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Discussion > BBC conveniently uses the word "trick". But was it innocent?

James, when you said "Did you know that if you feed random red noise into Mann's PC technique it comes up with a hockey stick?" I'm assuming you were pulling my leg.

Nope. It's well documented. After M&M published it, we even see an email trail in the CG emails where
Dr Wilson "gives it a try" (in much the same way I urge you) and finds out that the effect is real. From random noise to Hockeystick in a few easy steps:

Here's the link to the ClimateGate 2 emails documenting it:

The sad thing here is that for someone who appears to be on the side of the alarmists, for this to be the first time you have even looked at this stuff is annoying and sad. But logical. It seems the only people who believe in the alarm any more are the ones, deliberately or otherwise, not looking at the actual science, just going on the word of scientists.

Apr 27, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

A bit more context about how the rest of the clmiate community actually feel (in secret) about the MM98 paper:

txt 3373


I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.


I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly cannot be defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science move ahead.

Apr 27, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

There is MBH98, and MBH99, reconstructing temperatures for the past 600 and 1000 years.

Mann and Jones 2003 was a paper that reconstructed temperatures for the past 2000 years. Bradley is referring to this paper.

Apr 27, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commentershub

Thanks, shub. Waste of time, though, BitBucket won't look.

Apr 27, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

More out of context quotes... James, even you are twisting things. You quote Bradley and Cook as if it were a conversation when in fact these quotes are a thousand messages apart. I look at all the links you post as it happens. The over-fitting one is very interesting, but again out of context. What came next in the discussion?

Did you look at the red-noise analysis in the link I posted? It suggests that the M&M scripts cherry pick hockey sticks - since you are fluent in R it should be straightforward for you to see whether the article is BS. It convinced me (not difficult, you might say).

As for giving it a try, I am not remotely competent of that. I doubt may others are either. This PC analysis is clearly non-trivial and open to interpretation etc. Look at the accusations of mistakes and misinterpretations etc flying around between practitioners and scientists who have a knowledge of the stuff. How can a layman possibly confirm or deny the techniques?

Apr 27, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"The sad thing here is that for someone who appears to be on the side of the alarmists, for this to be the first time you have even looked at this stuff is annoying and sad."

Maybe I'm just too trusting? I've subscribed to the Economist for longer than I can remember and been irritated by their put-downs of 'tree-huggers' as they often refer to anyone with environmental concerns. And yet even they have come around to the view that something needs to be done about AGW (a carbon tax is their preference). I always read the science section with interest. I have over the years browsed the New Scientist and these days I always listen to the weekly podcasts from Science, Nature, SciAm, BBC, Guardian, FT (no more), Naked Scientists etc. And guess what? None of them, not one, gives a damn about hockey sticks. You will see that as a vast conspiracy or fraud. But the subject is considered settled. Skeptics are in there with birthers, creationists and intelligent design freaks in the view of the science world.

I don't read newspapers much, only browsing bits and pieces of the Telegraph (which I tend to disbelieve), the Guardian (which irritates me but is good for balance) and the FT. I know only one skeptic, and he is a scientific illiterate (really!) who just happens to hate any sort of change and particularly windmills.

So there are my sources. Should I be ashamed of myself? I don't see why.

Apr 27, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

If you believe the Guardian is balanced it explains a lot about your worldview. We've argued this ad nauseam for years, sorry if you are a latecomer BitBucket, I'm too tired to do it again.

BTW, you are mistaken (or have been misled) about McIntyre 'cherrypicking' hockeysticks from his red noise - it's the METHOD which does this - by calibrating all proxies against a small late 20th century temperature record, the METHOD chooses hockeysticks. This is the point. The few proxies which approximate best the instrumental temperature record over the calibration period get weighted out of proportion - thus a very few out of the sample get chosen to be representative of 'good matches' to reality (as defined by the calibration period)

Unsurprisingly (since the instrumental record showed an upturn in the late 20th century) this weights proxies which show a upturn blade. Even if there are few of them. Unfortunately (for truth and accuracy) this particular subset of upturning proxies also show no MWP or LIA. So even though more of the proxies may show MWP and LIA to make them a principal signal, because they don't calibrate well with the late 20th century they don't get weighted.

All this means is the method picks hockeysticks. From red noise. No cherrypicking required.

Apr 28, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Hi James, no the Guardian is not 'balanced', but reading it is good for balance. Like a scale needs opposing forces to balance, balanced reading needs views from many sides. Read only what one wants to hear and one gets an skewed view of the world. Sometimes I find opposing views are not completely crazy :-)

In the same way, I thought reading BH might provide balance to my own position. Sadly the skeptic/AGW dichotomy is, like politics, strongly tribal. This prevents rational debate and ends with just hurling abuse (I have indulged a little that way too, I have to say).

On the cherry-picking, I will have to read the deep climate article again. Maybe I misunderstood it.

Apr 28, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

If you insult a bunch of people they will turn against you. That is not called 'tribal'.

Unfortunately, one cannot read *any source* and simply take it at its word. If you dig in, you will always find that things are not what they are made to seem. I can usually trust newspapers for simple, basic reportage, and even there, to a certain extent. Science and Nature are magazines for science and the same applies to them too.

On the other hand, you might take what you read in the Guardian at face value, simply because it makes your life easy. No one has the time to chase everything down. So you just let it go. Neither does that imply that Guardian's version of events is true, nor does it mean that it is universally accepted and believed.

When you are young, there is a (rosy) stage where you think the tabloids print trash and speculation, and the broadsheets put hard work into their reports, and then come the weeklies, then the books and monographs, then scientific and other peer-reviewed journals - a mental picture of a hierarchy of credible huiman knowledge. Then you grow up and realise it doesn't work like that. Nature - well-respected in my area of research - has published some of the key weak and wrong papers in the global warming debate. It has a strident, unscientific, activist, and ungentlemanly editorial line on the climate issue.

If you read Nature and let that form your climate views, you are bound to be at odds with the Bishop Hill audience. That doesn't make the audience, or you, tribal.

Apr 29, 2012 at 1:03 AM | Registered Commentershub

Shub, the tribal thing is more subtle than that. For example I mentioned the Guardian as something I disagreed with but read 'for balance' (see above for an explanation if needed). But on seeing 'The Guardian' in my answer, James replied "if you believe the Guardian is balanced ...". That was quite definitely not what I wrote. My text was quite clear so I imagine what happened is 'The Guardian' triggered a tribal response and he subconsciously skipped the remainder. He responded to what his gut reaction to the Guardian told him about me, not what I actually said.

I had a similar experience with a deeply socialist friend. I suggested in an email that governments need only make employment cheaper (less NI, tax, regulations, etc) and they would get more of it (it was a bit longer and better written than that, but you get the idea). His response was a rant of historic interest (Maggie, miners' strike, etc) that had no relevance to my suggestions - he had listened to his gut response to what I said rather than what I actually said. This, to me is 'tribalism.'

On insults, they come thick and fast if you suggest things that don't meet the BH spectrum of accepted skeptic positions. I tried posting some ignorant and foul mouthed pro-skeptic comments a while back (different alias) and they were greeted with agreement and support. But try suggesting something contrary to BH accepted spectrum and you will be called a troll and told where to go in fairly short time. Try it. Maybe I get a little carried away replying in kind sometimes.

BTW, I should correct something I said earlier: "None of them ... gives a damn about hockey sticks.... the subject is considered settled." That is probably not true, but rather that the subject doesn't come up often. Maybe people are embarrassed to talk about it, I don't know. What is considered 'settled' is not necessarily the hockey stick but AGW and the need to do something about it. I share that view; you don't. Perhaps we should agree to differ :-)

Apr 29, 2012 at 2:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

dude, I am reading the thread. I understand what you said. You don't have to read strange things from wierd sources just so, in order to 'balance' out.

If I read a false claim made in the Guardian, I will not find anything that corrects the record in any other source. Nor do I have to read every media source if I am familiar beforehand with the slant each one of them is likely to put on what they say. Sure, you read and form your opinions for a time, and there is a formative stage, but once you have a handle on what they are likely to day, the game is over.

The measure of what I read is my judgement and not what someone said elsewhere. Many BH regulars are in science-allied professions, or simply belong to a profession, one or the other. They are well familiar with the broad rules of engagement between individuals, between ideas, data, theory and practice. In all this, science as a profession is no different from the others.

You are not going to impress anyone by making special-pleading arguments about the practice of science as a profession. Indeed, that degrades the idea of science as a pursuit.

Apr 29, 2012 at 4:11 AM | Registered Commentershub

"I tried posting some ignorant and foul mouthed pro-skeptic comments a while back (different alias) and they were greeted with agreement and support."

So, you admit to sock-puppetry? And I should take your word exactly why?

Prove it. Quote the comment you posted which was greeted with agreement and support. Provide a link. I can bet you are incapable of formulating such comments.

Apr 29, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Registered Commentershub

BitBucket Apr 27, 2012 at 7:25 PM

More out of context quotes... James, even you are twisting things. You quote Bradley and Cook as if it were a conversation when in fact these quotes are a thousand messages apart.

You thought that BYJ was presenting a "conversation"?! That's a remarkably dubious stretch on your part.

Whether or not the emails he quoted were "thousands of emails apart" (which I very much doubt, considering that your "contributions" to the discussions here have given me no reason to to take your word for it) is completely irrelevant, as I'm sure you must know - unless you are one of those unfortunate post-modernist "scholars" whose education has deprived him/her of any understanding of basic logic.

But that aside ... Your claim is that these are "out of context quotes"! Why not enlighten us by providing some actual context, BB?!

And, of course, you will demonstrate how this purported "context" changes the meaning of the words in the emails quoted, won't you?

Apr 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary, if it had said

<3373> Bradley:
I'm sure you agree...

<4369> Cook:
I am afraid that Mike...

As it appears in James' reference I would have known they were not a conversation. Look at the link if you doubt me.

The out of context quote I mentioned was this thing about generating hockey sticks from red noise in again quoted by James. You don't seem to understand the idea of context. If a mail says

A: "hey I've just repeated the hockey-stick from red noise thing by doing x and y"

You will just take their word for it. If the thread is:

A: "hey I've just repeated the hockey-stick from red noise thing by doing x and y"
B: "yeah, I did the same, but then I realised it is not valid unless you do z as well"
A: "oh, yes you you are right..."

Then a normal reader will take away a different message. Quoting things out of context is an old trick, beloved by politician and anyone who wants to deceive.

shub "but once you have a handle on what they are likely to day..." I was really taking of politics not green issues. Many people start life as socialists and over many years change their minds and bend to the right. Similarly many (maybe not so many?) people move the other way. People who form opinions and then refuse to consider other points of view are common too - they become old people, resistant to change even as life and society and climate are changing around them.

Apr 29, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

The context excuse is pretty boring now, because all of the people claiming that some extra context negates the meaning of the quotes have had many months to provide that context, and haven't bothered.
So the excuse/theory is as yet, unproven. If anyone cares to present evidence for it, I'll look at it again. Until then, I will go along with the null hypothesis that the words mean what they say. When someone says "I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published.", I'm happy to see the "April Fools Day" email later in the conversation, but until it's presented I will assume word the words say.

Apr 29, 2012 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Why should they bother to present contextual evidence? They probably don't care what you think and they most likely consider you (collectively) to be cranks and conspiracy theorists. The only people with the necessary mail archives, apart from the hackers, would probably rather step in front a bus than have anything to do with the sceptic camp.

The hackers have the necessary evidence but won't release it. I wonder why? Aim your ire at them. I'm sure the context issue is boring, because it prevents the issue being resolved either way. Get the hackers to release the complete mail archive and your boredom can be resolved.

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Why should they bother to present contextual evidence? They probably don't care what you think and they most likely consider you (collectively) to be cranks and conspiracy theorists.

Fanning the flames of 'the war' I see. There are one or two badbeards who think this way, or who act that way to cover their incompetence. They're rather claim they are being attacked than be shown to be sloppy and wrong. Lucky for me and the rest of the human race is that it IS only one or two - most scientists, and certainly the ones who made the comments I quoted earlier don't think this way. The reason they haven't provided context is because the context is apparent. If they'd been grossly mis represented in public, they would have set the recird straight, ESPECIALLY for cranks.

The problem for "you lot" (i.e. nonscientific alarmists) is that science is swinging our way (i.e. back in the direction of rational empirical enquiry) - this is partly because the modelled projections are being falsified by the instrumental record, even with the inteference in that record by incalcitrant badbeards. And partly because, in the last year or two, there has been a lot of cross-cooperation between scientificic skeptics and non-activist scientists. I'm no idealist, the two are linked. Real scientists throw away theories are are falsified, and its a shame this debate is so politicised that the proper falsification and re-evaluation is having to be done undercover. For now.

"you lot" preferred it when you could label us all as "cranks" and the scientific establishment hated us because they misidentified us as oil-drilling bible-bashing moon-landers. This misidentification was deliberately done by a few badbeards because they knew they could not win the scientific argument on its own merit so had to demonize their opposition. This is not a conspiracy theory, just read anything Mann writes about anybody who dares doubt him, even otherwise legitimate scientists.

So the last thing "you lot" want is for science to examine skeptical viewpoints seriously. Because the scientific end of the skeptical spectrum overlaps throroughly with the realistic end of the scientific one.
Most skeptics are scientists or engineers themselves, and speak the same language as the scientists. I have three science degrees, spent seven years working in a research lab before going off to make some money. We ARE science, and mainstream science is starting to see that they have more in common with us than they do with activists who throw scientists under a bus as soon as the science goes "off message".

Which is why you are here BitBucket - trying to stir up the hornets nest again. Get some of the loonies riled up, get them drooling with their mad theories and political ranting and hate speech, so you can stand back and use that to justify to the scientists who are reaching out that they shouldn't bother talking to the "cranks", look how mad they "all" are. It's despicable.

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

James if BH wants to make itself more scientific and less cranky it needs to decide what it believes. Like you said a while back there are several types of supporter here and the cranky, deranged and ignorant are vocal among them. I don't know the relative numbers and neither do you. BH should set down a position that it believes on each area of the science and try to filter out or dissuade the crazies from visiting. Then you might have a community that is worthy of being called 'skeptical' in the honourable sense instead of 'deniers' in the nasty sense.

Anyway, I'm out of here. I may be back, but probably not. I need to do some learning about how datasets are processed. Do you know, I found over three thousand tree-ring datasets yesterday. I want to understand how they can be reconciled and a pattern deduced. My hunch is that they cannot with any certainty.

But your wrong - I'm not fanning flames. I am not a troll or an agitator. I am what I have said I am. Bye.

Apr 30, 2012 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

As for 'cleaning up our act', I've said the same thing here many times. But, it's not for us denizens to set the tone - ruthlessly editing off-topic messages and off-message comments results in what you get on pro-AGW sites, and that's not nice.

It is however our duty to point out when a comment is 'mainstream skeptic' or not.

Apr 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I subscribed to The Economist for more than a decade but left when the current warmest editor and his like-minded deputy joined some years back. The style of writing is as excellent as lways and very accessible too, but the unquestioning acceptance of MMGW and equally unquestioning support for unnecessary draconian measures was too much for my critical mind to tolerate. And so I don't subscribe anymore. :-(

What do u do for a living? Am I correct in thinking your incme depends on the MMGW myth?

Apr 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

It would be informative if the 'non-scientific' warmist agitator 'BitBucket' were to explain to us why he/she believes the non-scientific metaphysics promoted by the IPCC, and labels those who disagree with this nonsense on good scientific ground as 'cranks'.

It would of course be pointless to explain the sceptical science to this 'non-scientific' character, as he/she could no more understand it, any more than he/she could understand the pseudo-scientific nonsense peddled by the AGW proponents.

I've said it before and BigYin has reaffirmed my opinion of this 'contributor'.


May 1, 2012 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

This link gives quite a good idea of the context for the famous Jones statement. Also read the link afterwards. I think we all know the context in which these e-mails are written

Go to the e-mail before to get the context at:

September 22, 1999: email 0938018124

In this next email, Keith Briffa raises one of the issues that is central to the infamous “hide the decline” email (which is the next email to be dealt with, below). It is therefore worth spending some time understanding what this is all about, in at least a simplified form. (Scientists interested in a more thorough account of all the methods used to “hide the decline” should refer to Steve McIntyre’s extensive discussion of these issues.)

May 1, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commentersankara

FarleyR: no I am a programmer, embedded systems. It is sad that you no longer subscribe to the Economist. It has a lot of great content unaffected by its AGW stance. Just skip the annoying articles :-)

RKS: "It would of course be pointless to explain the sceptical science to this 'non-scientific' character" - I very much doubt you could explain your skeptical position in your own words.

Sankara: thanks, I'll take a look.

May 5, 2012 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Sankara, yes it is interesting (analysis of email 0938018124), and it does indeed undermine confidence in tree ring data as useful proxies. But does the two month gap between the mails not give you even slight pause for thought? Don't you wonder what was said in the intervening mails? There must be dozens of them. Can you really imagine that nothing that was said that period could possible cloud your certainty of their guilt?

May 6, 2012 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

No worries UEA will pronounce about “"The Dendroclimatic Divergence Phenomenon" later this year!

We all wait with “moistened bark”!

Will Briffa’s deliberations end in October ( or could we have an earlier dissertation in May (

Time and nature will tell, somehow I do not expect any conclusions but hope I am wrong and that all will become clear! What a fool I can be!

May 6, 2012 at 1:14 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand