Steve McIntyre uncovers another hockey stick trick – where are the academic cops?

NOTE: since this is clearly an important finding with far reaching implications, this will be a “top post” at WUWT for the next couple of days. I urge other bloggers to spread the word.  – Anthony

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Just when you think the bottom of the Hockey Stick rabbit hole has been reached, Steve McIntyre finds yet more evidence of misconduct by the Team.

The research was from Briffa and Osborn (1999) published in Science magazine and purported to show the consistency of the reconstruction of past climate using tree rings with other reconstructions including the Mann Hockey Stick. But the trick was exposed in the Climategate dossier, which also included code segments and datasets.

In the next picture, Steve shows what Briffa and Osborn did – not only did they truncate their reconstruction to hide a steep decline in the late 20th Century but also a substantial early segment from 1402-1550:

As I’ve written elsewhere, this sort of truncation can be characterized as research misconduct – specifically falsification. But where are the academic cops? Any comment from Science magazine?

Steve also discusses the code underlying the plot and you can see how the truncation is a clear deliberate choice – not something that falls out of poorly understood analysis or poor programming.

In the comments, Kip Hansen posts the following:

In reference to Mann’s Trick….obliquely, yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on Zicam (a homeopathic nasal spray) ruled in part:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/health/23bizcourt.html?_r=1&hpw

The Supreme Court has said that companies may be sued under the securities law for making statements that omit material information, and it has defined material information as the sort of thing that reasonable investors would believe significantly alters the ‘total mix’ of available information.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the court on Tuesday, roundly rejected Matrixx’s proposal that information can be material only if it meets standards of statistical significance.

‘Given that medical professionals and regulators act on the basis of evidence of causation that is not statistically significant,’ she wrote, ‘it stands to reason that in certain cases reasonable investors would as well.’

Thus, hiding or omitting information, even if one feels it is ‘erroneous’ or ‘outlying’ (or whatever they claim) is still possibly fraudulent ( or in this case, scientifically improper) if it would ‘add to the total mix of available information’. Statistical significance is not to be the deciding factor.

In the case of Briffa and Osborn, no statistical fig leaf was applied that justified the truncation of data, so far as I can see.

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Sean Peake

Lego Science

Mark Nutley

No end to the junk these jokers claim is science.

MarkW

Let me see if I have this right. According to the team, trees are good proxies for temperatures, except when they aren’t.
And how do you determine when they are and when they aren’t? Apparently, when the proxy shows what you want to see, they are valid. When they don’t, they aren’t.

Jenn Oates

And yet still my students bring in their weekly science articles–ever more and more shrill–that proclaim that the world is coming to an end because it’s warming. No matter how many times I refute it they just don’t believe it because they don’t read it on yahoo news.

Eric Anderson

As Steve has often said, these are the kinds of activities that would land a stock promoter in jail. Of course, it’s just all in a day’s work for the Team . . .
It is hard to know whether they were intentionally deceptive or just so caught up in the “rightness” of their cause that they literally couldn’t see the discrepancies or couldn’t understand the implications. Amazing that at some point one of them didn’t wake up one night thinking, “Wait a minute, this is wrong.”

matt

My god, what are these charlatans doing to science!
The once thing that has dragged mankind out of ignorance and superstition, that has given great wealth and longevity to the world, and these peopple are destroying it with their lies and deceit.
My god they should be stripped of their qualifications and dishonoured publicly!

However….the CO2 -warming mantra is well and alive.

So if I understand this graph correctly (quite a leap by itself) the dotted line is the part that was “statistically significant” while the pink line was not? Presumably because it didn’t agree with the rest and, therefore, couldn’t be “statistically significant?”
As far as Ms. Sotomayor’s ruling…

“‘Given that medical professionals and regulators act on the basis of evidence of causation that is not statistically significant…’

Why do I doubt that she had Global Warming in mind when she write this? Beyond that, I think it’s lawsuit bait.
/sarc_on
So is this part of the ongoing “Trial Lawyers Full Employement Process?”
/sarc_off

I wonder why the team didn’t elect to rotate the magenta plot by 180 degrees about its centroid? This would just be a trick to avoid a problem, after all. And I guess the next logical step would be to simply draw the desired plot on the graph with Photoshop.

Urederra

Another trick from the decline hiders.

Noelle

where are the academic cops? Any comment from Science magazine?
Good questions. I hope the authors provide an answer. However, before they do, I think it’s fair to ask if this a merely a rhetorical question, or are you actually willing to read a complete response from them?

David Davidovics

Saw this a few days ago on CA and nearly fell out of my chair – there’s just no end to it.

Robinson

Presumably because it didn’t agree with the rest and, therefore, couldn’t be “statistically significant?”

Yes Greg. The entire theory is unfalsifable, and that is how you know it is true.

Gary Krause

ERIC ANDERSON WRITES:
“It is hard to know whether they were intentionally deceptive or just so caught up in the “rightness” of their cause that they literally couldn’t see the discrepancies or couldn’t understand the implications. Amazing that at some point one of them didn’t wake up one night thinking, “Wait a minute, this is wrong.””
It appears to me that based on the email discussions between certain elite minded folks, there exists a clear deliberate construction of fraud.

Coalsoffire

Will there ever be any decline in the tricks to hide nature?

@Jenn Oates,
Just remind your students that they are witnessing history being made. Suggest they keep their science articles in a box somewhere, so that when their grandkids ask about what -they’ll- be learning a few decades from now, about the worst scandal in science history (most widespread in all of history?) they can pull out those articles and show them that this stuff really was being taken seriously by scientists back in 2011.

Jack

They’ve been lying all along and they continue to lie. It’s time that all of us started to speak plainly about this. It wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t omitting outliers or anomalous data, or the valid use of a statistical technique or analysis. AGW just had to be true, for a lot of reasons, so they lied, those utter bastards.

Jack

I know I just violated WUWT comment policy, and I apologize. But, respectfully, they are utter b*******, and I think that we can demonstrate that. At this point it has got to be what everyone is thinking. What they did was just so wrong.

hotrod ( Larry L )

But wait There’s More!
Now from Ronco science plots we have new and improved multi function plotting software that automatically removes troublesome details from your data.
Call now for a special offer for additional “tricks” you can perform when graphing.
Operators are standing by now!
Call 1-800-bogusdata
Larry

juanslayton

From Paul_in_CT’s comment on CA: Repeat the delete.
Quote of the week?

Bernie

greg2213
Statistical significance is not the issue. This is another example of not presenting information that is at odds with the main story that you are trying to tell. The pink line diverges from other proxy constructions to a remarkable degree. Truncating the information eliminates the need to explain this divergence. Bottom line it raises more questions as to the suitability of using certain sets of tree rings, if not all tree rings, as temperature proxies. That oit appears to have been a conscious choice on the part of Briffa et al compounds the problem.

Latitude

Ever get the feeling that they would have gotten the same results using rocks…………

GeneDoc

I chair our school’s Committee on Scientific Integrity, which investigates all allegations of misconduct in our sphere.
Training in research ethics is common in the US in biological and medical sciences, but I’m not sure how common it is outside of these disciplines. It’s clear from these examples in climate science that there is a need outside of the medical/biological community for such training.
While I tend to agree that this instance of misconduct was carried out with intent and knowledge that it was inappropriate, there is a significant need for training, even if there are still individuals who will break “the rules”. Enforcement is very very difficult, and the scientific enterprise is highly dependent on the assumption that participants are honest reporters of their data and interpretations.
A hugely important and overlooked part of training in ethical conduct in science is that it is incumbent on anyone observing evidence of misconduct to report it, and that whistle blowers should be protected from retaliation. Training helps with understanding where to report and what to expect as a consequence of being a whistle blower. This knowledge helps the community as more participants are aware of what misconduct is and how they can help to minimize it through their own vigilance.
It’s been my view since climategate broke that there is ample evidence of falsification by these authors. It’s disappointing that their own institutions and the journals involved have been so reticent to carry out proper investigations.
It really is “worse than we thought!” 😉

Mark T

Uh, they do use rocks (sediment deposits) in some reconstructions.
Mark

Has the pole suddenly shifted?. My compass is pointing the wrong way ?

Sam Parsons

There is no question that this is scientific misconduct. There is no question that “hiding the decline” is scientific misconduct. The people who did these things and everyone in the publication process who wasn’t deceived are guilty of serious moral error.
Dr. Muller in his Youtube video says that “hiding the decline” was deception but not morally wrong. Puhleeese Dr. Muller, if we accept that point then we accept the point that scientific publications can contain deliberate deception regarding the main point of the article but the authors have done no moral wrong.
Get real, people! Lock up Mann, Jones, Briffa, and everyone who knew about it and every investigator who white washed it. These people have committed major moral wrongs that might still cost the public trillions in wasted energy investments.

Hal

You know you are in deep ethical doo-doo, if Justice Sotomayor offers an opinion that would seem to not eventually be in your favor. (Although I assume she is a Warmist at heart, as likely are the other 3 Leftists on the Court).

Neo

where are the academic cops? Any comment from Science magazine?
Like in movies, such as “Capricorn One” where they fake a trip to Mars, the movie always ends when the plot is uncovered because everybody knows the culprits never face justice.

Latitude

Mark T says:
March 24, 2011 at 9:56 am
Uh, they do use rocks (sediment deposits) in some reconstructions.
Mark
================================================
never fails….
…at least their error bars would have been smaller

Sam Parsons

Coalsoffire says:
March 24, 2011 at 9:26 am
“Will there ever be any decline in the tricks to hide nature?”
Very clever because it is also a good question. Not until the Climategate conspirators go to jail. They can be prosecuted for conspiracy, even in merry old England. There is no statute of limitations on conspiracy to violate Freedom of Information requests.

ZT

[snip – off topic and fake email]

RayG

As I suggested on CA, the paleodendochronologists (aka pseudo-science, IMO) should switch from bristlecones and Yamal larch to Prunus cerasus or sour cherries. It would make their cherry picking simpler.

James Sexton

lol, That’s one heck of a LIA to hide!

Bill Illis

Same guys are in charge of the official temperature record.

Stu

“But where are the academic cops?”
As the anarchists are fond of saying-
‘There is no justice… just us.”

Is Gavin moderating? This isn’t a fake email! [I admit the message was a little off topic].

If these kinds of shenanigans were perpetrated in the presentation of data from a clinical trial of a new drug, people would be going to jail, and tens of millions of dollars in fines would be charged.
Carbon taxes and similar measures are like toxic chemotherapy that cripple the economy, instead of inducing vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea, anemia, and immune suppression. The purveyors of carbon mitigation remedies are paying the pathologists (climate scientists), who have taken biopsies of trees, mud and ice, to adjust their diagnosis in order to justify the pre-ordained use of the treatment. Did I mention that it is an astoundingly expensive and unproven treatment?
These folks are either corrupt to the core, or so blinded by their belief in their “noble cause” that no depth of conduct appears too low if it serves their agenda.

Jeff Carlson

gee, maybe tree rings aren’t very good thermometers … maybe … Ya Think …

Gary Pearse

Noelle says:
March 24, 2011 at 9:16 am
Please Noelle, be outraged regardless of the political party you support – it is your duty to be outraged even if you are left of Mao Zedong. There is no benefit of the doubt possible here; it is pure scientific dishonesty and it goes unpunished because of the politics of the issue and the politics of nice people like you. And yes, if these guys came and wrote their side of the story, everyone here would be reading it. It would be quite a read – but we will never see this. I will applaud you however for even joining this thread. The usual AGW supporters who comment frequently here, as expected, will stay away in droves because they don’t want to acknowledge that this malfeasance truly stinks.

David L

And yet these bozos won’t be called on it. Their ivory towers will shield them. Their disciples will fight for them. They will never have to answer for it. And if they do, it will be made-up lies.

Grumpy Old Man

I cannot believe these comments. Genedoc says ‘training in research ethics’ LOL. What does it take? If you tell lies, you are a liar. If you fudge your results, you are a liar. This an absolute standard for those of us brought up in the NW European culture. You don’t need training in honesty. It’s there in your culture.

Sundance

“…where are the academic cops?”
On the take. No one funded by the government is willing to end their career defending open and honest science.

Martin457

I so do wish to believe in a science of the real and not the paranoid. All I know is that Greenland was green when the vikings found it. They had to move when it got cold again.

Let me see if I have this right. According to the team, trees are good proxies for temperatures, except when they aren’t.
And how do you determine when they are and when they aren’t? Apparently, when the proxy shows what you want to see, they are valid. When they don’t, they aren’t.

… Well, Duh!

Theo Goodwin

David L says:
March 24, 2011 at 10:51 am
“And yet these bozos won’t be called on it. Their ivory towers will shield them. Their disciples will fight for them. They will never have to answer for it. And if they do, it will be made-up lies.”
The whole bunch of them are now communists. All of them fancy that they belong to Lenin’s “avant-garde” that must deceive the masses (unenlightened) for the sake of the masses. See Bertolt Brecht’s play “The Measures Taken.”

Kip Hansen

My comment pointing out the Supreme Court decision was serendipitous….it was temporally associated. But the point is interesting.
If the Supreme Court rules that Matrixx can be sued for fraud for failing to reveal adverse information about their product — information that was in their possession — to their investors, which Matrixx claimed to withhold because it was ‘not statistically significant’ — a plausible and possibly reasonable excuse, then how much more so can Mann et al’s deletion(s) be reasonably considered fraud or, at the very least, scientific impropriety.

Dave Springer

Phillip-Morris scientists could learn a thing or two from these guys.
Thank you for smoking.

Andrew30

Grumpy Old Man says: March 24, 2011 at 10:52 am
“This an absolute standard for those of us brought up in the NW European culture.”
Yes, but 2,500 km smoothing means that ivory tower NW European culture is the same as ivory tower culture in Tropoli (Libya) and after homogenization it averages out to Corleone (Sicily).
So when you say “You don’t need training in honesty” you are not thinking like a climate scientologist.
/sarc (I wish)
PS.
They lie and they know that they lie, and we know it too.

Scott Covert

Guh! This is so sad. It looks like Briffa was more complacent than I thought. I could understand someone snowing him on the decline but you HAVE to know the correlation is spurious with the knowledge of the older data.
Heck, the correlation for the data they kept is poor by my eye. It’s really depressing to see the breadth of corruption.
Could someone find me a nice hole in the earth to live in?

R.S.Brown

This work, Briffa and Osborn (1999), fits right into the time
frame Mike Mann was at the University of Virginia.
One wonders if there’s dialogue between Briffa, Osbone and
Mann lurking in the UofV Mann emails from back then.
The academic watchdogs and peer reviewers back then didn’t
know what to watch for, didn’t know what they were seeing,
or were, hopefully, unwitting accomplices just going with the
flow set in motion by the all star Team.
Steve McIntyre seems to have been one of only a few who
consistantly paid attention back then.
paying attention