2011-03-21 18:43:52Richard Muller appoints himself 'hide the decline' expert without actually reading the email
John Cook

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http://www.skepticalscience.com/Richard-Muller-appoints-himself-decline-expert-without-reading-email.html

Richard Muller appoints himself 'hide the decline' expert without actually reading the email

The most cited "Climategate" email is one from Phil Jones discussing a graph he produced for a WMO report, where he discusses "Mike's trick" and "hide the decline". A number of misconceptions have arisen concerning this email. Unfortunately one of the leading producers of misinformation at the moment is Professor Richard Muller from Berkeley. Muller's main error is confusing a number of separate issues, blurring them into a single "hide the decline" technique. Muller commits this error in a public lecture (emphasis added):

"A quote came out of the emails, these leaked emails, that said "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". That's the words, "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". Mike is Michael Mann, said "hey, trick just means mathematical trick. That's all." My response is I'm not worried about the word trick. I'm worried about the decline."

Muller uses the phrase "Mike's nature trick to hide the decline" as if its Phil Jones's actual words. In a lecture recorded last weekend at Berkeley, Muller continues to expound on how Michael Mann's trick was used to hide the decline (emphasis added):

"What they said is "how can we hide the decline?" And the suggestion came back from Phil Jones at the UK, "Let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". Mike's trick consisted of erasing that data, calling it unreliable, and then substituting the temperature data from thereon."

However, the original text from Phil Jone's email indicates otherwise:

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."

It's clear that "Mike's Nature trick" is quite separate to Keith Briffa's "hide the decline". Somehow Muller has cherry picked different sections of Phil Jone's emails and morphed them into a single phrase, "Mike's nature trick to hide the decline". This is particularly ironic as Muller decries the use of cherry picking throughout his lectures.

What is "Mike's Nature trick"?

This refers to a technique (in other words, "trick of the trade") used in a paper published in the journal Nature by lead author Michael Mann (Mann et al 1998). The "trick" is the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales.

Mann's 1998 paper in Nature plotted temperature back to 1400 AD. The temperature reconstruction was extended back to 1000 AD and published in Mann et al 1999 which was reproduced in the IPCC Third Assessment Report, shown below:

Hockey Stick

Figure 3: Northern Hemisphere mean temperature anomaly in °C (Mann et al 1999).

There is nothing secret about "Mike's trick". Both the instrumental (red) and reconstructed temperature (blue) are clearly labelled in Mann's 1998 Nature article, the follow-up Mann et al 1999 and the IPCC Third Assessment Report. Contrary to Muller's assertion, there is no "decline" in Mann's reconstructions. The source of "the decline" come from tree-ring density proxies at high latitudes (Briffa 1998). There are very few of these in Mann's proxy data and hence his reconstructions never required removal of any declining proxies.

One only has to read Phil Jone's original email to understand that Mike's trick has nothing to do with Briffa's "decline". And when one takes the time to understand Michael Mann's work in Mann et al 1998 and Mann et al 1999, it's clear that there is no "decline" in Michael Mann's work whatsoever. Ironically, at the beginning of his lecture, Muller laments:

"There's no subject I've ever worked in in which there is so much misinformation."

Sadly, due to a lack of rigour in investigating the science, Muller is further contributing to the sea of climate misinformation.

Note: in an upcoming post, we'll see how Muller continues to provide misinformation by failing to distinguish between Phil Jones and Keith Briffa over released data.

2011-03-22 03:08:44comments
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Nice post, John.  Just one comment:

"Muller uses the phrase "Mike's nature trick to hide the decline" as if its Phil Jones's actual words." => Muller specifically repeated the phrase and said "that's the words".  He's not just using the phrase as if it's Jones' words, he's specifically stating that it's Jones' words.  I'd make a stronger statement here, saying Muller is misrepresenting and even misquoting Jones.

I presume you're going to discuss the decline in an upcoming post too?  If so, it would be worth stating that at the end.

 

2011-03-22 07:06:39
nealjking

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I'm going to take on the "Devil's Advocate" position here:

Why should Muller or anyone else care whether Phil Jones got part of the idea from Mann and part from Briffa or got them both from Mann? What he's complaining about is that the tree-ring data showed a decline, that was not shown; and the data were then replaced by the thermometer data. I get the impression he would not be complaining if they had graphed both the declining tree-ring data AND the thermometer data, together on the same graph.

I don't think Jones et al. did anything wrong, but I think Muller has a valid point that this was not displayed in a way that made clear the meaning of the data. Admitting a little bit of sloppiness is better than than claiming that all the fault is in the eye of the observer: it shows a bit of humiity.

Also: From what we can tell, Muller's team is about to go live with a report that will support the consensus and dismay the deniers. If you get really heated over his complaint, WE will look like hypocrites for praising Muller's result when we like it and scorning his criticism when he comes to a different opinion than we. A little bit of detachment now will insulate us from this.

Neal

2011-03-22 07:26:02
grypo

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IMO, The best way to explain this without looking too tribal to skeptics is to ask whether it is more misrepresentitive of reality to show (or calibrate the curve with) data that is known to be wrong (according to thermometer data) or is it more misrepresentitve to show that bad data.  This is ultimately the decision that the scientists had to make.  The bad data is really only useful when looking for reasons for the divergence, or other investigations.  You will still hear things like "well, they shouldn't use any of it" or "poor chartsmenship" or "noble cause fraud".  I think Neal has a point with addressing it, but it wasn't really sloppiness.  I actually think it was the correct decision for a multi-proxy reconstruction that was the "best" guess at past temperature, especially when you look at the explanation.  That's all the "hockey-stick" really is.

2011-03-22 07:51:17
Rob Honeycutt

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98.207.62.223

I just watched the video that John links to.  Muller is atrocious.  He also says... "So how do we know tree ring data prior to 1960 is accurate?  Well, um, we don't..."  I mean, come on!  Is Muller trying to claim that there is no instrumental record prior to 1960?

He also states, "Now I have a list of people whose papers I'm no longer going to read."  Well, Muller, you obviously have never read them up to now so I'm not seeing much change there.

The guy is really awful.  I can't believe he's a scientist.  I also can't believe he's at Berkeley.  That makes him one of my neighbors.

2011-03-22 08:04:17
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.108.170

grypo,

The complaint would not be that the thermometer data were used, but that it wasn't made super-obvious that this section of the data was substituted data, and that the rest of the tree-ring data were not shown. This information was available in the paper, but from what I have read on this topic by our commentators, not explicitly spelled out on the graph. I think that could fairly be considered a graphical "misdemeanor", unless the caption or title said something like "best-guess temperature from an aggregate of various temperature proxies (including thermometer readings for later years)": awkward but honest. That would make one a bit nervous about the validity of the proxies earlier, but if that's the way proxies are, that's the way they should be described.

This may seem a bit academic, but sometimes a lot hangs on what the data points really mean. I remember an example Richard Feynman gave: He came close to predicting the violation of parity in the weak interaction theoretically, but didn't do the calculation, because previous measurements indicated that parity was conserved in particle physics. Later, when Lee & Yang published the calculation and prediction, he kicked himself; he then remembered that when he had first read the paper that experimentally "proved" that parity was conserved, he had realized that the validity of the whole argument rested on the exact value of the last data point: and the weakness is that "if the last data point were really any good, the experimentalists would have taken another one"; so really the "proof" wasn't any good. But he forgot his initial skepticism later, didn't do the calculation, and forfeited a second Nobel Prize. (Poor guy!)

2011-03-22 08:25:46
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.108.170

Rob,

- What Muller is saying is, If the tree-ring proxies are no good after 1961, how can we trust them to give accurate temperatures for periods before human beings were using thermometers? It's a very valid question. The answer lies in the whole concept of using multiple proxies and looking for some kind of correlation among them; but it's not really obvious. I believe it requires substantial justification, which is no doubt explained in paleoclimatology classes. But it's a very reasonable question to ask if you're not a specialist in paleoclimatology. dana & I had a discussion about it somewhere: and basically they still don't know why the tree-ring data fail to correlate with temperature after 1961 in higher altitudes. So if you don't know why it fails sometimes when you can check it, how can you be sure it's not failing when you can't check it?

- You say you can't believe he's a scientist. Rob, scientists are not saints, and they can be very arrogant and over-confident. By most standards, Muller is not only a scientist, he's a GOOD scientist: He won the MacArthur "genius" award a few years ago, for doing lots of interdisciplinary science with interesting results. I think his general approach is reasonable, although he tends to "shoot from the hip", and he isn't as well-informed on all aspects of the really very broad field of study called climate science, as some of us who have been obsessing about it for several years. But I believe he can be reasoned with, and he brings very valuable skills to the BEST study; which I believe will be a net positive to the debate.

2011-03-22 09:01:34
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Neal...  I guess my problem here is the obvious misinterpretations he's making.  He's chastising other scientists for not being careful about the way they present information and yet there he is inaccurately paraphrasing Phil Jones and presenting it as a direct quote.  

And for tree ring data, he completely obfuscates that there is correlation (as far as I understand it) with tree ring data and instrumental records for the time before 1961.  And he blithely castigates a large body of science by saying, "Oh, well, they don't really know." Absolutely the proxy records are not perfect. I understand that.  But to suggest that there is no basis for the reconstructions at all (my take on what he's saying) is beyond the pale, and is not even consistent within the overall context of what he's stating.

I have no doubt that he's quite brilliant. It irks me that, at least in this one lecture, he's not holding himself up to the same standard that he's holding other scientists up to.

It's going to be interesting, though, how the whole BEST study plays out.  Very interesting.

2011-03-22 09:15:03wrong is wrong
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I think it was one of the Robs (we've got so many Robs and Roberts, I tend to lose track!) who said with regards to Muller, "wrong is wrong".  It doesn't matter of Muller is going to support the consensus with BEST.  He's wrong here, so he's fair game.  In fact I think it makes us look more impartial if we're criticizing someone on "our side".

Muller is specifically calling out Mann, but Mann had almost nothing to do with "hide the decline".  If you're going to strongly criticize a scientist, say you're never going to read any of his papers, etc., you'd better damn well be right.  Muller's criticism is of the truncation of the tree ring data, and Mann had virtually nothing to do with that (other than participating in discussions regarding the best way to handle the decline in the TAR).  Muller deserves to get called out on this.

2011-03-22 09:40:25
nealjking

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91.33.108.170

Remember, we are involved in a public relations war here, not in a scientific discussion (although it may involve scientific topics, from time to time). Think about what we are attempting to accomplish, not just about what is "correct". I would guess that Muller is not perceived of as "on our side" right now, and that is partly why the final BEST results will be helpful in resolving the debate. But then we'd better accept his ideas with a certain evenness of tone, rather than jumping down his throat in one situation and praising him in the other. Not to accept wrong as right; but it seems to me that trying to build a federal case out of whether some aspect of the graphing approach was Briffa's idea vs. Mann's idea is unnecessary and really too picky. What he's complaining about is that one set of data was substituted for another set of data, without adequate call-out to the viewer; possibly because explaining that proxies don't proxy all the time would be slightly awkward. It's a valid point: They shouldn't have done that. We don't have to defend it, and I don't think we should defend it: It was a mistake, slightly worse but not different in principle from some times when I get on people's cases for graphical captions that don't explain what is being shown in SkS articles. Muller may be working himself into high dudgeon about it, but that doesn't mean that we need to work ourselves up into high dudgeon about his high dudgeon. We don't gain anything from that.

2011-03-22 10:12:21
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I agree with what Neal is saying here.  One has to be careful to keep their eyes on the goal.

I'm anxious to see what comes out from the BEST study.  There have been a lot of deniers hanging their hats on this study as being the answer to their dreams.  If it turns out to show exactly what all the other data sets show - which looks like may be the case - then that's a major score for our side.

I was just reading the BEST website and Anthony Watts is mentioned by name.  I'm sure Neal is right that Muller is a good scientist.  When good scientists start doing good science is when I think we get the same answer we've been coming up with all along.

It might be worth doing a later piece showing how good science done by skeptics (real skeptics) still turns up the same information that climate scientists have been showing all along.  Hence, the real skeptics in climate science are the climate scientists themselves.

2011-03-22 10:36:50
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Muller is wrong on many points here.  It's not just whether 'hide the decline' was Mann's or Briffa's idea.  John is going to tackle some of the other points in a later post (like on FOIA requests).

The problem here is that Muller gave a lecture with a lot of inaccurate information, which ended up on YouTube, spreading the misinformation to a wide audience.  This is what SkS does - refutes climate misinformation which has spread to a large audience.  I believe Mann specifically suggested to John that we update the 'hide the decline' rebuttal, possibly because of this YouTube video.  If we ignore Muller's misinformation just because he happens to also be working on a project whose results we like, we're not doing our job.  We can't just let misinformation slide when it's convenient for us.  Then we're no better than the 'skeptics'.

2011-03-22 10:49:28
nealjking

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Dana,

- Issue 1: Tone

- Issue 2: Substance

On tone: It's possible to correct someone or point out a problem without jumping up and down on him. I propose that we take the attitude of pointing out an error or inconsistency to a respected colleague rather than chastising him.

On substance: If the main issue is not Briffa vs. Mann, I suggest dropping that point: It looks petty.

With respect to writing something at Mann's suggestion: I have great respect for Mann as a scientist, but I think he is the worst proponent of climate science I have ever seen: Every interaction he has with the public seems to generate an explosion. It's like an elephant in a china shop. He has a positive talent for creating controversy.

2011-03-22 11:51:07
grypo

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Neal,

"I think that could fairly be considered a graphical "misdemeanor", unless the caption or title said something like "best-guess temperature from an aggregate of various temperature proxies (including thermometer readings for later years)": awkward but honest."

I've argued before on blogs that this is a communication issue in science reporting for a consensus report like the IPCC, not as much a science decision or charting mistake.  When put that way, I think reasonable people can disagree and both have good points on what was the best decision.  I think the challenge for the article here is to be able to show that the scientists were not intentionally trying to deceive, but instead trying to give the reader the most likely temperature data.   It is just as easy for me to say that making the "bad" data visilbe would be a poor decision.  On your other point about 

possibly because explaining that proxies don't proxy all the time would be slightly awkward. It's a valid point: They shouldn't have done that.

Perhaps we are talking about different things.  The IPCC AR4 was pretty clear on that issue.  From there, discussing the hockey stick image:

Briffa et al. (2001) specifically excluded the post-1960 data in their calibration against instrumental records, to avoid biasing the estimation of the earlier reconstructions (hence they are not shown in Figure 6.10), implicitly assuming that the ‘divergence’ was a uniquely recent phenomenon, as has also been argued by Cook et al. (2004a). Others, however, argue for a breakdown in the assumed linear tree growth response to continued warming, invoking a possible threshold exceedance beyond which moisture stress now limits further growth (D’Arrigo et al., 2004). If true, this would imply a similar limit on the potential to reconstruct possible warm periods in earlier times at such sites.

I'll let my above statements stay, but I may be wrong on this whole conversation-- I just went and watched the video and Muller is talking about the 1999 WMO chart.  Skeptical Science has already ceded this argument to Curry:

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) document in question was an obscure report, for which a figure was provided for its cover depicting both instrumental temperature data and reconstructed temperatures based on tree rings.  Criticisms of this figure are valid, as the methods used to create it are not discussed in the report.  However, as noted above, the report was rather obscure, so here we will focus on Curry's criticism of the much more prominent IPCC Third Assessment and Fourth Assessment Reports (TAR and AR4).

Am I wrong here?

2011-03-22 12:16:55Right
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233
You're not wrong, grypo. Muller stuffed a lot of mistakes and misinformation into that brief video. Basically he lectured on the subject before taking the time to understand it. Maybe neal has a point - I'm not really sure what the correct tone is when addressing a scientist who has wrongly dragged other scientists' names through the mud. I thought John's tone was appropriate. It's not like we're saying he's a bad scientist, so we're already doing better than Muller. Just pointing out his many errors, which have misinformed many people.
2011-03-22 12:25:59
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233
The other issue is that hide the decline is one of the most popular and misunderstood results of climate gate, so I think it's important to get all the details right.
2011-03-22 12:32:09
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.108.170

My point is: We have to fight our own battles. It is not our duty to defend the reputations of every climate scientist that crosses our path - however worthy. We need to keep our eyes on what leverages the events of the day - such as the publication of the BEST report - so as to advance public understanding of the reality of global climate change. Anything else is extra; and in this case, counterproductive. In particular, making a big deal about whether Briffa or Mann proposed doing things that Muller justifiably takes exception to is really a waste of time. We need to focus on the things that matter.

2011-03-22 22:00:01
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.182

from Romm's page:

"BREAKING UPDATE:  The head of the Berkeley team, Richard Muller, confirmed at a public talk on Saturday that they have started writing a draft report and based on their preliminary analysis, “We are seeing substantial global warming” and “None of the effects raised by the [skeptics] is going to have anything more than a marginal effect on the amount of global warming.”

2011-03-22 22:42:40The point of this post
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
121.222.20.55
The point of this post is not to defend Michael Mann. The point is to correct the flood of misinformation coming from Muller. He conflates a whole lot of issues. He morphs Mann's hockey stick with the decline, which is possibly an attempt to discredit the hockey stick, which Muller has been attacking for years. He makes some utterly false statements about the decline data being withheld until it was "leaked" (another falsehood) in Climategate, despite the fact that the data was freely available online for years. There's just so many falsehoods in his lecture, in fact, he repeats all the falsehoods in his last two lectures.

An ideal result would be if we could get Muller to stop repeating his falsehoods in future public talks and interviews. That said, I'll have another look at the tone of the post tomorrow. I may even email him the post after I publish it... Or would it be worthwhile toning down the belligerence then emailing him before posting it for his view? Probably not, I confess I don't trust muller so hard to see good coming from it.

Don't count your chickens re BEST. Muller is not on our side or the skeptics' side. Muller is on Muller's side. He is attempting to position himself as an honest broker, a guy in the middle, using BEST to boost his credibility and authority. But Neal, watch his lecture - there's nothing honest about the way he slanders the climate science community, ironically with cherry picking and misinformation which he so vehemently opposes.

2011-03-22 23:38:26
nealjking

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John, I think the current tone in the article is ill-advised. A big deal is made about the difference between whether Briffa had a concept of whether it was Mann; and frankly, I think the only people who care about that are Mann and Briffa, and it sounds petty to harp on it, when his main point, that one set of data were substituted for another without adequate call-out on the graph, is valid.

If your goal is to get him to tell the story a different way, I think a direct correspondence would make more sense than a posted challenge.

I'm not placing trust in Muller's honesty, I'm placing my trust in Muller's ego: He is going to produce a study that no one can poke a hole in, because he wants to be a winner. And he knows how to be a winner: He's been involved in high-profile science for decades, and he knows how the game is played. We are much better off trying to engage him rather than antagonizing him unnecessarily. Some battles are not worth fighting.

And if you're getting inspiration from Mann on this endeavor: Let me give you an analogy. A very good friend of mine (I'll call him "Mr. FD"), very sophisticated and intelligent about technical matters, philosophy, literature, culture, languages, etc., nonetheless is an absolute disaster at financial planning. Every single financial move he's made has been exactly the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. Sometimes they seemed to me to be wrong at the time, sometimes not; but they've uniformly turned out wrong. I have thought about creating a financial strategy based solely on tracking what FD is doing, and doing the exact opposite.

In my view, Mann is the Mr. FD of public relations for climate science.

 

2011-03-23 01:31:49
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

I agree in part with Neal.  He makes many valid points, chief of which is Muller's ego.  It seems obvious that ego is a driving, defining characteristic of Muller's career.  The BEST study establishing "once-and-for-all" global warmings' existence and "ending the controversy" and therefore propping Muller's name up on a pedestal is an opportunity surely near to his mind.

That being said, I see the need for a call for redress of Muller's claims made in the video, if it can be made deftly and adroitly enough.  If it can take a correcting-without-admonishing tone then it should go over ok.  Point out the errors without judgement.  Something which doesn't paint him into a corner, which gives him a PR way forward, which allows him to say, "Thanks, Skeptical Science.  My earlier comments could have indeed been framed in another way; the context which you kindly provide is a definite improvement."  And then both sides let the matter drop.  No recriminations.

We point out an issue, he acknowledges it for posterity, everyone lets it go.

My 2.4 cents (inflation).

2011-03-23 02:26:46
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

You know, posting something tough on Muller right now might be a bit like getting excited and swinging before the pitch.  From everything I gather the BEST results are going to get a lot of play in the media.  Let's step back for a moment, collect data, video, quotes, etc... then when the results come out publish an article then, when the ball comes across the plate.  (Sorry for the US centric analogy.)

I just got an email from Peter Sinclair about this.  Let's circle up with him too.  I think Dana, John and Mike Mann are all right.  Muller is using the worst kind of rhetoric.  But let's make something stick.  He might be one of the "big boys" as Neal suggests but the bigger they are...

My suggestion here is just to make this count.  Don't get giddy and shoot from the hip.  Take careful aim and make it really hit the mark.

2011-03-23 02:48:55
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.182

Two points:

- Muller as one of the "big boys": I am not a respecter of persons; and if I were, I have anyway known scientists far greater than Muller. But Muller knows how to play science in the big leagues, he knows how to play to the press, and O'Reilly, etc. He is much better connected than we are.

- I think Rob's suggestion to hold fire until the BEST results come out is a good one. In fact, depending on the exact wording of the results, you might want to prepare different versions appropriate to the different cases. Then, as soon as it's out, choose one and ship it.

There is a saying of Emerson: "If you shoot at a king, you must kill him."

2011-03-23 04:03:18
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I would equate "big boys" to mean "high profile."  

2011-03-23 05:54:24BEST
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

That ROMM thread Neal linked to is interesting.  If Muller's project was meant to be something new and non-partisan, having Koch money (as well as other think tanks), Watts, Mosher, Curry, Webster and who knows who else involved certainly doesn't give me any confidence.  What if those preliminary results are wrong?  What if it does show something amisswith the temperature record?  How can Muller actually present that with a straight face now?

 

OTOH, I imagine they are going to use this to make themselves look like the reasonable group and pit themselves against the real "alarmist" experts.  Keep notes.

2011-03-23 06:18:22
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.218.233

This is all very boring stuff to me, but given it's high public profile I don't see a problem with addressing the issue.

Suggestions:

-Maybe the post could adopt a more neutral tone?.

-First mention of climategate - link to rebuttals/posts.

-In summarising, cite Mann's later study showing the trend is essentially the same without tree ring data (Mann 2008). Not the thrust of your post I know, but important for any "noobie" that reads this to understand this isn't some arse covering exercise.

-Lose the last sentence on the upcoming post. 

 

 

2011-03-23 10:36:54
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Just watched the entire Muller lecture that that 4 min video comes from.  He's an interesting character.  Kind of a mixed bag.  He says a lot of good stuff but, Neal's right, he shoots from the hip on a lot of things.

Definitely worth watching the whole thing to get a full sense on where he's coming from.

2011-03-23 12:06:11
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.182

grypo,

If you haven't done so already, I recommend seeing the whole talk: as Rob indicated, you get a different impression than from excerpts. There's a lot of things he doesn't know and he guesses about, but there are some things he knows really well. He's kind of arrogant in assuming that the things he knows about outweigh the things he doesn't - but that kind of attitude is exactly what physicists are famous for having!

He got funding from Koch; but he also got funding from Microsoft, who are represented by the climatologist who sent the note, and from the US government. He's not going to want to make himself look like a tool: he'll want to get the best numbers he can.

2011-03-23 12:19:44
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

I did and I agree with you totally about Muller.  This is why he may have to walk back some of his rhetoric -- and the weekend talk may be the start.  Otherwise, he runs the risk of looking completely unreasonable by getting too mixed up with the WUWT crowd that appears to be neck deep in the BEST projct.  There's no way he would let that happen.  But I think he let this project get out of his control (and by that I mean the public relations part of it).  Check the next thread by Romm.  Joe's making some good points here about Muller's talk and Caldeira's email.  Why would they make such statements based on 2% data from Japan, as Watts and Mosher are claiming?  And are they merely in it to report an increase in the unceratinty?  That would be their MO.  I'm only speculating here as this kind of drama is interesting to watch play out.  Do you think Joe's correct in his assessment?

 

We should move this talk to the other thread - 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/thread.php?t=1089&r=12

 

I'm saying things 2X and confusing myself.

2011-03-23 12:41:08
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.182

Sorry, but I think Romm has gone totally nonlinear and is shooting in all directions at once.

He somehow is blaming Muller for garbage that Watts and Mosher are throwing out. Why?

I think he's just paranoid.

It seems to me that most likely Muller had pulled the WUWTers into the mix to give them confidence in the results, so they'd be more willing to acquiesce in the final numbers. Romm is screaming about "transparency", as if the presence of WUWTers would somehow magically change the numbers; or scramble the algorithms. What does he think, that Muller's not going to document the algorithms? Even if Watts gets to suggest something, if it's clearly documented, who cares?

Romm has seemed to hold an animus against Muller from the beginning of the BEST, or before. If the BEST results end up supporting the consensus (as I believe they will), but WUWT and the denialsphere still refuse to accept the numbers, I'll attribute it to Romm's dog-in-the-manger fanaticism: He's so convinced they're out to poison the well that he'll pour in the poison himself just to make sure they're convicted.

I do not think Romm's attack-dog approach is helping us in the climate wars.

2011-03-23 12:57:49
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I've read Watts' account of things and Romm's account of things, which is really just Caldeira's account.  

Caldeira says he's read the draft.  Watts says there is no draft.  

Caldeira got a chunk of the funding for the BEST study.  Watts gave them his surface station data.

Hmmmm....  My sense is, even though this is supposed to be an open study, there is a lot that Watts is not privy to that Caldeira is.

I think all the hand waving about 2% is just that.  Muller and Caldeira are smart enough to not make statements about things that they can't later be substantiated.

2011-03-23 13:12:32
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.182

My predictions:

- BEST will confirm the consensus expectation; but

- WUWT may take the door that Romm has kicked open, and claim that the objectivity has been ruined, and refuse to accept the results.

- It may be another two years before the temperature issue is put to rest.

 

If things work out as I fear above, Romm will get my vote as worst climate-communicator in the world, toppling Mann.

2011-03-24 02:48:19
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

You know, you can kind of see why they wanted to leak some initial information about this study.  The proverbial sh** hit the fan!  

I bet they dribble out more bits before the complete release of the data.

I have to agree with Neal (again).  Romm is handling this in probably the worst way possible.  Watts just sets him off, and vice versa.  If he would hold back just a little I think the whole process would be more effective.

Romm is trying to be Mike Tyson when what's called for is a bit of Mohammad Ali.  

2011-03-24 04:15:56Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
134.153.163.105

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/23/not-whether-but-how-to-do-the-math/

Theyre already *discussing* BESTs methods.

2011-03-24 07:35:22
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.43.207

Robert,

Yes, and that is good: As I indicated by my story, input => buy-in. Interest => buy-in.

And if, as expected, BEST ends up with very conventional numbers, they'll be on the hook.

That's why I consider Romm to be acting like a jerk: at one point, he questions whether they'll accept the results, and the next moment, he nags them by saying, "Oh, NOW you admit that warming is going on!" He doesn't get it: The important thing is that they admit that GW is happening, NOT that they admit that they were wrong. But he wants them to grovel in the dirt. "Earth to Romm: It's not going to happen."

What is needed is a face-saving way out of this argument for them. Muller, for all his self-agrandization, is providing it: He provides a process that they can provide some input to, that is clear & transparent (according to plan, anyway), and which seems to be doomed to give conventional results. The general tone is that the skeptics will buy off on it. And now Romm wants to use this occasion to get back at Muller and dump on the skeptics. Brilliant. Sounds like the traditional recipe for peace in Israel/Palestine: Build more settlements & bomb more buses: That'll lern 'em.

2011-03-24 08:04:12Agreement
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

"What is needed is a face-saving way out of this argument for them."

Complete, nail-on-the-head agreement.  Being right is important only if the "debate" ends and the wrangling of "Ok, what should we do about it?" begins.  ASAP.  Ours is a ship that can only be sailed in the right direction if the whole crew is acting cohesively.  Divisive invective merely brings the bad stuff closer in time (think Titanic & iceberg).

A "scorched-Earth" policy achieves just that: a scorched Earth.  And us included.  Cruise fail.

2011-03-25 08:27:33Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
134.153.163.105

Problem with respect to hide the decline...

http://climateaudit.org/2011/03/23/13321/

According to Steve Mc they hide the decline in other periods too...

I dunno about his methods but if true this is something I would call selective data processing. Hard to believe steve mc though

2011-03-25 09:01:54McIntyre
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Discussing the McIntyre post here