2011-02-27 16:15:41Response to Curry's criticisms of the IPCC
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

For those who haven't seen it (we discussed this in the Author's forum), Curry did a blog post on "hide the decline".  Her usual parroting of McIntyre - really nothing new except that in the process, she called the IPCC authors "dishonest", "corrupted", and "misleading".  So of course, controversy sells, and the post had 6,000 views within a day or so, plus over 1,300 comments at this point.  I waded into the comments, and was a little surprised to find that most of Curry's commenters are the same run-of-the-mill ignorant denialists as on WUWT or any other "skeptic" blog.  With a few intelligent exceptions, like Gavin Schmidt wading into the fray.

Curry's actual criticisms were mostly unfounded, despite the very charged rhetoric she used.  But I thought they were worth examining and responding to.  John happens to be working on an update to the "hide the decline" rebuttal, and after he publishes that, the plan is to follow up with a response to Curry's very specific charges levied at the IPCC.

It's our first post aimed at Curry, so the idea is not to be too critical of her (though when she makes such inflammatory and unjustified accusations, it's hard not to be).  So I'll probably have to change the title ("Curry's Decline").  But anyway, here's the draft, let me know if you have any feedback.

2011-02-27 21:17:15
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.114

dana,

In this article you have focused on Judith Curry's predilection for trusting non-climatologists over climatologists in matters climatological: her decision to interpret a data-presentation issue as evidence of dishonesty.

I agree with this, as far as it goes.

However, the grain of truth in the critique by McIntyre is that, if we really don't know why the tree-ring proxy correlation falls apart after the 1960's, we don't really know if we can trust them before either. In that case, we should be prepared to accept a discussion of the facts on the climate on the basis of the reconstructions that do not use tree rings, as a concession to this concern. From what has been said elsewhere, there is not much difference in the results, so we establish good faith on a matter of principle (clear lack of bias) while losing nothing on the matter of global temperatures.

So if we go beyond the issue of Curry's questionable stance to the issue of "What's going on?", I think that would be a better approach.

It might in fact be wiser to take such a tack, because it could divert the direction of the discussion from what looks like a typical food fight into a focus on what people think is actually going on. I think the best way to bury Email-gate is not by re-hashing the justification for the climatologists selection of data to select, but to get people to agree on which are the right data to look at.

2011-02-27 23:48:51feedback
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
60.228.181.235
Dana, I'd post this soon in response to Curry's post before it goes stale. My decline post is at least a week away as I coordinate with Peter Sinclair and other bloggers. I have some feedback but they are stylistic comments, so feel free to take or leave them. Overall, great post!

'The "divergence problem", as recently discussed by John' -  I'd take out the reference to me and link "divergence problem" to the divergence rebuttal.

"refers to the fact that some high latitude tree rings" - are tree-rings usually hyphenated?

In the Curry excerpt, it might be helpful to bold the crucial bits. Eg - Curry's line about dishonest.

Neal, re whether the divergence means we can't trust tree rings in the past, there's a paper that examines this that is brought up in the divergence rebuttal. Basically, before 1960, tree rings correlate with temperature over the entire temperature record before 1960 and with other proxies before that. So this increases confidence that the divergence is a modern phenomenon and thus likely to be human caused.

Lastly, back to Dana, a comment on approach. Now some may disagree with me, and perhaps rightly so, but I would avoid being combative. My Dr Phil pop psychology reading of Curry is that she's not driven by ideology or denial but by a desire for celebrity and the conceit to position herself in between skeptics and warmists, the "honest broker". Thus I think she is reachable and amenable to reason (sometimes) but only if a non-partisan tone is taken.

That said, your post is not that combative. But the title, while a nice wordplay, could be a bit more neutral in tone. 

2011-02-28 04:29:23Suggestion
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.102

As far as the title, how about

Spiced Curry

A bit more neutral than Curry's Decline while still a wordplay.

2011-02-28 05:09:40
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.103

Good take on the issue, Dana.

Even though we usualy stick to the science, in this particular case I'd add in the conclusions that with this post she apparently decided to abandon her former side and burn the bridge down to ash. An accusation of dishonesty won't (and should not) pass unnoticed.

2011-02-28 05:52:43
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.114

John,

Logically, it can be justified to keep the earlier tree-ring data, based on earlier correlations.

However, from the point of view of debate, you will never get the opposite side to let that pass: "You don't know why the correlation fails, so why do you expect us to believe the correlation is always good except after the 1960's?" This argument can go on forever.

The easier thing is just to say, "OK, let's see the result if we drop out the tree rings. Oh, we STILL get exceptional global warming over the last 150 years. What's the explanation for that?" and they won't have a fallback. End of story.

You can still use the tree-ring data if the discrepancy is not the issue, because proxies cannot be expected to all track all the time. But refusing to give up an inch is locking the argument into dead-end.

2011-02-28 05:53:59
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223
I'm always surprised at how the comments section explodes on Curry's site.  1600 comments is outrageous.  
2011-02-28 06:08:14thanks guys
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Thanks for the comments everybody.  Much appreciated.

John - I agree we should get this up soon.  I can bump MM#15 back again and post this one tomorrow morning instead.  Oh wait, right now it's Monday morning in Australia.  Well we've got enough comments that once I make revisions, I can post this one.  I've seen "tree ring" both hyphenated and not.  I think it works either way.  I agree on the title...

Daniel - good suggestion.  I was actually thinking of something like "Preference for Mild Curry" to encourage her to tone down the rhetoric while keeping the word play.  Plus I actually do prefer mild curry :-)

neal - I'm going to let John tackle the details about the validity of tree ring data.

Riccardo - it's a tight line to walk in how critical we want to be of Curry.  I might throw in a link to Bart's blog in which he discussed that she claims to want to build bridges, but so far is doing more burning than building.

Rob - indeed, and sadly, about 90% of the comments are pure drivel.  Curry's blog seems to be a gathering point for just about every denialist blog reader.

2011-02-28 06:38:14
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.188.159

If you need a second course you might want to plot up some of Curry's implied sensitivity pdf's. For example, see this comment on Climate etc by SkS forum contributor rustneversleeps

Her implied sensitivity pdfs go so far beyond any reasonable scientific opinion (negative sensitivities , 5% probability and  extremely high sensitivities, >10degrees at 5% probability on her planet) that it would be hard for me to stay within the SkS moderation rules if I were to comment on this.

I'm staggered that anyone is taking her seriously at all.  "Skeptics" devote endless comments to parsing "travesty" and "hide the decline" in informal emails from climate scientists, whereas this level of drivel on a climate scientist's published blog go mostly unremarked. If one of "the team" were to imply that there's a 16.7% chance that climate sensitivities are higher than 6 degrees, there would be calls for his firing, or worse. It's pathetic.

There, I feel a little better now. 

2011-02-28 07:03:32Curry
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

I don't think we really need to take on Curry, except in a case-by-case basis if she keeps making ridiculous claims like with 'hide the decline'.  I certainly agree with you about her ridiculous statements about climate sensitivity in that post.  In fact she made a bunch of ridiculous statements in that post.  Frankly we could have a field day with it, but I don't think it's worth the effort.  Curry is just an uncertainty inflator, but she doesn't do nearly as much damage as guys like Lindzen and Spencer.  Yet.

It's interesting, if Zeke is a "lukewarmer" and Curry thinks his confidence about various climate factors is too high, what does that make Curry?  Frankly Zeke was too uncertain about sensitivity (just 66% confidence of sensitivity between 1.5 and 4.5°C when it should be at least 90% confidence), and Curry thought that was way too confident and too narrow of a range.  I agree, if we decide to do another post on Curry, this issue would be a good choice.

2011-02-28 15:26:26
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

It's interesting to look at Judy Curry's stats on Alexa compared to Skeptical Science.  Almost every post she makes gets 300 to 500 to sometimes 1000+ comments.  But the reach of her site is actually less than SkS, or close to being on par. 

2011-02-28 16:20:35loud mouths
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Interesting, Rob.  I've noticed that the same few (very ignorant and rude) deniers have posted a lot of comments by themselves.  It could just be that Curry's commenters are more vocal with more time to kill than SkS commenters.

2011-02-28 18:36:45Comments vs reach
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
60.228.181.235
Many sites that get comparable or less traffic to SkS get significantly more comments. I think it's a combination of the mandatory registration here, our strict moderation policies and the fact that the effort/reward ratio is simply not worth it for trollers - they reap far greater fruit at other websites.

This is why SkS discussion is of a high quality. And why it's so important not to feed the trolls. What trolls hate the most is being deleted - an angry reaction is food and drink to them. Let's not feed their habit.

2011-03-01 03:31:25
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I seem to remember Curry saying she was going to heavily moderate her blog.  I suppose since the WUWT crowd have glommed onto her she's ended up with more than she bargained for.

It's also interesting that even high traffic sites like Climate Progress, which is very partisan and has little to no moderation, also seems to only ever get 30-100 comments on any given post.

2011-03-01 04:14:09moderation
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

You can't blame Curry for not moderating when there are 1300+ comments, but the quality of comments (at least on hide the decline) is exceptionally poor.  Almost nobody stays on topic, and most of the commenters are rude and engage in personal attacks.  A very small percentage of the comments there would make it through SkS moderation.

With regards to comments, Curry has quantity, we have quality.

2011-03-01 05:32:16
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.202.88

More evidence, if it was ever needed, of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.