Climategate and the "hockey stitch" - Not news to me.

After being asked once too many about the climategate scandal, I decided it would save me some time if I simply wrote down my opinion about it.

I initially hesitated doing so because I do not condone hacking into or leaking private e-mails. Moreover, I believe that since the debate should be science based, it is irrelevant whether a group of people committed science fraud or not. Nevertheless, the e-mails did leak, and did become public knowledge ("climategate" now fetches 24,000,000 hits on google), and it is therefore a legitimate discussion topic.

Anyway, my one liner summary for it was that "it isn't news to me". In fact, this already propagated to 2000 or so pages (at least, so you find if you google "climategate" "shaviv" and "not news to me"), after Andrew Bolt (whom I happily met in Australia last week) picked it up from a comment I wrote here on sciencebits.com.

So, why is the climategate scandal "not news to me?"

Well, the e-mails demonstrated that:

- Elements within the global warming alarmists community do their best to inhibit "skeptics" like myself from getting their papers published. This includes for example coercing editors from accepting papers which do not follow the party line.

- Elements within the global warming alarmists community follow non orthodox (and non kosher...) methodologies, which include creative "cut" and "paste" data manipulation techniques, as borne from the e-mails.

Since I have witnessed this kind of behavior before, I was totally unsurprised with the content of these e-mails, hence "it is not news to me".

So, what did I witness before? Here are a few exemplars.

- I witnessed how an editor rejected a paper I wrote without forwarding the reviewers my detailed response to their comments (he was perhaps afraid that the reviewers would actually be convinced with my detailed response which included detailed referrals to published results proving my points).

- I saw another rejection (perhaps by the same editor...), this time of a paper written by a colleague that included the punch line: "any paper which doesn’t support the anthropogenic GHG theory is politically motivated, and therefore has to be rejected"

- I saw how proposal reviewers bluntly reject funding requests, based on similar beliefs in the global warming apocalypse. I even know of someone who didn't get tenure because he advocated non party line ideas.

- I also saw how two Canadians tried to reconstruct the hockey stick only to find that some data mysteriously disappeared from a public ftp server.

Namely, the e-mails simply shed light on behavior that different colleagues and myself have been witnessing over the past years. In this respect, the main effect of the e-mails would be to expose this kind of shameful behavior to the general public, a behavior which many perhaps didn't appreciate was happening.

But unethical or even fraudulent behavior is not relevant in a real scientific debate, something which incidentally the alarmists are avoiding. Nevertheless, the two unethical behaviors described above do undermine the underlying argumentation for an anthropogenically dominated global warming.

As I wrote a few times before (and will again in a summary I am now writing for sciencebits.com, stay tuned!), the case for an anthropogenic warming relies on two problematic arguments. First, 20th century warming is unprecedented, and therefore should be attributed to human activity. Second, the 20th century warming cannot be explained by any other mechanism other than anthropogenic greenhouse gases (in particular, if the human radiative forcing is omitted, the global circulation models cannot explain the 20th century warming).

The fraudulent "hockey stick" stood at the crux of the argument that 20th century global warming is unprecedented. It was used to eliminate the existence of the medieval warm period for example (this is not unlike George Orwell's 1984, in which people wake up one morning with a new history...). As the alarmists explain in their e-mails, the "hockey stick" is based on the manipulative "hockey stitch" where thermometer data was stitched after 1961 to disguise the fact that the reconstructed temperatures decrease). Thus, one cannot claim that the 20th century warming is unprecedented.

Second, given the apparent measures alarmists take to stop the publication of any non-conforming voice, the apparent lack of any alternative explanation to 20th century global warming should only be viewed as the alarmists success to quench alternative views, not that alternative views do not exist. Indeed, there is an alternative explanation which explains a non-negligible part of the 20th century global warming, it is the sun.

Comments

Reading this has brought home to me what the CRU emails really mean. Yes, I realised that they seemed to think that they could manipulate the peer-review process, but this brings the fact that such manipulations really have happened.
I'm shocked.

Thank-you for the Hockey Stich.

I wish every Ph.D. would have a blog and express just a few important views to present day happenings. It seems that today, the only people to comment are motivated by politics, business, or ignorance.

Brian

How can you say that ClimateGate is irrelevant to the scientific debate, since it throws doubt on the validity of one of the base temperature records used in the scientific debate? What could be more relevant than the possibility of fraudulent data?

there is some relevance, since it weakens the arguments of the anthropogenic global warming proponents. But given that I knew they were faulty arguments, they don't change the science in MY book. Moreover, they don't strengthen MY arguments which are based on the science I do. All that these e-mails do is expose something I already knew to be wrong.

You are wrong. The e-mails expose nothing of significance. Any claims of "inhibiting skeptics" or "coercing editors" are based on nothing but creationist-like quote-mining.

Then I am being paranoid. o.k., fine.

Clearly (presuming one wishes to see, of course), your argument goes beyond the emails, using relevant personal events to bolster the contention that the emails reveal a widespread deception by the warming fanatics.

What isn't said is that these emails are only one tiny revelation in a grand scheme of scientific fraud that I have little doubt similar whistle blower email dumps from other CRUs would show.

I, too, have seen how politics and orthodoxy corrupt science. I would wager that a significant proportion of the AGW scientists direct their research as required by said orthodoxy, because their positions and funding are at risk.

As Harry Truman once said in response to someone saying "Give 'em hell, Harry!": "I don't give them hell. I tell them the truth and they think it is hell".

Keep up the good work, Shaviv!

Here's a quick summary video of Greenland Ice Core results:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFbUVBYIPlI
with Bibliography.

BTW, much of the material leaked was properly public, and was being illegally withheld from FOIA requests. So there's not much of a "privacy" case to be made.

"was being illegally withheld from FOIA requests"

That's wrong. It was not their data in the first place. They had no right to respond to FOIA requests with other people's data. The data was merely licensed. Why didn't the requesters license the data instead of flooding the CRU with more than 50 requests within 5 days? Probably because this is yet another PR tactic rather than real science by the deniers.

standard practice to delete data in such cases. Good to know.

Eh, the data was deleted 10 years earlier because they needed more space as they were moving.

The data was deleted because they had no use for it anymore (it had already been analyzed and converted to more useful format), and they were forbidden from sharing it with anyone since they had to license it from someone.

The data was never permanently deleted. Only a tiny part of a local copy. The full data set was still available from the people they licensed it from in the first place.

"It was not their data in the first place."
You can't publish a paper or an analysis if you can't show the data.
If it "was not their data" they should have refrained from using it in published papers.

To license the data from another source you will have to know which data to license. You can only know that if the CRU of East-Anglia gives away which data it has used to create its time series. Alas, that has been refused. To this day we still don't know which data is used, how it was manipulated, and the reasons for including this data and excluding others. That is CRUs work alltogether and they could have disclosed it without disclosing the underlaying data. Do you find their refusal to show what they've done defensible?

that the scientific method demands that all data underlying a published manuscript should be available for analysis and verification by other parties. "Peer reviewed" (nothwithstanding the way these alleged scientists corrupted that term) is not merely a review by magazine editors and boards, but review by other labs that should be able to duplicate one's results to ensure that they are valid, or examine some other aspect of it.

The email authors are unethical and frauds, and every single bit of their data must be critically and objectively reexamined.

Wrong. Peer review is merely a review by other supposed experts in the field with few constraints. In most cases it is quite cursory and many reviewers stick to picking on fine details of grammar rather than the technical substance. Peer review almost never involves replication in another lab. It is corrupt because the reviewers are anonymous and heavily weighted to whatever the current establishment viewpoints are. Therefore, scientific nobodies can torpedo innovative ideas. That is their job, after all.


That's wrong. It was not their data in the first place. They had no right to respond to FOIA requests

With the British Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre stepping up to be the data librarian (28 Jan 2010) then this argument is moot. It is now public data.

This idea was put forward by one of the "two canadians" five years ago. It's good to see that at long last important data is now going to be properly archived so that it can be checked by all interested parties, which is much more important than it initially seems.

Hi,

Although I heard about climate change as much as your average non-expert with a background in science I am new to the cosmic ray (as a major agent in climate change) hypothesis. To get my bearings I read "The Chilling Stars" by Svensmark and Calder. The most confusing part, to me, came in one of the last pages, in the addendum to the second edition: the authors seem to challenge the integrity of the actual data. That is, they seem to question whether there was even warming - man made or naturally caused - during the last decade or two. I bring it up here because it ties in to your remarks about the "hockey stick" plot.

Since a quick search brings up many curves that show significant warming after 1990 I guess that I am asking for help with sorting out information from discredited information. Specifically: are ALL of the plots showing warming faulty because they either use "long" running averages, data from surface thermometers predominantly put in urban areas or have been "doctored" in some way? Could you point me to a full explanation of how the hockey stick was allegedly cut and pasted and how the raw data was manipulated and would otherwise not show warming? Is there any raw data out there that shows global warming (whether unusual or not, whether it includes Antarctica or not - just somewhat significant warming on a large enough scale to be reasonably called "global") during the 1991-2000s? How about during 2000-2009? Where can the publicly available raw temperature data for the last 2-3 decades be downloaded from?

I believed for several years that the facts concerning recent history temperatures (1960s and onward) are clear, that exact predictions are impossible to make due to large uncertainties of various kinds and that there may be some debate over mechanisms, although the latter is more than likely politically motivated. I have absolutely no reason to suspect that you are politically motivated and I would happily attribute my third assumption to my own ignorance. The possibility, though, that the warming trend in temperature data from recent years can be put under question is puzzling to me. Frankly, I find that one hard to get my head around.

Thanks in advance for any help/pointers.

What disturbed me most with the leaked emails and code was that is showed that the people at CRU and Pennsylvania State U was happy to use models that were not validated, and could not be validated because of hoorible residuals. In fact, they fitted data so badly in one case that they resorted to excluding data with the worst fit so to hide the mismatch between the model and real data. I'm not a scientist, but as an engineer, if I would do such a thing, and caused harm to other people, I would be liable for jail terms. It is an absolute NO-NO! And yet, the CRU is defended by many other scientists in the climate science community. I sometimes wonder if this discipline is science at all. (Remember that others in the trade have attempted to prove an hypothesis with AOGCM models, which in itself is just another hypothesis.)

Prove a hypothesis with another hypothesis? Trust a model that fit data worse than white noise? Trust source code that is in such a mess that the programmer isn't able to sort out data sources? Only in climate science...

"Climate science" is becoming an oxymoron, thanks to these frauds.

Dimsdale: I like 'oxymoron' - spot on!
Shaviv (in the post): re 'private' e-mails from the CRU (Climate Research Unit). None of those I have read from the CRU Climategate collection, whether leaked or hacked, were private in the sense of dealing with personal matters like picking the kids up from school or getting home late. A careful thematic selection had been made from a much larger archive. All those I have seen are related to the work of the unit, which is publicly funded. As my taxes are helping to pay for this work, I consider I have a right to check on whether the money is being properly spent. The UK FOI act exists partly to facilitate such checking. Somebody inside or outside the CRU felt strongly enough that this lawful right of access was being refused by the UEA (Univ of East Anglia) without good reason and took steps to blow the whistle. Like Shaviv, I found few surprises in the content of the e-mails. But I am grateful to whoever released them for performing a valuable service.

Your clarification on Climategate - Not news to you has been illustrated well in the article....

I've been reading skepticalscience.com lately, and asking lots of questions there. I posted pointers to a couple of your blogs there. Not sure if you are interested in responding to their comments directly there. One of your posts I linked to was this post about Climategate.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-question-that-skeptics-dont-want-to-ask-about-Climategate.html

Thank you,
Chris Shaker

that the scientific method demands that all data underlying a published manuscript should be available for analysis and verification by other parties. "Peer reviewed" (nothwithstanding the way these alleged scientists corrupted that term) is not merely a review by magazine editors and boards, but review by other labs that should be able to duplicate one's results to ensure that they are valid, or examine some other aspect of it.

The email authors are unethical and frauds, and every single bit of their data must be critically and objectively reexamined.

What disturbed me most with the leaked emails and code was that is showed that the people at CRU and Pennsylvania State U was happy to use models that were not validated, and could not be validated because of hoorible residuals. In fact, they fitted data so badly in one case that they resorted to excluding data with the worst fit so to hide the mismatch between the model and real data. I'm not a scientist, but as an engineer, if I would do such a thing, and caused harm to other people, I would be liable for jail terms. It is an absolute NO-NO! And yet, the CRU is defended by many other scientists in the climate science community. I sometimes wonder if this discipline is science at all. (Remember that others in the trade have attempted to prove an hypothesis with AOGCM models, which in itself is just another hypothesis.)

Prove a hypothesis with another hypothesis? Trust a model that fit data worse than white noise? Trust source code that is in such a mess that the programmer isn't able to sort out data sources? Only in climate science...