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Second CRU inquiry reports

Filed under: — gavin @ 14 April 2010

The Oxburgh report on the science done at the CRU has now been published and….. as in the first inquiry, they find no scientific misconduct, no impropriety and no tailoring of the results to a preconceived agenda, though they do suggest more statisticians should have been involved. They have also some choice words to describe the critics.

Carry on…

1,421 Responses to “Second CRU inquiry reports”

  1. 1401
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Secular Animist -

    What would be extradinary evidence? The extradinary evidence of psi makes any evidence that could solidly support it quite extradinary. Right? I’m not sure that’s biased. If psi were predicted on the basis of physics, would the same exact evidence be considered quite ordinary?

    Well, maybe not; when an idea has become more established, we tend to start accepting it without testing for it so much. Which is just practical. I try to avoid cutting myself with a knife; I don’t feel a need to test the mechanical strength of my skin and the cutting ability of the knife constantly. This could be somewhat what is meant by extradinary evidence – if something has yet to be established beyond some threshold, we need stronger evidence to accept it. Once that evidence is strong enough, we don’t need more and more and more evidence to keep accepting it.

    But the other thing is Occam’s razor. Of course we don’t know everything. But, as I understand it, it is considered preferable to expain phenomena with simpler mechanisms, as if we allow any degree of complexity, we can make anything up to fit the observations (ie what if something is causing a 10 K global warming and something else is causing a 9 K global cooling? What about 100 K of warming and 99 K of cooling? Etc.). But importantly, this applies to new mechanisms that must be added to what is already known (we already know that anthropogenic aerosols likely have some cooling effect, no need to axe that with Occam’s razor). There may also be an issue with ambiguity: What if God or ____ created the Earth complete with fossils some 6000 years ago? Well, really there is no evidence to say otherwise – photons from galaxies billions of light years away could have been created enroute, etc. But why stop there – what if the universe started 2 seconds ago complete with memories? Maybe the universe doesn’t even exist yet (that will make more sense in the future). There may be some statistical reason to argue that the present arrangement of molecules is less likely by chance than by evolution, thus arguing for earlier beginnings, but anyway…)

  2. 1402
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “It appears you are saying that investigation of any phenomenon whose “causation” is not already known, is by definition not science.”

    How do you test a phenomenon if you don’t know how it may work?

    Tell you what. I have a rock here that keeps away tigers.

    100% success rate.

    I don’t know how it works, mind.

    But it does.

    Therefore, please start investigating the hypothesis that some animals may be diverted from hunting other animals in the presence of certain rocks.

    (the reason why this grant would be laughed out is because there’s no causation: how would a rock divert a tiger’s progress?)

    Why is a causation needed here? Because you don’t know what rock or what scenarios such a rock work under. Therefore you cannot create a test that will show some rock in some situation does affect animal predation.

    Any test you did that didn’t find a correlation would be met with “you didn’t use the right rock” or “you used the rock wrong” or “it’s the wrong animal you’re using”.

  3. 1403
    SecularAnimist says:

    CFU, a great deal of science has been about phenomena whose “causation” or “mechanism” was unknown, wherein “creating a testable hypothesis” meant precisely “suggesting a possible mechanism” which could then be tested to see if it correctly predicted the results of experiments. So I really must reject what I understand you to be trying to say, which seems to be that knowledge of an underlying mechanism is somehow a prerequisite for creating a testable hypothesis. Or maybe I am not understanding your point at all.

    Beyond that, to properly respond to your comments would require going into substantive detail about the history of parapsychology research, e.g. to discuss the basic motivation and premises of such research, the various hypotheses that have been proposed regarding psi phenomena, how researchers have sought to test those hypotheses, the dialectic between genuinely skeptical critics and pseudo-skeptics on the one hand and parapsychologists on the other hand regarding the outcome of such tests, and more.

    And as interesting as that would be for me, it is far off-topic for this site, so I will regretfully decline. Perhaps some other time, in another more appropriate forum, we can have that discussion.

  4. 1404
    Doug Bostrom says:

    I’m still breathlessly awaiting the Official Wegman Inquiry and accompanying outraged accusations of fraud emanating from CA, WUWT.

    Here’s the executive summary, abstracted from DeepClimate’s site:

    Today I continue my exploration of the dubious scholarship in the contrarian touchstone known as the Wegman report, this time focusing on the report’s background section on social network analysis. As many readers may recall, Wegman et al used a simplistic analysis of co-author relationships to speculate about supposed lack of independence between researchers in paleoclimatology, accompanied by lapses of rigour in the peer review process. This, of course, echoed similar accusations by self-styled climate auditor Steve McIntyre.

    In both the original Wegman report and a subsequent follow-up paper by Yasmin Said, Wegman and two others, the background sections on social network research show clear and compelling instances of apparent plagiarism. The three main sources, used almost verbatim and without attribution, have now been identified. These include a Wikipedia article and a classic sociology text book by Wasserman and Faust. But the papers rely even more on the third source, a hands-on text book that explores social network concepts via the Pajek analysis software package – the same tool used by the Wegman team to analyze “hockey stick” author Michael Mann’s co-author network.

    Not only that, but the later Said et al paper acknowledges support from the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, as well as the Army Research Laboratory, raising a host of new issues and questions. And chief among those questions is this: Will George Mason University now finally do the right thing and launch a complete investigation of the actions and scholarship of Wegman and Said?

    I assume that the same zealous guardians of scientific integrity including McIntyre, Senator Inhofe and CEI Senior Trash Picker Horner will jump on this with both feet. After all, federal money has been used to produce what appear to be prima facie plagiarized publications, seriously undermining public confidence in Sound Science.

    When will the investigation pass from the hands of concerned private citizens and into the hands of Senator Inhofe’s diligent staff? When will Steve McIntyre launch a flurry of duplicative FOIA requests on Wegman? When will CEI Senior Rag and Bones Fellow Horner get to work on producing a press release on this scandal for Fox News?

  5. 1405
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “wherein “creating a testable hypothesis” meant precisely “suggesting a possible mechanism” which could then be tested”

    So, you got one?

    There are inevitable problems with TK/TP/etc because they do require energy expended and transformed and heterodyned. Such energy (especially TK) has to have a genuine measureable effect on the universe when it is occurring.

    For TP you need an aerial. Where is it? How does it direct its “beam”. Is it a beam or broadcast? What frequency of photon does it release? Or what particle is emitted?

    Got one?

    Then you have a causation.

    If photons are emitted for TP then you have a known energy amount required to excite a neuron. You have the known properties of the cranium and internal structures. This limits what photons you can emit.


    Which have concomitant inherent consequences.

  6. 1406
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “dialectic between genuinely skeptical critics and pseudo-skeptics on the one hand and parapsychologists on the other hand regarding the outcome of such tests, and more.”

    There is no dialectic when you fail to supply the axioms and mechanisms you assert are taking place. There is no pseudo skeptic when you have no theorem. Just people who are waiting for you to explain yourself.


    You fail to produce them and you’re not talking science.

    Talk science or take it off this site.


  7. 1407
    Patrick 027 says:

    “(that will make more sense in the future). There may be some statistical reason to argue that the present arrangement of molecules is less likely by chance than by evolution, thus arguing for earlier beginnings, but anyway…)”

    I want to clarify that: postulating random initial conditions, and given the organization of the universe now (including relative lack of contradiction among different records/memories?) it is less likely that the universe started later rather than earlier (up to a point; 13 billion years seems about sufficient from what I here). For non-random initial conditions, we need a reason for the lack thereof. God? Then what explains God (Occam’s razor)? Of course, the universe already has a lack of (definite) explanation for it’s origin and the specifics of the physics (WAP combined with multitude of universes is an elegant explanation but it hasn’t been established, so far as I know, though I could be wrong – PS the lack of established explanation is not the same as proof of impossibility.) But why ‘establish’ more unknowns when you don’t yet know what you don’t know…

  8. 1408
    Patrick 027 says:

    “PS the lack of established explanation is not the same as proof of impossibility.”

    For example, not knowing exactly how life originated from abiotic processes is not proof that life could not have originated from nonlife (whereas the existence of life is evidence that it did happen). Way OT now, sorry, just wanted to clarify what I meant.

  9. 1409
    trrll says:

    #1390 “Do you approach the subject with an a priori belief that psi phenomena are “extraordinary” and therefore require an “extraordinary” standard of proof?”

    I woud say that any claim of a phenomenon that cannot be explained by any known mechanism, and for which an explanation would likely require major revisions to known physics qualifies as an “extraordinary claim.”

  10. 1410
    Patrick 027 says:

    (just to be clear, there are proposed mechanisms (rooted in known physics) for the origin of life, or at least steps in that process.)

  11. 1411

    Are we still babbling about ‘psi’ here? Really? Dean Radin’s proved empirically that that psi is real? Really? It’s furthermore legit because there;s a ‘college textbook’ about it? Really? James Randi, who helped debunk holistic medicine for Nature magazine, is a ‘pseudoskeptic’ analogous to Monckton? Really?

    Enough already. This is ridiculous.

  12. 1412

    (make that ‘homeopathic’, not ‘holistic’. I got my New Age jargon mixed up.)

  13. 1413
    Patrick 027 says:

    Earlier I treated the mathematics of EROEI a bit casually. Hope to be more precise tomorrow if thread is still open…

    (here’s a start:

    x = Ei/Eo

    Ei = x * Eo

    Net energy output = En

    Total energy output = Eo

    where Eo is the energy that must be produced to supply En for purposes besides producing Eo.

    En = Eo – Ei = Eo – Eo*x = Eo*(1-x)

    Iterative method:

    To get En, need Ei1 = x*En. To Get Ei1, need Ei2 = x*Ei1. Etc.

    Thus total energy Eo needed to get En is:
    Eo = En*(1 + x + x^2 + x^3 + …) = En/(1-x)

    What happens if there are two different forms of energy j,k used to produce one? Where xjk*Ej is the Energy of form k needed to produce Ej:

    To get Enj, need Ek1 + Ej1 = (xjk + xjj)*En.
    To get Ej1, need Ek(j) + Ej(j) = (xjk + xjj)*Ej1
    To get Ek1, need Ek(k) + Ej(k) = (xkk + xkj)*Ek1

  14. 1414
    Completely Fed Up says:


    “PS the lack of established explanation is not the same as proof of impossibility.”

    But you do need an explanation (established is, again, a strawman) in order to do science on the phenomenon.

    If you don’t have an explanation, you can’t test your theory.

    If you do, even if you’re wrong, you can test your proposition and increase the known.

    PS Steve, we’re moving it on to discussion of what a scientific theory means, which is quite a bit more relevant, especially with Sam’s “It could be something else, I dunno what” postings.

  15. 1415
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 1414 – Yes, I agree you have to have a hypothesis to test in order to test it (and keeping degrees of freedom low so as to make it less squishy; if you can’t explain it that way, you’ll know you need more complexity, whereas if you start with more complexity, it’s hard to test … right?)

    It was because I went from AGW vs psi to the mystery of consciousness and then to the origin of the universe and the origin of life in particular – upon reaching that point, I want to point out that the origin of life by natural processes, though not fully explained yet (so far as I know), cannot from that alone be considered impossible (the established laws of physics, etc, do seem to leave possibilities open; furthermore, life’s existence is scientific evidence that it can happen). I just wanted to cut any potential creationist outgrowths from the psi discussion off at the bud.

  16. 1416
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re EROEI:

    Actually much simpler to solve a system of equations:

    where xAB is the amount of B needed to produce a unit of A
    a is an amount of A
    b is an amount of B

    anet = a – a*xAA – b*xBA – c*xCA – …
    bnet = b – a*xAB – b*xBB – c*xCB – …
    cnet = c – a*xAC – b*xBC – c*xCC – …

    And to find amounts of A, B, and C, etc, necessary to produce a net amount anet of A, set bnet, cnet, etc, to zero. Put in matrix form if you wish. Might express b and c in terms of equivalent a. Should work for all resources – all forms of energy, labor, etc. Of course, if you throw everything together, all anet, bnet, etc. will tend to zero except for the end-use value that doesn’t get fed back into the system… so…

  17. 1417
    Steven Sullivan says:

    “Steve, we’re moving it on to discussion of what a scientific theory means, which is quite a bit more relevant, especially with Sam’s “It could be something else, I dunno what” postings.”

    My mental shorthand is that a scientific theory is a well-tested model with exceptionally profound explanatory (and predictive) power for masses of data gained through scientific methods and careful observation — but of course, being a *scientific* theory, it’s also always vulnerable to being modified or discarded based on tests against new data.

    The question for ‘psi’ is whether said phenomena have enough convincingly-demonstrated basis in reality to even justify the work of formulating a scientific theory.

  18. 1418
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The question for ‘psi’ is whether said phenomena have enough convincingly-demonstrated basis in reality to even justify the work of formulating a scientific theory.”

    I would say that having such demonstration would help narrow down possibilities for mechanisms (causations), but aren’t necessary.

    The Higgs boson was proposed with little demonstrated phenomena but its existence proposed nonetheless. And (if it remains unfound), the standard model, which was the basis of its formulation, will have to be modified.

    So, in that case, even if the mechanism/causation was invalid, it is currently a valid scentific rational causation and its proof of fallacy has still increased the knowledge of humaity: we know it’s not the Higgs Boson causing mass.

    Because, until it is proven in utility, the theory of the Higgs Boson remains potentially invalid. But it’s proposition is a rational and valid theorem. If it were disproven, then continuing to hold the same idea would be invalid and unscientific.

  19. 1419
    Jim Galasyn says:

    U-Va. urged to fight subpoena of climate scientist’s documents

    RICHMOND — Academics from across the country are rallying against a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II seeking documents related to the work of a former University of Virginia climate scientist, even as the university says it is preparing to comply with Cuccinelli’s request. …

  20. 1420
    Doug Bostrom says:

    The VA-AG-Cuccinelli-Not-Investigating-Wegman-for-Apparent-Plagiarism-Using-VA-Facilities Inquiry runs into some possible friction:

    After indicating last week that it would comply with a subpoena sent by the AG, demanding documents relating to the work of former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann, the university is now equivocating. “Our intention is to comply but we are looking at some options,” a UVA spokeswoman told the Washington Post yesterday.

    Also yesterday, Democratic legislator Donald McEachin said he planned to introduce a bill that would bar the state’s AG from issuing subpoenas unless he has filed a lawsuit. McEachin said the bill was intended to ensure that the AG could not issue subpoenas without a judge having the ability to throw out the underlying case as frivolous.

    Mann, who worked at UVA from 1999 until 2005, was one of the scientists caught up in the Climate-Gate scandal. The affair offered no evidence that Mann had deliberately slanted his conclusions, and he has been exonerated of wrongdoing by several investigations, including one by Penn State, his current employer. Nonetheless, Cuccinelli is investigating whether Mann committed fraud in his research, which was funded by government grants.

    Other scientists — including climate change skeptics — have slammed Cuccinelli’s probe as a “witch hunt.” The Virginia ACLU and a national professor’s group have urged UVA not to cooperate with the subpoena.

    UVA Suggests It May Not Comply With Cuccinelli Climate-Gate ‘Witch Hunt’

  21. 1421
    Rod B says:

    For the record, as a climate change skeptic I too think that Cuccinelli’s probe is an idiotic witch hunt.

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