness and last winter's regional extremes

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8615789.stm

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  • 55. At 11:11am on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #54 wrote:

    their link to weird stuff with the jet stream and possibly the sunspot cycle may make them part of a climate feature.

    Have you noticed the way New Scientist uses the word 'unsure' to mean "clueless"? -- For example: "So what is the root cause of all of this? Meteorologists are unsure."

    To be unsure is the constant human condition. To be clueless is to have no idea one way or the other.

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  • 56. At 11:26am on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #53

    Hi grannie. Found it.

    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/ocean/seabreezes.htm

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  • 57. At 11:28am on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @sensibleoldgrannie #53

    Are you having problems using links in posts?

    Select the whole URL including "http" in the address bar at the top of the window.
    Copy URL into cut and paste buffer using Ctrl C
    Position your cursor in your text by clicking.
    Paste URL from the buffer into text using Ctrl V

    If for whatever reason you can't see your address bar then you can always do right-click properties to get the URL for most web pages.

    BBC thread software automatically converts most URLs starting "http" into clickable links, although you do need to be careful that you don't accidentally append stuff to the end of the URL.

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  • 58. At 11:37am on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    No comments on my link in # 49?

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  • 59. At 11:44am on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #54

    Did you read the whole article, including the stuff on Lockwood's work? Or is this another entry for the Bowman dictionary.

    "Clueless" = Some clues actually present including the basic symptoms of the topic under discussion. Some theories also present and at least superficially consistent with 350 years worth of historical evidence.

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  • 60. At 12:46pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #58 #49

    I'm not a statistician.

    I can't evaluate conflicting claims made by professionals on the stats of hockey sticks, at least not without me doing substantial reading up on all the related topics. I would hope that this paper is scrutinised by those with experience in all relevant fields, followed up by more dialogue between statisticians and the others.

    (I also have problems evaluating PDFs when I get acrord32.exe taking 99% CPU and apparently preventing me from scrolling within the PDF.)

    Still I'm sure that if it is the big deal Watts suggests then we will hear more about it.

    Meanwhile I remind you that Hockey Sticks have never been part of the core scientific case for AGW. "An Inconvenient Truth" is not the core scientific case, it's a personal take by a non-scientist.

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  • 61. At 1:09pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ 60.

    Stange about the pdf-thing, try the alternative link. It's the one i used.

    The statistics in it, whilst in places complex- are easy to follow. I have only moderate statistical training and i breezed through it- you should be ok.

    "Meanwhile I remind you that Hockey Sticks have never been part of the core scientific case for AGW."
    Quite, however the hockey stick point is only the 'framing' for the points raised in the paper. They used man's and the IPCC's numbers as their starting point- i.e. assuming everything the IPCC and Man had produced to be accurate and then tried to 'back validate' the proxies. They then performed independant statistical analysis on the data the IPCC used.

    In short, and assuming everything is as written and that i've understood correctly, the paper proves, quite comprehensivley that:

    a) the proxies used to generate the temperature records are no better than random numbers and cannot actually be tied to temperature with any level of significance

    b) the calculations and models based on these proxies are significantly flawed and in most cases lead to erroneous results

    c) that it is extremely likely that the current (modern) temperature records have been significantly contaminated by the proxy data

    d) that the climate scientists have made unjustified and overexxagerated claims on the back of what little data they had.

    It's rather interesting stuff and well worth the read- it would be nice to have a second opinion to check i'm not misreading something.

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  • 62. At 1:40pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #61

    "c) that it is extremely likely that the current (modern) temperature records have been significantly contaminated by the proxy data"

    Can't find this in the abstract, where such a significant finding would be flagged. Instead the only reference to recent temperatures is whether or not similar historical highs could be identified using just the proxies and appropriate stats.

    You may be interested in this

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/21/inquiry-disinformation-about-crutem/

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  • 63. At 1:41pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    60. At 12:46pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    Hockey Sticks have never been part of the core scientific case for AGW. "An Inconvenient Truth" is not the core scientific case, it's a personal take by a non-scientist.

    But visual aids such as the Hockey Stick graph have been part of the core political case, and with good reason. Science never addresses the question of how confident we can be in its own findings. All it ever says is "this is the way things are". When lawmakers or the general public try to make decisions about what's the best thing to do, we have to go further than that, and consider how much confidence we can have in the theory's projections, the various negative consequences of alternative courses of action, and so on. For that sort of judgement, the human eye is extremely reliable -- much more reliable than abstract lists of figures or symbols.

    The Hockey Stick graph was a potent decision-making weapon -- it made everyone sit up and take notice, and it caused alarm, with good reason. If the reality is better represented by a random-looking meandering up and down all over the place, the human eye says "nothing much to see here -- carry on as usual!" And again, with good reason.

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  • 64. At 2:00pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ jane.

    I've had random crashes with the pdf if i opened it via the browser. open it via the second link, then save locally. you should have no issue reading it there- but be warned. The section on Lasso models is extremely... dense (the rest isn't too bad- get past that bit and you've broken the back of the paper) :-)

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  • 65. At 2:11pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    : jane #62

    this was the bit i was reffering to:

    "Footnote 12:

    On the other hand, perhaps our model is unable to detect the high level of and sharp run-up in recent temperatures because anthropogenic factors have, for example, caused a regime change in the relation between temperatures and proxies. While this is certainly a consistent line of reasoning, it is also fraught with peril for, once one admits the possibility of regime changes in the instrumental period, it raises the question of whether such changes exist elsewhere over the past 1,000 years. Furthermore, it implies that up to half of the already short instrumental record is corrupted by anthropogenic factors, thus undermining paleoclimatology as a statistical enterprise"

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  • 66. At 2:49pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #65

    But corrupted in what respect?

    If merely corrupted in respect of reliably calibrating temperature proxies then this only affects the ability to use temperature proxies. I remind you of issues with "divergence" and McIntyre's coverage of the explanation for Mann's mistakes in "upside down Mann".

    Meanwhile if corrupted in respect of reliably using temperature measurements for global temperature averages they would have flagged it up in the abstract rather than bury it in an ambiguous statement in a footnote.

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  • 67. At 2:58pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #63

    That little history lesson is irrelevant when examining the impact of a new look at the Hockey Stick on the scientific case for mainstream AGW.

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  • 68. At 3:07pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    jane,if i'm reading this correctly they are basically saying that anthropogenic effects (such as HIE) have contaminated the temperature records. There are numerous things in the paper that are ot included in the abstract, it is a 45 page+ paper, do include everything in the abstract would be a bit daft.

    Now, i cannot access the paper at work due to my work pc having fights with adobe- but when i get home i'll bring up the relevant passage and quote it for you- refrencing the page etc.

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  • 69. At 3:15pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ 67- jane it is not the 'new look' at the hockey stick that is the pertinent matter in this paper- i cannot stress strongly enough the importance of reading the whole paper.

    it's a surgical deconstruction of one of the basic foundations of climate science- the reliance on proxies and models.

    Without which, AGW and climate science (in the alarmist context) ceases to exist.

    I'm going to have to re-read this a few times to digest fully and at present, i'm only offering it up as a talking point and something that we all should read at present- NOT proof of anything- but should it pan out the way the current skeptic commentators suggest, this is an exceptionally important point in the AGW debate.

    Of course, we have to wait for the response from Mann/ the IPCC to see their take (everyone is entitled to a right to reply, even more so in this case), so i'd urge caution before we get in a 'tizzy' over it.

    I'd just like another opinion on the paper at this stage,.

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  • 70. At 3:34pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #67 wrote:

    "the scientific case for mainstream AGW"

    The "scientific case" for a branch of science is not itself a branch of science.

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  • 71. At 4:53pm on 16 Aug 2010, SamuelPickwick wrote:

    LabMunkey, 'another opinion': speaking as someone on 'your side' I think you are overstating the case a bit (for example your comment about climate science ceasing to exist!) and Jane was right to call you out on (c).
    Certainly it is a Good Thing that real statisticians are looking into this, and certainly they come down more on the McIntyre side than the Mann side.
    It's a paper with a lot of technical stuff in it but it is well written so even if you don't understand the stats you can read the intro and conclusions and look at the pictures. They say that "Climate scientists have greatly underestimated the uncertainty of proxybased reconstructions and hence have been overconfident in their models." Their reconstruction in fig 17 has a warmer MWP and much larger error bars than the climate scientists.

    And let's stop attacking Richard and wish him a happy holiday!

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  • 72. At 4:55pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #69

    It is a new look at the Hockey Stick.

    Parts of the paper are explicit about "multi proxy reconstructions". Others are explicit about the timescales. All the stats appear to have been done for Hockey Stick timescales and for Hockey Stick temperature ranges.

    References to "models" seem to refer to the types of stats used. "Model" is explicitly linked to their forecasts and their backcasts, and to temperature reconstructions in general.

    OK, you can't look at the PDF at work. Well look at the Watts Up With That coverage, and note that McShane and Wyner 2010 Figure 16 is described as "Backcast from Baysian Model of Section 5."

    Meanwhile what do you mean by "HIE adjustment"? I tried googling this and all I could find was
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/01/reflections_in_a_confusing_cli.html#P91372211

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  • 73. At 5:07pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    Jane- it evaluates the ability of the proxies, taking the data colelcted by mann et al to be 'good', and shows that they cannot be reliably used to predict ANYTHING and that random data does better.

    Seriously jane -read the whole thing.

    @Samuel.

    my statement about climate science ceasing to exist was aimed solely at the alarmist side, not the 'normal' side. I was trying to suggest that if the paper's take on proxie reconstruction, wrt temperature trends holds- then all claims of 'unprecidented warming' dissapear, and so with it, any claims that the current warming can be attributed to man.

    It's very simple logic.

    It's also up on CA if you guys want a more technical discussion.

    Jane, HIE is another acronym for heat islands adjustments.

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  • 74. At 5:30pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #73

    "evaluates the ability of the proxies"

    Compares them to various types of random. Yes, found that.

    And what scales are the various types of random? How big are the random fluctuations in either temperature or time? It's all on Hockey Stick scales, isn't it. So the stats only apply to the proxies for Hockey Stick timescales.

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  • 75. At 5:43pm on 16 Aug 2010, Paul Butler wrote:

    LabMunkey #65

    "Furthermore, it implies that up to half of the already short instrumental record is corrupted by anthropogenic factors, thus undermining paleoclimatology as a statistical enterprise"

    I think they are saying that the temperatures reported in the instrumental record may already be influenced so much by anthropogenic factors that this (instrumental) period cannot be used to train the proxies as a reliable predictor of temperatures before these anthropogenic factors became significant.

    Certainly your interpretation in #61:
    c) that it is extremely likely that the current (modern) temperature records have been significantly contaminated by the proxy data

    is impossible, since proxy data are not used in any way to construct modern records.

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  • 76. At 5:51pm on 16 Aug 2010, Paul Butler wrote:

    LabMunkey #73

    ... all claims of 'unprecidented warming' dissapear, and so with it, any claims that the current warming can be attributed to man.

    It's very simple logic.


    Well err, not really

    (a) its fairly well known that temperatures were significantly warmer early in the Holocene than they are today, so even where Mann et al claim 'unprecedented warming' they are only using that phrase in the context of the past 1,000 years or so.

    (b) the theory that modern warming is due to anthropogenic influences is based on physics, not on proxies

    I think your jumping to conclusions - although in fairness, I think you got to that conclusion a long time ago!

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  • 77. At 6:07pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #73

    "HIE is another acronym for heat islands adjustments."

    Thanks for that. But even with that I still can't find any reference to HIE in McShane and Wyner.

    I've found a reference to "Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago in the Artic" and "Attu Island the westernmost island in the Aleutian islands arcipelago". But nothing that looks like a reference to a heat island, urban or otherwise.

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  • 78. At 6:46pm on 16 Aug 2010, Jack Hughes wrote:

    @sensible_old_grannie

    Think of "climate change" like a corner shop where there always seem to be problems with change at the cash register.

    Now look more closely and observe that the problems always seem to be in the shopkeeper's favour.

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  • 79. At 6:50pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #76 Paul Butler wrote:

    the theory that modern warming is due to anthropogenic influences is based on physics, not on proxies

    Then why would anyone sully their own reputation by touching proxies with a barge pole? They stink.

    Physics says nothing about anthropogenic influences. It says things about atoms and molecules and masses and radiation and heat and stuff.

    Honestly, you're just talking about the greenhouse effect. No one here is calling that into question, we're just wondering if other effects are sufficient to cancel it out or make it too small to bother worrying about.

    AGW theory is cursed by a double whammy: it's "based on" something (rather than tested by observations) and what it's "based on" is nothing like physics!

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  • 80. At 6:54pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey

    "this was the bit i was reffering to: [Footnote 12]" LabMunkey #65

    "they would have flagged it up in the abstract rather than bury it in an ambiguous statement in a footnote" JaneBasingstoke, #66

    "There are numerous things in the paper that are ot included in the abstract, it is a 45 page+ paper, do include everything in the abstract would be a bit daft." LabMunkey #68

    "It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard"." Arthur Dent in Hitchhikers, by Douglas Adams

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNmIQX_ImgM

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  • 81. At 7:11pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    jane and paul.

    I think you are misinterpreting the reason for my post at #60. I was exploring the possible outcomes from the paper- with the stated caveats that the paper holds, that the rebuttals do not and that i have not misread anything. I was not suggesting the paper HAD done these things, only that i saw it as a possibility after a first read. I was trying to open up a discussion on the paper as i think it could turn out to be very important.

    having said that however:

    Jane-"It's all on Hockey Stick scales, isn't it. So the stats only apply to the proxies for Hockey Stick timescales."

    Correct, but you're mnissing the wider implications. If the constructed proxies are not suitable for 'mapping' the past 1000 years, they are certainly of questionable (from a statistical point of view) use for any longer periods.
    Furthermore, the contamination via the anthropogenic factors calls into question even the recent data.

    As for the heat island effect, that was a conclusion i'd reached and was also brought up in the discussion thread at wuwt, it is not specifically stated as such in the paper, for obvious reasons. The paper only states that it looks like antrhopogenic factors have contaminated the early temperature records due to the stepwise change in the relationships between the proxied and measured temps. I conused to seperate discussions, Sorry for the confusion.


    @ Paul.

    "is impossible, since proxy data are not used in any way to construct modern records."
    I think you misread this point, or i explained poorley. The contamination is by anthropogenic factors- not the proxies. But it is these factors that ADD to the issues WITH the proxies, if you follow. Which DOES have large implications for the AGW theory.

    " the theory that modern warming is due to anthropogenic influences is based on physics, not on proxies"
    not quite- the theroy is based on a know 'physical' property in an unkown application i.e. C02's interaction with the atmosphere and the interconnected feedbacks. Which are two completely different things. You'll have to do better than that.

    "I think your jumping to conclusions - although in fairness, I think you got to that conclusion a long time ago!"

    I'm sure that was meant as an insult, however you're correct. I reached a decision on this subject a while a go- based on the avaiable evidence and i've not seen anything since to change my mind. But it'll only take one, good paper to change my position. I've said that all along.

    Finally and just to re-iterate, i'm interested in discussing this paper because of the ramifications it MAY have. You cannot deny (assuming you've read it) that if upheld (after proper rebuttal opportunity) that this will have a significant influence on climate science as a whole.

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  • 82. At 7:12pm on 16 Aug 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ 80.

    i do love those little metaphorical aides you bring up jane. Great book.

    As i stated in my above post, i conflated two discussions misleading you horribly in the process. apologies, again.

    HIE was implied (by my estimation), but never stated in the paper.

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  • 83. At 7:20pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #70

    "The "scientific case" for a branch of science is not itself a branch of science."

    I think you probably meant to say "the "scientific case" for a particular viewpoint on a scientific issue is not itself a branch of science". Which is true.

    However it is also irrelevant.

    Firstly examining the scientific case for all reasonable possibilities, including any relevant null hypotheses, is. This is how we have ruled out or downgraded obsolete theories such as an Earth centred Universe, the absolute Time of Newtonian physics, and absolute simultaneous certainty of both position and momentum. So the "scientific case" for a particular viewpoint on a scientific issue may not be a whole branch of science, but it is a valid sub-discipline.

    Secondly people are asking the scientists what this specific case looks like. And people are less interested in whether or not this constitutes a formal branch of science than whether or not they are getting the most accurate answers that science can give.

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  • 84. At 7:38pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #81

    "wider implications"

    Er, a little further back in time and most of the temperature proxies are
    a. have far more signal due to the bigger fluctuations between glacial and interglacial
    b. do not attempt to merge different types of proxies in the manner of Hockey Sticks, Not merging these temperatures reduces a significant source of error. And some of the component proxies are the gold standard ice core temperature proxies.

    So the sums would need reapplying. And that's assuming that McShane and Wyner's examination of proxies stands up to scrutiny.

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  • 85. At 7:48pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #84 wrote:

    "have far more signal"

    What does "more signal" mean?

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  • 86. At 8:02pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #85

    In this instance much bigger (and therefore more distinctive) swings in temperature.

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  • 87. At 8:09pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #86 wrote:

    In this instance much bigger (and therefore more distinctive) swings in temperature.

    Statisticians have been know to "remove outliers" for as much! So when does a "big swing" make for a "big signal" as opposed to dud "data"?

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  • 88. At 8:20pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #83 wrote:

    I think you probably meant to say "the "scientific case" for a particular viewpoint on a scientific issue is not itself a branch of science". Which is true.

    Oi! No, I did NOT mean to say that!

    examining the scientific case for all reasonable possibilities, including any relevant null hypotheses, is.

    The meaning of the term 'null hypothesis' has escaped my for my entire life. If you think you can explain it, please give it a shot -- I would be in your debt, and I would acknowledge it.

    Examining the case for anything is an examination of the case for belief, which is inescapably is a philosophical enterprise, even when scientists do it. There is no statistical version of this enterprise. When scientists engage in this enterprise, they do something like philosophy.

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  • 89. At 8:27pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @LabMunkey #82

    "Great book."

    Yes, but Simon Jones, in his dressing gown and slippers, speaking those lines with such exquisite timing...

    (Not to dis Martin Freeman by the way, perfect casting for an update. However they didn't have time for those particular lines in the film.)

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  • 90. At 8:30pm on 16 Aug 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    I wrote @45 & 47: “When does Weather become Climate? Does anybody think that there might actually be something Really Large going on?
    This is a Big Question about asking us to try to see a Big Picture, because sometimes things become so 'everyday' that we fail to see them for what they might be. We fail to see significance in lots of things that, together, make a Very Big Thing.
    We know from geological evidence that full-blown climate flips have occurred in less than a decade. If the 'weather' continues doing its present thing ("Greenland, Russia, China, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, Brazil", etc.) for the next few years, .............................. what do YOU (my blog-friends) think we should REALLY be looking at and looking for to RECOGNISE our situation as The Very Big Thing?
    ..........
    DrBrianS wrote @ 48: ….. "The sky is falling. The sky is falling" ……
    ……………..
    I ask again, because Dr Brian S. seems to think this is a ‘headless chicken’ type of question:
    .
    .
    .
    1. What circumstance or combination of circumstances would it take to make each one of us that regularly contribute to this blog sit bolt upright and say “Bloody hell, it really IS HAPPENING”?
    .
    2. What is your PERSONAL point at which you are prepared to have your climate warming benchmark overrun by any accumulating weight of evidence for runaway change?
    .
    If you are so polarized in your view that there is no possibility of changing your position, please say so – I, personally, would find it really useful to get to know the REAL position of my blog-colleagues.
    Most of us hide behind pseudonyms in order to avoid putting ourselves and our ‘reputations’ on the line. Does anyone have a circumstance (eg. Work; promotion-v-sacking) that would be compromised if you voiced your real, personally-held belief on this issue?
    .
    Assuming none of us will be hauled up in front of the firing squad, let’s hear your real positions on the matter – just for the record.

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  • 91. At 8:36pm on 16 Aug 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    54. JaneBasingstoke wrote:
    @GeoffWard
    @DrBrianS
    @quake
    @sensibleoldgrannie

    "Weather" versus "Climate"

    To get back to the beginning of this thread (45, 46)... While there have been a few extreme events this year, the prevalence of daily 'weather porn' is mostly a function of the prevalence of video cameras. Everything everywhere is recorded. Every minor flood in Timbuctu or wherever is now international 'news' while in the past it would have been local news. The cumulative effect of this constant bombardment of this imagery has an impact on our perception, which is why it is happening. No accident from outlets like the BBC.

    The Pakistan flooding is rather astonishing but not unprecendented. The worst since 1929 so they say. But there never were that many people there before so its impacts are worse, and thus fits into the scary climate story.

    Similarly, they keep talking about ever more destructive hurricanes in the US and fail to mention that that is a function of the increased population and development there, not the strength of the hurricanes.

    Speaking of those hurricanes, where are they?

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  • 92. At 8:53pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #87

    "Statisticians have been know to "remove outliers" for as much! So when does a "big swing" make for a "big signal" as opposed to dud "data"?"

    Dud data can be recognised by data not matching up with other data or overtly broken measurements. E.g. broken thermometer bulb and puddle of mercury on the floor associated with off the scale low temperatures. Or this example from the remss.com website (RSS temperature set) dated February 2007 (NOAA-16 is the rogue satellite giving the ridiculous scorching hot temperatures commented on recently):

    "Data from NOAA-16 AMSU are no longer used.
    NOAA-16 data appear to be drifting relative to data from earlier satellites."


    In the case of ice cores, there is plenty to compare temperature data with. There's the gases responsive to temperature trapped in the ice. There's the ice volume proxy. And data from other ice cores, some close by, some thousands of miles away.

    Dud data needs investigating properly before being written off. The situation with the earliest ozone hole measurements being ignored as impossibly low was embarrassing.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/05/ozone.html

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  • 93. At 10:11pm on 16 Aug 2010, Jack Hughes wrote:

    @GeoffWard,

    Good questions - I can only answer for myself.

    This recent RiceGate debacle is just the latest example. At one time I used to check out these alarmist stories and only stop when I found the error.

    Nowadays I save mucho time by just assuming the story is nonsense.

    This time something made me check the "Rice" story. First thing I spotted was that Richard Black had got the whole thing upside-down.

    (Note to Jane: he did not misquote the study - he misunderstood it)

    This kind of thing happens every single time - sometimes I need to dig deeper to find the problem.

    Now regarding your "end of times" thesis. I studied some Latin at school and people were saying similar things in Roman times. "The weather has been unusual recently", "We're having lots of disasters nowadays". etc.

    In Roman times they said the Gods were Angry.

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  • 94. At 10:36pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #88

    "Oi! No, I did NOT mean to say that!"

    Oh gawd, is this your pseudoscience thing again? (sigh) The case that AGW science is not a pseudoscience is part of the case for AGW science. Of course, you don't have to accept it. And I presume that some elements of AGW science, such as radiative balance and the absorption spectra of greenhouse gases, do not upset your sensibilities.

    Note, the following link is to illustrate that the question has been tackled by climate scientists, I don't ask you to accept its contents.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/is-climate-modelling-science/

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  • 95. At 10:41pm on 16 Aug 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke
    Thank you for your advice. I will try to add links next time I find something of use. I suppose I suggest google and search for an another reason. Just like at the library, one searches for a book of interest and within moments, find other books on the same subject that are even better.

    JackHughes at post 78
    Naughty, but funny.

    GeoffWard at post 90
    What does your gut instinct tell you? If there is a Big Problem what could you do about it anyway? Best always to have a plan B up your sleeve, whatever the weather, because Big Problems in life don't usually arrive with prior announcements and they are usually the ones you are least prepared for. Citizens can always prepare themselves, (within their budget), for small emergencies. You know the sort of thing, two week's worth of supplies, emergency kit etc. I think it takes the strain off governments trying to sort out aid for millions of people all scrambling for the same 'just in time' resources. Initially, most people are pretty much left to their own devices in the event of a really big emergency. I don't suppose my meagre 2 weeks emergency supply of basics is any better than an anderson shelter but is makes me feel better anyway.

    I have got that 'Global Surface Temperature Change' PDF file by Hansen. Boy, is it a big read! They make quite a thing about proxies and outliers. One can't help but noticing that computers can't (yet) make silk purses out of sows ears. The punch line from this paper appears to be 'Less is more' translated as less data collection centers produce pretty much the same data as from more data centers.

    anyway, less of my daft ramblings... night, night everyone.

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  • 96. At 10:56pm on 16 Aug 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #94 wrote:

    Oh gawd, is this your pseudoscience thing again? (sigh)

    Dud data can be recognised by data not matching up with other data

    Oh gawd, sigh, is your ideology not even conceivably threatened by "data"? Sigh. Gawd!

    I mean, sigh, how could it be, if any datum that does not agree with the other data you already accept is ruled out as aberrant? Gawd! Blimey!

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  • 97. At 11:27pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #79

    "Then why would anyone sully their own reputation by touching proxies with a barge pole? They stink."

    Absolutely. We already know there was a MWP. Why bother looking for any evidence as to its timing or geographical extent.

    After all, it's not as if the Hubble telescope is any better than Galileo's, so there's no way we can hope to improve the science of temperature proxies by finding better and more complete proxies than we have now.

    Women have less teeth than men. I know. Aristotle said. The MWP was hot. I know. A sceptic blogger said.

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  • 98. At 11:45pm on 16 Aug 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #96

    OK, so you didn't like my #94. My #94 was a response to the lack of clarity in your #70.

    Meanwhile it looks as if you didn't understand my #92. So perhaps my #92 wasn't clear either.

    In fact you seem to have the diametric opposite of my meaning on my #92 ozone comment.

    You do know the ozone hole detection story, don't you? How the satellite detected it but it was ignored because it didn't fit the theory of the time, and the ozone hole was only finally discovered by separate people doing completely separate measurements of their own. How that c*** up could have been avoided by someone asking "what is this big discrepancy between expected and measured" and actually investigating it.

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  • 99. At 11:53pm on 16 Aug 2010, Paul Butler wrote:

    Geoff Ward #90

    Interesting questions. Obviously, you can tell from the debates that there is plenty of scope in the interpretation of actually existing weather for both sides to feel that their position is supported. In my case, well, I accept the scientific consensus that a large part of the recent warming is driven by greenhouse gases and that quite a bit more warming is in the pipeline. How much I don't know, because that depends on feedbacks which are a big source of uncertainty. To get me to change my mind, I'd need to see a convincing alternative explanation which addresses the whole picture - this would also require an alternative explanation of why the Earth is warmer than would be predicted just on the basis of its distance from the Sun. In addition, a rapid fall in global temperatures over the next few years while CO2 levels continue to rise would also challenge the consensus view.

    With weather patterns, of course you can't say of any single event that it has resulted from anthropogenic climate change rather than being part of a natural cycle. However, you can say that (for example) more intense, wetter, monsoons have been predicted precisely for Pakistan (eg Treydte et al 2006, Nature vol 440), and that obviously tends to shore up my own position on the causes of climate change.

    I should also say that as long as there is a real chance of severe damage to our complex society because of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, we should be taking political and economic measures to limit that damage. I very much hope that climate sensitivity is lower than the IPCC's estimates, and there are reasons to think it might be. But all that does is to buy us a bit more time; its not an excuse for doing nothing.

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  • 100. At 00:31am on 17 Aug 2010, Paul Butler wrote:

    LabMunkey #81

    Finally and just to re-iterate, i'm interested in discussing this paper because of the ramifications it MAY have. You cannot deny (assuming you've read it) that if upheld (after proper rebuttal opportunity) that this will have a significant influence on climate science as a whole.

    I think I can deny it. As far the proxies are concerned, I don't think it says a lot more than McIntyre/McKitrick or von Storch et al 2004 in Science - ie that some statistical treatments can predispose proxy records to take on a hockey stick shape when they are spliced with instrumental data.

    Well, I've said this before and I'll say it again. the AGW theory does not depend on the proxies. They are interesting to study, because they can start to give us a feel for natural variability - although obviously some are better than others in this respect. But the main tests of AGW theory come from the instrumental measurements and the general circulation models.


    By the way, I wasn't trying to insult you in my #76 by saying you'd reached your position a long time ago - the same applies to me after all, so apologies for giving the wrong impression. In fact I'd require a bit more than 'one good paper' to get me to change my mind (see my post above) ...

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