‘Get at the truth, and not fool yourself’

Don't diss me, man

Don’t diss me, man

John Cook’s 97% is, quite frankly, bullshit. A simple statistic by, for and on behalf of, the simple minded, to be bandied about as often as possible, hoping that no-one actually bothers to enquire what it means.

And relying on the old adage that a lie, repeated often enough, will eventually become the truth. “97% of climate scientists agree that… [insert assertion here]” is a big heavy weapon used to beat dissenters around the head.

As always, however, the reality is vastly different. What do they agree on? [Read more…]

Climategate 2.0: IPCC bias and defending "The Cause"

PhD attacked

Are you beginning to notice a thread running through the Climategate 2.0 revelations? Several threads, perhaps? Silence dissent, suppress inconvenient data, ad hominem attacks, stifle FOI requests, support “the Cause” at all costs? That’s what happens when you attempt to use science to justify a political agenda in a field as complex as climate change. The pressure to maintain a constant message inevitably conflicts with the spectrum of scientific data on the subject, much of which challenges the assertions of “the Cause”.

Any sceptic who dares to expose the uncertainties risks damaging “the Cause” – which must be avoided at all costs. Hence the distasteful plot to damage the reputation of Patrick Michaels by questioning his PhD, exposed in one of the Climategate 2.0 emails. Michaels writes an open letter to the director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) :

I’m sure you have seen and discussed with your staff many of the “Climategate” emails released first in November, 2009, and then more recently, earlier this month.

Everyone agrees that the tone and content of many of them is a bit shrill and occasionally intolerant (kind of like University faculty meetings), but there is one repeating thread, by one of your most prestigious employees, Dr. Tom Wigley, that is far beyond the pale of most academic backbiting.

The revoking of my doctorate, the clear objective of Tom’s email, is the professional equivalent of the death penalty. I think it needs to be brought to your attention, because the basic premise underlying his machinations is patently and completely false. Dr Wigley is known as a careful scientist, but he certainly was careless here.

The global circulation of this email has caused unknown damage to my reputation. Also, please note that all communications from Dr. Wigley to his colleagues on this matter were on the NCAR/UCAR server.

The relevant email was sent to Rick Piltz, a UCAR employee at the time, and copied to Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University, James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Benjamin Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,the late Steven Schneider, Stanford University, and several other very prominent climate scientists. The influence of these individuals is manifest and evidence of a very serious attempt to destroy my credential.

What Dr. Wigley wrote to this group of individuals was:

“You may be interesting [sic] in this snippet of information about Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels, PhD needs re-assessing?”

As I said, revoking the doctorate of a scientist is the equivalent of imposing a professional death penalty. Unfortunately, Wigley’s rationale for organizing this effort was based upon a pure fabrication. (source)

And as Dr Roy Spencer argues, protecting “the Cause” trumps everything else:

Ever since the first Climategate e-mail release, the public has become increasingly aware that scientists are not unbiased. Of course, most scientists with a long enough history in their fields already knew this (I discussed the issue at length in my first book Climate Confusion), but it took the first round of Climategate e-mails to demonstrate it to the world.

The latest release (Climategate 2.0) not only reveals bias, but also some private doubts among the core scientist faithful about the scientific basis for the IPCC’s policy goals. Yet, the IPCC’s “cause” (Michael Mann’s term) appears to trump all else.

So, when the science doesn’t support The Cause, the faithful turn toward discussions of how to craft a story which minimizes doubt about the IPCC’s findings. 

In the case of global warming research, the alternative (non-consensus) hypothesis that some or most of the climate change we have observed is natural is the one that the IPCC must avoid at all cost. This is why the Hockey Stick was so prized: it was hailed as evidence that humans, not Nature, rule over climate change.

The Climategate 2.0 e-mails show how entrenched this bias has become among the handful of scientists who have been the most willing participants and supporters of The Cause. These scientists only rose to the top because they were willing to actively promote the IPCC’s message with their particular fields of research.

Unfortunately, there is no way to “fix” the IPCC, and there never was. The reason is that its formation over 20 years ago was to support political and energy policy goals, not to search for scientific truth. I know this not only because one of the first IPCC directors told me so, but also because it is the way the IPCC leadership behaves. If you disagree with their interpretation of climate change, you are left out of the IPCC process. They ignore or fight against any evidence which does not support their policy-driven mission, even to the point of pressuring scientific journals not to publish papers which might hurt the IPCC’s efforts.

I believe that most of the hundreds of scientists supporting the IPCC’s efforts are just playing along, assured of continued funding. In my experience, they are either: (1) true believers in The Cause; (2) think we need to get away from using fossil fuels anyway; or (3) rationalize their involvement based upon the non-zero chance of catastrophic climate change. (source)

As I repeat frequently on this blog, I am prepared to accept whatever the science tells us about man’s effect on the climate, but until the integrity of that scientific process is restored, the projections of “the Team” and the IPCC simply cannot be trusted. Climategate 2.0 shows that such integrity is at present sorely lacking.

Roy Spencer responds to Dessler

The saga continues

Roy Spencer has indicated he will be preparing a paper in response to Dessler’s response to Spencer and Braswell’s original paper in Remote Sensing – although he jokes it will take longer than six weeks to get peer-reviewed (because sceptical papers are by definition heresy and must not be given any credibility, © K Trenberth).

However, his initial comments on Dessler are here. The following extract is interesting from the point of view of integrity:

Quoting Dessler’s paper, from the Introduction:

The usual way to think about clouds in the climate system is that they are a feedback… …In recent papers, Lindzen and Choi [2011] and Spencer and Braswell [2011] have argued that reality is reversed: clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature. If this claim is correct, then significant revisions to climate science may be required.”

But we have never claimed anything like “clouds are the cause of, and not a feedback on, changes in surface temperature”! We claim causation works in BOTH directions, not just one direction (feedback) as he claims. Dr. Dessler knows this very well, and I would like to know:

1) what he was trying to accomplish by such a blatant misrepresentation of our position, and

2) how did all of the peer reviewers of the paper, who (if they are competent) should be familiar with our work, allow such a statement to stand?

I can guess it’s because Dessler’s peer-reviewers are probably all on “the Team”, and they can’t be bothered to actually read the heretical paper Dessler is referring to (or if they did it was treated with contempt), and anyway, who cares if we misrepresent what he wrote? It’s only Spencer, after all.

Double standards at work, as usual.

Pal-review at work: Spencer and Braswell rebuttal published after just SIX WEEKS

You review my paper…

Whereas a sceptical paper could take up to TWO YEARS (e.g. Lindzen and Choi). I guess it’s all a question of who you know and what side you’re on, right?

WUWT has the full story.

UPDATE: Luboš Motl goes to work on the rebuttal here. Enjoy – here’s an extract:

Well, I am really amazed that people who have self-evidently no idea about physics – and about basic reality such as the impact of clouds on temperature – could have been accepted to the college: Dessler was allowed to study at Rice University. It’s just utterly incredible how hollow skulls like his might have been accepted to a university.

Let me summarize the basic errors in Dessler’s crackpot rants:

  • he incorrectly assumes that clouds have to “trap” heat if they want to influence the temperature
  • he incorrectly assumes that the cloud cover at a given place isn’t an independent degree of freedom; instead, it is a function of the carbon dioxide emissions
  • he incorrectly assumes that it is illegitimate to test the predicted correlations of various physical models by comparing the simulations with the observations; instead, he thinks that it is legitimate to hide his head into the sand and claim that there is nothing to be seen here
  • more generally, he seems to incorrectly assume that one may be a complete imbecile such as himself to write relevant papers about the energy flows in the atmosphere.

More fallout from Spencer and Braswell

More interesting reading this morning on this disgraceful episode:

Josh nails it

Journal editor "apologises" to warmist for publishing sceptical paper

Bullied by the warmists

It really does beggar belief. Climate science reduced to the level of playground bullies, with journal editors feeling they have to resign for publishing a paper which the “consensus boys” failed to exclude by their cosy pal-review process.

But not only that, we now read in an article on Daily Climate by Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick, the following astonishing statement:

Kevin Trenberth received a personal note of apology from both the editor-in-chief and the publisher of Remote Sensing. Wagner took this unusual and admirable step after becoming aware of the paper’s serious flaws. (source)

So because a warmist scientist considers the paper has flaws, a journal editor chooses to resign and apologise. Let’s turn the situation around for a moment: I would assume that Spencer and many other sceptical scientists would have a few issues with some of the consensus boys’ papers too, but I don’t see any editors rushing to resign because of that, do you? No, of course not.

Note that this has nothing to do with the worth of the scientific claims in the paper itself – this is all about procedure, and the integrity of the scientific process. The proper steps would be for Trenberth et al to rebut Spencer’s claims in a further, peer-reviewed, paper, or alternatively seek a retraction from the journal. Neither of these things has happened. A few comments on a blog is enough now – provided you’re on the warmist side.

Such is the power and influence wielded by the alarmist coterie, and the almost total politicisation of climate science, that almost without lifting a finger, a journal can be intimidated into providing a grovelling apology for daring to publish a paper which challenges the consensus. Truly jaw-dropping.

One has to ask, why are they so afraid? Is their CO2 driven construction so fragile that it cannot withstand a paper which, according to the alarmists, is total rubbish anyway? Why must they shut down scientific discourse, if the sceptics case is so weak, rather than let it be given the public ridicule it so obviously deserves? You can draw your own conclusions – I have mine.

There is much, much more – Roger Pielke Sr takes the whole thing apart here – read it all.

However, Maurizio Morabito, commenting on Pielke Jr’s blog, provides a cheering conclusion to the ridiculous extremes we have now reached:

“If “post-publication discussions of a scientific paper in the media or on blogs” can now “be used as the basis for subsequently re-evaluating the scientific merit of that paper within the scientific peer review process”, it just means that blogs and the media are now to be considered on-par with peer-review as ways to evaluate the scientific merit of a paper.

In other words, all people that support Wagner’s resignation are telling the world that the old complaint against skeptics “your article hasn’t been subjected to peer-review!” is not valid any longer. A blog or an interview will suffice.

Methinks only Gavin could come up with such a spectacular own goal.”

"Blog-review": Journal editor resigns because of "internet discussions"

Where's the process?

Is this a new low? The death of scientific integrity and the scientific process, happening right before our eyes. A journal editor resigns because he dared to publish a sceptical paper (Spencer & Braswell 2011 – see here), which challenged the “consensus”. Why did he resign? Because internet discussion sites said the paper should not have been published. His resignation statement is astonishing:

Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

“Various internet discussion fora”? Is this guy for real? So a few trolls on warmist sites, such as RealClimate and Climate Progress, convinced the editor of a peer-review journal to step down because he published a paper which challenged the consensus? “I agree with the critics of the paper”? Is that how peer review works? Editor of journal decides that the trolls are right and that’s that? No, if there were problems with the paper, they should be refuted by further peer-reviewed papers, not by the whim of one editor who chooses to fall on his sword to make a point.

And this:

In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal. (source – PDF)

As Roy Spencer points out in his response to this bizarre sequence of events:

But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.

If some scientists would like do demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where *anything* we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication. Instead, it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation. (source)

I would like to see more evidence for the link to the IPCC that Spencer claims, although it is well known that there are “gatekeepers” at the main climate journals to make sure that anything that challenges the consensus is filtered out – clearly the system failed here. But this shows the extent of the corruption of the peer-review process, that an editor resigns (possibly under some external pressure to do so) rather than following the proper procedure for challenging or rebutting a scientific paper.

At this point it’s Warmists 1, Sceptics 0. Another sad day for the integrity of science.

UPDATE: Roger Pielke Sr responds to the story here  (with links to crowing articles at the BBC and Guardian), but makes the same point as above:

“The place to refute a published paper is in peer-reviewed papers, not in blogs (or the media). If the paper is not robust, it appropriately should be responded to by paper, not by the resignation of the Editor. In my view, he made a poor decision which has further damaged the scientific process of vetting new research results.”

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