Saturday, December 12, 2009

It isn't just us ...

... doofuses: Climategate and the American Physical Society.

Here, for anyone interested, is READ ME for Harry's work on the CRU TS2.1/3.0 datasets, 2006-2009.

Post bumped again, because
a lively and, I think, intelligent conversation has been taking place (presuming we peons are allowed to weigh in). Anyaway, take a look at the comments.

Post bumped. By the way, my only take on this whole ClimateGate business is that it seems to offer prima facie evidence of a lack of transparency. And in many matters the mere appearance of impropriety can prove devastating. If there's really nothing there, it ought to very easy to clear up. As it is, the information is getting around, in whole and in part, leaving it open to all sorts of interpretation. If you act like you have something to hide, people are going to think you have something to hide. What I'm trying to get across is something a large segment of the scientific community doesn't seem to grasp - that it has a major public relations problem on its hands.

For a case in point, read this from the New York Times.


  1. Pathetic.
    As previously mentioned, there are plenty of well-argued posts and articles about this topic, that the armchair critics and cherry-pickers cannot be bothered to read and digest, because it would mean getting to grips with the actual issues rather than empty posturing about two fragments of phrases within 13 years of emails, taken out of context. I am saddened by those who allow themselves to be taken in by these types. There are stacks of other data around, from independent sources. Admittely, it would take effort to find and read them, rather than these people who post pre-digested slogans.

  2. 'Cheery-picking' is another of those weighted expressions which are best avoided in a considered discussion. Just about all quotations are 'cherry-picked' - it's the nature of the beast!

  3. I agree with Maxine.

    And it seems to me that "cherry-picking" is a legitimate description for anyone who only pulls out quotes from the massive amounts of data that agree with their already-settled opinion.

  4. Call it pathetic, Maxine, but the stacks of data need to be seriously reviewed. That's the scientific thing to do. Nor can any other decision be prudent public policy. To not thoroughly investigate the reams of research to separate the wheat from the chaff, to be sure, for instance, to vet out which bad research was used in naively innocent research that applied the falsified findings, would be like ignoring what could be the first signs of cancer to see how far the cancer has spread. The conflicts of interest that are being vetted even now, may or may not be indicators that should cause change in public policy. We shall see.

  5. Rus, as Maxine already pointed out, there are plenty of well-researched and well-argued articles on this topic already, that have already gone through serious review.

    No one is arguing against serious review of the data. What is being argued against is the LACK thereof. So, what's the problem?

    So, we're pretty much in agreement about serious review of the data—as opposed to cherry-picking, as opposed to ideologically-driven counter-arguments that equally have not seriously reviewed the data.

  6. Scientifically speaking, there is no problem. There is much work to do. At this juncture, we need to vet out the ideology and get down to hard science.

    We already know that data itself has been fudged. Some percentage that we do not know right now, has been fudged along with the fudged data we already know about. Some other percentage has been studied such that what the results would "seem" to show or be "believed" to have shown, is not be what the studies showed at all. Bias is that cancerous to science.

    These e-mail guys did greater science a favor, in revealing how the rigors and standards have been lowered in the current system of politics and money, as that part of science constituted by a collective of scientists becomes bigger business all the time, becomes part of the financial world more and more, and wants the political power of influencing big government more and more.

    We must assume now, what we should have been better at assuming before, that some percentage more of all of it than we believed before has been falsified and misinterpreted, either maliciously or ignorantly.

    A very scientific thing to do at this point, therefore, is not to get in the way of a public that should demand to see how much of what used to be hard science is going to melt down, and how much of the real world will melt down--but to be at the forefront of this necessary investigation. Any scientist worth his or her salt right now is breaking with the idea of having findings to defend, and getting on with vetting out which findings are either falsified or misread through bias, or the result of studies biased at inception. One way or the other, the science of global warming itself may have a serious melt down on its hands.

  7. Well, at least all of us seem to be able to discuss this in a civil manner. That's a start.

  8. I'm all about vetting out the ideology and getting down to hard science. That's exactly where I've been on this topic all along. The problem is: whose ideology? for what reason? and what do they have to gain?

    I don't think you can make a sweeping statement that all the data has been fudged. Whose data? how much of it? how much fudged? Making any kind of sweeping statement about the data being fudged is an ideological statement—unless it can be backed up on record.

    In fact, there's a lot of data out there, coming from many reputable sources. Amidst this current thing, as bad as it is, and as important as it is to find out what damage has been done, and rectify that damage—amidst all this, it is very important to remember that there is a lot of data out there about climate study, climate modeling, and climate analysis, that goes back several decades, that is cumulative, well-documented, and verified. This current thing should not be allowed to affect all the other genuine, legitimate scientific work that has been done on the subject, over many years.

    Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Which is very much what some factions are trying to get us all to do. And that is driven by ideology, too. And is not remotely scientific in either approach or execution.

  9. But Art,

    Who made the statement that all the data has been fudged? Not I. Nor will I allow myself to be associated with the straw man that any opponents of the necessary vetting would like to set up--and as if I know nothing and do not sympathize with those who are carrying out good science, as if I have an ideology that would preclude me from being a reasonable part of this discussion. I never said "all". That would be something a fool would say, a convenient straw man would be propped up as having said. That's not me. If you think I meant anything like that, then go reread what I have written, please. But I here and now need to underline that I said no such thing, and will not allow anyone, including you to attempt to put words into my mouth, or misread what I said as if you have some bias against what my position must be.

    That there must be a serious and wide-ranging review of all both the data and the conclusions is basic to both good science and public policy. And includes no I-told-you-sos, only prudence. It could be that in a wide-ranging way, what has been offered as conclusions, will hold up. We don't know how much will--because what we do not know is how much of what was formerly thought of as conclusive, will melt down. We need to differentiate.

    There's a further problem here with what you say:

    . . . that there is a lot of data out there about climate study, climate modeling, and climate analysis, that goes back several decades, that is cumulative, well-documented, and verified. This current thing should not be allowed to affect all the other genuine, legitimate scientific work that has been done on the subject, over many years.

    Yes, this current thing must be allowed to bring all of it into question. The study of climate has been blind-sided by itself, just as the mortgage bankers were blindsided by themselves. The good science is still the good science. The good bankers are still the good bankers. What we don't know is how much of the science of climate is going to melt down on further analysis. Will it be as much as the bankers? We just don't know. But let's go in scientifically, not ideologically, but with prudent public policy as a goal, and discover both who and what is there to discover.

  10. Art, I'm not arguing for or against any particular stance on climate change here, but rather, the need to avoid language which smacks of self-defensiveness. Generally, such language undermines reasonable discussion.

    Even if someone has a 'cherry-picking' agenda - again, I'd prefer to avoid such weighted terms - this does not mean they can't uncover an issue which needs our attention.

  11. I haven't much time, but want to second what Lee says about terms like "cherry-picking" or "denialist". The latter, in particular, seems not merely condescending but offensive. Moreover, skepticism is what nourishes science. Practically every embarrassment science has suffered in its history has had to do with countering skepticism with a consensus. Vetting the ideology, in a my view, is a minor issue - just have people reveal the sources of funding. But verifiable data ought to be able to speak for itself. The real issue here has to do with people urging policies that will cost trillions of dollars and God only know what other dislocations who insist on keeping their primary data to themselves. Put the cards on the table, folks.

  12. I'm going the first step further in, to say that data that has been presented as verifiable has been in fact planted. The data must be looked at again, to see who's been planting what and where. The next step in is to find out who's been using fudged conclusions for which hypotheses. The third step is to see which hypotheses have been propped up with which biases, which studies have been carried out such that the rigors expected from scientists would be glossed over with ideological assumptions and economic pressures.

    You go to a doctor with a symptom. That symptom could mean a local infection from a recent exposure, or indicate that a cancer has been spreading from organ to organ for months, or arthritis stemming from bad habits of decades ago. The tests the doctor orders is to find precisely what malady the symptom is stemming from, and how far-reaching it has become--making no assumptions, intending to cause no alarm, but to go forward with what must be done in order to be able to proceed wisely, and hence to claim professional responsibility.

    We do not know what we have. Beyond the financial pressures, we have power pressures and ideological bones to pick that have been festering like cancer among some scientists. Listing where there may be conflicts of interest financially is only the first step. Each study does this when presented, and the rocks need to be re-turned. But, jobs have been placed at stake, and this is where day-to-day creativity with data and conclusions have been found to be taking place.

    No one has to be told, that if he or she wants a job next week, the data best be fudged. Just as the ones who have businesses and potential fortunes at stake, betting that dramatic and expensive action will be taken to address global warming, the hourly workers and salaried technicians who keep their jobs longest can often be the ones who fudge the best, even the ones who get the raises and supervisory promotions. Where has this happened? We do not know yet. There need be no overt pressure from above, no one e-mailing in dark corners for this to take place naturally.