On 11/21, esr, set the tenor for his upcoming posts in Hiding the Decline: Prologue:
For those of you who have been stigmatizing AGW skeptics as “deniers” and dismissing their charges that the whole enterprise is fraudulent? Hope you like the taste of crow, because I do believe there’s a buttload of it coming at you. Piping hot.Comments on Hiding the Decline: Prologue:
Those who claim “scientific consensus” as a justification for any position are attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and have only themselves to blame when it blows back on them. The proper justification of any theory is not “consensus”, it is predictive power.
The most data could tell you is that average temperature is rising and CO2 is too. Well, except that average temperature isn’t rising – it was flat between 1998 and 2008, plunged sharply in 2008, and has not resumed the previous trendline. This is embarassing to AGW alarmists, since CO2 has kept rising and their theories require anthropogenic CO2 forcing to swamp anything that mere nature might be doing – and that’s manifestly not happening.
My point is that the data fails to meet the criteria the alarmists themselves have set. That is, they’ve been quite willing to interpret a short-period temperature rise between 1975 and 1998 as indication that we’re on a long-term trend with that slope, but when we get a decade of flatness after that they ignore it. It’s not responsive and not honest to point out that a decade is too short to mean anything unless you’re also willing to dismiss the previous 23 years.On 11/23, he called for Open-Sourcing the Global Warming Debate, a call I readily agree with:
Over longer timeframes, I don’t think there’s any statistically significant evidence that we’ve deviated off the very shallow warming trend following the last Ice Age. If you scrutinize the alleged data claiming otherwise, you keep finding noise and fraud.
There is only one way to cut through all of the conflicting claims and agendas about the CRU’s research: open-source it all. Publish the primary data sets, publish the programs used to interpret them and create graphs like the well-known global-temperature “hockey stick”, publish everything. Let the code and the data speak for itself; let the facts trump speculation and interpretation.Comments on Open-Sourcing the Global Warming Debate:
We know, from experience with software, that secrecy is the enemy of quality — that software bugs, like cockroaches, shun light and flourish in darkness. So, too. with mistakes in the interpretation of scientific data; neither deliberate fraud nor inadvertent error can long survive the skeptical scrutiny of millions. The same remedy we have found in the open-source community applies – unsurprisingly, since we learned it from science in the first place. Abolish the secrecy, let in the sunlight.
If it doesn’t happen, we’ll know they were scamming all along. Useful outcome either way.
And now, I think, those people are going to pay. Because it could still be that full disclosure will vindicate the AGW crowd, but having read the CRU material…I don’t think so. In all of the scenarios that are now plausible, those who bayed the loudest about “consensus” and howled for the persecution of “denialists” are now set up for a hard fall.
One of the reasons AGW flimflam angers me is that it crowds out sane, constructive environmentalism. An environmental lobby that really cared about saving the planet would be agitating for crash programs to replace the burning of fossil fuels with nuclear energy; buying up rainforest acreage to stem loss of biodiversity; funding research into better battery- and supercap-based storage technology so low-density renewable power sources could be aggregated into baseload power. But the envorinmentalists we have won’t do these things, because they’re fixated on the wrong problems and the wrong means of solving even those.On 11/24, esr examined the code that, quite literally, creates the hockey stick graph in Hiding the Decline: Part 1 – The Adventure Begins:
If the historical temperature data were generally known to be garbage (which I was pretty sure was true even before the leak), it couldn’t be used to justify public policy that is both bad and expensive – like the U.S.’s “cap-and-trade” bill in progress, which has so many giveaways and exemptions that it subverts its own ostensible purposes.
This, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise. It flattens a period of warm temperatures in theComments on Hiding the Decline: Part 1 – The Adventure Begins:
1940s1930s — see those negative coefficients? Then, later on, it applies a positive multiplier so you get a nice dramatic hockey stick at the end of the century.
All you apologists weakly protesting that this is research business as usual and there are plausible explanations for everything in the emails? Sackcloth and ashes time for you. This isn’t just a smoking gun, it’s a siege cannon with the barrel still hot.
There was a brief note about it in a comment on someone else’s blog, enough to clue me that I should grep -r for ARTIFICAL. I dusted off my Fortran and read the file. Whoever wrote the note had caught the significance of the negative coefficients but, oddly, didn’t notice (or didn’t mention) the much more blatant J-shaping near the end of the series.
I have a closely related heuristic: any eco-related scare for which the prescription would result in a massive transfer of power to the political class is bogus.
November 25th, 2009 at 8:02 amOn 11/25, esr asks: Will the AGW fraud discredit science?
Wait just a second. Explain this to me like I’m 12. They didn’t even bother to fudge the data? They hard-coded a hockey stick carrier right into the program?!!
ESR says: Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what they did.
...of course, they now claim that crucial primary datasets were “accidentally” deleted.
After reading some of the emails about evading FOIA2000 requests…accidentally, my ass.
Therefore…the next time we hear a ginned-up panic over some vast environmental crisis, the prudent thing to do will be to remember Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” It will be prudent to suspect that the science is probably already corrupted and demand extra-stringent scrutiny of it under that assumption.Comments on Will the AGW fraud discredit science?
And that brings us to process transparency. I discussed this with particular reference in Open-Sourcing the Global Warming Debate, but there’s another point that deserves attention. Strictly speaking, the rules of science require complete disclosure of all experimental methods, data, and analysis tools so that others can peer-review and replicate the work. We may find it an acceptable to relax those full-disclosure rules to some extent for corporations doing commercially-focused R&D. But that IPR exception should never be granted to scientists whose research touches public policy. Because the stakes are so much higher, disclosure standards must be as well.
If the “hockey team” had been required to make their primary datasets and modeling code available for unrestricted inspection, the AGW fraud could never have turned into a political monster. If Michael Bellesisles had been required to make all his primary data open for inspection, the fraud that was Arming America would never have won a Bancroft Prize. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and full disclosure is the final and deadliest enemy of junk science.
Matt Says:On 11/26, esr examines the Facts to fit the theory:
November 26th, 2009 at 11:44 am
Corporate R&D is mostly engineering, rather than science. Thus, either it produces a working product (the precise definition of “working” may vary, but only the sponsoring organization’s definition and the market’s definition matter, and the latter only in the case of customer-facing projects) or it doesn’t…and if it doesn’t produce, then the methods behind it are irrelevant to anybody but the people who tried it.
The epistemological constraints on an engineer are thus easier to meet than those on a scientist. Peer review is still a good thing, but the integrity of the result isn’t dependent on it the way it is in the sciences, because the result is self-verifying.
ESR says. A telling point. Thank you.
>I am just wondering: Is AGW really junk science, because one team of experts (let’s say “experts”) did have an agenda?
No, it’s junk science because the agenda has driven systematic data suppression and fraud. It’s not the agenda itself that matters, it’s the breacjh in standards of scientific conduct. Those have been repeated and severe.
On 12 Oct 2009, climatologist and “hockey-team” member Kevin Trenberth wrote:Keep an eye on Eric's Armed & Dangerous blog for more on East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) and the "science" of Mann made global warming.The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong.Eyebrows have quite rightly been raised over this quote. It is indeed a travesty that AGW theory cannot account for the lack of warming, and bears out what I and other AGW critics have been saying for years about the fallaciousness and lack of predictive power of AGW models.
But the second sentence is actually far more damning. “The data is surely wrong.” This is how and where most scientific fraud begins.
Scientific fraudsters are not, in general, people pushing theories they know to be false. Outright charlatanism is not actually common, because it’s relatively easy to detect. Humans are evolved for a social competitive environernt and are rather good at spotting lies, except when they’re fooling themselves because they want to believe.
Update: Instalanche! Thanks for the link, Glenn!! If you're here following climategate, checkout the links in the "Previously" section below. If you live in or around St Louis, MO, I hope to see you at the Tea Party at high noon on Kiener Plaza tomorrow (Saturday, 11/28).
- New Zealand Climate Data Fudged
- Pitchforks Pointed at East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU)
- Scientific Fraud at East Anglia Climate Research Unit
- Implications of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit email leak