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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. 251
    Chris R says:

    I’ve just read the main article, I have to agree with Ray (#245) were this one mistake you could put it down to a gaff that could be corrected by a letter of apology to the relevant select committee.

    This isn’t one mistake – it’s a clear pattern that shows Lindzen is playing infantile games for his own personal agenda. Anyone seeking advice from him as an expert is going to get no advice – just misleading drivel.

    The question is, will Lindzen have the honour to acknowledge this ‘mistake’ and write to apologise to the UK Parliament?

  2. 252
    dbostrom says:

    I do not share the opinions of those calling for him to be dismissed from MIT or ousted from AGU. These demonstrate an astounding naivete of how both science and academia work in my opinion.

    It’s rare that I find myself disagreeing with Ray Ladbury but here’s an instance.

    Tenure at MIT is beyond touching; the tenure system itself is not worth despoiling for the likes of Lindzen. This despite the fact that Lindzen’s preferred means of introducing himself before he proceeds to vandalize the minds of his audience is to call attention to his MIT connection, thus of course leveraging MIT’s reputation to open the helpless cognition of his listeners to better inflict damage.

    However, the AGU is not a university. It’s a professional organization composed of individuals who have come together in a common cause, specifically that of shedding light on how Earth functions. More, AGU explicitly refers to its role in educating the public both for their own betterment and for the betterment of the human condition. There is no doubt Lindzen is not in companionship with these goals, and there is no important principle to be defended by allowing him to behave in a way that is diametrically opposed to AGU’s mission. Rather, the opposite pertains.

    Again, Lindzen does not have to be silent. He simply has to choose between staying in company with the AGU, or continuing to go his own way, destructive as it is. He can stay in company be crafting his presentations so not to mislead, and by stopping his gratuitous insults against fellow AGU members.

    Or, AGU could redo their stated aims and clearly stated expectations of their members.

    If AGU simply ignores Lindzen, their pronouncements of expected behavior on the part of members and AGU’s role in society mean little. Are these worthy goals worth giving up for a single person?

    The idea of an audience member being shushed by Christopher Monckton so that Lindzen can ignore a question is almost all the information needed to close a case. Lindzen should have fled the event in question the moment he understood he was to share a stage with Monckton.

  3. 253
    dbostrom says:

    By the way, the closest thing I’ve recently seen to hysteria in connection to AGU was AGU’s sweaty panic in distancing itself from Peter Gleick, thereby setting themselves up for uncomfortable scrutiny when it comes to the actions of other of their members, such as Richard Lindzen. Evaluated by the hastily constructed language they used in their fear-driven ritual humiliation of Gleick, Lindzen is far, far worse.

    And we’re not supposed to notice that, and if we do we’re being “hysterical.”

    Hysterically funny, in a dark way.

  4. 254
    MapleLeaf says:

    Alex Harvey and Ray,

    I for one really take strong exception to the claim that there is hysteria (Harvey and Labdbury) and vitriol (Harvey only) on this thread, especially without citing examples, and especially when the definition is not being used appropriately. This is the definition of hysteria (Merriam-Webster):

    1: a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions
    2: behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess

    I know this does not apply to Ray, but I have witnessed apologists for fake skeptics like Lindzen invoking this false claim of “hysteria” in a lame and transparent attempt to dismiss very valid critique and substantiated arguments against them. It is also the same technique used by male chauvinists to dismiss women’s objections to a wrong doing. Alex, is IMO, concern trolling.

    The unwarranted comparison to WUWT is then made. Had this been WUWT, by now an orchestrated campaign would be underway to harass and badger Lindzen and his employer (MIT). Recall how fake skeptics ended up wasting everyone’s time at PSU in a unwarranted smear campaign against Dr. Mann? To the best of my knowledge, no such campaign has been engaged upon. To my knowledge only ONE person (Martin Lack) has files a complaint.

    During the course of this discussion and subsequent actions by Lindzen yet more disturbing factors have come to light:

    1) Lindzen was incapable of offering an unequivocal and sincere apology. In fact, he seemed to be suggesting in his apology that the team that manages GISTEMP is guilty of “confirmation bias”.
    2) Lindzen has not apologized for the myriad of other gross and egregious misrepresentations and falsehoods and distortions made in his talk.
    3) Is has emerged that Lindzen may be claiming to be an AGU fellow on his CV when the AGU does not list him as a fellow. This matter needs to be clarified.

    To be clear, I fully support academic freedom, but I also understand that with that freedom comes a responsibility to pursue the truth and to be honest and true to the science. Lindzen is entitled to his opinions, but not his own facts. His behavior is not consistent with someone of his standing and his exceptionally poor behavior in public and using his affiliation with MIT for clout also brings MIT into disrepute.

    Lindzen has enough experience and is schooled sufficiently in this particular discipline to know what is justifiable and what is right and wrong. I do not for one minute buy claims that he is, after all these years working in the field, simply “misguided”. He should know by now how to correctly display the Arctic sea-ice anomalies, for example, and how to scale the axes on graphics so as to appropriately display data and to facilitate meaningful interpretation of the data.

    Lindzen’s is ideas on anthropogenic warming are firmly entrenched and have hardly changed since the late eighties despite ever mounting evidence to the contrary; that strikes me as incredibly close minded, especially for an academic.

    So what do I suggest? I do not suggest an witch hunt. What I do suggest is that MIT think long and hard about how much they are willing to have their reputation tarnished by Lindzen accusing others (including his peers) of being part of conspiracies and engaging in scientific fraud.

    As noted by Eli Rabett above, MIT should do something similar to what the brave president of the University of Rochester did. MIT would be remiss if they do not make it clear that while Lindzen is entitled to his opinions and academic freedoms, they do not endorse and support him attacking his peers, accusing them of fraud and engaging in conspiracies, for example. That he is free to speak his opinions, but not to affiliate himself with them when stating falsehoods or making accusations of deception etc., he can do that in a private capacity if he wishes. If MIT they happen to find reason to pursue this matter further, that is their decision.

    Institutions like MIT and the AGU have rules for a reason and are permitted to sanction or discipline their employees if need be. Surely to goodness people here are not suggesting that we all (including them) turn a blind eye when there is just cause and evidence of wrong doing? Having tenure has benefits and entitlements, but it should not make one untouchable or unaccountable or beyond reproach by their employer.

  5. 255

    #242 John Kosowski

    He’s not honestly (free of deceit and untruthfulness) representing climate science in context (see my post #235 above).

    one can of course play with the inference and usage of the word honest, but then that could also be dishonest, wouldn’t it.

    Not honestly is easily dishonest.

    Now, lying is an intentionally false statement. I doubt he is lying because he probably believes his own confirmation bias.

    Of course this is typical of those with religious attitudes about a particular perspective. The hypocrisy noted in my post #235 is likely a forest/trees problem.

    Professor Lindzen infers others are being religious about climate science when in fact the actual science indicates he is the one being religious. Pot meet kettle.

    The gist comes to this: just because he is not looking at the relevant science that defeats his postion (such as Prof. Singer) does not mean he is correct about his assertions; it means he is making an argument from authority, which of course he accuses others of. That makes him a hypocrite whether he recognizes it or not.

  6. 256
    dbostrom says:

    Just to clarify, the bar to met for MIT tenure is fundamentally that of research productivity and research integrity. There’s no sign that Lindzen has failed to rise to that metric, quite the opposite.

    AGU on the other hand explicitly refers to matters beyond simply conducting scientific research in a way commensurate with improving and maintaining the integrity of our understanding of Earth systems. AGU specifies how members must conduct themselves in their interactions with the public, and that’s where Lindzen is failing.

    The best course might be for AGU to confine its activities to those of publishing journals and conducting meetings, stay out of the weeds of ethical judgement and decision making. It’s likely however that many members would disagree with such a course.

    At the end of the day, AGU must meet its own specifications and standards and to the extent it does not, it fails itself and it fails the larger world.

  7. 257
    Martin Lack says:

    #249 Chris R.
    When you say “mistake” singular, which mistake are you now talking about? With John P. Reisman’s brilliant forensic analysis (#235) and my comments (#236), you have one hell of a lot of mistakes to choose from.

    Very few of the people Lindzen spoke to in Committee Room 14 (mostly Repeal the Act rentamob, a few sceintifically-illiterate journalists and 2 or 3 economically-prejudiced MPs) would accept an apology if offered. They would almost certainly conclude that Lindzen had been duped by the CAGW/UN/WMO/IPCC/Watermelon conspiracy into changing his mind (as have Muller and now Nordhaus of course). However, this is pure fantasy because, as James Hansen has said, Lindzen is probably never going to voluntarily admit he is wrong on this.

    So I think we can be sure there will be no comprehensive apology but, if there were to be one, it would not need to be to the UK Parliament (that Lindzen did not address); it would need to be to all those people who generally don’t trust experts but who have put him on a pedestal and idolised him as their (very convenient) “friendly” expert.

    You could say that these are the people he has betrayed. Arguably, you could also say that h has betrayed us all because, ever since he bent the ear of VP Dick Cheney’s Task Force on Climate Change (in 2001 was it?), he has been extremely influential in delaying sensible changes to US energy policy for over a decade. Policy delay for over a decade. Sound familiar to anyone?

  8. 258

    #255 Martin Lack

    I wish I was there. It would have been fun to be interrupted by someone who uses terms like “bed-wetting moaning Minnies” if only to have the opportunity to shine light on the pseudo-intellectual arguments and hackery practiced religiously by Monckton.

    Next, time someone tries to cut you off, just cut back in and say ‘Is there a reason for you cutting me off; are you afraid your argument won’t hold up to sound rebuttal’.

    Then without hesitation, continue… and don’t stop when he tries to re-interrupt you.

  9. 259
    GSW says:

    Many above, from the perspective of the AGU, have likened Lindzen’s error with the lapse of ethical judgement of Gleick. The two are not comparable in any way.

    Gleick by his own admission, at the very least, perpetrated a form of identity theft*. This is compounded by the fact he was chairman of their ethics task force!

    Lindzen simply muddled up two similar datasets in a graph. We all agree that this should not happen, but even with the best intentions it does from time to time.

    The GISS Y2K problem for example, a discontinuity was found in the GISS data in 2000. This was a result of the wrong dataset being copied from a backup server. Mistakes happen.

    You can’t go around demanding that the AGU censure those involved everytime this happens.

    [Response:I agree with you that the two situations are not the same, and also that people demanding ‘censure’ of Lindzen by AGU are wrong (and misinformed too, since AGU is in no position to do this; in Gleick’s case, he was actually *reprsenting* AGU, which Lindzen was neither doing nor claiming to be doing). I don’t agree with the ‘identity theft’ statement either, but that’s beside the point. On the other hand, the idea that the alleged Y2K ‘problem’ is some sort of counterexample to ‘innocent mistake’ of Lindzen’s, is completely off base. In both cases, what happened is that people (McIntyre in one case, Lindzen in another) accused GISS of ‘manipulating data’ to get a desired result. In fact, both McIntyre and Lindzen used careless (at best) manipulation of data wrongly to try to get *their* desired result — i.e. to convince their audiences that GISS can’t be trusted.–eric]

  10. 260
    dbostrom says:


    3) Is has emerged that Lindzen may be claiming to be an AGU fellow on his CV when the AGU does not list him as a fellow. This matter needs to be clarified.

    Let’s be circumspect; Lindzen is definitely an AGU Fellow, since 1969. He was awarded this recognition very early in his career, doubtless deservedly so.

    Lindzen’s name is missing from the published list of AGU Fellows, strictly a clerical error.

  11. 261
    Steve Metzler says:

    It just shows how far he has fallen, the fact that Lindzen can be seen to be cosying up with the likes of Monckton. It beggars belief.

  12. 262
    flxible says:

    I think folks need to get off all the nefarious motivation analyses and accept the fact that the person is most likely simply undergoing what all of we human animals will in our 70’s, cognitive decline. On with the science please, the politics belongs elsewhere.

  13. 263

    What a tangled web they weave.

  14. 264
    Lotharsson says:

    That seems odd, considering that you got put through a similar wringer within the last few months over at Stoat.

    And also if I’m not mistaken a few months ago at Deltoid.

    It almost has the appearance of a pattern.

  15. 265
    MMM says:

    “In both cases, what happened is that people (McIntyre in one case, Lindzen in another) accused GISS of ‘manipulating data’ to get a desired result.”

    And there are many, many other examples of this – see Exhibit Number 1, Watts in his glossy “surface temperature” brochure:

    “Around 1990, NOAA began weeding out more than three-quarters of the climate measuring stations around the world. They may have been working under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It can be shown that they systematically and purposefully, country by country, removed higher-latitude, higher-altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to be cooler.”

    this happens over and over again. Some contrarian finds something that they think looks suspicious, and number 1 accusation is “those climate scientists are lying!” when 99 percent of the time, it is that the contrarian in question doesn’t understand the science or the dataset, and 1 percent of the time it is an honest mistake based on automated algorithms which ends up having no effect on the big picture anyway.

  16. 266
    John Kosowski says:

    John Reisman@253, Hank Roberts@250,

    I asked “What has Lindzen been “dishonest” about?”

    If he has been dishonest, certainly you can just list the allegations.

    Dishonesty is a pretty severe accusation, and I would think that it would not be thrown about on such a distinguished science forum as this without justification.

    If Lindzen is “dishonest” everyone ought to know about it.

    Where has he been dishonest?

  17. 267
    Ray Ladbury says:

    GSW, The issue is NOT a slide with a boo boo on it. The issue is a long history of misrepresentation of science to lay audiences.

    I am a firm believer in academic freedom. Lindzen is free to differ from the consensus–the scientific process welcomes that. He is free to be wrong. He is free to represent or misrepresent the science to his colleagues as he sees fit–the only consequence will be to his reputation.

    The problem comes when Lindzen tries to score points with lay audiences by not merely misrepresenting the science but by advancing arguments he himself knows to be utter bullshit. That is simply flat wrong and bordering on scientific misconduct. No, I do not favor censure. I don’t see anybody in any position to censure. However, I am not so naive as to ignore that the current incident fits a pattern of behavior. As such, I put as much faith in Lindzen’s notpology as I do in Limbaugh’s.

  18. 268
    Hank Roberts says:

    “identity theft”
    “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  19. 269
    dbostrom says:

    Many above, from the perspective of the AGU, have likened Lindzen’s error with the lapse of ethical judgement of Gleick. The two are not comparable in any way.

    Absolutely correct, but unfortunately it’s apparently an insurmountable intellectual obstacle to imagine a moral continuum from “Generic Angel” to “Generic Devil,” put AGU’s expectations on that line and then attempt to position Gleick and Lindzen somewhere in the spectrum from one end to another.


    Simply put, one person was unspeakably rude, the other is helping to make impossible the future we’d prefer to experience.

    Somebody here mentioned the word “naive.” Read Bok’s “Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life” or be doomed to continue flailing ineffectually as we’re confronted with what we’re told is an existential threat to the future we’d like to see. Just as in the the case of a person who hasn’t bothered to do their homework on climate change and then unleashes personal opinions on the matter, popping off about ethics and morals without first doing at least a little bit of information gathering is a risky business.

    But never mind. Obviously we’re doing everything correctly now, for after all Lindzen and Crew are enjoying zero success in their efforts to stall public policy, we’re well on our way back down to 350ppm. Demanding that folks improve their game, make hard choices about what company they wish to keep would be entirely pointless, and rude.

    Enough, already. I’m done with this.

  20. 270
    Susan Anderson says:

    John Kosowski @~266

    You appear to be ignoring anything inconvenient in any of the posts in response to your comments. Dr. Lindzen’s liberties with the truth are documented in detail, over and over again. If you are unable to see that, you need to go back to school and learn to read plain English.

    Your demand that the specific people you name must go back and collate all this clarification and detail for you appears to my untutored eye to be tactics rather than substance. There is no need for this extensive information to be collected and collated for you personally just because you refuse to see it. Start at the beginning and read carefully.

    If you are here to learn, that should take care of it. If you are here in pursuit of an agenda and are not interested in the information you claim to seek, then you should know that there are a lot of intelligent people here and you are the emperor without his clothes on.

  21. 271

    If Lindzen is “dishonest” everyone ought to know about it.

    I googled ‘Lindzen dishonesty’ and got quite a bit of solid evidence.

    Perhaps you need to google ‘incompetence’.

  22. 272
    dbostrom says:

    Whoops, flounced out and forgot the keys.

    It took AGU just a matter of hours to censure Peter Gleick once AGU’s fear kicked in, so let’s not pretend it’s impossible for AGU to name and shame.

    Censure: Express severe disapproval of (someone or something), typically in a formal statement.

  23. 273

    #266 John Kosowski

    I’ll walk you through this one for clarity.

    The definition of honest includes: free of deceit and untruthfulness

    dis = not

    truth includes: the quality or state of being true

    As I stated clearly, He (Prof. Lindzen) is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly.

    The proof is in his presentations, for example:

    as I pointed out in my post #237

    While I am not using the direct definition of dishonest as in: behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way, I am using the English to clearly describe that Professor Lindzen is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly, as in: the quality and state of being true. In other words his representations of climate science are by definition dis-honest, simply because they do not contain nearly a high enough degree of ‘the quality and state of being true’ to pass muster, and his presentations rely on his beliefs rather than a strong evidentiary basis.

    However, it is fair to say that though I don’t believe him to be fraudulent in his representations, because I think he ‘believes’ his own bias confirmation, the rest of the direct definition is applicable in the sense that his presentations are not trustworthy when weighed in the context of the relevant science in question.

    Of course feel free to prove his assertions correct and thus prove me wrong. But your going to have to turn over a mountain of climate science and physics to do so, as well as the economic evidence. Of course I would also like to see Professor Lindzen prove me wrong as well. In other words, can you or he prove that his assertions and representations of facts out of context are supported by the science? I’m betting neither he, nor you, can prove me wrong.

    Good luck.

  24. 274
    dhogaza says:

    John Kosowski:

    Where has he been dishonest?

    When he’s claimed that smoking (not just second-hand smoke, but cigarette smoking) is not a significant cause of health problems.

  25. 275
    Alex Harvey says:

    #267, Ray Ladbury:

    Lindzen is not intentionally misrepresenting anything. To anyone with a clear head and a bit of knowledge about Lindzen, it is obvious that he is only expressing his sincerely held beliefs. If you read, for example, his 2007 paper ‘Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously’ you’ll find he makes much the same argument about aerosol cancellation. And in his essay ‘Climate science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?’ he makes the same point about data adjustments:

    That corrections to climate data should be called for, is not at all surprising, but that such corrections should always be in the ‘needed’ direction is exceedingly unlikely. Although the situation suggests overt dishonesty, it is entirely possible, in today’s scientific environment, that many scientists feel that it is the role of science to vindicate the greenhouse paradigm for climate change as well as the credibility of models.

    So given his prejudices, it is not surprising that he jumps to conclusions. It may be unfortunate that he thinks this way – I tend to agree – but it is rather more concerning that a majority of RealClimate’s readers believe that thought-criminalisation is the necessary response. I wonder how long it will be before someone recommends that Lindzen be killed – perhaps burnt at a stake.

    Lindzen is a great scientist; saying that he has a ‘solid background in climate dynamics’ (as Gavin did in this post) makes it sound as though his most important contribution was a textbook on atmospheric dynamics. In fact, Lindzen has single-handedly resolved a long list of fundamental problems in atmospheric science – from the quasi-biennial oscillation, to the semi-diurnal tide, to a theory about the superrotation of the Venusian atmosphere, to fundamental discoveries about gravity waves and tides, to cumulus convection, cloud microphysics, and a whole long list of other things that I don’t frankly understand. If you watch the literature for papers citing Lindzen, they still appear almost daily. Not many other climate scientists come close to Lindzen in achievement.

    What I really look forward to is discussion of Lindzen and Choi 2011 and Rondanelli and Lindzen 2010 – the papers Lindzen has in the peer-reviewed literature that partly underpin his belief in low climate sensitivity. I don’t think that Andrew Dessler’s response to Lindzen/Choi was serious. Dessler misrepresents Lindzen’s argument so badly that it is not clear he even read the paper. Likewise, Rondanelli and Lindzen have shown that Goldblatt and Zahnle misunderstood the Rondanelli and Lindzen paper.

    It is interesting that so much of this thread is devoted to Lindzen’s credibility and so little of it – as always – to Lindzen’s actual arguments.

    [Response: your faith in the quality of the linden and choi rewrite is touching, but hardly conclusive. Try plotting the estimate of sensitivty their method produces for the known cases of specific climate models, and then estimate the ‘goodness of fit’ – all the numbers are in lindzen’s slides. Using these verification statistics estimate the error bars on their prediction from the real world data. It will be in interesting exercise, and perhaps after doing it you’ll have a better appreciation of why lindzen’s recent contributions to the literature are not front and center (even in his own discussions!). – gavin]

  26. 276
    Alex Harvey says:

    John P. Reisman, #273:

    You can’t have it both ways – dishonest means dishonest. You say, He (Prof. Lindzen) is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly. Then, it is fair to say that though I don’t believe him to be fraudulent in his representations, because I think he ‘believes’ his own bias confirmation. Then, While I am not using the direct definition of dishonest as in: behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way, I am using the English to clearly describe that Professor Lindzen is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly, as in: the quality and state of being true. In other words his representations of climate science are by definition dis-honest, simply because they do not contain nearly a high enough degree of ‘the quality and state of being true’ to pass muster, and his presentations rely on his beliefs rather than a strong evidentiary basis.

    None of this makes any sense. I mean, it can’t even be parsed. Basically, you know he is not dishonest (apparently) but want to claim he is anyway. Right?

  27. 277
    Martin Lack says:

    #258 John P. Reisman
    Thanks for the advice but, I am not sure I will get another invitation from the retired Rev Philip Foster. He seems to have been remarkably forgiving of my review of his mad book on Amazon but I do not think anyone is going to thank him for inviting me to that meeting, let alone permit him to invite me to another one!

  28. 278
    Martin Vermeer says:

    #266 John Kosowski

    > Dishonesty is a pretty severe accusation

    Yes it is, isn’t it? And one would have to be extra careful before even suggesting it, right? And make sure that any retraction of such a suggestion would be as high profile as the original suggestion, right?

    I think we agree.

  29. 279
    Craig Nazor says:

    So is Lindzen being dishonest or not? It’s an interesting question, but I don’t think that this can be resolved here to anyone’s satisfaction, without Lindzen telling us what he was thinking. So far, he has refused to show up.

    The bigger question would be is Lindzen correct in his scientific analysis? The answer to that clearly appears to be no. He did not represent the GISS data correctly; therefore his interpretation of that data is not credible. He implied that the GISS manipulated the data inappropriately. By doing that, he angered colleagues (how could he expect otherwise?). In lieu of an apology, I don’t see how anyone has cause to complain if those whom he has falsely accused fail to treat him with the respect that his defenders here seem to feel he should be accorded.

    If Lindzen keeps making these types of mistakes, and from those mistakes continues to imply scientific misconduct by others, his credibility will continue to decline, regardless of anything he has done in the past. What other outcome could possibly be expected?

    And when this type of presentation mirrors that same type of accusations against scientists that are currently being parroted endlessly, without scientific support, by politicians backed by vastly wealthy vested interests (and since, by doing this, Lindzen is repeating the same type of behavior he exhibited years ago concerning tobacco usage, with spectacularly poor results), I really don’t see how his reputation can avoid serious erosion.

  30. 280
    Martin Lack says:

    #270 Susan Anderson

    None of you can say I did not warn you. John Kosowski has wasted an entire month of my life. His is not seeking the truth, therefore he will never be satisfied when anybody gives it to him. His willful selective blindness is now, I think, plain for all to see. The only question that remains is why is he still able to contribute to this discussion forum? He is clearly incapable of taking on board any information that conflicts with his prejudice. This is self-evidently cognitive dissonance in action. Leon Festinger could have written a book about it. In fact, he did.

  31. 281
    J Bowers says:

    Alex Harvey on Mar 2012 at 1:27 AM — “I wonder how long it will be before someone recommends that Lindzen be killed – perhaps burnt at a stake.”

    Well, the first ever hint of a suggestion of such action happened here on March 2012 at 1:27 AM.

  32. 282
    Pete Best says:

    The good news is that the right are getting more and more shrill and more and more desperate in their messages to postpone action on AGW. We still have time to stop 2C (perhaps) and certainly time to avoid higher emissions but I still doubt we can do it on technology alone and need life style change and large scale effieiency gains to to mitigate CO2.

    Everythng to play for politically still and the window of opportunity is diminishing. However still time to make 2C avoidable only not much time

  33. 283

    “I wonder how long it will be before someone recommends that Lindzen be killed…”

    Never. This thread rejected the rather milder measure of spamming his inbox.

    Thus far, all such recommendations have been coming from the other side of the aisle.

  34. 284
    deconvoluter says:

    it is not surprising that he jumps to conclusions.

    That refers to first thoughts. Everybody has those, but it is what happens afterwards that distinguishes the reliable experts. It is nearly a decade since Lindzen jumped to this conclusion:

    Has he ever published this in the peer reviewed literature? I might have missed it. He certainly spends a lot of time repeating it to lay audiences in the form of ex cathedra pronouncements.

    Infuriating as these tactics are, I am against the idea of a formal condemnation by an institution. Even if he is not censored, the fossil fuelists including RL may invent an imaginary action along these lines. They would appear to welcome the idea. Victimhood is yet another diversion.

    It is always hard to settle the issue of intentionality. But it may be less important than the one of reliability and this event has thrown more light on that.

  35. 285
    OPatrick says:

    I’m not convinced that establishing whether or not Lindzen believes what he is presenting is the same as establishing whether or not he is being honest.

    If he does believe what he is putting forward then he is not being honest with himself. Is this so much more forgivable than being deliberately dishonest with others? It is not as though he hasn’t had previous similar errors pointed out to him.

  36. 286
    MARodger says:

    Craig Nazor @279
    My dictionary gives the definition of “honest” in the prevailing modern sense as “Sincere, truthful candid; that will not lie, cheat or steal.”

    So this talk of dishonesty is effective discussing whether or not Lindzen is a liar.

    The start of Lindzen’s seminar pretty much gives the answer.
    I wish to thank the Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act for the opportunity to present my views on the issue of climate change – or as it was once referred to: global warming. Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about.
    Lindzen is presenting his own view of the climate change debate. For a man who does not believe that AGW is a problem, can what he says (mistakes & selectivity included) be lying?
    Of course, a beilef such as Lindzen’s is spectacularly difficult to square with the science. So Honest Dick has to come up with some ‘unconventional’ scientific mechanisms to achieve this. As he told his audience at the seminar “The arguments on which the catastrophic [climate] claims are made are extreemly weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest
    So Honest Dick is not a liar but he is quite happy to brand as liars those who disagree with his beliefs (or at least some of them some of the time).

    In this big long thread I haven’t seen comment on why Lindzen was making pronouncements at Westminster. He had been invited by a bunch campaigning to raise enough signatures to get a debate in parliament on the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 (The group – ). Such petitions were introduced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown & the biggest petition by far back then was “We the undersigned call for the Prime Minister to resign.”
    I believe the present government are obliged to debate petitions of a certain size but if this particular petition started to look like achieving even a small change, the coalition government would likely break asunder.

  37. 287
    Alex Harvey says:

    Gavin, #275:

    It is not that I have ‘faith’ in the Lindzen/Choi paper. It is just that their challenge has gone more or less unanswered now for nearly 10 months. Given the attention the first paper received, I find this odd.

    For instance, you wrote on 8th Jan 2010:

    … [Lindzen and Choi 2009] was not a nonsense paper – that is, it didn’t have completely obvious flaws that should have been caught by peer review … Even if it now turns out that the analysis was not robust, it was not that the analysis was not worth trying, and the work being done to re-examine these questions is a useful contribution to the literature – even if the conclusion is that this approach to the analysis is flawed.

    Well, from what I can see – e.g. of the review of LC11 by reviewer #3 who Lindzen believed is V. Ramanathan – the approach to the analysis may not be flawed after all. Reviewer #3’s objections were not devastating, and Lindzen and Choi largely met that reviewer’s concerns, from what I can see, in their APJAS submission.

    Reviewer #4, who is apparently Langley’s Patrick Minnis, went further and said,

    Trying to understand the feedback of the Earth-atmosphere system to radiative forcings from observations has been going on for a long time and remains difficult. This paper continues in that vein and, as far as I am concerned, shows that observations and model calculations are different.

    After requesting that the paper discuss why Trenberth et al. 2010 obtained different results using a similar method he says, “I am glad to see that this paper was redone … I would recommend it for publication after major revisions that address the main concern above ….”

    Lately, one of the only papers to have cited LC11 is a paper by Chul E. Chung and Petri Räisänen, where Chung has co-authored a number of papers with Ramanathan. Chung and Räisänen find tentative empirical support for the Lindzen/Choi hypothesis. Otherwise, no one seems to want to discuss this paper.

    Thus, Lindzen and Choi’s key points – that (1) simple regressions between outgoing radiation and surface temperature will exaggerate climate sensitivity; and (2) that the method of Lindzen and Choi applied to models finds positive feedbacks but finds negative feedbacks when applied to observations.

    This is surely a critical issue that needs to be resolved. I note in the AR5 ZOD the solution was to ignore the LC11 paper. I don’t see how pretending the paper doesn’t exist is a satisfactory solution.

    As far as your suggestions to convince myself that Lindzen/Choi are wrong, I am afraid I do not understand what you mean and, in any case, wouldn’t such a demonstration be useful to others?

    [Response: L&C2011 is deservedly obscure. That you don’t understand why is unfortunate, but I do urge you to think more about it. Statistical models gain credibility in their verification in situations where the answer is known (but where that information is not used in the construction of the model). L&C provide results for their method using the CMIP3 models (which have known sensitivities). Their results (table 4) are negatively and insignificantly correlated with the correct answers and their error bars are pretty much floor to ceiling. Why anyone would think this is therefore a suitable method for deciding climate sensitivity in the real world is beyond me. I remain amused that the self-appointed defenders of statistical faith in the blogosphere have not examined this. – gavin]

  38. 288
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alex Harvey,
    The issue that bothers me–and which I’ve stressed repeatedly here–is not Lindzen’s dissent from the consensus, nor his self-delusion. Rather, it is is repeated use for lay audiences of arguments that he knows full well are pure unadulterated bullshit and advanced merely to score points with a denialist audience.

    To claim that warming on Jupiter (for which there is scant evidence, by the way) in any way casts doubt on the greenhouse nature of warming here on Earth is utterly absurd. For one thing most of the energy driving climate on Jupiter is generated internally! The Sun provides only a fraction of the energy it would at Earth’s orbit. Lindzen must know this–and yet he uses it in front of a lay audience, never in front of a scientific audience, where it would be dismissed as the risible farce that it is.

    This is at the very least disingenuous if not utterly dishonest, and he has been guilty of such lapses too often to attribute them to mere rhetorical enthusiasm. In terms of science, Lindzen is off the reservation.

  39. 289
    Lotharsson says:

    Lindzen is not intentionally misrepresenting anything.

    Didn’t you get zinged on that Deltoid thread for repeatedly making assertions that presume your ability to mind-read?

    …but that such corrections should always be in the ‘needed’ direction is exceedingly unlikely.

    And that implication right there is clearly false, as anyone who takes five minutes to look at the data can ascertain. I bet you can find a refutation on a blog in under 60 seconds via that fancy new lookup thingamajig the kids call, what is it, Teh Googel?

    Lindzen certainly has the skills to do so. It is very difficult to escape the conclusion that he is either intentionally misleading a.k.a. dishonest under any definition of the word – or so severely incompetent that he fails at basic fact checking.

    Which do you think it is?

  40. 290
    GSW says:


    “To claim that warming on Jupiter (for which there is scant evidence, by the way)”

    I don’t think Lindzen uses that argument. Do you have a reference for Lindzen having said that?

  41. 291
    Tom Curtis says:

    Alex Harvey, whether Lindzen has deliberately said things he knew not to be true, or whether he has just negligently said things which are not true, ie, said things which are not true having taken no reasonable measures to check on the accuracy of his claims, is a matter of moral indifference IMO. In either case, he has not regard for truthfulness.

    Consequently we do not need to vex ourselves over his particular state of mind when he said that there is no such thing as settled science (thereby declaring by implication that geocentrism is still an open possibility in science); or when he said GISS was doctoring their temperature index; or when he presented a graph showing a lack of correlation between temperature and CO2 concentrations that would have required a climate sensitivity of 8 plus to show a correlation due to the shortness of the interval; or when he said it is still an open question in science as to whether the rise in CO2 concentration in the 20th century was anthropogenic (response to the first question in the Q&A session). In each instance a modicum of fact checking would have shown his claims to be false. That he does not bother with even that modicum means that the effort he is prepared to make to ensure his claims are true is zero!

    Another way of saying that is, he is dishonest.

  42. 292
    Hank Roberts says:

    For GWS, here’s Lindzen on Jupiter
    (hint: the Search box is often helpful)

    He’s addressing Gavin; he says:

    “You don’t explain why there’s global warming on Mars, Jupiter,
    Triton and Pluto.”
    Fortunately someone quoted from the transcript; the links in the original post are now 404; the source was the BBC Radio 4 ‘Now Show’ (Mar 16 2007).
    You can probably find a transcript or video online if you search a bit.

  43. 293
    dbostrom says:

    Deconvoluter: Infuriating as these tactics are, I am against the idea of a formal condemnation by an institution. Even if he is not censored, the fossil fuelists including RL may invent an imaginary action along these lines. They would appear to welcome the idea. Victimhood is yet another diversion.

    If staying silent is guided by fear of what may happen, perhaps it would help to imagine what’s happened already while remaining silent. Yes, AGU might have to be brave, weather some slings and arrows, but eventually they’re going to have to address situations such as the one under discussion here or they really may as well stick strictly to publication of journals and conducting meetings, dissolve other activities such as the apparently mostly idle “ethics task force.”

    AGU is perfectly, uniquely suited to address this. Lay members of the public can’t speak to the quality of Lindzen’s communications, government certainly should not, MIT is a poor fit. AGU is the society of professionals directly concerned with Lindzen’s field and AGU explicitly refers to “excellence and integrity” of member interactions with the public as part of its guiding principles.

    The public needs guidance on this matter, desperately. If we’re believe what we’re told by such as the AGU about climate change, the few senior scientists willing for whatever reason to introduce confusion into the public square are acting squarely against the public interest.

    Supposing you were a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and one of your colleagues– also a member of ASCE– was often found testifying to the public that bridges are seriously overbuilt, that the dead load of most bridges was guided by contractor financial interests rather than safety requirements. Worse, imagine that policymakers began adapting codes for bridge construction to fit the imaginary situation presented by the “misrepresentations.”

    Would you expect ASCE to offer the public some guidance on this?

  44. 294

    #276 Alex Harvey

    Wrong. I am not dissembling, I am doing my best to be precise. Based on the definitions of the words I have been using and yes, by parsing the definition of dishonest, as I am not accusing him of being fraudulent, the evidence is reasonably clear that he is being dishonest in that his arguments regarding climate science are not ‘free of untruthfulness’ or have sufficient quantities of ‘the quality or state of being true ‘ when weighed in relevant context.

    If Lindzen and I ended up in court it would be relatively simple to show how his arguments are wrong, and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. None of the denialists really want to end up in court on this issue though, because they will lose; and thus endeth their parade. Monckton, Coleman, Heartland Institute, Singer, have threatened directly or by inference that they might take people to court, but as Singer learned in the Justin Lancaster case,

    that’s not a good idea, because global warming wins when it goes to court. And now such a case would be very high profile, so no SLAPP suit would be able to prevent the truth from coming out.

    And I hate it when children use such boorish argument style such as: You know I’m right. Right?

    Well, since you are apparently intent on making a childish argument and playing games, let’s take it down to your level and play in the sandbox, or mud if you prefer:

    “…it can’t even be parsed.”

    I realize some try to be ironic. I’m guessing you are trying to be moronic? Right?

    You do understand English. Right?

    English is your second language? Right?

    You are one of those pseudo-intellectual know-it-alls with an education that actually ‘think’ they know ‘everything’ because they went to school, thus based on ones own confirmation bias feels no need to base ones views on relevant facts but rather personal reality; nor do you have need to parse for context due to your intellectual superiority? Right?

    See how irritating that is.

    parse |pärs|
    verb [ trans. ]
    analyze (a sentence) into its parts and describe their syntactic roles.
    • Computing analyze (a string or text) into logical syntactic components, typically in order to test conformability to a logical grammar.
    • examine or analyze minutely : he has always been quick to parse his own problems in public.

    Of course anyone can parse definitions for connotative value while giving due consideration to syntax… well maybe not you. Right?

    What I did in my posts on this matter above was… er, um… oh yeah, parsing.

    To quote Susan Anderson in #270 “If you are unable to see that, you need to go back to school and learn to read plain English.” Right?

    Oh and to reiterate, yes, I’m saying Professor Lindzen is being dishonest about the climate science (as per definition), intentionally or not does not matter, in that the simple fact is that he is not being honest, by definition, in that his words on this matter do not contain sufficient quantities of the ‘quality or state of being true’ when weighed in the context of the relevant science and economics.

    And let me reiterate and accentuate that last ‘point’ of the previous sentence: PERIOD

    In English one may parse definitions in discourse with consideration of syntax, and no I’m not saying he is committing fraud. But I already explained that. You were to busy with your fingers in your ears singing nah nah nah nah nah nah, to hear. Right?

    Most people in this thread are using English. You should try it sometime. Right?

    BTW, I’m always happy to be corrected, but if your going to correct me, it would help if what you were saying was actually correct. Now I don’t think I can make this any more clear. If you have further questions about what I am saying, go back to school and get some more education in language and communication (specifically English).

    You’re going to now go purchase a dictionary. Right?

    No, probably not. So here:

    honest |ˈänist|
    free of deceit and untruthfulness;

    truth |troōθ|
    noun ( pl. truths |troōðz; troōθs|)
    the quality or state of being true
    • (also the truth) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality

    true |troō|
    adjective ( truer , truest )
    1 in accordance with fact or reality
    2 accurate or exact

    truthful |ˈtroōθfəl|
    (of a person or statement) telling or expressing the truth; honest

    untruthful |ˌənˈtroōθfəl|
    saying or consisting of something that is false or incorrect

    dishonest |disˈänist|
    behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way

    Ref. Posts: #235, #255, #273

    P.S. As pointed out by Lotharsson in #289, in Lindzen’s representations of climate science he is either dishonest (as in not free of untruthfulness, or not presenting the true facts using relevant science, in context) or incompetent. Right?

    P.P.S. To prove me wrong all you have to do is prove Lindzen is representing climate science truly, honestly, correctly, factually, in context of all relevant information and with proper consideration of confidence intervals. Right?

  45. 295
    GSW says:


    Are you sure about that reference? I don’t know if you live you in the UK, but the Radio 4 “Now Show” is a comedy sketch programme. I’m unaware of gavin and richard earning extra money in their spare time as a sort of Laurel & Hardy comedy double act. Gavin is this true?


  46. 296
    dbostrom says:

    Most people think of “dishonesty” as something intentional, not inadvertent. Try this update:

    – Richard Lindzen understands the science he’s speaking of but sincerely believes the public policy outcomes of heeding that science are so negative that he must misrepresent the science so as to help avoid those policies being enacted. Acting under moral suasion he is being dishonest.

    – Richard Lindzen understands the science he’s speaking of, understands the consequent requirement to beneficially adjust public policy to take heed of this science, but for reasons we cannot know chooses to misrepresent the science. He is engaging in dishonesty for reasons apparently unconnected with moral compulsion.

    – Richard Lindzen understands the science but is consistently careless, sloppy and inattentive when it comes to making presentations of that science, hence does not consider himself to be misrepresenting science even though he is conveying inaccurate information. He is innocent of dishonesty.

    – Richard Lindzen simply does not understand the science and thus does not consider himself to be engaging in “misrepresentation” though in fact he is conveying inaccurate information. He is innocent of dishonesty.

    – The vast majority of other actors in climate science are misrepresenting science and Richard Lindzen is not. He is innocent of dishonesty.

    Which fits best?

  47. 297

    #295 dbostrom

    I concede the possibility that he is innocently being dishonest (ref. my above posts and word definitions as applied and parsed).

    So, to John Kosowski, Alex Harvey, and Richard Lindzen (if he happens to read this), which is it:

    1. Richard Lindzen doesn’t know what he is talking about on the subject of climate science with regards to the relevant science and applicable confidence intervals?


    2. Richard Lindzen is being fraudulently dishonest in his representations?

    I’m curious, which is it?

  48. 298

    addition to point 1. , with regard to the arguments he is presenting.

  49. 299
    dbostrom says:

    Would you expect ASCE to offer the public some guidance on this?

    And what would the public say about ASCE later, when bridges began collapsing and killing people because it was easier and less frightening to remain silent earlier, when an ASCE member persuasively suggested there was insufficient certainty concerning the amount of steel necessary to build a bridge, that bridge design was guided by the desire of governments to impose more taxes and people disagreeing with this were dishonest?

    We’re in the near vicinity of a defining moment concerning the broader utility of the AGU as a professional organization, its relevance to the public. Somebody up there needs to make up their minds about a course for the future.

    Hats off to Peter Gleick and his ill-conceived act; advancing discussion about how scientists should engage in civics is long overdue.

  50. 300
    SecularAnimist says:

    It appears to me that, whatever may be said about Lindzen’s “views” on climate change and whether he sincerely “believes” what he is saying about the science and cannot therefore be called “dishonest” for expressing those “views”, Lindzen’s accusation that NASA GISS has been dishonest about the data is clearly dishonest — knowingly and deliberately so.

    I don’t see how that can be disputed. And to my mind, Lindzen’s accusation that NASA GISS has deliberately “manipulated the data in a bad way” (as Gaving puts it) in order to fake an increasing temperature trend, is far more troubling than any “views” he may express about climate change as such.

    It really plays to the worst of AGW denialism, the whole cesspool of cult-like conspiracy theories claiming that major scientific organizations are not “merely” all wrong, but are perpetrating a hoax for some nefarious purpose.