Free Markets, Free People

Climaquiddick – It Doesn’t Take A Scientist …

As I wander the blogs and the net reading about the scandal that has gripped the “science” around the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia I continue to see defenses of the so-called “settled science” of AGW pushed by that group that center on the implication that those calling their data into question either aren’t smart enough or qualified enough (or both) to make the determination that the CRU’s data is wrong.

I’ll admit, up front, to both charges.  I’ll also tell you that it isn’t necessary to be either as smart as some scientists or as qualified in their field to question their science.  Why?  Because as a schoolboy I was taught what the “scientific method” is and how vitally important that method is to the credibility of science.  For those of you needing a refresher, have a look:


As you can see, there is a very important box outlined in blue among all the other boxes in the flow chart.  The words “Reproduce (by others)” refers to other scientists, just as qualified as those who’ve produced the hypothesis, testing and attempting to reproduce the results that the original scientists claim.  It is one of, if not the most critical step in validating a hypothesis and turning it into a “scientific theory”.  It is that independent reproduction of the same results using the methods and data of the original scientists that provides scientific rigor and credibility necessary for it to go from hypothesis to theory.

That is the step that has been consistently missing in the AGW controversy.  Other scientists have, for years, been asking for and been refused the original data on which the CRU based its hypothesis of man-made global warming.  We see pundits defending the science claiming the emails don’t prove AGW to be a fraud.  Maybe, maybe not – but what they do show is a consistent effort to avoid providing the data requested to others who would like to test it.  That alone should raise a sea of red flags to any real scientist.  The last thing those who are sure of their hypothesis and their science should be doing is actively trying to keep the data which underpins their hypothesis from being tested as demanded by the scientific method.

Another reason to be skeptical without having to be an atmospheric scientist has to do with other findings which have found to be wanting.  Mann’s “hockey stick” turned into a hockey puck when the data was examined.  We’ve seen cherry-picked tree ring data used to claim massive warming when, in fact, the complete data set showed nothing of the sort.  And then there’s the undisputed fact that the earth has been cooling over the last 10 years in the face of predictions by this same group that it would be warming.

All of that (and more) is certainly enough for any layman to find the science involved less than acceptable and demand in very detailed look at its core methods and data. And that’s especially true since it is the basis of a world-wide attempt by governments to institute massive and economy killing restrictions on CO2 and other emissions which, if skeptics are correct, are completely useless and would be of marginal value at the very best.

There is a very simple solution to this mess – to those that are under fire and under scrutiny: show your work. That’s it – put it out there. Doing so is at the very center of the scientific method to which all real scientists supposedly adhere. Let other scientists poke and prod both your methods and data. If it is as solid and “settled” as claimed, it shouldn’t take long to verify that. And if it is correct then even we non-scientific skeptics will have to admit there is a problem. We may still disagree on the solution, but at least the claim of “settled science” will finally have some validity as the warming hypothesis will move into the realm of scientific theory.

All of that said, my guess is that will never happen – reading the emails tells me there is a real desire to avoid that. And that makes me suspicious of the “science”. In fact, it tells me quite a bit about the “science” of the hypothesis involved without having to know any of the scientific details. Given that, you certainly don’t have to be an atmospheric scientist or a genius to be skeptical.  In fact, you have more reason than ever to remain so.


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18 Responses to Climaquiddick – It Doesn’t Take A Scientist …

  • The “hide the decline” in Phil Jones’ Nov. 16, 1999, e-mail referred to Mann’s 1998 temperature chart that hid the declining reliability of tree-rings after 1960. Mann’s chart apparently shows temperatures from 1900 to 1960, as reflected in tree ring studies, and then tacks on actual thermometer readings for the years 1961 to 1998.
    Both Mann and McIntyre said this yesterday. According to skeptic McIntyre, the “hiding” was not exactly an exercise in deception, but McIntyre also said Mann has not yet fully explained why tree rings were a good measure until 1960, but a bad measure after 1960.

    Meanwhile back at the White House we find out that

    Barack Obama’s radical socialist climate czar Carol Browner on Wednesday rejected claims that e-mails stolen from a British university show climate scientists trumped up global warming numbers, saying she considers the science settled.

    .. but in one of those “shades of Haliburton” moments, we find out that she …

    was a board member of one of the leading carbon offset trading companies, APX.

  • I consider “settled science” a post-modern term. Enlightenment philosophy has no such concept. You might use the term as a shortcut for “a theory that has such overwhelming support that most scientists consider it silly to challenge it”, but it’s still a bad term. Newtonian physics once has such a reputation, and was superceded by relativity. So science is never settled. Therefore using the term can only be for rhetorical purposes to confuse laymen into accepting the dictats of their elite betters, and I consider such tampering with meaning for rhetorical benefit to be post-modern.

    Instead of this silly “settled science” terminoloty, the scientific method (which is part of Enlightenment thought) has something assume the status of “theory” based on supporting evidence in experiments. As McQ says, theory relies on either reproducibility, or predictability if reproducibility is impossible (as in some aspects of evolution).

    A theory can *only* be established when a critical mass of scientists both believe that the evidence supports it and that evidence is clear, transparent, and available enough that everyone who wants a shot at interpreting it has one. You might argue that the first condition has been reached for AGW (though for something so big, I don’t consider that true), but the second one certainly was not.

    Given that fact, global warming has to be considered a hypothesis at best, and perhaps a failed one due to its inability to predict. It’s been around barely long for predictability to be tested, of course, but it’s failed its predictability test so far.

    Now if the evidence cited by the main supporters of the hypothesis is called into question, or their methods of analysis are unclear and tainted with fudge factors, cherry picking, or a variety of other fraudulent analysis techniques (as it appears they are), it’s not even clear why this should be a called a theory, much less get the label “settled science”.

    • Newtonian science is still used for such things as calculating spaceflight trajectories. However, it is essentially statistical in nature, and in part has been replaced by things such as relativity and quantum mechanics. It isn’t so much that Newton was wrong, his equations provide the correct answer for situations where the relative speeds are slow and the size large.

      But yeah, you are correct. Just because Newton’s equations do a pefect job explaining what we normally observe does not mean they work in all situations. They don’t.

    • I consider “settled science” a post-modern term. Enlightenment philosophy has no such concept. You might use the term as a shortcut for “a theory that has such overwhelming support that most scientists consider it silly to challenge it”, but it’s still a bad term.

      Once one understands the in-and-out of post-modernism, the present situation becomes glaringly clear.
      Once one understands the history of the early and medieval church, the rest falls into place.

  • Other scientists have, for years, been asking for and been refused the original data on which the CRU based its hypothesis of man-made global warming.

    Some of these groups have, on occasion, released their methodology.  Or at least compiled versions of their model code.  This doesn’t help find problems like the “too drunk now fix later” comments in CRU’s code, but testing of their models showed problems even then.  When you fed the models good data, you got the hockeystick plot.  Data that showed no trends?  Hockeystick plot.  Data that would absolutely disprove the hockeystick plot?  Hockeystick plot.
    Now that the CRU code has been released everyone is figuring out why.  Methodology choices like 50 year moving averaging explain why recent data diverges from older data.  It’s because they don’t have a large enough sample size tosmooth it anymore.

  • Yep. You can tell a lot by the way people act. Hiding their data and methods was a pretty good tip- off for me. And their lack of discussion of all sorts of things — starting with the freaking SUN and any changes it went through.

    • Indeed it is. Any time a scientist or group of scientists refuse to make their data and their methodoligies available to the outside world so that their conclusions can be checked and verified, refuse repeated Freedom of Information Act requests in spite of the fact that their work was funded with public money, and then claim that the entire original data set that was the cornerstone of all their work has been destroyed and that only “modified” data remain, alarm bells should be going off like craxy.
      Any master’s or doctoral dissertation exhibiting these characteristics would be rejected outright. And yet, the “Climatistas” would have us use the work of the CRU and the IPCC as the justification for a multi-trillion dollar re-allocation of the world’s resources????

  • You mean that “consensus” and yelling that “the science is settled!”  isn’t part of the scientific method?

    Go figure.

    One of Jones’ quoted emails was something along the lines of  “I don’t see why I should release this data I worked for decades on so you can try to find something wrong with it”

    Yeah……there’s real science going on there.

    • Anyone claiming that “the science is settled!” is no scientist, but merely a political hack (i.e. Gore, Browner <i>et al</i>).

  • The Ptolemaic system of astronomy was once ‘settled science’, too. Like AGW, increasingly complex arguments involving epicycles, deferents, equants, etc. were used to explain how increasingly uncooperative data fit the theory that the Earth was the center of the universe. Both theories also rely on theology to stifle dissent. We can be grateful that Pope Gore & friends have less power than the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

    • I think an excellent Youtube video could be made using historical examples of the “the science is settled” to make this concept ridiculous.
      Show Columbus being denied ships and men, because the scientific consensus is the world is flat.
      The scientific consensus on spontaneous generation, night air, bleeding, eugenics (this is a big one too, I think very useful to shame progressive alarmists – do you want to be the guy who thought eugenics was okay?) social darwinism, etc.

  • Here is the latest wonder of “peer review” .. the lastest Mann paper has some of the data inverted.  Seems they used the X-ray density data instead of temperature.  The proxy relation is that it should have been inverted, but Mann and his co-authors and the “peer reviewer” like it go by without inverting it before using it as a temperature proxy.

  • The words “Reproduce (by others)” refers to other scientists, just as qualified as those who’ve produced the hypothesis, testing and attempting to reproduce the results that the original scientists claim.

    Actually the criteria “just as qualified” works is the global warming proponents favor.  And in generally I don’t believe “qualifications” are a requirement or at the most should be “adequately” qualified.

    The reason it works in their favor is that the only people qualified in the science of global warming science to the level of the authors have primarily been on the pro-global warming gravy train.  The small percentage that are not, have been dismissed through various forms of ridicule or accused of being shills.

    Just a general side observation but the reliance on ‘qualified experts’ by people in general over my lifetime, especially the last 2-3 decades, has been disappointing and created opportunities for things like the AGW movement to collect followers virtually unopposed.  I’m not sure where this has come from other than people have decided to abdicate any scientific or mathematical awareness, even at a high school level.

  • But only recently did I realize that I had evidence of their fraud in my possession almost from the birth of my interest in the subject.
    I had copies of these two papers in 1990:

    Jones, P. D., P. Ya. Groisman, M. Coughlan, N. Plummer, W. C. Wang & T. R. Karl 1990. Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land, Nature 347 169- 172.
    Wang, W-C, Z. Zeng, T. R Karl, 1990. Urban Heat Islands in China. Geophys. Res. Lett. 17, 2377-2380.

    The first paper has been the major evidence presented by Jones in all of the IPCC reports to dismiss the influence of urban change on the temperature measurements, and also has been used as an excuse for the failure to mention most of the unequivocal evidence that such urban effects exist. The paper was even dragged out again for the 2007 IPCC report.
    The second paper, which shared authors Wang and Karl from the first paper, used the very same data from China which the first paper used to demonstrate the absence of urban influence — yet instead concluded that same data to be proof of the existence of urban influence.

  • To the graduate students and young scientists in fields related to climate research .. welcome to the ranks of the NCAA player who didn’t use drugs but some of his teammates did, the honest Wall Street broker, and the non-pedophile priest.
    You probably did absolutely nothing to be put into the position you maybe in now, but the actions of others in your field of endeavour have affected your future. The best you can hope for is to be “put on probation” while you retrieve your “good name.”
    You probably also know by now, that the science is never settled. The only folks who believe that are fools, idiots and politicians. The old adage that those who lay down with dogs, get up with fleas applies to those politicians as well. Climate Science has been used, this time on an international level. Your “good name” was used.

    • Neo… the pedophile priest thing is out of line. Granted the church has had it’s issues, but to better degree then the public schools. where unions have protected the pedophiles as well.
      So back off the Catholic Church bashing and stick to the science. Why idiots like you need to turn this into something else I don’t understand!

  • The difference between Science and Revelation is that anyone can understand science.
    Indeed,  Climate”change” is more like ancient, mystic religion that anything we know as “science”.