Reflections on Mark Steyn’s ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’ about Dr. Michael Mann

Given what happened today in live testimony before the House Science Commiittee where Dr. Mann was testifying, this review seems germane and timely.

Guest essay by Rick Wallace

a-disgrace-to-the-profession

Mark Steyn’s A Disgrace to the Profession is a compilation of scientific commentary on Michael Mann and his work and is a valuable antidote to the idea that questioning or criticizing this particular researcher is an overt admission of ignorance, let alone an “attack on science”. What I will argue in this essay is that Steyn has done serious students of the AGW hysteria an even greater service. In fact, this work reveals some features of the hysteria that are, I think, critical for understanding it in depth. The present essay, which will elaborate on this point, is intended as a contribution to the study of what one of those quoted in Steyn’s book called “pathological science”.

For those who aren’t familiar with the work, Steyn’s book is a collection of highly critical comments by scientists of varying degrees of eminence concerning Michael Mann and his (in)famous “hockey stick” temperature graph. The book emanated from a still-ongoing lawsuit that Mann filed against Steyn for writing in a National Review Online article that the hockey stick was fraudulent. Steyn was struck by the fact that, when it came time to file third-party amicus briefs, no one filed a brief in Mann’s defense. So he began combing the Web and other resources, and found a plethora of critical comments that he collected into one volume.2,3 In fact, by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, has backed away from this very flawed piece of evidence.

Together, the comments in Steyn’s book suggest that even in the midst of a great social hysteria like AGW much of the field of climatology is functioning more or less normally. Also, one finds the usual range of opinion that one finds in any science, although in this case it is somewhat muted, in part because of the possibility of intimidation from the more enthusiastic warmists and their followers. (Examples of this are mentioned below.)

The same conclusion can be drawn from the compendia of research results that Kenneth Richard has contributed to the NoTricksZone website. In a series of posts, Richard has reviewed a wealth of data drawn from the contemporary technical literature that in various ways runs counter to and therefore undermines the standard AGW narrative.4

In some respects, then, the field of climatology still has a pluralistic cast. On the other hand, the treatment of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson after it was announced that he was joining the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the recent comments by Judith Curry on her (I take it) premature retirement show quite clearly that even apart from certain individuals, the situation in this field is not particularly healthy. What I think the latter incident shows is that someone like Dr. Curry simply has a lower tolerance of double standards than do many other more or less serious practitioners – moreover, she has been unwilling to remain silent.

When they are read together, the quotations and commentary in Steyn’s book also shed more light on the Michael Mann phenomenon. For one thing, they show that his behavior over time has been quite consistent. There is, for example, the tendency to play fast and loose with methodology. This is shown most clearly in the methods that gave rise to the original hockey stick. Over time and thanks to the perseverance of a few, the puzzle of how it was derived is now pretty well understood. Steyn touches on all of the major points, each one a little story in itself.

In the first place, in collecting data for the hockey stick graph, Mann and his co-workers chose a very problematical proxy. Tree ring dimensions are subject to a number of factors that affect tree growth: “soil nutrients and structure; light variations; carbon dioxide; competition from other trees; disease; predators; age; rainfall” (Steyn, 28, quoting from testimony of A. Trewavas). Moreover, the bristlecone pine, which was a major proxy source in the original study is a particularly unreliable basis for temperature estimates since it is very responsive to factors such as carbon dioxide regardless of temperature.

Having chosen a problematic proxy, Mann et al. then went on to make a series of other dubious decisions. For example, in the original work the tree ring data were correlated with average temperatures for the Northern hemisphere rather than for North America, although the trees in question all came from North America. This was because the latter didn’t match the results obtained with their proxy data. This leads to a rather peculiar state of affairs. As one scientist put it:

“The logical conclusion [from their study] is that Northamerican trees respond better to global average temperatures than to local temperatures.” (Steyn, xiii)

In addition, their methods served to impose a peculiar form of proxy weighting, which was in fact crucial for obtaining their results (in addition to sometimes double counting the only tree/trees used from a location outside the bristlecone sites). According to Steve McIntyre,

“The effect is that tree ring series with a hockey stick shape no longer have a mean of zero and end up dominating the first principal component (PC1) [the main factor obtained from the analysis]; in effect, Mann’s program mines for series with a hockey stick shape. In the crucial period of 1400-1450, in the critical PC1 of the North American network, the top-weighted Sheep Mountain series, with a hockey stick shape gets over 390 times the weight of the least weighted series, which does not have a hockey stick shape.” (Steyn, 69-70)

Steyn sums it up:

“So his [Mann’s] hypothesis that it [the temperature record] looks like a hockey stick is confirmed only because a tree ring that produces a hockey-stick shape is given 390 times the weight of a tree ring that does not.” (Steyn, 5)

In all of this it is also telling that people with statistical expertise were never consulted about any of the sampling and weighting procedures.

And then we arrive the pièce de résistance of the 1999 effort. Because despite all this finagling, Mann et al. were still stuck with a basic problem. This was that the proxy data showed a decline after 1980 – at the same time that the global average temperature showed a marked rise. Their solution was bold and straightforward: truncate the proxy record at the year 1980 and for the remaining years in the 20th century use the record derived from thermometers. Clearly, this gives us the best of both worlds. So what’s not to like?

However, there were some doubting Thomases who took issue with this procedure, especially after it was properly understood (cf. below). The simplest argument is the most telling: if the proxy records don’t match the temperature record during the last decades of the 20th century, where both kinds of record are available, why should one assume that the former accurately reflects actual temperatures during the past millennium?

It is also telling that, according to Steyn (p. 53), it was not until 2014, sixteen years after the publication of the original hockey stick paper, that all these methodological details were adequately understood. This is because the issues involved could only be resolved by a detailed perusal of the original materials and methods. And Mann’s response to requests for the necessary information served to deter inquiries of this sort. For a long while he and his co-workers refused to share their data or allow anyone to examine the program that performed the analysis.

“Mann declined – for years – to release the elements needed to reproduce his stick. In evidence before the House of Commons in London, Professor Darrel Ince noted Mann’s refusal to cough up his computer code, and said that he would “regard any papers based on the software as null and void”. His stick could be neither proved nor disproved – and, as Professor Vincent Courtillot reminded European climatologists, if “it’s not falsifiable, it’s not science”.” (Steyn, 6)

Along with the discrepancies uncovered in connection with the early hockey stick papers, Mann’s later work is littered with a succession of questionable actions, or “mistakes” (once again showing how consistent people really are across time). These include reassigning “an instrumental precipitation record from Paris to New England”, and later “a Spanish data set to Tanzania” (Steyn, 198). In another instance it was found that a “South Carolina gridcell [had been transferred] to Toulouse” and another shifted from Philadelphia to Mumbai (ibid.). Then there was the case of the upside-down graph: a curve of temperatures based on sediment proxies was effectively turned upside down, thus inverting the data for the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. This was used to press the point that “the average temperatures in the Arctic are much higher now than at any time in the past two thousand years” (Steyn, 208). In another instance of dyscopia, Mann et al. rotated a climate data set 180 degrees “when interpolating … [it] onto a different grid”, “so that model data that should be located on the Greenwich Meridian were erroneously placed at 180 degrees longitude”. And so forth …

And throughout all this, there has been a perpetual refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing of any sort – or even any errors at all. So, when the flipped sediment curve was brought to his attention in a letter to Science, Mann “dismissed “the claim that ‘upside-down’ data were used as “bizarre”” (Steyn, 208; Notice the wording, which is strictly speaking correct; evidently it was the program that did the inversion). And even after corrigenda were published in Nature and Geophysical Research Letters in 2004, the authors maintained their original stance. The climatologist M. Leroux had this to say:

“After describing their errors, they still considered (2004) that “none of these errors affect our previously published results”! The corrigenda issued by Mann et al are “a clear admission that the disclosure of data and methods… was materially innaccurate.” (Steyn, 249, quoting from Leroux’s book, Global Warming: Myth or Reality?)

And as another scientist put it,

“… the original hockey stick still used the wrong methods and these methods were defended over and over despite being wrong … He [Mann] fought like a dog to discredit and argue with those on the other side that his method was not flawed. And in the end he never admitted that the entire method was a mistake.” (Steyn, 72)

This vehement defensiveness has been accompanied by continual attacks on opponents and even colleagues who question any of his methods; such people, including prominent people who are actually warmists of a sort such as Judith Curry and Craig Loehle, have earned epithets like “#AntiScience” and of course the dread word “denier”. There have also been concerted attempts (along with members of the UK Climate Research Unit) to discredit the editors of journals who published skeptical articles or who publically questioned the hockey stick. In one case this actually led to the resignation of the editor of the journal Climate Research.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mann has made extensive use of the new social media in the service of “the cause”. (In fact, one could almost say that Michael Mann and Twitter were made for each other.) This has led to a cascade of spiteful johnny-one-note tweets such as these:

“Crypto-denier #BjornLomberg… #climatechange denier #JudithCurry… #MattRidley in the London Times, ‘My Life as a Compensated Climate Change Denier’ (I tweaked the title…) #ClimateChnage denier #Roy Spencer… #AnthonyWatts climate change denier extremist…” (from Steyn, 232)

This style of aggressive counterattack has continued even to the point of publishing a book that defends his work and belittles his critics. And as we all know, it has also spilled over into actual lawsuits on at least two occasions. And in each of these, once legal proceedings are under way, the case seems to sputter and stall – because of failure to produce the data relevant to the case and for other reasons. This certainly suggests that the original suits were a form of bullying, i.e. attempts at intimidation rather than actions made in good faith.5

Along with this is the constant self-aggrandizement. This was on display in the Steyn case, where the original complaint said that Mann was suing Steyn and others for ”defamation of a Nobel Prize recipient” (Steyn, p. iii, quoting from the legal statement). Later this claim had to be withdrawn. And of course there is his self-assumed role of “defender of science”.

I will note parenthetically that there is an interesting similarity to the case of Sigmund Freud. Like Mann, Freud had an almost incredible capacity to convince himself of cherished fantasies that fit into his overall conceptions. (If you doubt this, read the “Wolfman” case.) And like Mann, he showed considerable antagonism toward anyone who questioned any aspect of his doctrines (although SF may have been more indulgent regarding questions regarding specifics). And, of course, for a long time Freud’s tactics were wildly successful, so much so that he still has his adherents and his champions.

One problem in getting a proper perspective on this case is that Mann seems to fit the role of the villain all too well. Because in all of this it is essential to remember that people do not have to have malevolent intentions to wreak tremendous havoc on the world. This is even true for the case at hand. I, for one, do not think that Mann’s intentions are malevolent, however bizarre and extreme his behavior; in fact, by his own lights he is probably well-intentioned, whatever that may mean in this case.6 By the same token I do not think that Al Gore is malevolent, and based on the account given by Anthony Watts of a meeting with him, neither is Bill McKibben. And this is certainly not true of our beloved Prince of Wales. But does anyone doubt the capacity of these people for wreaking havoc?

All this goes to show that OTT people like these are often the cause of real excesses and disasters. But I would go so far as to suggest that, as such, they are symptomatic of deeper problems that otherwise might not have been revealed – or that might have only become evident when the degree of damage had become much greater. So now let’s turn now to a consideration of the latter.

Given all these problems as well as the extreme behavior of the protagonist, it is astonishing how rarely questions have been raised about the hockey stick, especially in the public arena. In fact, many people seem to have blinded themselves to the facts on display – and this is part of the larger phenomenon that we are dealing with. Such behavior is particularly striking (and out of place in a field of science), given that the hockey stick represented a radical make-over of the standard view of the temperature changes over the previous millennium:

“The Medieval Warm Period – when Greenland got its name and was extensively farmed, and vineyards flourished in much of England – was a matter of uncontroversial historical record. But once you’ve decided to “repeal“ it, it’s amazing how easy it is.” (Steyn, 33)

“[The earlier account of past temperatures] was simply expunged from the 2001 IPCC report, much as Trotsky and Yezhov were removed from Stalin’s photographs by dark-room specialists in the later years of the dictator’s reign. There was no explanation of why both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, very clearly shown in the 1990 report, had simply disappeared eleven years later.” (Steyn, 10)7

These failures went hand in hand with a questionable level of peer reviewing:

“”The hockey stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence,” wrote Oxford physicist Jonathan Jones. Nature never asked for any and, when it fell to others to demonstrate the flaws of the stick, the journal declined to share their findings with its readers. Mann and a few close allies controlled the fora that mattered, and banished any dissidents. “It’s a completely rigged peer-review system,” concluded Cal Tech’s Dr David Rutledge.” (Steyn, 6)

Another significant fact is that, despite the partial eclipse of the hockey stick in recent years, the AGW bandwagon has continued on its merry way without a hitch or backward glance, as far as I can tell. And at the same time the general field of climatology continues its business, some of it in concert with the AGW doctrine, but much of it more or less independent of this idea, as shown by Richard’s postings that were referred to above.

I think that the lesson to be taken away from all this is that there is a backdrop in addition to the central characters. Given this, it is impossible to ascribe the entire AGW affair to a few main actors alone. Put more strongly, there is not a single overarching ‘design’ or intention in the AGW hysteria that is simply carried through, in the sense of all the myriad facets being the result of a single guiding hand. On the other hand, there is a coherence to the movement that does require explanation.

I would argue that the processes that gave rise to the AGW movement were to a large degree – perhaps even essentially – bottom-up in character (despite there being major players behind the scenes). This resulted in a collective ‘machine’ whose function is to produce a particular output: namely, evidence and argumentation in support of CAGW. In other words, the overarching intentionality that in some sense is present has the character of a “group mind”.

Thus, conspiracies – while they do exist – are only part of the picture. In fact I strongly suspect that full-fledged conspiracies are often (perhaps always) emergent phenomena that issue from more fundamental processes.

Again, the point is that one person could not do this alone (not even Maurice Strong).

The point I am trying to make is reflected in a statement by the physicist Jonathan Jones that is included in Steyn’s book:

“My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science.”

“Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. I was looking up some minor detail about the Medieval Warm Period and discovered this weird parallel universe of people who apparently didn’t believe it had happened, and even more bizarrely appeared to believe that essentially nothing had happened in the world before the 20th century.” (Steyn, 31)

Now, what this book shows – by means of collective quotations – is that this “parallel universe” exists within a larger world of more-or-less sane science (and sane scientists). And as those of us who have been following the AGW saga are aware, there are cases in which people with less knowledge of the subject (and probably less wisdom) than Prof. Jones have been swept up into this parallel universe, but were later able to break free of it once they had delved into the subject and realized what a house-of-cards the AGW thesis really is.

In this connection, one of the most striking features of the Climategate emails is the comparative insularity of the Team.8 In fact, their entire correspondence has a certain claustrophobic character. There is no discussion of large-scale coordination with other parties (despite some interaction with people like Andy Revkin). And they were certainly not getting instructions from any UN bureaucrat. While here and there one finds a fleeting reference to “the cause” (by guess-who?), the overwhelming impression is that of a small coterie defending its scientific positions. And yet, as we know, this coterie was at the same time central to a much larger social movement.

These reflections are also pertinent to another significant question: whose voice carries – and why? For example, Tim Ball, Fred Singer and others have been countering the AGW meme for a few decades, but to little avail. But why is this? Why haven’t their voices carried? And, conversely, why was The Team so successful in getting their message out? Was it because, possibly for quite other reasons, there was already a receptive audience at hand? That there was an existing matrix of attitudes and beliefs to which the AGW belief system could adhere? And this matrix served to amplify some messages while it filtered out other, conflicting messages.

It should be emphasized that the perspective I am describing in no way rules out or even diminishes the importance of institutionalization of doctrines. Clearly, this is a powerful mechanism for promulgating doctrine as well as suppressing antagonistic ideas. And here we must acknowledge the brilliance of Mr. Strong in recognizing the possibility of an institution whose main purpose would be to promote the AGW doctrine and in realizing the goal of creating such an institution. Without this achievement, I doubt that global warming would have become the world-wide force that it has been for the last twenty or thirty years.

This account also suggests the manner in which AGW will fail. One fine day we will wake up and find that the discrepancies and contradictions and dubious claims have accumulated to the point where the basic thesis cannot be sustained by anyone outside the inevitable fringe who will keep banging away before an ever-diminishing audience of true believers. At that point, because much of the field is more-or-less normal science, most researchers will simply put the excesses of the few behind them. In doing this, they will already have grounds for plausibly denying that they were involved in the hysteria in any serious fashion. And at that point the atmosphere of hysteria that now casts a pall over the entire industrialized world will vanish like the morning haze.

But there will be one hitch. The institutions that Mr. Strong and others have created together with all those over-busy government agencies will still be with us. And how all that will turn out is something I really can’t foretell. What does result when mastodons like these have been let loose to roam the countryside?

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The present perspective naturally brings to mind the meme idea. However, I don’t think the selfish gene/replicator form of this hypothesis (à la Dawkins) is adequate, and it may not even be relevant. Instead, a kind of structure of activities has been built up that is grounded in an existing set of attitudes and beliefs.

A meme account of the usual sort also omits a particularly important factor (And so do all the other explanations that I’ve seen proffered.) This is a factor that, nonetheless, can be described in ‘Darwinian’ terms. This is that the whole business requires certain personalities who are willing to engage in questionable or even fraudulent activity. Where do they come from? How do they fit into the picture? (Specifically, how do they find their roles in the comedy as it is played out?)

In this connection, let me consider a case that is also discussed by Steyn (pp. 179-182), but has since undergone further developments. This is the saga of a ‘second hockey stick’, derived by Joëlle Gergis and coworkers for the Southern hemisphere. As many readers will recall, this work was also eviscerated by Steve McIntyre and others, to the extent that the original submission was retracted. A few years later it was resubmitted. At this time Gergis made a point of describing the problem(s) with the original paper as “a typo”.9 Now, in addition to this being wildly disingenuous, there is a certain shallowness and even a vulgarity of mind in evidence that I find difficult to associate with someone speaking as a scientist. (How can a problem that led to retraction have been a typo? It’s as if a casual, out-of-thin-air characterization was made rather unadroitly with the expectation that no one should question it, and more generally, as if it was an unnecessary bother to have to deal with criticism at all.) So I have to ask, what is such a person doing in a field of science in the first place? And isn’t this kind of personality the perfect material for embracing dubious doctrines and spreading them further?

Perhaps what is happening is that a type of social niche has been constructed where such personalities can thrive. In other words, the entire phenomenon involves a kind of niche construction in the sense of Odling-Smee et al.10 But this is happening at the social rather than the biological level.

Now, let me return to the hockey stick and in particular to the blindness to its obvious faults on the part of a large segment of the scientific community. This seems to me to be in large part a matter of ego-defense, as such evasion often is. But this also suggests that without this kind of pervasive ego-defense, Mann & Co. wouldn’t have gotten to first base. One could even think of Mann as a kind of surfboarder who had the ‘right stuff’ to ride the reality warp that had come into being. But the key question is this: is this a case of a personality type that is somehow pre-adapted for such situations? Is there a real sense in which this personality type found an appropriate niche?

The apparent consequence of all this is that when there are enough people like these who have worked their way into a particular field of science, then you have a quorum that can effectively further “the cause”. But this, in turn, requires an appropriate environment. In any case, we seem to have travelled light years from a time when someone like William James could say quite unselfconsciously:

“I have to forge every sentence in the teeth of irreducible and stubborn facts.”

But how could all this have come about? (And this is a question I will leave for another day.)

To return to a point made earlier, note that most of this is quite independent of Maurice Strong. Strong didn’t subvert the CRU directly, and he didn’t ensure that people like Ben Santer and Michael Mann got Ph.D.’s in climatology (although once they were on the scene someone clearly had the wit to take advantage of this in order to fill some key slots in IPCC committees). And he certainly didn’t bring into being groups like 350.org. (In fact, he had left the stage long before they made their entrance.) Instead, to me it seems very much as if the daemon acclaimed by Adam Smith has an evil twin.

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To recapitulate, there are a few basic ideas that I think are implicit in the work under discussion and that I think merit a great deal of further study:

  • The emergence and evolution of social organizations, partly top-down but also partly bottom-up, a process that I suspect can be formulated in computational terms, although in this essay I have done nothing more than throw out a few suggestions.
  • The ‘selection’ (which in this case is a social rather than a natural selection in its usual sense) of certain personalities who perform requisite roles, which themselves are emergent in character. Usually these people take positions in existing institutions, whose direction they then influence.
  • The resultant intermingling of real science and faux science, the former even serving as a kind of cover for the latter – for outsiders and even for participants. A major factor here is ego-defense, which allows the faux elements to work within a community populated by more balanced and better-intentioned scientists. (Another theme worth exploring in this context is that of parasitic strategies.)

It will be appreciated that if the basic processes described here (group mind effects, social selection, etc.) do take place, they must do so in both normal and pathological cases. The differences lie in the basis for organization, the basis for selection, and so forth. (But, again, I have to defer the task of filling in the necessary details to the future.)

*******

At first blush, the AGW phenomenon for all its Sturm und Drang seems a far cry from the crude, widespread destruction of an entire field of science that occurred during the Lysenko episode in the USSR.11 In that earlier affair, whole research institutes were shut down, legitimate geneticists were ousted from their positions, and some even died in prison or the Gulag. Also, Lysenkoism arose in a milieu in which scientists were under the thumb of political types who were often deeply antagonistic to what they viewed as “bourgeois science”. To keep genuine scientists in line, Bolshevik officials were ‘elected’ to Academies of Science where they had a controlling influence, and scientific institutes were under constant surveillance by secret police, to the extent that the NKVD had an office in nearly every institute.12

At the same time, there are important parallels. People have been vilified (as noted above), and some like, William Gray, lost their funding, which severely hampered their research efforts. And we know (from a former member of NOAA) that there has been pressure from above (i.e. from politicians) to produce evidence in keeping with the desired narrative. Also, Lysenko was a bullying character, much like the chief subject of this essay.

Moreover, in spite of sometimes repeated setbacks, some scientists in the USSR still kept going, so that work of scientific value continued to be produced. But at the same time, most went along with Party dictates, at least on the surface, while a proportion even leapt on board the bandwagon. In the words of one author:

“People like Dmitri Pryanishnikov, Pyotr Kapitsa and Andrei Sakharov, who publicly raised their voices in defense of their arrested colleagues, were rare among the majority of compliant scientists who followed Party orders in exchange for their elite positions in Soviet society.” (Birstein, p. 45)

Another common feature is the failure among otherwise estimable people to face up to what was really going on. In part this is the result of minds of greater refinement being unwilling to descend to the level of their accusers. But, again, it seems to me that there is also a large aspect of denial, which goes hand in hand with the typical scholar’s reliance on conventions of ‘good-will’ to see one through, and which is in fact a form of evasion. In the Soviet situation this was often used by the higher powers to their own advantage.

Another interesting aspect of the affair that has some parallels with the present case is the way that Lysenko made repeated, heartfelt claims of calumny against the doctrines he was espousing and the people who espoused them. Here is one example out of many (which, incidentally, was directed against the author of the volume in which it is cited):

“Lately a voluminous memorandum compiled by Zh. Medvedev, full of dirty inventions about our biology, has been circulated about. … Substituting marketplace gossip for facts, Medvedev, with one stroke of the pen, crosses out the achievements of Soviet breeding in the creation of new varieties of plants and breeds of animals. … Along the way, in a haughty, mocking manner he “overthrows” the theoretical tenants of Michurinist biology. All these fabrications and fairy tales would appear as an empty farce if the author, in his lampoon of Michurinist science, had not resorted to political slander which can only provoke anger and disgust. …13

“The slanderous attacks against Michurinist biologists, the attempts of individuals to defame the attainments of Michurinist biology are not only insulting to Soviet scientists but also damage the development of biology. They are the grist for the mill of those interested in weakening the materialistic positions of Soviet science. … (Medvedev, p. 219-20)

In addition to the well-modulated display of moral indignation (which I think T. D. manages more adroitly than contemporary warriors for “science” and social justice), the reader should take note of the way in which Lysenko claims to be defending the ‘corporatist’ entity known as “Michurinist science” (named after an early agronomist), so that he can appear to be “defending Soviet science” and not just himself and his followers. (Does this ring any bells?)

Now, let me return to the ideas discussed above concerning the way in which certain personalities seem to mesh with certain social situations, which they go on to exacerbate. Here, too, there are some very curious and instructive parallels. Lysenko was an ill-educated agronomist who clearly harbored resentment against professional (and genuinely talented) scientists. Thus, he meshed perfectly with the anti-“bourgeois” attitudes that were prevalent among the Bolshevik elite. In a similar way, Mann seems to have been well-suited by nature to mesh with the growing AGW hysteria. In both cases, these aggressive characters took advantage of another aspect of scientific practice. A field of science is typically guided and managed through a set of gentlemanly conventions. But under special conditions, it may be possible for someone in a position of prominence to flaunt these conventions (at least for a while), which since they are conventions of restraint, put their sincere adherents at a disadvantage.14

A major difference that I see is that there appears to be much more internal support among scientists and other academics in the present situation. And if one follows the history of members of The Team and their activities back into the early 1980s (and this holds for other groups as well), one encounters a great deal of autonomous action in favor of the fashionable doctrines. This seems in marked contrast to the situation vis a vis Lysenko. In fact, the present situation clearly is in part a “revolt of the elites” rather than a revolt against them.

Another interesting difference, that curiously enough favors the Soviet government, is that after it had first emerged it took almost 20 years for Lysenkoism to become official doctrine (in 1948). It seems clear that there was a long period during which the government, not being entirely certain about the status of Lysenko’s claims, was hedging its bets. In striking contrast, nearly all politicians in the West (and some in other places) leaped on board the global warming bandwagon almost as soon as it left the gate.

In large part, this difference must be due to the magnificent orchestration of the IPCC, especially the succession of reports that eventually ran on for 2,000 pages at a pop.15 That certainly gave political types, especially those on one side of the aisle, more than enough cover to make their move – which was the wholesale embrace of a Green (carbon-free) Economy. In contrast, Lysenko was a rather primitive charlatan, who in addition made wilder and wilder claims about a field whose principles were already grounded in fairly refined studies and whose central idea (that of the gene) was (by the 1940s) being elucidated at the molecular level. It’s hard for sophistry even aided by intimidation to keep making headway against that.

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At the beginning of this essay I said that “by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, has backed away from this very flawed piece of evidence.” Interestingly, this does not apply to certain ‘defenders of the creed’, who, as soon as Steyn’s work was made available, leapt into the arena to begin a full-throated assault on it and to defend the hockey stick. In doing so, they showed a remarkable indifference to the reservations expressed by their betters.

First off the blocks was a blogger named Greg Laden, whose post appeared in June of 2015.16 The tone is set in the opening sentence:

“There is a new attack by an anti-science and anti-environment talking head on a well respected climate scientist and his work. Mark Steyn is self publishing a book of quotes by scientists that allegedly disparage Dr. Michael Mann and the “Hockey Stick.” If the three examples Steyn provides to advertise his book are representative, Steyn’s book is unlikely to impress.”

Then it gets really interesting (these sentences follow immediately in the same paragraph):

“Like previous attempts to separate a key individual from the herd,17 Steyn’s latest money making scheme could make him a few bucks (his fans seem gullible) but in the end will destroy anything that happens to be left of his credibility and, possibly, his legal argument that he is not actively and maliciously attempting to defame an individual.”18

Mind you, this is being written in 2015, a decade after the critical articles by McIntyre and McKitrick, and five years after Montford’s book reviewed all the desperate twists and turns that had been taken to defend the Stick. Here, the stage is set as if none of this had ever happened.

Note also that Laden hadn’t actually read the book, but is relying on the three quotes which apparently were part of the original publicity campaign for the new volume.

We then get a rundown of the original result, and subsequent work that has purported to verify it, presented in an authoritative tone which one comes to recognize as typical of the genre. And on the face of it, it is impressive – provided one is unaware of all the vagaries involved, many of which are recounted in the (actual) book, as I have indicated.

This is brought out if we follow a link that Laden provides – to an article that summarizes “a landmark study known as the PAGES 2K project”. The link is to a 2013 article by Rahmsdorf, which in turn refers to a then-recently published paper by a group called the “PAGES 2K Consortium”. This appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience as a “progress article”, a category I had never heard of before. Later I found that, once again, the ever-vigilant Steve McIntyre had played cat to their mouse and ferreted out the fact that progress articles were meant to review material in fields that were not yet mature enough for a full peer-reviewed article on the topic. In other words, the paper was another ‘trick’ to get something in the literature in support of now-controversial claims without being subjected to a thorough review. (It’s also interesting that the consortium included the aforementioned Jöelle Gergis and thus incorporated material that had led to problems elsewhere.)

In referring to MBH98 itself, Laden writes, “there was some controversy but the work was good and over subsequent years it was verified by other research”. Apparently he is comfortable with:19

  • “unjustified truncation” of three of the original data series
  • copying values from one series into others
  • displacement of series
  • use of seasonal temperatures for annual temperatures
  • “listing of unused proxies”
  • idiosyncratic transformations of the original data prior to performing the principal components analysis, which results in the PC algorithm “mining the data for hockey stick patterns”.

as well as other vagaries. One wonders what it would take for something to qualify as bad research in Laden’s eyes.

After making the case for the stick, Laden proceeds to try to discredit the three quotations he has seen – and here, again, to my mind he makes a reasonably convincing job of it – if one hasn’t delved into the details. (And this (i) is a significant fact, (ii) that skeptics generally do not face up to, (iii) which is also a significant fact.) To properly assess his arguments, one needs to have the book at hand so one can look up the quotes and see how they’re actually presented. The first quote taken up is:

“Did Mann et al get it wrong? Yes, Mann et al got it wrong.”

–Simon Tett, Professor of Climate Science, University of Edinburgh

First, it should be noted that in the book itself we do get the context of the quotation; in addition, there is an additional piece that follows right after: “How wrong is still under debate …”. We also find out that this is part of a response to a query from someone in the UK Department of Environment in October, 2004 concerning the M&M critique. And it’s clear from this and other quotes that Tett is somewhat diffident about Mann’s work, so he clearly isn’t on board to the extent that Laden makes him out to be. Laden ends his arguments with a flourish (that one somehow feels was preordained):

“So. That’s settled. Steyn got it wrong.”

The second quote considered is one that on the face of it looks even more damning:

“Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred … because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible any more.”

–-Eduardo Zorita, Senior Scientist at Germany’s Institute for Coastal Research

In this case, Laden assembles a genuinely impressive counterargument. He first admits that Zorita has in the past expressed “concerns about the way some of the research is conducted”, and he lauds this kind of cautious assessment. Then he asks rhetorically, “But is Zorita a Hockey Stick denier like Mark Steyn implies he is?” In reply, he first notes that Zorita was one of the authors of the above-mentioned PAGES consortium paper. And he describes Zorita’s present position, based on a conversation he had with him. Zortia had told him that the quote was accurate and reflected his concern that Climategate might affect the perception of the IPCC, that he thought that “the Hockey Stick was something of a public relations mistake”, and that the case for AGW does not depend on it.

The only issue here is that in the (actual) book, Zorita’s position is made clear – with a longer quote from the same Web post. So despite Laden’s claim that there couldn’t be “a worse choice to list as a person criticizing the hockey stick”, in the (actual) book, the quote does fit into the texture of the overall argument.

The third quote, by J. Jones (who was quoted earlier) is one that the author stood behind when queried, so Laden has to concede this one. So he concludes that Steyn got one out of three correct.

The final sentence of the piece is also worth quoting:

“I’m thinking that this is not going to be a very big book. Certainly not a very good one. Maybe Steyn is counting on a lot of pre-orders.”

Hard on the heels of this article, a short piece was posted at the Daily Kos under the byline “ClimateDenierRoundup”. Here are some excerpts:20

“He’s now self-published a book that is supposedly a collection of criticisms of Dr. Mann by other scientists.” (italics added; I suspect that the “self-published” bit was borrowed from Laden, since it’s such a nice extra jab.)

“For all his quote mining, it seems like the best Steyn could do when it came to finding criticisms from Mann’s peers is write up two quotes from scientists who agree with Mann’s findings and one from someone who’s not a climate scientist at all.” (italics added; notice how Laden’s more carefully qualified suppositions in this author’s hands almost become matters of fact)

This writer in fact cites Laden’s article (which probably prompted the Daily Kos posting) as his main reference. That’s perfectly reasonable, of course, but it’s still interesting to observe how the daisy chain develops (cf. below).

Another post appeared around this time on a blog called Hot Whopper:21 This is a brief cut-and-past account of the scientific evidence followed by a lengthier polemic against “deniers”. Strangely enough, the author later added an “addendum about the contents of the book” in which several links are given (including a link to Laden’s post) followed by what is essentially an admission that the author still hadn’t read it: “I can’t imagine there is anything in it that would damage Michael Mann, but I do expect it will have a lot of material that will damage Mark Steyn.”

I think it is fascinating, and extraordinarily revealing that in each case the writer seized upon a few quotes extracted from a 300-page text, as if undermining these was sufficient to refute the entire work. Why did they assume they could write an adequate commentary on the basis of promo quotations (which are likely to be abbreviated, and are necessarily taken out of context)? And why couldn’t they wait to make their critical (and in some cases derisive) comments? Why did they come off the blocks almost as soon as the title was announced? What does this imply about these people?

It is also telling that none of these articles mentions the situation that inspired the book. Instead, it is treated as another malevolent “denier” attack, which must be discredited at once. (Laden uses his Serengeti hypothesis as part of the explanation, but this still assumes some form of mindless malevolence (after all, it’s just about strategy), and it’s telling that he doesn’t even attempt to support his idea with particulars from the present case.)

At this point let us recall some context surrounding the lawsuit and the book. If the hockey stick were valid and Mann had been vindicated, then there should have been dozens of amicus briefs filed in his defense at the trial (including, one would have thought, briefs from Messrs. Tet and Zorita). Moreover, as some of the quotes in Steyn’s book make clear, the hockey stick flies in the face of a body of evidence supporting the occurrence and world-wide scope of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, both of which were more or less obliterated by the flat handle of the hockey stick. In addition, despite some of Mann’s (amazing) protestations, the stick itself is an enjambment of proxy-based temperature derivations (the handle) and direct surface temperature records (the stick). One reason that this was done was that proxy data for the 20th century did not match the actual temperature record.

The important point is that none of this is reflected in any of this commentary. It is as if all these problematic facts, all these warning signals, have simply glanced off the minds of these people, as the saying goes, like water running off a duck’s back.

Not once do these writers speak to the actual arguments of McIntyre and others. Not once. Instead, they put together parallel arguments, much like someone plastering up a new billboard sign to cover the one underneath. In short, they never connect. Instead, what is achieved is a kind of cognitive closure (using the latter term in the sense given to it by Gestalt psychologists). One could also call it dissonance reduction. Or more simply, evasion.22

Along the way, some clever ideas are proffered, like Laden’s Serengeti Strategy, which is, again, a made-up explanation that doesn’t have any relevance to the actual situation or to the actual controversy. Instead, it seems to have the status of a fond belief that serves to embellish the argument. And, of course, it goes hand in hand with the above-mentioned cognitive closure.

I wonder why none of these people filed an amicus brief. Where were they when the Mann needed them most? In fact, there is also a disconnect between what these people wrote at the time (and I gather are still saying) and subsequent legal developments. One has the impression that they are living in a walled-off world, that they have fashioned their own reality.

One other thing strikes me very strongly in these articles: it doesn’t seem possible for these people to write about a subject like this without descending into scurrilous innuendos. Together with the disconnect from the actual contents of the book, this makes it obvious that these are not genuine reviews and therefore deserve to be called hit pieces.

In their efforts to defend the Hockey Stick, Laden, the Hot Whopper writer, et al. also demonstrate that not only do they not know much about climatology, they know little or nothing about how science is actually carried out – and why. Theirs is essentially a paint-by-numbers view of science. Under this view, one simply gathers and arranges ‘facts’, and this is sufficient to make one’s case.

If only it were so simple. One of the most insightful statements I have ever read about empirical science (unfortunately I have not been able to locate the reference, which was a magazine article probably written by a physical scientist about some dubious activity being billed as “science”) is this:

“Science is not like going to the supermarket.”

But isn’t a presupposition like this precisely what informs these people’s actions? Aren’t they in effect collecting facts as if they were supermarket goods and then arranging them into superficially impressive displays?

Also, around this time a book review appeared on Amazon, authored by a Russell S(eitz).23 It includes the following:

“Cabaret artiste Mark Steyn and the unfunniest cartoonist in England’s grim north have combined forces to show how little they have learned as PR-flacks in the Climate Wars.

“It is a sign of their side’s decay that it looks to ninety year olds and non-entities with few real connections to climate science as scientific authorities, while ignoring the sensible works of climatologists less ideologically entangled than themselves …

“Steyn’s highly elliptical (and often self-contradictory) quote mining is so absurdly polemic that this collection may well backfire in favor of the very UN climate bureaucrats at which it aims.”

“Russell” also tendered some comments under a posting at the Bishop Hill website.24 In one comment he cites four papers that he says support the idea that “the weight of the scientific evidence [for MBH98 and the hockey stick] is enormous and ever growing”. Looking these up, I found that the first, by Baille and McAneney (2015), has to do with the evaluation of tree ring evidence for volcanic eruptions by comparing it with ice cores, and doesn’t seem to bear on the matter at hand (other than indicating that tree rings including Bristlecone pines can be useful for some purposes in paleoclimatology, which is a non sequitur). The second paper, by Vinther et al. (2006) is about comparing ice core records from different locations; its main finding is the specification of the end-date of the Younger Dryas. A paper by Sigl et al. (2013) is mostly about dating volcanic events (with an eye toward assessing their effects on climate); it contains some long-term temperature records, but these do not have a hockey stick blade (!). The last paper, by Sigl et al. ad infinitum (Nature, 2015), is also about volcanoes and ice core indicators; it includes a hockey stick graph, but this is taken from the PAGES 2K project discussed above. So this sounds like another exercise in paint-by-numbers science.

A few days after this, a “warrenlb” posted a comment on a thread at the present site under a short review of Steyn’s book.25 His opening barrage went like this:

“Steyn chose three quotes as promo material to represent the book’s contents. One of the scientists has recently co-authored a paper confirming Mann’s hockey stick graph, and notes that his quote only appears damning because it lacks all context. A second has worked on a major paper that also confirmed Mann’s hockey stick graph, and has stated that the attacks on Mann “have no justification.” The third quote is from a physicist who doesn’t work on climate change, so he can’t accurately be described as one of Mann’s scientific peers.

“For all his quote mining, it seems like the best Steyn could do when it came to finding criticisms from Mann’s peers is write up two quotes from scientists who agree with Mann’s findings and one from someone who’s not a climate scientist at all. Looks like Steyn’s efforts here fell as flat as the handle on Mann’s hockey stick.”

From the quotations included above, it can be seen that this writer is cribbing from the attacks on Steyn’s book that were posted previously. The first paragraph paraphrases Laden’s discussion, while the second is taken directly from the Daily Kos posting. So we have here a nice example of the way that earlier comments tend to be recycled without attribution. (I wonder if in coming years it will be possible to carry out a two-degrees-from-Greg-Laden exercise in the manner of Russell Cook.)

Perhaps the most important lesson to take home from all of this is that there seems to be a large number of such people on the fringes of the AGW controversy, an army of water carriers ready and willing to aid “the cause”. If one regards the AGW phenomenon from a social-computational perspective, then these people are a significant part of the movement – even if they cannot be considered ‘major players’. So they are worth studying closely.

First, let me note that these people are reasonably proficient writers, and they know how to craft an argument. In fact, as is usually the case at this level of discourse, the problem is what is left out of their arguments, not the quality of argumentation per se. (To put the matter crudely in order to make this point clear, if their arguments were translated into predicate calculus form, a logical proof checker would probably pronounce them just as valid with respect to the logical inferences made as the arguments in, say, Steyn’s book.)

Without delving into this matter further in an already lengthy essay, the flaws in these arguments involve issues like vagueness of reference or failure to include material that is relevant. And these are pretty deep issues in the study of discourse and argumentation. In fact, this gets us into yet another layer of analysis and explanation if we wish to really understand the AGW phenomenon. (Add another bullet point to the list above.) But now I want to turn to another consideration.

Looking up Laden’s biographical details, I find that his background is in anthropology, and he has taught this subject at several universities. He has also been or is currently a free-lance science writer, with several articles in the Smithsonian magazine. All this I find estimable and, indeed, rather impressive. Similarly, I assume that Russell Seitz has had a worthy career as professor in a university physics department. And I suspect these cases are representative. So many people with better-than-average talents leading reasonably productive lives, performing useful tasks in society …

And then the gods set them a test – in the form of a new scientific doctrine. And perhaps because there was some flaw, some critical deficiency hidden within their outwardly impressive personalities, they have failed that test. Not only that; they have done so in a quite spectacular fashion – in part, I suspect, because they couldn’t imagine such a thing ever coming to pass. In fact, they have failed to such an extent that in some respects they have been turned into a force for evil.

And as part of the test, the gods sent them Michael Mann. And in a move that is reminiscent of the way that 19th century Frenchmen made Esterhazy a Hero of France, they have transmogrified him into St. Michael, a martyr for science.

There is a sense in which these people were betrayed by their own personas. Or one could say that in finding their own zone of comfort, they did not recognize all the implications of this mode of existence.

In light of these reflections, another question obtrudes. To what degree is AGW being championed by a certain kind of elitist ne’er-do-well, scientific or otherwise? Is there a status enhancing function involved in all of this? And is this one of the receptive surfaces that the AGW doctrine fits into (like a key fitting into a lock), making them part of a great social-computational machine?26

The Hockey Stick may eventually be seen as an extraordinary natural experiment that served to expose paint-by-numbers thinkers, causing them to be hoist by their own bien-pensance, as it were. (And of course, this is true of the entire AGW doctrine as well.)27

*******

Returning to the major players, I think that what a social-computational perspective suggests is that not only are specific individuals like Michael Mann (and Maurice Strong) not sufficient to explain the AGW phenomenon, there is a sense in which they are not even necessary. That is to say, if these particular people had not come on stage and taken the roles they did, then others would have emerged and taken on essentially similar roles. The details of the story would be different, of course, but in its broad contours the course of events would have been much the same.

Let me put this a different way. We all know the old adage, if so-and-so did not exist, then it would have been necessary to invent him. According to the conception that I am adumbrating in this essay, if Michael Mann did not exist then he very likely would have been ‘invented’.

One final comment. While preparing this essay, I was rereading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Sometime after reading the chapter where Solzhenitsyn gives an account of those whom he calls Communist “loyalists”,28 it occurred to me that the mentality of people like Greg Laden and Russell Seitz bears some resemblance to the people described in that chapter. At the same time, I had the odd thought that in the AGW drama we skeptics are in some ways like the Soviet Gulag’s zeks. Of course, we aren’t really entitled to call ourselves by that name just yet. But are many of us perhaps cut from the same cloth? In any case, I don’t think that these analogies are entirely fanciful – and if they aren’t, then a strange sort of pattern may be manifesting itself once again.


References:

1 M. Steyn, “A Disgrace to the Profession”, Stockade, 2015. (When specific passages in this work are quoted or cited, they are flagged by the author’s name and a page number.)

2 In fact this is intended to be the first volume in a series, since only a portion of the quotations that Steyn collected are included.

3 For a more detailed account of the book itself, see A. May, “A detailed review of the book: ‘A disgrace to the Profession’, by Mark Steyn”, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/28/a-detailed-review-of-the-book-a-disgrace-to-the-profession-by-mark-steyn/. And see footnote #23 below.

4 See, for example, “35 scientific papers: Global sea levels were 1-2 meters higher than now for most of the last 7,000 years” (6 February, 2017); “17 new (2017) scientific papers affirm today’s warming was not global, unprecedented, or remarkable” (26 January, 2017); “The hockey stick collapse: 60 new (2016) scientific papers affirm today’s warming isn’t global, unprecedented, or remarkable” (22 December, 2016).

5 A curious feature of these lawsuits is that it almost seems as if Mann stumbles into them, since he seems completely unprepared to handle the ensuing court cases. Instead, he acts as if he expected that the larger world would simply acquiesce to his claims. And when it doesn’t, he is left high and dry. There is an insularity in all of this that is quite wonderful. (And although it may be an extreme case, I do not think for a moment that this case is not part of a larger population; nor do I think it’s even an outlier.)

6 My take on Mann (although this is only an armchair assessment) is that he is an extremely bright guy who comes up with some clever ideas, such as new ways to handle proxies, but does not have the deep concern for getting things right that would keep him out of trouble. And of course he tends to get carried away with his brilliant ideas. Ironically enough, he would have benefited from an association with someone like Steve McIntyre; perhaps then he would have produced something of lasting value. However, it’s not possible to put such a charitable interpretation on a failure to share the code behind the proxy analysis or the hide-the-decline maneuver. Nor to avoid noticing that such failings are all too common in this community. Although I haven’t yet read C. Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, I can’t help thinking that it may apply here (in this connection, see also G. W. S. Trow’s My Pilgrim’s Progress).

6 Here, Steyn may have been a little too casual. At least according to some accounts, the curve in the 1990 IPCC report was based on a sketch drawn by H. Lamb, so it was not unreasonable to question it and to try to come up with something more substantial. So this may be to some extent a case of “dueling graphs”. It needs to be borne in mind that this is a game that both sides can play.

8 S. Mosher and T. W. Fuller, Climategate. The CRUtape Letters, Quire/St. Matthew, 2010.

9 J. Nova, “Gergis Australian hockeystick is back: how one typo took four years to fix”, http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/gergis-australian-hockeystick-is-back-how-one-typo-took-four-years-to-fix/

10 F. J. Odling-Smee, K. N. Laland, & M. W. Feldman, Niche Construction, Princeton, 2003.

11 To appreciate the force of this comparison, one must really read something about the Lysenko affair. The classic reference for the Lysenko affair is Z. A. Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko, Columbia, 1969 (orig. 1962, 1967). More recently, the entire episode was reviewed and discussed by David Joravsky in The Lysenko Affair, University of Chicago, 1970. For the record, while Medvedev was a good Soviet citizen and seems to have been a devout Marxist-Leninist, his simple honesty shines though on nearly every page. In contrast Joravsky is a NYRB-type of modern intellectual who, although he states the main facts of the case clearly enough, seems at times to be trying to partially exonerate Lysenko. Although in some quarters this might be interpreted as providing a more measured, broad-minded treatment, I find it deeply meretricious – especially when placed beside Medvedev’s account (which I read afterwards). Further useful references are V. J. Birstein, The Perversion of Knowledge, Westview, 2001; E. Pollack, Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars, Princeton, 2006.

12 Birstein, pp. 70-78. Here, I will remark that anyone trying to understand this or other aspects of intellectual life the Soviet Union must read works by dissident Soviet scientists. As Birstein himself says, the typical Western scholar tends to downplay the suffocating political/ideological atmosphere that pervaded every aspect of this world, as well as failing to give a proper account of the apparatus of repression that supported it.

13 In the next few sentences Lysenko dissociates himself from the harsh punishments that had been meted out to a number of geneticists and plant scientists.

14 Moreover, in our time the conventions themselves have come under fire, as (generally scurrilous) people claim they are “sexist”, “racist”, “patriarchal” and so forth. Needless to say, when such mechanisms of restraint are weakened in this way, as they have been, then all manner of dubious characters can take advantage. (Incidentally, it also says something about the quality of Mann’s judgment that he went outside this community when he chose to attack a figure like Mark Steyn, who isn’t going to be as inclined to follow the community’s rules of decorum in resisting such attacks.)

15 It would not be inaccurate to regard the IPCC reports as a kind of collective “Bellesiles strategy”, the latter referring to the work Arming America whose outlandish thesis, that frontier America did not have a gun culture or even many firearms, was buttressed by 150 pages of references, all or most of which turned out to be bogus. This in a way is the thesis of Donna Laframboise’s Delinquent Teenager book.

16 http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/06/22/mark-steyns-newest-attack-on-michael-mann-and-the-hockey-stick/

17 Here, Laden is referring to a pet idea of his that he calls the Serengeti Strategy (see http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/ 01/21/the-serengeti-strategy/) wherein he likens the attacks on Mann to a hyena pack’s strategy of going after the leader of a herd in order to demoralize and disrupt the organization of the herd as a whole.

18 I will not delve into this further in this essay, but it is worth noting how readily the author brings in the idea that ultimately It’s All About Money. In doing this, he becomes the warmist twin (or doppelganger) of those skeptics who demonstrate their sagacity by repeating the formulaic phrase, “Follow the money”. By now, such maneuvers on both sides are almost as predictable as the actions in a Kabuki play.

19 Items listed and quotations are from S. McIntyre & R. McKitrick, “Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) proxy data base and northern hemispheric average temperature series”, Energy & Environment, 2003, 14: 751-771, except for the last entry, which is from S. McIntyre & R. McKitrick, “Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance”, Geophysical Research Letters, 2005, 32: L03710.

20 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/6/23/1395870/-Steyn-s-Peer-Review-of-Mann-Backfires

21 “Vicious attack on Michael Mann: More smears from Mark Steyn and Anthony Watts’ lynch mob” http://blog.hotwhopper.com/ 2015/08/vicious-attacks-on-michael-mann-more.html

22 In fact, if you want to experience reality-distortion to the point of vertigo, I recommend reading Steyn’s book and immediately afterwards reading Greg Laden’s piece attacking it.

23 The byline used is “Russell” or “Russell S., but from his website and from various other commenters at the URL cited next, it seems clear that Seitz is the author. Some commenters indicated that he was also the warrenlb referred to in citation #23, but of that I can’t be sure.

24 http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/8/11/a-disgrace-to-the-profession-by-mark-steyn-now-available.html

25 A. Watts, “A review of Steyn’s scathing new book about Michael Mann: “A Disgrace to the Profession” WUWT, August 15, 2015. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/11/a-review-of-steyns-scathing-new-book-about-michael-mann-a-disgrace-to-the-profession/

26 These remarks may also apply to the authors of Web blogs such as “And then there’s physics” and “Deep Climate”, although their commentary is generally more sophisticated than the examples given. They were not discussed in the main text because I didn’t see anything that dealt directly with Steyn’s book.

27 Of course, this does not exhaust the catalogue of believers, but since this essay is concerned with aspects of the movement that relate to Steyn’s book, this subject will not be dealt with further.

28 A. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago. Volume II, Collins and Harvill, 1975.

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265 thoughts on “Reflections on Mark Steyn’s ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’ about Dr. Michael Mann

  1. Thanks Rick. That was a lot to digest, but well done and with citations.

    I saw a Mannic breakdown today in the hearing, and he knew it, and will live it moving forward.

      • Considering Reps had control of the committee and a majority of witnesses, that hearing was a massively missed opportunity. Mann was allowed to claim that his fake hockey stick graph had been “vindicated” and this went totally unchallenged.

        As did many references to the bogus 97% . Chairman Smith added some rebuttal to the record but the 97% went unchallenged in the oral testimony despite being cited several times.

        None though to point out that they had four witnesses who support the 97% statement , not one.

        Reps had all the cards and pretty much let Mann have a free run.

      • Higgins to Mann: are you affiliated or associated with Climate Accountability Institute? Mann: no.
        https://science.house.gov/legislation/hearings/full-committee-hearing-climate-science-assumptions-policy-implications-and
        1:30:00 into the video of the hearing Mann clearly says “no” then starts to waffle about what may be the meaning of being “associate with”.

        Yet Mann is listed as being on the CAI Board of Directors:
        http://www.climateaccountability.org/about.html

        I guess he must have ‘forgotten’ otherwise he would have been lying in his testimony to congress.
        I

      • Having got Mann to deny his affiliations they let him off the hook and moved on. They should have pinned him to the floor and asked him to leave if he was not prepared to give truthful testimony.

      • Nick,

        Wouldn’t an advisor to an organization be associated with that organization?

        Without an association, how could he advise them?

      • “David Middleton March 30, 2017 at 2:40 am

        Without an association, how could he advise them?”

        It’s just the hot, cold, wet, dry, flood, drought…MATHEMATICALLY MODELLED and ADJUSTED advice!

      • Nick Stokes:

        You say:

        “Wouldn’t an advisor to an organization be associated”
        You have to get simple facts right first. Then you can argue about them.

        YES!
        And it is a pity that you so often “argue” about matters in which you have failed “to get simple facts right first”.

        In this case, the simple fact is that Mann lied when he said he was not “affiliated or associated with Climate Accountability Institute”. Your nit-picking quibble does not alter that.

        Richard

      • As one who has appeared before legislative innumerable times, I knew they had him. It was an easy question and he used every tactic to avoid dealing with it straight on. Every committee member knew what was going on since they see it all the time.

        This post is very valuable in understanding the entire hockey stick controversy. I’ve tried to be neutral on AGW for years but it is getting progressively more difficult, especially when reading an essay like this.

      • Nick writes

        No, he is listed as an advisor.

        Here is the testimony, apparently.

        Testifying before Congress, climate scientist Michael Mann denies any affiliation or association to the Climate Accountability Institute despite his apparent membership on the Institute’s Council of Advisors.

        CONGRESSMAN CLAY HIGGINS: “Are you affiliated or associated with an organization called The Climate Accountability Institute?”
        DR. MICHAEL MANN: “No. I mean I may have corresponded with people.”
        CONGRESSMAN CLAY HIGGINS: “You’re not affiliated nor associated with them?”
        DR. MICHAEL MANN: “I can provide– I’ve submitted my CV you can see who I’m associated with and who I am not.”

        So apparently Mann didn’t think he’d be listed as an advisor. Not on his “CV” anyway.

      • Greg
        The 97% claim is exactly the time I started paying attention to all the claims of that time of human caused global warming. Anyone with much life experience knows that it is nearly impossible to get that high a percentage of a large number of people to agree on anything. Even things the majority believe to be fundamental truths will be disputed by a larger percentage than that given a large enough sampling. I’m not sure you could get 97% of the people in this country to agree that water feels wet. And yet here we had a claim that 97% of scientists agree that man is causing a warming climate even as the local weather forecaster is lucky to be correct in his/her forecast for local weather 50% if the time? It all strongly smelled of psy ops propaganda and this former SF soldier understands that well enough.

        Anyway, that 97% claim is what drove this layman to start to try and learn and understand the science so that eventually I could reach my own conclusion on the veracity of the claim or at least separate the facts from the fiction and the posers from the true researchers. But of course it involved far more than trying to understand the science of the metrics, analysis, and interpretations. It involved personalities, educational institutions and their departments, NGOs, and of course governments and funding and “green energy” and so much more. And eventually the realization that climate science as it is presented to the public in most sources and forums is not about science at all, but is a battlefield in the constant war to determine the political/social/economic fate of peoples and nations. And the hearing was merely a little skirmish in that war with every players opinions and roles predetermined and nothing new learned by anyone nor anyone persuaded to change their views on the science because that hearing was not about science, it was about politics, as anyone that has not just fallen off the turnip truck would expect in a political forum.

      • I agree, Greg. As someone said here or on Judy’s site, the GOP members should have asked, “Do any of you three care to comment on Mann’s claim about (x, y, z)?” Such a simple, obvious counter; it’s incredible that asking it wasn’t anticipated.

      • A blast from the past – probably written before I had my coffee.
        Still, it is holding pretty well.
        Regards, Allan

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/11/murry-salby-responds-to-critics/#comment-1396896

        In Gail Combs post of August 20, 2013 at 1:13 am she correctly states that there are many natural sources of atmospheric CO2 that are far greater than the humanmade CO2 component.

        Yet the global warming alarmists continue to blame humankind for the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since systematic measurements began circa 1958, and also blame humankind for the minor global warming observed from ~1975 to ~2000

        – notwithstanding the fact that we do not have accurate measurements of pre-1958 atmospheric CO2 measurements and there is considerable contradictory evidence in the pre-1958 CO2 data;

        – and notwithstanding that the atmospheric CO2 data signature is overwhelmingly natural at annual, seasonal and daily time scales, even in urban environments near the sources of humanmade CO2;

        – and notwithstanding that atmospheric CO2 lags temperature al all measured time scales, from about 9 months in the modern data record to about 800 years in the ice core record; [Note to Warmists: The future CANNOT cause the past.]

        – and notwithstanding that atmospheric CO2 continues to increase but global warming ceased about 10-20 years ago, and Earth may now be entering a natural global cooling period;

        – and notwithstanding that atmospheric CO2 increased from 1940 to 1975 during a previous period of global cooling;

        – and notwithstanding that the global warming alarmists have failed in every major scientific prediction they have attempted; Contrary to IPCC projections, there has been NO net global warming for 10-20 years, and no evidence of wilder weather, more hurricanes, or tornados. “Green energy“ technologies have failed to produce significant amounts of useful net energy;

        – and notwithstanding that the leading proponents of global warming alarmism have been proven in the Climategate emails to be guilty of reprehensible behaviour including scientific misrepresentation, vicious academic intimidation, and criminal misbehaviour. Warmist scientific and ethical failures included the Mann hokey stick, the Divergence Problem, Mike’s Nature Trick, Hide the Decline, the intimidation of the editors of scientific journals and the firing of skeptics from universities – a long history of thuggery.

        Every dire prediction by the global warming alarmists has proven to be unsubstantiated and some of their conclusions and recommendations were clearly fraudulent, and yet our political leaders continue to pander to global warming hysteria and have squandered over a trillion dollars of scarce global resources on global warming nonsense.

        All this real-word evidence fails to support the hypothesis of catastrophic humanmade global warming, and further suggests that global warming alarmism is destructive irrational cult hysteria, lacking both ethics and scientific merit.

        *****************************************

      • Oh dear! I am in moderation yet again! Was it something I said?

        Was it the f-word? [FRAUD]
        Piltdown Mann?
        the Hokey stick?
        the Divergence Problem?
        Mike’s Nature Trick?
        Hide the Decline?
        intimidation of editors?
        firing of skeptics?
        a long history of thuggery?

        I do not think I should apologize, but I know who should (That’s your cue, Piltdown!).

      • It seems I write many of my posts around 3am. If another Obama gets elected and a new Dark Age descends upon America, my defence will be somnambulism.

        Another blast from the past.

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/11/murry-salby-responds-to-critics/#comment-1391736

        [excerpt]

        Intellectually, I think the alleged global warming crisis is dead in the water, although politically it sails on, a ghost ship with the Euros and Obama at the helm. Not to forget our own Dalton McGuinty in Ontario – now a “have-not province” collecting transfer payments , our national welfare scheme for failed economies.

        The global warming alarmists have squandered more than a trillion dollars of scarce global resources on foolish “alternative energy” schemes that we condemned in writing in 2002. We said then that “the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels” and this is now proven to be true. The economies of the European countries and their fellow-travellers have been hobbled by green energy nonsense, and millions are suffering and thousands are dying each winter from excessively high energy costs.

        I am concerned, I hope incorrectly, about imminent global cooling, which we also predicted in a Calgary Herald article in 2002. I really hope to be wrong about this prediction, because global cooling could cause great suffering. Our society has been so obsessed with the non-existent global warming crisis that we are woefully unprepared for any severe global cooling, like the Maunder or Dalton Minimums circa 1700 and 1800.

        Solar activity has crashed in SC24, and although our friend Leif says not to worry, I continue to do so.

        Best regards to all, Allan

      • “If another Obama gets elected and a new Dark Age descends upon America, my defence will be somnambulism.”</i.

        Yes. Me too. The long awaited "dirt nap". I'm well past tired of this nonsense. To hell with them, I have no obligation to save the worthless fools from their own stupidity.

      • Hi Bart, and nice to hear from you. You wrote:
        “I’m well past tired of this nonsense. To hell with them, I have no obligation to save the worthless fools from their own stupidity.”

        I look at it a bit differently. I have studied the science of alleged global warming since 1985 and written papers on it since 2002. It’s been a very long campaign, now over 30 years, and I too am tired of the nonsense and the bad faith of the warmist gang. It has been clear to me since 1985 that global warming alarmism was a false crisis, and since about 2000 that it was fraud – the greatest scientific fraud in the history of humankind. This fraud will soon become fully apparent, as it is exposed under the new Trump regime.

        I am a Professional Engineer with two Engineering degrees, and I have a Code of Ethics that requires me to act on issues of public safety.

        There is in reality NO global warming crisis – it was created by scoundrels and promoted by imbeciles, and has cost society tens of trillions of dollars in wasted subsidies, destabilized critical energy systems and cost lives.

        One should realize, however, that few people in society have a scientific education, and fewer still have the ability to rationally use it. Those who do have a duty to do the right thing, and I thank you for doing your part.

        In May 2016, a dangerous critical sour gas situation in Calgary was brought to my attention. I reported the matter to the Alberta Energy Regulator and the situation was made safe. This news story keeps getting bigger and bigger as the full risk to the pubic becomes known. In a worst-case scenario, tens of thousands of Calgarians could have been killed.
        http://www.highrivertimes.com/2016/08/25/aer-suspends-mazeppa-plant-operations-amid-concerns

        At that time, I contacted one of my best friends, who is a past-President of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. I described the situation and said “I’ve got to report this.” He reminded me of our Code of Ethics, and said: “If you don’t, I have to.”

        Canadian Engineers wear an Iron Ring to remind us of our duty. The originals were cast from the fallen centre span of the Quebec Bridge. Of the 86 construction workers on the bridge on August 29, 1907, 75 died. Unlike some other professions, Engineers take our Code very seriously, and we take pride in our integrity.

        So Bart, I suggest that history will be kind to those who rejected global warming alarmism and spoke out against it, even though the campaign has been long, costly and arduous. Good job everyone.

        Best regards to all, Allan

        Allan MacRae, P.Eng.
        Calgary

    • Excellent work Rick. A lot of effort went into it. I learned something I didn’t know before – that “progress article” is a subterfuge to allow publishing AS IF peer reviewed. Always a bad practice.

  2. Read about 70% – going to bed; just want to say this is enjoyable to read and the First explanation of the Hockey Schtick fraud that could be understood by me (all the others were too sciency (mafdf) – which did nothing to help the general public realize the corruption).
    M. Steyn is great; always like his stuff.

  3. I have that book,it is worth reading.

    The Laden’s and Sou’s of the world, doesn’t want YOU to know what Scientists really think of their pseudoscience poster boy, are in THEIR own eyes.

    The warmist reviews of the book ,” A disgrace to the Profession”,are childish and stupid.

  4. Well said. When the useful idiotts receive money, recognition, fame, and congratulations for furthering the meme it becomes self fulfilling. When the MSM is held accountable for one side of the story and lose their jobs for even mentioning the other side it becomes self fulfilling. One only needs to see who really gains from the deception to pinpoint the culprit. The UN is undeniably the source and everyone else are only accomplices.

  5. May Michael Mann receive the same sort of study as Cyril Burt, on how someone can go so wrong for so long, and why some people still cite Burt’s work as valid.

  6. ‘it seems very much as if the daemon acclaimed by Adam Smith has an evil twin’
    The ebbs and flows, twists and turns, of this daemon are simply astonishing to watch, and very scary. They are worthy of serious study, but to actually isolate them and develop anything resembling a science would surely be impossible. The idea of irrational belief systems is a useful beginning.

    The 19th century was characterised by a battle between sentiment and reason:

    Criticising John Stuart Mill, Frederic Harrison says:
    ‘Now you ought not to reason about politics. The part of the intelligence is very small. It is only to enable you to express articulately your passions. Politics is a matter of feeling.’
    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/journals/Mill005-2; page 2.

    Similar themes were played out in the Carlyle/Ruskin/Mill battle over Governor Eyre’s actions in Jamaica. Some background at http://insights.unimelb.edu.au/vol8/06_Dixon.html

    I am not sure that that battle is not always being run. Sentiment has its own prerogatives, and fills a human need. Interestingly, though, the sentiments apparent in the climate change debate always seem to tend towards the negative – as they appear to do in so much of the agenda of the left. It is like there is a large portion of the population needs to associate itself with a doctrine of destruction (yet colour it with a Utopian vision).

    • It only takes one vandal with a hammer to destroy the work of years.
      Just witness the destruction of ancient monuments in some parts of the world because some religious fanatic decided he had the right to wipe out the work of centuries.

  7. “But under special conditions, it may be possible for someone in a position of prominence to flauntflout these conventions “

  8. “In addition to the well-modulated display of moral indignation (which I think T. D. manages more adroitly than contemporary warriors for “science” and social justice), . . .”

    Who’s “T.D.”?

    • “T.D.” is “T.D. Lysenko”. Russian convention is to abbreviate first and middle name, e.g. “V.I. Lenin”.

  9. from the article: “By the same token I do not think that Al Gore is malevolent, and based on the account given by Anthony Watts of a meeting with him, neither is Bill McKibben. And this is certainly not true of our beloved Prince of Wales. But does anyone doubt the capacity of these people for wreaking havoc?”

    And here in, to me lies the problem, speaking from personal history ( in another field) These people are malevolent. They will do anything to anyone that opposes them, no, let me put that differently, anyone that exposes their professional flaws! Frankly people like AW are incapable to be dishonest, these people have, for whatever reason, no qualms to further their agenda and be dishonest, although they cannot see that.

    • I would not class our beloved Prince of Wales as “malevolent”. Rather, he is a useful idiot. But note that, even as a “useful idiot” that would not stop him being a good King Charles III. In that role he will not be able to express comments on such political matters as CAGW.

      • “…that would not stop him being a good King Charles III. In that role he will not be able to express comments on such political matters as CAGW.”

        Whatever one’s opinion of royalty (for what it’s worth, I’m no monarchist but suspect that having a President will probably be worse) the present Queen has been sensible enough to know that the monarchy will only be safe as long as it is perceived as being more or less apolitical theatre. Charles in his monumental arrogance has been incapable of keeping has his mouth shut for decades and I see zero reason to expect him to change. He has made endless speeches and defied protocol in writing innumerable hectoring letters to elected ministers trying to influence politics.

        To come back to the topic in hand, Charles will not be able to stop himself trying to wield power he shouldn’t have on climate change as well as many other subjects where his ideas range between the fatuous and the dangerous.
        It’s no accident that there are many fervent monarchists who hope that the crown will skip a generation. In fact “King Charles III” could be the best thing that ever happened for republicans.

      • “…not be able to express comments on such political matters as CAGW.”

        I wish that were true. Also, I think he’d be a terrible king – he’s completely duped by the CAGW crowd. I’m hoping the kingship will skip a generation.

    • Asybot,

      The word to describe such dangerous people is “sociopath”. They nave no concept of morality; they are completely amoral.

    • Asyboy

      Interesting word, “malevolent” – implies intent (having a wish to do evil to others).

      I agree Gore and McKibben (supported 350.org activists storming the home of Enbridge president Mark Maki) qualify as “malevolent”. Britain’s Prince Charles gets a pass on “malevolent” because he’s simply not smart enough (useful idiot works here).

      However, the distinction between “malevolent” and “useful idiot” is somewhat ephemeral because both do real damage. I think I, too, vote for “sociopath”.

      • Javert Chip opines: “Britain’s Prince Charles gets a pass on “malevolent” because he’s simply not smart enough (useful idiot works here).”

        But a person has to consider that Britain has what might be referred to as a “mature” monarchy, one that hasn’t been successfully challenged in several generations.

        An unchallenged leadership becomes complacent, then lazy, then fat, finally dysfunctional. For all the failures of the various democratic forms, job security isn’t one. A monarchy entails job security as its principal attraction, something we in the post monarchy realm find particularly confusing.

        Job security is nothing to be touted as an advantage in State leadership.

  10. Combine ‘research’ with power and you will attract not only those who have tendencies to psychopathy, but the very nature of ‘research’ itself makes this tendency to psychopathy worse, very similar to what happens with government power.

  11. “someone in a position of prominence to flout these conventions” should have been written where “flaunt” was used –it’s one of the most common contemporary solecisms

    • Yes, His written testimony was simply stunning. Full of appeals to his own authority and illogical nonsense. He even started off by chastising the chairman.

      I can’t help but believe that he was set up to embarrass himself by people he believed were on his side.

      • Mr. Lahood really made Michael Mann squirm. He demonstrated that Mann is a hypocrite. A couple of other committee members managed to imply, if not outright prove, that Mann is a liar.

      • No doubt Bob. That in turn would have impacted Mann’s credibility such as it was.

        Then again I can’t see how Mann’s testimony was relevant to the subject of Assumptions, Policy Implications and the Scientific Method. He had nothing to say on any of those topics.

        My take was that the overall outcome was that there are too many untested assumptions, policy decisions are not supported by available evidence and the scientific method needs renewed prominence.

        Then again I didn’t need the hearing to know those things. I don’t think that the government will change direction from the testimony other than being slightly inclined to try to strengthen science.

  12. Very impressive Rick. Another dimension to the problem is the conduct of mass media.

    The good news for optimists is that as the saying goes, this too shall pass. Science will prevail.

  13. CORRECTION NEEDED?

    The 12th paragraph (not counting quotes) states in part:

    And then we arrive (at) the pièce de résistance of the 1999 effort. Because despite all this finagling, Mann et al. were still stuck with a basic problem. This was that the proxy data showed a decline after 1980 – at the same time that the global average temperature showed a marked rise.
    (emphasis added)

    I believe that the data that was truncated was after 1960 – NOT 1980 – as documented by Steve McIntyre here.

      • This has always seemed an obvious point. It indicates that their proxy likely only matches temperatures within a narrow cooler range, and was incapable of following the temperature rise during the MWP.

    • Glad to see your comment since I was going to raise that point. I had always understood that the problematic divergence started at 1960.

      Quite simply, what Mann had discovered was that the ‘adjusted’ land based thermometer record consists of adjustments that have overly warmed the data.

  14. Watts is correct (in a footnote) that the 1990 IPCC figure showing the medieval warm period (MWP) was from Lamb’s work. But it was from his work in the 1960s. And it was not a curve of GLOBAL data; instead it was based on the Central England Database, and probably most representative of western Europe. Lamb pointed out in the 60s that there was no uniformity in the MWP across the northern hemisphere and that some places had been warm while others had been cold during the MWP. The confusion about the curve came when it was reproduced in the 1990 IPPC report with a caption suggesting it was a global temperature curve. As I understand it, that may have been because some UK government official presented it for inclusion in the report under the mistaken perception that it was global rather than local, which was never Lamb’s intention. Recent data suggest that while the Little Ice Age may have been a global phenomenon, the MWP is not clearly visible in the Southern Hemisphere, which would tend to support Lamb’s conclusion that the event was not global.

      • Steve McIntyre debunked the 2K variants extensively, including using upside down proxies, etc. here. The most relevant post to your comment is
        Warmest since, uh, the Medieval Warm Period:

        In today’s post, I’ll show that the knock-on impact of changes to the Arctic reconstruction on the area-weighted average also make the latter claim untrue. Incorporating the revised Arctic reconstruction, one can however say that, during the period AD1971–2000, the area-weighted average reconstructed temperature was higher than any other time since, uh, the Medieval Warm Period.
        (emphasis added)

      • Yeah, and it debunked all that art, history, literature and other fields that show the opposite.

        No doubt all those frost fairs in London didn’t actually exist either.

        There are literally hundreds of good studies that who both the LIA and the MWP were global.

      • phoenix, do you understand that London is a very tiny fragment of the entire globe.

        “There are literally hundreds of good studies that who both the LIA and the MWP were global.”

        no there aren’t, or PAGES 2k would have come to that conclusion.

        mere studies don’t suffice — you have to weave them together to *reconstruct* temperatures as a function of time. a study about london in the 1010s and a study about argentina in the 1080s do not count as evidence for a globally synchronous MWP.

    • This opens up the most notorious and ugliest chapter in the whole sordid AGW saga. This is, of course, the Soon and Baliunas paper in Climate Research, 2003. This paper opened up a huge controversy in the climate research community.
      The issue was this:
      The MBH ’98 “Hockey Stick” paper asserted that neither the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age really existed, except perhaps locally and in a minor way.
      Soon and Baliunas studied a huge number of several types of proxies from all over the world, over 150 proxy series in all. They said, no, the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were both worldwide and both significant.
      This set a large body of empirical data directly against the reigning paradigm and was seen by some, as a direct challenge to M. Mann. All hell broke loose.

      This directly led to the Hans Von Storch affair, another truly ugly episode of the AGW saga, where members of the self styled “Hockey Team” apparently tried to take revenge on the editor of the Journal for allowing this heretical paper to be published, as revealed in the ClimateGate emails.
      But that is a story for another time.

      • And we know from evidence from all sorts of other fields – history, archaeology, art, literature, and more – that they were global. Claiming that a set of poorly-understood proxies that are hugely open to interpretation overturns reams of evidence from all over the place is lunacy.,

    • colin summerhayes,
      your comment comes across to me to indicate that the concept of global temperature is difficult.
      If global and local can’t be discerned for human record times, prehuman times should be more speculative.

  15. I am sure this was a good article, but I think it is WAY too long for the subject. You could read Steyn’s book in the time it takes to read this blog. Maybe someday I will take the time to read the whole thing, but having read Steyn it may not be necessary.

    Of course, I could be accused of having a short attention span. Or, maybe I am old and tire easily.

    • The article is a set of “reflections” on the basic character of the AGW phenomenon, as suggested by Steyn’s book , rather than a book review per se (one of which was already posted on this site).

  16. History will recall that this was the week the tide turned on the politics of global CAGW. It may take a little longer in the socialist back waters of group think, but it sure feels like an iron curtain has been lifted off our collective intellect. Dr. Mann did us a huge favour today for continuing his ugly exposure of his version of twisted science. The truth always prevails. Let’s not make the same mistake of hubris, ego and pride.

  17. Michael Mann?

    People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a disdain and lack of empathy for others. These individuals often display arrogance, a sense of superiority, and power-seeking behaviors.Narcissistic personality disorder is different from having a strong sense of self-confidence; people with NPD typically value themselves over others to the extent that they disregard the feelings and wishes of others and expect to be treated as superior regardless of their actual status or achievements.[8][11] In addition, people with NPD may exhibit fragile egos, an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in an attempt to validate their own superiority.

    According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments:[8][11]

    Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
    Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
    Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
    Needing constant admiration from others
    Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
    Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
    Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
    Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
    Pompous and arrogant demeanor

    NPD usually develops by adolescence or early adulthood. It is not uncommon for children and teens to display some traits similar to NPD, but these are typically transient without meeting full criteria for the diagnosis. True NPD symptoms are pervasive, apparent in various situations, and rigid, remaining consistent over time. The symptoms must be severe enough that they significantly impair the individual’s ability to develop meaningful relationships with others. Symptoms also generally impair an individual’s ability to function at work, school, or in other important settings. According to the DSM-5, these traits must differ substantially from cultural norms in order to qualify as symptoms of NPD.

    Associated features

    People with NPD tend to exaggerate their skills and accomplishments as well as their level of intimacy with people they consider to be high-status. Their sense of superiority may cause them to monopolize conversations and to become impatient or disdainful when others talk about themselves. In the course of a conversation, they may purposefully or unknowingly disparage or devalue the other person by overemphasizing their own success. When they are aware that their statements have hurt someone else, they tend to react with contempt and to view it as a sign of weakness. When their own ego is wounded by a real or perceived criticism, their anger can be disproportionate to the situation, but typically, their actions and responses are deliberate and calculated. Despite occasional flare-ups of insecurity, their self-image is primarily stable (i.e., overinflated).

    To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of others’ needs, the effects of their behavior on others, and insist that others see them as they wish to be seen. Narcissistic individuals use various strategies to protect the self at the expense of others. They tend to devalue, derogate, insult, blame others and they often respond to threatening feedback with anger and hostility.Since the fragile ego of individuals with NPD is hypersensitive to perceived criticism or defeat, they are prone to feelings of shame, humiliation and worthlessness over minor or even imagined incidents. They usually mask these feelings from others with feigned humility, isolating socially or they may react with outbursts of rage, defiance, or by seeking revenge. The merging of the “inflated self-concept” and the “actual self” is seen in the inherent grandiosity of narcissistic personality disorder. Also inherent in this process are the defense mechanisms of denial, idealization and devaluation.

    According to the DSM-5, “Many highly successful individuals display personality traits that might be considered narcissistic. Only when these traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and persisting and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress do they constitute narcissistic personality disorder.” Although overconfidence tends to make individuals with NPD ambitious, it does not necessarily lead to success and high achievement professionally. These individuals may be unwilling to compete or may refuse to take any risks in order to avoid appearing like a failure. In addition, their inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional relationships with superiors and colleagues.

    I rest my case. And that applies to a lot of others on the climate bandwagon.

  18. An interesting and important article, the study of how and why a spurious result came to have such influence is still ongoing and should surely become a major topic in academic research in the future, they of course the political allegiances of much of academia will make it a very rocky road.

    Climatology seems to me to be a peculiarly gentlemanly affair right now (except of course when dealing with heretics and apostates), in most sciences there is (rightly) vicious infighting, with young Turks eager to show how the old-timers are wrong, but nobody in climatology dares to express any doubts about the work of others, at least in public.

    • young Turks eager to show how the old-timers are wrong

      This has been made massively easier by the now-ubiquitous usage of computers and software by everyone. Many old hands retired when the writing was seen on the wall starting around 20 years ago and a lot of experience and great (but now “obsolete”) methods were lost while adopting the shiny and complicated.

  19. As I was reading along I noted, ” … This resulted in a collective ‘machine’ whose function is to produce a particular output: namely, evidence and argumentation in support of CAGW. In other words, the overarching intentionality that in some sense is present has the character of a “group mind”. ”

    I was struck by this remark and its similarity to the descriptions of Emergent Behavior in the biological world.

    Sho’ nuff, the term “emergent” is later used – elegantly – to describe the Warmist phenomenon.

    I’ve never been a conspiracy theory proponent regarding AGW (or much of anything else for that matter) but could NEVER explain to myself the seemingly locked-step unity manifest in many “Liberal” (or in this case, Warmist) machinations.

    There it is! They’re not “thinking”, nor is it a dark, organized conspiracy. They’re just doing what their (mindless and self-indulged) feeling tell them to do – regardless of the “objective” consequences of their collective actions and in spite of obvious flaws in the “justifications”.

    This perfectly explains how one can get 5th generation Welfare recipients, transgender bathrooms, god-knows how many “genders, “safe spaces”, speech restrictions to protect the eternally-offended, special privileges for tiny fringe groups at the expense of essentially everyone else, an entire generation of special-snowflake etc, etc, etc.

    Wow. They’re ants, and Warmism is one of their midden piles !

    • “I’ve never been a conspiracy theory proponent regarding AGW (or much of anything else for that matter) …”

      So, no gangs, mafias, drug cartels, international crime syndicates, nothing?

      Wanna bet? ; )

  20. Well, that was a huge waste of time. After he gets going, the author makes the point, over and over again, that there is no overall guiding direction in the AGW movement.
    He sums up as follows:

    At that point, because much of the field is more-or-less normal science, most researchers will simply put the excesses of the few behind them. In doing this, they will already have grounds for plausibly denying that they were involved in the hysteria in any serious fashion.

    He finishes up wondering if there may be any outside influence as a contributing factor, but he is not sure.

    To what degree is AGW being championed by a certain kind of elitist ne’er-do-well, scientific or otherwise? Is there a status enhancing function involved in all of this?

    He seems to be quite unaware of the career enhancements attending adherence to the narrative of AGW, and the career suicide which comes with opposing the narrative. (Judith Curry wrote on this when she talked about her retirement.) (M. Mann, $50 Million in grant monies)
    Finally, we have a lengthy analysis of all the contributing factors of the AGW movement, including some of the personalities involved, and not a word about ClimateGate.
    *sigh*

      • In general, I view demands for references as troll behavior, particularly when the information is so easily available. But I do not recognize your name so I will give the benefit of the doubt.
        For Dr. Curry’s case:
        Her own web site where she talks about leaving Ga. Tech.
        https://judithcurry.com/2017/01/03/jc-in-transition/

        And the Money Shot:

        A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

        How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

    • The “elitist ne’er do-wells” are not Mann and Co. (How could anyone call a Golden Boy a “ne’er do-well”?) They’re the water carriers for the movement. If you’re going to be so critical, first try to understand what’s being said.

  21. Steyn begins his book by implying that scientists knew nothing about past natural changes before the hockey stick was published. or that those changes somehow disprove the hockey stick. which is utterly ridiculous.

    • crakers345:

      You say

      Steyn begins his book by implying that scientists knew nothing about past natural changes before the hockey stick was published. or that those changes somehow disprove the hockey stick. which is utterly ridiculous.

      I refute your ridiculous claim by reference to an email from Michael Mann that purported to answer an email from me that (unknown to me) had been copied to him. I only learned of Mann’s reply when it was was leaked as part of ‘climategate’.

      The emails are quoted and the matter is fully explained here.

      As you can read by clicking the link, in 1998 and within a week of publication of the first Mann, Bradley and Hughes ‘hockeystick’ (MBH 98) I pointed out a severe flaw in its methodology. Later, in an email in 2000 I again stated the severe flaw, and I wrote

      Nobody in their right mind is going to place more trust in the proxy data of “Mann, Briffa, Jones, etc.” than in the careful – and taxed – tabulations in the Doomesday Book. The Medieval Warm Period is documented from places distributed around the globe, and it is not adequate to assert that it was ”not global” because it did not happen everywhere at exactly the same time: the claimed present day global warming is not happening everywhere at the exactly the same time.

      As you can also read by clicking the link, Mann replied to that with a falsehood, bluster and threat.

      Richard

      • richardscourtney March 30, 2017 at 1:26 am

        Doomesday Book, Richard, he (crackers345) may not know what the Book is.

        You have to have a a passing Knowledge of English history.

        michael

      • Mike the Morlock:

        I take your point but if crackers345 were to use the link to read my email then he/she/they would see it also said

        It is historical revisionism to assert that the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming did not happen or were not globally significant. It will take much, much more than analyses of sparse and debatable proxy data to achieve such a dramatic overturning of all the historical and archaelogical evidence for the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Those who wish to make such assertions should explain why all the historical and archaelogical evidence is wrong or – failing that – they should expect to be ridiculed.

        Sadly, Mann’s bluster and legal attacks have inhibited the ridicule which, for example, Steyn has attempted to provide.

        Richard

      • How much of the “did not happen at the same time” phenomena comes from the differing temporal resolutions of the various proxies?

      • Richard,
        The knowledge of the contents of the Doomsday Book (and other historical facts and documents) against the AGW crowds unflinching acceptance of Mann’s hockey stick was the thing that drove me from thinking that maybe they were onto something to my current position that none of them have a clue what they are talking about, but like a blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut, they sometimes accidentally run into some truth about a phenomena. Of course then they ruin whatever truth they run into by genuflecting to the alter of CAGW at some point in the paper.

        Mann’s hockey stick irrevocably turned me into a skeptic on climate. I won’t believe any paper until I have had a chance to examine the data and its manipulations and evaluated the data myself – and almost all of it is suspect either in methodology or data processing grounds.

      • OweninGA:

        Thankyou for that.

        It is usually accepted that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But the ‘hockeystick’ was not extraordinary evidence. Indeed, (as the link I provided shows) I took one look at it and saw it was a construct made by joining ‘apples to oranges’.

        The real issue is that the ‘hockeystick’ was immediately published and accepted as overturning all the historical and archaelogical evidence when it was so blatantly flawed.

        Richard

      • “Nobody in their right mind is going to place more trust in the proxy data of “Mann, Briffa, Jones, etc.” than in the careful – and taxed – tabulations in the Doomesday Book. The Medieval Warm Period is documented from places distributed around the globe, and it is not adequate to assert that it was ”not global” because it did not happen everywhere at exactly the same time: the claimed present day global warming is not happening everywhere at the exactly the same time.”

        The same can be said of the very hot decade of the 1930’s: That it was both well documented as being worldwide, that it was not warming everywhere at exactly the same time, and it was hotter then than now.

    • Mann tried to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age with his hoax of a hockey stick. Like Pitldown Man, where someone stuck an (apparently) Orangutan jaw on a small (but within the normal range) human skull, Mann stuck instrumental temperatures onto proxy ones (after the proxy temperatures very unfortunately starting decreasing after 1960) to “hide the decline,” without showing that he had done so and while concealing the Inconvenient Truth ™ (/sarc) shown by the deleted and concealed proxy data. The most likely explanation for Climate Change in the modern era is that climate changes naturally and Mann had to try to cover this up with the shaft of this hockey stick so that he would not have the burden of explaining why the change in climate was other than natural.

      Search on Younger Dryas for a climate change that IIRC is still not fully explained. Falsely claiming that climate had been relatively stable for the last millennium reduced the burden of proving that something other than natural variation was responsible for the warming we have experienced since the Little Ice Age.

      • There’s a great deal of “unexplained changes” in AGW. The Younger Dryas is fascinating to me because it doesn’t seem to have an explanation and was quite dramatic, much more than current changes.

      • The YD is no different from similar cold snaps that preceded and followed it during the last glacial termination. It’s also no different from similar fluctuations in previous glacial-interglacial transitions, nor, for that matter, during glacial phases.

    • Crackers,

      Actual paleoclimate data from before and after the HS all show it to be a shameless lie, travesty, fr@ud and ho@x, and the decline-hiding, upside-down data manipulating MM to be an anti-scientific activist charlatan of the lowest order. The scoundrel knows he will lose in court, so is delaying the reckoning as long as possible.

      Displaying this in open court would make it an open and shut case.

      • Gloateus: the failure of northern latitude tree ring proxies to reproduce temperatures is well known — it’s called the “divergence problem.” look it up.

        happily, we have plenty of instrumental records for that period.

        the hockey stick has been confirmed by many different studies by now. it’s well accepted in paleoclimatology.

      • “(T)he failure of northern latitude tree ring proxies to reproduce temperatures” during the calibration period means that the proxies used in the hockey stick graph are invalid.

        There: fixed it for you.

      • Crackers345:

        Gloateus: the failure of northern latitude tree ring proxies to reproduce temperatures is well known — it’s called the “divergence problem.” look it up….

        the hockey stick has been confirmed by many different studies by now.

        I still find it astonishing that you (and others like you) make statements like that and not see the fallacy!

        If the tree ring proxies are inversely correlated with temperature in the period since 1960, when we have the best temperature observations, then the basis of predicting historical temperatures assuming that tree ring data is positively correlated in the past is completely flawed and invalid. And I suspect even an 11 year old can follow the reasoning why: if a tree is in an environment that is too cold for it, its growth will likely be restricted. If a tree is in just the right temperature (an optimum for that species) its growth will be maximum. But if the temperature goes higher, the growth will be restricted again. So the tree ring growth response curve to temperature is not a linear function, but a multivalued curve. That means when trying to predict a past temperature, a given non-optimum tree ring response could mean warmer or colder – and there is no way to know the difference.

        And if you don’t believe this, just ask a forester.

        The divergence problem demonstrates very clearly that a multivalued response curve is the appropriate model. This means temperature reconstruction from tree rings is impossible without other constraints and so Mann et al and the Hockey Stick is garbage and the paper should be withdrawn. And of course, if you want to hide that conclusion, you have to hide the decline.

        I think even kids understand the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears….

      • crackers345 writes

        Gloateus: the failure of northern latitude tree ring proxies to reproduce temperatures is well known — it’s called the “divergence problem.” look it up.

        Yes, its well known to exist but not known why it exists. Because we dont know why it exists, tree ring proxies have much reduced reliability. There are many theories for divergence but after decades, nothing is resolved and nothing has changed in this regard.

        The IPCC report didn’t spell any of this out of course, instead it referenced divergence in small print with a paper and does so in such a way as to make people think the answers were in that paper. They weren’t.

  22. Climate Bullies Gone Wild; Caught on Tape and Print
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/climate-bullies-gone-wild-caught-on-tape-and-print/

    Climate “Science” on Trial; Climate McCartyism
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/climate-science-on-trial-climate-mccartyism/

    Climate “Science” on Trial; The Criminal Case Against the Alarmists
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/climate-science-on-trial-the-criminal-case-against-the-alarmists/

    Exhibit U: The Climategate Emails expose scientific collusion, malpractice and highly unethical, deceitful, deceptive and unscientific practices.
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/climate-science-on-trial-the-forensic-files-exhibit-t-2/

    Exhibit O: Climate “Science” Temperature Reconstructions are not reproducible outside the “Peer Review” community
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/climate-science-on-trial-the-forensic-files-exhibit-o/

    Exhibit M: The ground measurement data supporting the AGW Theory is very suspect
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/climate-science-on-trial-the-forensic-files-exhibit-m/

  23. Where are the real journalists that investigate competing claims? What we have are anti-journalists that don’t question anything and attack anyone who does. Scary times we live in.

    • You pretty well understand journalists. I haven’t seen evidence that they have any interest in the truth or in competing claims. They interview whomever they are told to, write down or record what is said, and present it. I call it “YouTube News”, where no thought, no verification, no anything required. If a mistake is pointed out, they just defer to the expert. Even when there are conflicting reports. They just do not care.

  24. What strikes me in this whole AGW affair is not that you have folks writing books offering quotes critical of Dr Mann (a good thing by the way). It is the complete lack of interest or publication of those criticisms in the media.

    A case in point is the recent legal loss to Greenpeace in Canada, claiming everything they say is hyperbole and exaggeration and just plain bullshit. Yet you do not read that in the Guardian. Nor to you have any “respectable” climate scientist calling Greenpeace out. Yet we are to continue to believe that what they say is The Truth.

    You have the likes of Dr Waldham (spelling) who is consistently wrong as to when the Arctic is going to be “ice free”, yet when a “skeptic” points this out its only the bloggers that offer the wimpy defense, “It’s only the option of one man!’. But where are the other “respectable” climate scientist who should be standing up and saying “Whoa, there bucko…”.

    That’s what I see as the problem. No one wants to stand up.

    Aussiebear.

    • Unfortunately, you do have respected published scientists standing up, like Dr. Curry, Dr. Pielke, Jr. and Dr. Soon, (to mention just some) only to suffer damage to their careers. What we are facing is a form of totalitarianism that does not tolerate any dissent, no matter how minor.

      • Aussiebear’s primary complaint seems to be that no one in the media is publishing articles that show when warmest and climate catastrophists are discredited. It is a wonder that the reporting can be so one sided by people who consider themselves journalists.

      • For the most part journalists ceased being Journalists sometime in the 60’s. Since then they have viewed themselves as advocates. Giving voice the voiceless, and so on.

    • As I have asked my local newspaper editor, “When does the Fourth Estate become a Fifth Column?”

      • ““When does the Fourth Estate become a Fifth Column?””

        When their lies get so numerous that they undermine the ability of the people of the western world to perceive reality correctly, and therefore make it impossible to govern themselves properly by causing them to elect delusional people (Obama/Hillary) to positions of power.

        The lies of today’s MSM have been much more numerous, but instead of putting the people to sleep with their propaganda, it may be waking some of the people up to the fact they are being lied to. Still, tens of millions are fooled into believing things which are not true.

        We may be at a turning point, though. The domination of the leftwing MSM may have reached its peak. That would bode well for the personal freedoms of all of us. Truth is better than lies when trying to deal with life.

  25. Good article. May I propose to Mr. Wallace to read (if hadn’t already done so) Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer”?

    • I agree with both things. It was an interesting article and that Hoffer’s book “The True Believer” is pertinent here. What we’re seeing with CAGW believers is a modern cult that at the same time has become it’s own political interest group. The former “watchdogs” of the 4th Estate are part and parcel of the cult, and so cannot recognize the problematic aspects of this cult’s “science.” The modern education establishment is also a player, brainwashing young school children in modern environmental extremism before they have any science training at all, AND THEN having the gall to call this science education, thus cranking out good, unquestioning consumers of the dogma, and reliable future cult members. That this also dovetails with hard left, Progressive politics, the job security of the bureaucratic class, the international influences of massive teacher and other public sector unions and the movements of Marxism/Socialism more generally, are not coincidental.

      We need push back on all these fronts. No more IPCC, more “endangerment finding,” no more Howard Zinn in public schools, no more eco-radical Greenpeace agendas in our schools or our bureaucracies. No more funding for Michael Mann. This has to stop.

  26. Vincent Courtillot reminded European climatologists, if “it’s not falsifiable, it’s not science”.” (Steyn, 6)

    Sadly, Vincent and Allegre were blocked by l’Academie de France. Vincent did a great job. He asked all the national Climate offices including UK for their data and was refused. So he gathered their data and french data individually and proved no relation between temps and CO².

    European politicians are avid worshipers of AGW. Their tax system is built on it.

  27. Managed to read it all.
    One wonders if the court case will ever come to any fruition,I mean that of Dr Mann.
    Publishing this under Australian law would be contempt of court.
    One weeps for those involved.
    So much energy in this important area, the defence of the scientific method.
    Touching on the problem of spread of this almost viral concept of failure of scientific method with observation of the natural world.
    Some years ago a film ‘Born Free’ about a wild Lion Cub doomed to live in a Zoo, its freedom being the Seregeti.
    The opening voice over was
    ‘Man is the only animal [who] hunts for pleasure’.
    A whole generation lapped this up.
    Few seemed to have observed the natural world and seen a cat ‘playing’ with a mouse, with a full bowl of cat food in attendance.
    The later generation had a limited idea about science, history or religion.
    Religion was something you studied,’ Religious Studies’, history was what you were taught at school and science was something to believe in.
    Ask a 20 year old about the D Day landings and they have never heard of them.
    A new generation was not taught the scientific method.
    The NSW curriculum feminised Physics, a cornerstone of hard science and climate phenomena.
    So instead of learning about electricity and magnetism, they wrote essays about the future of science.
    http://community.boredofstudies.org/1178/general-discussion-2017-hsc/359483/%E2%80%98feminised%E2%80%99-physics-formula-failure-says-michelle-simmons.html

    This was a perfect culture medium for theories for the ‘repair of the Planet, which we have destroyed’ narrative, particularly for those with a neurotic tendency who genuinely believe we have harmed the planet.
    I am sure we have, but in a lot of cases we do not.
    It is in that discernment that the modern educated person needs critical analysis to derive an answer.
    Talking to my nephew not that long ago, he had not heard about the scientific method and the need to test hypotheses.
    A valid set of data and the scientific method are the only tools we have.

    I wonder at the thoughts seen in this,

    ‘And as part of the test, the gods sent them Michael Mann. And in a move that is reminiscent of the way that 19th century Frenchmen made Esterhazy a Hero of France, they have transmogrified him into St. Michael, a martyr for science.

    There is a sense in which these people were betrayed by their own personas. Or one could say that in finding their own zone of comfort, they did not recognize all the implications of this mode of existence.’

    St Michael was the one who sent the fallen angels to their rightful place.
    One must remember, though, that to err is human and forgive divine.
    Those listening to Dr Mann are not in an objectively happy place, and being human, may change their minds, although in a quiet place, not boldly in print.
    Let us hope and pray that their better angels advise them, so that this terrible rift in the fabric of science be healed.

  28. Interesting essay (Sorry a bit long so did not read it completely).

    What you don’t mention is the importance of the internet. In academia the internet (or its forerunner) has been changing the form of academic organisation for decades. Indeed, one can argue the real change was even earlier with the advent of relatively low cost international air transport.

    The result is that whilst before the 1970s, academia was a national or even University based profession, it is now a SUBJECT based profession INTERNATIONALLY.

    The benefit is that this has led to huge levels of international co-operation. The disadvantage is that in fields like climate it has allowed a single “GROUP-THINK” to come into existence which does not tolerate diversity (which used to exist because internationally the groups could not work together as they can now).

    Therefore I am absolutely convinced that climate “science” is not the only subject with this inbuilt group-think mentality. Instead it is the only one that has had the audacity and the support form the vast army of gullible greens to get to public prominence. But it is almost certain that there exist many other similar subjects … and you only have to think of things like “Gender archaeology” (there’s almost no evidence of gender being important (in contrast to more usual categorisation like male female & children).

    We might call it “PC” thinking – but in reality I think it is merely a type of group-think, and it could as equally be that one must not question the wave-particle duality as that one must think of societies in terms of gender.(Or Marxist archaeology is another classic)

    • Agreed, Scottis Sceptic. Group think sells, and universities know it. There are other academic subjects that meet the supermarket-of-ideas description and are on display in some of our universities. An example is “Rewilding”. It has grown in popularity and is being used politically to counter ranching, farming and oil/coal producing interests. It is also making access to public lands more difficult for many other uses. Professors who’s research is directed to support the idea get money, attention and students. Students cluster around the new and what I call “virtuous” subjects. To work on lets say wildlife research, which is used to support reduction of cattle numbers on public allotments, feeds into veganism (a religion or eating disorder, not sure which) and other causes intended to “save the planet”. Sound familiar? Reintroduction of large predators is now being sold at the university supermarkets as a plan to fix the sins of the past. All of which is following a very similar path as the global warming debacle. This will be hard to correct. Academia has become the broker of “subject brands”. If you read professor resumes and course descriptions the signal words are clearly displayed. Sustainability rings the bell every time as does environmental. You should have seen the herd of Environmental Engineers that graduated over the past few years. It isn’t science, it’s marketing to the group think, as you call it, and has about as much value to humanity as the next tulip variety.

    • Yes, that’s (yet) another angle to explore. Although I’m not convinced that it has affected the basic character of the ‘movement’. (Think of all those posh conferences; plus the 2000-page reports.)

      • Thinking about this some more, I think the important new aspect is the global scope of ‘the movement’ (which of course the Internet abets). Although there are still some national and continental differences in this case, it does indicate that we are moving closer to the possibility of universal tyranny.

    • Henry Bauer listed a few “similar subjects”:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/05/dogmatism-in-science-and-medicine-how-dominant-theories-monopolize/

      Guest post by Henry H. Bauer

      WUWT readers might find some interest in my new book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth

      http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-6301-5

      Here’s a synopsis:

      Unwarranted dogmatism has taken over in many fields of science: in Big-Bang cosmology, dinosaur extinction, theory of smell, string theory, Alzheimer’s amyloid theory, specificity and efficacy of psychotropic drugs, cold fusion, second-hand smoke, continental drift . . . The list goes on and on.

      Dissenting views are dismissed without further ado, and dissenters’ careers are badly affected. Where public policy is involved — as with human-caused global warming and HIV/AIDS — the excommunication and harassment of dissenters reaches a fever pitch with charges of “denialism” and “denialists”, a deliberate ploy of association with the no-no of Holocaust denying.

      The book describes these circumstances. It claims that this is a sea change in scientific activity and in the interaction of science and society in the last half century or so, and points to likely causes of that sea change. The best remedy would seem to be the founding of a Science Court, much discussed several decades ago but never acted on.

      Reviews so far have been quite favorable, see http://henryhbauer.homestead.com/Dogmatism-Reviews.html

      ==================

      Henry Bauer made four “anti-trust” suggestions:

      1. Allocate 10% of public R&D money to contrarians.

      2. Appoint contrarians to advisory & grant-giving panels.

      3. Create a Science Court to advise legislators considering legislation involving scientific issues to arbitrate between mainstream & contrarian claims.

      4. Appoint ombudsmen to journals, foundations, and government agencies.

      • But how long would it take for an overarching, authoritative “Science Court” to become infested?

      • 1. If the judges had to be approved, wholly or partially, by both sides, infestation wouldn’t be a big problem.

        2. Aside from that, it would be a big benefit to get both sides’ best arguments and cross-exams “on the record,” where all could read them, similar to the Climate Dialog site, which has no judges, and only light moderation. Its moderators have managed to stay neutral for years, AFAIK.

        3. My own proposal, at the link to my comment in an earlier thread, was for multiple self-started science courts, rather than one “authoritative” one.

      • A few months to years.
        And once infected the “Science Court” would make things worse, as it would add the imprimatur of impartiality to the stifling of dissent.

      • See my reply to Piper Paul. Also look at the links to the back-in-the-day original papers on the science court idea, where the problem of institutionalized partiality was addressed.

      • I hope the idea gets more attention. Once one college offers a venue where both sides can fully engage each other on one or more of the CAGW subtopics, and it attracts lots of comments (including below-the-line comments in the style of the Climate Dialog site), others will follow, and in five years there will be a hundred such venues worldwide. Desirable social inventions like this often catch on rapidly once a pioneer blazes a trail.

  29. I will note parenthetically that there is an interesting similarity to the case of Sigmund Freud. Like Mann, Freud had an almost incredible capacity to convince himself of cherished fantasies that fit into his overall conceptions.
    _____________________________________________

    Perhaps there is more kinship between Freud and M.Mann than noted here:

    – Freud treated his chiefly nobly, at least well-to-do clientele with delicate courtesy.
    From his records, however, deep disregard for his patients can be recognized.

    – Freud changes his view of women as a gender, which is always at risk / to defend, as he recognizes that’s not preferred in Biedermeier pre-war Vienna.
    He turns his view by 180° and adopts the then fashionable view of the archetype ‘Lulu’ as a model of the woman.

  30. It is easy to understand how it got going, the MSM picked up on it and ran the stories of doom and gloom. It made goos fodder for a while, this is declining now as the public are bored of it , The AGW will die a natural death.

    “Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate change — combined — last year. That’s a dramatic, 66-percent drop in coverage from 2015 across evening and Sunday news programs airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, according to a new study from Media Matters`’

    • “englandrichard March 30, 2017 at 3:04 am

      It is easy to understand how it got going, the MSM picked up on it and ran the stories of doom and gloom.”

      I wish to correct that. Not MSM, politicians.

  31. The reference to Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” is particularly apt.

    He describes nicely how the “Old Bolsheviks” would be taken to the Lubyanka and asked to “confess”. Later, they would be sent to the camps and they would tell anyone who would listen that they were victims of a “misunderstanding” and the if Stalin knew about it he would punish those of imprisoned them.

    Doubtless, some time in the future when all these “believers” are ignored by the public and laughed at, they will be going around telling people that a “mistake” has been made and the scientists are conspiring against them. They are really victims of the schools they went to and the media which orchestrated it all. They should be pitied.

  32. Maurice F. Strong Is First Non-U.S. Citizen To Receive
    Public Welfare Medal, Academy’s Highest Honor
    Date: Dec. 3, 2003
    WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Sciences has selected Maurice F. Strong to receive its most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal. Established in 1914, the medal is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. The Academy chose Strong, a Canadian and the first non-U.S. citizen to receive the award, in recognition of his leadership of global conferences that became the basis for international environmental negotiations and for his tireless efforts to link science, technology, and society for common benefit.
    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12032003

    Live & Learn: Maurice Strong
    I never aspired to be in business. I went into business because I only have a high-school education, and I couldn’t get jobs that required higher qualifications. I went into business quite reluctantly, because it was the only place I could get a job.
    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/business-strategy/live-learn-maurice-strong/

  33. Nigel Lawson: Global warming has turned into religion
    Lawson was Chancellor when Crispin Tickell, then British Ambassador to the UN, convinced Prime Minister Thatcher that man-made global warming was a problem. Despite Tickell lacking any scientific background (he read history at university) Mrs Thatcher took the population campaigner’s views seriously enough to make a landmark speech on global warming. This led to the foundation of a branch of the Met Office, the Hadley Centre at Exeter, to study the issue. It remains one of the three leading climate institutes
    http://www.thegwpf.com/nigel-lawson-climate-science-has-turned-into-religion/

    • brent:

      Thatcher accepted Tickell’s advise for personal political reasons and, therefore, she created the global warming scare. I explain how and why she did it here.

      The issue ceased to have advantage for her about a decade later so she recanted of it, but by then it had gained a life of its own. I suspect she regretted having become the ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ but the issue had ‘made’ her so I also suspect her regret was not great.

      Richard

    • Government sponsored Climate Sceance violates the US first amendment regarding establishment of Religion

  34. When you see a pack of dogs or wolves hunting you see “a coherence to their movement,” but you don’t need a special explanation. Instinct.

  35. “What does result when mastodons like these have been let loose to roam the countryside?”
    One thing that results is that they eat all the resources and only leave behind steaming piles of excrement that needs to be disposed of.

  36. Bravo! What a superb contribution to our growing understanding of the otherwise astonishing political successes of the CO2 Scare Bandwagon. Well done Rick Wallace. Please get this developed and published in a book asap. I have lots of room on that part of my bookshelves devoted to making sense of this dreadful, destructive, and poisonous phenomenon whereby frail conjecture gets turned into dire threat, and the superficial nature of so much political fervour is revealed as ugly and degrading.

  37. A major difference that I see is that there appears to be much more internal support among scientists and other academics in the present situation. And if one follows the history of members of The Team and their activities back into the early 1980s (and this holds for other groups as well), one encounters a great deal of autonomous action in favor of the fashionable doctrines. This seems in marked contrast to the situation vis a vis Lysenko. In fact, the present situation clearly is in part a “revolt of the elites” rather than a revolt against them.

    It only seems a “marked contrast” to Lysenko in retrospect. Now that Lysenkoism is dead and gone, a full analysis and understanding of what it was, is now possible. In the future, once Mannism has been shown to be Lysenkoism II, I suspect the contrast will disappear. Perhaps not entirely, but the similarities will overwhelm the contrasts.

  38. From the article: ” “My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science.”

    “Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. I was looking up some minor detail about the Medieval Warm Period and discovered this weird parallel universe of people who apparently didn’t believe it had happened, and even more bizarrely appeared to believe that essentially nothing had happened in the world before the 20th century.” (Steyn, 31)”

    We really are dealing with people who live in alternate universes. This would be in science and politics and culture in general. And it involves hundreds of millions of people in the western world. About half the population seems to be seriously deluded. Of course, they get a lot of help with forming their delusions by the MSM. So now the question to answer is which reality is the real reality. Does the Right see clearly and the Left not, or is it the other way around? Being on the Right myself, my opinion is the right does see the situation clearly, and the Left looks at things emotionally and the way they want them to be, not the way they are.

    I think the only way to bridge the gap is to continue to tell the truth as best we can discern it. The arguments from the Left and the CAGW promoters are no longer winning the day. Other than in the MSM, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant and seen as taking one political side against the other.

  39. “A major difference [between Lysenkoism and CAGW] that I see is that there appears to be much more internal support among scientists and other academics in the present situation.”

    Largely because of massive exploitation by a ubiquitous media always looking for a disaster story to peddle. Lysenko did not have the weight of misguided popular opinion reinforcing his position.

  40. “revolt of the elites”
    The AWG alarmists promote windmills and solar panels and reject nuclear power. Why?
    We owe our freedom (education system…) to affordable power for everyone, delivered by fossil fuels.
    Lack of power creates a quite different , more feudal, society with few rich and many poor: their servants.
    The only rational explanation of the environmentalists behaviour is the assumption they want to restore a new class of landlords. This needs the creation of a new class of poor. Windmills and solar panel perfectly serve that purpose. Nuclear is a threat because it delivers.
    The general CAWG acceptance is very intriguing.
    Some time ago I wrote this: http://www.davdata.nl/math/mentalclimate.html
    CAWG may be caused by 1. the absence of real threats 2. secularization: the church no longer suppresses existential fears 3. the environmentalists exploit these fears as profitable business model.

  41. I’ll risk invoking Godwin to point out that in his own mind, Hitler was well intentioned as well.

  42. scientists of varying degrees

    Heh.

    Sort of like Climate$cientist™ Victoria Herrmann’s degrees in International Relations and Art History?

    I now denounce myself and will report for re-grooving.

  43. Note that the D-word is used here in combination with “Hockey Stick”, not “Climate” or “Science” :

    (….) Then [Laden] asks rhetorically, “But is Zorita a Hockey Stick denier like Mark Steyn implies he is?”

  44. “This account also suggests the manner in which AGW will fail. One fine day we will wake up and find that the discrepancies and contradictions and dubious claims have accumulated to the point where the basic thesis cannot be sustained by anyone outside the inevitable fringe ”

    How have we not passed this point years ago? The “discrepancies and contradictions” have long passed the point of being sustainable and yet trillions of dollars around the world is spent on this nonsense while real human suffering goes unaddressed. I honestly don’t know what it will take to reverse this insanity given what has failed to reverse it so far.

    • Obviously we haven’t yet passed the point in question. I think you’re implicitly counting on rationality to set the threshold, whereas I would consider it more psychologically.

      • We were approaching the point of disillusionment with CAGW as a result of the Pause, but warmism received a last hurrah from the recent el niño. If there is an off-setting la niña, that should tip the balance back again.

  45. I do not understand the logic behind giving different weights to different proxies in these studies.
    The only thing I could think of was that one proxy may be representative of a larger geographical area than another.
    Beyond that, the data is either good or bad, and if it is bad it should be excluded, not given a low weight.

  46. Excellent article!!

    Well done. Exposes what total disaster Mann is to the pursuit of legitimate climate science.

    What a scumbag jerk.

  47. An excellent thoughtful piece which avoids many common errors and is by no means too long. As a pointer to developing these thoughts further, I have come to see global warming pseudoscience as one of a succession of government-promoted pseudosciences. One such example is the low fat diet, the idea that you can give yourself heart disease by eating too much fat or cholesterol. Another is psychopharmacology, the idea that people’s personal problems can be cured by changing the chemical balance in their brains. The low-fat diet has collapsed, though the resulting scientific situation is messy, and there is no consensus about what exactly has happened and where dietary science should go next. Global warming will collapse in the next few years (perhaps partly occasioned and accelerated by the next IPCC assessment report). Psychopharmacology may not collapse for twenty or thirty years. In thinking about the causes of these aberrations, there is a general sense in which theoretical belief systems are always prone to certain malfunctions; this has been going on since the dawn of history. But the present institutional system of funding science has a tendency to encourage such developments in democratic societies with vast tax-derived subsidies of research, because of the way grants are given to researchers, and the interaction of this with the propaganda of ideological groups. This leads to the defunding and stigmatization of researchers who want to pursue less fashionable lines of enquiry. (A good survey of dietary science, which will cause many global warming skeptics to experience that feeling of deja vu, is Nina Teicholz, The Big Fat Surprise. A good introduction to the problems with psychopharmacology is Elliot Valenstein’s Blaming the Brain.)

    • I agree; there have been a number of such adventures in faux science over the last several decades.

      (I hadn’t heard of the Valenstein book, although I did know about his book Great and Desperate Cures. This one sounds even more useful at the moment. Thanks for the pointer.)

    • Psychopharmacology hopefully will not “collapse” entirely. There have always been genuinely psychotic people who benefited from the medications. What hopefully will collapse is the the overly broad criteria used to medicate people. Of course, people also need to stop blaming “brain chemistry” for all their problems. Sometimes it may be the cause, many times it is not.

      • Sheri commented:
        “Of course, people also need to stop blaming “brain chemistry” for all their problems. Sometimes it may be the cause, many times it is not.”

        what makes you an expert?

        some think that the discovery of biochemical bases for mental illness is one of the greatest advances in medicine of all time, and they finally allow aggressive treatment of one of the most serious health problems humans have faced throughout their existence.

  48. Regarding the “If the Hockey Stick did not exist, we would have to invent it” idea:
    I suspect that this is exactly what happened. Here is why. The situation was quite curious / suspect. Assume that the ‘hockey stick’ were true. Where might it come from? -An established climate researcher, in a team, at a climate research center. Mann was in such a position, yet he was a doctoral student carrying out his dissertation with some original work. So, the face that launches a thousand ships was not quite already out there? A grad student had to come up with it, in order to give a face to an already believed phenomena?

    Mann was mentored/groomed to produce this hockey stick dissertation. Steve Schneider was a mentor, and may have had a big role in the specifics of assigning the hockey stick project to Mann – I don’t understand why anyone would think this, but possibly to catapult the AGW idea with this hockey stick project.

    He received his Hollaender “post-doc” fellowship for 1996-1998, under which he carried out the hockey stick dissertation. [Don’t ask me why or how a doctoral candidate gets a post-doc award, but that is not a big part of the story, as far as I can tell.] That fellowship comes from the United States Department of Energy. DOE had already been trying to promote the global warming theme, and was one of the several parts of government trying to implement “cap-and-trade.”

    Mann jumped immediately to being a lead editor of one of the chapters in the IPCC 2001 report. Quite a jump. The ink on his diploma was not dry as the IPCC 3 report went to press.

    I think the AGW world was looking for a hockey stick, and looking for a face (other than Pachauri’s face with that weird beard) to put on the AGW movement.

    • TheLastDemocrat wrote:
      “Regarding the “If the Hockey Stick did not exist, we would have to invent it” idea:
      I suspect that this is exactly what happened. Here is why. The situation was quite curious / suspect. Assume that the ‘hockey stick’ were true. Where might it come from?”

      the more-than-exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 since the pre-industrial era.

  49. I had the misfortune to hear the egregious Mann being
    interviewed on BBC R4 this afternoon; he had the gall to use that Upton Sinclair quote on self interest (It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.) in reference to the Republican administration. The beeb journo referred to him as the ‘distinguished professor’. Arghh!

  50. I view Mann as I view Lance Armstrong: its not enough to say “I disagree with you”. They have to attack.

    I look forward to the disappearance of Mann similar to Armstrong’s.

    BTW, anyone giggle a bit when someone writing for Kos or Hot Whopper considers being self-published a negative?

  51. Excellent essay. Will have to read again later. You cover alot of ground and I especially enjoyed your bringing in Solzhenitsyn to summarize. Are we calling AGW believers the dreaded C Word. No. I take it to mean that group think/behaviour happens under the pressure of politics. We see a duck here and we are calling it one.

    On first reading “The Gulag Archipelago” as a teen what I found most astonishing was Western reaction. The “if we had only known” part. How I ask can they claim not to have known. Artifice, conceit, or stupidity it didn’t really matter. The defenders of the Hockey Stick graph are in poor company.

    • On first reading “The Gulag Archipelago” as a teen what I found most astonishing was Western reaction. The “if we had only known” part. How I ask can they claim not to have known

      Absolutely. And as noted in the essay the same evasiveness is in evidence in the present situation. It could almost be called a negative evil – or even the yang part of certain kinds of societal evil. And it seems almost a foundational part of the modern world.

    • Troe. “Are we calling AGW believers the dreaded C Word.” Well I for one am calling many of them exactly that. What better way for the “Cs” to take over the free world than to convince them to destroy their own industry and thereby their ability to defend themselves.

      • Should have added at the end. And to convince the masses that capitalism has failed them so they will turn to communism. When has a healthy economy ever turned to communism?

      • James we see the same thing. I was in college when the Soviet empire collapsed. I watched the hard left scatter. Some of the younger ones popped up at the newly independent Environmental Studies department. Thier politics did not change.

  52. So…someone writing on Kos thinks that self-publishing is a negative?

    Wonder if anyone at Kos has ever been paid to actually write a book by a publisher.

  53. Thank you for a great piece.

    “But the key question is this: is this a case of a personality type that is somehow pre-adapted for such situations? Is there a real sense in which this personality type found an appropriate niche?”

    IMO, these are vital questions. Most likely, we will always see this kind of dubious science whenever the “climate” of society is ready to believe such stories. Because they fit perfectly into what “all right-minded persons” are willing to believe and defend.

  54. Dear Moderator,

    I noticed one small flaw in the otherwise nicely transcripted posting. In the last quotation, which begins “Steyn chose three quotes …”, the last sentence dropped out of the first paragraph so it appears as plain text between paragraphs.

  55. “For me, the protection of planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma [the path of righteousness].”

    — Dr. Rajenda Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    For me, when I notice that less than 25,000 years ago where the city of Chicago presently sits was under thousands of feet of glacial ice, I know this one fact: the climate is *always* changing. Even the name of the issue of “climate change” is a progressive fraud that is advanced to achieve some ideological goal that progressives do no want to be open about.

    I can deduce this goal because almost all of the solutions that advocates of “climate change” demand converge on socialism: bigger government, less liberty, less prosperity, more restriction on choices of products and even where we may live and work, what products we can buy, what food we can buy in the store. what vehicles we are allowed to use, even how many children it is socially acceptable to conceive.

    For me the issue is not if the climate is changing, but to what extent is human activity causing changes in our biosphere that are harmful to human sustainability. Advocates of “climate change” are rarely honestly interested in this question, and less often in finding an honest answer. They are liars and the burden of proof is on them to prove otherwise. I am happy to deny their lies.

  56. Mann’s testimony was pathetic. Mostly “poor me” whining. The others had reasoned and intelligent comments. Christy was not pulling punches!

  57. A very interesting and worthwhile article which must be immensely embarrassing to any defender of alarmism who has a shred of integrity left. But as the article rightly stresses, and some commentators above, it is the persistence of this irrational belief in imminent climate doom amongst the general public and ordinary otherwise sensible and educated people that makes it a socio-pathological phenomena. It is not enough to dismiss AGW as the fault of the MSM or as a strange cult- it is much more pervasive than that and immensely resistant to logic, evidence and independent scientific commentary. It seems to share features more in common with religious millenarian belief systems in which the “Godly” are justified in any actions in pursuit of their goals including killing the unbelievers. This is what makes the whole AGW phenomena so extreme and so dangerous; its adherents cannot even conceive of the possibility that they might be wrong about any aspect of their faith or conduct. It is also why they are prepared to take extreme forms of action, such as impoverishing billions and collapsing civilisation too, to serve their psychological needs to impose their new Jerusalem. It reminds me of Ernst Junger’s dangerous parody of Hitler as the “head gardener” in his pre-war book “On the Marble Cliff Tops” in which he ridiculed Hitler and his nature loving Nazi movement. The SS wanted to kill Junger, a First World War hero, but Hitler feared the possible reaction. Today’s Greens include some who given the opportunity would show no such restraint against the skeptics, as we well know.
    That is why I fear for the chances of ending this climate fear madness before some terrible harm is done. Our politicians in Europe show no sign of shaking off this hysterical belief and it remains to be seen how much Trump’s heroic efforts can achieve.

  58. This is an excellent commentary on Mark Steyn’s book and its detractors. Unlike the hit piece authors, I did read Steyn’s book. The author (Steyn) did query a number of the scientists he quotes in the book. He did not, as his detractors claimed, mine quotes.

    I agree with you that many of water carriers for “the Team” do not understand the arguments which are in play, nor do they understand the scientific method. They simply spout talking points from other sources.

  59. The Biased Broadcasting Corporation has just given about 10 minute’s airtime (which is quite a long time) to Michael Mann. He spoke of how the truth (his version) shone through in the recent testimony. He then talked at length about how his new paper showed direct links between extreme weather and climate change. He got into considerable detail.

    The presenter of the Radio 4 program, Inside Science, treated the great man with huge respect and helpfully asked leading questions. There was no mention of hockey sticks and no other speaker on climate change. Just what you would expect from the BBC.

  60. I thoroughly enjoyed this. With respect to the author’s contention that Mann’s behavior has not been malevolent, I have to disagree. From Mann’s official CV: “Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth’s climate system.” Given the academic degrees listed here, I have to conclude that Mann knew way too much sophisticated math, including statistics, to make the so-called “mistakes” that permeate the work that produced the hockey stick graph. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and why. I have to conclude that he is a malevolent force and always has been (he’s also a megalomaniac, too, but that discussion belongs to a future post). Fantastic piece, though; I hung on every word!

    • He may be a “malevolent force”, but I was thinking about being consciously malevolent. I just don’t think he is. (Here, I agree with Will Smith.)

      • The wolves do not see themselves as malevolent, guys . . but they most certainly have malevolent intent toward the sheep . . honest.

  61. Well thought out article/essay Rick Wallace. It resonated. In my simple mind the ongoing ‘climate change’ hysteria resulted from mass infiltration of well intentioned extreme environmentalists into the hall ways of both academia and MSM.

  62. That is an incredible analysis. I wish college students in the sciences would read it. The cabal I refer to as ‘Manne-quins’ have so distorted this issue, it is almost impossible to get the truth out. And the Republicans in charge don’t know enough about it to ask the right questions. At any rate, thank you for the labor you put into this article. I am going to buy Steyn’s book.

  63. “Steyn was struck by the fact that, when it came time to file third-party amicus briefs, no one filed a brief in Mann’s defense. So he began combing the Web and other resources, and found a plethora of critical comments that he collected into one volume.2,3 In fact, by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, has backed away from this very flawed piece of evidence.

    Rick Wallace:
    I don’t believe the last sentence above means what you intend it to mean.

    The subject being discussed is Steyn’s book.
    I believe your last sentence meant to refer to Mann’s flawed Hokeystick, not Steyn’s book as it does.

    • This is an excellent essay, but I too was puzzled by the incoherence of the statement. What is it in reference to? The terms, “backed away” and “evidence” are also somewhat confusing within the context of the paragraph.

    • Yes, it refers to the hockey stick. I don’t have any problem with the reference here, although evidently others do. (I’ll think about it some more.)

      • Your choice rw.

        But linguistically your discussion subject going into the final sentence is Steyn’s book. Anyone following the subject under discussion will think that you are referring to Steyn’s book.

        Only those who know how excellent Steyn’s book is will realize you must’ve meant something else.

        Perhaps this wording may be helpful or stimulating?
        “In fact, by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, widely acknowledges as fatally flawed, that paleo reconstruction graphic, nicknamed the hockeystick .”

      • Actually, I find that the last sentence follows directly from the one before – via the “plethora of critical comments”. I don’t see how anyone could misinterpret it. (Maybe my right hemisphere is bigger than yours.)

  64. If you want to know how this happened. Read Charles Mackey’s book “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds”. Written in 1843 it outlines many previous examples of mass delusional groupthink. Regrettably this is human behavior 101. This is just histories latest example. It will not be the last.

  65. Leo Smith, your reference to Narcissistic Personality Disorder above is 100% correct, spot on, and you hit the nail on the head! Think Captain Queeg in Herman Wouk’s excellent “The Caine Mutiny.” (In the movie, Bogie was never better, by the way.) My experiences in Atmospheric Science show that this field is infested with NPD sufferers. Worse, they make the whole workforce suffer with their misguided vitriol and retribution. Entire NWS/NOAA regions have suffered greatly because of an unfortunate succession of Regional Directors and their NPD. Mann, in a very revealing action, called the supervisor of a WFO to complain about a forecaster’s sarcastic and humorous reference to termites’ methane emission in a forecast discussion. Mann is so virulently narcissistic that he cannot fail to attack any perceived threat. The irony here is, of course, that the supervisor he complained to is a bigger narcissist than Mann himself is! Other fields are similarly infested with narcissists, as of course are all walks of life, but the atmo / climo field seems to have more than its share, to the science’s detriment. It’ll all come out in my book.

  66. “In fact I strongly suspect that full-fledged conspiracies are often (perhaps always) emergent phenomena that issue from more fundamental processes.”

    I say criminals actually exist, regardless of your fantasies, and that they don’t have much trouble finding each other and “conspiring”. Happens every day.

      • Says you . . pfft

        “Because in all of this it is essential to remember that people do not have to have malevolent intentions to wreak tremendous havoc on the world. ”

        Essential to what, sir? Avoiding any rational discussion about the potential that people with malevolent intentions exist? . . and might be involved in more than an “emergent phenomena? I smell a rat, frankly . .

      • “In light of these reflections, another question obtrudes. To what degree is AGW being championed by a certain kind of elitist ne’er-do-well, scientific or otherwise?”

        It apparently obtrudes very . . timidly;

        “Is there a status enhancing function involved in all of this?”

        That’s it? That’s the only potential reason anyone ever does anything? ?

        I say, it’s essential to remember that vast wealth and power are at stake . . which I suppose could be framed as a “status” question ; )

        And I say, it’s essential to remember that a free and prosperous society, of, by, and for the people, is not the norm, and is not something that the vast majority of ruler types on this planet want their minions to be considering . . kinda screws up the “status” of the rule by a few elites model, to say the very least. Pretending there is not a whole lot of motive among a whole lot of powerful people (to join any effort to take down the West), is not wise, I feel.

      • This is a footnote to my earlier comment. In fact, it may not have been quite accurate to label your argument as a non sequitur, but in that case I must respectfully disagree nonetheless.

        In regard to (real) conspiracies, such as those identified by Tim Ball, I would maintain that they are only a part, and in fact a small part, of the overall explanation. In my view the situation is even more extreme than in the case of dark matter, in that genuine conspiracies account for about 1% of the overall phenomenon, leaving the other 99% unaccounted for. (Note that I am discounting notions of large-scale conspiracies among “banksters” and suchlike altogether.)

        My argument, in fact, is very similar to the one that Tolstoy made in the epilogue to War and Peace. There he says that most historical explanations for the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, as they are stated, place one man drafting and signing documents on one side of an equation, and 700,000 men traveling 1,000 miles to wage war on the other. So from the point of view of causation, the equation is wildly out of balance. And I think the same is true in the present case.

        One problem that I think many people in the skeptic camp have is that from their limited vantage point they cannot really appreciate the immensity of the AGW phenomenon. It’s hard to realize the degree to which it has affected the whole of Western societies. For tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of people, especially in Europe, AGW has become part of their mental furniture. And this simply can’t be accounted for by a few conspiracies.

        Now, you mention “fantasies” in your comment, and I want to speak to that – because in a very real sense what I’m saying is fantastic. But I don’t think it’s mere fantasy.

        Let me explain some of what I’m trying to get across with another example, that I came across just today. I was reading a statement from the American College of Pediatricians and other groups in response to the U.S. Federal ‘bathroom bill’ (“A Medical Response to DOE & DOJ Guidance for Schools). In the statement they make the following point: “to eliminate sex-specific private spaces in public schools violates all students’ fundamental rights to privacy, safety and a secure learning environment.” What struck a chord was the issue of privacy that was raised here, because I remembered some observations made by Sebastian Haffner in his book Defying Hitler about his experiences in an Nazi ideological training camp.

        It was one of the points–perhaps the point–of what was happening to us in the camp that the individual person each one of us represented played no part and was completely sidelined. … Things were deliberately arranged so that the individual had no room for manoeuvre. What one represented, what one’s opinions were ‘in private’ and ‘actually’ was of no concern and was set aside …

        During the daytime you had no time to think, no opportunity just to be yourself. During the daytime comradeship brought contentment. … yet I know for certain, and emphatically assert, that this very comradship can become the means for the most terrible dehumanization–and that it has become just that in the hands of the Nazis.

        In other words, an important element in the creation of a totalitarian order is the abolition of privacy. In that case, then, it seems to me that the transgender activists have unwittingly forced society to take another step down the road toward a totalitarian order. In other words, while acting as conscious actors with their own goals and intentions, in this case having to do with victimology and civil rights, they are also the instruments, so to speak, of a more overarching form of intentionality. And that’s all I’m saying when I talk about the social selection of appropriate conscious agents in the AGW context so that in some sense they also become parts of a ‘group mind’.

        Now, I’m certainly not giving anything like a full explanation of the processes involved, and one can of course dismiss my interpretation, although I think at the very least that it is grounded on actual events. In fact, in all of this I have tried to keep close to the facts as I see them, and in my discussion of “intentionality” I am limiting myself to a behavioristic as-if account. In doing so I am simply following the strictures of Oscar Wilde, who insisted on the importance of paying close attention to appearances. Which is not fantasizing.

      • “….And this simply can’t be accounted for by a few conspiracies….” It’s not “a few”. It’s one that is very well orchestrated. How do you account for the quotes from high UN officials that verify the basis of belief in conspiracy that the purpose of AGW is to realign national economies and temperature has nothing to do with it?

      • Rick writes: “an important element in the creation of a totalitarian order is the abolition of privacy.

        Which should be self-evident. In the absence of privacy there is no individual. I you have no private space, private time, private thought, you, as an entity, cease to exist.

      • markl says:
        It’s not “a few”. It’s one that is very well orchestrated.

        In some ways we’re talking past each other. I’m not denying the existence of conspiracies; what I’m denying is the sufficiency of such explanations.

        People who argue in these terms always trot out quotes to support their contentions, not realizing that if there is a dark conspiracy afoot people will keep their mouths shut about it. But even more importantly, quotes like that are not in and of them selves effective causes, something you people never seem to understand. (What they are is something I intend to go into at some future date.)

        Let me ask you if you think this scenario is believable:

        Greg Laden has a meeting with “the banksters”. They tell him, “We have a job for you. We want a hit piece out on this Steyn thing in 3 days. But make it look like he’s the one who’s pushing a scam. Can you do it?” Greg says, “Yeah, I can do that.” Then they slip the brown envelope under the table.

        Do you think that’s what happened? Is that why Laden’s post appeared? Just how refar does your “orchestration” extend?

        Now, I’m pretty sure I could come up with 100 or even 1000 such scenarios, covering various facets and actors participating in the AGW phenomenon, each one more silly than the last. And that to me is a pretty convincing reductio ad absurdum.

      • Thanks for the response, rw,

        “..he (Tolstoy) says that most historical explanations for the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, as they are stated, place one man drafting and signing documents on one side of an equation, and 700,000 men traveling 1,000 miles to wage war on the other.”

        There’s this new thing, often summarized as the mass media. If you can control that, it’s pretty darn easy to “trigger” what appears to be “natural” emergent phenomena, but are actually synthetic ones, it seems rather obvious to me. We (I trust) have observed vast amounts of indoctrination, in the climate change realm among others, and I’m suggesting the “one man drafting and signing documents” analogy is simply outdated.

      • rw,

        “Let me ask you if you think this scenario is believable:

        Greg Laden has a meeting with “the banksters”. They tell him, “We have a job for you. We want a hit piece out on this Steyn thing in 3 days. But make it look like he’s the one who’s pushing a scam. Can you do it?” Greg says, “Yeah, I can do that.” Then they slip the brown envelope under the table.”

        I suspect it’s more like;

        Some hyper wealthy criminal types (you know, like the ones who control/operate vast illegal drug, illicit arms, human trafficking, money laundering, etc. systems) hire ruthless people to attack whatever “skeptics” of any sort they don’t want to gain traction in the marketplace of ideas, might come up with.

        I don’t understand why you have trouble with this (to me) rather mundane aspect of the *criminal elites have become an existential threat to the West* hypothesis. They hire lawyers to deal with legal things that might come up, gardeners to deal with weeds that might spring up on their lawns, hit men to deal with people they want to go away . . I don’t get the problem with the idea of hiring people to “do their dirty-work” . .

        If we were discussing a town, or city, or even a Country, I doubt you’d be so “baffled” by the notion of some bad people corrupting various institutions and such, and eventually becoming an existential threat to the rule of law there . . and this to me is just a sort of Darwinian eventuality, wherein the “fittest” criminal elites have grown very powerful, and are a threat on a very large scale now . .

  67. The Slavic peoples lived from domestic animals and extensive land use:

    Fishing, hunting and collecting in the woods.
    The Slav princes looked for regulated economies as in Germany.

    But the recruited German settlers blocked, they did not pass on their economic experiences to the existing Slavic population.

    When the German immigrants tried to control local politics they were punished by the local authorities and isolated permanently.

  68. That’s one heck of a book review, brilliant analysis.

    “this difference must be due to the magnificent orchestration of the IPCC” and the massive influence of the NBO’s like WWF, Greenpeace, World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense and the like, heavily funded by billionaires like Soros, David Rockefeller, and the multiplicity of “Green” billionaire foundations pushing for global governance, with AGW a major tool in their armoury.

  69. The economic difference:

    Germany had coal, iron ore and salt storage in the grounds.

    Eastern Europe had forests, rivers and lakes.

  70. Why do ‘scientists’ speak untruths? Many varied reasons I suspect.

    However, I was sent this link today on unrelated matters which has a startling connection to people stating black is white etc.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/uw-professor-the-information-war-is-real-and-were-losing-it/

    It seems the number of people who engage in ‘strong’ conversations, taking contrary positions is endemic.

    We all know that human attributes are spread over a spectrum: tall/short, fat/thin, bright/less bright, egotistical/modest etc.

    It should not be surprised that humans with a certain combination of attributes rise up into positions of influence within the world of climate studies.

    Its a shame.

    • In my opinion there are 2 types of “proof”:
      1.religious: which is the oldest. Religious theses become “true” by consensus and endless repetion (and threats) This explains why heretics have to be silenced. Authority plays an important role.
      Commercials use celebrities for this purpose.
      Note: social media provide strong repetition which can make nonsense “true”.
      2. scientific: which is more recent. Theses are proofed by demonstration and need no consensus or authority.
      So, the “consensus” argument is a religious one.
      Statements that cannot be proofed are religious in nature.
      Environmental organisations claim many connections between meteorological events and CO2 concentration which puts them in place of the church.

  71. That was an important well written article and easy to read. FWIW I quickly scroll past someone who starts a comment by complaining about an article’s length, especially an article that has cost them nothing financially.

  72. Interesting to learn about Seitz’s reaction to Steyn. That explains why occasionally Seitz shows up at Jerry Pournelle’s site (Pournelle being skeptical of AGW — particularly in its pretended accuracy and precision in measuring temperatures) and takes swipes at Steyn.

  73. An excellent piece – thank you.

    I, too, am less than inclined to see a grand conspiracy behind CAGW / CC – these folks have demonstrated that they aren’t very good at organizing such a thing, let alone secretly.

    I’d like to offer another perspective. In the 1980’s, it was becoming overwhelmingly obvious even to the most ardent Democrats / leftists / Progressives / socialist / communists that communism was morally, intellectually and economically bankrupt. The basis of their thoughts and values was crumbling. Many were in shock. They needed a new “ism” to prop themselves up to continue the fight for The New World Order and One World Government. What better than fighting CAGW to save the world from mankind?

    There was no conspiracy – there was just a bunch of like-minded people finding their personal salvation in the same idea, across certain parts of the scientific community, the MSM, the politicians, the NGOs and the foundations.

    And, of course, they would get to continue the idea that Man, somehow, was outside of, and an enemy of, Nature.

    • “There was no conspiracy …”

      Have you considered the possibility that you’re not really an all knowing God, who can simply “see” whether or not there was any “conspiring” by imagining up the idea of there not having been, and . . seeing how that makes you feel . . I guess?

      • Look, I don’t want to be ragging on you, but seriously, I suspect very strongly that the existence of people like this; “..a bunch of like-minded people finding their personal salvation in the same idea, across certain parts of the scientific community, the MSM, the politicians, the NGOs and the foundations”, precludes in any sense, the existence of highly intelligent people manipulating/enabling them. Sort of like the existence of butteries does not preclude the existence of tigers . .

      • On second thought;

        The existence of useful idiots, does not preclude the existence of idiot users ; )

      • Depends on why they are going. Lets say they are going without each other’s knowledge. To work? No conspiracy. To protest whatever at MacArthur park? Conspiracy.

  74. Dear Moderator,

    I tried to add another comment responding to JohnKnight, this time more thoughtfully. But it seems to have gotten lost. Is it in some cache on your end? If not, I’ll try posting it as a standalone comment, because I think it clarifies what I’m trying to do in the article. Thanks.

  75. JohnKnight commented: “….precludes in any sense, the existence of highly intelligent people manipulating/enabling them…”

    +1 they are useful idiots encouraged and catered to by a common source with a singular agenda. Pick your moral dilemma or quasi scientific theory relating to AGW and the tentacle is aided and rallied by the same source. “Conspiracy theory” is their stock in trade answer when confronted because it belittles the accuser and stifles discussion.

  76. Rick Wallace writes: In all of this it is also telling that people with statistical expertise were never consulted about any of the sampling and weighting procedures.

    I didn’t read much beyond this Rick because, in my opinion, I think you’ve needlessly complicated your critique.

    It’s never valid to extrapolate from an empirical model. It isn’t valid to extrapolate from the same place, using the same sample. If you run a regression model that purports to relate temperature to the tree ring width of bristle cone pines in Arizona, you can’t use that model to determine the temperature in California, Germany, India or anywhere else, nor can you use it to determine the temperature at some other time in Elbonia.

    What Mann did was fundamentally wrong. No question about it. No need for 10,000 words on the subject; no one can extrapolate from an empirical model. No one. Not Mike Mann, Not Albert Einstein. No one.

    • RW is not presenting a critique of Michael Mann’s hockey stick. Read RW’s first paragraph to understand the subject of the essay!

      • G, I was deliberately commenting on Wallace’s observations that people with statistical expertise weren’t consulted, and I’m among that group. Mann’s “observations” as expressed in his paper “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries” (1998) are, to put it bluntly, a farce. They violate every premise of statistical inference.

        I stand by the comment and its application.

      • And you may note in the following comment that I not only agree with him (Wallace), I was among the first wave of people who called him out on that subject.

      • I wrote: “I was among the first wave of people who called him out on that subject.”

        In this sentence, “him” refers to Mann, not Wallace.

  77. Reading further, Rick Wallace writes: “t is also telling that, according to Steyn (p. 53), it was not until 2014, sixteen years after the publication of the original hockey stick paper, that all these methodological details were adequately understood.”

    And of course this is only true if your research is restricted to refereed journals. In fact Mann was heavily criticized by myself and many others in “blogs” of the time. Perhaps it took until 2014 for those criticisms to surface in “main stream” literature, but I assure you Mann’s failings as a scientist were well understood and very easily recognized shortly after the garbage he wrote hit the streets.

  78. rw commented: “…In some ways we’re talking past each other. I’m not denying the existence of conspiracies; what I’m denying is the sufficiency of such explanations….People who argue in these terms always trot out quotes to support their contentions, not realizing that if there is a dark conspiracy afoot people will keep their mouths shut about it. But even more importantly, quotes like that are not in and of them selves effective causes, something you people never seem to understand….”

    RW….I’m talking about quotes from the conspirators announcing their true intentions. “You people” (like me) are quoting, not making stuff up or relying on hearsay. It amazes me how some (you) can completely discount facts when it suits. Several high UN officials (the conspirators) admitted AGW is about politics, not science, and their intent is to redistribute wealth from Capitalist countries and weather/climate/temperature/environment has nothing to do with AGW. They in effect validate what is referred to as a “conspiracy theory”.

    • Everyone is agreed that AGW is highly politicized – and that people are using it to further certain agendas, especially the infamous Maurice Strong. That’s not where we differ.

      You are satisfied when you identify a conspiracy. For me that just raises many further questions: e.g. why are these people conspiring? What kinds of social relations are involved here? What are the roles of the various players? And even more importantly, what is a conspiracy in general psychological/sociobiological terms?

      Moreover, you assume that just because there are players with an agenda that they are driving the whole show. To me that’s silly. Obviously, you didn’t get the point of my scenario with Greg Laden. Moreover, you never answered my question about extent.

      Moreover (and I don’t know whether this applies to you, although it sounds like it), there are conspiracies and then there are CONSPIRACIES. The latter ultimately takes us to David Icke and the like. And the latter to me is more a matter of psychological aberration than insight.

      Here’s a specific question: Do you think Al Gore is crusading around the planet in order to redistribute wealth? That he doesn’t believe the AGW thing at all? It seems to me that that’s what you are committed to. And at that point you’re in the same boat as David Icke.

      Finally, I will repeat – my schema for an adequate explanation doesn’t rule out conspiracies, but conspiracies are only one aspect of the phenomenon. And they are an aspect that needs to be explained – not the Ultimate Explanation that you believe they are.

      • Al Gore is an opportunist and useful idiot in ‘the cause.’ Many alarmist scientists are opportunist and useful idiots as well. Opportunity in this context could be money, perceived fame, acceptance, self-aggrandizement, job security, save the world syndrome, or whatever suits their needs. The UN is the promoter and all the rest just followers. Their goal is not temperature control but economic control and they’ve openly stated as such. I’m sure most followers are AGW believers. You don’t get the level of organization at all levels without money and a platform and the UN provides it. It’s an obvious movement and calling it a conspiracy theory is a red herring used by the faithful to deflect discussion when confronted and that’s why I object to its’ use as a descriptor. Are we any closer now?

      • Conspiracies are unlikely because humans are unpredictable. But people take their chances if opportunities arise. The AGW scare and the noble cause of saving the planet suppresses rational thinking.

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