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Misrepresentation from Lindzen

Filed under: — gavin @ 6 March 2012

Richard Lindzen is a very special character in the climate debate – very smart, high profile, and with a solid background in atmospheric dynamics. He has, in times past, raised interesting critiques of the mainstream science. None of them, however, have stood the test of time – but exploring the issues was useful. More recently though, and especially in his more public outings, he spends most of his time misrepresenting the science and is a master at leading people to believe things that are not true without him ever saying them explicitly.

However, in his latest excursion at a briefing at the House of Lords Commons in the UK, among the standard Lindzen arguments was the following slide (which appears to be a new addition):

What Lindzen is purporting to do is to compare the NASA GISS temperature product from 2012 to the version in 2008 (i.e. the y-axis is the supposedly the difference between what GISS estimated the anomaly to be in 2012 relative to 2008). A rising trend would imply that temperatures in more recent years had been preferentially enhanced in the 2012 product. The claim being made is that NASA GISS has ‘manipulated’ (in a bad way) the data in order to produce an increasing trend of global mean temperature anomalies (to the tune of 0.14ºC/Century compared to the overall trend of 0.8ºC/Century) between the 2008 and 2012 versions of the data, which are apparently shown subtracted from each other in Lindzen’s figure. Apparently, this got ‘a big laugh’ at his presentation.

However, this is not in the least bit true: the data are not what he claims, the interpretation is wrong, and the insinuations are spurious.

The annotation indicates that Lindzen is using the GISTEMP Land-Ocean Temperature index (LOTI, i.e. the index that includes weather station data and sea surface temperature data to give a global anomaly index with wide spatial coverage) (“GLB.Ts+dSST.txt”). There is another GISTEMP index (the Met station index) which only uses weather station data (“GLB.Ts.txt”) which doesn’t have as much coverage and has a substantially larger trend reflecting the relative predominance of faster-warming continental data in the average.

Old versions of the data can be retrieved from the wayback machine quite readily, for instance, from February 2006, October 2008 or December 2007. The current version is here. I plot these four versions and their differences below:

As should be clear, the differences are tiny, and mostly reflect slightly more data in the earlier years in the latest data and the different homogenisation in GHCN v3 compared to GHCN v2 (which was used up to Dec 2011). This is however in clear contradiction with Lindzen – the biggest difference in trend (between 2006 and today), is a mere 0.05ºC/Century, and from 2008 to 2012 it is only 0.003ºC/Century – a factor of 40 smaller than Lindzen’s claim. What is going on?

The clue is that the transient behaviour of Lindzen’s points actually resembles the time evolution of temperature itself – not homogenisation issues, or instrumental or coverage changes. Indeed, if one plots the two GISTEMP indices and their difference (using current data), you get this:

Thus it looks very much like Lindzen has plotted the difference between the current Met Station index and an earlier version of the LOTI index. I plotted the Feb 2012 Met index data minus the Feb 2009 LOTI index, and I get something very close to Lindzen’s figure (though it isn’t exact):

This is sufficient to conclude that Lindzen did indeed make the mistake of confusing his temperature indices, though a more accurate replication would need some playing around since the exact data that Lindzen used is obscure.

Thus, instead of correctly attributing the difference to the different methods and source data, he has jumped to the conclusion that GISS is manipulating the data inappropriately. At the very minimum, this is extremely careless, and given the gravity of the insinuation, seriously irresponsible. There are indeed issues with producing climate data records going back in time, but nothing here is remotely relevant to the actual issues.

Such a cavalier attitude to analysing and presenting data probably has some lessons for how seriously one should take Lindzen’s comments. I anticipate with interest Lindzen’s corrections of this in future presentations and his apology for misleading his audience last month.

Update: Lindzen did indeed apologise (sort of) though see comments for more discussion.

539 Responses to “Misrepresentation from Lindzen”

  1. 151
    dbostrom says:

    As Martin Lack implies, Lindzen really ought to be asked to choose what course he takes in life.

    Lindzen should choose between continuing to uphold emphatically stated AGU core principles and thus remain a luminary Fellow of the organization, able to lean on its reputation in such places as his CV, or he might choose to be a person who communicates something that is carefully crafted to resemble science but is not and thus give up his connections with AGU.

    Also as Martin implies, simply swapping slides is not sufficient reparation to restore Lindzen’s grace. In a perfect world he’d be asked to publicly and in a highly visible way walk back the mess he’s made in the minds of his audiences.

    Not likely to happen because it appears the AGU is most attached to principle only when it is frightened but we can always harbor aspirations.

  2. 152
    Martin Lack says:

    #148 dbostrom – Are you deliberately misundertanding me? Unlike JohnK, I have no intention of contacting Lindzen at home. My point relates to the inconsistent way in which personal data is treated here. Nothing else. If you want that CV to remain up, Lindzen’s home address and telephone number should be redacted.

  3. 153
    John Kosowski says:

    You have no idea what I intend or where I contacted him. Some questions were raised about his talk, I asked, and he answered.

  4. 154
    dana1981 says:

    John Kosowski @133 – it’s 76% as of the end of 2010, as I explained here:

    using AGGI data:

    However, Lindzen may also be including the ozone forcing. Considering that he’s trying to inflate the forcing as much as possible by considering positive forcings and ignoring negative forcings (like aerosols), I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also including ozone.

    Whether it’s 76% or 80% or 85%, or even 100% isn’t even the biggest issue. The more important issue is that Lindzen is neglecting the negative forcings, which biases his calculation not by 4% or 24%, but probably by more than 50%. It’s simply absurd that he continues to make this error.

  5. 155
    John Kosowski says:


    I don’t think we disagree here. We must account for everything to get to the net, no dispute there.

    I asked Lindzen about a specific point regarding what he meant by effective doubling, and he answered it. You said you didn’t know what the point was, and I explained it. I am not here to justify Lindzen. You wrote an article saying that he wasn’t comparing the data sets that he purported to, and I verified it. That supports most of what you said. My impression is that Lindzen used the slide from a colleague that wouldn’t mind that turned out to be erroneous. The error is being fixed, acknowledged, and apologized for.

    [Response: We’ll see. Note that when scientists generally say ‘colleague’ they mean another working scientist, not someone with a advocacy newsletter. I wonder who the other ‘colleague’ was who sent him the Woodfortrees T & CO2 mash up? (a picture that implicitly assumes that climate sensitivity is between 8 and 9 deg C if the idea was that temperature and CO2 should line up, plus the same erroneous zero heat capacity assumption)…. – gavin]

    Btw, what do each of the models use for aerosol forcing, or where can that be found?

    [Response: The description for the CMIP3 models is in AR4, but for the new class of models being run for CMIP5, the situation is more complicated and more varied. Generally people are using supplied emission datasets of aerosols and aerosol precursors and calculating amounts and radiative effect as part of the transient calculation. The actual radiative forcing history is only worked out afterwards. See Koch et al, 2011 for some background. – gavin]

  6. 156
    dbostrom says:

    If you want that CV to remain up, Lindzen’s home address and telephone number should be redacted.

    Martin, I don’t believe you’d contact Lindzen; my suggestion was directed to people prone to press “send” before thinking.

    As to redacting the CV, it’s Lindzen’s own, hosted at MIT, most importantly is authoritative with regard to the matter of Lindzen’s attachment to the AGU.

    For my part I think Lindzen’s particular instantiation details are relatively picayune in the grand scheme of things. Lindzen is significant as an exercise for thinking about how to optimize communications of science as a tool for constructing informed public policy as well as how to avoid corruption from within. Also there are lessons here about fairness and priorities when it comes to constructing ritual public humiliations.

  7. 157
    MapleLeaf says:

    John Kosowski is trying to play the same good cop bad cop game that Pat Michaels and his side kick Chip Knappenberger play.

    Does Lindzen not have the integrity, courage and will to defend his own errors? That he is not willing to either defend or concede his own transgressions does him (and MIT)no favours whatsoever.

    Personally, I am not interested in someone else who is allegedly in touch with Lindzen assuring us that Lindzen will set the record straight (although no promises of an apology to Hansen/NASA has yet been offered).

    I find Lindzen’s deafening silence on this issue quite cowardly on his part. He is clearly not interested in debating the science or admitting error in the public eye. But I’d be happy for hiom to prove me wrong.

  8. 158
    John Kosowski says:


    Just to be clear, “colleague” is my word choice from the sentence wherein I gave my impression what happened.

  9. 159
    Carrick says:

    Nick Stokes was able to do the subtraction and replicate Lindzen’s figure. I recognize that most of the same information is contained in the second figure of this post (as Gavin pointed out to me), but it’s not a direct comparison, or “corrected replication”.

    IMO this really nails it. It’s what Lindzen’s figure should have looked like, done correctly.

  10. 160
    Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Correcting Lindzen: Current total GHG forcing ~3 watts/m^2. Current ocean heat uptake: about 0.5 watt/M^2. Aerosol effects: somewhere between 0.4 and 2.5 watts/M^2, with ~1.2 w/M^2 most probable (approximate AR4 uncertainty range, direct plus indirect effects). Net present forcing between: 3 – 0.5 – 0.4 = 2.1 watts/M^2 and 3 – 0.5 – 2.5 = 0.0 watt/M^2, with a most probable current forcing of 3 – 0.5 – 1.2 = 1.3 watts/M^2. If we assume present warming over pre-industrial is 0.8 C, that suggests a climate sensitivity (ignoring the uncertainty for land use) somewhere between ~1.41 C per doubling and infinite sensitivity, with the most probable sensitivity of ~2.28C per doubling. Absent better data on aerosol influences, an approximate lower bound and most probably value can be estimated, but no upper bound, so the analysis is maybe not terribly helpful.

  11. 161

    How can a university such at MIT tolerate a student presenting such a graph during an exam? Will he get a passing mark even though the graph presented is false? If not, I don’t understand freedom of speech at Universities. its like the head of faculty of medicine claiming the human brain made of cheese to a Congressional panel. Freedom is great because we can express ourselves, showing if we are delusional, conspiring, expressing facts falsely or correctly, it is a means of accountability. An Institution allowing a professor to openly obfuscate the very foundations of science he is suppose to uphold with the most stringent standards, this institution is a bit confusing or is a place where freedom has no limits whatsoever,
    then how are we suppose to learn when a teacher can present anything correct or incorrect within his speciality?

  12. 162
    John Kosowski says:


    Why the hostility?

    What Lindzen will do or not do has little to do with me. Wanting to get the facts right, I merely asked him some questions and passed on the answers. To Martin I offered to ask Linzen additional questions because he was seemingly having trouble getting his questions answered.

  13. 163
    Brian Dodge says:

    “you have an MIT atmospheric professor basically saying the whole global warming industry is a farce…”

    No. You have an MIT professor saying that a group of scientists has committed fraud by cooking the books on their data – and presenting as evidence, a graph which is itself a damnable lie. And I don’t think he’s so stupid or careless to make this a mistake.

    “banging on about global warming for 30 years and nothing has changed.”
    Arctic summer sea ice not changed?
    Glaciers not melting?
    Greenland Ice Sheet not losing mass at an accelerating rate?
    Antarctic Ice Sheet not losing mass?

    Fossil fuel companies profits not up? Is “business as usual” what you mean by “nothing has changed”? Isn’t it the point to delay, deny, and keep the profits rolling in?

  14. 164
    Russell says:

    A large smell has your dead whale. The last to come ashore hereabouts, in ’89 or so, can yet be savored a hundred yards inland when the wind is right.

    From my modest experience of Congressional panels, the cheese hypothesis has its attractions.

  15. 165
    MapleLeaf says:

    John @161,

    I’m sorry that you take exception to my candour.

    Given that you have contact with Lindzen, please urge him then to come here (or SkepticalScience)to discuss the errors in his presentation. Please let us know what he says to that request. Thanks.

    If he chooses, he can converse only with the RC members and ignore everyone else. That sounds like a very reasonable offer IMHO.

  16. 166
    Martin Lack says:

    At #145 I advised the moderators that John Kosowski is not to be trusted. He asks questions only in order to go away and find something to dispute the answer given. He will bleed you dry. He is a time-waster. He should be blacklisted.

  17. 167
    dbostrom says:

    Further to MapleLeaf’s earlier remarks about the AGU Fellows list:


    Arthur H Lachenbruch, Andrew A Lacis, Carlo E Laj, Devendra Lal, Kurt Lambeck, Cor G Langereis, Charles H Langmuir, Charles A Langston, Chester C Langway, Louis J Lanzerotti, Kristine M Larson, William K-M Lau, Thorne Lay, Jean-Louis Le Mouel, Judith Lean, James R Ledwell, William H K Lee, Martin A Lee, Cindy Lee, Steven J Lentz, Dennis P Lettenmaier, Alan R Levander, Anatoli L Levshin, Hiram Levy, Robert C Liebermann, Robert P Lin, Alan T Linde, Donald H Lindsley, Kuo-Nan Liou, Peter W Lipman, Jack J Lissauer, W. Timothy Liu, Zhengyu Liu, Philip Liu, Shaw Chen Liu, David B Lobell, David A Lockner, Jennifer A Logan, Ulrike Lohmann, David Loper, William Lotko, Daniel P Loucks, William Lowrie, Guenter W Lugmair, Janet G Luhmann, Hermann Luhr, Anthony Lui, Jonathan I Lunine, George W Luther, Bruce P Luyendyk, Larry R Lyons, William B Lyons, Robert L Lysak

    Lindzen is indeed an AGU Fellow, class of 1969. Undoubtedly a correction to the list will be forthcoming once it’s pointed out to AGU that Lindzen is missing from the published list of Fellows. When that happens it’ll be a great time revisit the AGU ethics scenario.

  18. 168
    deconvoluter says:

    From recent warming to sensitivity.

    As I remember from an earlier RC thread, the problem was that the aerosol forcing comes in the denominator with a negative sign.. exactly as Lindzen is doing, except that he avoids that problem by ignoring the aerosols. Ref. 1 did it better and produced a probability curve with a large range of possible outcomes. Ref. 2 has narrowed it down to a single estimate.

    Ref. 1. Isn’t this a possible way to correct Lindzen’s sensitivity argument?

    Ref. 2. Ring ,Lindner,Cross, Schlesinger, (draft)

  19. 169
    Susan Anderson says:

    Hey guys, please take it easy on poor old academia. Several of you seem to have no idea about how seniority works in our more venerable institutions. Once a full professor gets a certain level of seniority his crimes have to be of the police type before he or she can be booted out. The only thing they can do is kick the guy upstairs and/or ignore him.

    MIT is home to Kerry Emanual and other admirable scientists working on these issues, and has a terrific environmental science operation. It’s a varied place with its own eccentricities.

    As moderators have pointed out, bashing the openness and variety of institutions of higher learning doesn’t work.

    It would be nice if there were some way to bring taking liberties with the truth or complex relationships with reality to book before they become extreme, but it also provides shelter for people who do amazing things because of that same freedom.

    By the way, lots of institutional CVs provide contact information (I found some at Cambridge the other day). Please restrain yourselves and don’t use it for polemics or dirty tricks. There’s enough of that from the other side.

  20. 170
    dbostrom says:

    Susan: As moderators have pointed out, bashing the openness and variety of institutions of higher learning doesn’t work.

    Whereas putting the boot into a bucket of old fashioned hypocrisy (Scholarly Society Rejects Deception…) is good clean fun.

    AGU Fellow-on-Fellow Action!! Inndustry heavyweight Lindzen trashes pro-science streetfighter Hansen!! Who’ll come out on top??

  21. 171
    Deep Climate says:

    Like Gavin S and Eric S, I am inclined to ascribe Lindzen’s mistake of mixing up LOTI and Met indices to incompetence (and perhaps not a little bias in failing to check his work when confronted with an inexplicably large difference between two versions of ostensibly the same data set).

    But should he refuse to unequivocally withdraw the accusation against GISS, that would be a different matter.

    [Response: Note that I have received a note from Lindzen apologising for the error (and I have passed it along to the people involved in GISTEMP). – gavin]

  22. 172
    Hank Roberts says:

    > John Koslowski
    > … Lindzen …
    > … I just got “Cork” Hayden’s explanation/apology …

    Direct quotes would help.

    Did these folks agree to having you speak for them?

  23. 173
    GSW says:

    @gavin’s response in #171

    Despite what many think of him here, Lindzen is at least a gentleman prepared to admit his mistakes.

  24. 174
    Martin Lack says:

    #169 Susan Anderson

    I am not so sure I like the sound of this academic freedom malarkey and/or undue deference to someone who seems to have spent much of the last 20 years defending the indefensible – and who is now accusing just about every other climate scientist on the planet (apart from Curry, Michaels, Spencer…) of being either deluded, deceitful or D-grade… The words kettle and black appear now to be coming into my mind.

  25. 175
    John Kosowski says:


    “Did these folks agree to having you speak for them?”

    Do you mean have they retained me to be their lawyer? I asked Lindzen some questions, and I posted the answers. Nothing too groundbreaking, but still answers. Why not just cut to the chase and get the answer rather than speculating about it for weeks?

    So, no one is speaking on behalf of anyone.

    Now, I bet any one of you, except Martin, could have asked the same question and received the answer. If a journalist were going to write the the above article, it would be pretty standard practice to do the same before going to press. But that is just, I guess, one way to do it.

  26. 176
    KR says:

    Gavin – Regarding “Note that I have received a note from Lindzen apologising for the error (and I have passed it along to the people involved in GISTEMP).”

    This should be shown in the original post as an “update”. A willingness to correct errors should be noted.

  27. 177
    Martin Lack says:

    # 171 Gavin – This is good. Can you please ask Lindzen why he feels the World does not deserve a straight answer – preferably with some defensible data and graphs to back it up – to the Climate Sensitivity question?

    I am willing to accept that he may never answer the questions I raised in my over-long email (although I thought them all entirely legitimate – and would not have been necessary if his presentation had not been so misleading [for whatever reason]).

    I am willing to accept that he may never admit that he rejects all 17 of the simple statements (of consensus opinion).

    However, do I – indeed does not the World – deserve to hear a straight answer to a straight question regarding his fundamental reliance on low climate sensitivity?

    I feel like I am shooting the final scene in a modern-day re-envisioning of the Classic Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry; and I have to tell you – this ‘punk’ (i.e. for the avoidance of doubt – me) is feeling decidedly “unlucky”

    To say I do not trust Lindzen’s judgement on this would be the understatement of the Anthropocene era… and I believe we deserve an explanation.

  28. 178
    Hank Roberts says:

    > John Koslowski
    > … I just got “Cork” Hayden’s explanation/apology …

    “Speaking for them” — you posting what you say he said to you.

    A direct quote or link would be good.
    His own posting would be better.


  29. 179
    David Miller says:

    GSW says:

    Despite what many think of him here, Lindzen is at least a gentleman prepared to admit his mistakes.

    A gentleman wouldn’t have tried to smear all of GISS in the first place when he knows full well such criticism is misplaced.

    Admitting his mistakes has to happen in the same forum to mean anything. Criticizing in public and apologizing in private hardly makes everything right.

    While his apology is nice, has he issued a retraction with the kind of publicity originally received? In terms of what’s important – influencing public perception – that’s much more important than a apology to those he libeled.

  30. 180
    Paul Tremblay says:

    @60 Martin Lack: “Also, if you believe in real democracy…That is never going to happen unless the Merchants of Doubt are silenced!”

    The irony is too rich. You start by evoking democracy and end by demanding that your enemies be silenced.

    I really feel the need to add another voice to support Gavin and the other moderator’s wisdom in trying to quell the witch hunt against Linzen. As much as I deplore the way Linzen continually misleads the public and mis-states the science, demanding that MIT take action against him and making him into a criminal is outright thuggish, no better than the harassment against Hansen and his colleagues. Would the posters who advocate action against Linzen feel okay when the fake skeptics, claiming fraud on climate scientist’s part, demand they lose government funding and that they must turn over all their emails?

    A litter perspective helps here. Rather than directing your anger at Linzen, why not direct it against the press, whose sole purpose, whose very reason for existence, consists of informing the public the difference between truth and falsehood, good science vs. bad science? There will always be quack scientists (even Kepler believed in the music of the spheres); the evil comes when political interests inflate these promulgate these views and inflate their importance.

  31. 181
    Rob Dekker says:

    Didn’t the President of the AGU ( Michael McPhaden) make the following statement recently when they let one of their members go ? :

    The success of the scientific enterprise depends on intellectual rigor, truthfulness, and integrity on the part of everyone involved. The vast majority of scientists uphold these values every day in their work. That’s why opinion polls show that public trust in scientists is among the highest of all professions. Public trust is essential because it provides the foundation for society’s willingness to invest in scientific exploration and discovery. It is the responsibility of every scientist to safeguard that trust.

  32. 182
    Ray Ladbury says:

    It would be one thing if Dick Lindzen had made one simple mistake, apologized and corrected it. That is not the case. He has a long track record of distortions and outright prevarications–his implication that because other celestial bodies show warming that anthropogenic CO2 cannot be the cause on Earth, numerous Wall Street Urinal editorials, testimony before Congress and so on. In these forums, he has leveled charges every bit as scurrilous and irresponsible as the current case.

    Now were I to believe that these incidents are attributable to oversight, I would have to conclude that Dr. Lindzen has an extremely poor grasp not just of climate science, but of science in general. I would have to conclude that these events just happen to occur when he is addressing laymen rather than fellow scientists. I would have to believe that his role in the BBC ambush of Phil Jones was just an innocent misunderstanding.

    I am not that naive, and Lindzen is not that stupid. I have no doubt that Dr. Lindzen is extremely sorry–sorry he got caught.

  33. 183
    Hank Roberts says:

    > real democracy … Merchants of Doubt are silenced!”


    > press, whose sole purpose, whose very reason for existence,
    > consists of informing the public the difference between
    > truth and falsehood, good science vs. bad science?



    Wait, the scientists, not the press, are on the hook for good vs. bad science.

    Are you thinking about editors as deciding what’s good and bad?


    One measure of good and bad science is getting citations to the work over the years.

    Another measure is turning out successful grad students

    Another, success in intriguing other scientists who find something to cite and look into themselves.

    The press, if you mean reporters, scurry to keep up.

  34. 184
    Paul Tremblay says:

    @183 “Are you thinking about editors as deciding what’s good and bad?”

    I’m not sure of your point. Yes, I do believe the press has a responsibility to point out good vs. bad science. I don’t work as a scientist, let alone a climate scientist, yet I can easily discern when Linzen or Spencer make nonsensical statements. That is, I might need the help of blogs, but reporters are trained to use secondary sources, to pick up the phone and call Gavin or whoever. When 97% of climate scientists think different than Linzen, shouldn’t a reporter immediately become extremely suspicious when Linzen makes statements that would overturn a consensus, especially given his record? The public misconceptions doesn’t result because of a handful of bad scientists, but because the press trumpets their views.

    I didn’t think my comment that controversial. It is known (see, for example), that the news media gives a disproportionate amount of time to contrarians. I didn’t mean to turn this thread into another debate about the media’s role or what consists of the best action. I merely wanted to point out that if you plan to write letters an demand investigations, write to newspapers and demand hearings of congress. To go after scientists the way some have advocated here on these boards strikes me as censorship, justified by the worst excuse, that our side is right and the other side will cause mankind harm.

  35. 185
    Susan Anderson says:

    I wasn’t suggesting that L. was anything but a smoking r*tf*nk (I’m a hothead too), just that things being what they are, we’re stuck with it. Don’t want to make a cure that is worse than the disease.

    I’m one of the ones that think Gleick was excusable if rash, while what Heartland gets away with is sickening (news just now; GM is reconsidering their support). Just defending my previous home from home (MIT) and freedom of speech mentioned by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

    I agree there’s an argument that L. is setting the place on fire rather than preventing a panic, but things are what they are.

    Martin Lack, you say you were in the room, poor you; your courage and determination are admirable. Not just sure it will work.

  36. 186
    Phil Mattheis says:

    susan @125
    (way long ago this early am…)
    “A population that is able to be misled on this point is a population that does not want to know, no matter how important it is to be well informed.

    captcha: failed loginoi”

    Ms Anderson seems to be defining terms lately, in very useful segments. Yesterday we gained “likewarmers” (“sure it’s warming but C02 is good for us”). Today, the “failed loginoi” as those willingly misled; especially pertinent lately, with all the recent rhetoric aping logic. Many of my Alaskan friends are in the first group, because shorter winters _is_ better – many of our irksome visitors here, the other ilk – Dan H would be king.
    There’s power in words we use.

  37. 187
    Susan Anderson says:

    PS. Repeat worthwhile. Run, don’t walk, gotta see this:
    “James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change”

  38. 188

    Do University faculties have a voice? Don’t they have the freedom to disagree or even condemn an action from a peer at the same school? More often than not an opportunist journalist or talk radio war monger elevate guys like Lindzen, citing and using the prestigious Institute and impeccable credentials as a very effective political battering ram. Often I read or heard this, the choice of not doing anything against erroneous science has huge consequences which are mostly devastating. I applaud RC for prompting this apology, I think it an example though of why MIT guys didn’t appear to make a fuss about this first, may be they did??? . Having one professor with media gravitas may easily drown out the real good work done there by others. I don’t understand why faculties, not only MIT, don’t action press releases with strong disagreements about one rogue professor when it is so obvious. I think it would help the media having no time to look much further. If serious about freedom of speech, why not speak?

  39. 189
    Marcel Kincaid says:

    Keith Woollard:

    Skepticism is only useful if you follow it up by seeking knowledge in an attempt to resolve the doubted claims. Sadly, you appear not to have done that, and in fact you seem to reject the whole enterprise of knowledge acquisition in this area. But worse, you unskeptically accept assertions that are demonstrably wrong, making your claim to skepticism itself rather dubious … and your reasoning causes me, like some others, to have my doubts about your last assertion. But regardless of whether that word applies to you personally, certainly much of what you wrote qualifies as idiotic … if you are capable of competent and intelligent reasoning, you would do well to display it rather than the opposite.

  40. 190
    Andy Lee Robinson says:

    @Susan, #187 Jim Hansen’s TED video also here – where I have been battling with the current resident sock troll ierig.
    Some expert support in the comments would be useful occasionally!

  41. 191
    dbostrom says:

    As much as I deplore the way Linzen continually misleads the public and mis-states the science, demanding that MIT take action against him and making him into a criminal is outright thuggish, no better than the harassment against Hansen and his colleagues.

    We’re all of course free to say anything we like, but we have to understand that doing so may incur costs; freedom of speech is not always free as in “free beer.” For instance, if Lindzen is consistently performing in direct contravention to the stated objectives of the AGU of which we were so recently reminded, of course he is free to do so, but he ought not to expect that he’ll be welcome as an AGU member in good standing. If he’s allowed to duck that cost, he debases the AGU with their consent.

    Which begs the question, what’s the reputation of a “scholarly society” worth? More or less than that of one person?

    Here’s what Lindzen has recently said of fellow AGU members:

    The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.

    Because the quantity [of warming] we are speaking of is so small, and the error bars are so large, the quantity is easy to abuse in a variety of ways.

    Obsessing on the details of this record [global temperature] is more akin to a spectator sport (or tea leaf reading) than a serious contributor to scientific efforts – at least so far.

    Questionable data. (Climategate and involvement of all three centers tracking global average temperature anomaly.) This is a complicated ethical issue for several reasons.

    [Martin] Rees and [Ralph] Cicerone [AGU Fellow] are saying that regardless of the evidence the answer is predetermined. If the government wants carbon control, that is the answer that the Academies will provide.

    Lindzen repeatedly attacks the honesty of others. He’s quite careful to avoid connecting these accusations with specific individuals, but even as he does so he instead broadens his tarring brush to include essentially the entire scientific community. Meanwhile, how about his own integrity? Take a look at the Arctic/Antarctic ice portion of Lindzen’s presentation cited above in Gavin’s complaint. Could any person having reasonable familiarity with this topic conclude that Lindzen has crafted his material for the purpose of clear communications conveying the actual state of the Arctic, for instance? Here’s the pot calling the kettle black, except that the pot appears to be black iron and kettle something relatively stainless and shiny.

    How in the world can AGU possibly continue to associate itself with this person? Is their reputation worth so little, despite insistence to the contrary?

  42. 192
    dbostrom says:

    Richard Lindzen writes on “ClimateGate” on Oct. 23 2011:

    The summary sentence completely misrepresents ‘climategate.’ This refers to the release of thousands of emails, commented code, etc. from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The land based instrumental temperature record was not the primary focus of the problems revealed in these documents. Rather, the explicit evidence of the manipulation of proxy records used in paleoclimate reconstructions, suppression of other viewpoints, manipulation of the IPCC process, and intimidation of journal editors were all evidence of serious breaches of ethics.

    I found myself wondering if Lindzen was employing the word “manipulation” as seen in the graph above in the sense of “I am manipulating my pliers” or instead “I am massaging the evidence.”

    Judging from the above quote it seems that when Lindzen says “manipulate” he’s not referring to simply moving something about; picking up a ball is not a “serious breach of ethics.”

    Note that Lindzen was writing long after the final investigation of the various victims of the email hack cleared them of any scientific misconduct. Also note that Lindzen manages to convey a poor impression of the affected individuals even while artfully hedging his language so as to not actually accuse; Lindzen strings together a list of nasty verbs and then says they “were evidence of serious breaches of ethics,” thus stopping just short of an actual accusation. Crafty.

  43. 193
    Mr. G. Robertson says:

    I was an attendee at the meeting. I am neither an oil company shill nor a “denier” of climate change but a curious member of the public who is still unconvinced by alarmism about CO2. I note that Prof. Lindzen has issued a very clear explanation and apology for his mistake. I find all ad hominem attacks on both/all sides of the climate debate deplorable, especially those on this site suggesting that Lindzen is suffering from dementia. His general arguments about the history of climate change and his standing as a well-respected scientist speak for themselves in my view. I wonder if you will publish it ?

  44. 194
    Martin Lack says:

    #180 Paul Tremblay –

    You criticise me for seeking democracy by silencing dissent? I think you confuse dissent with deception. Here, I believe, James Hoggan can help you out:
    “Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.

    “There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.”

  45. 195
    Paul Vincelli says:

    This is such a passionate comment thread, that I must be crazy for dipping my toe in, but here goes. No matter how bad is the professional work of a colleague, we in academia must be defenders of freedom of thought. That is the foundation of a university environment. No matter how hard it is to accept this, the current scientific consensus may be wrong. I don’t think it is, which is why I am leading an Extension effort on climate change. Furthermore, even as an outsider to climate scientist, the more carefully I study the work of skeptics, the less I value their professional opinion. However, we must defend the right of intellectuals to be wrong. Freedom of thought is the foundation of the academy.

    That said, we must repeatedly challenge and refute those individuals, especially when they misrepresent the science. And we scientists must continue to challenge them forcefully in all fora but especially the fora that matter most: Peer-reviewed journals and scientific meetings. That is the foundation of our credibility, and most policymakers know that.

  46. 196
    deconvoluter says:

    Much of the propaganda takes the form of highly publicised stunts which produce the illusion of coherence between inconsistent viewpoints. For example, the chairman at Lindzen’s lecture was Christopher Monckton ; to what extent do these two endorse each other’s arguments? The ‘chemical potentials’ of the two were initially quite different, but what will be the eventual outcome of this interaction? A common ‘chemical potential’ and mode of operating?

    RC’s Wiki

    It is a bit old. Does it need to be up-dated more frequently? The arguments hardly change and go around cyclically, but the behaviour of some of the characters involved appears to be subject to longer term change * which might benefit from being recorded in one place.

    By the way, there is no entry for Akasofu, who was involved in Channel 4’s Swindle (as far as I remember) and is the inspiration behind some of the recent WSJ op-ed and Michael Kelly’s support of it.
    * Ageist remarks are not persuasive. Participation in a campaign is probably a stronger effect. Its like all the dipoles in a magnet compelling each other to point the same way.

  47. 197
    Girma says:

    I don’t think “NASA-GISS Data Manipulation” claim by Lindzen is correct.

    This is because the current GISTEMP LOTI trend is nearly identical to that of HADCRUT3 as shown =>

    They both have a long-term global warming rate of 0.6 deg C per century.

    If it were adjusted according Lindzen’s claim of +0.14 deg C per century, GISTEMP would have had a warming rate of 0.74 deg C per century.

  48. 198
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Paul Vincelli @194: “we must defend the right of intellectuals to be wrong”

    Absolutely, but there is no justification, much less a requirement, to defend the right of intellectuals to misrepresent falsehoods as facts.

  49. 199
    BillS says:

    Re: #32 Martin Lack,

    “In my opinion, Lindzen’s career should now come to an end; and I am doing all I can to make it happen… .”

    It may well have done so a few years ago. A quick look through his list of publications here:

    suggests that he has published relatively few papers in the last decade (compared to the 70s, 80s, and 90s) in peer reviewed journals where he was the first author.

    Again, a quick look through reinforces this.

    I leave to others decide how much credit he should get for the publications of his doctoral and post-doctoral lead co-authors.

  50. 200
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Paul Vincelli,
    I agree that academic freedom is paramount–I’ve said similar things myself. However, I wonder if you’d weight in on whether you would be concerned about a scientist with a pattern of intentionally misleading the public on the science?

    Lindzen’s pronouncements to lay audiences differ profoundly from his presentations to technical audiences. The former are full of bogus science–egregious errors that Lindzen is fully aware are misleading if not downright prevarications.

    I will defend any scientist’s right to voice a minority opinion–even in front of a lay audience. Presenting deliberately misleading information to a lay audience comes very close to scientific misconduct.