A Question

I hit a snag in a post I've been wanting to upload for the last week. It turns out a small mystery I discovered in the leaked DNC e-mails is not quite as small as I had thought. I've downloaded the full collection of DNC e-mails and started running down some ideas/leads, but I don't know if I want to pursue it.

The problem I'm facing is it has been twenty years since the infamous hockey stick paper was published. I've seen a number of articles and blog posts about this (e.g. here). This has me feeling a bit nostalgic. You see, despite 20 years of coverage of the hockey stick debate, the original hockey stick still holds a number of mysteries. The chart was the biggest icon in the global warming debate, yet to this day, we still don't know how a number of things for it were done.

Think about that. The figure is arguably the most iconic image in one of the biggest debates of the last two decades, yet nobody can answer simple questions like, "How did the authors decide which data to use?" That's crazy. Ask anyone, "How did the authors decide which principal components to use?" I guarantee you, they won't know the answer. Nobody does. Some people think they know the answer, but every answer which has been offered so far can easily be proven wrong. Yet people still offer them. People say things which are demonstrably false because they simply won't examine the question. Everyone who does examine it winds up coming away bewildered.

I find that amazing. I would expect iconic work to be closely examined so people could understand it and all of its nuances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Global warming advocates have adamantly refused to give the underlying work for the paper anything more than a cursory glance. Global warming Skeptics have latched onto a number of talking points to "refute" it, but few of them have any real understanding of what the paper did.

That leads me to a question. Does the validity or lack thereof of the original hockey stick matter? If a person could demonstrate, indisputably, it was fraudulent, would it matter? Is there any discussion of the original hockey stick which could possibly change anyone's mind or behavior about anything?

If not, I don't see any point in me talking about it. I'd be better off spending my time on things like the DNC e-mails.

46 comments

  1. Nobody WILL answer your simple questions. Michael Mann (or co-authors Raymond Bradley or Malcolm Hughes) COULD be transparent about their choices and method used to analyze the data, but have refused to reveal the nuts and bolts; hence the speculations. McIntyre and McKitrick produced a reasonable critique, condemned by the authors and others, but not adequately refuted. Validity will only matter to historical analysis when the global warming movement finally is seen as a political juggernaut that used selective scientism for its purposes. Even then it probably will be a footnote as society has been moved on to another manufactured crisis.

  2. . Global warming advocates have adamantly refused to give the underlying work for the paper anything more than a cursory glance.

    What do you mean by "global warming advocate?"

  3. Gary, what I'm curious about is if anyone would care, not just whether or not "believers" would. Are there people who are undecided who might go through a detailed walkthrough of Mann's methodology if one was provided to judge for themselves? Are there people who already think Mann's work was garbage who would be interested in learning the details of what Mann did that was wrong? Are there any people who think Mann has been slandered who'd be open-minded enough to examine his methodology if a discussion of it were had? I think it'd be good to have a detailed discussion of Mann's methodology collected in a single location, but if nobody would be interested in it, why bother? I already know the material (fairly well). I've learned it by following discussions and verifying things I read for myself over the years. The question is, would there be any interest/value in me collating it.

    Joshua, a global warming advocate is a person who advocates for action to be taken on global warming, typically in trying to prevent some amount of it from happening.

  4. Brandon -

    a global warming advocate is a person who advocates for action to be taken on global warming, typically in trying to prevent some amount of it from happening.

    I think that action should be taken on global warming (with consideration of relevant uncertainties) but don't particular care much at all about the hockey stick. At this point, questions such as how the authors decided which data to use seems only marginally irrelevant to the discussion of mitigation policy, IMO. That is particularly true because I wouldn't be able to understand much at all of such a discussion anyway.

    Is that crazy?

  5. Joshua, I don't think it's crazy, but I think it shows part of why climate science is as untrusted as it is. People find tons of reasons not to care about the hockey stick even though it was once the most iconic image for the global warming movement. If the work were done well and by honest/ethical researchers, I doubt that'd be the case. I don't think a group would let the most iconic image of a movement fade into obscurity so readily if it were good.

    But even if they were willing to do so, I am certain they wouldn't be so quick to have people "move on" when criticisms of the work were raised. As it stands, practically nobody attempts to defend Mann's original hockey stick. They say things like, "Criticisms of it are nonsense since a dozen other papers got the same result," but that does nothing to address the quality of the paper (nor is it even true). In fact, since subsequent consistently use the same data, often using data Mann was criticized for using in his original hockey stick, that argument is just silly. Mann's work was criticized for giving undue weight to a small amount of data with known problems (to the point the original collector of most of it said it shouldn't be used to try to estimate temperatures in modern times). That other people using the same data get the same results is hardly surprising.

    The sad reality is there are maybe ten proxies in paleoclimate literature which give a hockey stick shape. They're just re-used over and over and over, with the results always relying on a tiny amount of data. And any time one paper gets criticized, people deflect by pointing to other papers which do the same thing. And much of this traces back to Mann's original hockey stick. The meteoric rise in stature it gave to Mann has warped the field to a large extent, ultimately creating a small, self-reinforcing clique which propagated the same errors and bad behavior for years. It is to the point dozens of data series Mann used inappropriately are still used to this day in new papers. Seriously, Graybill series whose collectors said were corrupted in modern periods by CO2 fertilization* and thus not usable for temperature reconstructions are still used in the PAGES2016 network, with no justification offered.

    For as long as the hockey stick controversy has existed, people have found many reasons not to care about any criticisms of the hockey stick. Yet, they didn't complain when it was promoted at the highest of levels, turned into the figurehead for the global warming movement. Even now, 20 years later, the only things you'll hear them say about it are positive. As long as people resort to such willful avoidance of problems, people will (rightly) distrust them. And it's not like the hockey stick is the only case where this happens. It just happens to be the biggest and most indisputable one. Or at least, indisputable to anyone who has any interest in accuracy or the truth. There will always be people who don't who can dispute anything.

    *Fun fact. To (ostensibly) address the issue of CO2 fertilization in the modern portion of his key proxy, Mann chose to modify the 1000-1400 AD portion of his hockey stick reconstruction. That's right. Mann adjusted the 1000-1400 AD portion of his temperature reconstruction to account for changes in a proxy which only started happening around 1850. The 1400-1850 period, as well as the 1850-1998 portion, was left unchanged. It is trivially easy to demonstrate this. Yet, somehow, nobody seems willing to step up and say, "Yeah, maybe we shouldn't have promoted this graph so heavily. It's far too flawed to have deserved that acclaim."

  6. When I asked about CO2 affecting past temps, Gary Funkhouser was surprisingly uninterested.

  7. MikeN, I spent some time looking into how GHG levels of the past few hundred years have been estimated. I was surprised how difficult it was to find the answers. It's such a basic question. Unfortunately, as much time and effort goes into IPCC reports, there's been far less effort to just collect basic information in an accessible manner than I'd have expected. The IPCC report fails to cover any number of questions, and even when it does cover them, it often does little more than provide references to look up to find the information.

    And don't get me started on how many times references I've tracked down don't match what the IPCC says. Yeah, the differences are often small, but sometimes the references cited don't say anything like what the IPCC says. In a couple cases, the references weren't even about the topic they were used as a reference for.

  8. Brandon -

    Joshua, I don't think it's crazy, but I think it shows part of why climate science is as untrusted as it is. People find tons of reasons not to care about the hockey stick even though it was once the most iconic image for the global warming movement.

    It was not terribly "iconic" in importance w/r/t my understanding of climate change, or for my evaluation of related policy discussions. I suspect that if you spoke to all people who advocate for action to address climate change, very many would ask you why you were talking about professional sports if you began speaking to them about the importance of hockey sticks to the issue of global warming.

    If the work were done well and by honest/ethical researchers, I doubt that'd be the case. I don't think a group would let the most iconic image of a movement fade into obscurity so readily if it were good.

    I suspect that most folks who fall into that group, and have heard about the charges that the work was done poorly by dishonest scientists: (1) don't feel that they are, and in fact aren't, skilled so as to be able to make an assessment. As such, they deal with such charges in accordance with their ideological orientation. I don't think that the manner in how the work was done would change that reality for very many people. It's easy, from inside a bubble, to misinterpret how people from outside that bubble view issues. (2) would be likely to distrust your claims about poor work and dishonesty. They would use a heuristic that often comes into play - not being able to evaluate your claims - they would discount your claims in such a way that conforms with existing biases. The end state of what they think about the veracity of importance of the hockey stick has, relatively, little to do with your claims or counterclaims. "Crazy?" It doesn't really strike me as so.

    But even if they were willing to do so, I am certain they wouldn't be so quick to have people "move on" when criticisms of the work were raised.

    Prolly so.

    As it stands, practically nobody attempts to defend Mann's original hockey stick.

    Hmmm. That isn't really what I've seen - even if at this point it comes primarily in the form of "irrespective of whether there were methodological issues in the production of the hockey stick, since it was produced there are many other analyses which reach similar conclusions.

    They say things like, "Criticisms of it are nonsense since a dozen other papers got the same result,"

    Right.

    but that does nothing to address the quality of the paper (nor is it even true). In fact, since subsequent consistently use the same data, often using data Mann was criticized for using in his original hockey stick, that argument is just silly. Mann's work was criticized for giving undue weight to a small amount of data with known problems (to the point the original collector of most of it said it shouldn't be used to try to estimate temperatures in modern times). That other people using the same data get the same results is hardly surprising.

    The point, again, is that despite your high level of interest in the issue - the vast majority of people who are in favor of mitigation policies wouldn't be interested or capable of making that evaluation. That doesn't seem crazy to me, in the least. It seems pretty much normal to me. But then again, I guess that some folks think that what's normal is also crazy (hence, the tag line of your blog?)

    The sad reality is there are maybe ten proxies in paleoclimate literature which give a hockey stick shape. They're just re-used over and over and over, with the results always relying on a tiny amount of data. And any time one paper gets criticized, people deflect by pointing to other papers which do the same thing. And much of this traces back to Mann's original hockey stick. The meteoric rise in stature it gave to Mann has warped the field to a large extent, ultimately creating a small, self-reinforcing clique which propagated the same errors and bad behavior for years. It is to the point dozens of data series Mann used inappropriately are still used to this day in new papers. Seriously, Graybill series whose collectors said were corrupted in modern periods by CO2 fertilization* and thus not usable for temperature reconstructions are still used in the PAGES2016 network, with no justification offered.

    I can't evaluate those arguments. I suppose that I could just take your word for it. Or I could just take the word of people who disagree with you on those topics. Since I'm inclined to do neither, I am left with just accepting that there is disagreement on the matter, and moving on to evaluating the policy questions in light of that disagreement.

    For as long as the hockey stick controversy has existed, people have found many reasons not to care about any criticisms of the hockey stick.

    Well, for me, it isn't that I "don't care" about the criticisms. It's just that (1) I can't evaluate the criticisms on my own and, (2) I'm not inclined to take anyone's word for it.

    Even now, 20 years later, the only things you'll hear them say about it are positive.

    Actually, that isn't what I've seen. I've seen a fair amount of comments made in the general nature of: "The methodolgy had some flaws, but they weren't as devastating as "skeptics" claim, and the relevance of that particular graph to the overall state of the science, at this point 20 years later, is relatively minor."

    As long as people resort to such willful avoidance of problems, people will (rightly) distrust them.

    I think that rather than people (rightly) distrusting other people on the basis of how they approach the hockey stick, they distrust (or trust) them on the basis of, mostly, their own ideological predispositions. And there is a lot of evidence that, IMO, supports that contention. My guess is that the number of people who formulate their opinions on these kinds of issues as a function of how other people act, is relatively minor. Instead, I think that there are more fundamental drivers - which then result in a knock on effect whereby they rationalize their views by selectively interpreting how other people act.

    I think that what you're doing there is making a simplistic argument about the cause-and-effect mechanics in how people develop distrust (or trust) relative to issues like climate change. IMO, what you're likely doing is projecting from your own views, or perhaps the dynamics of an outlier environment like the "climate-o-sphere" to portray the cause and effect of a huge, and vastly complicated phenomenon.

  9. Joshua:

    It was not terribly "iconic" in importance w/r/t my understanding of climate change, or for my evaluation of related policy discussions. I suspect that if you spoke to all people who advocate for action to address climate change, very many would ask you why you were talking about professional sports if you began speaking to them about the importance of hockey sticks to the issue of global warming.

    Regardless of its influence on your understanding of things, it is undeniable (with the normal caveats that some people can deny anything no matter the evidence) Mann's graph was the most iconic figure in the global warming movement. It was the central PR piece for years, being the headline figure of the IPCC TAR and numerous other "official" publications.

    If you want to say it wasn't important in terms of understanding the topic, that's fine. However, it was undeniably crucial in terms of advocacy. That's why Michael Mann became famous. The fact a person with basically no other accomplishment became a star almost overnight and is still such a major figure to this day speaks to how important his graph was to the global warming movement.

    I suspect that most folks who fall into that group, and have heard about the charges that the work was done poorly by dishonest scientists: (1) don't feel that they are, and in fact aren't, skilled so as to be able to make an assessment. As such, they deal with such charges in accordance with their ideological orientation. I don't think that the manner in how the work was done would change that reality for very many people. It's easy, from inside a bubble, to misinterpret how people from outside that bubble view issues. (2) would be likely to distrust your claims about poor work and dishonesty.

    Yup. But I do consider that crazy. When an entire group can continue to believe something no matter what evidence may exist, I call that crazy. I think it is crazy to exist in a state where evidence and facts cannot change your mind. Maybe you don't. As long as people understand what one another mean, I'm not sure the choice of a particular word (in this case "crazy") really matters.

    Hmmm. That isn't really what I've seen - even if at this point it comes primarily in the form of "irrespective of whether there were methodological issues in the production of the hockey stick, since it was produced there are many other analyses which reach similar conclusions.

    I had hoped the immediate follow-up to the remark you quoted would indicate I was referring to defending the work itself as opposed to the generic defense I went on to describe. Perhaps that wasn't clear.

    The point, again, is that despite your high level of interest in the issue - the vast majority of people who are in favor of mitigation policies wouldn't be interested or capable of making that evaluation. That doesn't seem crazy to me, in the least. It seems pretty much normal to me. But then again, I guess that some folks think that what's normal is also crazy (hence, the tag line of your blog?)

    The tagline for my blog stems from the observation people don't (seem to?) care if the views they hold are completely contrary to any sort of evidence or basic reasoning. The hypocrisy you described before as being omnipresent is the sort of thing I label as insane.

    I can't evaluate those arguments. I suppose that I could just take your word for it. Or I could just take the word of people who disagree with you on those topics. Since I'm inclined to do neither, I am left with just accepting that there is disagreement on the matter, and moving on to evaluating the policy questions in light of that disagreement./blockquote>

    That would put you above nearly every person I've seen comment on these sort of topics. I can't say I have a problem with it. I suspect you could see for yourself I am correct if you wanted to (and with only ~10 hours of effort), but I don't think people need to see I am right on a given issue to make a judgment about subjects which involve many issues. If they're willing to acknowledge the uncertainty and see how either answer (or a spectrum of answers) would affect the "big picture," that's fine too.

    That said, I am skeptical whenever I hear things like this. I've heard this sort of comment from people who won't truly acknowledge the disagreement, at least not in its full extent. For instance, a person who acknowledges the accusation Michael Mann's work was fraudulent might choose not to give consideration of the significance of the headline figure of the IPCC TAR, a report promoted as being peer-reviewed by thousands of scientists. As such, they may easily exhibit less skepticism of the quality/validity of such reports than they would if they truly did as they claim.

    I don't know if that'd be the case for you. What I do know is I've found numerous examples of IPCC reports containing garbage which would never withstand any real critical review. While Mann's work may be the most blatant example, the reality is the process by which the "consensus" on climate science is reached, or at least expressed, is nowhere near as reliable as people often make it out to be. I'm not sure I've seen anyone advocating for action on global warming acknowledge that even as a hypothetical.

    Actually, that isn't what I've seen. I've seen a fair amount of comments made in the general nature of: "The methodolgy had some flaws, but they weren't as devastating as "skeptics" claim, and the relevance of that particular graph to the overall state of the science, at this point 20 years later, is relatively minor."

    Perhaps I should have been more clear. When I said "positive," I meant "net positive" not that there are no criticisms at all. Despite my imprecise wording, I didn't mean to exclude things like, "This paper was great, but its text is a bit difficult to follow. The authors could have been more clear." Those sort of negative remarks aren't the kind which challenge any party line, and my point was that even now people won't challenge the party line in regard to that paper. I mean, even Mann says some negative things about the early paper.

    I think that what you're doing there is making a simplistic argument about the cause-and-effect mechanics in how people develop distrust (or trust) relative to issues like climate change. IMO, what you're likely doing is projecting from your own views, or perhaps the dynamics of an outlier environment like the "climate-o-sphere" to portray the cause and effect of a huge, and vastly complicated phenomenon.

    My view is it is crazy to exist in a state where facts and evidence don't matter for your beliefs. You've offered explanations for how it might happen, and I'm not sure I disagree with any of them, but I don't think explaining the steps people take along a path of insanity makes the path stop being insane. I'd make the same point even if I disregarded the blogosphere entirely.

    You can explain the semantic leaps used for various scenes in Alice in Wonderland, but understanding how they are created doesn't mean they represent rational thought. (Of course, Alice in Wonderland isn't about characters being rational so that's fine. This isn't a knock on Lewis Carroll.)

  10. To demonstrate the point I'm making above, the area I live in has a lot of Trump supporters. I know quite a few socially, and some are in my family. Recently, there have been a lot of stories about how a lot of people traveling in a group (often labeled a caravan) were coming to the United States to seek asylum. Applying for asylum status is a long-standing option for people trying to gain entry into the United States. In terms of fact,s there was nothing out of the ordinary about this save for the size of the group.

    Despite that, tons of Trump supporters I interact with regularly spouted rhetoric about how "illegals" are trying to "invade" our country and should be sent back to where they came from, with the idea being that if they want to come here, they should do so the "legal way." That rhetoric has no basis in reality. It is utterly without merit. It is also one many people accept unquestionably, even when confronted with simple explanations of what words mean. (Seriously, how do you think a person applying for asylum status through legal means is an "illegal"?)

    Do I understand why these people think that way? Sure. I mean, at least for some who I've talked to about it. It's a mixture of various factors. I could give names and reasons they've expressed (and perhaps some I suspect even if they weren't verbalized outright). Does the fact I can articulate the reasons those people give mean those views have some basis in reality? No. Those people are wrong. Some of them continue to find reasons to keep being wrong no matter what they are confronted with. I don't consider that to be rational. I consider it to be insane.

    Is what I observe in this case reflective of something humans do on a regular basis? Certainly. That's why I say the world is insane. This type of thing influences, if not shapes, every aspect of our world. I say that makes our world insane. I say that because I don't think irrationality becomes rationality simply because it is popular.

  11. >how do you think a person applying for asylum status through legal means is an "illegal"

    If they are not a legitimate candidate for asylum and are merely doing so to gain entry.

  12. MikeN, that is nonsense. Whether or not a person has a legitimate case when applying for something, they are always free to apply for it. Even if that weren't true, the simple fact is these people won't enter the United States except how the United States allows. If they never come into the United States except how they are allowed to by legal processes, by definition, they cannot be "illegals."

  13. They are not legitimate refugees. If the government makes a finding they would be treated like other illegals and permanently banned from entry. Technically, even if the caravan was not planning to apply for asylum they wouldn't be illegals because they haven't entered the country illegally yet. Such technicalities are irrelevant to the point. Regardless of government finding, they are essentially illegals.

  14. By illegitimate, I mean frivolous. The people applying know they are not legit refugees.

  15. Right now above post is offering me click to edit, but not the one before it. When I click, it just says loading.

  16. Gotta say MikeN, you're doing a great job of showing my point. That you might actually believe what you say is just...

    Seriously, it is dumbfounding. Apparently you believe you get to, by fiat alone, decide who does and does not have a legal case to apply for asylum status. We need no courts nor legal processes. Just ask Liken, a random guy on the internet. He knows all.

    Forget the legal process people. If you try to follow it, you're an illegal who should be derided by the leader of the free world. If you suggest the legal process should be subverted so people cannot follow it, you're awesome!

    And oh, if your family was being murdered by criminal elements which have all but taken over your region, you're clearly a liar when you say you think you might qualify for refugee status. Go back home and try coming back the legal way you stupid illegals.

  17. They could just apply at US embassy in Mexico City.
    Yes, I am making an assumption about whether they are legit.
    If you wish to say I am insane for believing they are not legit, fair enough.
    However, your statement appeared to be that people are insane for calling them illegals even assuming they are not legitimate refugees, due to the technical definition and legal processes. I think that your friend is closer to the mark in calling them illegals.

  18. Dear lord MikeN, can you not even be bothered to learn the basics about applying for asylum? People cannot apply for asylum at embassies. United States law only allows people to apply for asylum status if they are physically present in the United States.

    And yes, if you think you can know 1,000+ people are all going on a long trip to lie on their applications for asylum status just because, you are insane. There is no basis for it except xenophobia or bigotry. You might as well have just come here and thrown out racial slurs. It would have been just as infantile, but at least then you'd have refrained from making a glaring factual error.

    If you want to say, "My xenophobia and lack of knowledge of basic factual information justifies my view!" you're just going to help prove my point.

  19. At the US embassy, they would apply as a refugee.
    They could also apply to Mexico for asylum.
    Indeed, while US law is exceeding the international refugee rules in allowing them to apply, the US could require they stay in Mexico while their application is processed. This would serve the purpose of ensuring only legitimate applicants make the trip.

  20. >if your family was being murdered by criminal elements which have all but taken over your region,

    I was surprised when I heard Nigel Farage say it at the Munk Debate, but neither this nor a war would make you eligible for refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention
    "A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it..

  21. > 1,000+ people are all going on a long trip to lie on their applications for asylum status just because,

    From 2011-2016, 3/4 quarters of applicants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador lost their cases.

  22. MikeN, you say:

    At the US embassy, they would apply as a refugee.

    As I told you before, this is factually incorrect. Embassies are not legally capable of processing asylum requests. If you want to keep repeating basic factual errors even after they are corrected, that's your call. I see little reason to respond though. A person so blinded by bias they can't get basic facts right is not a person who will do anything to show I am wrong in saying their views have no basis in rationality. I mean, you go on to say:

    They could also apply to Mexico for asylum.

    Somehow ignoring the fact plenty of people in this refugee caravan did exactly that. You also manage to fail to note Mexico has prohibited hundreds of people from continuing on due to them having laws about who is allowed to attempt a process like this. On another factual issue:

    >if your family was being murdered by criminal elements which have all but taken over your region,

    I was surprised when I heard Nigel Farage say it at the Munk Debate, but neither this nor a war would make you eligible for refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention

    You make a remark which is true but misleading. What you say is true only in the strictest of senses. Many people are granted asylum under this sort of situation. It is true simply being in a violent area does not qualify you for asylum, but people in violent areas are often targeted for reasons which do qualify them. Hundreds of people from Mexico were granted asylum last year because of drug cartels. (Interestingly, Mexicans have one of the lowest acceptance rates for refugee applications.)

    Both with criminal elements and corrupt governments, one of the most common reasons for acceptance is political views. As it turns out, expressing political views which include things like freedom, a lack of corruption and basic protection from criminal elements can often get a person killed. So yes, it's not just that governments in these countries are corrupt or that criminal groups are taking control of areas. It's that those terrible things often cause things which qualify people for asylum.

    It's probably pointless to discuss things like this when you've shown no interest in actual facts, and indeed, have decided your beliefs without bothering to examine any, but here's a simple truth. If you can't the basic facts of applying for asylum correct, it would hardly be surprising if some people traveling to the United States couldn't either. That means they might travel here to apply without realizing they weren't eligible. This is something I alluded to in the part of my remark which you managed not to quote, creating the impression I said what I referred to was a basis for being accepted as a refugee when what I actually said was it was a reason a person might think they were eligible. Being mistaken would not constitute the fraud you've arbitrarily decided 1,000+ people are guilty of.

    On top of your misleading, selective quotations and factual errors, you make a final idiotic remark, which for some reason you felt the need to put in a third comment (seriously, why can't people at least try to collect their thoughts before posting?):

    > 1,000+ people are all going on a long trip to lie on their applications for asylum status just because,

    From 2011-2016, 3/4 quarters of applicants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador lost their cases.

    The fact people don't ultimately succeed in obtaining refugee status in no way implies their applications were fraudulent as you portray. Large numbers of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany (and the territory it conquered) were denied refugee status. It wasn't because they were engaged in fraud. It was because there was a strong sense of xenophobia fueled by things like a couple (non-Jewish) spies being found while vetting people who applied for refugee status.

    In fact, this remark raises a crucial question of, why are people so alarmed by this case? Caravans like this have been coming to the United States from the same areas for years. You don't hear Trump or his supporters citing the past examples as showing what to expect from this case. The reason? For many people, it's because they are lazy and don't even know about the previous cases. For others it's because they know fully well citing those past cases wouldn't support the narrative they want to paint.

  23. >Embassies are not legally capable of processing asylum requests.
    I never said they were. I said you apply to be a refugee there, though it looks like they send you to UN as the primary processing agency. Though I am confused by all these movies and shows which show people getting asylum at an embassy. What about Julian Assange?

    >Mexicans have one of the lowest acceptance rates for refugee applications.

    Not surprising. You are supposed to be rejected if you can go to a safe place elsewhere in your country.

  24. MikeN, cherry-picking parts of comments to respond to while ignoring crucial issues found in them is a great way to demonstrate one's intellectual dishonesty. I think there's little more to say on this topic. You clearly know nothing about what you discuss, and with no basis at all, you conclude with certainty people are engaging in fraud. By all rights, you should be dismissed as a close-minded bigot who has no idea what he's talking about.

    And I think that will be my last comment on this matter. I'm not inclined to explain the basics of what embassies can and cannot do, the differences between applying for asylum and refugee status (which I suspect you have been conflating?), or explaining why no, the United nations does not process applications for people applying for refugee status in the United States.

    That last one was my breaking point. Who in their right minds would think the United Nations would be the primary processing agency for a United States matter? Why would the United States ever cede such authority to them? Why would any country? That's crazy. The United Nations has a refugee agency, the UNHCR (don't ask me to try to remember what it stands for), but it has no authority over countries. It can't process applications for countries. What it does is refer applicants to countries it thinks may accept them and assist them in the process of applying for refugee status.

    You have, quite perfectly, demonstrated my point. Aside from xenophobia and/or racism, there is no foundation for your beliefs. They're deranged, and so are you.

  25. Sheesh. You acknowledge the exact thing I was referring to. Primary processing means they are the primary agency for the first part of the process. Embassy can do this to, but looking at the government website, it appears they want the UN to be handling this.

  26. >which I suspect you have been conflating?

    Translation, you missed it when I said it clearly, and are not trying to pretend that you failed to read words clearly.

  27. MikeN:

    Sheesh. You acknowledge the exact thing I was referring to. Primary processing means they are the primary agency for the first part of the process. Embassy can do this to, but looking at the government website, it appears they want the UN to be handling this.

    I acknowledged nothing of the sort because that's not what a primary processing agency is. The fact an organization can refer people to countries and assist with applying for refugee status does not mean they are a primary processing agency for refugee applications. An organization which can do nothing but refer people to programs is not a processing agency for those programs. The reality is you didn't know what you were talking about, and now you're just grasping at straws to pretend what you said made any sense.

    Translation, you missed it when I said it clearly, and are not trying to pretend that you failed to read words clearly.

    I referred to people applying for asylum. You responded several times by saying the people are not legitimate refugees. Now you are claiming you were intentionally distinguishing between the refugee and asylum processes. If that were true, why then did you conflate the two multiple times? Why did you not talk about asylum, the topic I had discussed, at least insofar as to disclose you were changing the topic?

    If we take your remark here at face value, it means you intentionally responded to me talking about people seeking asylum by changing the topic to people seeking refugee status without saying a word to indicate it, to the point you referred to the people I said were seeking asylum as not being legitimate refugees. If you were aware of distinction between the two, that was flat-out dishonest. If you didn't know at the time, then you are being dishonest now when you pretend you were making that distinction all along.

    Either way, you're a dishonest xenophobe who knows nothing about this topic yet happily accuses over a thousand people of fraud just because. That's nuts. And oh, you're a liar.

  28. >now you're just grasping at straws to pretend what you said made any sense.

    Projecting the sort of thing you do, but I don't have a problem admitting error. 'primary processing agency' would generally be understood the way you understood it, but I was referring to the first part of the process. Processing of an application is not the same thing as the process of applying.

  29. I am not aware of any significant differences between refugee and asylum other than location in or outside the country and the application process is different, with both positive and negative asylum processes.

  30. MikeN, feel free to keep selectively responding to bits and pieces of what I say so as to avoid having to deal with the problems I point out. You're just demonstrating the point I've made all along. Only, you're also demonstrate much more than I've stated. I think this page does a great job of showing why we've had incredibly fruitless disagreements in the past.

    The best part is you've never made the slightest effort to explain or justify your beliefs about these people. You're saying over a thousand people are engaging ni fraud, and no matter how directly you're confronted, you simply don't care to explain why that belief is anything other than insane. It's actually quite funny. In a sad way.

  31. I already said above I didn't want to engage that point(but did so anyway). I assume your friend who you were calling insane thinks this as well.
    Assuming this is true and these are frivolous asylum seekers, then is he insane for calling them illegals? I say no, despite your process technical details.

  32. Joshua, the majority of people who claim 'credible fear' and are released into the US instead of being deported as a result do not even file an application for asylum within a year as required. Now I think this applies to people who are caught entering illegally and not those presenting at the border who I think have to apply right away, but it's not clear.
    Over the last decade, this loophole in immigration law became known and is being used more and more. Claim credible fear if you are caught at the border or in the interior, you have about a 90% chance of entering/staying in the US. Lawyers are even holding sessions to explain this. The alternate explanation is that violence in Central America is so high that it caused the numbers to go from about 5 thousand a year to nearly 100 thousand a year. I'm assuming that like with every other immigration visa category people are taking advantage of weaknesses.

  33. MikeN:

    I already said above I didn't want to engage that point(but did so anyway). I assume your friend who you were calling insane thinks this as well.

    No, you did not. I don't know why you refer to "that point" as there was no singular point in my comment which could possibly fit as an antecedent. Regardless, it is easy to see you never said you didn't want to engage on "that point" as you didn't say that about any point at all. I don't know why you would make a claim like this. Why claim to have said something you clearly never said?

    I guess it makes sense you'd make incoherent remarks if you can't remember even the basics of what you've said before. If you don't know what *you've* said, it's hard to expect you to know what anyone or anything else has said.

  34. MikeN -

    I'm assuming that like with every other immigration visa category people are taking advantage of weaknesses.

    (1) What are the criteria that you use to differentiate "the majority" who are "taking advantage of weakness" from the minority whose concerns are not "frivolous?"

    (2) How do you apply those criteria to make your determination about "the majority?" (Or, what are the facts that you've used to make your determination?)

  35. MikeN -

    Also:

    Claim credible fear if you are caught at the border or in the interior, you have about a 90% chance of entering/staying in the US.

    (1) It seems odd to me that your are placing "entering" and "staying" into the same category. Certainly, there is an important distinction.

    (2) What is the evidence upon which you reference that 90% number?

  36. If there's anyone reading, I want to point out MikeN's comments are truly bizarre. Consider his latest, responding to Joshua, which begins:

    Joshua, the majority of people who claim 'credible fear' and are released into the US instead of being deported as a result do not even file an application for asylum within a year as required. Now I think this applies to people who are caught entering illegally and not those presenting at the border who I think have to apply right away, but it's not clear.

    First, I want to point out the truth to this matter is perfectly clear. Literally, all one has to do to find the information is type "credible fear" into a search engine and read the Wikipedia article about it. It's obnoxious for a person to say something isn't clear simply because they've chosen not to put any effort into understanding it. To be clear, the "credible fear" interview only happens if a person files for asylum "defensively," while in the process of being removed. People applying when they reach the border, applying while in the United States legally (such as those having a temporary visa) and those in the United States illegally who haven't been caught don't need to go through it.

    Second, it is ludicrous to claim people who pass the credible fear interview are released into the United States without filing an application for asylum. A person who passes the credible fear hearing must apply for asylum status before they can be released. If not, how would anyone know who they were or how to arrange a hearing for them? I don't know where MikeN gets this idea from, but the truth is the one year timeframe he refers to is how long people have to apply for asylum after they enter the United States. It is, in fact, considered before credible fear is gauged.

    Third, there is no measure by which MikeN's claim could be true. First, only two thirds of people pass the credible fear interview. It's difficult to imagine the majority of people who claim credible fear (51+%) are paroled into the United States when a third of them are deported. We don't have to guess though. Even if we only counted people who passed the credible fear interview, the numbers would still show MikeN's claim is false. ICE hasn't released statistics on this publicly so far, but the ACLU is suing it because 96% of asylum applicants in one area have been refused parole thanks to Trump's efforts where he has asylum seekers detained in violation of government policies in order to deter additional asylum applications by making people fear they'll be locked up for months if they apply.

    So when MikeN goes on to say:

    Claim credible fear if you are caught at the border or in the interior, you have about a 90% chance of entering/staying in the US.

    Realize he is just wildly making things up. And he does so to justify the beliefs he holds which paint thousands of people he dislikes as engaging in fraud. I think it's reasonable to call that insane. If you intentionally refuse to look at reality lest it destroy the delusions which comfort you, you're nuts.

  37. Joshua:

    (1) It seems odd to me that your are placing "entering" and "staying" into the same category. Certainly, there is an important distinction.

    (2) What is the evidence upon which you reference that 90% number?

    The only way I can come up with 90% is if I look at how many people pass credible fear interviews. The latest report I can find on them shows in the last three months of 2017, 22,065 people claimed to have a credible fear. 16,184 people passed a credibile fear interview, 1,791 people failed and 3,042 didn't have an interview (because they withdrew their claim or some other action was taken). 16,184 divided by 22,065 gives ~73%, a little higher than the two-thirds number I cited in my previous comment (which was based on data from a couple years prior). If we exclude the cases where someone claimed credible fear but ultimately didn't have an interview on the issue, the ratio is 16,184 divided by 17,969, which is ~90%.

    MikeN clearly said people who are caught can claim "credible fear" and have a 90% chance to enter/stay in the country, a claim which would still cover things like people who made the claim but then retracted it. For instance, some people will make that claim but then, after going through the informational course on what "credible fear" entails (everyone who makes the claim goes through it before their interview), realize they don't have a legitimate case and withdraw the claim.

    In addition to the issue of numbers, there's the matter you pointed out, that MikeN said "entering/staying." Even if one felt the 90% number he cited was somehow the correct one to use, the number would still only refer to people who were not immediately scheduled to be deported. I guess one could say the thousands of people who are held in prisons while waiting for their application hearings got to "enter" and "stay" in the United States for a while, but that seems incredibly disingenuous.

    And if one did want to rely on that sort of semantic parsing, MikeN's claim wouldn't make any sense at all. By definition, a person can only claim credible fear if they're already in the United States. You can't have a 90% chance to enter the United States if you are already in it. And by law, credible fear interviews can't happen for at least 48 hours after the person makes the claim, meaning they'd get to "stay" for at least a couple days. Clearly, MikeN was meaning something more. We may not be able to know just what he meant since he has avoided being specific/providing details about basically anything, but whatever he might have meant, it wasn't true.

  38. Sorry for the triple post, but while digging up the most up to date data I could find on credible fear interviews, I noticed something odd. In the file I linked to in my previous comment, the number of cases said to be handled in October 2017 was 7,296 with 5,339 resulting in interviews (4,797 passed, 531 failed with 1,031 being closed). However, from the same site I found this file which provides a summary of credible fear interviews which gives different numbers. It doesn't specify pass/fail rates, but for October 2017, it says 6,232 cases were handled with 5,204 resulting in decisions.

    We can expect some small inconsistencies in numbers in these files as some cases may be closed after an interview is had, meaning there can be more interviews than pass/fail results. And perhaps there will be some differences in numbers due to reporting decisions/cases received even though some cases will be received in one month but decided on in another. There may be other reasons numbers won't add up perfectly which I haven't thought of. However, I can't see how any set of issues would cause one file to say a total of 6,232 cases were were completed in October 2017 while another file says there were 6,359 decisions in October 2017.

    I've checked data for other months and other years, and the files I can find never match up. The differences aren't even consistent. Sometimes one file reports a higher number while other times the other file does. Sometimes the difference is ~50, other times it is ~400. The only thing which seems reasonably consistent is the reported numbers of cases which were closed. Those numbers match up perfectly when comparing the summarized report to some previous reports of the other type (like this one), though it doesn't match up for the latest data I could find. The numbers were close in that case, but they were slightly different.

    I have no idea what to make of that. I just wanted to post a comment noting the discrepancies so I can remember to look closer at the data later on.

  39. Joshua, you ask what criteria do I use to differentiate. Not sure what you mean. I know about 3/4 of applications have been rejected.
    If they are properly applying standards that is good enough for me. It could be that it is being misapplied in either direction.
    Do you mean what should be used by others? I don't see why I need any criteria myself.

    (1) It seems odd to me that your are placing "entering" and "staying" into the same category. Certainly, there is an important distinction.
    Well both of these are for illegal immigrants I think. I think those legally presenting at a port of entry with papers are not included here.

    (2) What is the evidence upon which you reference that 90% number?
    This which I remember as 88%, and the half don't apply for asylum, comes from a statement by Jeff Sessions.

    > You can't have a 90% chance to enter the United States if you are already in it.
    It's called 'arriving aliens'.

  40. I think MikeN has made his disdain for facts apparent with how he chose that one remark of mine to respond to while ignoring everything else I said even though the rest was much more important as it discussed factual matters (at some length). Given that, I'll just discuss something he says as I find the issue interesting:

    Joshua, you ask what criteria do I use to differentiate. Not sure what you mean. I know about 3/4 of applications have been rejected.

    The reason I find this issue interesting is MikeN has consistently been talking about statistics for people who apply for asylum defensively (while in the removal process), hence the discussion of "credible fear." However, here, he cites a figure which is only true for people who apply for asylum status in general.

    To see why this is interesting, consider the number of people who applied defensively in 2016 (the last year I could find statistics for). In 2016, 65,218 people applied for asylum status defensively. Of theme, only 8,726 were granted asylum status. That ratio is a bit misleading though as 13,109 cases where not resolved at the time (there is a large backlog), meaning 8,726 people of 52,109 whose cases got resolved that year were granted asylum status, which is ~17%. That'd be a sixth, not a fourth.

    The reason for this is people who apply for asylum affirmatively have a much better chance of obtaining it than people who apply defensively. Which reminds me, I need to correct a misstatement I made above where I said people who apply for asylum when they reach the border do so in the affirmative. That was incorrect. Assuming they have no other basis for entering the country (e.g. a temporary visa), they will immediately be placed in the removal process and thus only be eligible for a defensive application.

    That all said, looking at total numbers is probably pointless. Roughly 50% of people from China who apply defensively obtain asylum status, with people from Egypt having an even better rate. At the same time, for Mexico it's ~1%. But if you do want to go by totals, it's roughly one in six people, not one in four, who get approved.

  41. >people who apply for asylum when they reach the border do so in the affirmative. That was incorrect. Assuming they have no other basis for entering the country (e.g. a temporary visa), they will immediately be placed in the removal process and thus only be eligible for a defensive application.

    I thought this was only for people caught entering illegally instead of presenting at a port of entry without valid documentation. Perhaps no valid docs means no entry visa.
    There is a Syracuse site that has some good numbers on applications, even rejection rates by judge.

    > all one has to do to find the information is type "credible fear" into a search engine and read the Wikipedia

    You should have done that before arguing so much about refugee vs asylum.

    My 3/4 reject rate was for El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and came from that Syracuse site that I don't have a link for now.

  42. "And the adjudication process is broken as well. DHS found a credible fear in 88 percent of claims adjudicated. That means an alien entering the United States illegally has an 88 percent chance to avoid expedited removal simply by claiming a fear of return.

    But even more telling, half of those that pass that screening — the very people who say they came here seeking asylum — never even file an asylum application once they are in the United States. This suggests they knew their asylum claims lacked merit and that their claim of fear was simply a ruse to enter the country illegally.

    https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-executive-office-immigration-review

  43. MikeN, administrative note: A long-standing rule of this site is you cannot provide a quotation/link without adding your own content to it. Doing so is considered spam. No matter how obvious you may think the point of doing so may be, assuming people understand your point is not acceptable. As a demonstration of why, what you said in your comments does not match the material you quoted. Had you bothered to add your own content when quoting it, you might have noticed that. Even if you hadn't, by summarizing the material, you would have made it easy for people to point out what your misunderstanding was.

    In regard to everything else you wrote, you're still intentionally choosing to ignore the majority of what's said in order to cherry-pick statements you think you can offer a response to. I'm not going to engage in that any further, especially since much of what you do say is rhetoric rather than substance. Put bluntly, you're being dishonest, and as long as you continue to do so, no discussion will be fruitful.

    I'm certainly not going to spend more time discussing the facts and statistics of things when you'll simply ignore them in favor of quoting a person who says things you like without any regard for whether or not what he says is true. Jeff Sessions was... misleading, to put it kindly, in the speech you linked to. Any examination of the facts would show that. But again, you've shown you don't care about the facts.

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