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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. 401
    Hank Roberts says:

    >> T. Marvell: The climate scientists should
    >> write versions of their models
    >> that can be understood by others.

    > dbostrom … a version of War and Peace …

    http://warandpeacecomic.blogspot.com/

  2. 402

    #399 re. Jm’s response

    I’m trying to open a new field of study to compliment the work of others in meaningless science ;)

    Might even start a new web site called:

    wattsupwithplants.com

    #400 dbostrom

    working on it :)

    Though I still love to write my own notes in the margins and love the feel of a real book.

    [Response:Some years ago Rush Limbaugh went off on a tirade when he found out that federal grants were being awarded to study plant stress, not comprehending that stress in a broader biological context might actually mean something different than in a human psychology context.--Jim]

  3. 403
    Lucien Locke says:

    Regards Dr. J. Gavin,

    Only slightly off topic….but pertinent never-the-less. Have you a intimate knowledge of the changes IPCC are making in communicating the final summations of AR5? I have several reasons for asking this question. First, the report is due out next year & 2014, with newer and much more relevant information then prior additions AR3 and AR4. Regards, AR3-4 we have learned to ask deeper questions and how better to utilize newer findings, so no criticism intended. The intended focus for the newest report will have a much broader analysis of the impact of our evolving climate ecosphere. How the results will be communicated is of utmost importance. Here is the remote connection to your newest post; communication. The very nature of your post can be distilled into the essence of communication. You have pointed out without rancor the usage of erroneous data sets by Dr. Lindzen. The esteemed people who have commented on your assertion have in many ways furthered the knowledge or lack thereof …of the use of data in qualifying a hypothesis. As has been pointed out clearly motives or methods Dr. Lindzen used are a matter of discussion. But what if the most important elements of your message was spread with the effectiveness of say ….the social network title Kony 2012? What if a concerted effort was configured and pushed forward to advance your “James Hansen: Why I Must Speak Out About Climate Change”, http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html? Apologies to those before me, this lecture is worth repeating.
    I will risk saying on this forum, if you Dr. Hansen or Eric or anyone commenting, we need a new tack. A method of uniquely demonstrating to those who will or cannot understand the urgency of addressing climate change must be found. Understanding the reasons for climate change is everything ….and nothing ….if we cannot convince those who do not or will not understand…so we make it as transparent as possible, we use the language of statistics in such a way that no misuse of them can be postulated, we have graphs …use them on tee-shirts…(sorry, banal example, but what the hell), anyone heard the newest climate change recipe? “Yes son, the Earth really does go around the Sun” My point ….what will it take for some of the smartest people I have had the pleasure of listening to on this blog, to go for a new direction? Clean…the very cleanest, easiest, eye-catching, fad-like, jingle like, way to make people take the blinders off and accept the data, predictions and stop climate change NOW!….
    I read an interesting article ( will find it if anyone is looking for citation) on the time lines for the introduction of new theories and the general populations acceptance of those theories. What I came away with on that information is the time lag was in decades and even more for the more controversial of them. As the entire climate choir here knows, we do not have the ….time….for dalliance.

    I gleefully read most of the available online documentation on climate change and find RC a treasure of intellect and frontier thinking but if I might be most bold to say…..the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change may be the most influential source for elucidating the conditions of our planet…a planet in great peril. It is the singular group representing the world regards our climate and the knowledge of how it works. The method(s) by which it will convey the newest findings in AR5 may be our best bet for data collection and presentation, hence, Dr. Hansen….I dare say you’ll mention ….the tee-shirt idea? Really people…..we have the finest organization coming on with some very important news and we have some of the best minds here contributing to that knowledge….as Joan Rivers has been known to say “Can we talk”?

    Just kidding, best to all of you and yours,

  4. 404
    Jim Larsen says:

    Ray: “This is more than lying. It borders on scientific misconduct.”

    Whether Lindzen successfully avoided telling a literal and deliberate lie in this case (as parsed by Lindzen’s lawyer), he was obviously trying to cloud the issue by introducing doubt via a supposition which is scientific garbage but might appear valid to a layman. From the little I’ve seen, this behaviour is a pattern.

    Scientific misconduct? Just think about the hornet’s nest one would rile up by sanctioning the top skeptical scientist for postulating about standard skeptic talking points!

    Well, why not? One beef I’ve heard here is that Lindzen feels free to advance arguments in laymen’s forums which he would not dare to bring up amongst scientists. Well, in the process of making a case to strip Lindzen of X support of Y organization, Lindzen’s litany of public arguments would be center stage, all to be dissected scientifically.

  5. 405
    Paul Vincelli says:

    Glad to have brought some much-needed comic relief to this thread. Keep the plant puns coming! (But it may surprise you to learn that I am a member of the APS. No, not the American Physical Society…the other APS: The American Phytopathological Society.)

  6. 406

    #402 Jim

    I remember that now that you mention it.

    That’s even funnier than the joke I thought I was telling :)

  7. 407
    dbostrom says:

    …Lindzen’s litany of public arguments would be center stage, all to be dissected scientifically.

    It’s a long litany, would be embarrassing if it were all collected together and put in the hands of someone with a bent to making somebody eat their own words. Lindzen’s pretty complacent when talking to audiences that are susceptible, actually is reminiscent of Rumsfeld and the amusement he seemed to derive from dealing with the US Senate. Models are arbitrarily adjusted, use “fudge factors,” we can’t tell whether warming is due to El Nino, we can’t even tell if we’re contributing to climate change, etc. “Miles of tunnels stuffed with secret weapons” riffing, ignoring that the joke might not be so funny later when people found out someone was just yanking their chain.

    The segment above talking about model fudge factors is just one of many similar appearances by Lindzen; I for one had no idea until this thread spurred me to look around.

  8. 408

    #405 Paul Vincelli

    Don’t tell Rush about the American Phytopathological Society, he’ll wonder why anyone needs to study the psychopathology of a plant :)

  9. 409
    dbostrom says:

    Might add that although for some of us Lindzen seems comic or is just a scientific curiosity he’s helping to make public policy, today.

    The UK is even now setting budget priorities we’ll learn about shortly; there’s a struggle over environment priorities versus growth and of course if you listen to Lindzen you’ll hear him drawing a line between those things. No coincidence he was just recently in London– he has the ear of at least a few people deciding these things.

    Meanwhile in Australia there’s a presently an intense battle for the minds of the electorate, which is probably why so many of the recent media segments we see in this thread and which can be found on YouTube are from there. Alan Jones has a huge audience; lots of people will go to the polls thinking about what Lindzen has told them.

    Here in the US he was busy during the C02 pricing fiasco a couple of years ago. Where legislation or policy are in flux we seem to find Lindzen shaping thought.

    Is it important? We know for certain that what seem to be unimportant political edge-effects can have a disproportionate impact on public policy. Lindzen =will= to a greater or lesser extent shape policy, count on it.

    Again, where’s the guidance from an authority that can speak to Lindzen’s reliability?

  10. 410
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Larsen, Who is talking about sanctions? I’ve been vocal in saying that action by either MIT (beyond keeping him away from teaching climate related classes) or AGU would not be appropriate.

    His misconduct should certainly be noted and publicized. That won’t affect the denialists who crave his lies, but it might give warning to the unwary and will limit his value as a “skeptic” columnist.

  11. 411
    dbostrom says:

    Ray: I’ve been vocal in saying that action by either MIT (beyond keeping him away from teaching climate related classes)…

    Leaving the minor detail of explaining why without seeming to cast judgement or inadvertently convey any sense of disapproval. Possibly a message safest delivered in mime by a skilled figure skater, or a acrobatic allegory performed by Cirque du Soleil?

  12. 412
    Ray Ladbury says:

    dbostrom, What you are ignoring in your arguments for censure is that science is essentially a functioning anarchy. There is no central authority. Tenure assures that outside of outright criminal fraud, he will continue to darken the halls of MIT until they remove him feet first. And ANYONE can join AGU, and once you are a fellow, you are a fellow.

    Scientific authority among scientists derives from a scientist making useful contributions to the field and exercising good judgment over an extended period of time. In the public’s mind, it probably derives from the scientist catering to the prejudices of the public. People are stupid. They’ve always been stupid. They will always be stupid. The only way to counter this stupidity that I’ve discovered is science–and that includes those anarchic tendencies you decry.

  13. 413
    Lotharsson says:

    …but it might give warning to the unwary and will limit his value as a “skeptic” columnist.

    I don’t find that entirely convincing – witness the recent WSJ Op-Eds where the lack of credibility of almost all of the signatories on the topic proved no barrier to publication.

  14. 414
    Brian Dodge says:

    “As far as I can see there has been no retraction here at all of the many accusations made on this blog that Lindzen was dishonest.” simon abingdon — 12 Mar 2012 @ 4:10 AM

    Mea culpa – I haven’t been following this thread closely, and just spent the evening caching up. I would like to apologize for saying that Lindzen used “…a graph which is itself a damnable lie. And I don’t think he’s so stupid or careless to make this a mistake.” I was mistaken.

  15. 415
    dbostrom says:

    Ray, as you say: “People are stupid. They’ve always been stupid. They will always be stupid.”

    Yes indeed, something that AGU had no hesitation in recently pointing out and deprecating in connection with a specific individual, an AGU member who misbehaved. True, the fellow was serving a role w/AGU that obviously had bearing on the situation. But really, is it so far-fetched that AGU should understand that members should truly practice what AGU preaches?

    “Among the core values articulated in AGU’s Strategic Plan are ‘excellence and integrity in everything we do.’”

    Which begs the question, “Who’s ‘we,’ Kim Sabe?” Just AGU officers? Is that what’s intended to be understood by AGU’s words?

    Like I’ve suggested, AGU ought to stick to publishing papers and conducting meetings and be silent on other matters, or do they’ve promised. What’s so complicated about that?

    Meanwhile, making a promise and then failing to keep it hardly flattering to AGU’s authority. Why should I care what they have to say about Gleick, for instance? AGU readily tolerates existentially threatening rot unless they’re frightened of being criticized by conservative inquisitors; should I respect the organization for that?

    Down the road all this excuse-making is going to be thin stuff, laughably inadequate. “We had to respect the feelings of the people who were yanking the rug from under future generations.” “Traditions were very important to us, more than literally everything else.” “We can’t really explain what it was we were protecting, but trust us, it was more important than what you’re facing now.”

    Or, (not to be personal but it’s the most proximate actual excuse I’ve heard) how about “And ANYONE can join AGU, and once you are a fellow, you are a fellow.” Exactly what principle are we all being marched to the wall for with that explanation?

    Obviously we’re never going to agree on this but please try to remember: this is novel situation. Behaving exactly as we’re accustomed and would prefer is not working.

  16. 416
    Jim Larsen says:

    Ray Ladbury asks, “Who is talking about sanctions?”

    Sorry, that’s too strong a word. A number of people have floated possible “statements of limited support”.

    Ray also said, “His misconduct should certainly be noted and publicized.”

    So you advocate [somebody] gathering the evidence and making the case, with your concern being the proper use of the results, be it for a web page, a signed statement by a group of scientists, or _____?

    You obviously feel strongly about this, even to the point of calling Lindzen a no-wiggle-room flat-out serial liar. Especially in a functional anarchy, tasks often fall to individuals and groups who feel strongly. There are certainly a few regulars here who would gladly help dig up data. From what I’ve seen, that Hank guy can find anything.

    Skeptical Science has a sort of a start in their Lindzen Illusion series. (Scroll down to “L”)

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/search.php?Search=lindzen&x=0&y=0

  17. 417
    dbostrom says:

    Well here’s a fine how-de-do. The AGU may in fact be attempting to address the Lindzen problem, perhaps while avoiding pain and risk. It’s a start, it’s better than nothing, it has the virtue of existence. Maybe I’ve been flapping my gums for nothing; I sure hope so.

    Here’s the closest elliptical approach AGU makes to the matter, via a president’s comment on the Jan. 27 WSJ op-ed:

    As we look at the ever-increasing attacks on those whose research has established the fact that climate change is real and human activity is most probably the cause, Moynihan’s sentiment still holds true. There are those who would want us to believe that climate change isn’t happening and that human activity isn’t playing a role, but unfortunately wishful thinking won’t make the facts disappear.

    Attacking the character and motives of a scientist or organization because they stand behind a conclusion that is politically charged – that the Earth’s climate is out of balance and human activities are in all probability responsible for global warming – is counterproductive and short sighted. Likewise, we ignore the scientific evidence for climate change at our peril because it will have an impact on national security, the economy, our food supply, and many other areas that affect our health and well-being.

    AGU Responds to Op-ed entitled “No Need to Panic about Global Warming,” published by The Wall Street Journal, 27 January 2012

    “Counterproductive and short sighted.” Real fighting words there, heh! AGU just can’t quite look Lindzen in the eye and say “Look to your record, choose to do better or don’t walk with us.” But this is a step in the right direction. A copy of AGU’s statement via certified USPS to Lindzen would convey exactly the right message. :-)

  18. 418
    T. Marvell says:

    Dbostrom (398) says that for us non-experts there is little hope. The climate scientists cannot explain their models so that we can understand them. We just have to believe in their expertise. That’s not a realistic position. It won’t hold up given the huge array of interests and funding opposed to the forecasts that come out of the models.

    Dbostrom says the key is testing, by which I assume is correctness of forecasting. Given the great variability in climate trends, it will take a long time before there is any reasonable consensus about whether a warming forecast is correct. If warming is indeed a serious threat, such proof may come too late to do much good.

    A more useful way to test the models might be to test intermediate predictions, such as variation in regional temperature trends, effect on cloud cover, effect on statospheric water vapor, CO2 absorbing and out-gassing in the oceans, and so on, over periods of a few years. I doubt, however, that the various models agree on such things, and a large number of predictions would have to hold up before they can be said to support the models.

    Lindzen’s speech at the House of Commons had many specific criticisms of the models, especially the assumptions behind them. Someone should write a point-by-point response and give it to the House of Commons. Not that it will have any influence there, but because the speech will be picked up by others.

    Again, I disagee with the notion that non-experts (such a policy makers) should just accept what the experts say. I also don’t think that reliance on testing is a meaningful answer.

  19. 419
    Rob Dekker says:

    Paul Vincelli #397 Rob Dekker: I am a plant pathologist, not a climate scientist. I do pretty well in understanding and evaluating much of the climate-science literature, but some is frankly beyond me. That’s why you climate scientists are so important.

    Just for the record : I am not a climate scientist either. I’m a computer scientist, and like you, I understand much of the climate-science literature, and some is beyond me too. However, Lindzen’s science is really not that difficult. In Lindzen and Choi 2009 for example, where his ERBE results shows about 4 W/m^2/K response to SST changes (similar to how a black-body responds), anyone with basic understanding of climate sensitivity would know that with that response the feedback factor should be zero. So when Lindzen claims a negative feedback in his conclusions, it’s pretty obvious that he made a mistake somewhere.

    Back then (2009), being rather new in the climate science area, it took me two weeks (of my spare time) to find out exactly HOW he created that negative feedback out of nowhere, and let me tell you that I was at least as upset back then as other people are with the Lindzen’s unfounded allegations against the GISS record, the subject of this post.

    Now, I sure do not expect every layman to spend that much time tracking down the core of the problem of a paper which presents results that are simply inconsistent with every other scientist’s report on the same data.

    With the methods used in Lindzen and Choi 2009 now shown (by Trenberth and others) to be incorrect and cherry-picked and it’s conclusions extrapolated, and these mistakes admitted by Lindzen as being “embarrassing”, then would you not be a bit ‘skeptical’ that Lindzen and Choi 2011 not only claims the same conclusions as their first paper, but also claims that the method used by all other scientists is wrong ?

    That was the nature of my question : Do you really need to see this paper rebutted in the peer-reviewed literature before you become at least a bit ‘skeptical’ or its results ?

    I understand that Dessler challenged its findings, but if there is more to say, I am encouraging you experts to do so.

    In my post #329, I am suggesting the same thing. I think it is important that papers by Lindzen (who is invited to speak as an expert in front of Congressional hearing) such as L&C 2011, even though they did not pass peer-review by PNAS, and were published in a relatively unknown Korean meteorological journal, do get addressed by climate scientists. If not in a peer-reviewed paper, then at least in a blog post on realclimate or skepticalscience, pointing out exactly WHY Lindzen gets results that are at odds with other climate scientists using the same satellite data.

    Please. Otherwise, what is an educator like me to say if a skeptic refers to LC2011

    Considering what you now know, maybe you should ask them to be skeptical ?

  20. 420
    Alex Harvey says:

    Rob Dekker, #329; #394:

    The fact is I have read the Lindzen and Choi 2011 paper, as well as the revier comments, the 2009 paper, all the published criticism, the unpublished Choi et al. 2011 submitted, the Lindzen and Choi 2010 submitted to JGR. Indeed I’ve read it several times. I am struck that it is an ingenious argument.

    As alluded to above the truth is PNAS did not reject the LC11 paper. In fact the authors simply decided to publish it elsewhere. The story of what happened is given in by Lindzen here. It is true that an earlier incarnation was rejected by JGR, although it has been extensively revised in the APJAS submission. (The original Lindzen and Choi 2010 JGR submission is available here.)

    I had a look at your comments at Stoat about the lead-and-lag method. I also have a few comments:

    1) It has been known since Frankignoul (1999) that a lagged covariance method is needed to distinguish the atmospheric response from noise. If you scan the literature for papers citing this result you’ll find that Lindzen and Choi’s method is hardly new (Choi et al. 2011, submitted). I suggest, please read these other papers and consider your comments again. I think you are wrong.

    2) You write,

    Interestingly enough, [Lindzen] does not show what feedback parameter number he obtains for a system with no feedback or positive feedback, in which case the lead-lag-noise bias will be greatest.

    I am not sure what you mean. In fact, Lindzen and Choi write,

    Figure 7 shows the probability density functions of the estimated ΔFlux/ΔSST, and compares with the three true F values (1, 3.3, and 6 W m−2 K−1) that were specified for the model.

    The no feedback case is 3.3 W m-2 K-1. 1 is positive feedback, and 6 is negative feedback. In Table 1 they show the feedback factors obtained for no feedback and positive feedback compared against the true values.

    3) What you fail to discuss is why, even using Lindzen’s lead-and-lag method, imperfect as it is, all 12 IPCC models are found to be dominated by positive feedback factors, whereas the observed atmosphere appears to be dominated by negative feedbacks.

    [Response: The issue is precisely that this method does not show this. Their simple model test cases (which can certainly be faulted because they aren't using realistic noise structures for the forcing and don't have any possibility of ENSO like variability in the frequency domain), show that regardless of the actual value of the feedback parameter their method is biased towards negative feedback. In the neutral case, would give a big negative feedback much more than half the time. - gavin]

  21. 421
    Paul Vincelli says:

    Rob, in my own field of scientific investigation, there is one primary source of advancing scientific knowledge: Peer-reviewed research papers in refereed journals. Blog postings provide great insight, but I know of none that have any requirement for technical accuracy and soundness of logic. While peer-review is imperfect, it’s like democracy–flawed, but better than the alternatives. I am not saying I trust Lindzen’s writings. I am saying that rebuttals to a refereed paper that challenges a key aspect of the scientific consensus on global warming, will carry much more weight with other scientists if they are in refereed journals. I believe this is the case in any field of scientific investigation. Postings on RealClimate and Skeptical Science help me immensely to understand this subject. All I am doing is encouraging rebuttals by experts in the refereed literature. If I had the expertise, I would write one myself.

    I appreciate your point about encouraging skeptics to be skeptical about claims by Lindzen and others. That’s an excellent idea. Maybe directly questioning why a skeptic puts so much faith in one “side” of this “debate” will do more to open their mind than any arguments I might present on the soundness of the science. Thanks for that.

    With respect,
    Paul

  22. 422
    Christoffer Bugge Harder says:

    Dear Gavin et al.,

    another persistent septic, Ole Humlum, is touting an accusation similar to Lindzen´s about apparently arbitrary adjustments since 2008, this time in the NCDC dataset:

    http://www.climate4you.com/GlobalTemperatures.htm

    Humlum writes:

    “Maturity diagram showing net change since 17 May 2008 in the global monthly surface air temperature record prepared by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), USA. The net result of the adjustments made are becoming substantial, and adjustments since May 2006 occasionally exceeds 0.1oC. Before 1945 global temperatures are generally changed toward lower values, and toward higher values after 1945, resulting in a more pronounced 20th century warming (about 0.15oC) compared to the NCDC temperature record published in May 2008″.

    I´d really appreciate if anybody competent could comment on this?

  23. 423
    MARodger says:

    T. Marvell @391 & @417
    As a novice non-expert, it was not a good start for you here to hit out at models for being too complex.
    Yes. Climatology does endure loud criticism for its models. Science can explain models at many differing levels of detail but not to the satisfaction of many climate deniers. It is not climatology that is unreasonable in this. It is the questioning (such as you own*) that asks for complex answers but then calls foul when a succinct answer is not instantly forthcoming.
    *If your inability to “trust the experts” were extended beyond clomatology, you would be in grave danger of being diagnosed with paranoia.

    Your comments here evoke many worthwhile questions (too many perhaps).

    Concerning Lindzen:
    He is but an old cantankerous professor who singularly failed to live up to the promise of a remarkably successful early career. (See Wikipedia.) Today he continues to fight an acdemic ballte that was well and truly lost 20 years ago. (He’s likle some rusty old housecarl striding round Senlac Hill shouting that they can’t have lost coz there are no Normans in sight.)
    If Lindzen’s position had the slightest scientific merit he would be pursuing the science not engaging with rabble-rousing politicians.

    Concerning sensitivity:
    This can be done on the back of a fag packet as Lindzen does. The 20th century temp rise was 0.8 deg C. Lindzen says human forcings for that period equals that from a doubling of CO2 (which is very wrong). He then attributes all the warming to human forcing and pronounces sensitivity is less than 1.0 so net feedbacks are negative. This is complete tosh. From an alleged climatologist it is unforgivable!!
    You do not need complex models to spot the error/lies.
    2xCO2 gives an forcing of 3.7W/sq m, happily one figure Lindzen accepts. Not all 20th century warming was human-caused. So 0.8 becomes nearer 0.65 deg C rise. Total 20th century human-caused positive forcings (ie ignoring the negative forcings) are about 3.0W/sq m (see Skeie et al 2011, link below, for an account of 2000 forcings, positive & negative). Negative forcings are more difficult to quantify but 2.0W/sq m is the figure calculated although it could be lower. Negaive forcings below 1.0W/sq m starts to get much more unlikely. (Lindzen is saying this figure is zero).
    So net forcing is not 3.7W/sq m. It is arguably 2.0 to 1.0W/sq m. Additionally there is residual imbalance in the climate system (warming in the pipeline) which is of the order of 0.5W/sq m, (another figure Liodzen sets at zero) a quantity which has to be again subtracted to give an ‘effective’ level of forcing 1.5 to 0.5W/sq m.
    This yields a sensitivity range of (3.7/1.5)*0.65 = 1.6 to 4.8W/sq m. Contrary to Lindzen’s fake conclusions, sensitivity is high and feedback positive, and it could be very high.
    This simple analysis is obviously very dependent on the input numbers but here these are reasoned inputs. Lindzen’s numbers are plain stupid.

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/11/22545/2011/acpd-11-22545-2011.pdf

  24. 424
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alex Harvey,
    I’m trying to understand something. Let’s say someone showed you a paper claiming sensitivity was 6 degrees per doubling. The paper was published in an obscure journal. It had been rejected by a prestigious journal prior to its publication in the obscure journal. The dataset used for the analysis was limited both in time and spatial extent. The dataset was also plagued by lots of corrections and difficult to understand. The analysis had to make lots of questionable assumptions and still led to somewhat inconclusive and unsatisfying results. Later you found out that the authors had tried several times to publish results based on the data, but these analyses were flawed. Even so, the prospect of 6 degrees of warming per doubling has severe consequences. Would you be alarmed?

    So, where does your skepticism go when you read a paper like L&C11?

  25. 425
    Ray Ladbury says:

    dbostrom,
    You seem to want science to be something it is not–indeed something that it can never be if it is to retain its current invaluable role as a source of reliable understanding of the physical world. To do this, it has to allow minority opinion–even irresponsible minority opinion from lying pondscum–precisely because it must admit that it could be wrong and the lying pondscum could inadvertently put us back on the right track even as they lie. The price of allowing everyone a say is that we have to elevate scientific consensus to the closest approximation of truth we have. Consensus is subtle. It takes into account the scientific evidence, but also scientific opinion (evidence based, of course), and here is where the reputations of lying pondscum come back to bite them. If one places one’s “agenda” above progress in understanding the field, one’s reputation will suffer. It doesn’t matter what one’s agenda might be–however selfish or altruistic–if one pushes an agenda, one’s influence decreases. I’ve watched the process work for over 30 years now–mostly in applied science, but occasionally at the forefront where Nobel Prizes are at stake. It’s messy, but it works.

    So that is why it is imperative that policy be based on the scientific consensus. Moreover, it’s not as if the consensus is in any way subtle here. It’s not as if the halfway house established by the lukewarmers offers a compromise. They are just as wrong as the hardcore denialists, and probably more risibly so. Science provides us the tools to develop intelligent policies. What is lacking is the intelligence and the fortitude to take the tough medicine needed to preserve human civilization. All the pondscum do is provide a rationalization for rejecting intelligence. If they weren’t there the idjits would find others.

  26. 426
    Dr Tom Corby says:

    I don’t know how anyone can think that Lindzen can have any credibility given he argues that CFC’s aren’t harming the ozone layer. Also Is he still flogging the fallacy of how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking?

    The man hasn’t got an ethical bone in his body. As an academic he has a duty to perform ethically. Shameful stuff.

  27. 427
    T. Marvell says:

    MARodger (422) – My point is that the climate scientists have to do something different to get their point across (at least in the US) about global warming. I suspect I am far from alone in saying this. Their focus seems to be insular, focused too much on their community. For policy purposes they need to win over non-experts, against opposition from deep-pocket energy interests. To say there is a near consensus among climate scientists isn’t enough. There are plenty of historical examples of consensus in scientific communities turning out to be incorrect.

    I don’t know enough to say what the climate scientists can do, but I gave a couple of ideas (391,417) – Try to explain the models so others can judge them, and try to get short-term predictions from the models, predictions that can be tested.

    Cantankerous professor or not, Lindzen should be answered thoroughly. Failure to answer can be interpreted as inability to answer. Uncovering a few mistakes is not enough, by itself, to show that his other arguments are wrong.

  28. 428
    Alex Harvey says:

    Gavin, #419:

    I understand that it is reasonable to be skeptical that Lindzen and Choi have shown what they claim to have shown; their result overturns a lot of argument that the atmosphere is dominated by positive feedbacks. I will also be surprised if their papers settle this matter and ultimately shows that climate sensitivity is less than 1 K.

    However, again, I do not see any justification for the claim that their argument is circular. It is obvious that their method has a bias, as you say, and as Rob Dekker says, and as the authors concede. (It is also obvious that the bias of Lindzen and Choi’s method is minor compared to the bias of Dessler 2010 and Forster and Gregory 2006.)

    The problem for you is they used the same method on both the models and the observations. Your point would make a lot more sense if their method yielded the same result for the 12 models as it does with the observations – i.e. if it told us, incorrectly, that all 12 models were dominated by negative feedbacks.

    Regarding ENSO, I am not sure that ENSO variability is relevant at all. Why? Because ENSO causes variability on the time frame of years (i.e. the period is ~ 4 years), whereas Lindzen and Choi look at fast feedbacks that operate on a scale of days or months.

    [Response: Your last point is not correct. Changes in outgoing flux and SST associated with ENSO is very fast (exactly the monthly scale that L&C are looking at). The 3-7 year band is important for looking at the structure of the overall events and would show up if we had longer satellite products, but that is not the only thing associated with ENSO. For instance, one can clearly see the signature of the 1997/98 el nino, 2008 La nina etc in the ERBE/CERES data (as well as Pinatubo in 1991). - gavin]

  29. 429
    dbostrom says:

    T. Marvell: Dbostrom says the key is testing, by which I assume is correctness of forecasting.

    I failed to communicate. What I’m saying is that unless you know the languages necessary to understand the work in question you’re stuck with untested belief– faith– as opposed to direct knowledge. If you do enough learning, you may be able to follow the science (and meta information, such as source code) behind the models so as to test whether your faith is well placed, whether there’s an apparent reason for them to fail that is truly unexplained by your own (non-pejorative!) ignorance. I was not referring to any judgement of model performance, more speaking to how you might know if they would or would not function as intended.

    Without doing all the work necessary to know the virtues and foibles of models in detail sufficient to fully describe them, simply saying “I doubt the models work” is woefully insufficient. That by the way is what Lindzen is doing; taken at his own word in public and as published, he apparently doesn’t understand models in their entirety well enough to say exactly why they might not work.

    Ray: To do this, it has to allow minority opinion–even irresponsible minority opinion from lying pondscum–precisely because it must admit that it could be wrong and the lying pondscum could inadvertently put us back on the right track even as they lie.

    I fully understand this and again I’m failing to communicate. Let me try again.

    When Lindzen thinks of a new approach and then goes on to describe his ideas sufficiently to be tested and published, that’s doing science. Whether his new thinking has gone past a respectable review process or not the fresh approach he elucidates should be accorded the distinctive respect you describe; “just shut up” is indeed the wrong response.

    When Lindzen goes into the public square and delivers distorted and wrong descriptions of research conclusions without attempting to show why he’s right or how this research may be corrected, that’s not doing science and shouldn’t enjoy the special respect and open invitation for dissent accorded to sincerely intended scientific research.

    Lindzen is a scientist and he is not a scientist, simultaneously. The behavior of one facet of Lindzen’s personality is easily distinguished from the behavior of the other. The fact of his being a scientist does not give Lindzen license to vandalize the public mind and it does not permit those who can tell the difference from one Lindzen and the other to stay silent at all costs. The scientist should be accorded respect, the other Lindzen should not.

    I suggest that simply because somebody is correctly identified as a scientist does not magically erase their responsibility for what they say in the extra-scientific realm no matter how wrong, nor does it eliminate the responsibility of those who know better to clearly describe the value of any given person’s extra-curricular contribution to society at large.

    As I belatedly discovered, I think AGU is able to draw this distinction; I don’t think AGU’s McPhaden was unaware of Lindzen’s name on the WSJ letter he so mildly criticized. What AGU said on this is unlikely to have any effect because Lindzen appears to have a hide like leather and cares little what others say or think of him but on the other hand it’s better than nothing at all.

  30. 430
    MARodger says:

    Christoffer Bugge Harder @421
    You ask for somebody competent. That probably rules me out, but…
    I plotted Feb 2012 NCDC published data against data published June 2009 that happened to be lurking on the same spreadsheet. I get a similar plot to the one Humlum plots (the 4th “Temporal Stability…” graph in his ‘little’ essay at:- http://www.climate4you.com/GlobalTemperatures.htm#Estimates%20of%20recent%20global%20temperature%20change )
    I must say he is a bit out of line plotting his graph as a bar chart rather than a squiggly line as a bar chart accentuates the average values when a graph is as cluttered as this.

    The changes on my chart are roughly as follows (with no discernible difference when the data from Humlum’s link is plotted.)

    From zero adjustment in 1880, temps are on average adjusted increasingly downwards, by 1900 down an average value -0.05 deg C. This adjustment then reduced, passing zero in the 1940s from when adjustments are increasingly upwards with average values of +0.03deg C mid 2000s whence they reduce to zero for 2009.

    Lindzen’s mistake alleged an added 0.19 deg C additional net warming over the entire record. This adjustment has no net warming but 0.08 deg C re-allocated to 1900-2003 from earlier & later periods.

  31. 431

    T. Marvell, #425. “The climate scientists…” So, in addition to doing science, in addition to blogs such as this one, in addition to advising NAS and IPCC, you would have them do…what?

    “Try to explain the models…” This has been and continues to be done.

    “try to get short-term predictions…” Hmm, there was a rather high-profile prediction in 1988 that’s been largely born out.

    “inability to answer.” That’s rich. You’re aware, right, that it’s deniers like Lindzen who’ve offered no coherent alternative theory of how the climate operates — or made accurate short- or long term predictions?

    In short, the onus at this point is on citizens and our representatives to separate fact from cash-fueled whimsy and formulate necessary policy actions.

  32. 432
    Radge Havers says:

    T. Marvell @ 425

    Look, this has all been discussed pretty thoroughly here and else where. At some point the burden falls on the concerned citizen to suck it up and make an effort to separate the actual science from the sh*tstorm of intentional obfuscations generated by ideologues and nihilists.

    If you educate yourself on the science as far as you are able and apply critical thinking skills to the “debate”, you will eventually see for yourself what’s already been laid out over the years in nauseating detail, that the denialist position rests on rhetoric, and that the people who are serious about the science will lead you deeper into the science. The question then becomes who are you going to rely on to give you advice, the blowhards or the the honest brokers of information?

    Suck it up and break a sweat, or move on to something else.

  33. 433
    Ray Ladbury says:

    T. Marvell,
    It would seem that you are attributing your failure to understand evidence for climate change to the field–when in fact, you are the only person in a position to remedy this shortcoming.

    It is certainly true that there are aspects of climate science that are subtle and difficult to understand. However, the basics are not that tough. What is more, one can demonstrate many of the characteristics we see in the changing climate with fairly simple models. Tamino has a two-level model that is purely algebraic and quite nicely illustrates many of the phenomena we see. There are plenty of other such efforts in the blogosphere–real science with simple models, as opposed to the fake science dished out by the denialist camp. It’s up to you to be sufficiently discerning and honest with yourself that you can tell the difference.

  34. 434
    Rob Dekker says:

    Alex, Gavin,
    First of all, it seems that we all agree that the lead-lag method in L&C’11 has a negative feedback bias. Gavin and me also claim that the bias depends on the amount and characteristics of the ‘noise’ superimposed on the SST and radiation signals.

    However, we do not yet know HOW BAD the bias can get when provided with realistic noise (ENSO style slow moving SST and high-frequency noise on radiation).

    Second, Alex brought up the claim by L&C’11 that there is a positive-feedback bias in the method used in Dessler 2010 and Forster and Gregory 2006. I can’t see how that (simple regression) could have any bias at all, so I am skeptical about this claim by Lindzen.
    And again, we have not quantified that claimed positive-feedback bias either.

    Since Lindzen’s conclusions in L&C’11 rely to a large extent on these claims (that simple regression has a positive feedback bias, and that the negative feedback bias in lead-lag is minor), I think it is time for some engineering work :

    We should build Lindzen’s model and see if we can reproduce his results. That I think is the only way to find out if Lindzen’s claims are correct, and if so, how dependent the feedbacks are on the (sort of) noise.

    To reproduce Lindzen and Choi 2009, I write an ‘awk’ script, but to build a model and feed it with noise, do statistical tests on it, and present the results in a form we all understand would require something better. Does any of you have a suggestion on how to do that ?

    By the way, Monckton is on another speaking tour, promoting Lindzen’s “1 C per doubling” and “the models are exaggerating the observed trend” argument once again. So maybe it is time that the ‘science’ on LC’11 is exposed clearly. Down to the last detail.

  35. 435
    adelady says:

    T Marvell “…for us non-experts there is little hope. The climate scientists cannot explain their models so that we can understand them. We just have to believe in their expertise. That’s not a realistic position. …”

    What do we do if a relative or neighbour tells us they’re not happy with the advice they’ve been given by a doctor or a structural engineer, maybe their accountant or plumber?

    We tell them they can get a second opinion – from another expert. Maybe we say we’ve heard of another expert who doesn’t charge as much, they could try them. Perhaps there’s a newer technique or process or material that would get the same benefit for lower cost or quicker performance.

    What we don’t say is – go and work it out for yourself. Or get a relevant degree. The main thing is we always rely on expertise, but try to find the best expert you can. Some doctors and plumbers or engineers are better than others at describing the problem and the options. But they don’t usually give us the details of how to work the equations on cell function or stresses in foundations in certain soils or the regulations on sewerage connections in our district.

    Experts are experts. It’s good to find one who explains things better than some others do. But we have to rely on them anyway. That’s what we need to tell our neighbours and relatives and other voters we’ve never met. Listen to the experts. Don’t try to second guess them unless you have real expertise of your own.

  36. 436
    Isotopious says:

    419

    Alex,

    another historical example of the snobbery between rivals involves none other than Svante Arrhenius.

    “About 1900, Arrhenius became involved in setting up the Nobel Institutes and the Nobel Prizes. He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1901. For the rest of his life, he would be a member of the Nobel Committee on Physics and a de facto member of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry. He used his positions to arrange prizes for his friends (Jacobus van’t Hoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, Theodore Richards) and to attempt to deny them to his enemies (Paul Ehrlich, Walther Nernst, Dmitri Mendeleev).[1] In 1901 Arrhenius was elected to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, against strong opposition. In 1903 he became the first Swede to be awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.”

    The rivalry between the different ‘teams’ is not new. It is centuries old.

    I think its a good thing. Mendeleev (who predicted elements that hadn’t even been discovered yet) didn’t get a Nobel Prize. Interestingly however, Nobel did get an element, nobelium.

    Ha! After all the snobbery….

  37. 437
    MARodger says:

    Isotopious @434
    I’m not sure why you think it a good thing but Mendleyev’s work on comstructing the periodic table was not rewarded with a Nobel Prize mainly becaue he died in 1907 & the prize is not awarded postumously. He is not the only scientist awarded with death rather than a Nobel prize (e.g. Rosalind Franklin) which myself I do not see as a good/happy outcome.

  38. 438
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Arrhenius helped to prevent Mendeleev from getting the Nobel prize for chemistry.

    and Mendeleev founded the first Russian oil refinery!

    These are the strongest arguments against global warming science which I have ever heard. You should have kept it quiet.

    I think its a good thing Mendeleev (who predicted elements that hadn’t even been discovered yet)didn’t get a Nobel Prize.

    It is off topic, but the significance of the phrase in brackets is in danger of being misunderstood. Isn’t it the case that most of Mendeleev’s numerous predictions had already been confirmed?

    If we had posthumous Nobels , Mendeleev would deserve one, thus correcting for Arrhenius’s bad behaviour.

    On the other hand for his ideas on GW, wouldn’t Arrhenius deserve a second Nobel prize in addition to the one he had already received for his work in physical chemistry? Perhaps the experts might comment? He appears to have made some good guesses e.g. that CO2 drives and water vapour follows, that there is a logarithmic relationship between forcing and concentration and that the relative humidity is roughly constant. Added to that he even made a quantitative estimate of GW starting from the very limited data available.

    Reference: Wikipedia.

  39. 439
    Steve Metzler says:

    T. Marvell @425

    Basically, what Radge Havers @430 said: bone up a bit on the science, and give the contrarian sites a miss for a while. Spencer Weart’s Global Warming: A History site’s a good start. And here. And tamino’s place for some stats fu.

    Models are not the best place for most of us to use as a starting point for understanding climatology. It’s like diving in at the deep end when you can’t even swim.

    Putting aside the intricacies of models for a moment, have an objective look at what’s happening around you: a .9C surface temperature increase since the 50′s (a rate of increase that is unprecedented for millions of years, so far as we can determine!), all the heat being sucked up by the oceans, arctic destined to be ice free in summertime (in what, 10 yrs, 20 at most?), many species migrating further north the past few decades, spring comes earlier every year, increasing pine beetle infestations, more severe tropical storms, steady global increase in areas affected by drought, et. al. Nature is sending us plenty of signals that something is amiss. We would do well to heed these warnings.

  40. 440
    Isotopious says:

    “was not rewarded with a Nobel Prize mainly becaue he died in 1907″

    Garbage.

    “Isn’t it the case that most of Mendeleev’s numerous predictions had already been confirmed?”

    Denial.

    Again, if you missed the point, both were geniuses, and yet they squabbled. They were both wrong, and they were both right, etc….

  41. 441
    Susan Anderson says:

    mildly OT, if slightly relevant.

    People seem to think the Nobel is a be all and end all. It is a human institution. We go astray when we assign magical powers to human creations.

    Scientists have infights and fashions just like everyone else.

    In climate science we have a huge body of evidence from multiple lines over a long period of time, a small group of snipers with skilled PR help who don’t have much but make the most of it (and coincidentally help solidify the aforementioned evidence by providing questions that are solved/answered one by one), and consequences that are huge and universal.

    This makes it important and unusual. Most scientists don’t have the weight of the future of civilization on their heads and can indulge in perfectionism and reductionism to the top of their bent. Climate scientists must work in the real world, and they are stuck with telling the exact truth which can be exploited by those willing to use any weapon to bring it down.

    What is reprehensible about Lindzen is that he provides a rallying point for his stubborn resistance to mounting evidence. This happens a lot with aging scientists.

    Thanks to Ladbury and Bostrom for a fascinating discussion, wonderful writing, and good points.

  42. 442
    MARodger says:

    Isotopius @438
    You may yourself feel happy writing garbage but I’m not sure it assists the clarity of your point which still remains less than pointy.

    Of course there have been many feuding scientists through history – stealing each other’s work, disputing each others methods or each others theories.
    Is that what we see today? Or is it more characterised by extra-scientific criticism of scientists & their work, as per the jolly old hockey stock curve.

  43. 443

    OT–would be better on the Open Thread–but following up on Arrhenius/Mendeleev:

    It’s worth noting that the grudge Arrhenius held against Mendeleev was the latter’s criticism of the theory of dissociation. Similarly, the ‘friends’ cited in #434 were perhaps better characterized as ‘fellow crusaders for ionic dissociation’ in this context; it wasn’t primarily personal, but scientific.

    And it’s also worth remembering that Arrhenius had suffered a good deal of professional hardship due to his advocacy of dissociation: he was awarded the lowest possible degree of recognition on his Doctorate because the idea was unpalatable to his examiners, and struggled for years thereafter to achieve a satisfactory faculty position. He was only able to do so by working with others to advance the ideas he had put forward.

    And of course, he was right, scientifically speaking.

    Looking back, one wishes that he hadn’t lobbied against Mendeleev in 1906. But there was, emotionally speaking, good reason for Arrhenius’ bitter feelings.

    More on the scientific controversy here:

    http://tinyurl.com/arrhenius-and-mendeleev

  44. 444
    Susan Anderson says:

    For policy purposes they need to win over non-experts, against opposition from deep-pocket energy interests. To say there is a near consensus among climate scientists isn’t enough.

    tmarvell@~425: In a nutshell, thanks

    Lots of other good stuff in here. Excellent demonstration of how skilled denialists have become. A layperson would get dizzy trying to understand it all, and not knowing who’s lying or deluded. And that’s part of the problem – the best anti-science money can buy. Can you expect a well-meaning congressperson to sort it out? (and many of them don’t even have good intentions these days)

  45. 445
    Alex Harvey says:

    Rob Dekker, #432:

    I agree that reproducing the LC11 result would be the logical place to start. If it helps, their code and data are available here. There are some notes here discussing various issues people had getting the code to work. I am not sure if anyone actually reproduced the whole thing.

    Obviously, it would be nice to repeat this analysis using the CMIP5 models. I don’t know if that’s possible though.

    Elsewhere you write,

    Alex brought up the claim by L&C’11 that there is a positive-feedback bias in the method used in Dessler 2010 and Forster and Gregory 2006. I can’t see how that (simple regression) could have any bias at all, so I am skeptical about this claim by Lindzen. And again, we have not quantified that claimed positive-feedback bias either.

    Again, you should look at Frankignoul (1999) and also in Google Scholar look at the 14 papers citing it. Frankignoul shows that a simple regression confuses cause and effect and leads to a large positive feedback bias. He recommends that a lagged covariance method is needed to estimate feedbacks from noisy data.

    Frankignoul writes,

    If an SST anomaly is prescribed as initial condition, the SAM [statistical atmospheric model, based on simple regression] reinforces it, even though there is no atmospheric feedback in the true model: the SAM confuses cause and effect. The use of low-passed data brings no improvement. … if q [stochastic forcing component] contributes strongly (n^2 >> 1), the artificial positive feedback can be as large as minus the true negative one. As discussed in [Frankignoul et al. 1998], the atmospheric feedback can be estimated from data, at least in the context of (2) [where the atmosphere contributes to the feedback], but by working with lagged covariances to separate cause and effect.

    But please read the whole paper.

  46. 446
    dbostrom says:

    Not quite on topic but one way professional societies could help matters is with plain old money.

    For instance, Michael Mann is still being hounded by the American Tradition Institute. UVA has expended hundreds of thousands of dollars battling similar cases such as Cuccinelli’s recently failed effort, sums beyond the reach of even well-founded groups such as AGU.

    (A lot of good background on these cases may be found here: Who’s behind the ‘information attacks’ on climate scientists? )

    There is however another way AGU can help. Despite all the wasted taxpayer dollars burnt fending off legal assaults arguably intended only for the purpose of feeding controversy and introducing friction into the lives of researchers, victims of these lawsuits end up with significant “residual” expenses borne directly. ATI is also targeting James Hansen; while this suit is presumably also consuming lots of taxpayer dollars again it’s likely Hansen will be left holding the bag for some portion of the total financial entropy.

    As Mann has pointed out, beyond the immediate effects on scientists drawn into these meta-struggles, gratuitous litigation of ATI’s style will have a corrosive effect on research down the road. There are lots of topics of investigation; why would a newly minted postdoc choose to replicate Mann’s experience of blundering into a life-altering experience for the worse?

    Instilling the confidence that comes from knowing material support from colleagues will be readily available in a crisis would be a help. In Mann’s case AGU has admonished UVA to stay the course in protecting researchers from ATI. Support from behind is well and good, surely appreciated, but what about money?

    It’s rather surprising that recognition of the need for researchers to weather personal financial storms arising from legitimate investigation did not come from AGU or APS or any of the alphabet soup of professional societies. It came down to a pair of individuals to start the Climate Science Defense Fund, which has been assisting Mann in defending himself. Not to detract from CSDF’s efforts one whit but rather to point out failure in other quarters, it is a dismally remarkable fact that in the approximately eight months since CSDF was founded it has raised about $25k. What this tells us is that a lot of actors who are long in words are astoundingly absent when it comes to doing more than talking. This appears to include AGU, though in fairness perhaps they’ve not been asked and have not noted the existence of CSDF.

    In a perfect world AGU and its fellow societies would contribute to a general fund created for the same purpose as CSDF. Anti-science legal impediments to research are an increasing feature of our world, as exemplified by the appalling example of the belatedly released investigation into diesel emissions’ role in cancer.

    It’s not a perfect world, but AGU could send some money in the direction of CSDF. If AGU has done so they don’t appear to have mentioned it.

  47. 447
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The really sad thing is that Isotopious doesn’t even realize that what he has highlighted is not a weakness of science, but rather it greatest strength:

    Science yields reliable information about how the physical world works even when practiced by frail and fallible human beings.

  48. 448
    Rob Dekker says:

    Alex, #445. Thank you for providing the links to L&C’11 scipts and data.
    Apart from the fact that I do not know IDL, if you want to reproduce scientific findings, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to actually USE the scripts written by that scientist. After all, if they made a coding mistake, that problem would be hidden for a long time.

    Therfor, I strongly believe that the reproduction of scientific findings should be done WITHOUT using the software written by the original scientist. You have to write your own program.
    On the other hand, having access to the program DOES help to formalize what that original scientist actually did.

    Regarding the positive feedback in “simple regressions”, thank you for the Frankignoul paper. I’ll study it in detail, and assess how it applies.
    Meanwhile, in a first attempt to set-up the software to reproduce the model, I found that Spencer and Braswell 2008 actually quantified that positive feedback (SUM(N*T)/SUM(T^2)).

    However, with random noise N, that bias should zero out, except when the temperature T has an offset with zero. And incidentally, the only scatter-plot that L&C’11 present to “show” that “simple regression” has a positive feedback bias (which is figure 6(a)) indeed HAS an offset on T. While their own run does NOT show that offset. Mmmm.

    Did you run that L&C software from climateaudit ? Did you reproduce figure 6(a)) ? And if so, do you know why there is an offset on T ? And what happens if you eliminate that offset ? Is there still a positive feedback bias ? Or did it disappear ?

  49. 449
    Jim Larsen says:

    407 dbostrom said, “The segment above talking about model fudge factors is just one of many similar appearances by Lindzen; I for one had no idea until this thread spurred me to look around.”

    Neither did I, and that’s revealing. This post is the result of a personal attack. Lindzen, relying solely on unverified second-hand information, accused an entire department of ongoing, systematic fraud. This is not a unique incident. The Skeptical side’s arguments are not just permeated with personal attacks, they often rely on the existence of nefarious conspiracies. Here we have a scientist acting in a way which demands revelation for all the highest reasons, yet neither you nor I have seen a systematic deconstruction of Lindzen’s public portrayal of the science. Has anybody? Is the climate science community treating Lindzen’s abuse of science like an emeritus quirk?

    The old professor who took a wrong turn 20 years ago and never looked back is a classic stereotype. They perform a useful purpose by exploring the corners nobody else is bothering with. Sometimes something great turns up. Eventually they die. Science handles them by more-or-less ignoring them while protecting their position through tenure. It’s a low-cost solution and nobody is hurt, depending on their students’ fates.

    But, as you said, Lindzen isn’t just an old professor. He’s also a celebrity who influences global politics. Watch how Lindzen answers denialist “questions”. He tiptoes around the blatant errors and flawed assumptions which compose the heart of the question, perhaps correcting a bit here or there, but done so gently it feels more like adjustments, then enlarges the scope – “yes, you’re referring to …” , and finally narrows to a similar talking point of his own, leaving the denialist talking point not just alive, but enhanced by the transitional “yes”. No wonder he cleaned our side’s clock in the IQ2 debate.

    Lindzen the scientist estimates that climate sensitivity is “0.7 K (with the confidence interval 0.5K – 1.3 K at 99% levels).” (Lindzen is nothing if not confident.) I’d be surprised if 1% of the population can counter or support that with anything other than, “My experts are better and/or more numerous than yours”. Refuting LC2011, though a necessary task, doesn’t answer that core assertion.

    Perhaps it’s time to address it directly.

    And I still find it amazing that this has seemingly not come to the web’s larger attention before. Now I want to learn about other Skeptical scientists.

  50. 450
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alex Harvey,
    Your advocacy of L&C11 might be more convincing if we did not have compelling evidence for significant positive feedback in the system–to wit, you wouldn’t have interglacial cycles driven by the feeble changes in insolation due to Milankovitch cycles without such feedback. You wouldn’t have 33 degrees of warming due to the preindustrial greenhouse effect without it. In fact, the only times you can get a low or negative feedback is by assuming a very short equilibration time–and how likely do you think it is that a planet equilibrates in a few years?

    I find it astounding that you can ignore so much evidence while believing an analysis that doesn’t even reach any meaningful conclusions.


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