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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) (archived) though see comments for more discussion.

539 Responses to “Misrepresentation from Lindzen”

  1. 1
    Rachel says:

    I think you’re very charitable to say that he “make the mistake of confusing his temperature indices”. It seems to me much more likely that it was a deliberate attempt to deceive. The problem is that there are plenty of gullible people out there who are willing to fall for what he says, and some of them are quite high profile. Opinion pieces appeared in the UK national press following Lindzen’s presentation.

    Personally I think that waiting for a correction is not going to be fruitful. If he should actually make one it will not be nearly as high profile as his original false claims, and no doubt plenty of so-called “sceptics” will parrot the original claims unabated. Couldn’t his claims be considered defamatory? Couldn’t one consider taking legal action to prevent him spreading such defamation?

    [Response:Legal action against scientists in this sort of instance is wrong, no matter which ‘side’ it comes from. Nor is it likely to be successful, as Cuccinelli has been shown, again. Calls for ‘policing’ of science through the legal system is McCarthyism (McInytireism if you prefer), and we should not be condoning it. The scientific process may be too slow for the ideologues and the politicians, but it does work itself out eventually, as Carl Sagan so eloquently explained. Gavin has it right on here: this episode “has some lessons for how seriously one should take Lindzen’s comments”. That’s all.–eric]

  2. 2
    Lou Grinzo says:

    I guess nothing in Gavin’s post should surprise anyone here. As the evidence that the deniers are just flat out wrong continues to mount, they have no choice but to resort to ever more ridiculous tactics.

    I expect to see them continue this trend, right up until it becomes so patently absurd that they sound like a parody of themselves — think Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister claiming American troops weren’t in Baghdad when they were visible in the street right behind him.

  3. 3
    dbostrom says:

    Is Lindzen a member of the AGU? Will Lindzen be placed on the AGU scales of justice? Any new AGU statements on the importance of scientific integrity forthcoming?

  4. 4
    Eric Swanson says:

    I doubt that Lindzen will reply. For example, his “Adaptive Iris” hypothesis involved a supposed negative feedback due to tropical clouds. Lindzen claimed that this feedback would act to oppose any warming due to increasing greenhouse gases. However, like any real feedback process, this “Adaptive Iris” would also offset any forcing which would tend to cool the Earth. I’ve been curious to know exactly how this hypothetical negative feedback would have impacted the cooling which resulted in the Ice Ages which have dominated the Earth’s climate for the past 3 million years. Wouldn’t this negative feedback prevent the sort of cooling which is seen in the record? Did Lindzen ever provide such an explanation, or did he just keep on repeating his claim without mentioning this problem? Ignoring factual evidence which counters their claims would seem to be a common characteristic of the denialist camp to which Dr. Lindzen apparently belongs.

  5. 5
    DrTskoul says:

    If not deliberate attempt to deceive, too biased to see the fallacy of his argument.. I would just say old age has crystallized a certain view to this fella, in a way that it biases his understanding and does not allow innovative new thinking. I’ve seen that happening in many disciplines. It takes a special kind of mind to stay productive and inquisitive for a _long_ period of time. Sad…What really gets my knickers crossed, is when these venerable geniuses of the past are still revered like they are the best thing after sliced bread…. I had an experience in my professional field a few years ago. Man…how sad, and how frustrating given the fact that in their prime they may have indeed been geniuses.

  6. 6
    Chris Colose says:

    I’m quite sure you are right, Gavin. I’ve plotted the differences between the current land only data and the October 2008 land+ocean data (only because that is the year Lindzen mentioned) and after eyeballing the data points between my graph and his graph for a few minutes, I’m absolutely convinced that is what he did. It could have been one of the different land+ocean versions (I didn’t check them), but the differences would be essentially negligible for this discussion. It’s not easy to tell exactly what he did because he says that both versions are in the same text file on his graph, which isn’t right either.

    If we compare the land+ocean(new) and land+ocean(2008) datasets, the maximum and minimum differences between the two are 0.03 and -0.03 C (anomaly), respectively, with most of the larger differences occurring before 1940. There’s also no trend in that difference. There’s a brief period in the late 1970s with similar variation to the early times, and the differences tend to be smallest between 1940-1970 (not sure why this would be the case). Clearly, this isn’t even close to the 0.2 C or so differences Lindzen implies.

  7. 7
    Joel Shore says:

    Eric Swanson says: “I’ve been curious to know exactly how this hypothetical negative feedback would have impacted the cooling which resulted in the Ice Ages which have dominated the Earth’s climate for the past 3 million years. Wouldn’t this negative feedback prevent the sort of cooling which is seen in the record? Did Lindzen ever provide such an explanation, or did he just keep on repeating his claim without mentioning this problem?”

    Well, he briefly talks about this in Lindzen and Choi 2011 but it is hard for me to really understand his explanation:

    There have also been attempts to infer sensitivity from paleoclimate data (Hansen et al., 1993), but these are not really tests since the forcing is essentially unknown given major uncertainties in clouds, dust loading and other factors.

    One final point needs to be made. Low sensitivity of global mean temperature anomaly to global scale forcing does not imply that major climate change cannot occur. The earth has, of course, experienced major cool periods such as those associated with ice ages and warm periods such as the Eocene (Crowley and North, 1991). As noted, however, in Lindzen (1993), these episodes were primarily associated with changes in the equator-to-pole temperature difference and spatially heterogeneous forcing.
    Changes in global mean temperature were simply the residue of such changes and not the cause.

  8. 8
    Hank Roberts says:

    Recommended: use Google Image Search and see how that image has been spread. First copy I found is from late last month, ‘Bishop Hill’ blog. Someone reblogging that posted Lindzen’s invitation for anyone who wants a copy of his slides to email and ask for them.

    If he’s answering such email, perhaps he’ll be sending out a corrected version.

  9. 9
    t_p_hamilton says:

    I wonder if any of the other 15 signers of the Wall Street Journal Letter would like to help resolve this difficult mathematical issue of subtraction.

  10. 10
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hm. A few minutes ago, Image Search only found that at a single blog.
    Now it’s also found at ‘Junk Science’
    Watch for the spread.
    Image Search

  11. 11
    Hank Roberts says:

    Did Lindzen identify who did that chart?

    Image Search found something similar, dated Feb. 7

    (Remember, Google doesn’t draw from exactly the same database on repeated searches, your mileage may vary. Keep looking.)

  12. 12
    Chris Colose says:

    Eric Swanson,

    Actually, there’s no contradiction for a hypothetical feedback to be positive in one forcing direction, and negative in another (or to differ in sign between two different base climate states altogether, regardless of the sign of the forcing). But I don’t know of any radiative feedback that operates like this. Moreover, Lindzen probably doesn’t believe that, because he thinks that IRIS could explain away the Faint Young Sun problem, an idea that is untenable (or an unwarranted conclusion) on multiple grounds (see Goldblatt and Zahnle for example).

    His talk contained numerous other errors, including trying to get a meaningful climate sensitivity estimate while ignoring aerosols (and even saying they are just ‘fudge factors’) as well as the non-equilibrium state of the system. This is all elementary stuff, and even less likely to legitimately screw up than downloading two text files that look similar.

  13. 13
    Isotopious says:

    Why not compare the old met station data with the new met station data?

    Is the new met station data warmer, or cooler? I don’t really care, since I’m sure there would be a legit reason if there was a difference…

    Seems odd that Gavin would ignore this obvious comparison in the search for the truth regarding Lindzen’s mistake…

    [Response: Not ignored, but not particularly relevant. The difference in the met station data is a little more over time (~0.07-0.08ºC/Century compared to 0.6-0.7ºC/Century overall trend- mainly related to the noisy pre-1900 data (trends in the difference post-1900 are ~0.03ºC/Century). Doesn’t look anything like Lindzen’s graph though. – gavin]

  14. 14
    Hank Roberts says:

    see also:
    which points to other appearances of the same presentation, and links to a video of the slide show for comparison with the slide packet being given out and remarks on the differences.

  15. 15

    How does the university system treat tenured professors who make horrible mis-statements within their field of expertise, yet outside the structure of classical academic publication?

    [Response:The tenure system exists precisely because Universities (like other bureaucracies) cannot be trusted to tell the difference between ‘horrible mis-statements’ (innocent or otherwise) and outright lies. MIT is in no position to ‘treat’ Lindzen in any formal way regarding his behavior, no matter how unseemly we may all agree it may be. We are all free to behave as idiots on our own time and even — as in Lindzen’s case — to get paid for it. We should celebrate this. There’s one thing that the libertarians and I can agree on.–eric]

  16. 16
    Jerky says:

    Considering smoking is directly linked to adult dementia and alzheimer’s, I think that is what we are starting to see from Lindzen. Sad, but true.

  17. 17
    oneiota says:

    A minor point to raise with regards to Lindzen’s “Briefing”. It was held in a rented meeting room at the House of Commons (not Lords). It was a free seminar by invitation and not a formal briefing to the Parliament…although the blogosphere seems to be beating the venue up to give Lindzen’s talk a credibility greater than its worth. flap

  18. 18
    dbostrom says:

    We are all free to behave as idiots on our own time and even — as in Lindzen’s case — to get paid for it. We should celebrate this.

    Except if you’re Peter Gleick. That permutation of characters is an exception. Woe betide you (and tread carefully) if you have those letters and a space arranged in that combination as your name, for your treatment will be harsh and without mercy, particularly by the AGU. If your name is something else, say “Richard Lindzen” and you happen to be a Fellow of the AGU, you may “misrepresent” (aka “deceive”) as much as you like, ignoring the AGU’s “Vision Statement.”

  19. 19
    Alex Harvey says:

    Dear Gavin,

    While I agree that the insinuations from Lindzen are not helpful, it also appears you have made assumptions in response. My suspicion is that Lindzen made a mistake. So why not write to him and ask what he did and ask if you can reproduce his response here? I think such a gesture would go a long way towards returning to rational dialogue.

  20. 20
    Alex Harvey says:

    Eric #15:

    You write, “We are all free to behave as idiots on our own time and even — as in Lindzen’s case — to get paid for it.”

    What exactly do you mean by “get paid for it”?

  21. 21
    Doug Thrussell says:

    Would not this Lindzen misdirection mostly be a moot point anyway, given the Dr. Muller lead BEST study results?

  22. 22
    dbostrom says:

    What exactly do you mean by “get paid for it”?

    Lindzen: “I wish to thank the Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act for the opportunity to present my views…”

    What does “the opportunity” entail, when one has been invited to cross the ocean by The Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act?

    Let’s hazard a guess, based on the peculiar emphasis of CRCCA’s energy plan:

    1. Cancel the Renewable Obligations, and all subsidies to wind turbines and solar energy.

    2. Dash for shale gas. The UK must exploit these new resources. It has been estimated that the UK has 20 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas. Build gas-fired capacity and more gas storage facilities for the medium term.

    3. Tell the EU that we are unable to implement the Large Combustion Plant Directive, and that we will not close down our coal-fired power stations. Add that we will not entertain any fine or penalty for being in breach of the directive.

    Amusing to look at CRCCA’s “About” page. Guess who’s there, as “Patron?” Why, it’s Heartland’s own Bob Carter yet again! He really gets around. In fact, he’s a bit shopworn, “burnt” as the saying goes when somebody becomes too recognizable to be any longer useful.

    Small world, truly.

  23. 23
    Kasuha says:

    Trend change of 0.14 C per century is sure negligible, whatever data were used to calculate it. Even RSS data adjustments caused similar changes and nobody sees anything malicious on these. But that presentation has a lot of other points, too – and I don’t think this is event the most important one. If you mention just this one as wrong, should I understand it as that you agree that the rest is correct?

    [Response:No of course not. We are just bored of repeating the same old explanations to the same old tired arguments. You can check here: skepitcalscience for more detail on what else is wrong with Lindzen’s presentation.–eric]

  24. 24
    Martin Vermeer says:

    The protection of tenure aside, scientists are subject to the law. The implication in Lindzen’s testimony that NASA GISS has “manipulated” the data in a bad way, i.e., fraudulently, is an extra-scientific and legally “interesting” statement, AKA libel.

    Libel law applies to everyone. Stefan Rahmstorf got bitten by it. Why should Lindzen get a free pass? Retract and apologize, or have the book thrown at you, I say. “Other cheek” days are long past.

  25. 25
    Lazarus says:

    Does any one know if a list of those in attendance in the House of Commons is available? Being a UK citizen I’d suggest emailing all those present with this information in the interests of balance.

  26. 26
    Alex Harvey says:

    dbostrom, #22:

    That’s an interesting guess. On the other hand, I would guess that Lindzen was invited to speak in the UK and had his flight and accommodation paid for. Isn’t the whole point of this post to berate Lindzen for making an insinuation based on guesswork?

  27. 27
    CM says:

    Nice sleuthing. Shame on Lindzen (same old, same old).

    Did you use Wayback just to show that the data are out there and available for all to check? Or did you have to? If GISS doesn’t archive old versions of the product regularly, say once a year, wouldn’t it be a good idea?

    Lindzen is not the only one to spin this. The stealth denial site climate4you has a risible but sciency-looking discussion of “temporal stability” in global temperature series, keeping up a running comparison of current time series with 2008 versions. It seems to suggest that improving our knowledge of past temperatures with new or better data is a sign of immaturity, and refers the reader to ClimateAudit rather than to GISS for an explanation of changes in GISTEMP.

    (Incidentally, I get just a 0.001°C/century trend difference between current GISTEMP and climate4you’s archived version from May 2008, using the Jan-Dec annual means.)

  28. 28

    I am amazed that somebody like Lindzen could think that such a graph was remotely correct – that he didn’t check to see why he got such a huge difference. Then again, when he was trying to defend an error- and misinformation-packed presentation by Chris Horner, he said “I thought it was a fine presentation.” I’ll never forget that. (Horner’s presentation even included this beauty from Ross McKitrick – with no explanation of what it really shows of course)

  29. 29
    andrew adams says:

    Alex #19

    If Lindzen had written to GISS to ask for clarification before publicly accusing them of improperly manipulating the data then it wouldn’t be necessary for Gavin to make such a public response.

  30. 30
    JMurphy says:

    I think you really need to highlight the reality of this actually being a seminar which was held in a committee side-room to an audience that consisted of probably two MPs at the most.
    Skeptical Science also did a good critical review of it. It seems that the presentation has been re-used many times over the years.

  31. 31
    JamesA says:

    Doug #21: “Would not this Lindzen misdirection mostly be a moot point anyway, given the Dr. Muller lead BEST study results?”
    It would be if it was the temperatures that were actually what was at stake here. Regrettably, this is less about reasoned debate and more about attempts at character assassination by the (increasingly desperate) denialists. If the usual suspects can use this as a basis for proclaiming “climate scientists caught lying again” (or words to that effect), then it’s mission accomplished as far as they’re concerned. They’re not interested in what the temperature trend actually is.

  32. 32
    Martin Lack says:

    Hello people.

    Forgive me if this has already been said but, as I was there, all should note that Lindzen gave his talk in Committee Room 14 – to an audience that was supposedly meant to be mostly Parliamentarians but which was in fact mainly full of already-sceptical members of the public.

    The entire talk was a disgrace. Either Lindzen is completely incompetent or he is being deeply disingenuous. There is no third option. What I fail to understand is why the mainstream media will not take this matter up; especially the Guardian newpaper that published the NAS-255 letter in May 2010 (which Lindzen – in an astonishing piece of hypocrisy – criticised).

    In my opinion, Lindzen’s career should now come to an end; and I am doing all I can to make it happen – please join me at:

    Thank you to Michael Mann and James Hansen – you were my inspiration: As with John Abraham and Peter Gleick – I have done what I have in the service of scientific integrity.

  33. 33
    Steve Metzler says:

    Wow. That ‘mistake’ by Lindzen is… rather Moncktonesque in nature. No doubt we’ll keep seeing that bogus plot circulating through the denialosphere for years to come, no matter whether he retracts it or not. It’s the way the deniers roll.

  34. 34
    Martin Lack says:

    When I say please join me I think people should, in order to make their own request for an explanation for Lindzen’s hypocrisy, obfuscation, and misdirection, by making use of the following combination of letters within their email client:


  35. 35

    #33–Martin, I don’t think we need to emulate the most odious tactics of the opposition by spamming people’s email boxes. I strongly suggest not doing this.

  36. 36
    Tom Curtis says:

    I have to agree with Martin Vermeer @23. Freedom to pursue science without interference does not extend to freedom to libel other scientists publicly and repeatedly. It is long past time to bring a suite of libel against the deniers, and those who fund the deniers. Given that the death threats that are now just part of normal working conditions for climate scientists are a consequence of those slanders, bringing the initiators of the slanders to court would seem to be a necessity just for the continued health and well being of working climate scientists.

  37. 37
    Nick Stokes says:

    Alex #19
    ” My suspicion is that Lindzen made a mistake.”

    See Hank at #11. It looks very much as though he lifted it, without attribution, from JunkScience.

  38. 38
    Alex Harvey says:

    Chris Colose, #12:

    I pointed out to you at Judith Curry’s blog that of all papers citing the Rondanelli and Lindzen paper (RL10) on the Faint Young Sun Paradox, Goldblatt and Zahnle 2011 (GZ11) is the only one that criticises it.

    You ignored (or perhaps were not aware of) this comment. Here you say, “see Goldblatt and Zahnle for example” – again implying that GZ11 is one of several papers criticising RL10.

    Are you saying I am wrong – that I am unaware of an additional published criticisms of RL10? If so, please tell me what these additional papers are. I am very interested to read them.

    I also pointed out that Rondanelli and Lindzen had a comment on GZ11 published that, to me, shows fairly convincingly that Goldblatt and Zahnle simply misread or misunderstood the RL10 argument.

  39. 39
    Elmar Veerman says:

    Lindzen should get some tough questions from the House of Commons, but if he doesn’t: serious climate scientists, please find out who listened to his talk and actively approach them with the right information. But explain it in a simpler way than above, because this is still too complicated, I’m afraid.

  40. 40
    Eric Swanson says:

    RE: #22 by dbostrom

    Yes, Bob Carter is another of those denialist who frequently appear in public claiming there’s no problem. But, Bob Carter has made mistakes along the way which are very similar to the one which Lindzen apparently made in this latest outpouring. For example, in a report Carter wrote in 2007, “Human-Caused Global Warming…”, he presents MSU satellite data from Christy and Spencer at UAH as “proof” that there’s no warming. Trouble is, he used the T2 series in Figure C2, (now called MT for middle troposphere), data which includes contamination from stratospheric temperatures, which results in a spurious cooling trend. Awareness of this problem has been around since Spencer & Christy first presented their analysis for the so-called Lower Troposphere Temperature (TLT) way back in 1992. Carter used this graph again in his Congressional testimony. Has Bob Carter ever admitted that he used the wrong data set? Has he formally written to the US Congress to admit this failure to understand the data? I doubt it…

  41. 41
    Mike Roddy says:

    It’s time to stop treating Lindzen politely, and assume that he is still a legitimate scientist. Like Patrick Michaels and Fred Singer, he abandoned that calling a long time ago.

    The .14C chart leads propagandist Stephen Milloy’s Junk Science blog. It leaves the impression that this figure describes the temperature increase, not the anomaly.

    Lindzen will never admit error. This is a man who has never retreated from disputing evidence that cigarettes cause cancer. He doesn’t need to be drummed out of academia, but more direct and public humiliation is called for. Then, let MIT keep living with this albatross. This episode should be a public lesson for universities who choose to employ bad and financially compromised scientists.

  42. 42
    Layzej says:

    Martin @ 32, Nothing good can come of publishing his email address. Especially given how this tactic has been misused by the other side.

  43. 43
    MarkB says:

    This is the sort of boneheaded mistake much more amateur blog contrarians would make. Lindzen has no such excuse, and if he lifted that from some other source it’s no better.

    An assymetry definitely exists in standards applied to mainstream climate science versus contrarians. A mainstream scientist putting together false information in an effort to denigrate others would be thrown under a bus. Lindzen arguably gets rewarded.

  44. 44
    Martin Lack says:

    #35 Kevin MkKinney: Agreed – If it cannot be deleted, I renounce my suggestion. However, unfortunately, I cannot now withdraw the email I sent over 300 people yesterday, which included RSL’s email address (although I did not make any suggestion as to what people should do with it!): All I did do, is ask them to read my email before deleting it and, then feel free to forward it or delete it as they saw fit. For the sake of clarity, the email to which I now refer was, in large part, derived from this comment on my blog, which I believe goes right to the heart of why this matter and this moment are so important:

  45. 45
    Tom Scharf says:

    I have seen probably >10 different articles on the net effect of post hoc data manipulations on the various sites I look after. Typically they are on Hansen’s adjustments.

    Not withstanding this particular case, the meme is that the large majority of these adjustments to past data tend to increase the temperature trend, flatten out the 1940 – 1950 dip, etc. And from my view that appears to be accurate on the whole.

    This would be a non-problem if the data manipulation would simply stop on past data. It has been stated that all these manipulations amount to almost no net change in the overall picture, which appears to be the case, so why submit yourself to this debate? Just use the raw data and move on.

    If the claim is the data is being made “better” and it also happens to increase warming trends (subtly), the specter of confirmation bias comes into play. The skeptical reaction to the change also directly plays into their confirmation bias.

    [Response: The problem with this is that if problems are left in – i.e. jumps that are due to station moves, equipment changes, TOBS, etc. scientists are accused of carelessness and ineptitude. The fact is that many corrections actually reduce the trend (UHI corrections for instance) – and I’m sure that criticism would follow if that were ignored. It is good nw and again to demonstrate that big picture effects do not depend greatly on these kinds of adjustments (and they don’t), but scientists have to proceed diligently in dealing with them – regardless of the effect on the trends. I find it amusing that the people complaining most vocally about GHCN adjustments (not ‘Hansen’ – though the personalisation of this is unsurprising), never complain about the Spencer and Christie MSU adjustments (nor demand their code to verify their correctness). The double standard is blatant, and no scientists are going to stop doing their best because of the hypocritical complaints from the partisans. The only response to that nonsense to is explain clearly (to those that will listen) what is being done and why. – gavin]

  46. 46
    MapleLeaf says:

    Hi Gavin,

    Thank you for exposing this. SkepticalScience has also exposed more egregious errors and misrepresentations made by Lindzen in his talk.

    Surely Lindzen’s presentation, and the misrepresentation (without attribution) shown by you has to border on scientific misconduct? Additionally, I wonder if MIT has a clause that makes bringing the institution into disrepute an actionable academic offence?

    There is another slide that I think ought to be exposed because it may also be a gross misrepresentation. It is the figure on the LHS of slides 13 and 14 (attributed to Grotch). The figure alleges to represent the “Deviations [anomaly] of annual mean temperature from long-term average”, the caption claims “data points averaged to obtain time record of global mean temperature”. As I understand it,

    1) The header and caption are not consistent with each other.
    2) There are clearly multiple data points for each time step.
    3) There is no way that that annual (or even monthly) global temperature anomalies (as suggested by the header) could be as large as depicted in the graphic, and if the data were mean global anomalies there would obviously be only one data point per time step.

    So what have they done? My suspicion is that they have plotted the monthly anomalies observed at individual met stations (we do not even know which data set they used) and then somehow averaged them to obtain a mean global anomaly (not the mean global temperature as suggested in the caption).

    Lindzen then tries to use that suspicious graphic to suggest that the anomalies and increase in mean annual global temperature (it seems from HadCRUT) since ~1850 are insignificant because the increase is of similar magnitude to the anomalies shown in the Grotch figure.

    If I have gotten this right, this is yet more shameless deception by Lindzen.

  47. 47
    Ray Ladbury says:

    OK, anybody surprised? I realized Lindzen had left the reservation a long time ago when he used his closing arguments in a public debate to imply that other planets/moons in the solar system were warming and implying (though never saying) that it must be Mr. Sun causing the warming (which he now says ain’t happening). Anyone with even an iota of scientific training would appreciate that the particular celestial bodies he mentioned have energy balances and forcings so completely different from Earth that the mere idea was utter bunkum. However, Lindzen was not addressing a group of scientists. He was addressing the general public. His utterly stupid scientific misrepresentation was thus a brilliant–though dishonest–debating ploy.

    In the years since, Lindzen has never failed to disappoint even as he fails to surprise. [edit – please stop]. I think we can agree on that.

    The question I have is why? I mean I worked my tuckus off to become a scientist. I love it. To me, there is nothing cooler than struggling with a difficult problem and finally understanding it. Lindzen certainly knows that feeling–that joy. Having known that, why on Earth would you give it up? Has he really traded it for monetary gain? Or for the adulation of clambering idiots? Will he ever realize in that Faustian bargain that he has paid the ultimate price a scientist can ever pay?


  48. 48
    Martin Lack says:

    #25 Lazarus I could email the Event Administrator but I am not in her good books at the moment for having conducted something of a Trojan Horse operation myself. Have a go at doing so yourself and, if she says the information is confidential (because you did not attend), I will try for you.

    email Fay Kelly Tuncay [edit]

  49. 49
    dbostrom says:

    JMurphy says:
    7 Mar 2012 at 6:24 AM
    I think you really need to highlight the reality of this actually being a seminar which was held in a committee side-room to an audience that consisted of probably two MPs at the most.

    The most useful information coming out of the episode is the fact of Lindzen’s presentation being a commissioned act for the The Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act, an archetypal “grass roots” organization whose mission is that of preserving fossil fuel investments.

    Keeping these investments safe requires constructing a demented public policy that does not does not include modernized energy sources and thus must not heed facts. Lindzen’s assistance with this work is in direct contravention to the AGU “vision statement,” although he is a Fellow of AGU.

    Alex Harvey: I would guess that Lindzen was invited to speak in the UK and had his flight and accommodation paid for. Isn’t the whole point of this post to berate Lindzen for making an insinuation based on guesswork?

    I’d guess that Lindzen’s giving away his time for free is very unlikely. What do you think?

  50. 50
    MapleLeaf says:

    Layzej @42,

    I would normally agree, but Lindzen provided his MIT email address on the very first slide of his talk.