I'm Annoyed

I'm supposed to be publishing a series of posts about Michael Mann. I was going to have one posted this morning, but I got distracted by dealing with nonsense from my own "side."

Some of you may have seen a recent blog post by Steven Goddard. I'll admit I had never paid attention to him before, and I knew next to nothing about his blog. I only stumbed across this post because a user (Foxgoose) shared it on Twitter, and I was curious since it mentioned John Cook (the post's name is Understanding The Kook and Nutter 97% Consensus).

The post is quite short, consisting only of five bullet points:

Make a fake poll
Use fake questions about a fake topic
Do fake statistics
Make a fake press release
Lie about everything you just did

I'm as familiar with the actions of John Cook and his associates as almost anyone else, so you can imagine my surprise when I couldn't make heads or tails of this post. I read it half a dozen times trying to figure out what it could possibly be referring to. Eventually I gave up and left this comment:

What in the world is this post going on about? As best I can tell, none of the lines are applicable to Cook et al’s work. What “fake poll”? What “fake questions” and what “fake topic”? So forth and so on. The biggest example is, what statistics did they even do that could possibly be fake? The closest Cook et al came to using statistics is they did some basic arithmetic.

Aside from being an excuse to use the work “fake” a lot in reference to their paper, I have no idea what this post is going on about.

There is some exaspperation in my comment, but it wasn't rude or mean. As such, I was floored when Steven Goddard responded:

I can’t actually rehash the last two years for you personally. Sorry.

What? What kind of blogger responds to a person expressing clear confusion about the basic points of a post by saying, "I'm not going to tell you"? I was shocked, and I decided to be blunt in telling Goddard his post was wrong. This led to me making numerous comments directly stating Goddard's post had no basis in reality, and yet, Goddard did nothing to dispute what I said. Instead, he responded like:

Blah, blah, blah. Nutter has a “97% consensus” column in the Guardian where he spews utter nonsense every week. If you you want to defend his crap, feel free.

I take it you have never read Nutter’s “97% consensus” column in the Guardian. ROFLMAO

You are lining up one straw man after another, and it is getting incredibly dull.

So I take it that you agree that Dana’s claim of 97% in the AMS 52% poll is correct.

It was fascinating to see Steven Goddard refuse to offer any clarification for his post then proceed to belittle me while making ludicrous assumptions about me (me, defending Dana Nuccitelli?). It was also fascinating to see his commenters chime in to insult me without even trying to address any argument I made (save one individual who said some nonsensical things).

But whatever, right? The abuse didn't bother me, and it's not like this is the first time I've pointed out stupidly wrong criticisms of Cook and pals. I mean, it's disturbing Mark Steyn would link to someone who posts like this, but I was going to just drop it. Then Foxgoose told me on Twitter:

I wasn't willing to take anyone's word on that, but I wanted to be fair and give the view a chance. I did some random browsing of Goddard's site, skimming posts to get a feel for it. Then one post caught my eye. The central elements that caught my eye were:

NOAA claims that their adjustments are small, peer reviewed and well documented. A total of about 0.5F, and then they go flat after 1990.
GHCN Global Gridded Data

This is bad enough, but the actual adjustments (below) are much larger than what they document – about three times larger.
Raw : ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2.5/ushcn.tavg.latest.raw.tar.gz
Final : ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2.5/ushcn.tavg.latest.FLs.52i.tar.gz NOAA hides behind peer review, when in fact they aren’t even using the adjustments which they had reviewed. The published NOAA US temperatures bear no resemblance to reality. Bottom line is that NOAA is either completely incompetent or committing fraud – or both.

That is a damning argument, and it seemed like it'd be easy to check. I figured it'd be a good place to start. I began by following the link he provided to find the figure documenting adjustments. It was at the bottom of the page, looking exactly as he showed:

Then I stopped. Not believing my eyes, I scrolled to the bottom of his post and saw his final figure:

Indeed, he did use the same figure I found in his link. I was flabbergasted. It didn't make any sense.

You see, the page he pulled his documentation from was titled, "United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) Version 1." The data links he provided clearly state v2.5.  If you check the web page for USHCN Version 2.5, it states "the version 1 datasets were discontinued" in 2007, half a decade before he wrote his post.  In fact, when I checked the history of the web page that documentation is on, I found the image has been online since 2002, half a decade before the data set he is using ever existed.

That means Steven Goddard compared decade old documentation for a data set which hasn't been used in over half a decade to a new data set which is specifically said to have been "produced using an expanded database of raw temperature values from COOP stations." And on the basis that documentation didn't match a data set which wouldn't come into existence until half a decade after the documentation was created, Goddard said the:

NOAA is either completely incompetent or committing fraud – or both.

I don't have the words to express how obscene that is. Behavior like that justifies every negative thing global warming proponents think about skeptics. It's inexcusable and incomprehensible.

It's possible this is just some fluke, and it is merely by chance I happened to look into two posts by Steven Goddard that engage in this sort of nonsense. That seems unlikely, but I won't rule it out. What I will do is say Goddard has no credibility in my eyes, and if anyone is okay with these two posts, they don't either.

On a final note, I'd like to apologize for burying the lead in this piece. I can't blame readers who tuned out before the important point of this post. All I can say is if I had started writing about Goddard's criticisms of the NOAA from the start, I'd have never been able to maintain a civil tone.


  1. Brandon, with respect, I think you're missing the point of Steve's line of argument here. Perhaps because you've only just come upon it.

    Steve has been documenting for a long time the way in which NOAA, GISS and others have been taking the raw data records from the past and adjusting them. They haven't just done it once or twice, but many times over the years. It seems fairly (no, actually completely) apparent that every single "adjustment" they apply reduces the anomalies in the distant past and increases the anomalies in the recent past. The result is a far steeper rising trend than the raw data shows.

    Of course, they always have a reason for doing this - you can't just adjust things without a cause. However, every adjustment has been upwards. The statistical probability that this would be the case is vanishingly small.

    Furthermore, just like Mann, there is no transparency in their adjustments. They don't release their code or methods - they merely give a written explanation of what they supposedly do. Consequently, nobody can accurately reproduce their Raw to Final values.

    Steve's entire point is that the old data sets don't show enough warming for their purposes, so they continually massage and adjust the data. The net result of every adjustment (not some, but all of them) is to cool the past and warm the present.

  2. Anto, it's cheeky to suggest I'm "missing the point" when nothing in your comment has any bearing on anything I said in my post. Even if everything you said in your comment were true, it wouldn't change anything I said in my post.

    I get you may wish to praise Steven Goddard, or at least promote his conclusions, but I have to ask readers to try to discuss what was actually written in this post not whatever other random things that may come to mind.

  3. You have no idea what you are talking about. The addition of COOP stations had close to zero effect on the shape of the curve. The TOBS adjustment is supposed to be identical in V2 as V1, but is twice as large.

  4. Steven Goddard, while I appreciate you coming over to my blog, I have to point out you just insulted me without addressing what I said in my post. It is unquestionable you made an issue of the documentation for USCHNv1 not fitting the results of USHCNv2.5. It is unquestionable you used this comparison to claim the NOAA isn't "even using the adjustments which they had reviewed." It is further unquestionable you used this comparison to support the idea the NOAA "is either completely incompetent or committing fraud – or both."

    Given your comments have absolutely no bearing on these issues, I cannot fathom why you made them. It seems you are merely trying to divert attention to other issues rather than address the fact you used an obviously errant comparison to justify insulting the NOAA and suggesting it is dishonest.

    Fascinatingly, the link you now offer shows a correctly described image from the same USHCNv1 page discussed in this post. Like the image discussed in this post, that one is at least a decade old. Despite the age of this image, you use it to portray the NOAA as wrong to say:

    This net effect is about the same as that of the TOB adjustments in the HCN version 1 temperature data (Hansen et al. 2001), which is to be expected since the same TOB-adjustment method is used in both versions.

    Yet the reality is the USHCNv2 data set you refer to came into existence at least five years after that image was created. The NOAA was comparing TOB-adjustments in the USHCNv2 data set to the USHCNv1 data set five or more years after that image was created. That makes your comparison inappropriate. If one looks at the TOB adjustments, it's clear they level off in the final periods of records. As such, when you say:

    In V1, TOBS goes flat after 1990, but in V2 it rises exponentially.

    The correct response is, "Duh." We'd expect adding more data would cause the period of flattening out to shift. Had you shown USHCNv1 data from 2007 when USHCNv2 came online, rather than from 2002 or earlier, it's likely you wouldn't have been able to make this claim.

    In any event, if you wish to keep posting here, I suggest you try to respond to the things said in this post. You're welcome to also discuss my response to your comments, but as a moderation policy, when a person on this blog is told they're wrong on factual matters, they must address that criticism.

  5. Steven Goddard, I specifically informed you of my moderation policy, and you immediately proceed to flout it. If you violate it again, I'll enforce that moderation policy.

    As for your comment, you've once again ignored substantial criticisms of you in favor of insulting me. That's both pathetic and pointless. All you're doing is proving my point for me.

    I encourage you to try engaging in actual conversation.

  6. Brandon, you are waxing increasingly incoherent. History is being rewritten, and SG is documenting the changes, and noting the absence of either explanation or detailed accounting of them. Old graphs are evidence of previous data sets, now altered. Get it?

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