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The Montford Delusion

Filed under: — group @ 22 July 2010

Guest commentary by Tamino

Update: Another review of the book has been published by Alistair McIntosh in the Scottish Review of Books (scroll down about 25% through the page to find McIintosh’s review)

Update #2 (8/19/10): The Guardian has now weighed in as well.

If you don’t know much about climate science, or about the details of the controversy over the “hockey stick,” then A. W. Montford’s book The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science might persuade you that not only the hockey stick, but all of modern climate science, is a fraud perpetrated by a massive conspiracy of climate scientists and politicians, in order to guarantee an unending supply of research funding and political power. That idea gets planted early, in the 6th paragraph of chapter 1.

The chief focus is the original hockey stick, a reconstruction of past temperature for the northern hemisphere covering the last 600 years by Mike Mann, Ray Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes (1998, Nature, 392, 779, doi:10.1038/33859, available here), hereafter called “MBH98″ (the reconstruction was later extended back to a thousand years by Mann et al, 1999, or “MBH99″ ). The reconstruction was based on proxy data, most of which are not direct temperature measurements but may be indicative of temperature. To piece together past temperature, MBH98 estimated the relationships between the proxies and observed temperatures in the 20th century, checked the validity of the relationships using observed temperatures in the latter half of the 19th century, then used the relationships to estimate temperatures as far back as 1400. The reconstruction all the way back to the year 1400 used 22 proxy data series, although some of the 22 were combinations of larger numbers of proxy series by a method known as “principal components analysis” (hereafter called “PCA”–see here). For later centuries, even more proxy series were used. The result was that temperatures had risen rapidly in the 20th century compared to the preceding 5 centuries. The sharp “blade” of 20th-century rise compared to the flat “handle” of the 15-19th centuries was reminiscent of a “hockey stick” — giving rise to the name describing temperature history.

But if you do know something about climate science and the politically motivated controversy around it, you might be able to see that reality is the opposite of the way Montford paints it. In fact Montford goes so far over the top that if you’re a knowledgeable and thoughtful reader, it eventually dawns on you that the real goal of those whose story Montford tells is not to understand past climate, it’s to destroy the hockey stick by any means necessary.

Montford’s hero is Steve McIntyre, portrayed as a tireless, selfless, unimpeachable seeker of truth whose only character flaw is that he’s just too polite. McIntyre, so the story goes, is looking for answers from only the purest motives but uncovers a web of deceit designed to affirm foregone conclusions whether they’re so or not — that humankind is creating dangerous climate change, the likes of which hasn’t been seen for at least a thousand or two years. McIntyre and his collaborator Ross McKitrick made it their mission to get rid of anything resembling a hockey stick in the MBH98 (and any other) reconstruction of past temperature.

Principal Components

For instance: one of the proxy series used as far back as the year 1400 was NOAMERPC1, the 1st “principal component” (PC1) used to represent patterns in a series of 70 tree-ring data sets from North America; this proxy series strongly resembles a hockey stick. McIntyre & McKitrick (hereafter called “MM”) claimed that the PCA used by MBH98 wasn’t valid because they had used a different “centering” convention than is customary. It’s customary to subtract the average value from each data series as the first step of computing PCA, but MBH98 had subtracted the average value during the 20th century. When MM applied PCA to the North American tree-ring series but centered the data in the usual way, then retained 2 PC series just as MBH98 had, lo and behold — the hockey-stick-shaped PC wasn’t among them! One hockey stick gone.

Or so they claimed. In fact the hockey-stick shaped PC was still there, but it was no longer the strongest PC (PC1), it was now only 4th-strongest (PC4). This raises the question, how many PCs should be included from such an analysis? MBH98 had originally included two PC series from this analysis because that’s the number indicated by a standard “selection rule” for PC analysis (read about it here).

MM used the standard centering convention, but applied no selection rule — they just imitated MBH98 by including 2 PC series, and since the hockey stick wasn’t one of those 2, that was good enough for them. But applying the standard selection rules to the PCA analysis of MM indicates that you should include five PC series, and the hockey-stick shaped PC is among them (at #4). Whether you use the MBH98 non-standard centering, or standard centering, the hockey-stick shaped PC must still be included in the analysis.

It was also pointed out (by Peter Huybers) that MM hadn’t applied “standard” PCA either. They used a standard centering but hadn’t normalized the data series. The 2 PC series that were #1 and #2 in the analysis of MBH98 became #2 and #1 with normalized PCA, and both should unquestionably be included by standard selection rules. Again, whether you use MBH non-standard centering, MM standard centering without normalization, or fully “standard” centering and normalization, the hockey-stick shaped PC must still be included in the analysis.

In reply, MM complained that the MBH98 PC1 (the hockey-stick shaped one) wasn’t PC1 in the completely standard analysis, that normalization wasn’t required for the analysis, and that “Preisendorfer’s rule N” (the selection rule used by MBH98) wasn’t the “industry standard” MBH claimed it to be. Montford even goes so far as to rattle off a list of potential selection rules referred to in the scientific literature, to give the impression that the MBH98 choice isn’t “automatic,” but the salient point which emerges from such a list is that MM never used any selection rules — at least, none that are published in the literature.

The truth is that whichever version of PCA you use, the hockey-stick shaped PC is one of the statistically significant patterns. There’s a reason for that: the hockey-stick shaped pattern is in the data, and it’s not just noise it’s signal. Montford’s book makes it obvious that MM actually do have a selection rule of their own devising: if it looks like a hockey stick, get rid of it.

The PCA dispute is a prime example of a recurring McIntyre/Montford theme: that the hockey stick depends critically on some element or factor, and when that’s taken away the whole structure collapses. The implication that the hockey stick depends on the centering convention used in the MBH98 PCA analysis makes a very persuasive “Aha — gotcha!” argument. Too bad it’s just not true.

Different, yes. Completely, no.

As another example, Montford makes the claim that if you eliminate just two of the proxies used for the MBH98 reconstruction since 1400, the Stahle and NOAMER PC1 series, “you got a completely different result — the Medieval Warm Period magically reappeared and suddenly the modern warming didn’t look quite so frightening.” That argument is sure to sell to those who haven’t done so. But I have. I computed my own reconstructions by multiple regression, first using all 22 proxy series in the original MBH98 analysis, then excluding the Stahle and NOAMER PC1 series. Here’s the result with all 22 proxies (the thick line is a 10-year moving average):

Here it is with just 20 proxies:

Finally, here are the 10-year moving average for both cases, and for the instrumental record:

Certainly the result is different — how could it not be, using different data? — but calling it “completely different” is just plain wrong. Yes, the pre-20th century is warmer with the 15th century a wee bit warmer still — but again, how could it not be when eliminating two hand-picked proxy series for the sole purpose of denying the unprecedented nature of modern warming? Yet even allowing this cherry-picking of proxies is still not enough to accomplish McIntyre’s purpose; preceding centuries still don’t come close to the late-20th century warming. In spite of Montford’s claims, it’s still a hockey stick.

Beyond Reason

Another of McIntyre’s targets was the Gaspe series, referred to in the MBH98 data as “treeline-11.” It just might be the most hockey-stick shaped proxy of all. This particular series doesn’t extend all the way back to the year 1400, it doesn’t start until 1404, so MBH98 had extended the series back four years by persistence — taking the earliest value and repeating it for the preceding four years. This is not at all an unusual practice, and — let’s face facts folks — extending 4 years out of a nearly 600-year record on one out of 22 proxies isn’t going to change things much. But McIntyre objected that the entire Gaspe series had to be eliminated because it didn’t extend all the way back to 1400. This argument is downright ludicrous — what it really tells us is that McIntyre & McKitrick are less interested in reconstructing past temperature than in killing anything that looks like a hockey stick.

McIntyre also objected that other series had been filled in by persistence, not on the early end but on the late end, to bring them up to the year 1980 (the last year of the MBH98 reconstruction). Again, this is not a reasonable argument. Mann responded by simply computing the reconstruction you get if you start at 1404 and end at 1972 so you don’t have to do any infilling at all. The result: a hockey stick.

Again, we have another example of Montford implying that some single element is both faulty and crucial. Without nonstandard PCA the hockey stick falls apart! Without the Stahle and NOAMER PC1 data series the hockey stick falls apart! Without the Gaspe series the hockey stick falls apart! Without bristlecone pine tree rings the hockey stick falls apart! It’s all very persuasive, especially to the conspiracy-minded, but the truth is that the hockey stick depends on none of these elements. You get a hockey stick with standard PCA, in fact you get a hockey stick using no PCA at all. Remove the NOAMER PC1 and Stahle series, you’re left with a hockey stick. Remove the Gaspe series, it’s still a hockey stick.

As a great deal of other research has shown, you can even reconstruct past temperature without bristlecone pine tree rings, or without any tree ring data at all, resulting in: a hockey stick. It also shows, consistently, that nobody is trying to “get rid of the medieval warm period” or “flatten out the little ice age” since those are features of all reconstructions of the last 1000 to 2000 years. What paleoclimate researchers are trying to do is make objective estimates of how warm and how cold those past centuries were. The consistent answer is, not as warm as the last century and not nearly as warm as right now.

The hockey stick is so thoroughly imprinted on the actual data that what’s truly impressive is how many things you have to get rid of to eliminate it. There’s a scientific term for results which are so strong and so resistant to changes in data and methods: robust.

Cynical Indeed

Montford doesn’t just criticize hockey-stick shaped proxies, he bends over backwards to level every criticism conceivable. For instance, one of the proxy series was estimated summer temperature in central England taken from an earlier study by Bradley and Jones (1993, the Holocene, 3, 367-376). It’s true that a better choice for central England would have been the central England temperature time series (CETR), which is an instrumental record covering the full year rather than just summertime. The CETR also shows a stronger hockey-stick shape than the central England series used by MBH98, in part because it includes earlier data (from the late 17th century) than the Bradley and Jones dataset. Yet Montford sees fit to criticize their choice, saying “Cynical observers might, however, have noticed that the late seventeenth century numbers for CETR were distinctly cold, so the effect of this truncation may well have been to flatten out the little ice age.”

In effect, even when MBH98 used data which weakens the difference between modern warmth and preceding centuries, they’re criticized for it. Cynical indeed.

Face-Palm

The willingness of Montford and McIntyre to level any criticism which might discredit the hockey stick just might reach is zenith in a criticism which Montford repeats, but is so nonsensical that one can hardly resist the proverbial “face-palm.” Montford more than once complains that hockey-stick shaped proxies dominate climate reconstructions — unfairly, he implies — because they correlate well to temperature.

Duh.

Guilty

Criticism of MBH98 isn’t restricted to claims of incorrect data and analysis, Montford and McIntyre also see deliberate deception everywhere they look. This is almost comically illustrated by Montford’s comments about an email from Malcolm Hughes to Mike Mann (emphasis added by Montford):

Mike — the only one of the new S.American chronologies I just sent you that already appears in the ITRDB sets you already have is [ARGE030]. You should remove this from the two ITRDB data sets, as the new version should be different (and better for our purposes).
Cheers,
Malcolm

Here’s what Montford has to say:

It was possible that there was an innocent explanation for the use of the expression “better for our purposes”, but McIntyre can hardly be blamed for wondering exactly what “purposes” the Hockey Stick authors were pursuing. A cynic might be concerned that the phrase actually had something to do with “getting rid of the Medieval Warm Period”. And if Hughes meant “more reliable”, why hadn’t he just said so?

This is nothing more than quote-mining, in order to interpret an entirely innocent turn of phrase in the most nefarious way possible. It says a great deal more about the motives and honesty of Montford and McIntyre, than about Mann, Bradley, and Hughes. The idea that MM’s so-called “correction” of MBH98 “restored the MWP” constitutes a particularly popular meme in contrarian circles, despite the fact that it is quite self-evidently nonsense: MBH98 only went back to AD 1400, while the MWP, by nearly all definitions found in the professional literature, ended at least a century earlier! Such internal contradictions in logic appear to be no impediment, however, to Montford and his ilk.

Conspiracies Everywhere

Montford also goes to great lengths to accuse a host of researchers, bloggers, and others of attempting to suppress the truth and issue personal attacks on McIntyre. The “enemies list” includes RealClimate itself, claimed to be a politically motivated mouthpiece for “Environmental Media Services,” described as a “pivotal organization in the green movement” run by David Fenton, called “one of the most influential PR people of the 20th century.” Also implicated are William Connolley for criticizing McIntyre on sci.environment and James Annan for criticizing McIntyre and McKitrick. In a telling episode of conspiracy theorizing, we are told that their “ideas had been picked up and propagated across the left-wing blogosphere.” Further conspirators, we are informed, include Brad DeLong and Tim Lambert. And of course one mustn’t omit the principal voice of RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt.

Perhaps I should feel personally honored to be included on Montford’s list of co-conspirators, because yours truly is also mentioned. According to Montford’s typical sloppy research I have styled myself as “Mann’s Bulldog.” I’ve never done so, although I find such an appellation flattering; I just hope Jim Hansen doesn’t feel slighted by the mistaken reference.

The conspiracy doesn’t end with the hockey team, climate researchers, and bloggers. It includes the editorial staff of any journal which didn’t bend over to accommodate McIntyre, including Nature and GRL which are accused of interfering with, delaying, and obstructing McIntyre’s publications.

Spy Story

The book concludes with speculation about the underhanded meaning of the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the U.K. It’s really just the same quote-mining and misinterpretation we’ve heard from many quarters of the so-called “skeptics.” Although the book came out very shortly after the CRU hack, with hardly sufficient time to investigate the truth, the temptation to use the emails for propaganda purposes was irresistible. Montford indulges in every damning speculation he can get his hands on.

Since that time, investigation has been conducted, both into the conduct of the researchers at CRU (especially Phil Jones) and Mike Mann (the leader of the “hockey team”). Certainly some unkind words were said in private emails, but the result of both investigations is clear: climate researchers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in their research and scientific conduct. Thank goodness some of those who bought in to the false accusations, like Andy Revkin and George Monbiot, have seen fit actually to apologize for doing so. Perhaps they realize that one can’t get at the truth simply by reading people’s private emails.

Montford certainly spins a tale of suspense, conflict, and lively action, intertwining conspiracy and covert skullduggery, politics and big money, into a narrative worthy of the best spy thrillers. I’m not qualified to compare Montford’s writing skill to that of such a widely-read author as, say, Michael Crichton, but I do know they share this in common: they’re both skilled fiction writers.

The only corruption of science in the “hockey stick” is in the minds of McIntyre and Montford. They were looking for corruption, and they found it. Someone looking for actual science would have found it as well.


581 Responses to “The Montford Delusion”

  1. 401
    Judith Curry says:

    I would like to suggest that denizens of RC and CP read Peter Gleick’s testimony on scientific integrity. http://www.pacinst.org/publications/testimony/Gleick_Senate_Commerce_2-7-07.pdf

    He voices concerns about the following threats to scientific integrity (see especially the last page): appealing to emotions; making personal (ad hominem) attacks; deliberately mischaracterizing an inconvenient argument; inappropriate generalization; misuse of facts and uncertainties; false appeal to authority; hidden value judgments; selectively leaving out inconvenient measurement results.

    These tactics are common for merchants of doubt. The tactics are relatively uncommon for the watchdog auditors. I suggest that you evaluate your posts and comments by these standards.

    [Response: Wow. I think the term chutzpah is appropriate here. You could use your time to actually point out all these errors and misrepresentations you claim we've made, but instead you simply insunuate that we have no integrity (I think there is a name for that kind of argument....). When you ready to talk about something substantive, we'll be more than happy to engage, but this kind of pot-shot is no way to encourage a dialogue. - gavin]

  2. 402

    Perhaps relevant is this, on the issue of online research/epistemology:

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/07/27/google-student-usage-study.html

    I know it rang a few bells for me.

  3. 403
    Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    Some quotes shows here from OTHER blogs suggest that Judith Curry may in fact acknowledge that she made some errors in her posts here at realclimate… but she hasn’t actually said it herself here.

    She asserts that there are also errors in Gavin’s reply but we still don’t have specifics on what she thinks is incorrect from Gavin. Gavin has made errors here before; errors in general are completely plausible. But I haven’t seen any in this thread as yet.

    Is Curry actually insinuating some lack of integrity here?

    I call codswallop on that. It certainly wasn’t the original focus. She came in originally with substantive matters relating to the actual science involved; and THAT’S what scientific integrity is largely about: dealing honestly with specifics.

    She’s made some vague claims of “errors” in the review and in Gavin’s responses, but I don’t see anything specific. Where she did get specific was on some details of “hockey stick” research and she seems to have got those specifics mostly wrong. No problem with that; it’s no lack of integrity to make an error. But she’s failed to respond to substantive criticism (and you are in NO position to call “snark” on that, Dr Curry, given your own robust phrasings!) and she’s failed to acknowledge appropriately when she’s had useful corrections of her own errors. That’s not good.

    My one golden rule for myself in these kinds of topics is to acknowledge directly and with explicit thanks anyone who is good enough to find errors in my own work and posts. It’s a tactic which works very well for my own goal of simply advancing better scientific understanding. It is a win/win tactic; once you do find yourself in the position of having got some detail incorrect. Dealing with your own mistakes as quickly as possible can only help at that point, if you are serious about integrity.

    I would also think basic integrity would lean towards either withdrawing remarks about “errors” in the review or else being quite specific on what you mean.

  4. 404
    Didactylos says:

    Judith Curry:

    Please follow your own advice. Please! I am tired of you indulging in “inappropriate generalization; misuse of facts and uncertainties” and so on. You are an atmospheric scientist, not a social scientist, aren’t you? Why, then, are you unwilling to ever get specific about the actual science?

    And think for a moment: real auditors are highly qualified accountants. Would a Fortune 500 company invite strangers off the street to poke through their books? Do real auditors get in a tizzy because a paperclip is missing? I’m sure their citizen science efforts are commendable, but they are motivated by the wrong reasons, and they misjudge their conclusions. As such, why do you want to associate yourself with them? They want to tear down the science, not improve it. Don’t delude yourself otherwise.

  5. 405
    cervantes says:

    Dr. Curry — Put down the shovel!

  6. 406
    SecularAnimist says:

    Judith Curry wrote: “He voices concerns about the following threats to scientific integrity (see especially the last page): appealing to emotions; making personal (ad hominem) attacks; deliberately mischaracterizing an inconvenient argument; inappropriate generalization; misuse of facts and uncertainties; false appeal to authority; hidden value judgments; selectively leaving out inconvenient measurement results.”

    That’s a thorough and exact description of your behavior.

  7. 407
    Ian Forrester says:

    Re post #400,. JC posted this on Climate Progress. However, she seems to have omitted the latter half of her CP post when she quotes Feynmann (perhaps Gavin has snipped it to save her from further embarrassment).

    It’s not dishonest; but the thing I’m [Feynmann] talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest, it’s a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. . . [A]lthough you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. . . The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.

    I think this describes JC’s behaviour.

    [Response: Nothing was snipped. But there is nothing more irritating than people coming along and telling scientists to read Feynmann as if we haven't all been reading him since we were kids. So that was probably a good move on her part. - gavin]

  8. 408
    JMurphy says:

    Having waded through all the comments to the end, and seeing Dr Curry’s last post, I think I have just witnessed her admit that she has nothing else to offer but bluster : to divert attention from the fact that she has backed herself into a corner – in which she is digging herself deeper into a hole. I can’t take her seriously any more.

  9. 409
    Thor says:

    So, I guess, strip bark trees are still considered useful for temperature reconstructions then?

    [Response: Apparently. - gavin]

  10. 410
    Radge Havers says:

    Judith Curry @ 400

    WTF?

    JMurphy @ 407

    “to divert attention from the fact that she has backed herself into a corner – in which she is digging herself deeper into a hole.”

    Maybe so, but this is starting to look like an infatuation with drama. I mean, I know technical types are sometimes lacking in self and social awareness, but really, you’d think she’d know better. Just when the comments on Curry start to wind down a little, up she pops again to stir the pot. It’s getting self-destructive.

    Gadz, it’s like trying to sit through an episode of TMZ…

  11. 411
    thingsbreak says:

    @400 Gavin:

    I think in that instance, Judith was drawing a distinction between the Fred Singer/Merchants of Doubt crowd and her new tribe of self-appointed “auditors”, rather than attributing those things to RealClimate directly. Although given some of her other statements in the thread (especially her initial offering), it’s easy to read it otherwise.

    [Response: Maybe, but her style of argument by proxy is becoming increasing extremely difficult to follow. - gavin]

  12. 412
    MarkB says:

    Comment #185 is a must-read. It illustrates how confused Curry’s arguments are. In summary:

    1. Proposition A is true.
    2. I never said I thought Proposition A is true. I was just repeating Proposition A from someone else.
    3. Your rebuttal of my repetition of Proposition A is faulty. I’m not going to elaborate. Read Proposition A from its original source. Goodbye.

    So where to next? Oh yeah. Tamino’s post.

  13. 413
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www2.mercer.edu/caring/speakers.htm
    http://www.creationcareforpastors.com/about/advisors/

    People do take her seriously. These are big groups actively involved in politics. I’d like to know what advice they’re getting. (Some of the other advisors are names everyone will recognize, this is an important area for informing a group of the public that wants to be informed.)

  14. 414
    Judith Curry says:

    Whereas I am through reading these threads (anyone wanting to discuss something, pls email me), I do want to clarify the issue surrounding my statement:

    7. The Mann et al. 2008, which purports to address all the issues raised by MM and produce a range of different reconstructions using different methodologies, still do not include a single reconstruction that is free of questioned tree rings and centered PCA.

    This statement is an inaccurate reflection of what is in Montford’s book.

    [Response: Thanks for clearing that up. It really serves us all well to make sure that the details of claims we make (or repeat) are accurate, because, as you can see, people can waste a lot of time dealing with claims that aren't true. - gavin]

    This statement has been source of much discussion both here and at climateaudit. I append here relevant excerpts from the discussion that clarify this statement and its rebuttal at RC in context of Montford’s book.

    Steve McIntyre: In respect to the published article, Mann et al 2008, it is my view that the published graphics in the original article and SI, including amendments in 2008, did not include a reconstruction showing a hockey stick that did not involve either strip bark bristlecones or contaminated Tiljander sediments. Andrew Montford’s point in HSI – a point previously made at CA – was the bristlecone rebuttal used Tilander sediments (contaminated and upside down); and to show that contamination of Tiljander sediments “didn’t matter”, used strip bark bristlecones. The point in the book was right. Judith’s point is consistent with the book.

    [Response: Logical fail. Making a criticism that is wrong is not 'consistent' with another criticism that might be made and might (or might not) be valid. - gavin]

    Steve McIntyre: Judith’s comment mentioning PCA in connection with Mann et al 2008 was an error that derived from her recollection, not from the book. Her point that there was something wrong with both alternatives in Mann et al 2008 was, I think, “correct in spirit”, but in these sorts of debates, it is important to be correct in letter, as any such missteps are pounced on to divert attention from the beam in the Team’s eye, as happened here.

    [Response: For once, we agree on something - people should strive to be correct. - gavin]

    Phil Clarke: In November 2009, just before Climategate, Mann placed a non-Tiljander non-dendro reconstruction on his website. He did not issue a Corrigendum at PNAS nor did he publish a notice of the new information at realclimate. That Mann did so in late 2009 long after the fact did not refute the claim in respect to Mann et al PNAS 2008.
    [edit - this from SM:] It’s very misleading for Gavin to pretend that a website addition in November 2009 was part of the corpus of Mann et al 2008, that should have been considered in CA commentary on Mann et al 2008 in late 2008 (which was what MOntford was reviewing).

    [Response: Pure spin. The additional graph was posted because of inaccurate claims that there was something wrong with the no-dendro reconstruction because of the inclusion of the already-acknowledged-to-be-problematic Tiljander proxies. The sensitivity studies in the original paper didn't include that the no-dendro/no-Tiljander combination but that does not justify the claims made by Montford that such a combination was impossible or was not included because it undermined the results. Indeed, you can do a no-dendro and no-Tiljander reconstruction with the code that was posted with Mann et al (2008), and that was what was added to the figure I showed. Montford was apparently happy to make up results and conclusions in late 2008 that were just not justified, and for this you give him a pass? Curious. For further information, the no-dendro/no-Tiljander sensitivity test is also part of the SI in Mann et al (2009) (figure S8), where it is noted that it doesn't validate prior to 1500 AD. Of course if you remove all data that is imperfect, you will end up with no results. But as Salzer et al point out, there is likely to be useful climate information in the tree rings so I wouldn't throw them out unnecessarily. - gavin]

    Judith Curry:
 Too bad Tamino’s review was posted during a period when I don’t have much time to put into blogging. I felt obliged to pipe in since I challenged RC to do the review. My mistake has been an unfortunate distraction. Which wouldn’t have been a distraction if this mistake hadn’t been used to mischaracterize and discredit my broader points.
Mistakes happen, and they shouldn’t be a big deal when they are identified, acknowledged, fixed. However, the politics of expertise that is the basis of the consensus demands that the experts be oracles and never admit mistakes. Ravetz’s statements about the “radical implications of the blogosphere” are challenging the power politics of expertise. Here’s hoping that a saner environment for dialogue and argument can evolve in the blogosphere.

    [Response: Your comments here were wrong on a far more broad level than simply mis-remembering Montford's point 7, though I appreciate that you have tried to clear that up. But this has been very illuminating - we've seen exactly how technical issue after technical issue is used to paint a misleading picture of supposed malfeasance (which you appear to have bought into without ever looking into the issue itself). Paleo-reconstructions are not anything special in science - they are simply the result of lots of people trying to see what they can discern of the past through a rather murky lens. Your 'auditors' have decided that any judgement call in doing that must be challenged and insinuate continuously that every issue is being fixed for some ulterior motive. This is not a useful challenge to the science, because it undermines the making of any judgement in the analysis whatsoever. The 'auditors' do not produce alternatives because they too would have to make decisions about how to proceed which would open them up to their own criticisms. That is what needs to change if they are going to make a contribution. For an example of how that 'citizen science' can really work, look at what Ron Broberg and Zeke Hausfeather are doing with the weather station data - they aren't sitting around declaring that 'it can't be done' or that the GISTEMP/CRU/NCDC methods are fixed, they are going into the data, making choices, seeing what impact they have and determining what is robust. Indeed, that is science without the need for the quotes. Would that there would be more of that. - gavin]

    Salamano: Do you think it’s possible that there could be a ‘trading of hostages’ here..?

  15. 415
    sturat says:

    Intersting links HR @ 412

    I wonder if JC is aware of this:

    http://www.creationcareforpastors.com/science-info/

  16. 416
    Chris Colose says:

    Judith Curry:

    At this point I have no idea how your credentials have carried you this far through everyone’s patience zone. There’s only so much tolerance you can be given for spewing nonsense just because you have expertise in other areas of atmospheric science.

    You have not addressed a single issue raised at RC, and when you post a comment, the responses by gavin have not been rebutted or accepted. Instead, you choose to outline sets of erroneous statements and then fall back on the line that they were not your opinion, you’re just summarizing what you got out of Montford’s book, or just link to what other people are writing. I call B*ll***t. All of your points so far have been ad hominem attacks on RC, and apparently you are not willing to come up with an independent though (which reflects that you actually read the back-and-forths of Mann et al), that you are willing to put up for cross-examination.

  17. 417
    Matthew L says:

    Anybody else noticed the interesting developments at Dr Spencer’s blog? He is currently finding himself defending greenhouse gas theory in the face of a tide of Dunning-Kruger zombies. Kudos to the guy, he is trying very hard.

    Curry goes out, crossing paths with Spencer coming in!

    Perhaps he is beginning to realise the implications of the steadily warming air temperatures that his satellite data is revealing. I think he still has a way to go (he has commented that the link between CO2 and global warming is “tenuous at best”) but nobody is beyond redemption.

  18. 418
    Judith Curry says:

    p.s. in the midst of the deluge at RC, it took awhile for me to sort out what might be an actual error/mistake, especially since i don’t have time to read the threads in details (i am mostly relying on emails that point out something I should respond to). I am more than willing to admit and rectify mistakes when I make them, but in doing so I want to make sure that i do not further confuse the issue. The discussion on the climateaudit thread regarding this statement clarifies Montford’s point and McIntyre’s perspective on this issue.

  19. 419
    Judith Curry says:

    One more point, in case i haven’t made it over here. It was not the intent of my original posts (on this thread or the one a few months ago) to get involved in a technical debate on issues surrounding the hockey stick. Although I have read fairly widely on this topic, it is not my area of expertise. So if you choose to hang my overall worth as a scientist and my professional credibility on a mistake made in a summary of a book that is outside my field of expertise, well you are certainly entitled to that judgement.

    My main interest in this issue is the way that the conflict has played out, and utter senseless of it all, and this thread just reinforces the concerns that I had when I read Montford’s book. This is a young field, with many uncertainties and contested ideas. The participation of the extended peer community in this field is a good thing. The story told by Montford of this conflict is something everybody should read so that we can all ponder how to avoid such unnecessary conflicts in the future that are causing so much damage to the entire field of climate science. This is the point of Montford’s book, which Tamino missed in his review.

    This situation raises a whole host of issues related to the integrity of science, which is why I made that post that included Gleick’s testimony (I embellished the post at CP; gavin didn’t snip anything). There are other highly uncertain topics such as hurricanes and global warming and cloud/aerosol feedbacks, that are arguably more important for the global warming argument than the paleo reconstructions. And we don’t see this kind of protracted animosity in the other fields, where uncertainties get acknowledged and productive discussion among opponents take place, even though there are occasional flareups.

    So I’ll throw this challenge out there, to figure out how facilitate constructive scientific debate on the topic of paleo reconstructions, so that the field can move forward in a way that makes these reconstructions more useful and credible. I won’t hold my breath tho . . .

    [Response: Paleo-reconstructions are not my field either, but as I indicated above, it is obvious to me that the problem here is excessive personalisation of these issues, the constant insinuations of wrong-doing, and the inability of the critics to ever make a single point cleanly and acknowledge when it is shown to be irrelevant. No scientists can deal with that kind of attack in a constructive way. The practice of science has built up a number of mechanisms to try and ensure that arguments get dealt with constructively, and a big part of that is through the peer-reviewed literature where i's can be dotted, t's can be crossed, and where the snark gets put aside. As Phil Jones said "I wish they'd just publish a paper, I'd know how to deal with that". Papers are important (despite the sneers from McIntyre whenever this is brought up), because they do impose a discipline on the authors that simply doesn't exist on blogs. It forces people to dis-aggregate issues if they are going to get things passed the reviewers. And most of the time it forces people to stop insinuating fraud every time there is a dispute. The literature is where these issues are resolved, not in blogs. If the 'auditors' want to make a contribution, it has to be there. - gavin]

  20. 420
    Deech56 says:

    RE: Matthew L 28 July 2010 at 11:43 AM:

    I am not sure that Dr. Spencer is changing his beliefs; for his summary, please see the post to which he links. He also offered a critique of Lindzen and Choi, IIRC. I think he may be reacting to the comments of the previous article and wants to set himself apart from the “nutters”, but that is just speculation.

  21. 421
    Doug Bostrom says:

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) says: 28 July 2010 at 6:22 AM

    Point being, that I believe her generalized arguments about uncertainty have a real potential to become part of the denial infrastructure, due to her past reputation. This could cause further delay of meaningful policy adoption.

    Uncertainty does seem to be a major axle of Dr. Curry’s opinions. Paleo-Luntz revisited and refined, with a solid aura of professional credibility. Who says earlier work can’t be improved? Luntz explicitly emphasized uncertainty as a justification for inaction, perhaps we’re seeing the further cultivation of uncertainty, in a greenhouse under skilled hands. We can’t read her mind, only may read her words so we’re left to speculate from what she tells us.

    Who knows, really? Dr. Curry is becoming plain old Curry the pundit, that’s my best guess and is the most useful operative model I can think of at this point. For myself, as a member of the lay public selective quoting leaving the thoughts of the person she’s quoting truncated and inaccurately summarized in order to score rhetorical points cements this notion.

    If Curry the pundit does a better job addressing her mistakes than does George Will, she may yet once again be Dr. Curry the scientist. It’s really not technically necessary to be wrong in order to be a pundit so Curry could even be both a pundit and a scientist. Others have played that role with integrity.

    For folks interested in the taxonomy of advocacy and the phenotypes of advocates in this affair Curry’s becoming a pretty fascinating subject.

  22. 422
    Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    This is OT; but for the record. What Roy Spencer is doing is no more than correcting the completely bogus “second law” argument against a greenhouse effect (promulgated by Gerlich and Tsheuschner). There’s no change of belief involved. He’s just (to his credit) dealing with errors found within his, uh, “tribe” and (to his credit again) doing so with considerable patience under fire.

    He’s refuting a ridiculous argument which he’s never accepted but which does get play with some of the other climate science denial folks. It doesn’t mean he’s any less into climate science denial himself; but it is still a positive contribution on this one issue of the “greenhouse effect falsified” confusion.

  23. 423
    SecularAnimist says:

    Doug Bostrom wrote: “If Curry the pundit does a better job addressing her mistakes than does George Will, she may yet once again be Dr. Curry the scientist.”

    George Will does not make “mistakes”. He deliberately, knowingly lies. He has done so repeatedly, while consistently ignoring the debunking of his falsehoods even by the very newspaper that sees fit to publish his lies.

    And with all due respect, Ms. Curry’s comments here — full of vapid hand-waving and baseless innuendo about “scientific integrity” — are more troll than pundit.

  24. 424
    Jeff Gazzard says:

    Re. 377 above: Montford is based in rural Scotland I believe, so he can probably see Bishop Hill,go to http://walking.visitscotland.com/walks/perthangusfife/bishop-hill-kinross

    Does anyone really care? My personal thanks to all who take the time and trouble to take the witless meanderings of the Mountfords of this world apart on RC and other sites.

    Jeff Gazzard

  25. 425
    MarkB says:

    “Your comments here were wrong on a far more broad level than simply mis-remembering Montford’s point 7, though I appreciate that you have tried to clear that up.”

    Note she only admitted that error when McIntyre said she was in error. I don’t give her much credit for that.

  26. 426
    SteveF says:

    So I’ll throw this challenge out there, to figure out how facilitate constructive scientific debate on the topic of paleo reconstructions, so that the field can move forward in a way that makes these reconstructions more useful and credible. I won’t hold my breath tho . . .

    I was under the impression that a constructive scientific debate on the topic of paleo reconstructions was underway. You’ll find it in the peer reviewed literature.

  27. 427
    Doug Bostrom says:

    By the way, this “tribe” notion is a terrific concept to introduce if you’re trying to equivocate between two groups with distinctly different properties, create the impression that they’re functionally indistinguishable. It suggests that group A is distinguished from group B only by their totems, otherwise exhibting no fundamental differences.

    Wrong and misleading in this case, perhaps expedient for rhetorical purposes.

  28. 428
    sod says:

    why does Judith not use the 5 minutes it takes, to figure out that her claim about Mann 08 was complete rubbish?

    why not admit that she was wrong, instead of a weak and misleading statement like: This statement is an inaccurate reflection of what is in Montford’s book.

    Judith, your claim was not just an “inaccurate reflection”. it was complete garbage!

    and why does Judith requote comments from another blog, instead of writing her own opinion? (i can only assume that she is trying to stick to her “i was just paraphrasing someone else story.) you are digging deeper.

    the time it takes, to copy paste this rubbish would easily allow you to scan Mann 08 and correct your biggest false claim. or to finally point out any error in the review by tamino!

    Phil Clarke: In November 2009, just before Climategate, Mann placed a non-Tiljander non-dendro reconstruction on his website. He did not issue a Corrigendum at PNAS nor did he publish a notice of the new information at realclimate. That Mann did so in late 2009 long after the fact did not refute the claim in respect to Mann et al PNAS 2008.
    It’s very misleading for Gavin to pretend that a website addition in November 2009 was part of the corpus of Mann et al 2008, that should have been considered in CA commentary on Mann et al 2008 in late 2008 (which was what MOntford was reviewing).

    Judith of course made another error here. this quote is a reply by McIntyre TO Phil Clarke. it was not written by Phil. it looks like Judith simply can t get the most simple things right these days.

    i would suggest a serious time out, AFTER the correction to your biggest errors, Judith.

  29. 429
    Doug Bostrom says:

    SecularAnimist says: 28 July 2010 at 1:30 PM

    George Will does not make “mistakes”. He deliberately, knowingly lies. He has done so repeatedly, while consistently ignoring the debunking of his falsehoods even by the very newspaper that sees fit to publish his lies.

    Looking in the mirror I see I’m wearing my SkepticalScience facepaint as Dr. Curry might put it. I suppose I said “mistake” because after all a lie is a mistake and John Cook has trained me to stick rely on ambiguity where I don’t have sufficient information to use a more precise term. In the case of Will the information we have does invite the more specific word, not so with Dr. Curry.

    The difference between groups is more than totemic. The trend on sites like RC, SkS is more toward facts, other places less so.

  30. 430
    Didactylos says:

    Judith:

    Nobody holds being wrong against you. Don’t be so touchy! Mistakes happen. Clinging to mistakes long after they should have been laid to rest – that’s what gets you in trouble.

    And if you comment on something that “is outside my field of expertise” and are corrected, then repeating the claims and insulting the person correcting you is probably not a wise course of action. That’s just being polite, never mind proper scientific etiquette.

    If you imagine this is a way to “facilitate constructive scientific debate” then…. wow. Has it dawned on you that you have created the very fuss you are now complaining about?

    At RC, your audience includes your peers, special-ists in fields including and excluding your own, and interested third parties on both sides. Trying to argue from your own authority will only work within very narrow parameters, such as your own published work.

  31. 431
    sod says:

    I am more than willing to admit and rectify mistakes when I make them, but in doing so I want to make sure that i do not further confuse the issue.

    what could be more confusing than your completely false claim about Mann 08?

    The discussion on the climateaudit thread regarding this statement clarifies Montford’s point and McIntyre’s perspective on this issue.

    i don t think that it does this. no real quote or citation of Montford. and why would Steve’s perspective matter?

    One more point, in case i haven’t made it over here. It was not the intent of my original posts (on this thread or the one a few months ago) to get involved in a technical debate on issues surrounding the hockey stick.

    sorry Judith, but you do understand that we can all scroll up to your post #168 above and read the 9 (NINE) technical points you name and number in that post. your defence is getting more bizarre with every post you make!

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=4431#comment-181895

    . Although I have read fairly widely on this topic, it is not my area of expertise. So if you choose to hang my overall worth as a scientist and my professional credibility on a mistake made in a summary of a book that is outside my field of expertise, well you are certainly entitled to that judgement.

    sceptics and denialists assume that you are one of the few experts on their side. please stop posting false claims in fields that you do not understand. it is adding immense confusion to the debate. (and more conflict!)

    The story told by Montford of this conflict is something everybody should read so that we can all ponder how to avoid such unnecessary conflicts in the future that are causing so much damage to the entire field of climate science. This is the point of Montford’s book, which Tamino missed in his review.

    i have not seen any hint at a part of the book, that does what you describe. the title of the book is “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science”

    how would a book with such an aggressive title tell us about how to avoid conflict?

    [edit - please stay calm]

  32. 432

    “So if you choose to hang my overall worth as a scientist and my professional credibility on a mistake made in a summary of a book that is outside my field of expertise, well you are certainly entitled to that judgement.”

    I still haven’t heard a comment about this “hockey” stick from your part, I believe the reconstruction graph is robust by current all time high temperatures extending back in time since about 1998. However, you chose not to give it a least bit of credit for its success, I don’t see how you can possibly criticize the finer details.

  33. 433
    SecularAnimist says:

    Didactylos wrote to Judith Curry: “Has it dawned on you that you have created the very fuss you are now complaining about?”

    Has it dawned on you — or other readers — that that is archetypal “troll” behavior?

    Create a “fuss” by posting intentionally inflammatory comments (e.g. casting unwarranted aspersions on other people’s “scientific integrity”), then when people respond negatively, refuse to engage them on substance but instead draw out the “fuss” with even more vague accusations, non sequiturs and hand-waving, and then go to a more friendly venue where you can loudly complain about how badly you were treated, thus proving how unreasonable “those people” are.

    If Ms. Curry is not deliberately trolling according to such an established formula, perhaps she has just instinctively found her way to trollishness.

    She does give the impression of someone who has not spent a lot of time engaging in open discussions on the “Internets”, so perhaps she does not even recognize what she is doing, unlike those of use who have seen it enough times to know that “this has all happened before and it will all happen again”.

  34. 434
    Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    I want to underline the comment (currently #426) by SteveF. He is absolutely spot on with this remark. The “challenge” from JC was “So I’ll throw this challenge out there, to figure out how facilitate constructive scientific debate on the topic of paleo reconstructions, so that the field can move forward in a way that makes these reconstructions more useful and credible.”

    As SteveF points out: this is already being done in normal scientific channels. All the vapid insinuations about integrity and considering different “tribes” and so on miss the whole point. Science is marching on, all the time. There are competing ideas being thrown and and tested already by working scientists in this field. By their nature, studies of aspects of the past which can no longer be directly measured but which may be partially revealed by various proxies will never have complete reliability, but they ARE being properly and rigorously pursued by long tested scientific methods of working with any available empirical data that might help improve the picture. And the picture IS improving, though always it will be incomplete.

    It is conventional honest serious scientists that are already doing what JC wants, and it is the nature of paleoclimate studies the proxy reconstructions will never have the level of credibility of a direct measurement. It is the very people already doing what JC wants who are being attacked unfairly and improperly in material like Montford’s book — and in some of JC’s own comments.

    It is fair and reasonable and NORMAL to query and double check and revise the work done in this field. This has been done in spades for the papers from last century by Mann, Bradley and Hughes; the whole field has moved on. There’s nothing wrong with substantive criticism — and criticisms are ALSO subject to the same continuous questioning and review.

    The insinuations about integrity, however, are unhelpful and unjust. They are sidetracks that only distract from the real review of ideas that goes on all the time already.

    It is also a common error to think that these paleo climate studies are the basis for the conclusions of conventional climate science with respect to drivers of climate in the present. Studies of the past can be a useful adjunct to studies of how climate is changing right now; but the fundamental basis for study of climate impacts and global warming in the modern era is physics and measurement in the modern era.

  35. 435
    Judith Curry says:

    I finally understand what is going wrong in this exchange, illuminated by SOD’s queries at climateaudit. To those of you who haven’t read Montford’s book, it is a history of science tome. It starts out with the rollout of the TAR report and how McIntyre got interested in the problem. It ends with a hastily added chapter on climategate, which broke just as the book was going to press. Its sort of who said/did what when, which is well documented, explanations of some of the technical details, along with a narrative that reflects on these events. The who said what when is accurate as far as i can tell, as well as explanation of the scientific details. The narrative is of course open to some spin.

    Tamino reviewed the book like it was a review of hockey stick science and another salvo in the RC vs CA war. This isn’t what the book is about, which is why i gave Tamino the C- grade for his review. So given what the book is about, it is not to hard to imagine what i meant when i said Tamino’s review was inaccurate: it simply did not portray what Montford said nor did it catch what the book was all about. I was not in any way attempting to counter Tamino’s “review of the science”. Like i’ve said 10 times before, this topic is not my expertise, it is an immature field with many uncertainties, so I am not motivated to dig into any scientific nuances here and debate them publicly in a forum like RC that has a great deal of hostility on this topic owing to pent up frustration, battle scars, whatever.

    The point of this history of science is to understand how this happened and why. In reading this, i saw many points where i said “if only something slightly different had happened, this would never have occurred.” This conflict is fundamentally different from a merchants of doubt conflict. Surely we all want to avoid such conflagrations in the future. So the issue that montford raises, and that i have raised in my posts, are general issues, about the integrity of science, how to avoid conflicts, how to deal with mistakes, how science should be conducted when there are alot uncertainties and the field is immature, when the situation is politicized, etc.

    So I have no intention of debating any aspects of the science on this topic. In spite of the fact that most people on this thread thought the point of all this should be defending Mann’s science (and Amman, etc) and identifying scientific “truth” in all this. This is highly uncertain science in a young field. So get over it, we aren’t going to get “truth” on this anytime soon. The challenge is to avoid these crazy conflicts and move paleo reconstructions forward

    [Response: Easy. Stop encouraging people who think that all climate science is corrupt and who refuse to make any constructive efforts to improve things. - gavin]

  36. 436
    hveerten says:

    I wish to make three short points that to some extent have been made by others as well.

    First, if dr. Curry claims to be “correct in spirit but incorrect in detail” in her defense of a book literally titled “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science”, that reinforces the implication that she beliefs that Mann et al. have contributed to ‘Corruption of Science’ either because they are themselves corrupt, incompetent or both. If I were involved in temperature reconstructions, I would be seriously offended by that.

    Second, I think that by engaging on the particulars instead of pointing out the above, the RC members like Gavin have been exceedingly polite and accommodating.

    Third, for those who haven’t read it, I think the following interviews with Curry and Mann in Discovery Magazine are informative: http://discovermagazine.com/2010/apr/10-it.s-gettin-hot-in-here-big-battle-over-climate-science
    It seems to me that the scene is set there for the discussion that has so badly gone off the rails over here.

  37. 437
    Hank Roberts says:

    > this quote is a reply by McIntyre TO Phil Clarke.
    Sod, where did you find an original source for that? Is it a real quote?

  38. 438
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Dr. Curry, the “conflagration” you mention was synthetic, arson if you will. Dry but otherwise inert tinder was intentionally gathered and then ignited to produce a spectacle. It was a public relations stunt quite unrelated to improving the course of scientific progress.

    Please, please read what Chris Ho-Stuart says just upthread. Calm, useful, a reminder that after the dazzle of the flash-grenade of “climategate” fades it turns out that nothing is actually broken with this process.

  39. 439
    Didactylos says:

    [edit - please, no more piling on]

  40. 440
    sod says:

    Sod, where did you find an original source for that? Is it a real quote?

    i normally do not crosspost from CA. (i disagree with Steve on basically everything, but he has been extremely fair to all of my replies written on CA. so i wouldn t run over to another blog, making comments about stuff, that i could also write on CA.)

    but here is the quote again:

    In November 2009, just before Climategate, Mann placed a non-Tiljander non-dendro reconstruction on his website. He did not issue a Corrigendum at PNAS nor did he publish a notice of the new information at realclimate. That Mann did so in late 2009 long after the fact did not refute the claim in respect to Mann et al PNAS 2008.

    it is a reply by Steve to

    Phil Clarke
    Posted Jul 28, 2010 at 5:09 AM

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/25/the-team-defends-paleo-phrenology/#comment-236732

  41. 441
    dhogaza says:

    Judith Curry:

    So I have no intention of debating any aspects of the science on this topic. In spite of the fact that most people on this thread thought the point of all this should be defending Mann’s science (and Amman, etc) and identifying scientific “truth” in all this

    You’re rather missing the point: if the science is essentially correct, Mann’s earlier work defensible, Montford’s thesis collapses. The hockey stick is not illusion, Mann and others not guilty of scientific misconduct, and climate science not corrupt.

    Therefore your insisting on not evaluating Montford’s argument about the state of the science, the foundation of his entire argument, totally undermines your claim that Montford necessarily has something important to say. His narrative is based on a series of false claims regarding the science, and therefore can be safely ignored.

    And, of course, we have your post #168 which repeats these falsehoods despite your apparently thinking the scientific foundation for his narrative is unimportant. Odd, that.

    To those of you who haven’t read Montford’s book, it is a history of science tome.

    Professional historians work hard to make sure that the facts underlying their narrative are *accurate*. Montford quite clearly does not share this trait, and to call his book a “history of science tome” insults the real historians.

    Sorry, Judy, credibility suppuku is not a reversible ceremony.

  42. 442
    Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    JC says: I finally understand what is going wrong in this exchange, illuminated by SOD’s queries at climateaudit. To those of you who haven’t read Montford’s book, it is a history of science tome.

    Come off it. Look at your own original post here.

    You said originally Tamino’s review has “numerous factual errors and misrepresentations”. That is NOT the same thing at all as what you are saying now.

    What you are saying now makes no sense either. Montford’s book is explicitly speaking of “corruption” of science. If you can’t deal with the science matters then I for one will continue to stick with those who DO. Montford is wrong. Recommending his book is not the way forward — it is the way backwards.

  43. 443
    pjclarke says:

    Hank,

    Rather confusingly, there are parallel threads happening here, at Climate Progress and Climate Audit, with crossposts to each. Steve McIntyre’s quote came from here: http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/25/the-team-defends-paleo-phrenology/

    I’d like to thank Dr Curry and Steve Mc for unambiguously answering my question. I thought it was important, and I hope my persistence did not come across as brusque.

  44. 444
    BB says:

    In some ways…it’s also about the eyeballs. Each site wants the traffic all three are generating. Which is why the principals, with the exception of JC, aren’t cross-posting or commenting (nor probably have time).

  45. 445
    Horatio Algeranon says:

    Judith Curry

    I have no intention of debating any aspects of the science on this topic.

    Shorter Curry

  46. 446
    SecularAnimist says:

    Judith Curry wrote: “… it is an immature field with many uncertainties …”

    What exactly are you saying is an “immature” field, and what exactly are the “many uncertainties” you refer to?

    It’s certainly an interesting comment, juxtaposed with the “35th Birthday” article here.

  47. 447
    Neal J. King says:

    #435, Judith Curry:

    You said: “Like i’ve said 10 times before, this topic is not my expertise, it is an immature field with many uncertainties, so I am not motivated to dig into any scientific nuances here and debate them publicly in a forum like RC that has a great deal of hostility on this topic owing to pent up frustration, battle scars, whatever.”

    And before that: “One more point, in case i haven’t made it over here. It was not the intent of my original posts (on this thread or the one a few months ago) to get involved in a technical debate on issues surrounding the hockey stick. Although I have read fairly widely on this topic, it is not my area of expertise. So if you choose to hang my overall worth as a scientist and my professional credibility on a mistake made in a summary of a book that is outside my field of expertise, well you are certainly entitled to that judgement.”

    You know, there is a part of being a scientist (or a scientifically oriented person) that is not a part-time job: maintaining intellectual integrity. This is what Feynman was talking about in that quote on cargo-cult science (and by the way, I was present at that talk).

    First: If you get something wrong, admit it. That also has the practical advantage that you don’t have to keep defending yourself.

    Second: If you don’t have expertise in a technical topic, why promote a strong point of view on it? Either put some energy into getting properly informed, or talk about something else.

    Ignorance is a valid excuse for not being right. But it is not a valid excuse for being actively wrong.

  48. 448
    Radge Havers says:

    SecularAnimist @ 423

    “George Will does not make “mistakes”. He deliberately, knowingly lies.”

    I believe on one of the ABC Sunday morning “news” talk shows a few years back, he described what he does as psyops. I can’t find the transcript, but it certainly fits.

  49. 449
    Geoff Wexler says:

    my # 329

    Levels of confidence at the IPCC
    If you don’t read the IPPC reports , and preferably refer to the sources as well, there are a variety of ways in which you can quote them incorrectly and misunderstand where they come from.

    Mike Kelly’s and Judith Curry’s errors in this regard, may perhaps belong to the same family without being identical.

  50. 450
    sturat says:

    JC said in #435

    “Like I’ve said 10 times before, this topic is not my expertise”

    This brings to mind to mind an incident my brother described from years ago when he worked at NASA in Huntsville, AL. In a meeting he attended chaired by Dr Wernher von Braun, a presenter approached the podium and made the comment, “I’m not an expert on this, …”. Dr. von Braun replied, “Sit down. We don’t have time to waste with somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

    Advice you (and each us) should consider.


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