Here We Go Again

Remember 2000, when everyone was partying in 1999 as though it were the end of the century and millennium, even though it had another year to go? Well, I was reading the American Airlines magazine this morning, and the monthly column from the airline president said that it was his last of the decade. And of course, Newsweek says that it was a “decade from Hell” (presumably because much of it was presided over by the BusHitler), also implying that it comes to a close at the end of the month. I’m not going to go through the explanation again, but the decade doesn’t end until a year from now.

A Working Scientist’s View

Thoughts on Climaquiddick from Derek Lowe:

I have deep sympathy for the fellow who tried to reconcile the various poorly documented and conflicting data sets and buggy, unannotated code that the CRU has apparently depended on. And I can easily see how this happens. I’ve been on long-running projects, especially some years ago, where people start to lose track of which numbers came from where (and when), where the underlying raw data are stored, and the history of various assumptions and corrections that were made along the way. That much is normal human behavior. But this goes beyond that.

Those of us who work in the drug industry know that we have to keep track of such things, because we’re making decisions that could eventually run into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars of our own money. And eventually we’re going to be reviewed by regulatory agencies that are not staffed with our friends, and who are perfectly capable of telling us that they don’t like our numbers and want us to go spend another couple of years (and another fifty or hundred million dollars) generating better ones for them. The regulatory-level lab and manufacturing protocols (GLP and GMP) generate a blizzard of paperwork for just these reasons.

But the stakes for climate research are even higher. The economic decisions involved make drug research programs look like roundoff errors. The data involved have to be very damned good and convincing, given the potential impact on the world economy, through both the possible effects of global warming itself and the effects of trying to ameliorate it. Looking inside the CRU does not make me confident that their data come anywhere close to that standard…

But why should we pay any attention to him? He is, after all, one of those Evil Scientists™ in the pay of Big Business, not a noble one trying to save the planet (with millions of dollars in government and left-wing grants).

As a commenter notes, the biggest casualty of this episode is the credibility of science itself. But if it saves us from those trying to save the planet from us, perhaps it’s worth the cost, if it can be regained.

Too Busy To Blog

I’m heading back to LA in the morning from Denver, but in the meantime, if you were wondering who was responsible for Climaquiddick, wonder no more — it was the oil companies. So sayeth the head of the IPCC. But don’t worry, he has some reassuring words for us:

Dr Pachauri dismissed the suggestion that biased research had crept into the IPCC’s most recent report on the science of climate change. A complex system of checks and balances was in place to prevent bias being insinuated into the panel’s work, he said.

Well, that’s certainly a relief. It probably works like those “layers of fact checkers and editors” at the LA Times.

How Wide-Spread Is The Damage?

I’m certainly not familiar with the literature, but I’m sure that a lot of people out there are, and I hope that they’re starting to survey just how far-reaching the destruction of the recent revelations from East Anglia and Happy Valley are to the “settled science” of climate change. In theory, someone could put together a tree of citation dependencies, and see how much of the existing papers are dependent on what we now know to be bogus data and models, either directly or second or third generation. How much original research is there out there that isn’t either derivative from this flawed analysis, or was similarly “pushed” to match it through peer and other pressure?

Until we have the answer to this question, I’m not going to take seriously people who tell me that the vast majority of the work continues to confirm climatic disaster if we don’t immediately put into effect measures to wreck the global economy. And I hope that we can have an answer before Copenhagen. Not that any of the scientific illiterates at that meeting, including Carol Browner, will care.

[Update a few minutes later]

There’re a lot of similar thoughts in comments in a related post by Jonathan Adler.

One other thought, per those comments. I agree with this:

My own sense from reading the emails and the code is perhaps not so much that there was active fraud but rather that there was just a strong pressure to conform results to the desired output combined with a poor understanding of statistical and software methodology.

People will invariably fool themselves if they can. Actually most of the scientific method arguably is designed to prevent people from fooling themselves — from seeing spurious patterns in noisy data. People inexpert in modeling large systems or in the dangers of statistical modeling not only will always find spurious patterns, but will actually believe the patterns exist.

Here, once a certain fairly small critical mass of scientists citing one another’s papers and voting one another grant money is reached, it’s not realistic to expect them to see the problems with their data. Their computer code shows they are desperately trying to get answers they want and need, but they just don’t have the software skills, or statistics skills, or knowledge of large-scale data modeling to do it reliably. And they don’t really want to know either.

Was there some fraud involved? I’m not so sure this is fraud in the classical sense. I think it is more a set of institutional incentives that force researchers to publish or perish, to win grant money or leave academia: the researchers remaining have a certain mercurial stance, combined with a love of the topic but poor statistical analysis and software skills. It’s very easy to understand how they could come to believe they are seeing patterns that are not there.

I’ve called them charlatans, but that’s too harsh. I think they’re true believers in their new religion. But what angers me is when they and their defenders accuse me of being “anti-science” (even sometimes to the degree of lumping me and others in with creationists) when it is they who abandoned science, even if they don’t realize it.

[Sunday morning update]

Mann is going to be investigated by Penn State. As the blogger notes, will it be a real investigation, or a whitewash?

[Sunday evening update]

When you’ve lost the geeks, you’ve lost the war:

Along with a hoard of emails, some source code for the computer climate models was also hacked and released to the public — and the source code is an unusable mess. It doesn’t take expertise in climatology to look at source code and determine that the code is garbage. There are many more geeks with software expertise than with climate expertise, and the geek community will go through every line of code and likely conclude that the computer models are so flawed that any conclusions drawn on them are without merit.

Despite the liberal tendencies of many geeks, I believe that the source code evidence will be insurmountable for most. Some will continue to cling to AGW because of a devotion to left-wing politics, but the majority ofgeeks will abandon their belief, and that abandonment by geeks will truly spell the end for AGW.

I wonder how long it will be before we reach the tipping point at which no one will admit to having been fooled by this nonsense? After the war, it was hard to find a Frenchman who wasn’t in the resistance.

“There Was Proof Of Fraud All Along”

Vincent Gray:

In 1999, I had a stroke of luck. I asked one of the IPCC officials for the data from which one of their maps was compiled, and I received it. I wrote a paper analyzing the results, and submitted it to Geophysical Research Letters. They just sat on it. I instead published it on John Daly’s website. Today, it is still the only paper recognized by Google on “Regional Temperature Change.”

I now know my paper was not critical enough, since we have proof that the basic data and its processing is far more dubious than I had envisaged.

I tried to update my paper and resubmit it. Nothing doing. Since the small group — revealed within the CRU emails — control most of the peer reviewers, very few peer reviewed papers which criticize that group are allowed to appear in the most prominent published literature which dominates the academic establishment.

I have only been able to find a place to release my criticisms on the internet, now the only realm where unfettered scientific discussion is possible.

“Peer review” versus open source. The net continues to smash priesthoods, first in “journalism,” and now in “science.”

There’s also a great comment over there. Leftists love to quote the phrase about “the military-industrial complex” in Eisenhower’s farewell address. They’re less fond of this bit:

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Gee, who might that be…?

[Update a few minutes later]

More stonewalling of the heretics, this time in France. Maybe they should be thankful that they were merely stonewalled, and not literally stoned. And of course, “stonewalling” had an entirely different meaning under the rule of the Taliban, who these high priests of this flawed religion are starting more and more to resemble.

[Update a while later]

Calling it what it is — green totalitarianism:

The most important take home lesson is that global frauding was the clear and conscious work of a political machine aiming to steal your money, your liberties, and your country. It was a massive, worldwide attempt at a coup d’etat, and the victims were going to include all the free and prosperous peoples of the world. Hitler had his Reichstag fire. Today’s transnational left had its global warming fraud. The political goal was exactly the same: maximum power through maximum fear.

It wasn’t “manufactured doubt.” It was manufactured crisis, and as Rahm told us, you don’t want to waste one of those.

Kill The Bills

Do health reform right:

Insuring the uninsured is a moral imperative. The problem is that the Democrats have chosen the worst possible method — a $1 trillion new entitlement of stupefying arbitrariness and inefficiency.

The better choice is targeted measures that attack the inefficiencies of the current system one by one — tort reform, interstate purchasing. and taxing employee benefits. It would take 20 pages to write such a bill, not 2,000 — and provide the funds to cover the uninsured without wrecking both U.S. health care and the U.S. Treasury.

But that doesn’t allow them to take over the industry and run our lives.

Some Real Discussion Of Climate-Change Science

Over at Steve McIntyre’s place. It’s a lot better than the “peer-reviewed” stuff, mainly because they aren’t drinking their own bathwater. And speaking of which, I’m disappointed, but not really surprised, at Jeff Masters, whose hurricane opinions I value a great deal, and his latest ad hominem attack. Delingpole needs to add this one to the list:

The history of the Manufactured Doubt industry provides clear lessons in evaluating the validity of their attacks on the published peer-reviewed climate change science. One should trust that the think tanks and allied “skeptic” bloggers such as Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit and Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That will give information designed to protect the profits of the fossil fuel industry. Yes, there are respected scientists with impressive credentials that these think tanks use to voice their views, but these scientists have given up their objectivity and are now working as lobbyists. I don’t like to call them skeptics, because all good scientists should be skeptics. Rather, the think tanks scientists are contrarians, bent on discrediting an accepted body of published scientific research for the benefit of the richest and most powerful corporations in history. Virtually none of the “sound science” they are pushing would ever get published in a serious peer-reviewed scientific journal, and indeed the contrarians are not scientific researchers. They are lobbyists. Many of them seem to believe their tactics are justified, since they are fighting a righteous war against eco-freaks determined to trash the economy.

Well, gee, which is it? Are they hired guns, or ideologues? And in what way does that differentiate them from the people who are taking grants from government bureaucrats whmo, if all of a sudden the supposed problem disappeared, would equally suddenly find better things to do with the money? Even Masters admits that the evil lobbyists have their value, in the very next paragraph:

I will give a small amount of credit to some of their work, however. I have at times picked up some useful information from the contrarians, and have used it to temper my blogs to make them more balanced. For example, I no longer rely just on the National Climatic Data Center for my monthly climate summaries, but instead look at data from NASA and the UK HADCRU source as well. When the Hurricane Season of 2005 brought unfounded claims that global warming was to blame for Hurricane Katrina, and a rather flawed paper by researchers at Georgia Tech showing a large increase in global Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, I found myself agreeing with the contrarians’ analysis of the matter, and my blogs at the time reflected this.

This is why I’m disappointed. Jeff has to take off the blinders, and recognize that much of what he’s been told by his colleagues in the climate-change industry is built on a house of quicksand. I hope that, on further reflection, he will realize that those “paid skeptics” (hey, some of us do it for nothing — are they supposed to be monks?) have it right on much of this.

[Update in the morning]

I’ll probably have more thoughts on Masters’ “Manufactured Doubt” industry versus the “Manufactured Crisis” industry later, but we’re flying to Denver today for a few days, and I may not get time till later in the weekend. In the meantime, you might want to see House of David for more on the subject. (Off topic, I’m not sure that is a very secure long-term domain for blog permalinks. He should consider getting his own URL)

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!