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« Booker on GLOBE | Main | UEA says "who cares what you think!" »
Friday
Mar262010

Josh 14

More cartoons by Josh here.

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Reader Comments (124)

The American Statistical Association (ASA) recently convened a workshop of leading atmospheric scientists and statisticians involved in climate change research. The goal of this workshop was to identify a consensus on the role of statistical science in current assessments of global warming and its impacts. Of particular interest to this workshop was the recently published Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), endorsed by more than 100 governments and drawing on the expertise of a large portion of the climate science community.

Through a series of meetings spanning several years, IPCC drew in leading experts and assessed the relevant literature in the geosciences and related disciplines as it relates to climate change. The Fourth Assessment Report finds that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising mean sea level. … Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. … Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes, and wind patterns.
The ASA endorses the IPCC conclusions

American Statistical Association

Mar 27, 2010 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Also, interestingly, the statisticians in that page say:

"ASA recommends that more statisticians should become part of the IPCC process. Such participation would be mutually beneficial to the assessment of climate change and its impacts and also to the statistical community."

and

"ASA recommends that there should be greater involvement by statisticians in future reviews of the state of climate science conducted by the CCSP."

Now - why would the statisticians say such things?

Perhaps they want to hold the tape measure next to the Himalayas (?) or participate in the 'peer review' process(?)

Mar 27, 2010 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Now - why would the statisticians say such things?
Perhaps they want to hold the tape measure next to the Himalayas (?) or participate in the 'peer review' process(?)

Yes, interesting.
Maybe they are even (in reality) secretly suspicious of the IPCC?
Even though they say that they endorse the IPCC conclusions...maybe they don't really?
Who knows?
Hmm.
Smokescreens. Wheels within wheels.

Someone should get down there and ask them what they REALLY mean when they say that they "endorse the IPCC conclusions".
Secret double meaning? Could be. Could be.

In fact, if they really "endorse the IPCC conclusions", then why say it at all?
Surely the very fact that they feel obliged to say it in the first place is evidence that...they don't endorse the IPCC at all?

Yes, yes. Wheels within wheels. Clearly, more speculation is called for on this issue.

Mar 27, 2010 at 1:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Cedric, I find your citing of the ASA in response to Josh's lovely cartoon of VS truly inspiring, in that it so beautifully illustrates an argument from authority, as a way of trying to deflect VS's very specific criticisms, for example of attempts to find trends in the time series of globally averaged temperature in the last 150 years - an argument which he implies will gradually extend into other areas, including correlation with CO2, a prospect I for one find fascinating. But you don't try to engage with that argument, you post up some boilerplate from the US statisticians trade union. It's fatuous and it's wrong. Apart from that, thanks.

Mar 27, 2010 at 2:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

a way of trying to deflect VS's very specific criticisms

Which very specific criticisms would those be? VS's argument seems to a bit of a random walk in its own right.

His latest manifestation of it turns out to be a strawman.

Or perhaps you mean some variant of his original statistical arguments, which merely ranged from wrong to bollocks.

Of course he's saying something that sounds like 'not AGW' to a 'sceptic', so no wonder they lap it up without an ounce of real scepticism. Never mind that on the face of it pointless statistics without physical understanding are generally going to be, well, pointless.

Mar 27, 2010 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

I appreciate you posting this Cedric, and I would wonder what they would have to say today. Their posting is labeled:

"Adopted 11-30-07 by the ASA Board of Directors"

That translates to November 30 2007. Obviously, VS does not concur. Hopefully he will explain his disagreement on Bart's blog shortly.

Mar 27, 2010 at 2:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

...you post up some boilerplate..,

Actually, the title is "The American Statistical Association's Statement on Climate Change."

...from the US statisticians trade union.

No. There's no such organization. I checked.
It really is from the American Statistical Association.
Further, they don't appear to be a "union". Or a nest of communists. Or even that much of a hotbed of leftist eco-nazi activism. They just seem to be statisticians.

They describe themselves as...

The American Statistical Association (ASA), a scientific and educational society founded in Boston in 1839, is the second-oldest, continuously operating professional society in the United States. For 170 years, the ASA has provided its members and the public with up-to-date, useful information about statistics. The ASA has a proud tradition of service to statisticians, quantitative scientists, and users of statistics across a wealth of academic areas and applications.

The ASA mission is to promote excellence in the application of statistical science across the wealth of human endeavor, specifically to:

•Support excellence in statistical practice, research, journals, and meetings
•Work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels
•Promote the proper application of statistics
•Anticipate and meet member needs
•Use the discipline of statistics to enhance human welfare
•Seek opportunities to advance the statistics profession

Sounds fairly mild-mannered to me. Still, if you have inside information that they really are unionists/commies/leftists/marxists/leninists/whatever then...do tell.

It's fatuous and it's wrong.

Well, if there's another national or internationaly recognised community of statistians out there that disputes the science of climate change then let's hear what they have to say.
Give their position statement. Cite your sources.


Oh, and thanks to both Frank and Don Pablo for alerting me to two new blogs to check out on statistics.
Open Mind and Bart Verheggen's weblog on climate change issues

Mar 27, 2010 at 6:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Cedric,

It seems to be a little premature to state that
" they really are unionists/commies/leftists/marxists/leninists/whatever "
based on a cartoon and a few fairly mild-mannered comments

The thread on unit roots by VS has provided an interesting if esoteric statistical commentary that will no doubt play out in due time.

Why don't we all chill out and see where this leads?

Mar 27, 2010 at 6:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAJ

Frank, as I've said elsewhere, my commercial programming work on time series modelling in 1995 led me into close contact with the Akaike Information Criterion as a (crucial) measure to stop an ARMA or ARIMA model overfitting the data - in other words to think that there was more information there (and thus among other things ability to predict the future) that there really was. VS was the first statistician that I've come across to mention and apply the AIC to climate science time series. (I haven't been following every blog closely enough so I don't know if others have.) But the fact that he did very early on apply the AIC got my attention. I knew from finance applications - at one point a hedge fund with $550 million under management depended on the work I'd led technically - that this was no small matter.

So, your phrases of derision don't wash with me at all. And, although Bart has been for the most part an honourable exception, the hostility of people like Tamino to the input from VS has been yet another eye-opener. They don't like it up 'em, as an old UK sitcom used to say. And these are the people that you use as your authorities. That game is coming to an end, pal.

Mar 27, 2010 at 7:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Cedric I didn't say any of

commies/leftists/marxists/leninists/whatever

I did call the ASA a trade union. You don't get science from such bodies. You get science from individual people arguing issues through from first principles, with total transparency of code and data. That was my point. To make a contribution you have to get involved in the detail. If you want to try your luck doing that with VS on Bart Verheggen's site directly, fine. I'd greatly respect you for that and look forward to seeing it. Otherwise, as UK prime minister Clement Atlee once said to a fellow-leftist, "a period of silence from you would be most welcome."

Mar 27, 2010 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

If Josh is doing caricatures of well known climate identities, I'd be very interested in his depiction of Grant "Tamino" Foster and Gavin Schmidt.

I know that Gavin Schmidt has been likened to the Eye of Saruman (actually should be Sauron) for the way he spies on the opposition and produces flaming polemics as a result. He also has a coating of impervium. I don't believe he has ever admitted a mistake or conceded a point.

Tamino seems of a slightly different breed - more along the lines of some crazed scientist with plans for world domination crossed with a hanging judge who exults in the humiliation of his enemies and before torturing them in the arena - this while enjoying in his spare time whipping fervour into his attack dogs to invade other blogs and assault the inhabitants before retiring licking their chops in glee.

Mar 27, 2010 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilde Guillemet

Tilde, for Tamino see www.cartoonsbyjosh.com next to VS.

I dont know Gavin as I have not spent a lot of time over at RealClimate, but thanks for the tip.

Mar 27, 2010 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I did call the ASA a trade union. You don't get science from such bodies.

Which is why you labeled them a trade union.
I get it. It's a good rhetorical trick.
Nobody thinks of science and trade unions as having any connection with each other.

However, if we call the American Statistical Association...the um, American Statistical Association then...well...it does make us think about statistics and science in general.

We expect statistics from statisticians.

A trade union is something quite different. The problem is that the American Statistical Society is not a trade union.
Not even a little bit.

The American Meteorological Society, for example, is not a trade union. Nor is the Royal Society. Nor is NASA or NOAA or the National Academy of Sciences.
They are all not "trade unions". Not even a little bit.

We do indeed expect good science from them because they are scientific bodies jam-packed with professional scientists.

The American Statistical Association knows an awful lot about statistics.
Their members are really good at statistics.
Honest.

Oh and if there's another national or internationaly recognised community of statistians out there that disputes the science of climate change then let's hear what they have to say.
Anybody? Somebody?
Hmmm.
:)

Mar 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Cedric

The ASA, like all professional bodies exists to promote its members' interests. It will be run by professional administrators and managers, most of whom will not be statisticians or will have ever studied the subject beyond school level.

The ASA's members by contrast will consist of people, all called "statisticians" but whose knowledge and understanding of the branch of mathematics called statistics will vary widely.

For example, members will include those who work with statistical results but do not derive them, some who actually do statistical analyses, and likely a very small proportion who contribute actively to the mathematical foundations of statistical theory.

As Richard already explained, individual statisticians do the stats, and individual scientists do the science. Professional bodies meanwhile just collect the dues and run the website.

Your favourite authorities on the "science of climate change" appear to be, from your contributions to date, The Statisticians and The Scientists. These simply aren't actually real people Cedric, they're just marketing businesses by another name.

So, with regards the collective voice of any and all such organisations, engage your critical thought processes. Like they say, do the math.

Mar 27, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

You could probably apply the term 'Trade Association' rather than Union, but the difference is really a historical one, and has some 'class' overtones in the UK, but in essence, they are the same thing. The British Medical Association, the Law Society, are all examples of these. Don't know why you're so sniffy about the designation Cedric, at the end of the day they are there to promote their members interests, and usually act as lobbying bodies.It's honest enought work. In some cases they make a contribution to maintaining 'professional standards', though given the general standard of practise in a number of professions these days, it's arguable how effective that is.

Mar 27, 2010 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Cedric - Faith in the position taken by organisations is often misplaced. Open and auditable work is more valuable than statements made by committees or panels of august bodies which are not supported by referenced, traceable and validated sources. I agree with Cumbrian Lad's assessment of the value of professional bodies - it is to promote their members' interests not those of society at large.

The page you linked to does not have links to the proceedings of the workshop and I wonder how it would have been conducted in order to meet its stated objective: "The goal of this workshop was to identify a consensus on the role of statistical science in current assessments of global warming and its impacts." Sometimes there is no concensus nor is it possible on available knowledge. Whilst the ASA may have been capable of reaching concensus on the role of statistical science in climate studies, it is hard to know how they extended from this to endorse, as an association, the findings of the IPCC without critically reviewing all their work: I don't see how that is possible in a single workshop and how this can remain valid without a continual review of the state of the art.

As an example of the benefits of open and referenced work, Edward Wegman, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, performed a detailed checking of the work of Michael Mann and found significant shortcomings:

http://www.galaxy.gmu.edu/stats/faculty/wegman.resume2.htm

http://climateaudit.org/2006/07/14/wegman-report-release/

VS is developing his work in full public view and is allowing scrutiny and criticism - perhaps it will stand up, perhaps it won't, perhaps he will modify it, perhaps he will abandon it. But it is in this way things advance - not through blanket political statements and endorsements.

If you are seeking more sources of information I suggest you also add climate audit, the blackboard and the airvent to your reading list.

Mar 27, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Josh,

Saw your Presence of Unit Root cartoon. See, you could do it!! Nicely done! It would make a lovely tee shirt.

Cedric,

I think Cambrian Lad and Not Banned Yet do point out correctly that opinion of the "leadership" of an organization may well not represent the actual opinion of the majority of the members. For example, the organization of police chiefs in the US often come out with politically motivated statements more in tune with their career advancement than that of the rank and file police officers.

In the case of science it is the give and take of debate that matters, not edicts.

Not Banned Yet does hit the nail on the head squarely with his point:

VS is developing his work in full public view and is allowing scrutiny and criticism - perhaps it will stand up, perhaps it won't, perhaps he will modify it, perhaps he will abandon it. But it is in this way things advance - not through blanket political statements and endorsements.

Mar 27, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don't know why you're so sniffy about the designation Cedric...

It's a rhetorical trick.
It's like calling a biologist a "atheist Darwinist" or a climatologist an "Alarmist/hoaxer" or NASA a "handful of geeks".
The creationists do it all the time.

The idea is to deflect any credibilty, to steer away from any mention of statisticians.

If you call someone a statistican it evokes a mental image of...somebody who knows their stuff about statistics.
If you call somebody a trade unionist, then you get a different image altogether.
How many of you automatically associate the word "statistics" with the phrase "trade union"?
Be honest.
It's a way of slanting the discussion so that you can dismiss them.

"They're just a trade union. It's not like they are statisticians or anything."

It's a sly, dishonest way of framing the discussion.

It will be run by professional administrators and managers, most of whom will not be statisticians or will have ever studied the subject beyond school level.

The American Statistical Association is made up of...statisticians.
I'm sure that there are office people that answer the phones and do the cleaning that are not actual statisticians but the rest are indeed statisticians.

...members will include those who work with statistical results but do not derive them, some who actually do statistical analyses, and likely a very small proportion who contribute actively to the mathematical foundations of statistical theory.

Sure. Those individual members of the ASA got together and did an analysis of the IPCC. They used their knowledge of statistics.
Trade unionists were not involved. Statisticians were involved.

As an example of the benefits of open and referenced work, Edward Wegman, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, performed a detailed checking of the work of Michael Mann and found significant shortcomings...

Edward Wegman? The trade unionist?

(…pause for effect…)

Ok, I’ve had my fun. Hopefully you see my point.

Edward Wegman. Yes, I'm aware of his work.
...I wonder how it would have been conducted in order to meet its stated objective.
(…later…)
I don't see how that is possible in a single workshop and how this can remain valid without a continual review of the state of the art.

You can always ask them.
I’m not being flippant. I really mean it.
Ask them and I’m sure they’ll explain that their analysis of the IPCC took far longer that just a single workshop. After all, there’s a lot to cover.
Most of the grunt work of the number crunching most likely happened long before the workshop itself.
Nor do I see any reason to suspect that the AMA is not interested in continual review. Statistics change and are added to. That’s the normal way of doing things.
Go ahead. Ask them. I’m sure they’d be delighted that somebody has taken an interest.

Wegman is part of the ASA. He’s not an enemy of it. His views were given a fair hearing by the ASA. Indeed, they organized for him and his supporters to present their criticisms. That all happened in the 2006 Joint Statistical Meeting. Before the ASA made their position statement.
Details here
(See article “The role of statistians in policy debates over climate change”)

Wegman didn’t present his criticisms to a "trade union". He presented his criticisms to his peers. The ASA. Of which, he is a Fellow.

The ASA heard it and publicised it and yet was evidently underwhelmed. Their statement supporting the conclusions of the IPCC came out in November 2007, well after Wegman’s views were heard.

Other scientific communities have also looked very hard at Wegman’s criticisms.
One of them is the National Academy of Sciences.
Who’s the head of the NAS? Glad you asked.
Edward Wegman.
He's the guy in charge.
The man has had a very fair shake of getting his opinions aired.
So what conclusions did the National Acadamy of Sciences draw?
More details here.

Is there another national or internationaly recognised community of statistians out there that disputes the science of climate change? Or is it just an anonymous blogger or two?

Mar 27, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Who’s the head of the NAS? Glad you asked.
Edward Wegman.
He's the guy in charge.

Surely it's Ralph J. Cicerone?

Mar 27, 2010 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

Surely it's Ralph J. Cicerone?

Arrrrg!!
Yes, you're right.

Wegman was the chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics.

To be exact, he was the chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics.
The National Research Council (NRC) of the USA is the working arm of the United States National Academies, carrying out most of the studies done in their names.

The National Academies include:
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
Institute of Medicine (IOM)

He was not the head of the NAS.
Apologies for any confusion.
(blushes)
Link.

Mar 27, 2010 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Oh, and speaking of Ralph J. Cicerone...

Most people have heard of Wegman because of the report he gave to the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The reasons why Wegman was picked as opposed to somebody else is an interesting history.

Before Wegman gave his testimony, Ralph J. Cicerone (President of the NAS) wrote a letter to the Committee offering to set up an independent expert panel.
The politicians rejected the offer.
Here's the letter.

(Hat tip to desmogblog for the background information)

Mar 27, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

@Cedric Catesby

Before Wegman gave his testimony, Ralph J. Cicerone (President of the NAS) wrote a letter to the Committee offering to set up an independent expert panel.

Yes that offer is documented on page 224 of the good Bishops book :) That’s why I ask before about Wegman being NAS head; for a moment I thought I had missed some huge rapprochement with Wegman.
About that offer, I agree with Barton’s position when his spokesman said:
“We can't evaluate the idea without having seen it, and maybe it's a darned fine one, but an offer that says, 'Please just go away and leave the science to us, ahem, very intelligent professionals,' is likely to get the reception it deserves, ... We get a lot of offers to butt out from folks who would rather avoid public scrutiny, and reputable scientists wouldn't feel comfortable in the company of most of them.”

When you see:
Ralph J. Cicerone is President of the National Academy of Sciences and Chair of the National Research Council. His research in atmospheric chemistry, climate change and energy has involved him in shaping science and environmental policy at the highest levels nationally and internationally.
In 2001, he led a National Academy of Sciences study of the current state of climate change and its impact on the environment and human health, requested by President Bush.

You can’t deny he has great credentials, but why should all the investigations come from the same mainstream direction? It is like the current situation with Boulton and Oxburgh; it’s very easy to make arguments for their particular talents, but you can’t be blind to the possibility they have a comfortable position to support.

We know that today, Wegman is still a sticking point for many in the mainstream, but when asked, Gerald North said he had no problem with its conclusions and Muir Russell recently said it was a solid piece of work.
I prefer a bit of grit like that to be sticking around forcing people to think rather than let things just sail smoothly by unchecked. And you only get that by going outside the comfortable mainstream.

Mar 27, 2010 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

The 'rhetorical trick' Cedric is in the appeal to authority you use when invoking the ASA as a near infallible body when the others are pointing out the simple truth that it's a trade association.

Now you seem to think that 'trade' is a belittling term, well you're probably young and not yet experienced in the way of the world. At one time unions were a central part of a community, as important as the Church, the school and the pub. A trade is an honorable thing, and I would take my hat off to a professional tradesman before I'd doff my cap to a 'professional' academic. I value both, but to me they are on a level, neither takes precedence, and each individual needs to demonstrate competence and capability to earn my respect. I have sorted out more than one mess created by 'professional' lawyers, I've also had cause to admire the expertise of another. So, take off the rose tinted specs Cedric, and look your fellow man in the eye as a brother and equal irrespective of what clothes he wears to work,

Mar 27, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Cedric

You do make me smile so please carry on posting your comments!

If a lukewarm endorsement by the ASA in 2007 is the only evidence you have for AGW I think you are in trouble. Incidentally the statement to which you refer [thanks for pointing it out by the way, I had not seen it] is a careful piece of committee drafting, politely touting for work from climate scientists. All the subsequent points they make are Wegmanesque and it would not have helped their objective if they had started by saying that most statistical analysis in climate models is poor. [which it is.]

Brownie points for admitting an error too! The various smears of Wegman, McKitrick and McIntyre are however, contemptable, provably wrong and do not help your cause one iota.
You will be telling us next that you think the Hockey Stick is a solid piece of research and that the results are robust. Then I would have to laugh.

When you have a serious piece of research that has been replicated by other scientists not connected with the authors of the original work, that supports AGW I will read it with great interest and be prepared to change ny mind.

Mar 27, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

Oh dear, Cedric is an example of the 'creationist question "science" so those who question science are like creationists' silly billys that populate the web.

A fallacy which may be driven by good intentions as most of cedrics posts on various creationist websites shows. Sadly he may well be wrong here.

The intolerance of those who dislike people who question "science" always makes me laugh, just as much as appeals to authority.

Mar 27, 2010 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

...but why should all the investigations come from the same mainstream direction...

We should get our information about climate change in the same way we get our information about any other science subject.
We should listen to people who know what they are talking about because they do the work.

If you have cancer, then listening to what cancer specialists have to say about cancer is a good idea. Listening to your plumber or some anonymous guy on the Internet? Not such a good idea.

...Gerald North said he had no problem with its conclusions...

I sure that's true. However, four years after his testimony, his criticisms have well looked at.
The science of AGW is still around.
Did a quick google of Gerald North to find out what is his take on the IPPC.
Here's what I found.

And you only get that by going outside the comfortable mainstream.

The trouble is that that's also where the crackpots tend to hang out. Sometimes the mainstream is mainstream for a very good reason.

...invoking the ASA as a near infallible body...

Nonsense. I have not described the ASA as infallible. You are attempting to create a strawman in order to knock it down and thereby "win". I have described it as the American Statistical Association. I have claimed that it is full of statisticians. Those statisticians have make a statement on climate change. They endorse the IPCC. That's it.

Now you seem to think that 'trade' is a belittling term.

Not at all. There's nothing wrong with tradesmen.
However, the ASA is not a trade union. If it was, they would have mentioned it on their website. It's not the sort of thing that actual trade unions bother to hide.
There's nothing wrong with calling a statistician a statistician when the discussion is about statisticians and or statistics.

If a lukewarm endorsement by the ASA...
Oh, so now it's "lukewarm". Cute trick. Any more adjectives to slant the discussion?

If a lukewarm endorsement by the ASA in 2007 is the only evidence you have for AGW I think you are in trouble.

No, it's not. Nor did I claim that it was.

...committee drafting...

Ah yes. Now they're just a "committee". Not statisticians any more. Just a committee.
Not a committee of statisticians chosen to represent the American Statistical Association.
Nope.
Just a "committee".

...touting for work from climate scientists.

Oh, so they're "touts" as well? Not statisticians then?
Let me see now...
We've had "trade union", "Boilerplate", "administrators", "managers", "committee" and now "touts".
Anything but statisticians. Perish the thought that you should call them that.
It makes them sound like they're...statisticans.

The various smears of Wegman, McKitrick and McIntyre...

I haven't "smeared Wegman". I have no reason to do so.
I have not even mentioned McKitrick and McIntyre. Not once.

When you have a serious piece of research...

I don't do any research. I'm just some anonymous guy on the internet. My "research" (or lack of it) is neither here nor there.
If you want research then talk to NASA or the British Antractic Survery or NOAA or the CSIRO or NCAR or the Royal Society or the Royal Meteorological Society or the AGU or the USGS or the NAS or the AAAS or any other scientific community on the planet that you like.
They'll all tell you the same thing.

And that thing is that they're...trade unions!

Mar 27, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Blather.

Mar 27, 2010 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

...those who question science are like creationists...

All pseudosciences follow similar patterns.
The methods used by climate deniers are not the same as used by the scientific community.

Yet climate deniers are indistinguishable from the anti-vaxxers or the HIV deniers or the creationists.

Here's wonderful example.
Spot the difference.

List of Scientists Rejecting Evolution- Do they really? and for the sake of comparison, we have 32,000 scientists

Here's a more indepth analysis on how pseudoscience operates.

Mar 27, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

Cedric - thank you for the reminder of the article “The role of statistians (sic) in policy debates over climate change”. Have you read it?

As far as asking the ASA about how they reached their position of November 07, I set no store by it - you are the one promoting it so you should be the one checking its basis. Did they poll the membership? Did they vote at a meeting? Is there a record of the vote and motion wording available? Other? Is it a standing item for review? If not, do they have any mechanism for doing so? How will they respond should the IPCC, in the light of new science or other info., modify their conclusions? Would they retrospectively withdraw their historical endorsement? Or would they simply endorse any new IPCC conclusions? Or withold opinion until they perform an independent inquiry into the issues? etc

Mar 27, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"I'm just some anonymous guy on the internet."

A little more than that Cedric surely?!:

http://thewhitedsepulchre.blogspot.com/2010/03/cedric-katesby-lives.html

Mar 27, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Have you seen the haiku Lucia's written to Josh's cartoon! Brilliant pairing.

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/joshs-unit-root-cartoon-haiku/

Thank heaven for Josh and Lucia, otherwise there's a risk we could mistake AGW for something significant, that only proper scientists and statisticians should be commenting on.

Cedric, the ASA do indeed describe themselves a professional society, using the same terms more or less as any other trade body you can look at, including scientists, plumbers, lawyers, and homeopaths. They include the line "Seek opportunities to advance the statistics profession" in their objectives, which is perfectly standard for a trade body.

You make the mistake of assuming that because we are sceptical we are not 'scientific'. You seem to think there is a priesthood of statisticans or 'scientists' that we mere mortals should not deign to question. I've no idea what your level of competence is, you come across as a young, possibly recently qualified graduate with an idealistic belief in 'science'. I don't begrudge you that, the passion of youth is a wonderful thing. I think you'll find though that there are more Russell Group science and engineering degrees among your interlocutors here than you'd imagine, many of whom are actually members of the august bodies you are so anxious to deify.

Mar 27, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Cedric,

Just out of curiosity, I must ask what colour of Kookaid you are drinking? I assume it is Green, but what flavour? My guess is watermelon, green on the outside, red in the middle. Am I correct?

As for being "scientific" I have posted my credentials previously. I have a Cornell University Ph. D with a real life (now deceased) Noble laureate on my graduate committee. What are your "Scientific" credentials? Many on this blog can easily surpass mine, I am sure.

Cedric, if you want to play with the big dogs, you have better have a real bite. Barking mad doesn't cut it.

Mar 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@not banned yet.

I wonder how it would have been conducted in order to meet its stated objective. (...later...) I don't see how that is possible in a single workshop and how this can remain valid without a continual review of the state of the art.

These are your questions.
You are the one that brought them up.
Not me.
If you don't really care about the answers but prefer to just to speculate, then fine.
You have access to the internet. The ASA has an email address.

@Cumbrian Lad.
Cedric, the ASA do indeed describe themselves a professional society.

Then why not call them professional statistians?

They include the line "Seek opportunities to advance the statistics profession" in their objectives, which is perfectly standard for a trade body.

So? They do not describe themselves as a trade union. They are the American Statistical Association. Trade unions are not shy about calling themselves trade unions. They are normally very proud of the fact.
Enough with the word games.
It's dishonest.

You make the mistake of assuming that because we are sceptical we are not 'scientific'.

That doesn't make any sense. How can you be scientific without being skeptical?
Skepticism is a valued part of scientific endeavour.
There is, however, a great difference between skepticism and denialism.

You seem to think there is a priesthood of statisticans or 'scientists' that we mere mortals should not deign to question.

Wow. The rhetoric. Pseudoscience always uses the same rhetorical flourishes.

Priesthood? Mere mortals? Deification? So many references to science as a religion. Yet you missed out "orthodoxy". That's always a good one. You even threw in the word scientist with scarequotes around it for bonus points!
That bit about not being allowed to question the science was very good too.

Sounds like a familiar song:

"The freedom to legitimately challenge “Big Science’s” orthodoxy…without persecution"

"...rejects the notion that “the case is closed,” and exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy".

"..the debate is therefore legitimate. Why is the debate being suppressed?"

"Should the enterprise of science somehow be treated differently from all other forms of human knowledge, and accorded a special privilege that exempts it from robust debate or inquiry, especially when such debate or inquiry may alter viewpoints that raise important questions concerning larger issues that extend beyond the limits of science itself?"
I have a movie that you are going to love.

@Don Pablo
My guess is watermelon, green on the outside, red in the middle.

Well, naturally. Perhaps I'm a trade unionist too? (Pinko/leftie/commie/radical/hippie/marxist/leninist.)
If your going to label someone so that you can dismiss them, then go for gold.
It's a good trick. It works with a lot of people.

As for being "scientific" I have posted my credentials previously. I have a Cornell University Ph. D with a real life (now deceased) Noble laureate on my graduate committee.

No. That won't do. The creationists do the same thing that you are doing.
Bragging about your Phd's does not impress me.
You could wax lyrical about your time at Oxford and I truely madly, deeply would not care at all. Plenty of crackpots have Phd's.
Pseudoscience bamboozles Phd's all the time.
If you have something to say, then enter the scientific arena. Nothing else matters.

Barking mad doesn't cut it.

There's nothing barking mad about NASA, The Royal Society, and all of the other scientific communities on the planet. Really.
The scientists are not commies either. The Cold War is over.

Mar 27, 2010 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterCedric Katesby

I believe the ASA statement was based on the advice of the 9-member Climate Change Policy Advisory Committee, who are indeed statisticians.

It's still not clear how they could come to their conclusions, though, besides reading the IPCC report and blindly taking their word for it on everything. Wrong is wrong. There may be some selection bias in the committee's membership.

Is it just me, or is their selection of media stories about climate change a bit peculiar? I realise that they're just linking to them, not endorsing them, but there does seem to be a preponderance of scepticism. Why would they pick out articles they thought were nonsense as being of interest?

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

PA - I think that Committee was formed post 07 - it shows no members for 05 to 08 inclusive.

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Incidentally, I've been a member of a couple of scientific societies myself, and "trade association" is a good description. It's like a social club for professionals, and its primary purpose is networking with others of the profession. They organise conferences, and run a decent journal, and hold local meetings where they lobby for job opportunities in the local community and do a little media PR. The primary interest of the organisation itself is membership dues.

In looking out for their members' and their profession's interests, they will normally seek to avoid political controversy. They'll make standard feel-good statements in favour of motherhood and apple pie, because it makes the society look good. Since everybody else is endorsing global warming, they will cheerfully hop on the same bandwagon. Spending time actually checking it would (in their view) be an expensive waste of time, and might give the impression they didn't trust the science. And people who join committees on something are most often people who feel passionately about the subject. Committees tend to be cliquey, heavily political entities, and are easily 'taken over' by anybody who wants to expend the time and play the game.

And of course, there are some statisticians who do believe in global warming, just as there are some climatologists. Even scientists are subject to politics and ideological fashion. Everybody knows from which platform the gravy train is boarding.

But I've truly no idea how or why they came to the conclusions they did. I know the AGW statistics are wrong, and don't support the CAGW argument, and therefore I can deduce that the ASA didn't actually check. The details of how this came about are not really relevant.

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

not banned yet,

Good point. Although I'm not sure how you tell if the committee didn't exist, or whether the website simply wasn't updated with the history.

So the endorsement is three years old. That's a long time in politics. I wonder what they think about it now?

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

Actually, I've just found a more up-to-date statement. And what's more, it does give their reasoning.

http://magazine.amstat.org/2010/03/climatemar10/

Some quotes:
"We prefer to think of the views of skeptics as part of the scientific spectrum, but nevertheless believe they are a minority who do not represent the mainstream scientific viewpoint."

"We do not have the expertise to say which reconstruction is to be preferred,..."

"Nevertheless, there is no credible physical theory that would deny the GHG influence. If the claims made about the solar influence are correct, that could somewhat modify projections of future temperature increases, but there is already plenty of uncertainty about those projections. Therefore, we do not feel controversies about the solar signal should play a major role in the assessment of climate science overall. It is a legitimate area of research to try to quantify the solar signal more accurately, including its uncertainty, and to assess the influence of such uncertainty on future projections."

In other words, they haven't checked the results. It's based entirely on the claim that GHGs must have a physical effect, and therefore it's all true. Probably.

This article appears to be written by long-time committee members, and yet shows a lack of knowledge of climate science and the details of the controversy that would disgrace even a casually sceptical climate blog, let alone one of the deeply technical ones. Certainly this has nothing on the level of VS's comments.

I asked before how it was possible they could come to this conclusion. I am answered.

Mar 28, 2010 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

I don't think it is a website issue as other committees show historic membership for earlier periods. I think the committee might have been formed as part of the work described in the article Cedric referenced -"The role of staticians in public policy debates over climate change". I think your comment above is correct - they (like many others) simply did not check the details of the physical theory and the evidence supporting it.

They did check the stats and found the problems identified by Wegman and others - the article is odd reading as, given the problems they identify, they still pronounce the IPCC had it right. It's a shame they didn't have the sense to limit themselves to commenting on their area of expertise.

As far as their current position goes, they supported last October's letter from the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/ssi/climate-change-statement-from.pdf

then this happened:

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/leaked-foia-files-62-mb-of-gold/

though it doesn't seem to have made much impression on them:

http://magazine.amstat.org/2010/03/climatemar10/

The live debate this Wednesday could be interesting - their argument seems to be along the lines of "we can't think of anything else"....

Mar 28, 2010 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Sorry PA - we cross posted. I suggest invite as many statisticians as you can to the Wednesday debate!

Mar 28, 2010 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Oh. Boy.

"Since the fit is excellent, we have two possible explanations: Either the CO2 levels are influencing the phase and thus changing the distribution of temperature (i.e., the climate) or there is a common underlying feature driving both the phase change and CO2 levels. No mechanism has been proposed that can do the latter."

Has anyone ever seen a better "Correlation implies causation" argument? These guys are statisticians?!

Sheesh!

Mar 28, 2010 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

Last one on this - do these guys have any thoughts on what caused previous climate variations? Presumably being good statisticians and all that they will have formulated a null hypothesis for the role of CO2 in climate which is testable for the last 1000 years or so?...

Mar 28, 2010 at 2:31 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Is it just me, or does that Waxman chap really look like something out of the League of Gentlemen? It's a local scam for local people....

JF

Mar 28, 2010 at 5:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

There are some comments about Associations and Societies. There are some differences in the language used in various countries.
In Australia, the Institution of Engineers Australia (IEAust) started (in 1924) by being a "learned society" (that is a society for information exchange, technical excellence and ethical conduct) for professional engineers who had qualifications from recognized University courses (or assessment of similar qualifications). Initially the leaders were volunteers who were elected by Members (and Fellows). The situation has changed now with paid staff who may not be members or have engineering qualifications. It is now becoming very political and as someone said often making decisions without getting input from all members.
However, the constitution of IEAust has not allowed it to take part in negotiations in a court of law about employment award conditions. To do that a separate organisation was formed called the Australian Professional Engineers Association. This acts like a trade union. The members in majority are lesser qualified and employed in the public service (government, government, owned companies and local government). In Australia there are many "unions" who call themselves Associations or Societies who are registered to be allowed to appear in Industrial courts.
In my personal opinion I do not agree with (degreed) professional people joining a union. Such people who are interested in a union are likely not competent in their field and want to extract more money than they are worth.

Mar 28, 2010 at 6:14 AM | Unregistered Commentercement a friend

Richard,

the Akaike Information Criterion as a (crucial) measure to stop an ARMA or ARIMA model overfitting the data - in other words to think that there was more information there (and thus among other things ability to predict the future) that there really was.

That is still a strawman as nobody is using such a model on the timescales VS is talking about. Read the comment I linked to from Bart.

The fact is that no numerical analysis is going to change physics and chemistry. We know that CO2 levels are unprecedented for hundreds of thousands to millions of years. We know we are causing that and we know how. We have observed an enhanced greenhouse effect both in terms of radiation leaving earth and radiation returning to earth in response. We have observed changes in Ph of the oceans in response. We have observed higher temperatures and the response of the natural world to them. We also have observational evidence that very dry areas of the earth (Palmer Drought Severity Index > 3.0) have more than doubled since 1970 (from 12 to 30%) [Dai et al, 2004].

Sooner or later the 'sceptics' are going to have to stop nitpicking on the edges, on one hand, and hoping for some miraculous rebuttal of the evidence on the other, and tell us why it is safe to keep making such changes.

Mar 28, 2010 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Err no Cedric, questioning science does not make one a purveyor of 'pseudoscience' although would you care to consider your own rhetorical trick in labeling people you disagree with as the above. I'm sure it's just so you can 'win'.

Sadly your inability to distinguish between people who are cranks such as creationists and anti-vaccinationists and those who 'do' science and science is 'done' by people who don't believe in the apocalyptical tales told about the climate kinda makes you a........crank.

Which is sad. And Cedric science is not about authority or anger. You would do well to consider that.

Mar 28, 2010 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

not banned yet,

Last one on this - do these guys have any thoughts on what caused previous climate variations?

Indeed they do.

Mar 28, 2010 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

"The fact is that no numerical analysis is going to change physics and chemistry."

Depends whether you're talking about the physical reality of physics and chemistry, or the human understanding of physics and chemistry.

In any case, there's nothing in VS's comments that contradicts our understanding of the physics. It's perfectly possible that AGW exists, but is so much smaller than natural variation that it is statistically undetectable. It's perfectly possible that an AGW effect exists, but is cancelled out by unknown or poorly understood feedbacks in the immensely complex climate system. It is possible that the effect of CO2 on temperature will turn out to be to change the distribution rather than the average.

All VS is saying is that the observed rise in average surface temperature anomalies cannot be directly correlated with CO2 in the long run, and that no deterministic trend is detectable in the data so far. The currently observed correlation is spurious, the result of a stochastic trend, and the arguments trying to use this as evidence of anthropogenic global warming (which is a fallacious argument anyway) are wrong.

What that means for the AGW hypothesis as a whole is another matter. We are so often told there are "many lines of evidence", so why damage your credibility struggling to hang on to this one when it is shown to be wrong? Is that how you think a scientist behaves?

But don't mind me. The longer you hang on to it, the more damage sceptics can do by using it, and the worse it will be when you eventually have to give it up. Please, go ahead and defend it by all means.

In the meantime, I'm more interested in whether some of the detail of VS's argument is correct, and what the wider implications are if it is. AS VS points out, scientists on both sides - pro- and anti-AGW - have already published papers basically agreeing with his unit root claims. We've still a way to go before we can say whether it will stand up to the attack or not, but if it survives everything the Team are currently throwing at it, it will make it some good science.

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

"A little more than that Cedric surely?!:

http://thewhitedsepulchre.blogspot.com/2010/03/cedric-katesby-lives.html"

This Cedric guy reminds me of missionaries handing out bibles to the heathens. Reading his rants surely he has too much time and m oney on his hands.

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Frank, early yesterday I wrote:

Frank, as I've said elsewhere, my commercial programming work on time series modelling in 1995 led me into close contact with the Akaike Information Criterion as a (crucial) measure to stop an ARMA or ARIMA model overfitting the data - in other words to think that there was more information there (and thus among other things ability to predict the future) that there really was. VS was the first statistician that I've come across to mention and apply the AIC to climate science time series. ... the fact that he did very early on apply the AIC got my attention. I knew from finance applications - at one point a hedge fund with $550 million under management depended on the work I'd led technically - that this was no small matter.

You chose to quote this part of one sentence only:
the Akaike Information Criterion as a (crucial) measure to stop an ARMA or ARIMA model overfitting the data - in other words to think that there was more information there (and thus among other things ability to predict the future) that there really was.

and then said:
That is still a strawman

So here's my response to that, in the same number of words:
I find your gibberish offensive.

To achieve both qualities is in fact quite an achievement. But there's a danger that someone might see 'strawman', which they think they understand, and think it has some merit applied to what I wrote, the most important clauses of which you contrived to leave out. And that bothers me for a number of reasons. Not least because I'd tried to explain an important reason I became an avid reader of VS and his various interlocutors on Bart's blog. And I'd still like as many other people as possible to follow suit.


Meanwhile, if you'd like to engage me further on this blog, pray explain your use of the word strawman and how it can possibly apply to what I wrote. And then the extraordinary statement that what I had said was still a strawman. What, you mean, after you'd chopped it up in an arbitrary fashion and screwed up your eyes it looked like a strawman to you, then you slept on it and when you looked back at your own notes, without reference to my original, wow, it was still just like that 'orrible strawman you remembered from the night before? And then you realised your solemn responsibility to let the world know?

Frank, one other thing. What amazing faculty is it that lets you detect empty rhetoric on the other side of this crucial debate at a thousand paces, blindfold - and never, ever, produce it yourself?

Mar 28, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

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