Putting lipstick on Lewandowsky’s pig, er, polar bear

Guest essay by Dr. Richard Tol

In their eagerness to discredit a colleague[1] Harvey et al. (2017) got ahead of themselves. The write-up shows signs of haste – typographical errors (“principle component analysis”, “refereces cited”) and nonsensical statements (“95% normal probability”) escaped the attention of the 14 authors, 3 referees and editor – but so does the analysis. The paper does three things: It creates a database, it classifies subjects, and it conducts a principal component analysis. Details have not been shared on the database construction or the classification (Lewandowsky and Bishop 2016), so I focus on the principal component analysis.

Principal component analysis (PCA) aims to reduce the dimension of a dataset by a linear transformation of its variables into orthogonal components and limiting the attention to those components that are principal in explaining the variation in the variables. Harvey et al. (2017) reduce seven variables to two. One variable denotes citation of Susan Crockford. This is recorded as a binary variable, that is, no distinction is made between mentioning her work in passing, criticizing her work, and uncritically adopting her position. The remaining six variables denote agreement with the following statements:

1. sea-ice extent is on average declining rapidly in the Arctic;

2. sea-ice extent is decreasing only marginally, is not decreasing significantly, or is currently recovering in the Arctic;

3. changes in sea-ice extent in the Arctic are due to natural variability, and it is impossible to predict future conditions;

4. polar bears are threatened with extinction by present and future anthropogenic global warming;

5. polar bears are not threatened with extinction by present and future anthropogenic global warming; and

6. polar bears will adapt to any future changes in Arctic ice extent whether because of anthropogenic global warming or natural variability.

Agreement is measured on a binary scale, even though nuances are clearly possible. Taking the first statement, “extent” could refer to sea-ice area or volume, both of which vary over space and seasons so that “average” obtains different meanings, while “rapidly” could mean different things to different people. Similar objections can be raised against the other five statements.

The data released by Harvey et al. (2017) contains only zeroes and ones, suggesting that either agreement was recorded by a single coder or, less plausibly, that all coders agreed on all 6 statements by all 182 subjects.

Intriguingly, there are four subjects who appear to argue that sea-ice is neither shrinking nor stable or growing. One subject seems to argue that polar bears are both threatened by climate change and not threatened, and another is recorded as arguing that polar bears are neither threatened nor not threatened. This corroborates the above assertion that statements were coded by a single coder.

Statements 1 and 2, and 4 and 5 are mutually exclusive, and statements 3 and 6 are close to statements 2 and 4, respectively. A PCA is redundant in a case like this. The analysts artificially inflated the dimensionality of the data, before using PCA to reduce it again.

Figure 2 in Harvey et al. (2017) plays another statistical sleight of hand. The figure shows many observations taking many different positions. Seven binary observations can take at most 128 positions, rather than the 182 suggested in Figure 2. In fact, there are only 19 different positions in the underlying data. The jitter applied by Harvey et al. (2017) suggests that the “majority view papers” all take a slightly different position on sea-ice and polar bears – as you would expect had you not known about the binary coding. Actually, the 86 papers fully agree with each other, and with 27 of the “science-based blogs”. Figure 1 shows a more faithful depiction, with the first and second principal component on the axes and the size of the circles reflecting the number of observations.

Figure 1. Principal component analysis. The horizontal axis shows the first principal component, the vertical axis the second one. Colours denote the four classes (green = majority view papers; blue = science-based blogs; red = controversial papers; orange = denier blogs). The size of the circle denotes the number of subjects, with the smallest circle representing 1 subject and the largest 86.

Figure 2 in Harvey et al. (2017) shows that different classes of respondent[2] differ strongly on the first principal component, but that there are no significant difference on the second principal component. Table 1 confirms this.

Table 1. The average and standard deviation by observation class for the first and second principal component with seven or six variables per observation.

P majority science controversial denier
N 86 45 6 45
PC1 7 -1.50 -1.25 1.40 3.92
(0.16) (0.41) (1.39) (0.91)
PC1 6 -1.40 -1.33 1.12 3.85
(0.15) (0.31) (1.38) (0.90)
PC2 7 -0.26 0.51 1.30 -0.18
(0.03) (1.04) (1.06) (1.20)
PC2 6 -0.05 -0.04 1.39 -0.05
(0.01) 0.11) (0.87) (0.97)

The second principal component largely reflects statement 6, whether polar bears can adapt to future climate change. Polar bears appear to have survived the onset of two interglacials and one ice age (Lindqvist et al. 2010). Unfortunately, 114 of the 182 subjects do not take a position on this. Harvey et al. (2017) replaced these missing observations with zeroes (after standardization). Omitting this column makes the first principal component more important (explained variance rises from 80% to 89%) and the second principal component less important (explained variance falls from 11% to 5%). This does not affect the qualitative results: The first principal component explains the differences between the types of observations. The second principal component does not have discriminatory power. See Table 1.

Harvey et al. (2017) thus really show that there are people who worry about sea-ice and polar bears, and those who do not and cite Dr Crockford.

But Harvey et al. (2017) do not just show that there are two camps. They take sides. Unfortunately, they count noses and argue from authority, rather than assess the strength of the evidence. It is well-known that like-minded blogs often copy or paraphrase material from one another. Similarly, academic papers often repeat a salient conclusion from previous research. Counting noses is a poor method.

The argument from authority is weakened by examining the 92 learned papers. Of the 86 “majority view” papers, 39 were authored by Steven Amstrup, Rascha Nuijten or Ian Stirling, who are among the alii in Harvey et al. (2017). Another 13 were authored by Andrew Derocher, a frequent (n=10) co-author of Amstrup.

The paper does not specify how these 92 papers were identified, beyond a “broad keyword search” on the “ISI Web of Science”. The Web of Science returns 179 articles for a query on “polar bear” and “sea ice”. No information is given how the larger sample of relevant papers was reduced to the smaller one used by Harvey et al. (2017). Comparing the relative contribution of the ten most prolific authors according to the Web of Science to their relative presence in Harvey’s sample reveals that the latter is not representative of the former (chi^2(9)=17.4, p=0.04). Research by co-authors Amstrup and Stirling is overrepresented in Harvey et al. (2017), and work by Jon Aars and Oystein Wiig underrepresented.[3] The sample used by Harvey et al. (2017) appears to be a sample of convenience, and unrepresentative.

In sum, Harvey et al. (2017) play a statistical game of smoke and mirrors. They validate their data, collected by an unclear process, by comparing it to data of unknown provenance. They artificially inflate the dimensionality of their data only to reduce that dimensionality using a principal component analysis. They pretend their results are two dimensional where there is only one dimension.

They suggest that there are many nuanced positions where there are only a few stark ones – at least, in their data. On a topic as complex as this, there are of course many nuanced positions; the jitter applied conceals the poor quality of Harvey’s data.

They show that there is disagreement on the vulnerability of polar bears to climate change, but offer no new evidence who is right or wrong – apart from a fallacious argument from authority, with a “majority view” taken from an unrepresentative sample.

Once the substandard statistical application to poor data is removed, what remains is a not-so-veiled attempt at a colleague’s reputation.


Peter Roessingh and Bart Verheggen gracefully shared data and code. I borrowed freely from comments by Roman Mureika and Shub Niggurath. Marco NN had useful comments on an earlier version.


Barta, J. L., C. Monroe, S. J. Crockford, and B. M. Kemp. 2014. “Mitochondrial DNA preservation across 3000-year-old northern fur seal ribs is not related to bone density: Implications for forensic investigations.” Forensic Science International 239:11-18. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.02.029.

Crockford, S., G. Frederick, and R. Wigen. 1997. “A Humerus Story: Albatross Element Distribution from Two Northwest Coast Sites, North America.” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7 (4):287-291.

Crockford, S. J. 1997. “Archeological evidence of large northern bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, in coastal waters of British Columbia and orthern Washington.” Fishery Bulletin 95 (1):11-24.

Crockford, S. J. 2003. “Thyroid rhythm phenotypes and hominid evolution: A new paradigm implicates pulsatile hormone secretion in speciation and adaptation changes.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology – A Molecular and Integrative Physiology 135 (1):105-129. doi: 10.1016/S1095-6433(02)00259-3.

Crockford, S. J. 2009. “Evolutionary roots of iodine and thyroid hormones in cellcell signaling.” Integrative and Comparative Biology 49 (2):155-166. doi: 10.1093/icb/icp053.

Crockford, S. J. 2016. “Prehistoric Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) Mother Lode Near Prince Rupert, British Columbia and Implications for the Manufacture of High-Status Ceremonial Goods.” Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology:1-22. doi: 10.1080/15564894.2016.1256357.

Crockford, S. J., and S. G. Frederick. 2007. “Sea ice expansion in the Bering Sea during the Neoglacial: Evidence from archaeozoology.” Holocene 17 (6):699-706. doi: 10.1177/0959683607080507.

Crockford, S. J., and S. G. Frederick. 2011. “Neoglacial sea ice and life history flexibility in ringed and fur seals.” In Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters: Integrating Archaeology and Ecology in the Northeast Pacific, 65-91.

Harvey, Jeffrey A., Daphne van den Berg, Jacintha Ellers, Remko Kampen, Thomas W. Crowther, Peter Roessingh, Bart Verheggen, Rascha J. M. Nuijten, Eric Post, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ian Stirling, Meena Balgopal, Steven C. Amstrup, and Michael E. Mann. 2017. “Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy.” BioScience:bix133-bix133. doi: 10.1093/biosci/bix133.

Hatfield, V., K. Bruner, D. West, A. Savinetsky, O. Krylovich, B. Khasanov, D. Vasyukov, Z. Antipushina, M. Okuno, S. Crockford, K. Nicolaysen, B. Mac, L. Persico, P. Izbekov, C. Neal, T. Bartlett, L. Loopesko, and A. Fulton. 2016. “At the foot of the smoking mountains: The 2014 scientific investigations in the Islands of the Four Mountains.” Arctic Anthropology 53 (2):141-159. doi: 10.3368/aa.53.2.141.

Lewandowsky, S., and D. Bishop. 2016. “Research integrity: Don’t let transparency damage science.” Nature 529 (7587):459-461. doi: 10.1038/529459a.

Lindqvist, Charlotte, Stephan C. Schuster, Yazhou Sun, Sandra L. Talbot, Ji Qi, Aakrosh Ratan, Lynn P. Tomsho, Lindsay Kasson, Eve Zeyl, Jon Aars, Webb Miller, Ólafur Ingólfsson, Lutz Bachmann, and Øystein Wiig. 2010. “Complete mitochondrial genome of a Pleistocene jawbone unveils the origin of polar bear.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (11):5053-5057.

Martinsson-Wallin, H., and S. J. Crockford. 2001. “Early settlement of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).” Asian Perspectives 40 (2):244-278.

Ovodov, N. D., S. J. Crockford, Y. V. Kuzmin, T. F. G. Higham, G. W. L. Hodgins, and J. van der Plicht. 2011. “A 33,000-Year-Old incipient dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of the earliest domestication disrupted by the last Glacial Maximum.” PLoS ONE 6 (7). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022821.

Tollit, D. J., A. D. Schulze, A. W. Trites, P. F. Olesiuk, S. J. Crockford, T. S. Gelatt, R. R. Ream, and K. M. Miller. 2009. “Development and application of DNA techniques for validating and improving pinniped diet estimates.” Ecological Applications 19 (4):889-905. doi: 10.1890/07-1701.1.

West, D., C. Lefèvre, D. Corbett, and S. Crockford. 2003. “A burial cave in the Western Aleutian Islands, Alaska.” Arctic Anthropology 40 (1):70-86.

Wilson, B. J., S. J. Crockford, J. W. Johnson, R. S. Malhi, and B. M. Kemp. 2011. “Genetic and archaeological evidence for a former breeding population of Aleutian cackling goose (Branta hutchinsii leucopareia) on Adak Island, central Aleutians, Alaska.” Canadian Journal of Zoology 89 (8):732-743. doi: 10.1139/z11-027.


[1] Susan Crockford has a decent publication record (Wilson et al. 2011, West et al. 2003, Tollit et al. 2009, Ovodov et al. 2011, Martinsson-Wallin and Crockford 2001, Hatfield et al. 2016, Crockford and Frederick 2011, 2007, Crockford 2016, 2009, 2003, 1997, Crockford, Frederick, and Wigen 1997, Barta et al. 2014).

[2] Respondent classes were generated by an unknown process. Blogs were classified on “their positions taken relative to those drawn by the IPCC”. The Working Groups of the Intergovernmental Panel have published 15 assessment reports and many special reports, each one hundreds if not thousands of pages long. Some blogs are small, others very large. It is not known which blog posts were examined for the classification. Harvey et al. (2017) performed two cluster analyses that show that their polar bear and sea ice data can be classified in the same manner as their blogs, but as their original classification is of unknown provenance, these validation tests are meaningless. The current author has repeatedly requested the data, but in vain, in direct contravention of the lead author’s employer’s data sharing policy – seehttps://www.knaw.nl/en/topics/openscience/open-access-and-digital-preservation/open-access/policy. Note that the journal does not have such a policy – seehttps://www.aibs.org/public-programs/biological_data_initiative.html.

[3] Scopus returns 216 articles for the same query. Harvey’s sample is closer to the Scopus sample (chi^2(9)=13.2, p=0.15).


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Richard…last paragraph….”They show that these (there) is disagreement”..my machine does that too


…these polar bear arguments…..there are a lot more polar bears….end of argument

Michael 2

In my opinion it elevates Susan Crockford who might have been relatively unknown to many readers prior to this controversy. What is almost certain to be well known is that you can, with a fairly high degree of certainty and very quickly, identify the Consensus blogs; everything else is Not Consensus. Some of these not consensus blogs, such as Breitbart, have nothing to do with climate or polar bears per se; but are nevertheless not part of the Consensus which is pretty much all encompassing in its magisterium.

Curious George

“A PCA [Principal Component Analysis] is redundant in a case like this. The analysts artificially inflated the dimensionality of the data, before using PCA to reduce it again.”
That’s why they use a Principle Component Analysis. It is not a typo; it is a tamed beast that can do anything.

Principal component analysis of opinions? Give me a break.


The problem is not “Principle” Component Analysis, but failure to follow scientific princples

Samuel C Cogar

WOW, ….. is there Grant monies available for those wanting to write/compose/publish a PCA [Principal Component Analysis]?????????

Smart Rock

Yes, the components of their principles certainly do need analysis. And it won’t be pretty.

Mike McMillan

The first Principal Component is govt funding of research.


Peter Roessingh and Bart Verheggen gracefully shared data and code.”
This is the best comment here, Bart being one of the co authors and apparently still committed to the paper.
He has a comments section up on his own blog which is well worth reading to get a gist of the the article, people from both sides have been able to fairly freely comment there.

It is a shame that he has been involved in such a hit piece.

Having said that it is good to read his defence of it.

The journal editor has refused to retract the piece which is fantastic as well.
Putting such rubbish out there and then having to constantly defend the rubbish when you know it is rubbish makes the defenders twist themselves into knots.

Congratulations on your analysis, Richard.
It is a bit dry to read but gets the salient points across.

The polar bear experts will not put the simple facts and figures out because they do not show a narrative of provable Polae Bear number decline.
In fact the opposite.
A researcher comes along, takes the data, analyses it, shows the Polar Bear numbers are increasing and that the reasons for any local decline are the opposite of what the experts try to claim.

No wonder the vitriol and the calling in of the big guns.
A shame they are firing blanks.
Even better that the two big names are covered in mud before they start.
Mann and Lewindowsky.
With a team like that on your side one would just want to curl into the foetal position for a few years and hope it all goes away.

John F. Hultquist

The polar bear experts …

Susan appears to be an expert. The others not so much.
When Al Gore and friends started with the “missing summer sea ice” the so called experts should have corrected him. They did not.
Susan has repeatedly noted the importance of spring ice — not too thick — for seals and bears.
Those other “experts” have gone cult and have lost respect – – sabotaged their own careers and legacy.

F. Leghorn

Polae Bear
So that’s the plural of “polar bear”. Finally.

Eugene S. Conlin

Surely is “Polae” being the plural of “Polar” so refers to the Antarctic bears known to lesser mortals as “Penguins” 😉

Tom Halla

Cherry picking data and sources, and then running the result through a PCA. Typical pseudo-research.

R. Shearer

Generally, editors, not reviewer, are responsible for catching typographical errors.


While true that it is an editor’s responsibility, errors as agregious as some of these are surely noticed by any educated (in the grammar sense) commentator


One would think that with so many authors few errors should have escaped detection, unless most of the “authors” didn’t bother to carefully read “their own” manuscript before submission.

Shameful to have your name associated with that mess.

Richard, you wrote, “One variable denotes citation of Susan Crockford. This is recorded as a binary variable, that is, no distinction is made between mentioning her work in passing, criticizing her work, and uncritically adopting her position.” I think this is not correct.

The paper alludes to this variable in the statement “Approximately 80% of the denier blogs cited here referred to one particular denier blog, Polar Bear Science, by Susan Crockford, as their primary source of discussion and debate on the status of polar bears.”

This is suggestive that the binary variable is whether the authors consider Crockford’s work to be the blog’s primary reference with respect to polar bears. Looking at their data set, of the 45 blogs with position evaluated as “contra”, 35 are coded as “yes” for the Crockford variable, 10 as “no”. That’s close to 80%, so it seems to cement that interpretation.

“HaroldW December 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm
Approximately 80% of the denier blogs cited here referred to one particular denier blog, Polar Bear Science, by Susan Crockford, as their primary source of discussion and debate on the status of polar bears.

This is suggestive that the binary variable is whether the authors consider Crockford’s work to be the blog’s primary reference with respect to polar bears.”

How does that work?

Based on the “search variables”;

“Web of Science returns 179 articles for a query on “polar bear” and “sea ice”. No information is given how the larger sample of relevant papers was reduced to the smaller one used by Harvey et al. (2017).”

Where and how do the author’s determine “Polar Bear Science, by Susan Crockford” is the or even a “primary source of discussion and debate”?
• Where in the collected data do the author’s explicitly identify every blog’s each and every polar bear discussion(s)?
• Where are citations, quotes, references collected and listed?
• Where are the detailed records where “Harvey et al. (2017)” authors comb through every blog collecting every polar bear comment and discussion?

The lack of documented evidence indicates the author’s knew their determinations before authoring that slimy paper.
Another demonstration, where alarmist opinions masquerade to the public as “science”.

“Harvey et al. (2017)” makes a number of collective assumptions on what makes for “science blog” versus “denier blog”.
Where is the meta-data that allows developing such categories and determining their scientific merit?

Harvey et al. (2017)’s initial confirmation bias allows the author’s to self determine their personal articles, research, publications and blog participations, i.e. opinions, are automatically “science” is pure “argumentum ad verecundiam”, an appeal to authority.
That appeal is based on argumentum ad ignorantiam, where the authors assume their authority based on abject ignorance.

This gross assumption is then expanded through use of the word denier. An opprobrium meant to demean, diminish and isolate those so labeled.

“Harvey et al. (2017)” is a shameful disappointing work from every perspective, except perhaps “Harvey et al. (2017)” author(s) self abuse.

Michael 2

There is a fairly simple way to let Google do the work:

Search “inurl:wattsupwiththat.com crockford”

About 4,980 results

inurl:andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com crockford

8 results

Michael 2
There is a fairly simple way to let Google do the work:
Search “inurl:wattsupwiththat.com crockford”

Thanks…I did not know that!!!

Michael 2 –
inurl:andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com “polar bear” yields 10 results.
inurl:wattsupwiththat.com “polar bear” yields 3880 results.

The conclusion that one should draw from such metrics is that ATTP’s blog has not discussed polar bears. In fact, that site has precisely one post tagged “polar bears” — on the topic of Harvey et al.

Michael 2

“The conclusion that one should draw from such metrics is that ATTP’s blog has not discussed polar bears.”

Two conclusions can be drawn from these two exercises: WUWT discusses polar bears and Susan Crockford, ATTP discusses neither (or hardly at all).

It’s a matrix and so far we’ve explored two cells of four. The next experiment is to identify blogs that discuss polar bears but NOT Susan Crockford, and the fourth is sites that discuss Susan Crockford but not polar bears.

What anyone would do with that knowledge I have no idea but it’s got to be good for something.

“Michael 2 December 27, 2017 at 7:09 am
There is a fairly simple way to let Google do the work:
Search “inurl:wattsupwiththat.com crockford”
About 4,980 results
inurl:andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com crockford
8 results”

Excellent example and simple search technique!


It produces search results that are one dimensional mentions.
e.g. A result that identifies that the text “Crockford” is mentioned at WUWT.
• a) It does not identify polar bear discussions versus mentions.
• b) It fails to identify any other polar bear researchers; unless, a search is conducted for every polar bear researcher that has conducted research over the ten-fifteen years.
• c) It does not identify every mention of Ursus maritimus is mentioned.
• d) results are limited to text only. Every graphic/picture/image is skipped. I am unsure whether .PDFs are treated as text
• e) Misspellings are ignored.
• f) Simplified references to polar bears; e.g. Ursus or just bear, are not found.

I do wonder whether the search treats all text equally or does a search have to be conducted for each case possibility. Likely, there is an operand that controls case search options.

One dimension searches do not supply context and gist for each and every polar bear mention, whether or not Dr. Crockford is mentioned.

Simple search results are what Harvey et al (2017) have likely inflated to serve their purpose conducting their sham study.

Your analysis of attypoo’s blog discussion regarding polar bears or Crockford looks dead center accurate.

Richard S J Tol

HaroldW: Point well taken. Unfortunately, data collection is poorly documented so we do not know what Harvey really did.


What Harvey did is crystal clear.

Ben of Houston

The entire purpose of academic writing is so that we don’t have to go back and recreate what the authors did. If this wasn’t a data dredge that an undergrad could have done in an afternoon, then such a reverse analysis wouldn’t have been possible.

That’s what really gets to me. The utter simplicity of this. Over a dozen authors, most of which have PHDs, produced a paper that would be sub-par at a high school science fair. An irrelevant analysis that consisted of reading a few papers and filling out a 6-question (really 3 question) survey. How did this get published? If anything, it would be a B-grade undergraduate level communications paper, yet it’s in the Proceedings of the National Academy.

And people wonder why so many of us disregard peer review if nonsense like this slips through the cracks.


Most of the papers I have read in climate science have made me cringe. If I had turned one in as my senior thesis (before most faculties were polluted with consensus thinking), I would have been thrown out of my program for academic misconduct! One simply cannot torture data until it screams like they do in most fields.

If they expended as much effort counting ice floes and polar bears as they do counting noses they’d be on Crockford’s side.

Peer reviewed literature surveys are IMO not suitable for PCA as the very fact of being peer reviewed renders the counts one dimensional.


exactly…the very definition of peer
…and most of these papers are built on each other

NW sage

Not sure what the authors intended to accomplish (NOT Dr Tol) but I am strongly reminded what my statistics prof said in a graduate level course on basic statistics “No amount of manipulation – even using sound techniques – of bad statistical data can ever produce any meaningful results” This Harvey junk falls into that category.

DC Cowboy

I prefer another description. “Numbers are like people, torture them enough and they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.”

It strikes me that using exactly the same procedures and analysis of 2016 political articles from reputable news agencies would yield undeniable proof that the current President is Hillary Clinton.

Jon Jewett

Yes. I have read (and it might be true) that Mrs. Bubba exists in an alternate reality where she IS President. Thankfully, she is there and I am here.

AGW is not Science

Thankfully! LMAO.



Harvey (2017) was clearly designed and manufactured as hit piece. Those authors (for some reason) felt the need (at least several did) to discredit Dr Crockford and to keep the polar bear as the face of Arctic warming alarmism.

The same pattern of scientific misbehavior and misconduct is seen in the carefully engineered attacks on Dr Curry, Dr Pielke, Jr., and Dr Clack (who has been sued by Dr Jacobsen of StanfordU for discrediting his renewable energy farcical paper). The “scientists” who conduct these attacks on their targets’ reputation and work are clearly motivated by something other than scientific curiosity and truthfulness. Someone or something is motivating them to these antics.

The very deep-pocketed supporters of climate alarmism are well funded, ruthless, and unscrupulous. The incentives for these attacks will not go away until the major journal editors become ethical once again on climate change, and the editors are willing to “out the charlatans” like Harvey and Mann.

Steve Case

From my file of tag lines and quotes:

CO2 is not a pollutant and the polar bears are not threatened with extinction.
  The people running the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are liars.

Michael 2

“Therefore, according to you, he is a liar.”

While that may be true, Steve used a plural form, “people”, so you’ll need at least one additional liar.


The polar bears survived through the first 7000-8000 years of the Holocene, when sea ice was much less.

The time they really struggled was when there was TOO MUCH sea ice during the LIA and late 1970s.

(Edited) MOD


Darn typos

“fist 000-8000” ? -> first 7000-8000

Jan Christoffersen


Polar bears struggled in the 50’s – 70’s due to excessive much trophy hunting.


The “tense” is wrong

Pritt is a new-comer, trying to correct all the EPA lies !

John F. Hultquist

 “The people running the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are liars.

I read this as a quote from when Obama was calling the shots at EPA. The one likely referenced is Gina McCarthy. A statement such as this frequently comes from Tony H., but could be from many others.
And why not?
Impeachment papers were filed regarding her that included “begins the impeachment process for Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after she committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings, and as a result, is guilty of …

Thank you Richard, for a devastating analysis!

Harvey et al. (2017):
Libel, slander, fakery, mathematic abuse, statistics chicanery, fudged data, bad metrics and irrational character assassination attempt; masquerading as flimsy science.

“Bart Verheggen” may have shared code and data, but that utterly fails given his participation in this character assassination piece based on falsehoods and fake science.

Besides the mother of every author and editor involved in this hit job being forever disappointed; not one of these characters should ever be allowed to receive American funding, again.
Misuse of grant funds to write and publish this c*_p, should be investigated. It’s clear that these researchers have not been working hard at being real scientists

Jeff Norman

You shouldn’t be too critical, maybe science isn’t their first language.

Based on their work, there is doubt they understand what science is and how a scientific method proceeds. No matter what language is used.


I repeat for those who still haven’t figured it out.

The Arctic sea ice extent in the late 1970’s was an EXTREME HIGH anomaly.

It was up there with the extents of the LIA, the coldest period in 10,000 years.

For the first 7000-8000 year of the current interglacial, Arctic sea ice level was MUCH less, often summer ice free..

There has been less sea ice than now for some 90-95% of the last 10,000 years.

And Polar Bear lived through all of it. !!!


And to think, the temperature rebound from the 1970s was likely due in part to our adding scrubbers to the power plants to decrease aerosol production and make the world a bit less cloudy.


check this, https://goo.gl/nNzXt8 If this data is accurate we have been slowly descending into a new ice age for the last 2000 years. our current warming is just a tiny blip.


Congress Should Investigate the Peer Review and Publication Process

When you boil this climate change issue down it centers around a cabal of the usual left-wing, rent seeking suspects that feed off the government teet. You have the government funded universities, the left-wing politicians who vote for the climate change pork, the crony-capitalists that receive the government grants, loans and waivers, the government scientific grants going to highly government income dependent researchers, the gullible press that simply believes in this climate change nonsense and other left-wing causes, the NGOs that raise donations by offering sermons in the form of newsletters offering salvation through environmental policies that will save the earth, and of course the sanctimonious, gullible, scientifically illiterate and narcissistic climate change voter that is so desperate to feed their self-absorbed ego that they truly believe they can save the world by killing free-market capitalism and the energy industry that supports it. Oh, and I almost forgot, the UN’s IPCC, where the I stand for INTERGOVERNMENTAL.

Javert Chip


I, for one, have zero confidence involving congress in peer review has any probative value.

Our elected fools can’t even figure out, to the nearest 100,million Russians, how they were involved in our election process, or how they stopped Hillary from visiting Wisconsin.

This is definitely a fool’s errand, but our current crop of congressional fools is busy at the moment.

Ben of Houston

Agreed, it’s broken, but I don’t see how involving a bunch of politicians is going to fix anything.


Involvement of politicians is what broke it in the first place. The CAGW crowd realized that creating a hobgoblin to make people clamor for solutions would make the politicians drop silo loads of money on them in response. Can’t allow something like ethical peer review interfere with all that free money now can we.

Roger Knights

“Oh, and I almost forgot, the UN’s IPCC, where the I stand for INTERGOVERNMENTAL.”

That’s why its shorthand name should be IGPOCC. (Another benefit is that it is pronounceable—an acronym.)

AGW is not Science

No, IPCC is just fine – we just have to use a more accurate spelled out version – it’s the

Intergovernmental Propaganda on Climate Control

My latest blog post is a summary of this issue so far, with updated links to various online discussions


Roger Knights

Ms. Crockford—you use the wrong spelling there; i.e., you wrote, “the data for the principle component analsysis”

So I did, rush pre-Christmas effort, so much talk about principle vs. principal.

Corrected, with thanks.

RK, keep piling on. Ouch doubled.


If we are not harder on ourselves as skeptics than the many Believers who accept without evidence then of what good is our argument?


In my experience principal component analysis is done on numerical variables(ones with a range of values) such as temperature, concentration, mole fraction, or numerical evaluation scales such as 1-5, 1-10, line length, etc. that result from a series of experiments. The results for each experiment yield values associated with each variable. The analysis ranks the experimental variables and their combinations from high to low in terms of explaining the fraction of the variation in the data (the residual error).

The other way of doing it is to run the sequence of experiments and then how many components are needed to explain the variation in the results. The result might be that three factors(which aren’t necessarily identifiable) are enough to explain the variation seen in the experiments.

Binary choices are only used for things such as ingredient a vs ingredient b, or machine #1 vs. machine #2 in the design. Results from human evaluations are only used on a blinded basis. The group of evaluators have no idea how the products, or the papers in this case, were produced or have any identification of the authors in the case of papers. No scientific analysis would use only a few(2-3) evaluators or scales limited to just 2 or 3 choices.

The paper looks like meaning free psychobabble analysis.

Richard S J Tol

I indeed need to run the PCA variant for binary variables.

They seem to have used a single rater, without double-checking: 4/182 entries are nonsensical.

Jim Masterson

I would replace “meaning free” with “content free” even though Scott Adams à la Dilbert was the first to use the phrase.



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The second principal component largely reflects statement 6, whether polar bears can adapt to future climate change. Polar bears appear to have survived the onset of two interglacials and one ice age (Lindqvist et al. 2010). Unfortunately, 114 of the 182 subjects do not take a position on this.

Scientific papers tend more to focus on minutiae and not on big picture issues. I would expect that the survival of polar bears over the Holocene optimum would be irrelevant to the vast majority of polar bear papers.


The obvious fact they are here today after a 20Kyr period of great climatic change in their ecosystem is testament to their adaptability and resilience. To argue otherwise would show one as a zealot and not a scientist.

AGW is not Science

Unfortunately, far too many “zealots” are posing as “scientists” these days, thereby denigrating the name of good scientists everywhere.


The propagandists know we easily identify with the observable mammals… But where’s the “Save the Plankton” movement? If that endangered species expires, it will be life – but not life as we know it, Jim.

Javert Chip

It sure would be nice if Griff jumped in here and helped us understand the Harvey et al. (2017) cow-pie.

Griff is a renowned expert on polar bear experts.

John F. Hultquist

Rumor has it that Griff was Eaten! by a large white bear.
May the troubled soul rest in peace — if true.


Maybe the funding that paid him ran out? And His contract didn’t get renewed.


Well waddya know – The bear’s Christmas feast.comment image?w=640


“Rumor has it that Griff was Eaten! by a large white bear.”

Has anyone check the bear isn’t suffering too much ?



Ed Zuiderwijk

Come on folks. You wouldn’t do that to a polar bear, would you?

Bryan A

That, while unfortunate for Griff, is OK though as Griff was fortunately just weighed at the doctors office so all they’ll need to do is follow the bear around and gather a sifficient weight in droppings. Climate Science will then be able to rebuild him

Ben of Houston

Come now, y’all, this is rude and uncalled for. I might not agree with Griff on most things, but he’s still a decent enough fellow who comes to talk and often gives good counterpoints.

We need people like Griff. Disagreement and discussion is how we become smarter. We don’t want to get into such an echo chamber that we end up putting out nonsense like the original article this point was talking about.

Ben of Houston, I agree. All too often, there is incivility in these pages and It’s regrettable. If an individual has an honestly held belief that is based in fallacy, then it would be far better to gently guide them in the path to learning that there are no absolute “truths”, only theories based on evidence and where the unbiased evidence appears to lead. Besides, an uncivil rejoinder will not only feed a troll, but also it will also harden a sincerely held belief that is not based on the evidence.

FWIW. I have joined a committee to put on public discussions of controversial subjects, e.g. “sanctuary cities” and “reproductive rights”. The two “liberals” suggested the subject of Darwin as science vs. Creationism and Intelligent Design as unsupported theology. They argued with a vigor that suggests an anti-Christian prejudice bordering on bigotry. At any rate, they became annoyed when I referred to Darwin’s thesis as a “theory”. With further (leading) questions, they avowed that Darwinism was a “Revealed and Absolute Truth”. Hmm….. There was no point in explaining that they had left the “Land of the Rational” and were living in the “Land of the Quasi-Religious Cult”. Me personally? Well, since you asked, I believe that Darwin’s Theory is a very pretty theory and it does fit observations pretty well. And, it may be a true representation. Or not. How the Lord did it is of only minor curiosity to me. The Lord may have done it through the process we call Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Or not.

Something else odd I noted. The “Liberals” were openly derisive and dismissive of “Academics” that might believe in “Creationism/Intelligent Design”. However, they seem to have no issue with “Academics” teaching the Glories of Socialism. It IS being taught; witness all of the people who voted for Bernie. Here is the latest news from the New York Times on the Glories of Socialism. https://tinyurl.com/y9oy6g87

Javert Chip

Ben & Jon

I read your soothing words about civility and how we relate to the pet-troll, Griff.

Unfortunately, I also remember Griff (posting anonymously) attaching Dr Crockford and Dr Curry’s professional qualifications & ethics.

If you choose to be inspired by intellectually considering & debating Griff’s points from the Guardian & other such sources, that’s you prerogative. Tolerating Griff’s mindless slander just isn’t my cup of tea.

Jon Jewett

Ok. I guess I was being a little obtuse. I was trying to express my thoughts on two different cases. The first case e.g. Svensemark (modulation of clouds/temperature by cosmic rays) vs. others. Both sides have their beliefs honestly held and vituperation is counterproductive to debate.

Then, there are others who are trolls. I believe that the most effective way to cause them to discontinue their antisocial behavior is to ignore them. I.e. don’t feed the trolls.

Many years ago, my employer sent me to a management principles seminar. One point that I found useful. When someone says/does something that “makes you mad”, you have literally given up control of your emotions. You don’t want Griff to control you, do you?

I had the power to fire people and I really tried to never make a decision out of anger.

John F. Hultquist

Griff made disparaging comments about Dr. Crockford awhile back.
Griff has not shown he is “a decent enough fellow” by apologizing or explaining.
The things being said today are a response to that, only. Not to his “good counterpoints.”

Javert Chip


I have never claimed to be mad at Griff (you introduced the concept) – simply disgusted.

WUWT is generally a reasonably data-rich & civil conversation (yea, every now & then things might get a little heated or sarcastic).

When tools (tool, not troll, which Griff also is) like Griff (or anyone else) use pure ad hominem slander to paint eminent scientists such as Crockford & Curry, the offender deserves to be called on out. Perhaps you have noticed Griff has never apologized for his attacks.

Griff still comments on WUWT, but he has so abused the privilege that the mere mention of his name generates mocking laughter. Griff doesn’t post here as much as he used to…

Jon Jewett: Nothing wrong with calling evolution a theory. Gravitation is a theory. Relativity is a theory. I learned music theory in college.

“Theory” is just a term for a description of a system so well-developed as to be useful in making predictions about the system. (Before anyone makes disparaging remarks about music theory, I’ll just say that using the tenets of same allowed this tin-eared percussionist to write down chord progressions in tests based on the usual Western chord progressions. and get them correct more often than not.)

Anyone that gets upset about calling a scientific theory a theory just doesn’t really know how science works.

Ben of Houston

Javert, if you wish to disengage with Griff, that is perfectly acceptable, and I cannot blame you in the slightest. However those above joking about his death are completely out of line.

John, I missed the discussion about Dr Crockford, so I cannot comment on that. However, in what way does that make your comment acceptable?

Hokey Schtick

I believe Harvey (2017) is a scientific paper of great insight, deep wisdom and extraordinarily technical accomplishment. It reflects years of effort and shows that these are gifted thinkers with astute powers of observation and analysis. I am thrilled with the intellectual journey of discovery along which I have been guided by reading this luminous work, which surely stands amongst the seminal papers of scientific history, in any discipline. Please stop with petty objections and motivated sour grapes dismissals and give this work the praise and appreciation it so richly deserved.

/Sarc off.

Mike Schlamby

Nice shot!


Dr. Crockford is headquartered at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. This uni along with the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser university are in the center of David Suzuki universe. I have always wondered how Dr. Crockford is treated since she seems not to fit the consensus.


This is climate ‘science’ and want you need to consider is ‘impact’ not scientific validity is what matters. So the authors , all 14 of them , and 3 referees missed nothing , they in realty performed in a perfectly acceptable way for the area. That it was awful , both poor professional and personal practice and at a standard that would lead to an undergraduates work being failed if it was seen in a essay ,means nothing . These are ‘leaders ‘ in their field it just that their field is so bloody awful that this is the normal way of working , hence way so many third people go into it .

I worked in three universities over 40 years. I never met a professor (colleague) who wasn’t a recognized expert, or renowned in their discipline. Those in the the fine arts all were acclaimed. Put any three of them in the same field in the same place and you have a centre of excellence. And when it came time for promotion, they all were above average teachers as well as scholars of repute.


Say, GRIFF, have you apologized to Susan yet?

Mike Schlamby

Unfortunately, they count noses and argue from authority, rather than assess the strength of the evidence.

A popular and well-known warmist tactic that works well when arguments to the contrary are conveniently left-out or misclassified.

Eugene S. Conlin

” One subject seems to argue that polar bears are both threatened by climate change and not threatened”
… Schrödinger’s Polae Bear perchance? 😉

Ray in SC

Haha, good response Eugene!

As an aside, I note that they treat inconsistent responses by implying that those responding have inconsistent and/or unexplainable views while failing to consider that this is an artifact poorly constructed questions.

Ed Zuiderwijk

But there is a glimmer of good news. From the BBC no less. They broadcast on boxing day a rather charming film about polar bears, called ‘the snow bears’. Aimed at a youthful audience, judging from the commentary, but marvelously filmed and stunning scenery. And guess what. Melting ice flows were mentioned and shown but not a single word about antropogenic climate change or similar nonsense. Rejoice!

Roger Knights

Unlike many warmist-tinged nature documentaries, it’ll still have value as a rebroadcast, if the climate cools.

Gary Pearse

Is it possible to prepare a cookbook of abuses of statistics that would help constrain the free rangeing employment of the tool in self-serving exercises like the Harvey, Mann, etc. types. Analyses of such abuses reveals a shopping around for significance of bloodless data: processes that give the desired answers, manipulative weightings, and dubious data selection practices.

Indeed, evolution of statistical practice would appear to have been driven by efforts to squeeze significance out of more and more refractory data sets. How can much of this have an honest place in support of reality. If such manifold processes are necessary to obtain a trend, I suspect that there is a good chance the reverse trend is just as likely.

Obviously, use of statistical analysis tends to confer legitimacy of findings in the minds of most readers and so dishonesty will be rife in the lightweight work were becoming used to. This stuff definitely needs policing case by case to put a stop to abuses. We should be seeing more of the kind of work done by Tol, McIntyre….

I’ll offer this entry: the Law of Large Numbers applies neither if one takes measurements of one place at the rate of one measurement per day over a year, nor if one takes one measurement per day at thousands of separate locations.

Ray in SC

There have been two papers attacking Dr. Crockford’s work, one underminmg her credentials (ad hominem) and another attempting to show that her views are inconsistent with ‘accepted science and the scientific consensus’ ( argumentum ad verecundium).

The papers, based on argumentative fallacies, not only lack substance but are flawed by inconsistencies and errors. It would seem that not only are they incapable of presenting a factual rebuttal to Dr. Crockford, they are too incompetent to even present a fallacious rebuttal.

Withp regard to Dr. Crockford, you know you are over the target when you start taking flak and the more flak you receive, they greater the threat you apparently pose.

Do not be discouraged Dr Crockford, stay on target as your aim is true.


I must say, as a scientist, I find the entire premise of the study deeply troubling.

What is the goal? To show that people who believe in some studies are a minority over scientists who believe in other studies? To ask the obvious question – when is that not true? There are always people who have alternate theories explaining the evidence. That is, in fact how science functions. It is how we progress. Science is not a poll, it is not opinion. Once a majority of scientists believe something, it doesn’t suddenly become true. It’s truth is independent of our beliefs.

It is setting up a classic “4 out of 5 dentists recommend Crest to their patients” scenario. Such a statement is, by definition, not science at all. It is done to look like science, to steal its credibility. It is classic pseudo-science, and the practitioners should have their reputations obliterated for signing their names to such garbage.


The mistake is to think there is scientific aim in the first place, much of climate ‘science’ is about PR and dogma hence why you get such poor practice, And when you get ‘leaders ‘ like Mann and Lew paper is really shows what not is merely acceptable but rewarded when it comes to ‘standards’ in the area ,


The paper not science at all. It’s illogic argument dressed up with some pretty statistics.

Over on Bart’s site he quotes Peter as saying, ““All piecharts and graphs, including those made by the critics of Harvey et all. tell the same story: the positions taken by the contrarian blogs is very different from that taken by the science based blogs and the peer review literature. That is the main conclusion from the paper.”

This “conclusion” tells us nothing of value. It only states that groups of people, when separated into groups based on their understanding of climate science, have different understandings. Which is absurdly obvious.

The conclusion appears to take on value only if one commits the logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority to conclude that the science-based blogs are correct. But doing so is illogical and, therefore, unscientific.

The conclusion could also appear to have some value if one accepts the implication that the contrarian blogs are wrong. But then we have circular reasoning; “the science-based blogs are correct because they hold an opposite view of the contrarian blogs,” which simplifies to, “the science-based blogs are correct because the science-based blogs are correct,” which is also illogical argument.

So, if Peter correctly defined the conclusion of the paper, it should be withdrawn because the conclusion is illogical handwaving that has no value. It attempts, in an underhanded and illogical way, to discredit people who hold different beliefs.

If the scientist authors wish to show that the contrarian blogs are incorrect, they have to actually produce scientific evidence that indicates they are incorrect.

Otherwise they are not doing good science, they are doing bad politics.

Michael 2

““the science-based blogs are correct because the science-based blogs are correct,””

Exactly. I was thinking that very thing early this morning that a circularity exists; the conclusion is fed back into the data to arrive at the conclusion.

Eugene S. Conlin

Would that “the science-based blogs” were based on science :¬(