‘The Data Thugs’

Guest essay by Peter D. Tillman

Got your attention, didn’t it? But they are actually the good guys — two working scientists who, behind the scenes, have had striking success in bringing on retractions by publicly calling out questionable data. Their work was written up in Science Magazine in a freely-available article, here.

Once a problematic paper has been identified, it’s seldom straightforward getting it fixed.  Nick Brown and James Heathers have had unusual numbers of successes, perhaps because they start out low-key, but don’t hesitate to go public if they get no response. Other would-be whistle-blowers have had less success, as the Science article describes  in some detail. One whistle-blower’s efforts attracted legal threats — another scenario WUWT readers will recall, with  a few progressing to actual lawsuits. The litigious Dr. Michael Mann comes to mind.

Heathers & Brown hope their efforts will lead to better peer review.

“In short, peer review misses all the hard stuff, and a worrying amount of the easy stuff.”  —James Heathers, Northeastern University, one of the self-described  “data thugs”.

Longtime readers here, and participants in the Climate Wars, will recall the remarkable LACK of success in getting questionable data  and papers retracted or corrected in Climate Science. Instead, they remains in the scientific record, and are regularly used to buttress such arguments as that 97% of climate scientists support the CAGW consensus.

Readers who are scientists have been taken aback at this lack of success — Steve McIntryre tried for years to get the statistical follies in (for example) the Hockey Stick interpretation by Michael Mann, corrected. He largely failed, despite impeccable statistical work on his part. He did have some  (partial) successes, especially in getting data properly archived.

So I recommend you carefully read the Science article, which is free online, and think about how this might be applied to Climate Science, where there is a great mass of poorly-done research awaiting proper review. It won’t be an easy process. As Upton Sinclair once observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

Science does self-correct, and eventually the failed predictions of climate catastrophe will be recognized as signs that the underlying science is badly flawed. But climate change moves slowly, and the bad advice these folks are giving to policy-makers is already doing a lot of damage, and wasting billions or trillions of dollars. It would be great to speed up the self-correction!

Heathers believes their auditing efforts can be formalized and taught to anyone. Eventually, he would like to produce an online course to spread the methods.  “Then things get really interesting,” he predicts.


Peter D. Tillman is a retired geologist who has been interested in paleoclimates since student days, and got interested in the misuses of the tree ring climate proxies from Steve McIntyre’s work at Climate Audit. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and chemistry from Rice University in Houston, and a Master’s in Geochemistry from UNC in Chapel Hill. He’s also a longtime WUWT reader.

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123 thoughts on “‘The Data Thugs’

  1. “The episode showed Brown that well-crafted arguments about flawed research are hard for editors to ignore.”

    That may be true in the real sciences. I’m not as optimistic about success in pseudo-science. There is too much skin in the game, as it were.

  2. Peter D. Tillman is a retired geologist …

    Steve McIntyre is also a geologist.

    My father, also a geologist, attended trade shows where prospectors tried to interest investors in their projects. There are lots of scams. He was very skeptical and very analytical. I remember him calling BS on Bre-X long before most of the public even knew it existed.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tillman and McIntyre are geologists. I suspect that geologists, as a group, have better tuned BS detectors than most other professions. That, plus their engineering background, makes them ideally suited to deal with CAGW.

      • Jim: I enjoy your posts here, which are always knowledgeable & well thought out. And I keep meaning to read your book!

    • As most readers know members of the Geological Society of Australia fought back against their management committee (mostly government employees) of the Society issuing a political statement on Climate, without consulting the membership. In the end, a retraction was made. Story here, for those unfamiliar the successful GSA geoscientists mutiny:
      http://joannenova.com.au/2014/06/climate-science-hopelessly-politicized-geological-society-of-australia-gives-up-on-making-any-statement/

    • sample of two… no wait 3, your dad.
      settled science. I love the logic of the peanut gallery.

      anyway your dad was smart. I suspect your mom liked the milkman

      • Wow, Mosher. You’ve completed your journey to trolldom. I’ll bet you surf youtube all day and post slurs about anything and everything.

        What a d-bag.

      • Steven, I once recall a heated exchange with a close friend at the time, when I was 17. The conversation was between two boys raised Catholic. He said to me (paraphrasing) “Don’t you find it strange that only once in history, many years before anyone living can actually validate, that a woman bore a child without a man’s seed? Then, once that child grew up it was murdered but then rose from the dead. Both stories happen to the same human? You don’t see a problem with this?”

        My response was not unlike your childish affront to discourse. I yelled at him, called him names, and considered him a denier of Jesus. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and I see such sad logical fallacies being employed by one side in particular, and that is climate change deniers such as yourself. When you suffer from a religious affliction, hurling insults and scoffing at reason are your only defense to remain in your comfort of self-deception. Although it is tiresome to deal with, frustrating to witness, and honestly, would be liberating to sock you in the throat; I recognize that it solves nothing and only temporarily would relieve stress. People with your illogical convictions and incredulity are quite broken and it is our duty to be patient, to a point, to continue to find new ways to reach through to you. Until today, I thought you had a chance. The event horizon has been passed.

        You have revealed yourself. What is more upsetting is that you are supposedly old enough to know better and be more sophisticated. I have no reason to respond to you after this, and I would likewise suggest the rest of us ignore this pest.

      • Geologists survey with among the lowest share buying into the CACA sc@m of all scientists. Possibly the lowest.

        So Bob’s comment is statistically valid, even though McIntyre isn’t a geologist, but worked in the mining industry.

        • As a geologist, I can confirm that, like myself, none of my colleagues believe in CAGW.

          Just because the temperature rises for whatever reason, it does not mean there automatically follows a runaway catastrophic rise – the geological record is pretty clear on that.

      • Mosher: Well, it’s a larger sampling than one english major who projects his “mother” issues.

      • Mosher’s reply sounds like the bitter ranting of a frustrated, angry, bitter demonrat who is desperately clinging to the utopian idea of a global socialist big mommy government that will protect him, keep him safe, nurture him and provide other needed services from her teat of taxation.

      • That is a new low for you Mosher! You may not have noticed, but there are a lot of geologists on this blog, probably well out of proportion to what is the fraction for the general population.

      • Wow, @Anthony, can Mosher get a permanent ban for this please?

        What an outrageous comment.

        He has hit rock bottom with this one and is ready to disappear into oblivion.

        • what?! Ban him? are you serious?
          Let them expose them for the foul creatures they are and let the record stand for anyone reading these articles and comment sections. Absolutely the wrong perspective! The high road is to permit them to continue with their attacks and pathetic childishness. Those on the fence will be able to recognize the quality of discourse and intelligence rides soley with us climate realists.

          • What a shame that Griff no longer comments here, at least under that alias.

            IMO he was an invaluable asset in daily demonstrating the deficiencies of alarmist positions.

            I’m also glad that Nick continues commenting. We could do with even more alarmists, IMO.

            Alley, not so much. Too rude and lacking in substance.

    • Commiebob,

      Steve McIntyre is a mathematician/statistician. He has been involved in the mining business for decades but has no degree in geology.

      • You’re right. I made an assumption. wiki

        In 2002, McIntyre became interested in climate science after a leaflet from the Canadian government warning of the dangers of global warming was delivered to his residence. McIntyre states that he noticed discrepancies in climate science papers that reminded him of the false prospectus that had duped investors involved in the Bre-X gold mining scandal.

        If I hadn’t been wrong about his degree, I wouldn’t have stumbled over the above nugget. 🙂 Thanks.

          • “The scam – which was achieved by implementing rigorously systematic but surreptitious salting of samples at a field preparation site – fell apart in early 1997 when other players interested in acquiring the assets, including members of the ruling Indonesian family and major mining companies, began to demand confirmation of the reported results, and could not obtain any.”

            Carefully-done gold “salting” can be hard to detect!

          • Circa 1992, about the same time as Bre-X announced its fake discovery but long before that scam was discovered, I funded half of a sodium borate discovery in Jujuy, Argentine, which became the Loma Blanca Mine.

            Even though we were not the Operator of the project, I put my best man on the drill rig, had him watch the coring and the splitting of the samples, had him fly with our samples to the lab in Denver and had him stay at the lab until the results were provided. We found a mine, worth about $2 billion in the ground.

            THAT is how you avoid being scammed. As an Arab friend said to me years ago:
            “Allan, to trust is good! Not to trust is better!”

    • Steve and I both spent much of our careers in the mineral exploration business. So, yes, we’re both well-acquainted with dubious (or outright fraudulent) proposals.

      This isn’t new. Clarence King, the second director of the USGS, made his reputation by uncovering a massive diamond fraud in Wyoming, in 1872: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_hoax_of_1872

      Gold prospects are a long-time favorite of fraudsters. A common technique (maybe still in use?) was to load a bit of fine gold dust in shotgun shells, and blast away at promising-looking veins underground. This was especially popular when the ore was running out, and less-scrupulous owners wanted to sell.

    • From wikipedia

      Born in London on 24 March 1922,[1] Gray was awarded a PhD in physical chemistry by the University of Cambridge after studies on incendiary bomb fluids made from aluminium soaps. In New Zealand, he was the first Director of Building Research and later, Chief Chemist of the Coal Research Association.[2][3] He also published many articles and reports, seven in peer-reviewed journals. After retirement, he had four and a half years in China and when he returned became a critic of the claim that climate was harmed by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

      He commented on every publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with 1,898 comments on the 2007 Report. He published critical studies on all of the reports including a book “The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of ‘Climate Change 2001′”. He published “Confessions of a Climate Sceptic” [4] He was sceptical of the anthropogenic global warming:[5]

      “The two main “scientific” claims of the IPCC are the claim that “the globe is warming” and “Increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible”. Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed.”[6]

      Gray called for the IPCC to be abolished, claiming it was “fundamentally corrupt” and that significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed, were unsound[7] and that the IPCC resisted all efforts to try to discuss or rectify these problems.[6]

      Gray was featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program Counterpoint in a debate entitled “Nine Lies about Global Warming”,[8] and was interviewed in a featured story in The New Zealand Herald as a “prominent” global warming skeptic.[2]

      In 2002, Gray also published a book, The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of “Climate Change 2001”.[9] In it, Gray argues “that the quality and reliability of the IPCC’s measurements are poor, the system of determining how much weight should be attributed to different influences on the earth’s temperature is faulty, and the validity of evidence derived from computer modeling is questionable.”

      Gray died in Petone on 14 June 2018, aged 96.

      • As we say in cricketing terms, “96! A very good innings.” Dr Gray was a strong and courageous man who didn’t hesitate to point out the nonsense put out by the ‘consensus!’ We will miss his power and real authority in this fight. Hopefully more and more will step into the breach.

  3. What exactly is the point of this post? That sometimes bad papers get published? If they are wrong they get forgotten. Big deal.

    Too bad for you guys, Mann’s papers weren’t wrong, and again and again they get supported by new studies. Not the blog kind but the real peer reviewed paper kind. A real bummer, for some.

    • Mann’s papers were horribly, ludicrously wrong. His original Hockeystick paper contained a terrible math error, uncentered principal components. He chose his proxies post facto. His method actively mines for Hockeysticks, and his egregious errors have been repeated by paper after paper …

      You seem the think that because there are a lot of papers making the same mistake that they must be right, and you have a laughably childish faith in the peer review process.

      You are not “ReallySkeptical” at all. You are really, really credulous …

      w.

      FURTHER READING:

      Kill It With Fire 2011-05-30

      The discussion of the 1998 Mann “Hockeystick” seems like it will never die. (The “Hockeystick” was Dr. Michael Mann’s famous graph showing flatline historical temperatures followed by a huge modern rise.) Claims of the Hockeystick’s veracity continue apace, with people doggedly wanting to believe that the results are “robust”. I…

      Dr. Michael Mann, Smooth Operator 2013-03-30

      People sometimes ask why I don’t publish in the so-called scientific journals. Here’s a little story about that. Back in 2004, Michael Mann wrote a mathematically naive piece about how to smooth the ends of time series. It was called “On smoothing potentially non-stationary climate time series“, and it was…

      Also, see Steve McIntyre’s website here

      • Willis,
        You have probably read Hubert Lamb’s “ Climate, History and the Modern World.”
        Once you do, you understand why Lamb was sceptical of the claimed effect of the greenhouse gases on world climate.
        He understood geology and history. He noted the temperatures in the Medieval Warm period and the irrefutable effects of the Little Ice Age.
        Had he lived he would have ridiculed the Hockey Stick.
        Ironically he would not get a job today in the Climate Research Unit of which he was founder and first director.

        • Lamb was too much a gentleman to ridicule anything. And a Quaker to boot. He certainly would have been aware of the work being done that ended with the hockey stick but I never heard him criticize this during his annual visits to UEA.

      • A couple of Mann’s acolytes, using the same data and the same methods got the same results.
        To some, this constitutes independent confirmation.
        To those not OD’ing on koolaide, it’s just further proof of how rotten climate science has become.

    • I became a skeptic because Mann’s hockey stick contradicted recorded history.

      As for peer review … Most published research findings are false. link Clearly, peer review is ineffective at preventing that.

      • Yep… The exposure of the fraud and/or incompetence of MBH 98/99 pushed me off the fence.

      • Most published results are a product of cherry picked statistics, so even if they are false, they can appear to be valid.

        If Climate Science really wanted to strengthen its position, the researchers would hand their data off to a blinded statistician with the proper info, and let them analyze it.

        • They did…..well inadvertently and Statistical BS Detector , Steve McIntyre obliterated Mann, et al with aplomb. It was called CLIMATGATE—-where were you??? Obviously late to the party!!!

    • Mann’s papers were wrong! What are you talking about????

      In the debate with Curry and Moore, Michael Man incorrectly argued the Pages 2K studies had supported his Hockey stick interpretation of climate change

      But in the paper “Antarctic climate variability on regional and continental scales over the last 2000 years”. https://goo.gl/cAZpxw

      The Pages 2K found no such thing of Antarctic concluding the warmest period in the last 2000 years was between 300 and 1000 CE

      Work by Oppo and Rosenthal likewise show ocean temperatures during Medieval Warm Period equaled or surpassed todays. Likewise Esper Scandinavian tree rings disagreed with Mann and correlated better with Oppo and Rosenthal’s work

      http://landscapesandcycles.net/image/75158734_scaled_586x204.png

      • Jim,
        In 2005,statician John Ionnidis analysed thé peer-reviewed scientific literature and concluded that “ most current published research findings are false”.Ionnidis blames the problem on increasingly fierce competition of scientists for attention and grants.
        “ Much research is conducted for reasons other than the pursuit of truth” he wrote in 2011. “ Conflicts of interest abound and they influence outcomes.”
        See “Why most published Research Findings are False” by John Ionnidis, PLOS Medicine, August 30, 2005.

    • The big take away that you ignored was the fact that the errors found were missed by peer review. And many of those errors were simple. The peer review system that you hold so dearly is fatally flawed and weak; calling on that to support your position is a huge fail.

    • Mann’s papers weren’t wrong

      Mann’s papers weren’t right, they weren’t even wrong.

      Fixed it for you.

    • Willis E:
      If Mann’s stuff is wrong, where are the retractions? Where are the peer reviewed corrections? All you have are web sites. Pretty lame.

      • Mann’s hockeystick is hopelessly wrong. It’s very easy to prove this. Simply plot all the proxies that Mann used. Most show a strong MWP and LIA signal. An average of the proxies shows the same. But in Mann’s hockeystick there was no sign of the MWP and LIA, both of which contradict AGW theory. He had literally got rid of the MWP and LIA that was in the input data.

        This isn’t just incompetence, it’s fraud. McIntyre showed how Mann’s method would convert virtually any random data into hockeysticks.

        In Mann 2008, he literally changed lake bed data showing a cooling trend into data showing a warming trend (what McIntyre called “upside-down Mann”). In fact, the scientist who obtained that data warned that it could not be used for 19th and 20th century reconstructions due to industrial disturbance. But Mann used it anyway. That alone should be the reason for retraction.

        Mann’s hockeystick should be retracted. Don’t take my word for this. Listen to Professor Richard Muller:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuqjX4UeBYs

        A quote from Muller:
        “McIntyre and McKitrick obtained part of the program that Mann used, and they found serious problems. Not only does the program not do conventional PCA, but it handles data normalization in a way that can only be described as mistaken.

        Now comes the real shocker. This improper normalization procedure tends to emphasize any data that do have the hockey stick shape, and to suppress all data that do not. To demonstrate this effect, McIntyre and McKitrick created some meaningless test data that had, on average, no trends. This method of generating random data is called “Monte Carlo” analysis, after the famous casino, and it is widely used in statistical analysis to test procedures. When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!

        That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. How could it happen?”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._Muller#Hockey_stick_graph

        Much of Mann’s work is politically driven junk. That he should still be getting awards is perfect proof of how rotten and corrupt much of climate science is.
        Chris

        • ” When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!”

          Some of the time, yes. Do enough runs and you can get any curve you want. But M&M had to cherry-pick 1% of the results that were the most hockey-stick-ish for presentation, half the results pointed down, not up and the magnitude was tiny.

          And the ‘random’ data was in fact red noise, David Ritson showed it had an unrealistic degree of autocorrelation rendering it inappropriate for this use. Try ‘McIntyre’ ‘McKitrick’ and ‘False Claim’ as Google search terms.

          Also, Wahl and Amman showed that the centred PCA issue had an inconsequential effect on conclusions, and Dr Mann notes under ‘Potential Data Quality Problems’ the contamination issues with the Tiljander proxies in the 2008 study, and did the reconstruction without this and several other potentially problematic series. Again, an insignificant impact on the result. (SI Figure S8).

          In short, criticisms of the Hockey Stick that have some merit have an insignificant impact, and those that might have an impact on the conclusions have no merit.

          • Oh, really?
            I’ve followed McIntyre’s work over many years. Time after time people such as Mann, Wahl and Amman have claimed to disprove his work, but McIntyre never had to work very hard to trash those claims. For example, McIntyre trashed a claim by Mann when he showed that most of Mann’s reconstruction was dominated by a single tree. As McIntyre likes to say, you have to watch the thimbels very carefully!

            If you think about Mann’s method, specifically the calibration period in the 20th century, it sounds on the face of it to be reasonable. But it actually becomes quite obvious and logical that it would indeed create hockey sticks from random data. The method chooses data that, often by chance, has a strong blade. But, because the input data is quite random the chosen data will tend to average out over the shaft, giving a relatively flat shaft. Result: hockey sticks.

            I suggest you look at the entire set of proxies used by Mann 98 and compare them with the hockey stick, which is supposed to be based on them. The hockey stick looks completely different. After Mann had performed his PCA magic, the MWP and LIA were long gone! Truly, the hockey stick is Mann made. It bears no relation to reality.

            Here’s a thought: clearly the purpose of all these reconstructions is to create an average to show how the climate changed. So, if you need an average, why not take the average? Why use PCA? To pass the hockeystick off as an average when it’s nothing of the sort is close to fraudulent (obviously all the gullible politicians thought it was an average). Of course, when scientists use a simple average (e.g. Loehle) then the result is very different. I think that using PCA instead of an average is just another trick, just like “hiding the decline”.
            Chris

          • @ Philip Clarke

            From McIntyre and McKitrick’s reply to Ritson:
            https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2005/10/ritson.reply.258826.pdf

            “Ritson’s Comment [Ritson, 2005] exhibits pervasive misunderstandings and
            misrepresentations of both our article [McIntyre and McKitrick 2005a], “MM05a” herein) and Mann et al. [1998] (“MBH98”), making his analysis pointless and incorrect.”

            About hockey sticks 1% of the time:

            “…we had previously showed that about half the simulated PC1s had an upside-up hockey stick shapes and half upside down. So of course the “mean height” is 0. However, this is irrelevant. MBH98 does not use “ensemble averages” of PC1s, but uses them one at a time. Used in this way, the blades do matter.”

            McIntyre got hockey sticks almost all the time.

            Wahl and Amman used the same flawed methodology as Mann. For a full history of their papers, and their amazing reappearance after rejection, see here:
            http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html;jsessionid=E758990093904E1946816DF5B8DED9E8.v5-web004

        • “Much of Mann’s work is politically driven junk. That he should still be getting awards is perfect proof of how rotten and corrupt much of climate science is.”

          Amen. Very sad. And very expensive, in all the misguided Social Engineering it’s used to justify. As I rediscover each month, as I pay my ludicrous Calif electric bill. I should add that I live 50 mi from Calif’s last nuclear power plant, now scheduled to close for absurd “environmental” reasons. The leading one being that the State wants them to stop using seawater for cooling! Think about that one for a moment. They might warm up the Pacific Ocean!

      • McIntyre published two peer reviewed papers that destroyed Mann. What rock have you been hiding under?

      • Something is right until it is retracted.
        Is that really the standard you want to stick with?

      • RS, please note that there have been multiple instances of public and political pressure attacking anyone who was even slightly critical of the global warming consensus. This was the primary revelation of the “Climategate” e-mails, which proved that the CRU was demanding peer review reject anything they did not agree with while rubber stamping support. There are hundreds of examples with people getting good papers rejected for transparently political reasons, but others supporting global warming are approved despite having insufficient rigor for an elementary school science fair.

        Don’t trust peer review. Don’t trust anyone. Nullius in Verba. Trust only reason. Even as a high schooler, I could see the problems with the hockey stick when it came out. Most notably that it contradicted well documented historical warm and cold periods. Many others have reviewed it, and published their objections for you to review and critique.

        Even Mann has revised the Hockey stick repeatedly to be virtually unrecognizable, as the current version doesn’t have a straight stick, but a notable rise and fall before the current temperature. While he claims this is an “update” and still maintains that his original conclusions weren’t wrong, Mann’s own more recent work undermines his prior conclusion, that natural temperature is practically constant, completely.

      • I would guess that Mann’s “work” has probably made more sceptics than believers. Additionally, it makes it easy to spot someone who supports Mann as on who has no interest in real science and is only in it for the political motivations or career advancement.

    • Do you not think it ironic that Mann’s work in effect was climate change denial in action, because for it to make any sense you first have to deny climate change in the past ?

      • Exactly! The straight shaft of the hockey stick is the very essence of climate change denial.
        In contrast, most sceptics, whom Mann calls “climate change deniers”, would say that the climate is pretty well always changing.
        Chris

    • Charity folks, charity! ReallySkeptical is having us on. He only doesn’t know it himself, yet.

    • Really!!! It is not that sometimes bad papers get published but today it is how often bad papers get published. It is not just climate science, though at this point in history so called climate science just may be the worse offender. Once in the record a bad paper may lead to a long line of additional papers using the “bad paper” as support.

      You claim that “blog kind” of papers versus “real peer reviewed” papers demonstrate something. The peer review process in itself is a significant problem in today’s scientific literature. Most often editors send a paper to someone else in the field in question. Problem is that most field are relatively small; everyone in the field knows everyone else; even know their writing style. Some are old graduate students, some professors, some even work in the same laboratory down the hall or within the same organization. So to truly critically review a paper might mean you have little hope of getting funded when the author of the paper you reviewed is ask to review your project proposal. Much of what such government groups like the US-EPA and UN IPCC base their decisions is “gray literature” never really peer reviewed except by people in those organizations. Seldom today are peer reviews truly blind.

      There have been several recommendations on how to improve the peer review process. First, any paper without clear and concise methods and materials be rejected out of hand. Note that would eliminate most of Mann’s work. Second, if the author uses any statistical model that the paper be peer reviewed by a statistician outside the field of study. Third, that at least one reviewer be outside the field of expertise of the author. Fourth, no paper be sent to past professors or to one’s graduate students or to anyone in the same facility for review.

    • RS,

      What part of Mann’s Nature “trick” don’t you understand? Or “hide the decline”?

    • I realize I am commenting on this quite late, but I will take this “blog” over most peer-reviewed papers any day. The discussions and arguments on this blog have introduced me to many new areas of thought I never knew existed before. Most of this is outside my field, and I have acquired far more information about geology, thermodynamics, astronomy, and statistics than I gathered in 10 years of college. This simple blog is beautiful; nothing is left unchallenged, which is how science should be. I give my highest respect to the scientists who comment here everyday. Best to all of you.

  4. RE: “Eventually, he would like to produce an online course to spread the methods. “Then things get really interesting,” he predicts.”

    An interesting proposal! After reading the Science article, the thought occurred to me “This is something the readers and commenters at WUWT could get behind!” What is needed, to make this ‘online course to spread the methods’ happen sooner, rather than ‘eventually’?

    • “What is needed, to make this ‘online course to spread the methods’ happen sooner, rather than ‘eventually’?”

      1. A science-society-based “Science Court.”

      2. Funding from a foundation or some governmental entity.

      • Bad idea. Such a ‘court’ would be run by people similar to those who are now botching the peer reviews. Just another forum to muck things up. The only ‘court’ we have and can’t influence is called ‘time’. Alas such is the human condition.

        • “Such a ‘court’ would be run by people similar to those who are now botching the peer reviews.”

          No, because its judges or juries would not all or even mostly be specialists in the discipline being examined. There could be a rule that only a certain %age could be such. For instance, in evaluating the claims of the fat-is-bad nutritionists, who dominated for decades due to “insider” maneuvering, it would be mostly outsiders—retired outsiders—who would be doing the judging. They could be selected from the cream of the profession—i.e., persons who have won awards, or have otherwise been recognized as outstanding.

          Further, the Court might not issue rulings, but only provide a forum for a red-team/blue team debate. That was what was missing in the nutritionist debacle, and what is missing now in the CliSci screw-up.

          And there needn’t be only a single officially sanctioned court. Colleges could set up their own and unofficially compete with one another to produce the most impressive summaries of the evidence and opinions about what it points to. Some of these unofficial courts could set themselves up as courts-of-appeal from other courts.

          “Just another forum to muck things up.”

          But we don’t have any forums as yet. The closest we have come was the APS two-day discussion / debate between 3 warmists and 3 skeptics under Koonin. It worked well, despite being conducted in private and being over-ruled by the warmist insider clique at the APS.

          We don’t know enough to say that a science court is sure to be as bad as the clique-dominated situation we have now. ALL of science isn’t corrupted, just this rogue specialty, dominated by crusaders (who entered it mostly because of their green bias and desirte to make a difference) and careerists. Persons outside this specialty who are distinguished and retired will bring much more objectivity and disinterest to its evaluation.

          The downside is limited, the upside is large. It deserves to be given a chance.

          • Considering how many official societies have essentially been taken over by one school of thought (ie: The American Heart Association founders made it practically heresy to challenge the role of dietary cholesterol and directed fifty years of bad nutrition policy), I think that trying to establish a neutral independent “court” is a recipe for disaster.

          • Considering how many official societies have essentially been taken over by one school of thought (ie: The American Heart Association founders made it practically heresy to challenge the role of dietary cholesterol and directed fifty years of bad nutrition policy), I think that trying to establish a neutral independent “court” is a recipe for disaster.

            Non sequitur; as I said above:
            First, the court’s judges would consist mostly of persons outside the specialty where the dispute is going on. They’d often be retired and celebrated, and so not so worried about careerist concerns.

            Second, it needn’t officially “rule” on who won the debate. It might merely provide a public forum for high-level debates, something that was lacking in the case of nutrition and is lacking in climatology.

            Third, there could be many courts, sponsored by many colleges, competing with one another. There needn’t be one “official” court.

            Fourth, we already have a disaster. So, as I said, the downside is limited. If we’d had a science court for decades where warmists and skeptics laid out their cases and cross-examined each other, journalists and politicians would be able to consult its records to see who made the best arguments, and what arguments were debunked, or at least weakened. They would have avoided forming such a negative impression of the skeptics and their case as they have from the caricatured portraits they now read in mainstream publications.

  5. The situation is much worse than simply junk climate science papers.

    The coming fight now is Earth System Sensitivity. It has its roots almost as long as AGW. Back in the 80’s was when it really got started. Almost 40 years later Michael Mann and his followers have decided that the IPCC is doomed and that they dont need it anymore anyway. They are losing control over its alarmist message and it is becoming more conservative as we skeptics are forcing it to tone down. Witness the IPCC RCP8.5 which doesnt really look scary as far as temperature is concerned.
    The Earth System Science (ESS) Education Alliance was formed in 2000 and has ~50 institutions signed up with over 3000 teachers. Their plan is to take over the geology and paleontology departments of every university in the world just like have they done to the Atmospheric science faculties. In their minds they have to, because then they can control the past. Eric Blair aka George Orwell has unwittingly written their manifesto. He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. Orwell should have reversed those 2 sentences. The recipe is simple. The thesis is that long term changes of the earth caused by short term changes caused by CO2 will dwarf the measly temperature changes of CO2. To do that they need to control the past with different climate models because only with the past can they control ( model) the slow processes needed and change the climate records from the past, so that they will project far into the future 500 years if necessary. To do that they have to take over the 2 faculties that are standing in their way. For Orville’s final warning it is only 2 minutes long. Very chilling.

    https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-rogers-rogers_001&hsimp=yhs-rogers_001&hspart=rogers&p=george+orwell+the+final+warning#id=1&vid=ef290521c6ec87415c3713154da6ec38&action=click

    • Alan, would you be willing to collaborate on a short expose I want to build off this information? I plan on submitting it to James Corbett initially. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. If you would kindly reach out to me via WordPress, I’ll give you my personal email and we could embark upon getting this some exposure.

      This is of critical import, as you know, especially because if the globe cools we ought to see a return to more frequent severe weather, as I understand it. They can then claim it was co2 instead of natural variability. We must go on the attack and get this exposed before it gets mainstream, so we can point the faithful back to this prophetic example.

  6. I agree that retraction is a necessary part of the process.
    However, an immediate response to a bad article is most appreciated by many readers, such as me.
    If tomorrow an acquaintance says a news story mentioned new research that X, Y, or Z was worse than ever and we are all doomed, I have a chance — via WUWT and others — of knowing the flaw(s)in that study.
    I can’t wait for 2 years and call the person and say remember back on June 18, 2018 when you were claiming unadulterated bullpucky?

    So thanks to the immediate responders and to the Tortoises.

  7. Very interesting topic to which I could add more if I found a listener. My problem is that since 2010 when “What Warming” came out NOAA, IPCC and the Met Office jointly have published a temperature graph for the 80-s and 90-s that is a complete fabrication. When I was working on the book I used temperature data that combined UAH and RSS satellites for greater accuracy and showed it as figure 15 in my book. But when it came out I saw that the IPCC and friends had changed that section of their own graph into a warming that did not exist. I protested but was ignored and this false warming is still there in official records. This is important because the influence it has on which year is warmest. The fact that it is simply bogus follows from the sharp upward spikes in all three versions of the graph. These spikes are in the same place in all three graphs. You can only get that by copying from a single original. I have periodically complained about it but I run into the same problem all the time: big shots do not want to hear from you and do not give an email address to send a message to. Mine is Arno.Arrak@verizon.net. Contact me if you want to know more.

  8. Perhaps, similar to climate’s definition, ‘science’ needs 30 years to see where the averages lie with regard to what is true or not.

    Any guesses as to which end of the bell curve the hokey (sic) stick will be?

  9. If you wish to win a war, one thing you need to do is make sure your on the right battle filed to begin with . The idea that by proving that the research is factually incorrect you can win when it comes to AGW . show how you can fail to understand that .
    The facts have never been an issue , the ‘value ‘ of research in this area is not based the validity of its data , that comes a long way behind ideas such has PR impact, they understand that todays headline is tomorrows ‘no body cares ‘ so that proving them wrong afterward has little to no effect. how it While its ‘value ‘ is often seen in how likely it is get further funding. In an area that uses industrial levels of smoke and mirrors and that often calls out for ‘belief’ ,thinking you can cause them to change by identifying the lack of validity data is a bit of lost cause . You need to retune and think ‘political, religions or fanatical sport fans ‘ to understand what you taking on .

  10. I’d be very interested in that course. And I bet it will not be hosted by James Cook uni.

  11. From Retraction Watch …

    Two years of stonewalling: What happened when a scientist filed a public records request for NASA code

    My findings generated quite a stir in the media, including stories in The New York Times, Science, and Scientific American, among other outlets. My hope and expectation was that shining light on these troubling issues would spur the JPL researchers to retract or correct their papers. At the very least, I thought, they would release the various unpublished techniques that they had used in a series of highly cited papers, stretching from 2011 to 2015, thus lifting the veil of secrecy that had prevented me and other astronomers from replicating their results.

    Instead, the researchers dug in their heels. They ridiculed me in the press, telling Science that as a former chief technology officer of Microsoft I was “responsible for a lot of bad software” and asserting to Scientific American that “his math is just wrong.” Yet they refused to defend their suspect choices. And they dismissed my findings because (just like thousands of other astronomy preprints on arXiv.org) my manuscript “was posted before undergoing the essential scientific peer-review process to catch and remove significant errors.”

    https://retractionwatch.com/2018/06/14/two-years-of-stonewalling-what-happened-when-a-scientist-filed-a-public-records-request-for-nasa-code/

    • That’s a remarkable, and discouraging, account. Kudos to Nathan Myhrvold for being persistent, and having the financial resources to hire good lawyers. Even so, two years later, he has bupkis.

  12. What these guys do should be a standard procedure done by researchers themselves. Those who don’t know how to do it themselves should consider engaging with them on a contract basis. Universities should consider bringing them in for guest lectures, or offer an interdisciplinary class.

    • Steve O ! Oh dear me ! DO YOU THINK or IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE still
      DEALING WITH HONEST and PRINCIPLED and DECENT PEOPLE ???????

  13. Retraction Watch is an excellent resource for ferreting out fraud and misconduct in science–that is…except for “Climate Science!”

    The managers of the website suffer from a profound cognitive dissonance. They’ll profile instances of pal review, bullying of editors, data hiding, data faking, image manipulation, and other tactics commonly practiced by the Climate Thugs, but….ONLY if the practices are NOT in Climate Science.

    Medicine, epidemiology, psychology, cancer, and on and on…just NEVER speak about Climate Science.

    They would be the perfect venue for exposure of the climate fraud–but they are too PC.

    Worth checking out and following, though, as at least a good effort in exposing academic fraud:

    https://retractionwatch.com/2018/06/17/meet-the-scientific-sleuths-ten-whove-had-an-impact-on-the-scientific-literature/

    • Do you have a link to the Climate Science topic ban business? This might be a good project for concerned WUWT readers, to try to get then to change their minds. They do a LOT of good work, otherwise.

  14. This quote from the Science article sort of jumped out at me: ‘in academia “the squeaky wheel gets Tasered.” ‘
    Definitely something to keep in mind whenever you hear there is a consensus among academics. It doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one, or that it could be right, but does imply you need to take it with a least a grain of salt.

  15. These “Scientists” are the equivalent of FBI Agent Peter Stzrok. They have betrayed the public’s trust on a level rarely seen in history.

    The data manipulation and scientific sophistry are all well documents. It is time Congress investigates Climate Science like they are being forced to investigate the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, IRS and EPA. Time to add NASA GISS and NOAA to that list.

    Here is a well-documented case of the climate sophistry:
    The Winning Strategy to Defeating Climate Sophist Michael Mann
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/the-winning-strategy-to-defeating-climate-sophist-michael-mann/

  16. “peer review misses all the hard stuff, and a worrying amount of the easy stuff”

    That’s because it isn’t this major examination of the content by some large number of experts in the field. It’s a simple editorial process conducted by a small number of self-selected individuals who often have limited time to look at the papers they are assigned. It’s simply intended to determine which papers are acceptable for a particular publication and to get any major and obvious issues corrected.

    It’s mostly to take the load off the publication editor who is often selected with little background in the field of study.

    • Exactly so. And even more, when it turns into “Pal Review”, which is common in narrow fields, or politicized ones. Sigh.

      As the Science article aays, Peer Review is really just the start. Online review by outside experts helps a lot to keep these guys honest. Even if it’s discouraging, getting the journals to notice…..

      I mean, in NATHAN MYRHVOLD can’t get JPL to respond, even after 3 rounds of FOI requests….. That’s discouraging.

      Oh, well. The lesson is, as in life, the race doesn’t (always) go to the swift, but to the persistent, and those not easily discouraged.

    • There needs to be an independent audit process to ensure grant money (especially government grant money) gets value. This process should be structured with real requirements, rewards and penalties, particularly for institutions which consistently deliver above or below the bar.
      Independent review of data, statistical work and overall methodology against the claimed implications. This would set fire to 90% of climate science.

  17. Some of you may know of Brad Keyes, who produces such satirical pieces that you have no idea what is true or not. In a piece at Jo Nova’s site in February – ‘The Illusion Of Debate’—A History of the Climate Issue: Part 2 (2009 – 2011) – when he produced the following from Oreskes and Conway’s The Merchants of Doubt, I thought he was being “economical with the truth”.

    https://manicbeancounter.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/merchants-of-doubt-scientific-method.jpg

    But whatever the body the body of evidence is, both the idea and the evidence used to support it must be judged by a jury of one’s scientific peers. Until a claim passes that judgement – that peer review – it is only that, just a claim. What counts as knowledge are the ideas that are accepted by the fellowship of experts….. Conversely, if a claim is rejected, the honest scientist is expected to accept that judgement, and move on to other things.

    I checked. It is on page 262.

    Such attitudes might explain “the remarkable LACK of success in getting questionable data  and papers retracted or corrected in Climate Science“.

    • This is just a description of process. It isn’t a God-given recipe for divining the truth. As Einstein said when faced with a letter from 100 fellow physicists stating that his theory of relativity was wrong. ” Why 100?” One contrary experimental result would have been enough.
      In the present climate science paradigm of misinformation, peer review is used to provide support to a cabal of activists who pretend to investigate climate. When the grants and political climate is established that promotes careerism and activism in the place of science, careerism and political bias will be created and spread and science will suffocate.

    • Which shows that CACA corrupts not just “climate science” but all of science, by trying to change the scientific method.

    • Thanks for this. Very entertaining.

      In return, here’s another JoNova gem:
      http://joannenova.com.au/2017/09/former-nasa-giss-climate-scientist-reveals-incompetence-junkets-best-model-called-jungle-of-code/

      Dr Duane Thresher who worked seven years at NASA GISS describes a culture of self serving rent-seekers, mismanagement and incompetence. ….

      Another GISS insider wrote:
      “NASA GISS’s climate model — named Model E, an intentional play on the word “muddle” — is called the “jungle” because it is so badly coded.” I know this to be true from my own extensive experience programming it (I tried to fix as much as I could…).”

      He advises skeptics and commentators to use FOI to go after the money instead of the data.
      “The data is often fundamentally flawed. How you process it after that is irrelevant. Garbage in, garbage out. “

  18. “Steve McIntryre tried for years to get the statistical follies in (for example) the Hockey Stick interpretation by Michael Mann, corrected. He largely failed, despite impeccable statistical work on his part.”

    Not everyone would agree that his work was impeccable. In fact, subsequent analyses found errors in the work. This is presumably why M&M failed to get all the “errors” “corrected.”

    “In 2005, McIntyre and McKitrick published criticisms of the principal component analysis methodology as used in MBH98 and MBH99. The analysis therein was subsequently disputed by published papers, including Huybers 2005 and Wahl & Ammann 2007, which pointed to errors in the McIntyre and McKitrick methodology.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy#McIntyre_and_McKitrick_2005)

    “Climate Science, where there is a great mass of poorly-done research awaiting proper review”

    It’s easy to make such an assertion, much harder to prove it. Plenty of people have tried on WUWT, but usually by presenting other data (without adequate statistical analysis, if any) rather than actually identifying the problems in the original research. Or they simply assert that the researchers’ data are fraudulent, the science is motivated by agenda or grant-seeking…there are plenty of ways to call into question scientists’ integrity without having to prove a thing.

    The “data thugs” have focused their efforts on psychology, a field well-known to have analytical problems. The fact that there are so many problems in social science and medical research does not necessarily mean that there are comparable problems in other fields.

    • Speaking as one who has been formally banned from contributing to Wikipedia articles on Climate Science, I think you had best take anything you find there on Climate Change with several pounds of salt. In particular, McIntyre’s and our host’s Wikibios have been subject to serial distortions by the “dark side”. And the editors who might have corrected same have been systematically driven off. Pity, that.

      • Mr. Tillman:
        Kristi is one of the regular visitors who appears to be a paid tr0ll, of the “concern” variety. Her post tells you that she found a post she liked from wiki, and made damn sure she looked no further. She has no idea whether M&M shot down Wahl/Ammann, or whether Wahl/Ammann even made valid criticisms of the substance of M&M. Notice the finish- problems in other fields do not prove problems with CliSci- a truism that leads nowhere.

        • Thanks! Amusingly, If memory serves, what got me banned at Wikipedia was a particularly persistent troll who absolutely *insisted* that Anthony Watts be labelled as a “Climate Change Denier” in the lede to his Wikibio. This is an ad-hom slur, and clearly against Wiki’s stated rules for Biographies of Living People. She would not give up, I lost my temper, and got banned for my trouble. So, Anthony, you owe me one!

    • Consensus “climate science” is worse than psych and medical research. Its major tenets were born falsified, but that hasn’t stopped its charlatan purveyors from keeping up the scare tactics.

  19. I had a comment on this topic that I tried twice to post but failed. The same has happened a couple of times on other threads. Anyone else having similar problems since the server change?

  20. In point of fact, their were something like 15 articles a volume in the “The Annals of Applied Statistics” which specifically addressed some of McIntyre’s main arguments and included an article by Mann & Schmidt as well. For the most part the articles were far from impressed with Mann’s Paleo reconstruction. So at least professionally, McIntyre and McKitrick were well received. Makes an interesting read and should have gotten much wider circulation. One can only wonder why it didn’t. https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.aoas/1300715166#toc

    • ” should have gotten much wider circulation. One can only wonder why it didn’t.”

      Oh, I don’t think you need to wonder at all. Sadly.

      One has to admire the alarmiss political ‘scientists’ of Climate “Science”. They have succeeded in making the science almost irrelevant to the public debate, and in world politics. Witness the foolish & absurd German “Energiewende”(sp?) which succeeded only in raising German electric costs, increasing brown coal (lignite) burning & damaging the German economy. Massive Solar Energy projects on the North German plain! Yet the German Greens appear undaunted.

      I do sense that more people in power are starting to wonder about the priority of Climate Change “mitigation”, as it becomes more obvious that not much (if any) actual damage has happened, and the alarmists’ cries become shriller & even less credible. Perhaps there’s hope that sanity will return?

    • From McShayne & Wyner, https://projecteuclid.org/download/pdfview_1/euclid.aoas/1300715170

      “In this paper, we assess the reliability of such reconstructions and their
      statistical significance against various null models. We find that the proxies
      do not predict temperature significantly better than random series generated
      independently of temperature. Furthermore, various model specifications that
      perform similarly at predicting temperature produce extremely different historical backcasts. Finally, the proxies seem unable to forecast the high levelsof and sharp run-up in temperature in the 1990s either in-sample or fromcontiguous holdout blocks, thus casting doubt on their ability to predict such phenomena if in fact they occurred several hundred years ago.”

      Pretty damning, and pretty much what McIntrye & McKittrick were saying all along. The tree ring “proxies” don’t measure temperature, and the “statistical interpretations” by Mann & Co. were naive, incompetently done & worthless. Garbage in, Garbage out.

      • To put this into even plainer language. Tree rings are excellent for dating, but are substantially worthless for determining paleotemperatures. The tree-ring paleotemperature guys have been wasting there time, and the taxpayers dollar, for many years now. They are vanishingly unlikely to ever acknowledge this. The field will have to move on without them.

        Dr. Judith Curry has wondered, in print, how Michael E. Mann was selected as a lead author in whatever IPCC report first came up with the alarmist language. He was a postdoc then, and she wonders whether he was picked so that he would give the answer the UN politicians wanted. Is there any wonder why Mann has so virulently attacked Curry over the years? Or why he is so deeply invested in the politics of climate alarmism?

      • “Pretty damning, and pretty much what McIntrye & McKittrick were saying all along. The tree ring “proxies” don’t measure temperature, and the “statistical interpretations” by Mann & Co. were naive, incompetently done & worthless. Garbage in, Garbage out.”

        I don’t think Mann was incompetent, I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

  21. “Longtime readers here, and participants in the Climate Wars, will recall the remarkable LACK of success in getting questionable data and papers retracted or corrected in Climate Science”

    And yet the very same people will cite the retraction of a particular case study about autism as evidence it was “debunked”, whatever that is…

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