The world is insane. I came to that conclusion years ago, but it hasn't stopped me from being constantly surprised by the things I see. For instance, I've recently started reading a new book by Mark Steyn named A Disgrace to the Profession. It has 120 two page sections, each devoted to showing how a scientist expressed disagreement with Michael Mann or his work.
There are some other framing pages as well, but those 120 section are the meat of the book. Mann has filed a lawsuit against Steyn, and the idea is to portray those 120 scientists as supporting Steyn. I suspect that's not an accurate portrayal for a number of them, and I've discussed that in a recent thread where I've been writing my thoughts on the book as I read through it in a sort of "live review."
But even if these people would support Steyn, there's always the question of, "Why should we listen to what they have to say?" Steyn presents them as being 120 scientists with all sorts of impressive credentials, but does that mean we should just trust their opinions? Or do we just care about the number of them, regardless of what their opinions might be? Or is it maybe that we do care about their opinions, trusting that those opinions are right, because after all, Steyn would never quote people who are obviously crackpots and lunatics?
I hope it's not the last of those. If it is, we're all in for a world of disappointment.
The third main section Steyn's book begins on Page 11. It's all about how Steyn is supported by Professor David R Legates, PhD, whose credentials are given as:
Professor of Geography and former Director of the Center for Climate Research at the University of Delaware. Former Delaware State Climatologist, Coordinator of the Delaware Geographic Alliance and Associate Director of the Delaware Space Grant Consortum. Author of peer-reviewed papers published in The International Journal of Climatology, The Bulletin of the American Meterological Society and other journals.
It looks all impressive and whatnot. It certainly looks as impressive as the credentials given for everyone else in the book. So what if I told you Legates is a crackpot?
No, I'm not going to tell you he holds crazy beliefs that makes him the subject of ridicule amongst most scientists. I'm not going to tell you he publishes terrible papers which get him laughed out rooms on a regular basis. I'm not going to tell you anything like that. Instead, I'm just going to show you how what Steyn quotes him as saying is completely stupid and insane. Here's Steyn:
After taking control of the past – the shaft of the hockey stick – it was necessary to clarify the present – the blade – with a clear, simple message; this is the hottest year of the hottest decade of the hottest century, like, forever! Following the publication of his 2004 paper “Estimation and representation of long-term (>40 year) trends of Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature: A note of caution1” Dr Legates wrote2:
Anyone reading this might guess Legates is about to say something about "Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature." After all, Steyn explained that following a paper about estimating it, Legates wrote this piece. Steyn quotes it as saying:
Recently, my colleagues and I closely examined the "blade" of Mann's latest temperature reconstruction (Geophysical Research Letters, February 2004). According to the IPCC (2001) and many other published sources, the earth warmed only 0.6°C (1°F) during the 20th century. However, that contrasts sharply with the most recent reconstruction by Mann and Jones, which shows warming over the last century of 0.95°C (1.5°F) - a temperature rise more than 50 percent larger than the IPCC claims. Mann's warming estimate has grown substantially over the last couple of years, apparently to accommodate his continuing claim that the 1990s were the warmest decade of the last two millennia, but we found that the blade of the hockey stick could not be reproduced using either the same techniques as Mann and Jones or other common statistical techniques. Since reproducibility is a hallmark of scientific inquiry and the blade does not represent the observed climate record, it is unreliable...
A normal person might wonder why Steyn would mention a paper about estimating temperatures of the Northern Hemisphere then provide a quote talking about global temperatures. They probably wouldn't make too much of it though. They'd just read that paragraph and think, "Dang, Mann even exaggerated the amount of modern warming by 50%? He's horrible."
And if a reader was skeptical enough to do a cursory check of the claim, they might go ahead and look up the paper by Legates. Steyn provides a reference for it. I checked, and I found this image:
Its caption says:
Figure 3. The comparison of the 40-yr low-pass filtered series using wavelet transform (red curve, same as Figure 2c) with the 40-yr Hamming weights smoothed series (blue curve, same as Figure 2b) with endpoints padding recommended by the author(s) of Figure 2.21 of the IPCC TAR. Our curves (panel d) are, in turn, compared on the same time-temperature scales with smoothed series (all the red-solid curves) by (a) Mann  (Figure 1b), (b) Mann et al.  (Figure 1c), and (c) Mann and Jones  (Figure 1d). A progression is seen toward increasingly higher values at 2000 over the short 1–2 years span of publication interval.
Which would seem to support what Steyn quoted Legates as saying. There's a little peculiarity as Legates referenced the paper in his article as (Geophysical Research Letters, February 2004) but Mann and Jones 2003 in the paper he co-authored, but that's a trivial detail that doesn't really matter. What matters is:
Mann's warming estimate has grown substantially over the last couple of years, apparently to accommodate his continuing claim that the 1990s were the warmest decade of the last two millennia
And as he points out, the increase in Mann's estimate for that warming is greater than the amount of warming given by the IPCC report. So that all sounds great and fine. Except, it still doesn't address this one tiny, little problem: The Northern Hemisphere is not the entire planet.
Here is Mann and Jones 2003's results for the entire planet:
Take note of the word Globe. It's hard to miss. It's right there for the reader to see. Also, take note of the fact those aren't the results Legates and his co-authors presented. One would presume that's because Legates or one of his co-authors understood when looking at "Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature," you don't use results given for the entire Globe. You look instead look at the paper you're criticizing and see above the global results:
Are results for the Northern Hemisphere. Those results show greater warming in recent times than the global results do, but that's not remotely surprising. It's an expected result. Climate scientists have long said land will warm faster than oceans will. That means the northern hemisphere will warm faster than the southern hemisphere since it has more land. The expected result is the northern hemisphere will also warm faster than the planet as a whole.
Additionally, it's just weird to think Mann would have done anything to affect the amount of warming in recent times. Mann and his co-authors were reconstructing past temperatures. Those are the blue line in those graphs. They don't even go all the way up to the end of the 1900s. The red line, the one Mann supposedly fiddled with, is the modern instrumental record. Mann didn't create that. He just used it. He pretty much just plotted it.
But according to Legates, Mann didn't just plot it; he fiddled with it first to increase the amount of warming it showed by 50%. That's idiotic. Yeah, there may be some small differences between the total amount of warming you'll see in graphs from paper to paper. Exactly how high a line will go depends on details like how much you smooth your data and things like that, all of which involve subjective decisions. But this is what the IPCC said about the amount of warming there had been in the 1900s:
The global average surface temperature (the average of near surface air temperature over land, and sea surface temperature) has increased since 1861. Over the 20th century the increase has been 0.6 ± 0.2°C
That and the figure it provides to go along with it matches the graph Mann provides pretty well. Whether the red line in this graph:
Went as high as it did or a hair less high would make absolutely no difference to anybody except some crackpot like Professor David R Legates, PhD, decided the entire Southern Hemisphere doesn't exist, and suddenly, he's on a list with 119 other "respected scientists" telling us how horrible Michael Mann's work is.
There's a bit of humor here which would be lost on most people. One of the primary criticisms of Mann's work is his claim to reconstruct temperatures in areas nowhere near the area the data he relies on is collected in. This includes creating a "southern hemisphere" temperature reconstruction largely by using data from the northern hemisphere. It's almost as though both Mann and his critics want to pretend half the planet doesn't exist.
But I guess what really happens is they just forget about it. Shortly after Legates writes and publishes an entire paper about estimating "Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature," he... forgets the southern hemisphere exists. And immediately after writing a sentence about"Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature," Steyn just forgets that when there is a north, there is also a south.
Or maybe not. Maybe Steyn just doesn't care. Maybe Steyn is smarter than I give him credit for. Maybe he just knows it doesn't matter if the things he publishes are true or not. Maybe he realizes his talent is in writing, and lies often make for better stories than the truth.
I don't know. What I do know is if you're willing to look to crackpots and lunatics for support, it won't mean much when you find supporters.