There was a post at Andrew Gelman's blog recently about a topic I've discussed here often so I chimed in on a couple things. An exchange happened because I made a couple remarks about things like how climate change is not expected to drive humanity extinct or even cause the deaths of billions of people. In my comments, I mentioned how the worst projections of the IPCC aren't anywhere near that extreme. This lead to a discussion of the tired meme which says the IPCC is overly conservative in its projections of the impacts of climate change, a meme which relies upon the alarmist views of a relatively small number of people. Discussion of this idea led to what may go down as the funniest question of the year:
For those who don't know, the IPCC won a Nobel prize. Michael Mann was an author on an IPCC report so he went around repeatedly telling everybody he had won a Nobel prize, which was not true. Personally, I don't think the fact Mann stole credit for the IPCC's Nobel prize means he should be trusted over the IPCC.
I've lost a lot of motivation for writing posts on this site as the climate blogosphere is basically a dead end of echo chambers and inactivity (and I've been spending much more time on game development projects), but today I heard Michael Mann released e-mails people have spent years trying to obtain via legal means. You can see his statement here as well as find instructions on how to access those e-mails. I wish they were bundled in a zip file so they could be easily downloaded and examined via a more normal method, but it's still good to have access to the information. Especially since it shows Michael Mann and the people he talked to were fully aware of many of the issues his critics would eventually raise.
For instance, a key issue raised by his critics is Mann's results were entirely dependent upon a small amount of tree ring data from one part of North America. Here is an e-mail from Mann in 2000 showing he knew that to be true for his results prior to 1400 AD:
A great deal of time was spent discussing this heavy dependence upon tree ring data from one region. Imagine how things would have played out if Mann had just been up front about this point, which he clearly knew to be true?
For the record, the same thing is also true for his results up to 1450 AD, save that Mann arbitrarily duplicated a series to use a second time and let himself claim he had two proxies that supported his results back to 1450 AD. And even then, he had to secretly extrapolate values for the duplicate series to do so.
A recent tweet:
Led me to yet another one of those articles which likes to pretend critics of the (in)famous Hockey Stick are just obsessed with one study published twenty years ago, hoping if they can prove it was fraudulent, something, something, something despite all the later work confirming the Hockey Stick was right.
That, of course, is complete drivel. Critics of the Hockey Stick have long criticized many temperature reconstructions and argued the later ones do not validate the original Hockey Stick. In fact, a common point many people have made is that the later work which supposedly confirms the original often uses data from the original. In fact, many later studies took output from the original one and used it as input for their analysis.
(It turns out if you use the results of a study in your calculations, your calculations may well match those of the original study. Who knew?)
Anyway, that's not what I wanted to look at today. That bugs me, but the article made me look at something which I hadn't thought about in some time. When I did a little digging into it, I discovered there was information I had never seen before. It's somewhat interesting.
I was supposed to be running my next post on correlations today (my goal is to run one such post a week until the series is finished), but recent political developments have left me in a foul mood. If you don't know what I'm referring to, you can see my previous post here. I don't trust myself to put the final touches on a technical post while in a foul mood, so instead, I'd like to discuss a different, but somewhat related, matter.
I am interested in paleoclimatology. I am no Steve McIntyre (who runs Climate Audit), as has been pointed out by several of my critics, but I like to think I am reasonably knowledgeable on the field. I certainly know more about it than the average person, and when it comes to fine technical details of individual proxies/reconstructions, I might even be more knowledgeable than a number of "experts." SO today, I'd like to discuss a problem in the field.
I am a fierce critic of Michael Mann, a scientist made (in)famous for creating what is known as the "hockey stick." I have repeatedly said his "hockey stick" was fraudulent as he intentionally deceived people by doing things like hiding unfavorable results of statistical tests while publishing those which were favorable.
There's a lot of information and detail involved in the controversy around Mann's work. To help people understand it, I've written two short eBooks discussing it. The first deals with Mann's original hockey stick (a free PDF draft version can be found here), the second with Mann's follow-up efforts to disprove his critics (free draft version here). They demonstrate Mann intentionally deceived people by knowingly misrepresenting "scientific" findings. More bluntly, Mann committed fraud.
I am not the only person to say things like this. Many have. Mann is in the process of suing a few of them. You might think I would oppose this. I don't. Or at least, I don't oppose it completely. You see, the remark which caused this particular lawsuit was this disgusting remark:
Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet
That is not the basis of the lawsuit, but it is what made Mann decide to file one. He was, quite understandably, upset at being compared to a child molester. I have no sympathy for people who get sued because they say things like this. There are consequences to being a despicable person.
That wouldn't be enough to make me support a lawsuit though. People say vile things all the time. Freedom of speech means they can. The reason this lawsuit happened is people accused Michael Mann of committing fraud. While I believe these accusations are true, I do not believe some of the people making them have behaved in a manner which should or would exempt them from legal scrutiny. In this post, I will discuss a recent court ruling allowing a lawsuit Mann filed to continue and explain why I believe that ruling is correct.
My last post discussed a recent story being pushed by "skeptics" in which they claim an organization created for global warming advocacy committed fraud in order to obtain millions of dollars. The purpose of the post was to demonstrate most of what was said was just spin.
For today's post, I'm going to do something different. I'm going to discuss what does and does not constitute fraud while providing a couple examples. Fair warning, people on both sides may not like seeing these examples.
The last post in this series showed Michael Mann's 2008 paper depended entirely upon the use of two things: tree ring data and the Tiljander series. It also showed those Tiljander series were suspect. Today I'll show they are worse than suspect. Michael Mann's use of them was absurd.
After some debate, I've decided to jump this series ahead to Michael Mann's 2008 paper. This means skipping a lot of material, but it should keep us better focused on the big picture.
We'll begin examining this paper by looking at its central conclusion:
Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats.
You'll recall Mann's original results were dependent entirely upon a small amount of tree ring data (which was inappropriate for a temperature reconstruction). Mann placed this new conclusion, that tree ring data wasn't necessary, front and center to address that issue. It was incredibly important as a way of rebutting criticisms of his work.
It was also greatly overstated. Continue reading
So far this series has focused on Michael Mann's original hockey stick. In 2003, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas published a paper disagreeing with it. Mann's response is... worth examining:
This is crap of the worst kind–it was written explicitly for political purposes; there is no science there at all
Most people hate discussing semantics. Unfortunately, it's necessary when people try to abuse semantics to win an argument. Michael Mann's defense of his "trick" is one of those cases.