Mann-erisms: Where did we get that idea?

Guest post by John A

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/michael_mann_hurricane_matrix.jpgIt’s always a difficult place for me to deal with interviews with Michael Mann, because on previous occasions Mann gets to say ridiculous things and get praised for them by fawning interviewers. One of the great mysteries of climate science is why Mann never gets interviewed by an informed and intelligent interviewer in command of the facts – or maybe it isn’t such a mystery after all.

Today’s journalistic pulpit was provided by “Faye Flam” and published on Philly.com

For openers, Mann hasn’t lost his touch for the paranoid conspiracy theory:

Though he has been accused of dodging the press, Mann, 44, agreed readily to an interview on a bitterly cold day last week. The campus was deserted, as almost everyone was away for winter break. Mann was affable and calm as he answered the assertions of his critics.

The hardest part for him, he said, is having his integrity questioned. Scientists, he said, are “not trained to deal with these kinds of attacks.”

“My suspicion is, this has been orchestrated at a high level,” he said of the hacking.

What? Where? This is Michael Mann, famous for questioning the integrity of others (especially if their surname begins with “Mc”) in the most lurid terms yet when he’s caught out orchestrating boycotts of scientific journals, journalists and scientists who dare peek at his data and methodology, undermining and subverting the whole scientific process, it’s all a big conspiracy.

Now I have to reach for the Mylanta:

Mann points out that the hockey stick is not widely seen as a smoking gun implicating human activity in global warming. And it was not the giant graph used in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. That was a graph of the carbon dioxide component of our atmosphere – which also is rising sharply.

Erm. The Hockey Stick was shown on AIT but misrepresented by Gore as “Dr Thompson’s Thermometer”.

The Mann Hockey Stick on AIT

All of this was worked out in November 2007 on Climate Audit but for some reason “Faye Flam” can’t get a clue. What do you expect from journalists? Background research? Basic checking?

Here’s Steve McIntyre’s replication of the AIT graph using the Hockey Stick, the CRU temperature record and some free software:

Steve Mc's replication of AIT's graph

Look similar, Faye?

Another gulp of antacid, please:

The paper that contained the first hockey stick appeared in 1998, with a more complete reconstruction in 1999. Mann said he was surprised it got so much news coverage. After the first paper, he said, he was asked by the Clinton administration to advise the president on climate change for the 1999 State of the Union address.

He was just shocked, shocked when he phone started ringing off the hook. Yeah, right.

That’s when Mann said he realized the hockey stick had taken on a life of its own.

In 2006, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), a global-warming skeptic, commissioned an investigation into the hockey stick papers, led by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University.

Woah! Woah Faye! Back off a little! In between 1999 and 2006 Mann was Lead Author of the key chapter on paleoclimate of the IPCC Third Assessment Report which featured the Hockey Stick no less than SIX TIMES. Why is he surprised at the reaction to the Hockey Stick, Faye? Helloooo?

Wegman said Mann made a mistake in the way he centered the data in the graph. He suggested that Mann and his colleagues were brash young researchers who should have gotten more help on their math.

Now here’s where I get most annoyed – the willingness of journalists to selectively misquote and misrepresent historical documents or allow their interviewees to misrepresent them. Nowhere did Wegman suggest that the Hockey Team were “brash young researchers who should have gotten more help with their math”. What he actually said and put into the Congressional record was this:

While the work of Michael Mann and colleagues presents what appears to be compelling evidence of global temperature change, the criticisms of McIntyre and McKitrick, as well as those of other authors mentioned are indeed valid.

“Where we have commonality, I believe our report and the [NAS] panel essentially agree. We believe that our discussion together with the discussion from the NRC report should take the ‘centering’ issue off the table. [Mann’s] decentred methodology is simply incorrect mathematics …. I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn’t matter because the answer is correct anyway.

Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.

and furthermore Wegman’s Team did a stand-up job showing that the peer-review process was likely to have been short-circuited:

It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent.

Of course, now we know that such short-circuiting was entirely deliberate – it was subverted by Mann and his friends in Rocky Mountain High places. Did you read the emails, Faye? No.

Mann’s friends certainly like to rally to the cause, demonstrating that some people have no shame:

A different picture is painted by statistician Douglas Nychka, who examined Mann’s work as part of a similar panel assembled by the National Academy of Sciences, also in 2006. “There are some things that he could have done better, but there’s no fatal flaw,” said Nychka. “There’s nothing that would make you discount the whole analysis.”

Hey Doug! Did you read the Wegman Report? He said the Mann Analysis was “bad science” and “incorrect mathematics”  so which part of that didn’t you understand?

Nychka, who works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said the paper became so controversial because it was misinterpreted as proof that humans cause global warming.

Now, where did we get that idea? Who could have misinterpreted it and why didn’t Mann warn them? Think, think…

And Nychka manages to re-saddle several hobby-horses and send them stampeding:

Nychka said he would like to see Wegman and Mann’s other critics create their own graphs of past climates: “Why don’t they come back with a positive contribution, put some alternative forward?”

Of course, spotting that Mann misused statistics in a horrible way cannot be seen as positive – positive for the integrity of the scientific method, yes – but not positive by people surprised at the publicity of their own badly calculated statistical nonsense portrayed over and over.

I wonder if Hwang woo Suk tried that line with the bloggers who exposed his lies – did he ask them to produce their own stem cell lines before they could criticise him?

But I digress…

The data are all easily available at several sites, said Nychka. Mann, for example, has posted his data leading to the “hockey stick” online through the National Climatic Data Center.

Yes, NOW the data is online. But the methodology and the identification of that data certainly wasn’t because Mann claimed that as his personal property and it took a Congressional Committee to pry it from him. But then you didn’t do any of the background did you Faye?

Since 1998, other people have made their own “paleoclimate” reconstructions. Putting those together, the National Academy report in 2006 created what has been called the spaghetti plot – a chart that superimposes different researchers’ graphs of global temperatures over the last 1,000 years. The spaghetti strands curve up and down, but all rise dramatically in the 20th century. The overall pattern, notes Nychka, is the same.

I think we should let Wegman shoot this lame nag through the head:

Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on [Mann’s work]. As analyzed in our social network, there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.

It is clear that many of the proxies are re-used in most of the papers. It is not surprising that the papers would obtain similar results and so cannot really claim to be independent verifications.

Different researchers, but all of them connected directly to Mann and used the same proxies over and over. It’s not independence as we know it, Doug.

And then to Climategate. Faye is obviously well out of her depth and sinking fast

Mann recalls a Friday night when a colleague alerted him that the hackers had tried to expose the e-mails on RealClimate, the blog he founded with another climatologist.

Over the ensuing weeks, pundits have shifted their focus from one set of e-mail exchanges to another, dubbing the issue “climategate.” First, the spotlight shone on an exchange between two other researchers referring to a “trick” Mann had used in plotting his data.

But not even Mann’s critics can cite any evidence of deception in the now doubly investigated hockey stick papers. The term trick, said Mann, described a technique he used to display his data.

Again this fascination with deception, but I’m willing to bet this is Mann misrepresenting what actually happened with a journalist too lazy to check facts.

Other pundits criticized Mann and colleagues for agreeing to shun the journal Climate Research after it published work by climate-change skeptics. Mann said the particular article was bad science and was “polluting” the journal.

Pundits, Faye? They were scientists including the editor of the journal.

The article finishes with a tear-jerker:

There is still much debate over how big a role human activity plays in the current warming trend, and how the future will be affected. Climate science – and earth science in general – is not expected to make the kinds of sharp predictions that chemists and physicists can make with repeated experiments. “It would be nice if we could do controlled experiments,” Mann said. “But we have only one Earth.”

Yes, and all of these nasty questions make baby Jesus cry.

I wonder why newspapers are sinking fast into the mud of history and then Faye Flam arrives to remove the wonder.

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Tenuc

Looks like another CAGW set up with a tame journo in place to let one of the arch Climategate cabal members try to defend his poor science and even poorer ethics!
Why does this old Professor William Hughes Mearns nonsense poem spring to mind?
As I was walking down the stair,
I saw a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today…
I wish, I wish he’d go away!

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

My friend Lonnie Thompson, he is my Han Solo.
My mentor Roger Revelle. He was my Obi Wan. He trained me to become the perfect master, Lord protector of the universe and prophet of the future. I paint such a romantic picture of us in my documentary.
When I refer to these people I make sure San Franciscans believe they are like my family and that I have inherited vast scientific knowledge from them.
Anyway, Revelle was a senile retard. I say that because he stopped believing in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming before he died.
Al Gore’s Holy Hologram

Faye assumed that ClimateGate was the result of hacking, but everything points towards a whistle blower.
What a turd of an article, Faye.

Les Johnson

Faye Flam? Are you sure this interview was not conducted by her brother, Flim?
I hope you e-mailed a copy of this retort to Ms Flam.

“Bread and circuses”, provided by a willing and complicit media …
.
.

Lol, good stuff John A
And well done for having the stomach to read that guff, I clicked away after a few seconds when I ran across it the other day. Post your appraisal to the people conducting the Mann investigation, and demand a response.

Antonio San

Unbelievable!

crosspatch

This is what is known as “preaching to the choir”. It is an article designed lift the spirits of the “believers” whose faith may have taken quite a hit recently. I wouldn’t worry much about it. The thinking people of their readership will see it for what it is and the influence of the paper will wane further because of it.

Les Johnson

Ms Flam is also a sex columnist, for what it is worth.
http://www.fayeflam.com/

What is CAGW? I know what AGW, but what’s the C?
[Catastrophic]

Bryn

When I picked up this article I did not know who is Faye Flam. Google gave me the following summaries, “… science writer, sex columnist and author of The Score” and again, “a science reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, charts this carnal quest in “The Score: How the Quest for Sex Has Shaped the …”
By the time I had read the article, my first thought was “Flim-flam” (boom, boom).

David Ball

Mann is the consummate mannipulator. Mannipulate the data, mannipulate the media. This interviewer was as carefully selected as those who interview Al Gore. He is pretending to be the victim. We know better.

Calvin Ball

Faye’s brother is Flim, I presume?

John A.
You, sir – are a hoot!
And in a time of general gloom and foreboding – your sarcasm is just the ticket.
That and some great analysis of that interview.
I’ve moved beyond the Mylanta phase and now reach for the Vasotec.

John —
Great article, but one thing you neglected to mention is Flam’s assertion that Barton was the first to criticize the HS. She’s apparently unaware of the MM papers.
Also, while it’s true that the giant graph in AIT was of CO2, Mann’s HS was, as you point out, also depicted, but misrepresented as “Dr. Thompson’s Thermometer”, and indeed put forward “as a smoking gun implicating human activity in global warming,” to use Flam’s words.
However, it’s not possible that Mann was unaware of this substitution, since on Jan 11, 2008, when Lonnie Thompson admitted in response to a question that he had noticed it right away (see CA, “Gore science ‘advisor’ says that he has ‘no responsibility”>, he also mentioned that he immediately notified Mann and that they had a good chuckle over it.

Nice job. I read the article this morning and could barely finish it. It’s difficult being lied to when you can just click on something else.
It’s another leftist paper in its death throes.

Sharon

I’ve heard that it’s *always* sunny in Philadelphia! That might explain Faye’s bias toward purveyors of statistics that prove AGW is real.

Paddy

John A: Your post is an excellent.
You wonder why none of Mann’s interviewers are sufficiently informed to probe his work and involvement in Cimategate. The answer seems to be rather obvious. Mann will only submit to interviews by friendly and like minded journalists. What we need is a stealth journalist or double agent to do an ambush interview.

Orchestrated at the highest level, eh? Highest level of what?? I guess he’s referring to the vast right wing conspiracy…of course as Mann’s self-destructing with every publication and interview, we took him off our agenda months ago.

Jimmy Haigh

I read the Flim Flam article – it was particularly gut churning. Thanks for articulating my response!

I’d say that Mann is getting this whitewash press coverage because he’s under investigation. He’s spinning the public against writing their legislators in support of the investigation. This had to have been set up by his attorney.

Thanks for that concise summary of events. You have to laugh at Mann’s version of history. It is amazing that no help was sought from statisticians but then I suppose you could’t come up with natty cut and paste data series if you consulted them.

Phillip Bratby

If Mann is being investigated, should he be doing these interviews?
REPLY: He’s taking the “Blago” approach, apparently – Anthony

PaulH

So the best interview Mann can get is with a part-time sex advice columnist for the dead-tree media? What next, a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live?

Phillip Bratby (12:33:20) : edit
“If Mann is being investigated, should he be doing these interviews?”
Good question. IMHO, and I’m not a lawyer, his attorney would only be trying to spin the local (philly) populations opinion if he thought there was a good chance that a criminal prosecution would result from the investigation, though his university may just be organizing it to help preserve alumni donations. Take your pick
PaulH (12:34:41) : edit
“So the best interview Mann can get is with a part-time sex advice columnist for the dead-tree media? What next, a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live?”
LOL good catch. Why would a sex advice columnist be assigned this story? Maybe she was the only one for sale?

Stephen Brown

In the investigative trade, this story would be termed a “plant”. It’s been published for something other than its news value; it is there to be referred to at a later date. Mark my words!

Phillip Bratby

Anthony: Thanks; I had to look Blago up on Wiki (of all places). Not a recommended course of action in the UK to talk to all and sundry when being investigated.

manfredkintop

Les Johnson (11:45:59) :
Faye Flam? Are you sure this interview was not conducted by her brother, Flim?
I hope you e-mailed a copy of this retort to Ms Flam.
Having a unique background that included working in the media for 15 years, and as a promoter of GHG verification (which ironically led to my AGW de-programming), I have made it my mission to “enlighten” writers and editors of every piece of shoddy AGW journalism I come across as a professional courtesy.
Ms. Flam will not be the last.

DirkH

“REPLY: He’s taking the “Blago” approach, apparently – Anthony”
But he won’t land a shampoo deal.

a jones

Slitgh;y OT but for us Brits is ?Mylanta? and antacid brand or some kind of sedative?
Or do I misinterpret?
Kindest Regards

kadaka

Ah, Mann. Ignores critics, bullies and dominates colleagues while trying to take control of his profession, sticks to interviews with a fawning media, alters the real truth and even makes things up so the big picture looks pretty, and continues to make a career out of recycling the same basic material with small changes, minor revisions, and the occasional big extravagant masterpiece. Plus if you have questions about his work, well, you are not qualified to comment as you are not in the business, and/or just not intelligent enough to understand and accept the obvious sheer brilliance of it all. Just the behavior one would expect from a big hotshot Hollywood producer.
After all, just witness his magnificent seminal work, Miami Vice.
(Yes, I am starting to wonder if somewhere inside his brain there is some sort of short-circuit making that association. Same name, so why shouldn’t there be the same power and glory?)

Henry Galt

The [snip] are too dumb to real-lies that monopolies, duopolies and bad science lies are driving their audience away from the rags.
Advertising revenue drying up puts hacks’ backs to the wall. Mass unemployment follows.
I suppose they were worse off during Stalinism as they had a blindfold on and had to hang around with lawyers also. (Sorry FB and Roger – exceptions prove the rule)

P Walker

What amazes me , apart from Mann’s mendacity and Ms Flam’s willingness to swallow it , are some of the comments following the interview . While the comments (I didn’t read them all) seemed to be somewhat balanced , the vitriol coming from the warmists never ceases . When will people who obviously have no idea what they’re talking about stop accusing those who disagree with them of ignorance ? Why do people, whose idea of a rebuttal is to shout down – or shut down – opposing opinions , turn around and accuse their opponents of the same thing , especially when someone calmly points out a glaring flaw in their argument ? How much longer will it be before reasonable people get sick of the whole thing ?

jorgekafkazar

Cathy (12:12:57) : “I’ve moved beyond the Mylanta™ phase and now reach for the Vasotec™.”
Me, I go right for the Dramamine™ but keep my plastic wastebasket handy.

JAE

One bright spot, John:
“There is still much debate over how big a role human activity plays in the current warming trend, and how the future will be affected. ”
At least one of the scientifically illiterate and hopelessly biased journalists has finally admitted the most important point: that the science just ain’t settled. She’s way ahead of a lot of other journalists, even though she still has a lot to learn.
It is actually comical to me to watch these folks scurry around trying to put the spin on such a clear proof of bad science (to be kind). No matter how hard the MSM tries, they will never sweep this under the rug. It’s just too big and important. Even though Climategate, BY ITSELF, doesn’t disprove the AGW hypothesis, it definitely DOES open a big window for the world to see how much corruption has been associated with one of the most influential parts of the “science.” It also will result in broadcasting all of Steve Mc and other “skeptics” to thousands more people who would not have paid any attention, if it were not for Climategate. The AGW alarmists are SCREWED, IMHO!

royfomr

[snip – sorry, off color]

royfomr

Correction. I meant “Hung by a Hockey Stick”
Apologies for typo.

royfomr

Sorry moderator just couldn’t resist. Thanks for deleting.

Steve J

Could it be that Flam was selected for this soft fluff piece, because “sex” sells and therefore it will have more people read it?

Vincent

It is amazing that Mann is trying to downplay the importance that the hockey stick holds for the whole AGW hypothesis. It forms one of the main pillars of support. But to now say something like “hockey stick is not widely seen as a smoking gun implicating human activity in global warming.”
Why, it would be as if the Pope were to suddenly say that the resurection is not widely seen as the main platform of Christianity. (However, I could imagine the dopey Arch Bishop of Canterbury saying something like that.)

Dermot Carroll

The other issue I did’nt spot here is “hide the decline” Am I correct in saying that this is where the proxy data, did not show the modern increase, so the modern temperature date was included instead. Also does the same apply to the later spaghetti graph?

slow to follow

John A – please can you provide a reference for where Wegman says this?:
“Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.”
I searched the .pdf you linked for “method” and did not find it.

PhilW

BBC Radio 2 – Michael Ball presents his Sunday Brunch. Eve Pollard takes a look at the papers. 17 minutes in, global warming gets a mention………..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ps61x

Roger Knights

“My suspicion is, this has been orchestrated at a high level,” he said of the hacking.

What? Where? This is Michael Mann, famous for questioning the integrity of others (especially if their surname begins with “Mc”) in the most lurid terms yet when he’s caught out orchestrating boycotts of scientific journals, journalists and scientists who dare peek at his data and methodology, undermining and subverting the whole scientific process, it’s all a big conspiracy.

To be fair, he was talking only of the hacking, not of the critiques. And I suspect he may have inside knowledge of how the hacking investigation is proceeding. I don’t think that he and many other key warmists would be voicing this suspicion of an outside hack unless they had something to go on, or they’d look foolishly “paranoid” down the road. I think China had the means and the motive to do such a hack, and that in addition there is a bit of circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction.

P Walker (12:59:22) :
What amazes me , apart from Mann’s mendacity and Ms Flam’s willingness to swallow it , are some of the comments following the interview .

I hope the author, John A, posts this piece in the comments section.

Jimbo

Computer Models
“Modellers have an inbuilt bias towards forced climate change because the causes and effect are clear.”
“General circulation modelling of Holocene climate variability”,
by Gavin Schmidt, Drew Shindell, Ron Miller, Michael Mann and David Rind,
published in Quaternary Science Review in 2004.)
http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/Schmidtetal-QSR04.pdf

I kept reading the journalist’s name as “Flim Flam”. Perhaps my brain just connects the definition with Mann.

MrCPhysics

To see how Mann thinks about MM and the Wegman committee this
http://assassinationscience.com/climategate/
is an absolutely indispensable resource. It’s the best thing I’ve seen published for the uninitiated, and needs to be cited more widely.

JCP

Yes she has a sex column but she also does science writing. This is from UCSC’s science writing program website.
Faye Flam (’88) B.S., geophysics, Caltech; internships: The Economist (London), Science News; jobs: news office, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Washington, D.C., bureau chief, ChemWeek; staff writer, Science; now science writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Author of The Score: How the Quest for Sex Has Shaped the Modern Man (Penguin, 2008).

Roger Knights

JAE:
Even though Climategate, BY ITSELF, doesn’t disprove the AGW hypothesis, it definitely DOES open a big window for the world to see how much corruption has been associated with one of the most influential parts of the “science.”

Analogy: Suppose there’d been a “Kinseygate” in the 50s that had exposed his team’s intramural shenanigans. It wouldn’t have disproved the basics of his science (i.e., that there are a lot more weirdos out there than are letting on to it, including you, one way or another, hypocrite lecteur), but it would have cast considerable doubt on his objectivity and thus on the reliability of his statistics, which were considerably exaggerated due to (very) poor science (selection bias).