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Discussion > Theory, law or fact

Martin,

* That changes take place at a slow rate, individual changes being minuscule and conferring a survival probability increased by a minuscule proportion. It's not obvious (to me anyway) that totally minuscule increases in survival probability would not be swamped by other random effects.

Minuscule changes may be unimportant and confer, in themselves no survival advantage. A species will accumulate such changes and become genetically diverse. Small changes build upon each other to produce ever greater diversity. But come a new selection pressure, such as an environmental change, a new pathogen or rival species and the diversity then becomes important. The more diverse, the more likely the species is to survive - with the genes of those in the gene pool that are best suited to the new circumstances. Evolution will have occurred, even though the individual changes were perhaps small.

Genetic diversity is important to survival of a species. I read somewhere that the diversity in a troop of a few dozen chimpanzees is greater than that of the whole of humanity. We are a really recent species and hence quite vulnerable. Diversity is also why conservation of endangered species is difficult - even if you have a few thousand tigers, say, if they are all closely related, diversity will be low and their long term chances are also low.

Also note that small genetic changes are not necessarily insignificant. The ability to digest milk as an adult is I think just a small mutation but confers a great advantage. Immunity to HIV, which some people have, likewise potentialy.

Feb 10, 2016 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

The title of this thread is very interesting and I will assume that it is meant to describe the desired discussion.

I apologise for making a comment before I have read the whole thread but if the above assumption is correct then it is not a problem.

Everyone who comments on this blog is either asking a question, answering a question or attempting pass on information. If you find that there are people who do not understand what you are talking about then the fault is yours and yours alone. If your audience does not understand you then you are wasting your time.
There are many who read BH without commenting at all, are you able to predict their technical vocabulary? Is it the case that you are not interested in people who do not understand?
Feynman said that if you can not explain complicated theories to your granny then you do not understand them.

Feb 10, 2016 at 6:24 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Raff,

"There are accepted ways of responding to work that is contentious or doubtful within academia. I won't pretend to have an y experience of them but they obviously include writing letters to journals, repeating the work with different analysis methods, collecting new data and trying to replicate the work etc."

That was tried. McIntyre's first attempt to respond with a letter to Nature correcting the record was rejected on the grounds of it being too long. (It wasn't.)

It's pretty well known now that sceptical papers face a higher bar to publication than consensus ones. Journals that publish sceptic papers face boycotts and complaints, and mainstream reviewers of sceptical papers tend to find reasons to reject them whatever their technical merits might be. ("If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, ...")

"I won't pretend to have an y experience of them but they obviously include writing letters to journals, repeating the work with different analysis methods, collecting new data and trying to replicate the work etc. These methods work competitively but cooperatively and everyone gains from them."

Here's an amusing guide to how it really works... :-)
http://www.untruth.org/~josh/How_to_Publish_a_Comment.pdf

Note the author's comment at the end that everything in it had really happened.

"Climate science skeptics took a different route, that of loud accusation, demonization, etc and should be unsurprised that faced with this assault the community collectively gave their accusers the middle finger and brought up the barricades."

Well,, yes. Maybe that was a result of them being called anti-science liars, paid lackeys of industry, corrupt despoilers of the Earth, minions of the global capitalist conspiracy, stupid, mad, idiots, conspiracy theorists, tinfoil-hatters, wing-nuts, and akin to holocaust deniers?

The climate change action campaign didn't make any friends by the way it described or treated those who doubted or disagreed. If you expect anything else, you perhaps don't know human nature.

In any case, the only thing that matters in science is whether they are correct or not.

"You said yourself that McI never claimed to be trying to replicate Mann's analysis (in MM05). In all these years of obsessing about bristlecone pines and Yamal and whatever, he never did the obvious, straightforward thing and produced a "correct" analysis of the data!"

McIntyre's position is that this is impossible, because the data is corrupted with spurious noise, and is only intermittently and unreliably correlated to temperature. It's a bit like demanding that a critic of astrology or haruspicy has to first produce an accurate horoscope from the data before his criticisms can be taken seriously.

You can't measure what the global temperature in 1400 was to an accuracy of a fraction of a degree with a handful of trees, when we struggle to do it even in the 20th century with satellites and global monitoring networks! It's a ridiculous notion!

"so why didn't McI just do a "proper" analysis and show there was no hockey stick, that temperatures in the last thousand years were not what Mann claimed?"

Actually, Mann himself had already done that prior to publishing the second paper, and long before McIntyre got involved. In having his assistant give McIntyre access to the ftp archive, Mann had accidently revealed a directory labelled "BACKTO_1400-CENSORED" which contained a reconstruction from which the rogue Bristlecones had been dropped. There was no hockeystick. Needless to say, Mann didn't publish, describe, or even allude to this experiment.

"Some, not me to be sure, might say that it beggars believe that he didn't and that he did - and it produced a hockey stick"

It's been done many times, and for many different reconstructions. The point is that McIntyre makes no claims that any of the alternatives are reliable either - that doesn't mean he hasn't done it.

All hockey-stick-producing reconstructions work in one of two ways: either they consist of a very small number of hand-picked series selected from a tiny subset of them (all by now very well known) that are corrupted with spurious spikes near their endpoint, or a large number of series is fed into an algorithm that weights them according to their correlation with the 20th century temperature rise, which selects and puts all the weight on the same small set with the end-point spikes. As McIntyre demonstrated, feeding random data (trendless red noise series) into such an algorithm almost always produces hockeysticks, because those that happen to rise (or fall - weighting coefficients can be negative) at the end are all lined up and combined, while the earlier sections prior to the 20th century can vary randomly in either direction and all cancel out into flatness.

"When Phil Jones or Michael Mann 20 years ago were interested in working with tree rings and decided to try to make global reconstructions of temperatures, was it their supervisors who should have said, well hold on Phil/Mike, this is going to be groundbreaking and controversial and could have huge consequences."

No. But as soon as it became obvious that it was important, somebody should have brought in the professionals.

"They arose because quality is difficult and people do screw up. If anything constructive has come out of all the destructive criticism of science over the years, then maybe it is better attention to quality."

Something I agree with wholeheartedly!

So we need to learn and apply that lesson, yes?

"So what is the aim of their "agenda" in this respect? 300, 350 or 450?"

None of those. Like I said: it's for the developed nations to disarm and hand over all their money and knowledge to the developing world, while shutting down their own industries, but at the same time imposing no emission restrictions on the developing nations. Climate's got nothing to do with it.

The sticking point in the international climate negotiations has always been that last point - that the restrictions have to be universal if they are to work. Climate physics doesn't distinguish between different sources of CO2. As the Byrd-Hagel resolution points out, there's no point in destroying your economy if it's not going to be effective. However, the climate campaigners have always refused to countenance that, so the US has therefore declined to participate.

"Where does it say that?"

Paragraph 81.

"The guarantee that all Parties shall cease destructive activities that contribute to climate change, in particular the activities of warfare, production of materials and services that support warfare, and to divert associated financial resources and investments into the shared global effort to combat a common enemy: climate change."

"It tells me that they don't understand the engineering challenges of their preferred route."

The French already did it back in the 1980s/1990s. 75% of their electricity was generated by nuclear power. And that was with 1970s technology! But all the research done on more modern stuff like IFR reactors was abandoned back in the 1990s, largely at the prompting of the environmentalists.

The engineering problems are a heck of a lot easier than for wind/solar. It's the regulatory problems that stop it.

Feb 10, 2016 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

So to take my idea further, I mean the way to explain what is in my head...

Object instances are created not just about life, but about Information (or Knowledge) that is NOT inherited. Let us call it: Sticky Info.

For billions of years there isn't any. Then instances ae created with very short life times.

For example, the wheel was probably invented thousands and thousands of times. E.g. by some man or woman in the middle of Siberia in their little clearing. Invented. Cold winter. They die. Knowledge lost. No visitors. No records. Probably happened many times. Maybe in the next valley 500 years later, it was 2 clearings, then a visitor from the next valley, and then two valleys. Drought and cold winter. Knowledge lost.

Note: Sticky Info classes (i.e. the code to create them) were created by gene created object instances.

Knowledge will die unless you have a way to make it sticky.

Working with this, there is also another set of object instances created: Communication Connects. For short we will call them Connects.

Connect instances allow Sticky Info to be shared.

The number of these is small when man starts to use his intellect to create Sticky Info.

Note: Connect classes (i.e. the code to create them) were created by Sticky Info object instances.

Connect object instances are not just say four: saga, writing, print static (presses), print dynamic (electronic age), These four are effectively parts of classes (code to create object instances).

Connects are a pool of object instances that change and ultimately grow that makes info more sticky. They grow as the move from spoken to written to printed to printed dynamic, to visual etc, occurs.

Both Sticky Info and Connect object instances exponentially grow one facilitating the other in feedback loops. We move from the man in the clearing, who lived, invented the wheel, died and had almost zero effect, to now where just me typing these words is not only creating Sticky Info that may last "forever", but it is also effecting the electrical state of the planet and thereby also effecting almost everyone it, almost instantaneously - a huge number of fast acting Connects.

It is Sticky Info and Connect object instances that give genetically evolved man the ability to become self-aware and reverse engineer themselves and write/change classes.

It isn't about what the actual code is, the way the classes are written (I have no idea.) It is about object instances interacting in a large pool, each instance having a life span. That interaction is called evolution. It is very man centred, but as we are the dominant life form. Sticky Info and Connects are very special.

And... we are at a program state change. The pool of object instances has reached a critical mass.

In the life of our planet this is a very special moment. For those older no one else in the history of mankind will have spanned this type of state change.

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

That is a hugely interesting post MH ^.^ However I think you need to involve Mr Einstein because it all depends upon the position of the observer and also is your thought process concentrating on the knowledge, man or the planet?

I suggest that at this point in time there is no sticky info. As far as I know the human race has not devised a method of 'permanently recording information and so all our knowledge is time limited.
Right now the human race is in the same position as the man and woman in the middle of Siberia. Unless we enable the human race to survive (asteroid strikes, plagues, super volcanos and the death of our sun) then our information is not sticky.

Feb 11, 2016 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, one of my favourite sayings: "Everything is relative".

Sticky in this case means info remaining after a life has ended. That is all. But of course in terms of the universe, not very sticky, but still sticky a bit.

I have no idea many state changes lie in store for us. Or even if we are unique or follow a similar path to other pools of object instances.

For arguments sake, say within a generation we can dump the content of the internet on a diamond hard graphic block the size of sugar cube. For example one sub-set of data would be every Youtube video ever uploaded. We have copied billions of object instances into one. And relatively it is quite sticky.

But if Taylor Swift wants to be the Girl of Universe, there is a problem because there are no valid Connect object instances to facilitate the sharing of the info. Think 40 years ago we sent Pioneer out with some crappy disc. No common interaction and no feedback loops.

So with a reference frame beyond this planet we are nowhere.

Of course we might short cut that and find a way to create Connects to higher dimensions. Or our object pool could merge with another as the aliens make contact. Though if they have the capability to do that, then perhaps we will just be a zoo or museum exhibit, quaint but not adding very much. Maybe they will become Taylor Swift fans.

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Raff/; "Diversity is also why conservation of endangered species is difficult"

And if we 'believe' in evolution, why would we want to do that. If tigger can't compete why is that our problem? It should have evolved into something fluffy and cute, oh wait, it did. If Anopheles is hurting us, why not wipe it out?


Still looking for a meaningful prediction which would make evolution a theory rather than a mere observation.

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

..and then I go over to the Spectator and find someone IS proposing to wipe out Anopheles. I hope they know all of the implications, all of the effects mosquitoes have. I don't know if we are wise enough. But I do know we are just another environmental pressure, maybe the second biggest of all.

Feb 11, 2016 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

NiV, we are abusing this thread really, but:

That was tried. McIntyre's first attempt to respond with a letter to Nature correcting the record was rejected on the grounds of it being too long. (It wasn’t.)

That was in 2004 or so wasn’t it? I’d have rejected it because it was too late (by 5 years or so). And anything you state as “fact” about McIntyre/Mann is probably not, but rather is just an interpretation by interested parties. Whether sceptic papers in general face a higher bar, I don’t know. They may be not be very good.

McIntyre's position is that [replication] is impossible, because the data is corrupted with spurious noise, and is only intermittently and unreliably correlated to temperature.

That is a weak cop-out. It is obviously possible to re-do the analysis using the “correct” statistical methods. Then:
(a) If your reconstruction doesn’t give a hockey stick you have proved the point. No more need be said.
(b) Only if the recon does give a hockey stick do you need to argue whether it actually means anything.

It seems obvious that (a) is the preferred route and the fact that McI has never published a “correct” analysis showing (a) implies to me that he ended up with (b). He was therefore left with arguing away for a decade (assuming he is still at it) about whether the data means anything.

Mann had accidently revealed a directory labelled "BACKTO_1400-CENSORED" which contained a reconstruction from which the rogue Bristlecones had been dropped. There was no hockeystick.

As above, anything you state as “fact” about McIntyre/Mann including the “censored” data is probably not, but rather is just an interpretation by interested parties.

…feeding random data (trendless red noise series) into such an algorithm almost always produces hockeysticks

Is that where the generating 10000 traces and picking the 100 that look like hockey sticks comes into the story? I find it difficult to know what is truth and what is fiction. Again, anything you state as “fact” about McIntyre/Mann is probably not.

But as soon as it became obvious that it was important, somebody should have brought in the professionals.

Who? And who would the professionals be?

So we need to learn and apply that lesson, yes?

Of course. It is always sensible to learn from mistakes.

> ”So what is the aim of their "agenda" in this respect? 300, 350 or 450?"

None of those.

How can that be? You said this document identifies an agenda (of some group, but surely not of scientists, bloggers, commenters like me). There are 3 choices there, dramatically different in their difficulty. Which one is their agenda? There are lots more places where there are choices. If you want to present this document as some group’s agenda, as opposed to a wooly discussion paper, then you need to resolve those choices somehow.

Who do you think subscribes to this ragbag agenda? Me? Jones and Mann? Any scientists? The IPCC? Nature or Science magazine? NASA, NOAA, the MO, CSIRO? ATTP, Stoat or the Rabbet? As is often the case with skeptics, you seem to conflate opposition to climate science with opposition to what might be done with the science.

Like I said: it's for the developed nations to disarm …
"The guarantee that all Parties shall cease destructive activities that contribute to climate change, in particular the activities of warfare, …

It says “all Parties”. So everyone should disarm and be nice to each other. You may take this as a serious document that you need to campaign against, but I find it difficult to see it as such. In parts, such as these it is just comical. And it doesn’t seem to be an appropriate stick with which to beat climate science, though it often seems that any stick will do.

Feb 11, 2016 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Rhoda, And if we 'believe' in evolution, why would we want to do that.

I 'believe' in gravity, but I still would prefer a world where aircraft don't crash.

Feb 11, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

I like this free flow thinking so forgive me for continuing, please let me know if I am off topic and I will cease or move ^.^

I think that for any human knowledge (info) to be considered sticky, then the human race must become sticky. I think that the storage of knowledge will never be static and needs to be dynamic and constantly renewed. In my opinion the sending of a laser disc as a means of communication showed breath taking stupidity but who am I to say?

Human ideas and knowledge will survive only as long as the human race survives and right now we are at the mercy of the threats I listed in my last post.
Within our solar system we live in what is called the goldilocks zone; everything is just right for human life but there is no way that it will last. We need to be working out how we survive the changes that will inevitably come or it is adios muchachos very soon ^.^

Feb 11, 2016 at 3:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"NiV, we are abusing this thread really, but:"

That's what discussion threads are for, to a degree.

"That was in 2004 or so wasn’t it? I’d have rejected it because it was too late (by 5 years or so)."

An interesting approach to science! Anything that survives 5 years without being checked is considered automatically true and becomes part of the permanent record!

The only consideration should be whether McIntyre was right, and the previously published MBH paper was wrong. If the latter was wrong, then the record should reflect that. Anything else would be to corrupt the body of scientific knowledge.

But anyway, first you tell me that the way to respond to scientific error is to write a formal response, then you tell me that you can't write a formal response because it's more than 5 years since the original paper. Who writes the rules of this game?

"And anything you state as “fact” about McIntyre/Mann is probably not, but rather is just an interpretation by interested parties."

Good one!

So everything said by anyone with strong feelings about global warming is "probably not", but rather just an "interpretation" by interested parties! No more "settled science", just "interpretations"! Very post-modern!

The problem with this 'Appeal to Motive' is that it applies equally well to the climate scientists, too. You've just undercut your own argument! Fortunately, Appeal to Motive is a fallacy, so we can't get out of this all that easily!

"Whether sceptic papers in general face a higher bar, I don’t know. They may be not be very good."

Worse than MBH98/99?!

Here's what an actual mainsteam climate scientist reviewing a sceptic paper (while violating reviewer confidentiality) said:

Hi Keith,
Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
Ed.

It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically? Why would any scientists want to dismiss a correct paper? How would publishing a correct paper that "shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things" do "damage"? Surely it would do damage *not* to publish such a paper, leaving erroneous works in the record?

Unless the "damage" you're talking about is to the credibility of climate scientists, and what sceptics might do if they found out?

BTW - well done on admitting that you "don't know". Seriously! That's always an acceptable answer in science, and people should use it more. As Tom Wigley put it: "No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves." If you haven't checked the science yourself, then your position as a scientist should always be "I don't know" and make no comment. (As a citizen, you can say what you like, but then you can't claim any more authority than any other man-on-the-street.)

"It is obviously possible to re-do the analysis using the “correct” statistical methods."

Yes. The correct method is to correctly calculate error bars on the method, which turn out to be floor-to-ceiling, because the data is duff. That was done.

"It seems obvious that (a) is the preferred route and the fact that McI has never published a “correct” analysis showing (a) implies to me that he ended up with (b)."

McIntye ended up with no hockeystick. Even Mann ended up with no hockeystick. The only issue is whether either analysis is "correct", given that neither of them has any correlation with the actual measured temperature!

It took a huge fight to get them to publish it, but Ammann and Wahl eventually revealed that the out-of-sample correlation between the critical section of Mann's reconstruction and actual temperatures was an r-squared of 0.02! 2% of the variance in the data can be explained by temperature.

It is "obvious" to any mathematician who takes the trouble to look at the maths that Mann's reconstruction was nonsense, that Mann must have known about at least some of the problems before he published, and that McIntyre was right all along. I think the problem is that what you mean by "obvious" is "only option left that fits my preconceptions".

If you want to rely on it to support your argument, check it first. Don't say things are "obvious" when it's easy enough for other people to see they're not true.

"As above, anything you state as “fact” about McIntyre/Mann including the “censored” data is probably not, but rather is just an interpretation by interested parties."

As Mann himself put it later: “Yes, we’ve learned out lesson about FTP. We’re going to be very careful in the future what gets put there. Scott really screwed up big time when he established that directory so that Tim could access the data.”
http://www.assassinationscience.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/1107454306.txt

Mike and Phil are "Interested parties", of course...

"Is that where the generating 10000 traces and picking the 100 that look like hockey sticks comes into the story? I find it difficult to know what is truth and what is fiction."

Yes to the first (although that isn't quite what happened). And difficulty sorting out the history from the propaganda is understandable. It's taken me ten years to get to where I am, and there's still a lot of the arcana I find confusing.

For details on the story of the Hockeystick, there's our gracious host's book "The Hockeystick Illusion" that explains it all in detail - I can't possibly recount the entire book in the comments here. Obviously, that's the sceptic side of the story and you'll need to do more research to check it - but if you can find any definitive errors in it I'm sure the world will be grateful. At the least, you ought to know what your opponent's position actually is if you are to argue most effectively against it. (Just as sceptics need to read the IPCC reports...)

And for that matter, I'd be grateful, too. Everybody has their cognitive blind spots - climate sceptics included - and we each rely on finding other people with *different* blind spots to see what we cannot. That's how the scientific method works. The more people who try to find flaws in a work and fail, the more scientific credibility it gains, so we all need well-informed, intelligent critics to attack our work. Finding errors that enable us to throw away previous unreliable results is as much "progress" as finding new results. To return to the topic of the thread - scientific knowledge evolves by natural selection, not intelligent design.

Science needs its critics. It needs people motivated to challenge *everything*, even stuff that's well-established with lots of evidence. Otherwise, people get lazy and start saying it without knowing what the evidence actually is, and then mistakes creep in. As they say in Missouri, "Show me."

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

NiV, if you think that the publishing of an article (with or without subsequent comments) implies that it is “automatically true” then I think you misunderstand how academia work.

The only consideration should be whether McIntyre was right, and the previously published MBH paper was wrong…

Really? The only consideration? Things are so black and white in the sceptic world, aren’t they? What if McI was only partly right, or was partly right but messed up his sums, or right in a way that was uninteresting, or right but 5 years late and the science and everyone else had moved on, etc. Things are rarely as black and white as you like to think.

So everything said by anyone with strong feelings about global warming is "probably not”…

No, I said “anything you state”, not anything “anyone” states. You, like most of us, are reading the story at 2nd, 3rd, 4th hand (or more), perhaps mostly just one side of the story, and then deciding what to believe. I have read around enough to know that it is impossible to determine what is true and what is false, which commenters really know and which are just parroting what they have read elsewhere, who is being honest and who is not. You are stating as fact things you have read by McI and others but you must be aware that McI is highly regarded only by the sceptic community. His word is treated with great suspicion elsewhere.

Worse than MBH98/99?!

I’m sure there is a multitude of papers by scientists and sceptic alike, published and unpublished, that are worse than those two (one by Essex and Mckitrick for example that used ºC to calculate radiative cooling instead of K). Whether it was right or wrong, MBH98 seems to have been an original and interesting paper that tried to do something nobody else had done. Can you say that of any sceptic paper that has been unfairly not published?

Yes. The correct method is to correctly calculate error bars on the method, which turn out to be floor-to-ceiling, because the data is duff. That was done.

MBH98 figure 5 has wide 2-sigma error bars. Where’s the beef?

McIntye ended up with no hockeystick.

No he didn’t end up with a HS if what you said earlier is correct. You said that he didn’t do a proper reconstruction. He got a hockey stick in PC4 but retained only two components because he wasn’t doing a proper reconstruction, just using what MBH did. So he didn’t “end up” with no HS, because he didn’t finish - deliberately it seems because the HS really was in PC4.

Again the ‘censored’ data seems to have been thoroughly misunderstood or misrepresented. I don’t doubt that Mann regretted that it was published but that is a long way from it being a smoking gun.

NiV >>> …feeding random data (trendless red noise series) into such an algorithm almost always produces hockeysticks

Raff >>Is that where the generating 10000 traces and picking the 100 that look like hockey sticks comes into the story?

> Yes to the first (although that isn't quite what happened).

Is 1% a new definition of “always”?


I did skim the HSI once but wasn’t tempted to read it. The premise of the book is that there is something bad going on, it is not a disinterested analysis. There are various reviews of it elsewhere if you want to know how it was received.

Feb 12, 2016 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

that should have read, "No he didn’t end up with no HS if what you said earlier is correct."

Feb 12, 2016 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

"NiV, if you think that the publishing of an article (with or without subsequent comments) implies that it is “automatically true” then I think you misunderstand how academia work."

Not at all. It seemed to be what you was suggesting, though.

"Really? The only consideration? Things are so black and white in the sceptic world, aren’t they?"

Yes. That's science, for you.

"What if McI was only partly right, or was partly right but messed up his sums, or right in a way that was uninteresting, or right but 5 years late and the science and everyone else had moved on, etc."

In the first two cases, he'd be simply wrong, and they should have rejected the paper (or required revision) on the grounds that it was wrong. They didn't, because it wasn't.

On the third - this is the most important issue facing mankind in the 21st century, according to some people. How could it possibly be "uninteresting" if a headline graph in the recent IPCC report, used to guide trillion-dollar international economic policy to save the planet from catastrophe, was bogus? I do sometimes wonder if believers in global warming are really taking it all seriously.

On the fourth - no, nobody had moved on. In fact, they were still citing and using Mann's methods and reconstruction for years after the flaws were known.

"No, I said “anything you state”, not anything “anyone” states."

I know. My point was that the 'logic' of your argument applies equally well to everyone, although you had chosen to only apply it to one side.

"You, like most of us, are reading the story at 2nd, 3rd, 4th hand (or more), perhaps mostly just one side of the story, and then deciding what to believe."

What makes you think that? Where's your evidence?

I downloaded the data myself and checked it. Are you saying you didn't?

"I have read around enough to know that it is impossible to determine what is true and what is false, which commenters really know and which are just parroting what they have read elsewhere, who is being honest and who is not."

So why do you believe what the climate scientists and climate campaigners say? By your own argument, it's impossible to know if what they say is true or false, too.

"You are stating as fact things you have read by McI and others but you must be aware that McI is highly regarded only by the sceptic community."

And you must be aware that the climate scientists are only highly regarded by the believer community; their word is treated with great suspicion elsewhere. Same difference.

That's why you have to check stuff for yourself. Or reserve judgement.

"I’m sure there is a multitude of papers by scientists and sceptic alike, published and unpublished, that are worse than those two"

I doubt it. And if there are, that's a major problem with science. A lot of the errors were basic stuff you'd get failed for at school, let alone university.

"one by Essex and Mckitrick for example that used ºC to calculate radiative cooling instead of K"

Yeah. I had a look at that one, after you made a fuss about it in the other thread. And no he didn't. He was discussing the range of definitions of "average" used by mathematicians: in particular the Lebesgue norms. He showed that L1, L2, and L4 gave completely different apparent behaviour, some increasing and others decreasing when applied to the same temperature distribution. The radiative cooling can't be calculated that way, depending on thermal capacity, area, shape, colour, surroundings, and so on. The cooling was instead calculated using a simple exponential with an assumed relaxation time.

There is a comment next to the L4 norm mentioning that there's a potential connection with radiative cooling, which would indeed require the use of absolute temperatures, and I'd agree that's potentially seriously misleading. As a reviewer, I'd have recommended rewording it. Nevertheless, it's not actually incorrect, and nor was radiative cooling assumed in the above calculation of averages.

I'm not persuaded by your interpretation, but at least you did read/check the paper. Well done on that.

"Whether it was right or wrong, MBH98 seems to have been an original and interesting paper that tried to do something nobody else had done."

That's fine. I'd always encourage innovation. But when the output turned out to be uncorrelated with the thing it was supposed to be reconstructing, the attempt ought to have been recognised as unsuccessful.

"Can you say that of any sceptic paper that has been unfairly not published?"

"So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things ..."

That's not original and interesting? Are you saying it's been done and published before? If so, why were they still using those methods?

"MBH98 figure 5 has wide 2-sigma error bars. Where’s the beef?"

That they should be several times bigger?

"No he didn’t end up with a HS if what you said earlier is correct. You said that he didn’t do a proper reconstruction. He got a hockey stick in PC4 but retained only two components because he wasn’t doing a proper reconstruction, just using what MBH did."

It's not correct to retain 4 PCs.

Determining the contributors to PC4 reveals that it was the stripbark bristlecones from one tiny corner of North America, which were already known at the time they were published to be completely uncorrelated to temperature. The data was corrupted by anomalous growth patterns (at the time thought to be related to CO2 fertilisation, but more probably the result of asymmetric growth following physical damage to the tree), and known to be so. In no sense is it "correct" to retain data components known to be corrupted and unrelated to temperature in a temperature reconstruction.

The original argument for picking the first couple of PCs was that these summarise the dominant "signal" in the data. PC4 is only a very minor component, as you would expect given that it arises from such a small subset of the data. There's absolutely no justification for including it.

"Again the ‘censored’ data seems to have been thoroughly misunderstood or misrepresented. I don’t doubt that Mann regretted that it was published but that is a long way from it being a smoking gun."

Why not? Your evidence?

"Is 1% a new definition of “always”?"

The results were based on all the data, but a figure illustrating the sorts of outputs you could get showed only the top 100. Trying to plot all 10,000 would make for a very busy diagram!

"I did skim the HSI once but wasn’t tempted to read it. The premise of the book is that there is something bad going on, it is not a disinterested analysis."

And what if something bad was going on? Have you closed your mind so thoroughly to the possibility that you can't even bear to read someone talking about it?

Anyway, you could say the same of the IPCC report. The premise of global warming literature is that "something bad is going on" - hardly a disinterested analysis. I read the thing anyway, because you can hardly criticise a theory effectively if you don't know what it is.

Some people try, though. :-)

Feb 13, 2016 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

I did skim the HSI once but wasn’t tempted to read it. The premise of the book is that there is something bad going on, it is not a disinterested analysis. There are various reviews of it elsewhere if you want to know how it was received.
Feb 12, 2016 at 6:42 PM | Raff

So did you buy it before you skimmed it, Raff? Or do you know someone who bought it?
I'm sure Andrew Montford will be pleased either way.

And since you bring up Essex, McKitrick and Andresen again here, did you also just “skim” the author list before you 'read it' and derided it solely as being the work of an Economist?

NiV is too polite to you, IMO. I don't find you self consistent enough to be considered honest.

Feb 13, 2016 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

NiV, as nothing becomes automatically true just by being published, and everyone knows this, there is no danger in articles not being the subject of comments. They just won’t get cited and will fade away.

I remember reading that McI’s comment to Nature had the stats wrong in some way, so that is grounds for rejection. How could a criticism be uninteresting? Well complaining about a 4 year extrapolation in a 600 year record would qualify, just as an example.

Still citing Mann years after? If McI had done a proper reconstruction, as you said he explicitly chose not to, people might have been citing him instead.

I have no idea whether you are competent to check the MBH98 analysis. I am certainly not. But even if you can and did, you have no way of knowing who did or said what, to whom, when or why, which is what a lot of debate revolves around. That is why it is 2nd hand.

Why do I believe what climate scientists say? Do I? I was talking about the HS controversy (“I have read around enough…”) and I don’t know who is right. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that the paper had its flaws. Neither am I convinced that tree rings faithfully tell the story of past temperatures (although if the trees are at the tree line, there is likely to be some information there). But I also have no reason to mistrust MB&H, to think they were dishonest or incompetent or whatever is thrown at them (Mann mainly it seems).

”… in particular the Lebesgue norms. He showed that L1, L2, and L4 gave completely different apparent behaviour, some increasing and others decreasing when applied to the same temperature distribution. The radiative cooling can't be calculated that way,…”

BS! They say, “R4 would appear in connection with black body radiation.” Then later they say:

“For the radiation example we essentially measure {Ti^4}, ignoring constants of the classical black body law. To get temperature we must transform the measurements by taking the 1/4 power.”
And their figure 1 R4 curve starts at about 28 ºC which, quite by coincidence I suppose, is the 4th root of (33^4 + 2^4)/2 where 33 and 2 are the temperatures of their coffee and ice water. They used ºC.

Nice try but now you have me wondering about your objectivity.

But when the output turned out to be uncorrelated with the thing it was supposed to be reconstructing, the attempt ought to have been recognised as unsuccessful.

You say the output was uncorrelated with an unknown? That is a clever trick.

That they [error bars] should be several times bigger?

Where are McI’s error bars (or yours, as you repeated the analysis) for comparison?

As far as retaining PC4, I’ve read that in a standard analysis, which McI claims to want, it should be retained. I’ve read before (maybe you said it) that only PC1/2 were retained because that is what Mann did. Now you want to say that there was some other justification. It seems like special pleading just to avoid retaining a HS.

From earlier:
…feeding random data (trendless red noise series) into such an algorithm almost always produces hockeysticks

If it generated a HS “almost always” McI could have plotted 100 random curves. Instead he needed to filter out only the 100 of 10000 that looked like a hockey stick. Again, I call BS.

And what if something bad was going on? Have you closed your mind so thoroughly to the possibility that you can't even bear to read someone talking about it?

It is more likely that nothing bad was going on. My impression was that the HSI didn’t consider that (it would hardly sell many copies if it assumed and reached that conclusion).

Feb 13, 2016 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

And this has what to do with evolution? Take problems with McIntyre to another header. Or indeed to climate audit, where the man himself will explain what the word audit means, and why he doesn't run 'his own' reconstruction.

Feb 13, 2016 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

The off-topic exchange is of course off topic and Raff and NIV should have taken it somewhere else, but honestly I am not sure anyone is paying much attention. That is not to be flippant, just it is a very closed exchange (tennis is like that), and I have left it.

Feb 14, 2016 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

So I will now try to bring evolution, or the evolution system I have tried to describe, back around to CAGW :)

In the two World Wars 100 million people were killed. If we talk about Sticky Info, it is a balance.

How many "Einsteins" were killed before they were able to contribute significant Sticky Info?

But then even not being killed in war, reaching your potential was a challenge: how many Einsteins had to put all their efforts in feeding those around them from teenage years? Inequality was a fact of life.

There were not the Connects in existence to "guarantee" a person who had the capacity to create useful Sticky Info, could actually contribute. Learning requires someone to pay for it.

Note: there is an offset to this. War, or even the threat of war, creates tension, creative tension. Suddenly there are thousands and thousands of projects created to beat the enemy.

So I will take the view, that whilst the World Wars created large amounts of valuable Sticky Info, it probably stopped the 2 or 3 or 4 "Universe Understanding" pieces of Sticky Info. Maybe the molecular understanding to create the perfect battery. Something.

But now it is different.

Or it will be if the CAGW proponents do not get their way.

The Einstein born in the Siberia village needs Connects. The cheapest, the easiest. There needs to be a layer in the planet's life that does not miss them. Hooks them and pushes them up through the layers to the top. Maybe the person to design new batteries, new solar panels (for all the talk of wind and hydro, there is not much room for improvement.)

Yet CAGW proponents want to make this process (it is often called progress) harder. They want to deny the poorest Bolivian peasant the chance for their offspring to contribute valuable Sticky Info. To deny then Connects, i.e. give them less Connects.

And one of the ironies of CAGW, and one that annoys me, is that CAWG is a function of the internet. a function of the devices used to read its content. These Connects have been created by progress and progress built on oil. It is very parasitic behaviour, and also outstandingly lacking in self-awareness. Like the ultimate "comfort-zoned" 17 year old complaining about their lot.

CAGW proponents want to stop Connects being created, want to reduce them.

To "save the planet" society should be providing more Connects (cheap travel, cheap knowledge access) to everyone on the planet.

if you let central planning take over, you end up with a Trabant, not a hover board.

Now CAGW proponents would say we do not want to stop progress, but the simple reality is they do. Someone has to pay for CAGW mitigation and adaption.

And the cost is the reduction in Connects.

Feb 14, 2016 at 2:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

To be clear...

"And one of the ironies of CAGW, and one that annoys me, is that CAGW advocacy is a function of the internet. "

Feb 14, 2016 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

"And this has what to do with evolution?"

The discussion thread wasn't actually about evolution, but about the way society enforces socially acceptable opinions on its members - i.e. political correctness. A woman saying that evolution was a theory and getting pilloried for it on social media was just the example used to illustrate that.

Of course, that being an interest of some people, it soon got hijacked onto a discussion of the theory of evolution itself. Not that I'm complaining.

So do you want me to answer Raff or not? It seems to me that if you're going to make any progress persuading the world on climate change, you have to seize whatever opportunities arise to make your case, and we'd got an interesting discussion started. But maybe thread purity is more important?

I'm not bothered, either way. I don't expect Raff to change his/her mind whatever the evidence, so it's purely for the entertainment value, but if you don't answer erroneous claims, people may be justified in assuming you've got no answer and they're not erroneous. However, I've no wish to annoy anybody doing so.

Feb 14, 2016 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

NiV, I always get something from your posts even when the arguments fail to penetrate my skull. I wasn't objecting to wide-ranged discussion around evolution, just the Mann/McIntyre complexities so strangely raffresented here.

Feb 14, 2016 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

NiV, I created a new thread "...Continued" if you'd like to continue our little discussion (and anyone else, too).

Feb 14, 2016 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Media Hoar, one problem is energy density. If folks in higher or lower latitudes are forced to revert to candles, then they will read nothing for 6 months every year. Energy needs to be reliable, therefore no wind involved (when did world trade last rely on wind power?), and able to cope with staggered demand. Renewables will never work. Some balance of nuclear, coal, oil and gas is required.

Feb 14, 2016 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes