BEST Slanders Critics

Last month, I spent some time on this site discussing the effect the Berkeley Earth group's (BEST's) adjustments to its data have on its results. As the post shows, BEST's adjustments greatly reduce the spatial resolution of its results, as well as significantly changing the apparent trends of sizable areas.

Neither of these findings was particularly remarkable. I had suggested as much on a number of previous occasions, but this post was special because for the first time, BEST had made results it would get if it hadn't adjusted its data available. This was remarkable because months prior to that the head of BEST, Richard Muller, had given an interview where he said:

Furthermore, because of the interest, we re-analyzed all the data with ZERO adjustments, just to see what we would get. These results have been made available online. What we found was that the conclusions we had previously drawn were unchanged. The data are available here

Those results hadn't been made available online. They weren't available at the link he provided. They weren't available anywhere. This was easily confirmed by clicking on the link, but it was also confirmed when I contacted BEST and was told the results weren't currently available. When I contacted the author of the article, it got updated to say:

[ Link not currently working, BEST tech team are aware of the issue and we will update when we have more information]

But that's about as misleading as you can get. The link was "currently working." It just didn't go to a page which contained the material Muller claimed it contained, becauase that material had never been publisehd. Because he was wrong to say it had ever been published.

Now I've pointed this all out before, several times. It wouldn't be an issue worth bringing up today, save I got a response about it from a BEST team member today when I brought it up at Judith Curry's place. Despite the evidence of my claim being indisputable, a BEST representative decided to call me a liar. That's right, in response to me pointing out the BEST team leader made a false statement during an interview, a BEST team member called me a liar.

Here was my comment:


The part about how adjustments affect results is in reference to the post I linked to at the start of this post, which the BEST team member who called me a liar commented on. As you can see if you look at the maps in that post and in the comments on it, this response to a question by Muller in his interview is wrong:

4. Are there any regions of the world where modifications appear to account for most or all of the apparent warming of recent decades?

"For large regions, I think not..."

The maps don't do a fantastic job of proving the point, but that's because they weren't made for that purpose. If I had been wanting to focus solely on regional differences between BEST's adjusted and unadjusted results, I'd have created zoomed in maps which focused on single regions at a time to demonstrate the point. Still, you can see from the maps entire areas had their trends changed to have warming added to them, contrary to Muller's claim.

This is the response I got when I pointed this out:


Steven Mosher is a BEST team member. He is the primary public interface of the BEST group, at least when it comes to online communication. And here he is, calling me a liar. Why? Well first, he demands I tell him where Richard Muller used the words, "Sizable areas."

That's a baffling response. I didn't put those words in quotation marks, so why would anyone think Muller had used those words? They wouldn't. Yet for some reason, Mosher asked me not, "Where did Muller say anything like that?" but, "Where did he use those words." Well guess what Mosher, that's not how things work. The words Muller used were "large regions." I paraphrased them as "sizable areas." I don't think anyone will complain.

The real shocker though, is what came next. Mosher accused me of lying. Now, that's a pretty serious accusation. It's not something you should say lightly. When someone raises scientific criticisms, you don't get to just say, "Shut up you liar." If they are lying, okay, that's bad. It's a big deal. But if they're not, you just look like a petulant child who can't handle criticism.

So what was my "lie"? According to Mosher, my lie is I "know exactly what [Muller] meant by raw data being available." He meant "[r]aw station data" is available." Only, Muller didn't say raw data was available. He didn't say anything like that. What he said was:

Furthermore, because of the interest, we re-analyzed all the data with ZERO adjustments, just to see what we would get. These results have been made available online.

The results you get when you re-analyze your data without adjustments are not your raw station data. The entire point of Muller's answer was to convince people they shouldn't distrust BEST's work due to its adjustments. Telling them they can look at raw data wouldn't do anything to accomplish that.

So the head of BEST went out and gave an interview where he gave false statements about BEST's product, exaggerating its value and quality. I pointed this out, and in response, a BEST team member publicly accused me of lying, misrepresenting what the BEST team leader had said to do so. I would like to say I'm surprised, but this is the same BEST team member who previously called me a Holocaust denier for challenging BEST's work:


So this is apparently how BEST responds to people who try to discuss concerns about its work. It goes around publicly calling them liars and Holocaust deniers. Because that's how science works, I guess? I don't know. What I do know is I think it's hilarious a guy over at Curry's place basically says he thinks I don't know what I'm talking about in regard to BEST even though he's never said a word to indicate anything I've gotten wrong on the subject. What makes this hilarious, however, is while he criticizes my comments on BEST, he praises Mosher's comments on the subject:

Gracious, but you do post a lot of garbage. You should stick to BEST, where your comments are good.

I couldn't resist responding to mock that. The relevant part of my comment was:


I'm trying to imagine if anyone at NASA's GISS or any other group creating a temperature record behaved remotely like BEST has done. People would freak out. I don't know why they're okay with it in this case.

What I do know is if I ever become a scientist, I want to call all my critics liars and Holocaust deniers. It seems fun.


  1. Brandon

    I sometimes lose the will to live with these protracted 'he said, they said, exchanges as with the Steyn discussion last week.

    One of the problems with blogs is that people often don't directly reference who they are responding to.

    Without making a detailed examination of all the ins and outs surely Matthew -normally a polite commentator -was responding to Mosh, not you?


  2. tonyb:

    I sometimes lose the will to live with these protracted ‘he said, they said, exchanges as with the Steyn discussion last week.

    I agree. I normally try not to engage in them. The only reason for this post is I've spent quite a bit of time trying to examine and discuss BEST's work, and this is the sort of response I've gotten. It's not that I'm running to my blog to go, "Wah, wah, someone was mean to me." It's, BEST is an important group which is doing work that people want us to be taken seriously, and when I've tried to have a serious discussion about problems with its work and behavior, their only response was to call me a liar and Holocaust denier.

    If BEST had responded to say, "No, you're wrong because of X, Y and Z," I'd have reported that instead. If BEST had chosen to respond with scientific, or even just civil remarks, I'd have reported that instead. I'm only reporting stupid and petty exchanges because that's all BEST is letting me have with them. At a certain point, you have to just give up, throw your hands in the air and say, "Well, this is how they're responding, and it's stupid."

    Without making a detailed examination of all the ins and outs surely Matthew -normally a polite commentator -was responding to Mosh, not you?

    He responded to both me and Mosher. In the comment where he basically said he thinks I have no idea what I'm talking about, which I didn't bother to quote because I didn't feel it was very important, he was obviously responding to me. In the comment I quoted in the screenshot, he was responding to Mosher. I actually said that in the post, though I may not have made that clear.

    (By the way, I should point out I somehow left some extraneous text before that last screenshot during the editing process. It was part of a sentence I deleted while editing the post. I'm not sure how it got left in there like that, but I've now deleted it. I don't know if it caused any readers any confusion so far, but it's gone now. It shouldn't change the meaning of anything as it was completely out of context and didn't make any sense.)

  3. Hi Brandon

    I had earlier replied to Mosh, but the topics then changed immediately on to a new thread

    My concern is over the lack of context, the apparent precision with which data is quoted, the often anecdotal nature of the historical raw data and the use of interpolated data, especially coming from highly suspect stations. That is quite apart from losing the nuances of the trends by smearing everything together into one global average.

    I personally like Mosh and I don't doubt his integrity but sometimes perhaps too much faith is placed in raw data and their interpretation and precision than is prudent. CET and BEST also agree that the overall warming trend is very long lasting and appears to predate any co2 effect by some centuries but this rarely seems to be discussed.


  4. steven -

    What is your argument as to the difference between "sizeable areas" and "large regions."

  5. Joshua, I'm pretty sure he doesn't have one. Notice, he didn't say there was any meaningful difference between the two. He didn't even acknowledge what Richard Muller said. It looks like Steven Mosher is just... pretending Muller didn't say anything on the issue?

    That seems a bizarre thing to do, but I can't think of a better explanation.

  6. Gotta say, Brandon - without further explanation, I am left in the dark as to what the argument might be. I don't see a meaningful difference between "sizeable areas" and "large regions."

  7. I mean there isn't really even a semantic argument to be made, that I can tell, as he said "...or anything like that."

  8. Like tonyb, I'm having trouble working out how Brandon thinks that Matthew was critiquing Brandon and praising Mosher.

    I agree with Joshua here--there isn't any interpretation of Mosher's comments that make sense, other than Mosher was just completely wrong on this point.

    It does illustrate one issue that's worth mentioning here: I've been in the spotlight a few times myself, and one thing I learned that reduces friction is to always direct quote people whose work you are critiquing. In that context, I try to never paraphrase

  9. Carrick, the link I gave when I said "he thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about" goes to a comment from him which says:

    My opinion is that your opinion is wrong, and you do not understand the BEST methodology....

    I do wish Mosher had not accused you of lying. I t think you are confused. You haven’t claimed, I hope, that BEST have not made their code and data available?

    That was a separate comment from the one in which he praised Steven Mosher for his comments on BEST. I'd like to think that I was referring to two separate comments was made clear by virtue of the fact I provided two separate links, even if I didn't quote both. Maybe that wasn't as clear as I thought it'd be.

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