Admitting Mistakes

…”in a hostile environment.” Some thoughts from Judith Curry:

Ralph Keeling behaved with honesty and dignity by publicly admitting these errors and thanking Nic Lewis.

Such behavior shouldn’t be news, however; it is how all scientists should behave, always.

Imagine how the course of climate science and the public debate on climate change would be different if Michael Mann would have behaved in a similar way in response to McIntyre and McKitrick’s identification of problems with the hockey stick analysis.

I don’t think he’s capable of it.

By quickly admitting mistakes and giving credit where due, Ralph Keeling has done something unusual and laudatory in the field of climate science. If all climate scientists behaved this way, there would be no ‘hostile environment.’

I find it to be a sad state of affairs when a scientist admitting mistakes gets more kudos than the scientist actually finding the mistakes. But given the state of climate science, I guess finding mistakes seems to be a more common story than a publishing scientist actually admitting to mistakes.

Sadly, yes.

11 thoughts on “Admitting Mistakes”

        1. A couple of people have replied to my above comment at Climate etc., I’ve tried to reply to them, but for some reason my comment isn’t appearing at JC’s site, my intended comment points out that M&M 2005 claims that: “The “hockey stick” shaped temperature reconstruction of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) has been widely applied. However it has not been previously noted in print that, prior to their principal components (PCs) analysis on tree ring networks, they carried out an unusual data transformation which strongly affects the resulting PCs. Their method, when tested on persistent red noise, nearly always produces a hockey stick shaped first principal component (PC1) and overstates the first eigenvalue.”

        2. So did you get the part where real scientists told you you were wrong? Politely of course but there it is.

          “Sceptical Science” should read “sceptical of science”.

          1. I’m surprised you’ve suddenly so much confidence in real scientists, given that the vast majority involved in the field accept that there’s a threat from ACC, that Mann got it basically right and that most of M&M’s claims were wrong. As it is the “real scientists” you refer to misrepresented what I said, which was that M&M implied that the hockey stick shaped graph was a product of Mann using PCA, if you don’t believe me go read M&M 2005.

    1. Yes. It is interesting that being an expert on reading tree-rings and ice-cores also makes one an expert on managing entire economic systems. And those same specialized experts always seem to have only one solution–a failed 19th Century pseudo-scientific program of economic creationism that caused over 100 million deaths last century.

  1. I don’t think the current approach is all that virtuous. It’s disturbing how much attention the correction received in normal media versus the little attention directed to the correcters. Would the correction have happened in the first place, if the critic didn’t have a blog which people read?

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