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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. 301
    Susan Anderson says:

    Deconvoluter’s point that it is not helpful to create the appearance of martyrdom, no matter how deserving the miscreant is, is worth a passing thought.

    I’ve checked, and remind people that academic institutions do not fire senior professors and professional associations do not decommission fellows for anything short of crimes in the police sense. I’m surprised how many of you don’t know this.

    I’m sorry people would like the world to be different, but there it is. Romney and Trump fire people, universities and professional bodies not so much, at least for those with seniority. It’s a mad bad dangerous world, and what an indisciplined bunch we are.

  2. 302
    dbostrom says:

    Susan, I suggest that we’re facing a novel situation here and that rigidly behaving as we’ve done in the past might no longer be sufficient.

    In any case, AGU needn’t “decommission” anybody, yet. What the organization might do is to distance itself from Richard Lindzen’s activities in the public arena, explicitly remove its imprimatur from Lindzen’s extracurricular pursuits, just as it so recently did w/Peter Gleick.

    “Dr. Richard Lindzen’s achievements as a geophysics researcher are beyond dispute, and Dr. Lindzen is of course free to express himself to the public as he wishes. However, AGU’s policy is to promote excellence and integrity in interactions of our members with the public. The public may wish to take into account that Dr. Lindzen’s communications efforts as a person seeking to shape public opinion about climate science are not in keeping with AGU’s ideals.”

    Words to that effect, more or less. Not particularly harsh.

    With hindsight, delicate and anachronistic interpretations of proper comportment might not seem as important as they do today. For instance, a costly lack of adequate flood preparations in central London because Dr. Lindzen was left perfectly free to say whatever he wished without any authoritative, sufficient high profile cautions against incorporating his thoughts into public policy might seem more important than being punctiliously careful of Dr. Lindzen’s feelings.

    Whether stronger sanctions are attractive depends on where any person places Lindzen’s activities on the scale from “Generic Angel” to “Generic Devil.” As it stands now, nothing is happening. Existence at all is sometimes a marvelous virtue; the existence of even roughly internally consistent, coherent behavior on the part of AGU with regard to Lindzen would be welcome to those of us on the outside who are watching Lindzen attempt to steer public policy in the direction what we’re told is lunacy.

    Regarding the response of professional organizations to transgressions short of criminal acts, Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s history is a very poor fit to this situation but nonetheless controverts your assertion regarding the range of possibilities.

  3. 303
    Craig Nazor says:


    Do I personally hold the opinion that Lindzen is being dishonest?

    Yes, I do.

    Will we get everyone in this discussion here to agree on this point? I seriously doubt it. Our freedom of speech here in America means that Lindzen has broken no laws, nor do I believe that he should somehow be “silenced.”

    I won’t even try to guess how he has this rationalized in his own mind.

    But I fail to see how his recent statements can do anything other than further damage his credibility among those capable of critical thinking. And I am increasingly angry at those who are trying to block decisive action to address AGCC through spurious attacks on scientists.

  4. 304
    Phil Clarke says:

    It would seem that Prof. Lindzen has done the decent thing, and apologised for his error.

  5. 305
    dbostrom says:

    It would seem that Prof. Lindzen has done the decent thing, and apologised for his error.

    Yeah, that’s been pointed out. Unfortunately it’s just the first step of many he ought to take.

  6. 306
    GSW says:

    I’ve read the apology from Lindzen.

    Howard Heyden quote from Lindzen Apology.

    “Please accept my sincere apologies for misrepresenting NASA-GISS data. I downloaded temperature data from to make a graph in 2009. About a month ago, I went to the same file to get the more recent points and was surprised to find a considerably different data set. The formatting of the data set was the same, and I did not notice that the heading said that the data referred to meteorological stations only. As a consequence, I concluded incorrectly that NASA-GISS had manipulated the data. I am making every effort to correct my error.”

    Lindzen: “It seems to me to have been an innocent error, given that the URL’s were the same…”

    Can someone from GISS comment on this? They seem to be suggesting an error was made on the GISS server side that eventually made its way thru to their analysis, is this true?

    [Response: No. This is not true. The met index has always been “Glb.Ts” and the land ocean index is “Glb.Ts+dSST” as far back as anyone can check (and the wayback machine confirms. I don’t doubt that Hayden thought he was downloading the same thing, but they did not, do not, and have never had, the same URLs. This was pointed out to lindzen and hayden. This has not so far been acknowledged by either. – gavin]

  7. 307
    dbostrom says:

    By the way, despite Lindzen’s “apology” the slide purporting to demonstrate Hansen’s data massaging is still displayed at the Telegraph, as touted by Repeal the Act, the sponsor of Monckton and Lindzen’s appearance.

    Surely an honest, sincere apology would have included taking steps to remove the slide or perhaps amend the presentation to point out the “error” and include an apology?

  8. 308
    dbostrom says:

    Watch the damage reverberate and magically grow.

    “At a public meeting in the Commons, the climate scientist Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT made a number of declarations that unsettle the claim that global warming is backed by “settled science”.

    How to explain the procession of eminent opinion leaders – some even in our own Royal Society – who advance the tenets of catastrophic global warming? “It is science in the service of politics,” he said.”

    –The Independent

    Let’s all be friends. That’s paramount.

  9. 309

    What I do think is odd is that he accused GISS of manipulating data without really verifying.

    Did he contact GISS before his presentation?

    If he had, they probably would have helped him out.

    If he didn’t, then why not?

    Was he afraid NASA would immediately initiate a coverup?

    I don’t think anyone should throw out random accusations without at least a decent level of fact checking.

    Example: I don’t accuse Lindzen of misrepresenting climate science lightly. I am familiar with his arguments and can clearly identify the fallacies in them.

    I am certainly not about censuring him. In fact I’d love to debate him directly in a public forum.

    As they say, light is a great cure for darkness.

    If I can bring one climate scientist, he could bring a back-up of his choosing. Then lets see whose argument comes out on top.

  10. 310
    dbostrom says:

    For the squeamish it’s worth noting that Richard Lindzen himself has no problem suggesting behavior modification for outfits such as the Royal Society.

    For instance, acting as a member of the “Academic Advisory Council” of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lindzen provided a foreword to GWPF’s Nullius in Verba: The Royal Society and Climate Change in which the Royal Society is severely criticized for not behaving properly concerning climate change.

    Lindzen revisits and elaborates previous offensive speculations in this foreword:

    “… regardless of the science, the answer is predetermined. Is this simply ignorance or dishonesty? My guess is that Rees and Cicerone were only mindlessly repeating a script prepared by the environmental movement.”

    There are other flings in there about other scientists, par for the course.

    What is the AGU going to say when GWPF turns its attention to the AGU? Will the AGU ask Lindzen to decide if his future lies with GWPF or the AGU? Or would that be inappropriate? Presently there’s a concerted effort to roll back energy and climate policy legislation in the UK; this smearing effort by Lindzen and others is connected with that and it remains to be seen if we’ll ever see similarly attention-getting legislation here in the US so perhaps we’ll be “lucky” and not find out.

    How’s the saying go? “You can run but you can’t hide?”

  11. 311
    Merve says:

    ““… regardless of the science, the answer is predetermined. Is this simply ignorance or dishonesty? My guess is that Rees and Cicerone were only mindlessly repeating a script prepared by the environmental movement.””

    Does he have a sense of irony? I hope that will teach him to mindlessly repeat a script prepared by the denier movement.

  12. 312
    Ray Ladbury says:


    Lindzen uses the argument in his closing remarks–carefully placing it so that it couldn’t be rebutted for the baldfaced lie that it is. Frankly, I was shocked.

  13. 313

    #310–“How’s the saying go? “You can run but you can’t hide?””

    Treading perhaps perilously close to a Godwin’s Law infraction, I must say that I’m reminded a bit of another saying–Niemoller’s famous litany of apathy, which begins: “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out…”

    I hasten to add that I’m not aware yet of anyone actually ‘coming for’ anyone in this sense. (Though Cuccinelli did ‘come with’ a sub poena.) Still, it’s well to consider what defamation of others simply for telling the truth might lead to–and what one might do about said defamation while there is still time to do something.

  14. 314
    dbostrom says:

    Ray: Lindzen uses the argument in his closing remarks

    Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

    You don’t explain why there’s global warming on Mars, Jupiter, Triton and Pluto. You don’t look at the ocean data and see, that whereas your boss Jim Hansen was saying that the heating of the ocean proved the flux that he needed for high sensitivity, that in the last year there’ve been two papers in the same journal, that point out that the original Levitus data’s wrong, that the ocean is cool, and that the new numbers would call for one-tenth the sensitivity that Hansen mentioned. If all this is so certain, why is the data changing, or is it a case when the data changes you ignore it and stick to the point.


    It can happen to you; don’t stare at the mandala.

  15. 315
    Alex Harvey says:

    Gavin, #287:

    The idea that I should satisfy myself privately that LC11 contains an obvious flaw is a bit ridiculous, I am sorry.

    [Response: So am I. You seem engaged in the issue, and presumably you have read the paper. I would indeed like to think that people like you can think critically when pointed to a real issue. – gavin]

    You are asking me to believe that the LC09 paper was so important that RealClimate needed to respond to it with three separate posts, as well as three responses in the peer reviewed literature, not to mention a response from Roy Spencer and Lubos Motl, who agreed that there were flaws. But now that Lindzen and Choi fixed all the known errors, had it reviewed by at least seven reviewers including probably V. Ramanathan, none of whom evidently spotted this error you are cryptically alluding to, you want me to accept that this is best left as an exercise for private citizens to learn about statistics. I’m sorry; I am sure this will satisfy many of your readers, but not me. That said, you do have a good point – perhaps Steve McIntyre has an equal duty to make some comment on the statistics in the paper. I will follow this up.

  16. 316

    #300 SecularAnimist

    By the way, I do believe there is a hoax being perpetrated on an unsuspecting public ;)

    And that there is a small oligarchy of scientists participating and supporting each other in continuing the hoax.

  17. 317
    Chris O'Neill says:

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

    As was pointed out to me, statute law jurisdictions can make whatever definitions they like for anything, including identity theft. Illinois has the bizarre definition that you can be in possession of someone’s name, and not have stolen their identity, but the moment you use that name to steal something of value, you have stolen their identity.

    The problem for Heartland is that no identity theft has been committed under that law until they announce whose name was used in the “identity theft”. So far they have not been forthcoming with that name as far as I’m aware.

  18. 318
    Andy says:

    That Dr. Lindzen didn’t check his conclusions first with GISS indicates to me a level of unprofessionalism. The older I get, the more cautious I become with new interesting things I come up with. Often I find they are neither new or interesting.

    More disheartening to me was Dr. Curry’s response to Lindzen’s presentation.

    Also note that Dr. Lindzen thinks the GISS temperature adjustments all go one way. Blatently untrue.

  19. 319
    dhogaza says:

    GSW, arch denier (just read his comments on the likes of deltoid), graps at straws saying:

    Can someone from GISS comment on this? They seem to be suggesting an error was made on the GISS server side that eventually made its way thru to their analysis, is this true?

    Never, never admit that your side may’ve totally screwed the pooch, eh, GSW? Obviously they MUST have been misled by GISS themselves, by some sort of nefarious misnaming of files or the like!

    (nevermind the fact that the burden is on Lindzen et al to take the time to *understand* the contents rather than whine about whether or not a filename was attached with their ignorance in mind.)

    Why don’t you just give up, admit that Lindzen screwed up, and retreat to the position that climate science violates SLOT, that CO2 isn’t well-mixed, etc?

  20. 320
    Unsettled Scientist says:


    Do you see how Lindzen has played people now? Even in his apology, he words it so you might make the conclusion that it is still GISS’s fault. His apology is a veiled attack. Forget that most people won’t follow up on his “apology”, he has made honest readers like yourself conclude that it’s the other guy’s fault. After injuring the public image of GISS, he uses his apology to make an insult (while still being wrong).

  21. 321
    Alex Harvey says:

    Gavin, #287:

    Further to my last comment I just learnt of a new paper published a few days ago that provides further support for Lindzen and Choi 2011:

    Masters, T. 2012: On the determination of the global cloud feedback from satellite measurements, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., 3, 73-90, doi:10.5194/esdd-3-73-2012

    ABSTRACT: A detailed analysis is presented in order to determine the sensitivity of the estimated short-term cloud feedback to choices of temperature datasets, sources of top-ofatmosphere (TOA) radiative flux data, and temporal averaging. It is shown that the results 5 of a previous analysis, which suggested a likely positive value for the shortterm cloud feedback, depended upon combining radiative fluxes from satellite and reanalysis data when determining the cloud radiative forcing (CRF). These results are contradicted when ÉCRF is derived from NASA’s Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) all-sky and clear-sky measurements over the same period, resulting in a likely negative feedback. The differences between the radiative flux data sources are thus explored, along with the potential problems with each method. Overall, there is little correlation between the changes in the CRF and surface temperatures on these timescales, suggesting that the net effect of clouds varies during this time period quite apart from global temperature changes. Attempts to diagnose long-term cloud feedbacks in this manner are unlikely to be robust.

    It looks like the deadline for comments on the paper closes in four days (March 16). :-)

  22. 322
    JimLarsen says:

    294 John P Reisman said, “BTW, I’m always happy to be corrected, but if your going to correct me,”

    It’d better be classic?

  23. 323
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Hank Roberts #292, others, there is a transcript of the debate “Global Warming Is Not a Crisis”, New York, March 22, 2007, here. Lindzen’s Jupiter remark is on page 75.

    Like for Ray, this was also for me the realization that Lindzen had stopped caring about the truth, or about appearing truthful.

    But — this time around he apologized (mutter, mutter :-) ), so let’s just accept and acknowledge that.

  24. 324
    dbostrom says:

    “Excellence and integrity” in action. Listen and weep.

    Lindzen w/Alan Jones. Lindzen comes in at 5:15. Particularly interesting is the segment concerning C02 & the carbon cycle beginning at 8:15.

    Lindzen w/ via Models are “ouija boards” according to Dr. Lindzen.

    Heartland speech, introduced as AGU Fellow. The whole enchilada.

  25. 325
    Mark Shapiro says:

    Consider the services that Professor Richard Lindzen provides (the roles he fills).

    1) Professor of meteorology at MIT; a life-long academic since 1960.

    2) BFF to deniers since 1989 (see how his CV changes in 1989, page 14). A creator of straw men and red herrings, caster of aspersions, seeder of doubt; a world-class goat-getter. He’s also a kidder, a joker, a comedian.

    Judging from comments here (and from the way I feel when I hear him speak), I’d say he got our goats, and how!

    So what to do? Maybe treat him like Steven Colbert treats Bill O’Reilly — with deference and praise and hosannas! The guy is just funnin’ with us, yanking our chain. Could we just play along a little? I mean, his presentation was introduced by Lord Monckton himself — this is comedy gold!

    Lindzen is teaching climate sensitivity the way Abbott and Costello teach math:
    or the way Groucho and Chico teach contracts:

    C’mon — Lindzen is just defending our right to dump CO2 into the air. It’s gonna be okay! I know that because he’s been saying so since 1989.

  26. 326
    dbostrom says:

    Prof. Lindzen explains C02 to Australia’s Alan Jones, with excellence and integrity:

    If C02 caused warming, how could human production of C02 be catastrophic, when nature produces what, 32 times as much as human beings; 97% of C02 in the world is naturally produced.

    Well, yeah, you’re, you’re addressing the issue of how can one regard something essential to life as a pollutant, and, uh, I don’t know the answer to that, it seems absurd but on the other hand you can get many people to sign on to government control of uh, dihydrogen oxide, ah because they don’t know it’s water.

    That’s it. I mean just taking the maths of it, I mean you’re, you’re an eminent scientist; is it true that the proportion of the Earth’s annual production of C02 is about 3% produced by human beings and 97% roughly produced by nature?

    Well that’s correct, that’s correct; the (talkover) argument often is presented that the natural part is in balance and our contribution is imbalancing, unbalancing the system and so that’s leading to a rise. Uh, that’s an arguably possible situation but in point of fact there’s limited evidence of that and the merest uh misunderstanding of the 97% could easily overbalance man’s contribution but to be honest that is not an issue that is known at present and I would argue it’s not even the central issue.

    So we’re talking about miniscula uh things here I mean Australia’s share if ah human beings the world over produce 3% and Australia’s share of production is say 1.5% Australia’s (talkover) pardon?

    Ah, no I mean Australia, the, uh, Australia could sink into the sea without affecting the C02 balance significantly.

    That’s it; Australia could sink into the sea without affecting the C02 balance significantly. My figures tell me we produce about 1 molecule in every 5.7 million molecules (interrupted)

    Yeah, but I mean, you know you should really get of the wagon of C02 per se; I mean you know then there’s the question of even if man did contribute it and it did contribute to warming you have massive bait and switch operation going on

    That’s of cooling.

    No, bait and switch. Is that an expression that’s common in Australia?


    Ok. What it means in the U.S. is you, uh, offer someone something or you tell them something and then you actually are peddling something else, you’re switching (interrupted)

    Right. And what’s the something else?

    So in this case what’s going on is, people are told that C02 is increasing and that’s true. They’re told the climate is changing and that’s true, it always changes. They’re told that if you add C02 that should contribute some warming and that’s true. And then they say therefore we should be greatly afraid and we must do something and uh the world is coming to an end. But there’s no connection between the trivially true statements and uh, the conclusions that are reached. And yet the conclusions that are crucial to the policy are treated as an afterthought, that once you’ve established, you know, ah, that the Earth, ah, exists then you must ah, go along with their policy. This is really rather ridiculous.

    Jones and Lindzen freak out over C02 legislation

    “Rather ridiculous.” True, that.

  27. 327
    simon abingdon says:

    #278 Martin Vermeer. “And one would have to be extra careful before even suggesting it, right? [This is about suggesting that Lindzen might be accused of dishonesty (#266 John Kosowski refers)]. And make sure that any retraction of such a suggestion would be as high profile as the original suggestion, right?”

    As far as I can see there has been no retraction here at all of the many accusations made on this blog that Lindzen was dishonest. At #323 you make a grudging acceptance that Lindzen has apologised for his mistake, “this time around he apologized (mutter, mutter)” but so far no “high profile” retraction. Where is it?

  28. 328
    Paul S says:

    #321, Alex Harvey – I think you need to reread that passage. It doesn’t say what you’re suggesting it says. Masters et al. 2012 are arguing that the determination of cloud feedback factors from observations is highly sensitive to choice of datasets and methodology. Also that correlation between cloud changes and surface temperature over the short period where observations are available is not strong enough to draw strong conclusions either way.

  29. 329
    Rob Dekker says:


    In #275 and #287, Alex Harvey is fishing for an official response to Lindzen and Choi 2011.

    Also, in the Q&A during the London meeting, the question was asked if Trenberth had responded to L&C 2011.

    Lindzen and Choi 2009 was thoroughly debunked by Trenberth, Lindzen admitted the mistakes, and the 2011 which obtains the same extremely low “climate sensitivity” conclusions, using much the same data, albeit with a new method (“lead-and-lag”).

    There was not much scientific response to the Lindzen and Choi 2011 paper, and PNAS rejected it.

    But maybe that is why the paper still seems a very important piece of evidence of “low climate sensitivity” claimed by Lindzen and his supporters.

    I looked at the “lead-and-lag” method, and it really loooks like Lindzen has made cherry-picking part of his algorithm now. His “lead-and-lag” method has a negative feedback bias, which would explain much of Lindzen’s ‘negative feedback’ claims. I posted my initial findings on several blogs. William Connolley found my analysis “interesting” and mentioned that the method reminded him of the Schwartz paper :

    Do you have any comments on Lindzen and Choi 2011, or do you know if there is any more formal analysis of Lindzen and Choi 2011 in the works ?

  30. 330
    MARodger says:

    Craig Nazor @303

    I think we are likely arguing semantics rather than substance.

    To be clear how I see it. If Lindzen makes an incorrect statement that he knows is wrong, then he is a liar. If he makes a statement that he knows others say (& evidence says) is very wrong but which he truly believes is correct, it may be that this is solely due to his stupidity, it is certainly very unscientific not to make plain he is in an extreme position, a minority position, but if he believes what he says then he is definitely being honest.

    And there’s a grey area, a very large one which those in denial will defend with less honesty, likely significantly less honesty. But in doing so, they are continuing to be honest with their beliefs.
    An instance @326 & particularly Lindzen’s second statement. He is well out of the comfort zone here but he wants to give Jones the answer he is after because Lindzen agrees with the cause.
    What should his answer have been? ‘”Well that’s not correct because it’s nearer 6% and if we’re talking net emissions it’s 220%. That’s right 220% because…”
    Instead we get “Well that’s correct, hurrump, hurrump, lie, lie hurrump.” It was a dishonest answer unless you truly believe that AGW is a non-problem which dictates that it is better, it is more honest, to talk rubbish and make the odd unfortunate less-than-factual statement (ie to lie); that is better than presenting minuscule but inconvenient truths to Jones’s audience.

  31. 331
    deconvoluter says:

    However, AGU’s policy is to promote excellence and integrity in interactions of our members with the public.

    But how can it do more to achieve that objective? Peer review filters out some of the worst departures from excellence , but it is not aimed directly at members of the public or scientists in other specialties.

    Consider what happened when the contrarians attacked Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.” They appealed to a court in the UK chaired by a non-expert judge. There ought to be a more satisfactory way of deciding whether some educational material is accurately representing the state of research.

    In exceptional circumstances, an institution might consider whether it could design a method for saying Educational lecture X,speech Y, documentary Z does (does not) correctly represent the research we have conducted in this subject. ‘Correctly represent’ would have to be defined generously enough to allow for simplification which has to used in short talks or in education.

    There is another far worse example however, an outrageous stunt, which shows what we must be careful to avoid. The UK’s Institute of Physics was apparently hi-jacked by a sub-section of an Energy Sub-group (or something very similar) who then proceeded to petition the House of Commons about the CRU at the UEA in a way which falsely hinted at malpractice, possible by its own members. Unfortunately it came to be known in some quarters as the Submission by the Institute of Physics.

  32. 332
    Martin Lack says:

    #286 MA Rodger says… “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”

    With all due respect, I am bound to say to you that have not been reading carefully enough because, from the first time I commented here, this is exactly what I have been trying to say…

    Apart from my personal intervention (at 05m28s in video) in the proceedings, the entire event was the psychological equivalent of cold air trapped in the bottom of a valley on a calm day in winter; that is to say – it was a ‘reality inversion’!

    It really is that simple; and it is simply a disgrace that a prominent climate sceintist should choose to get involved in the misdirection of public opinion – let alone repeatedly interfere in the political process in both the USA and in the UK – purely because, as James Hansen put it…

    Policy inaction is the aim of those who dispute global warming (28 October 2011)

  33. 333
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alex Harvey,
    Does it perhaps bother you that PNAS ultimately rejected L&C’11? Does that maybe indicate to you that one should view the result with a little skepticism–I mean real skepticism, not the sort of selective credulity that seems to come naturally to you.

    Or perhaps one could look at Lindzen’s use of utterly bogus arguments in front of lay audiences and wonder whether he might not advance equally bogus if less transparent arguments to his colleagues?

    Or one could even actually read to paper you linked to–which basically says you get inconsistent results depending on which dataset you use if you adopt a method like that of L&C ’11.

    Frankly, I’ve never seen a scholarly article refuting the birthers, moonlanding hoaxers or 9/11 truthers, but as these guys are all nutjobs, I don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about it.

  34. 334
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Simon, Simon, Simon, (#327), you’re a strange’un. Did they ever teach you reading between the lines? Did you miss that the only “high-profile accusation” we’re seen so far is the one by Lindzen against NASA GISS, now retracted (give or take a few grumbles)?

  35. 335
    Alex Harvey says:

    Gavin, #315:

    You write, “I would indeed like to think that people like you can think critically when pointed to a real issue”.

    That depends on what you have pointed me to, and whether it is a real issue. You refer to table 4, and say that their results are “negatively and insignificantly correlated with the correct answers and their error bars are pretty much floor to ceiling” (your emphasis).

    Having tried to understand what you are saying, and after reading the paper again, my feeling is that you have misunderstood the argument.

    Here is what I get from tables 3 & 4. Using their eqs. (6) and (7) they have estimated the feedback factors (LW, SW and total) from the AMIP models forced by observed SSTs. They then make crude estimates of the climate sensitivity, but are fully aware that for systems dominated by positive feedbacks, the estimate will be quite inaccurate. I think the main point of table 4 is the range at 99% confidence, and not the actual estimate of climate sensitivity, and it should be read in conjuction with Fig. 11. For systems with negative feedbacks, which from their analysis is the actual climate system, the range is tightly constrained.

    They write (p. 386):

    All the sensitivities in IPCC AR4 are within the 90% confidence intervals of our sensitivity estimates. The agreement does not seem notable, but this is because, for positive feedbacks, sensitivity is strongly affected by small changes in f that are associated standard errors in Table 3. Consequently, the confidence intervals include “infinity”. This is seen in Fig. 11 in the pink region. It has, in fact, been suggested by Roe and Baker (2007), that this sensitivity of the climate sensitivity to uncertainty in the feedback factor is why there has been no change in the range of climate sensitivities indicated by GCMs since the 1979 Charney Report (1979). By contrast, in the green region, which corresponds to the observed feedback factors, sensitivity is much better constrained.

    I do see the negative correlation, and don’t know what to make of it. Perhaps it would be interesting to find out what Prof. Lindzen thinks of it. It seems to be beside the point, but I am no expert.

    [Response: If one assumes a priori that the system has a low sensitivity, then using a method that might only work in such a case is simply begging the question. If the method is unreliable if the sensitivity is higher (for which plentiful evidence exists), then its result regardless of the numerical value is just not going to be useful. Imagine a watch that only told the time accurately in the morning, but in the afternoon was unreliable and could give any time. Now, imagine that the watch said 9am. What time is it? – gavin]

  36. 336

    #289, 321, 328, 329–FWIW, as this layman reads the paper–not just the abstract; the abstract doesn’t give enough context if you are not already familiar with the ‘state of play’–the take-away sentence WRT Lindzen and Choi should be the final one from the abstract:

    Attempts to diagnose long-term cloud feedbacks in this manner are unlikely to be robust.

    That may not support Dessler 2010, which is the main focus of Masters et al 2012, but nor does it support Lindzen and Choi.

    PDF pre-print here:

  37. 337
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Stoat is rather more explicit. But then, he’s Stoat. Gavin’s personal style would perhaps be a “duly noted”, ignoring the bull. The high road and all that

  38. 338
    simon abingdon says:

    #334 Martin Vermeer.

    I read between the lines perfectly well Martin. I also read what you actually said which was about being “extra careful before even suggesting” accusing Lindzen of dishonesty. (Read #278 and #266 again if you doubt me).

    You may not think publishing a libel here about Lindzen qualifies as being particularly “high profile” but some may think otherwise. To refresh memories, here are the words of just a few of those who may have libelled Dr Lindzen in this public forum:

    #1 Rachel “much more likely that it was a deliberate attempt to deceive”

    #227 Tom Curtis “Lindzen’s apology contains at least one clear falsehood”

    #234 vendicar decarian “If Lindzen’s dishonesty is allowed to fade away…”

    #254 MapleLeaf “Lindzen has not apologized for the myriad of other gross and egregious misrepresentations and falsehoods and distortions made in his talk”

    #267 Ray Ladbury “advancing arguments he himself knows to be utter bullshit.”

    #270 Susan Anderson “Dr. Lindzen’s liberties with the truth are documented in detail, over and over again”

    #273 John P Reisman “As I stated clearly, He (Prof. Lindzen) is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly”

    #274 dhogaza [“Where has he been dishonest?”] “Where he’s claimed that smoking (not just second-hand smoke, but cigarette smoking) is not a significant cause of health problems.”

    #288 Ray Ladbury “at the very least disingenuous if not utterly dishonest”

    #291 Tom Curtis “Another way of saying that is, he is dishonest.”

    #294 John P Reisman “the evidence is reasonably clear that he is being dishonest”

    #303 Craig Nazor “Do I personally hold the opinion that Lindzen is being dishonest? Yes, I do”

    #312 Ray Ladbury “Lindzen uses the argument in his closing remarks–carefully placing it so that it couldn’t be rebutted for the baldfaced lie that it is”

    #323 Martin Vermeer. “Like for Ray, this was also for me the realization that Lindzen had stopped caring about the truth, or appearing truthful.”

  39. 339
    dbostrom says:

    …the only “high-profile accusation” we’re seen so far is the one by Lindzen against NASA GISS, now retracted (give or take a few grumbles)?

    But not actually. The material for the public to read is still spread far and wide, including on the Telegraph website where it was posted after Lindzen’s most recent “misrepresentation.”

    The thing is, it’s not as though Lindzen’s London appearance was the first time he’s been engaged in reaching into vulnerable minds to squish peoples’ perceptions into an intractable mess. Go look around; Lindzen is ubiquitous in this activity.

    The Alan Jones interview (transcript of carbon cycle segment above) was broadcast pretty much to the entire east coast of Australia. For most of those listeners, that will have been the first time they heard anything about the carbon cycle at all. First mover takes the game in situations like this.

    Again, a novel situation. Can anybody think of another example of such a senior scientist carrying so much credibility speaking so wrongly to so many about such an important topic?

    Business as usual is worth reconsideration.

  40. 340
    Hank Roberts says:

    > haven’t seen


    We Won’t Be Fooled Again: Teaching Critical Thinking via Evaluation of Hoax and Historical Revisionist Websites in a Library Credit Course
    DOI: 10.1080/10691310802177226
    Stephanie M. Mathsona & Michael G. Lorenzena

    “At Central Michigan University, librarians teach multiple sections of an eight-week, one-credit research skills class to hundreds of undergraduate students each semester. While the main focus of the course is to teach students how to find, use, and properly cite library resources, librarians also address critical thinking skills by designing lessons to teach World Wide Web organization and how to analyze the information found via search engines….”

  41. 341
    dbostrom says:

    Parenthetically, it’s an error to apply here the notion of “retraction” as it applies in the matter of journal articles. Scientific publications are followed relatively closely by their target readers, retractions or admissions of error are conspicuous. That’s not the case when scientists interact with the public. Has the Telegraph corrected its coverage of Lindzen’s appearance? Would anybody notice if it did?

    As the saying goes, “don’t be such a scientist”; this is the public mind we’re speaking of, not a colloquium. Practicing “excellence and integrity” in dealings with the public may be more challenging than doing stellar research, as we see in Lindzen’s case of the failed walkback.

  42. 342
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon,
    May I ask you to be more specific in which defense you are making for Lindzen wrt his use of warming on celestial bodies other than Earth as a way of casting doubt on CO2 as a mechanism for warming here on planet Earth?

    Is you contention that:

    1)Lindzen is unaware of the profound differences in where, say, Earth and Jupiter or Triton or Pluto get the energy that drive their climates? Do you really think that Lindzen is that dumb?

    2)That you truly believe that such a contention could have any sort of validity? If so, are you really that dumb?

    Please do tell us, Simon. We’re fricking dying to know.

  43. 343
    Chris Winter says:

    Alex Harvey wrote (#236): “I must say I am surprised by the hysterical, vitriolic tone of this thread. And in takes a lot to surprise me in climate change discussions. To sane observers, it is obvious that Lindzen believes what he says, and perhaps is stubborn and sometimes misguided. That is the view shared by many of his colleagues who disagree with him. If I were Gavin or Eric I would be embarrassed by these comments from RealClimate’s readers and I suspect I would have refused to publish many of them. It’s frankly more hysterical than a typical day over at WUWT.”

    Yes, WUWT has calmed down somewhat in the past couple of years. It’s no more correct, but it’s less vitriolic. How much of that is due to self-restraint by the posters, and how much to moderation, is impossible to say. I remember the thread immediately following the passage of Waxman-Markey in the House. Vitriol to the max. If that thread is still on-line, you’ll find it’s been scrubbed pretty carefully. Sure wish I had kept a copy. (But Anthony’s fans would no doubt accuse me of making stuff up.)

    To get to the crux of the matter, if Lindzen believes what he says in these public appearances, he has abandoned competence in science. If he doesn’t believe what he says, he is a sellout. No matter how you slice it, his output in essays, op-eds and speeches has for years been persistently misleading. You can call him stubborn and misguided if you like; that doesn’t excuse him, because he keeps pushing his incorrect views into the public eye. Journalists keep treating him as a credible authority. They are misguided to do so. I believe they should stop doing so.

  44. 344
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Simon Abingdon #338, I suggest you read up on libel law in any jurisdiction (okay, forget North Korea). Are you really that dumb? (Yes, libelous too by your silly standard. Oops, again.)

  45. 345
    dbostrom says:

    Journalists keep treating him as a credible authority. They are misguided to do so. I believe they should stop doing so.

    With no guidance Lindzen’s just another distinguished MIT professor, AGU Fellow, etc. To a journalist in a hurry his CV looks pretty much the same as that of Rafel Bras, to pick another example. Why would journalists stop seeking Lindzen out when they want a minority viewpoint? Who’s going to hold up the caution flag? Amateurs kvetching on blog comments threads are not up to the job; a journalist would be crazy to decide on such a basis.

    Nothing wrong with Lindzen’s research, so MIT doesn’t figure into it. Who could be responsible? A deep mystery, though we have clues to a solution. The tricky part is keeping traditions alive while simultaneously acknowledging that priorities may make that difficult or impossible.

  46. 346
    simon abingdon says:

    #342 Ray Ladbury. Martin Vermeer (#278) agreed that “Dishonesty is a pretty severe accusation” and added that “one would have to be extra careful before even suggesting it”.

    My #338 was about nothing else.

  47. 347

    #343 Chris Winter
    re. Alex Harvey #236

    If Alex things this thread is vitriolic he should check out Moncktons speech :

    Publication date: 03/12/2009
    Publisher: The Heartland Institute

    Scroll down a bit past half way

  48. 348

    #346 simon abingdon

    Yes, simon. And did you notice how careful I was in detailing my suggestion?

  49. 349
    Lotharsson says:

    To refresh memories, here are the words of just a few of those who may have libelled Dr Lindzen in this public forum

    Claiming libel against Lindzen has occurred would require good reason to believe that the statements you cited are inaccurate. Instead you firstly weaselled your libel claim via “may have” – and secondly (at least based on my potentially inaccurate memory) don’t seem to have demonstrated on this thread to date that the statements you have cited are in fact not accurate.

    And given the amount of evidence piling up on this thread, and in any number of easily available analyses of many of Lindzen’s public statements, methinks you’ll find it quite difficult to demonstrate the inaccuracy of (many and perhaps all of) the statements you have cited (especially when read in context that you did not bother to quote).

    I also note that you’re apparently not applying the same “standards” to Lindzen’s well-documented public statements in forums with far more public import than a science blog. I reckon Lindzen supporters should probably think thrice before throwing around accusations of libel.

  50. 350
    dbostrom says:

    Darkly dramatic words from Simon but I doubt Dr. Lindzen would appreciate digging into this matter of libel. Folks would be all too likely to misinterpret his past statements, leaving an improbable win as a Pyrrhic victory. Even acting out a Monckton-esque histrionic hissy fit would invite all sorts of counterproductive public scrutiny and speculation.