Sunday, November 22, 2009

Science, Journalism, and (self) Censorship

I was recently struck by the contrast between two news stories on the same event, the publication of thousands of emails and documents from a climate research group in Britain, obtained by hacking into their computers. The Wall Street Journal story described the contents of what had been taken and published to the internet:

"In several of the emails, climate researchers discussed how to arrange for favorable reviewers for papers they planned to publish in scientific journals. At the same time, climate researchers at times appeared to pressure scientific journals not to publish research by other scientists whose findings they disagreed with."

...

"More recent exchanges centered on requests by independent climate researchers for access to data used by British scientists for some of their papers. The hacked folder is labeled "FOIA," a reference to the Freedom of Information Act requests made by other scientists for access to raw data used to reach conclusions about global temperatures.

Many of the email exchanges discussed ways to decline such requests for information, on the grounds that the data was confidential or was intellectual property. In other email exchanges related to the FOIA requests, some U.K. researchers asked foreign scientists to delete all emails related to their work for the upcoming IPCC summary. In others, they discussed boycotting scientific journals that require them to make their data public."

The other story was from the BBC, currently my first source for online news. It discussed the successful hacking—and said nothing at all about what was found.

I was reminded of the verse by Humbert Wolfe (of whom I know nothing else—I encountered it in something written by George Orwell).

"There is no way to bribe or twist
Thank God the British Journalist.
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to"

------------------------------
A few more quotes
(added to the post later)

I noticed a few more quotes, this time from the Washington Post, and wondered how those defending the emails in comments here would react to them:

In one e-mail, the center’s director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University’s Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science.

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” Jones writes. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal,” Mann writes. . . .

Is pressuring a journal not to accept work you disapprove of by getting colleagues not to cite papers published in that journal a legitimate tactic?

78 Comments:

At 1:01 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Eelco said...

The new york times coverage was quite interesting too.

Indeed, a nice illustration of the fact that there are many many ways to report on one and the same event.

 
At 3:08 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Jonathan said...

Yes, it illustrates the way that different reporters will inevitably report the same event differently.

Although a BBC cover-up is a possible explanation, it's not the only possible explanation: for instance, the BBC may have taken the view that the hacked e-mails weren't necessarily genuine. Or perhaps the BBC reporter simply didn't think his audience would find them interesting.

If the BBC was deliberately trying to cover anything up, it was being a bit silly, given the ability of other organizations to report freely on the same subject.

 
At 3:14 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Jonathan said...

I also use the BBC as a quick source of immediate news. But I think its stories are rather superficial; for more thoughtful coverage of a subject, I turn to The Economist.

 
At 3:26 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Alex Perrone said...

The articles which describe the contents from WSJ, Washington Post, and NY Times all came after the BBC article by 1-3 days. Maybe the journalists used this time to actually read the messages? Maybe they found out about the break from BBC and then actually wanted to improve upon it?

 
At 3:41 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

Ahem. You are comparing an initial story about the theft with one written a couple of days later.

A later story from the BBC discusses the content.

 
At 4:08 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks, Alex and Tim.

I'd like to remain neutral on climate change, on which I have no expertise. But I was amused by the quote at the end of the second BBC story:

"But it's important to remember that… gravity isn't a useful theory because Newton was a nice person."

 
At 4:36 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tim points at a later BBC column. The story I linked to, however, is the one currently on the feed for BBC headlines, much more likely to be seen than the column he links to. And the column is heavy on defensive statements by the people whose documents were leaked, very weak on the actual content of what was leaked and why it is disturbing. It reads more as a brief for the defense than as a news story.

If it is true that people were discussing a policy of boycotting journals that insisted on data for their articles being publicly available, would Tim regard that as seriously disturbing behavior? How would he feel about someone who followed that policy in the concealed carry context, which he has been involved with?

 
At 6:25 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

Equally, we could say that the WSJ piece reads more like a brief for the prosecution than a news story.

But a better way to characterize the difference between the stories is that the WSJ is sensationalist, while the BBC story is more conservative. Possibly this is because the WSJ needs to sell papers, while the BBC is funded by a licence fee.

As for "discussing a policy of boycotting journals that insisted on data for their articles being publicly available", if you dig up the email you find:

"With many papers, we're using Met Office observations. We've abstracted these from BADC to use them in the papers. We're not allowed to make these available to others. We'd need to get the Met Office's permission in all cases."

So if the journal requires the data be made publicly available and the Met Office forbids this for their data, then they can't publish in that journal. That's not very exciting, so the WSJ reporter found a more sensational way to describe the email.

 
At 6:40 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

First, CRU has admitted to the loss of data. The cancellation of internal passwords indicate that the CRU people in charge believe this to be an inside job, which would add a serious problem for anyone wishing to dismiss or cover up the issues because the whistle-blower can step in and provide alternative testimony to criminal investigators.

Second, individuals have admitted that specific e-mails are genuine but have tried to excuse the obviously troubling actions by spinning and suggesting that they cannot remember the exact details or their intent.

The problem for CRU come from previous debates with sceptics in which the sceptics argued exactly how the data was being manipulated,how the IPCC denied access to legitimate papers, and how the peer review process failed. The e-mails strongly support the sceptics because they admit to manipulation of data, using statistical tricks to hide divergences, controlling the peer review process, and keeping legitimate papers from being considered by the IPCC.

What is worse for the warmers is the actual testimony by Dr. Wegman, which outlined the same problems to Congress. Wegman pointed out that the climatology community was not very good at statistics, was isolated from other experts, and relied on a peer review process that was clearly not dependent. (Wegman include a social network diagram outlining the incestuous relationship among the AGW community.)

This is going to be an interesting story going forward because both sides will dig in and fight hard. The sceptics can smell the blood in the water and will be circling the warmers who are clearly vulnerable and facing some serious difficulty going forward. The AGW proponents will fight hard to keep their funding intact, to protect reputations and to keep their jobs. Some journalists will try to ignore the fraud because they have built their reputations pushing the unsupportable AGW theory.

Others will use the scandal to increase ratings and to elicit a response from an already upset electorate. Someone like Glenn Beck, who was already using the science to bash the AGW cult will pull out all of the stops. As he gains ratings and the sentiment begins to turn, other journalists will join.

I suspect that eventually some of the biggest AGW supporters will jump ship and used this event as justification for their incorrect views. (Why admit that you never did your homework when you can accuse others of lying.) Get the popcorn boys and girls. This will be interesting. While you are at it, you might want to lighten up on some of those alternative energy shares because the subsidies may be harder to get.

 
At 6:46 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, it illustrates the way that different reporters will inevitably report the same event differently.

Different reporters have different incentives.

Some have been slamming the lack of empirical evidence for years only to be dismissed as cranks. They are looking for revenge.

Other reporters have been defending some very questionable scientific papers and thin narratives. They have been part of the hype machine and their papers, magazines, or networks have received a great deal of advertising revenue from the warming industry, which has received billions in annual subsidies that had to be justified by the scary stories. These reporters and organizations need to keep the story going for a while until they can back away and extricate themselves from a mess that is of their own doing.

I don't know about you, but I am going to have fun following the developments.

 
At 8:55 PM, November 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:48 PM, November 22, 2009, Anonymous Web Development India said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:18 AM, November 23, 2009, Blogger neil craig said...

The BBC have a long history of promoting cvatastrophic warming (one editor said online they had got beyond the "due diligence & balance" stage) so I don't think their censorship is out of some ethical objection to hacking.

The unethical bit is that it should be necessary to hack alleged scientists to find the data they have been measuring, with the public's money.

It is indeed silly of them to keep censoring when it is all over the net. This has some of the feel of an electronic version of the events leading to fall of the Wall.

 
At 8:14 AM, November 23, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When trying to learn science from a science journalist, imagine that the particular science is physics, and that the journalist is Hunter S. Thompson. I trust the scientific method far more than I trust the BBC, or armchair pundits, to sort this all out.

 
At 12:35 PM, November 23, 2009, Blogger SB7 said...

Is pressuring a journal not to accept work you disapprove of by getting colleagues not to cite papers published in that journal a legitimate tactic?

No. As far as this scientist is concerned, it is not only illegitimate, it is destructive to scientific inquiry itself.

We must endeavor for a world in which a publication is judged on the quality of the work it describes, and not on the reputation of the collection it appears in, or even worse, the reputation of other authors whose work has appeared in the same volume.

 
At 11:59 PM, November 23, 2009, Anonymous Web Designing India said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:50 AM, November 24, 2009, Blogger Jonathan said...

I agree that the conduct of the 'scientists' seems shocking and unprofessional, on the basis of these scraps of information. As usual, it would be correct to listen to what they have to say in their own defence (if anything).

 
At 10:30 AM, November 24, 2009, Blogger David Friedman said...

"As usual, it would be correct to listen to what they have to say in their own defence (if anything)."

Tim, in his comment, provide a link to a column that provides that, although not in the form of attributed quotes.

 
At 11:08 PM, November 24, 2009, Blogger Jonathan said...

Doesn't seem like much of a defence. I'm not suggesting you're wrong in your assessment, just mildly curious as to whether this Phil Jones would be able to find anything reasonable to say if questioned on television by a tough interviewer. Maybe not; some people are just unfathomable.

 
At 11:29 PM, November 24, 2009, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

The context of Mann's comment about perhaps encouraging colleagues not to submit to a journal is here.

It's not that they they disagreed with the paper, but that the paper was unscientific -- its conclusions were not supported by the data. As a result the publisher of the journal conceded this and promised to improve the peer review process there.

Incidently, the editor at the journal who slipped that paper through peer review was also the editor on another dreadful paper which I criticised here

 
At 8:14 AM, November 25, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

t's not that they they disagreed with the paper, but that the paper was unscientific -- its conclusions were not supported by the data. As a result the publisher of the journal conceded this and promised to improve the peer review process there.

Incidently, the editor at the journal who slipped that paper through peer review was also the editor on another dreadful paper which I criticised here.


If you look at the code that was released you will find that CRU used methodological tricks and 'adjsuted' data to hide the real trends. What is so scientific about a theory which has to use sleight of hand and false data to support its conclusions?

It is also clear that the conclusions of Soon and Baliunas have been proved correct because the data does not support the idea that the 1990s were the warmest period in a thousand years. The US data, clearly had the 1930s as warmer than the 1900s and there is no global data set that can be used to show that there was a divergence between American and global temperature trends.

Incidently, the editor at the journal who slipped that paper through peer review was also the editor on another dreadful paper which I criticised here

I guess that it is time for a retraction.

 
At 8:28 AM, November 25, 2009, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

If you look at the code that was released you will find that CRU used methodological tricks and 'adjsuted' data to hide the real trends.

That's not true.

 
At 8:36 AM, November 25, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Doesn't seem like much of a defence. I'm not suggesting you're wrong in your assessment, just mildly curious as to whether this Phil Jones would be able to find anything reasonable to say if questioned on television by a tough interviewer. Maybe not; some people are just unfathomable.

There isn't much that he can say if you look at the code that has been released. In a few days we will have a better idea but from what I have seen there is clearly evidence of deliberate and obvious fraud.

If we accept the Jones explanations and agree that the dendro data is unsuitable after 1960 we would have to throw it all out. (The e-mails clearly nail both Mann and Briffa so they will have a hard time spinning their way out of the mess that they find themselves in.)

That would leave us with the surface data. But Jones has claimed that he destroyed the raw data because he did not have adequate filing cabinet space. That leaves us no data on which to support AGW claims because the satellites are not showing anything dire or evidence of man having much of an effect beyond land use.

Jones' 'adjusted' data has a serious problem because he neglects the UHI effect because he makes a 0.05C per century adjustment, which is based on one of the papers he wrote in 1990. That paper was an outlier that did not agree with the published literature. Part of the data that he used was provided by a 'scientist' that the e-mails admit to have committed academic fraud. And Jones' most recent paper on the UHI effect in China comes up with an effect that is still lower than most of the literature but still twenty times higher than the previous figure that was used when constructing the global temperature profile.

The entire process is one big mess that cannot be shown to be very professional or scientific. For example, the claims of deleting the data set run hallow when there are regular updates that change the profile during periods for which the data was supposedly destroyed. That means that the data actually exists, which makes Jones a liar even in the eyes of supporters or that the adjustments have no scientific basis, which make all of the AGW papers that use CRU data very suspect. Either way, the AGW movement and the mainstream press have a big credibility problem.

 
At 11:17 AM, November 25, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The entire process is one big mess that cannot be shown to be very professional or scientific.

Welcome to the real world. The process of science is not simple monotonic progression to enlightenment. It's hard work, frought with dead ends, difficulties, and unforseen problems.

If you'd like see an expose on the ugly, unscientific, mean spirited, jealous, spiteful, dogmatic and religious aspects of the scientific process, allow me to recommend the biography of Sir Isaac Netwton.

 
At 7:42 PM, November 25, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

That's not true.

It isn't? I guess that you have not looked at the code.

How do you explain the following programmer comments that were a part of the code:

;Uses “corrected” MXD - but shouldn’t usually ;
plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to
; the real temperatures."


Or this one in the Briffa code that was also used as part of the hockey stick fiasco:

;
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
;
yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
(…)
;
; APPLY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION
;
yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,x)
densall=densall+yearlyadj


Frankly, I don't see why you don't admit that the e-mails are very damaging and that this group played the believers for fools. Given the problem with credibility there is going to have to be some type of review that will have to look at all of the data and that will have to investigate what impact the 'tricks' had on the final shape. It is my guess that SM is working quite hard right now to apply the code with and without the 'tricks' to the raw data. Within a few days we will know exactly what happened and why things looked the way they did even though the data did not support the final conclusions.

Keep in mind that the e-mails agreed that the Briffa and Mann methods did not hold up to scrutiny and that SM was right. I guess that this latest fiasco will give him a few more scalps. Perhaps the Norwegians should ask for their prize back from the IPCC/Gore and give it to SM instead. After all, he was right and they were all wrong.

 
At 7:46 PM, November 25, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Welcome to the real world. The process of science is not simple monotonic progression to enlightenment. It's hard work, frought with dead ends, difficulties, and unforseen problems.

Science is about transparency and the ability to reproduce results. It is about honest debate and a credible peer review process. The CRU e-mails make clear that Jones and company were not very scientific. They hid their data and methods, corrupted the peer review process, and ran away from debate by claiming that the science, which they were questioning in their e-mails, was settled.

 
At 4:16 AM, November 26, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This science has a lot of similarities with social sciences (like economics):

(1) The system you're trying to understand is complex.

(2) Controlled experiments are difficult or impossible.

(3) The knowledge you can be somewhat confident about is qualitative, not quantitative.

(4) Given the inability to reach verifiable, quantitative conclusions, there will be a tendency for scientists to reach conclusions on a non-scientific basis (such as a desire to conform to the consensus).

 
At 5:54 AM, November 26, 2009, Blogger neil craig said...

A 5th similarity to social sciences & economics is that the main customer, usually government, is more interested in funding findings that support what they have already decided to do than which will, in due course, turn out to be accurate. I suspect this is the main thing holding all these proto-sciences back.

 
At 6:14 AM, November 26, 2009, Anonymous Research papers said...

Thanks for the info.

 
At 8:13 AM, November 26, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

(4) Given the inability to reach verifiable, quantitative conclusions, there will be a tendency for scientists to reach conclusions on a non-scientific basis (such as a desire to conform to the consensus).

Translation; there can't be consensus based on objective evidence. That means that there is no need to implement cap & trade legislation, sign a treaty at Copenhagen, get the EPA to do the dirty work of Congress, etc., etc., etc.

 
At 8:15 AM, November 26, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

I suspect this is the main thing holding all these proto-sciences back.

It is more than that. To really know something is very difficult even when that something is a simple process. To expect individuals to truly figure out how a dynamic, non-linear system like like climate works is unrealistic.

 
At 10:48 AM, November 26, 2009, Anonymous Kevin S. Van Horn said...

It seems that the media bias on this topic has gotten so bad that news organizations don't even bother to write their own stories anymore -- they just have AGW advocates write their stories for them. As of this morning, the only news story on "ClimateGate" that the Reuters web site has (that I could find from the main news page) was written by Stacey Feldman, the co-founder of the AGW advocacy organization SolveClimate! (See Hacked climate emails called a 'smear campaign'.)
Note that this is not an opinion piece; it is supposed to be a straight news story on the controversy over the leaked CRU emails.

So maybe Reuters should ask Blackwater to cover military-contractor scandals; maybe they should have asked the Republican National Committee to cover Watergate; and maybe they should have asked AT&T to handle the controversy over immunity for telcos involved in the domestic wiretapping scandal.

 
At 4:45 PM, November 26, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

This science has a lot of similarities with social sciences (like economics):

(1) The system you're trying to understand is complex.

(2) Controlled experiments are difficult or impossible.

(3) The knowledge you can be somewhat confident about is qualitative, not quantitative.

(4) Given the inability to reach verifiable, quantitative conclusions, there will be a tendency for scientists to reach conclusions on a non-scientific basis (such as a desire to conform to the consensus).


I agree with your point but believe that you missed the very obvious fact that like economics and the social sciences, climate science is not really science at all. It is a pseudo-science that is incapable of explaining what is truly going on effectively enough to be taken seriously by rational thinking. Perhaps in 50 years or more, when we get a better idea how to handle the complexity we could be able to make some statements that may come close to the truth. It is clear that we are nowhere near that point.

http://noolmusic.com/youtube_videos/richard_feynman_on_social_sciences.php

 
At 9:56 PM, November 26, 2009, Blogger chinadp said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:46 PM, November 26, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science is about transparency and the ability to reproduce results. It is about honest debate and a credible peer review process.

Yseem to be confused as to what science is about. Science is about gathering data, creating a hypothesis which explains the data, then testing the hypothesis.

There is no need for transparency, honest debate, or peer review. Those things may help science, but they are not in any way required for science to occur.

 
At 11:56 PM, November 26, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I find it quite curious that Feynman is being invoked. As far as I can tell, he doesn't seem to have much to say about global warming. It looks like there's some sort of strange "appeal to authority" falacy floating about, not based on anything the authority said.

 
At 6:04 AM, November 27, 2009, Blogger Larry said...

[Science is about gathering data, creating a hypothesis which explains the data, then testing the hypothesis
]

First point : Science is about gathering data

NO!

Before gathering data about a complex subject, you have to decide what data you will look at.

 
At 6:37 AM, November 27, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Yseem to be confused as to what science is about. Science is about gathering data, creating a hypothesis which explains the data, then testing the hypothesis.

There is no need for transparency, honest debate, or peer review. Those things may help science, but they are not in any way required for science to occur.


Let me get this straight. I create a hypothesis that claims that Albanians are inferior and prone to child abuse. I claim that I have the data to prove it but choose not to release it. My claims are reviewed by other 'scientists' who happen to also write about the inferiority of Albanians. Under your argument what I did qualifies as science even though there was no way to replicate my results.

Am I missing something or do you want to restate your argument? My claim is that science is not science unless there is transparency. You can't claim to have scientific evidence and hide data and methodology by claiming peer review, particularly when we know that there are serious issues regarding peer review, particularly in the palaeoclimatology community.

How can you claim that temperature reconstructions that were created by using code that hid divergences and applied fudge factors to be science when the code, data and methodology were hidden from view?

 
At 6:40 AM, November 27, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

I have to admit that I find it quite curious that Feynman is being invoked. As far as I can tell, he doesn't seem to have much to say about global warming. It looks like there's some sort of strange "appeal to authority" falacy floating about, not based on anything the authority said.

Feynman had a lot to say about what it is to really know something and about what science is. If you pay attention his critique applies to the climate science debate. The simple fact is that the climate science is pseudo-science because it cannot handle the complexity that is involved.

 
At 12:42 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feynman had a lot to say about what it is to really know something and about what science is. If you pay attention his critique applies to the climate science debate.

Thank you for illustrating my point. You've done an admirable job of missing his point entirely, and inserting your own agenda by "paying attention" to what you'd like to hear instead of what's actually said. Here's a video of Feynman addressing the issues of scientific rigor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZcpTTjjXY

where he discusses social sciences (psychology, history, economics, etc). Choice quote from Feynman:

"They haven't gotten anywhere, yet. Maybe one day they will but it's not very well developed."

No one said science is easy, or that current scientific understanding is truth. But (as you still don't seem to understand), science is a process, and it's the best process which we have for understanding the natural world.

If I were to put words into Feynman's mouth the way you seem to be, I might suggest that economics is much more of a pseudo science than climate science.

 
At 1:47 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I missing something

Yes, quite a bit it seems. I guess now would be a good time for you to do some basic review:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

 
At 4:08 PM, November 27, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Thank you for illustrating my point. You've done an admirable job of missing his point entirely, and inserting your own agenda by "paying attention" to what you'd like to hear instead of what's actually said. Here's a video of Feynman addressing the issues of scientific rigor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZcpTTjjXY

where he discusses social sciences (psychology, history, economics, etc). Choice quote from Feynman:

"They haven't gotten anywhere, yet. Maybe one day they will but it's not very well developed."

No one said science is easy, or that current scientific understanding is truth. But (as you still don't seem to understand), science is a process, and it's the best process which we have for understanding the natural world.


My point still stands and I do not put any words in Feynman's mouth because his words clearly cast doubt on the people who think that they are climate scientists.

It is very clear that climate 'scientists' don't really know very much. They can't predict temperatures, extreme weather events, precipitation trends very far into the future. They can't tell us much about the past except in crude terms because they do not have the accurate data that is necessary to explain previous events. And no matter how the story is spun, trees are not thermometers and computer models that can't account for cloud changes aren't proof of anything.

If I were to put words into Feynman's mouth the way you seem to be, I might suggest that economics is much more of a pseudo science than climate science.

I don't need to put words into Feynman's mouth because the link that you provided supports my view and not yours. Climate scientists haven't gone anywhere yet, just like the social scientists that Feynman was talking about in the clip.

You can't sit at a computer terminal making writing code that has to use fudge factors to provide the result you want and argue that you understand climate. You can't make arbitrary decisions about what numbers to plug in when data is missing; where to splice together trends created by different measurements and pretend that what you have is real.

As Feynman is clear, it is very hard to really know something and given the information they pseudo-scientists have clearly not done the work necessary to really know what it is they pretend to know. I would argue that what they do is no more scientific as the crap that mainstream empirical economists engage in.

 
At 4:16 PM, November 27, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, quite a bit it seems. I guess now would be a good time for you to do some basic review:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method


OK. We'll use your sources to do the basic review. In the link that you provided (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method) we find the following satement:

Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.

Scientists are expected to share their data and methods fully so that their results can be replicated. The CRU e-mails show that this was not done by the AGW proponents and that they conspired to keep data secret or destroy it rather than allow their 'tricks' to be discovered.

Frankly, after taking a constant beating as Steve McIntyre exposed the errors made by Jones, Briffa, Mann, Hansen and the rest, these guys had to hide what they were doing from him and others who could see through the tricks used to create temperature profiles that were not supported by any of the data. But by hiding their data and methods they stopped pretending to be scientists and became advocates.

 
At 8:52 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point still stands and I do not put any words in Feynman's mouth because his words clearly cast doubt on the people who think that they are climate scientists.

In what way ...?

It is very clear that climate 'scientists' don't really know very much.

This is true of everyone. Not really much of an insignt.

They can't predict temperatures, extreme weather events, precipitation trends very far into the future.

And yet they do. You might argue that their predictions are no good, but predict they do. By all means go read the recently published Copenhagen report.

From Real Climate's summary:

Arctic sea ice has declined faster than projected by IPCC.

Greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to track the upper bounds of IPCC projections.

Observed global temperature changes remain entirely in accord with IPCC projections, i.e. an anthropogenic warming trend of about 0.2 ºC per decade with superimposed short-term natural variability.

Sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001.


Gosh, those look like predictions. Not only that, it looks like their predictions were conservative ones.


They can't tell us much about the past except in crude terms because they do not have the accurate data that is necessary to explain previous events. And no matter how the story is spun, trees are not thermometers and computer models that can't account for cloud changes aren't proof of anything.


Quoting the Intelligent Design talking points here won't get you very far in the world of science.

 
At 8:58 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Francis said...

It's very strange what happens, here: "Anonymous" (one or many of them) challenge VangeIV to make his point, and provide nothing in response.

However, now that the code and some data is available, why don't YOU prove your point about global warming? Explain how the code and data proves global warming, instead of relying on experts like Mann or Jones.

The burden of the proof is now even more squarely on the global warmers, I believe, since they have what it takes to show that the data is good and that the calculations are good, too.

 
At 9:02 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another basic expectation ...

Methinks you are having difficulty distinguishing between a basic expectation and a requirement.

 
At 9:20 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why don't YOU prove your point about global warming?

Because when it comes to VangeIV I don't have any point to make about global warming.

VangeIV has repeatedly demonstrated that he really doesn't understand the process of science. I expect that's true all sciences, not just climate science. Until he can figure out what science is and what science isn't, I doubt he'll come to any rational understanding of global warming.

 
At 10:31 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Francis said...

"Science is about gathering data, creating a hypothesis which explains the data, then testing the hypothesis."

If you're alone and want to work alone, yes. If you want to participate in the scientific community, then you must submit your results and invoke experiment as the arbitrator of the truth.

That's where transparency is needed: if you want to convince others, you have to give them the means to replicate your experiment.

I think your own arguments about the whole matter and the way you discuss them show that you don't understand science as a process.

 
At 10:41 PM, November 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's where transparency is needed: if you want to convince others, you have to give them the means to replicate your experiment.

Certainly, persuasion is helpful in spreading scientific knowledge, but persuasion is not science.

 
At 12:03 AM, November 28, 2009, Blogger Gary said...

Sorry, I know how easy it is to take a few quotes out of context in years worth of emails.

Some context for the hack and the quotes are provided here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack-context/

 
At 3:29 AM, November 28, 2009, Blogger neil craig said...

Climate science differs from proto-sciences like social science& economics in that it used to be a real, albeit boring, science, having liked day by day weather forecasting, because of satellites, it was making slow but steady progress in understanding underlying trends. Then it became politically useful & vast amounts of money were poured into it but only to climate modellers who produced the required scare stories. This enhances my earlier point that the thing holding back proto-sciences is not lack of information or their complexity (compare with quantum physics) but that they are funded by politicians who want their prejudices confirmed rather than accurate science.

 
At 3:28 PM, November 28, 2009, Anonymous Hammerhead said...

AGW has been a proxy for a fire-and-brimstone religion. Its basic credentials, politico-zealous and not scientific, are having a bright light shone upon them by ClimateGate. About time.

 
At 3:34 PM, November 28, 2009, Anonymous Hammerhead said...

For some balance, I recommend anyone reading the posts at realclimate, why not explore some of the content posted at icecap.org, climateaudit, articles about the IRIS effect (Richard Linzen) or climate posts in the archives at The Reference Frame. If you really are curious about the science.

 
At 7:46 PM, November 28, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

In what way ...?

Feynman points out how difficult it is to know something. It is obvious that the climate 'scientists' do not measure up because they don't know very much about the non-linear system that is our climate. Their models fail to incorporate basic factors such as cloud change and make assumptions about such things as CO2 residency in the atmosphere that are not supported by empirical evidence.

Their lack of knowledge make them very similar to people who study other pseudo sciences such as nutrition, psychology, or econometrics.

And yet they do. You might argue that their predictions are no good, but predict they do. By all means go read the recently published Copenhagen report.

When their models do no better than a coin flip the fact that they make predictions is irrelevant.

But let us get something straight. The IPCC leadership has hedged its bet and makes it clear that it makes no predictions. The message has been repeated over and over again my many of the lead authors of the assessment reports and their underlings. In the blog Climate Feedback, Oliver Morton--on behalf of--Kevin E. Trenberth writes, "In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. There are a number of assumptions that go into these emissions scenarios. They are intended to cover a range of possible self consistent “story lines” that then provide decision makers with information about which paths might be more desirable. But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess."

It is clear that the IPCC models deal in what if narratives that have little to do with reality or real science. The people who run the show are not interested in scientific truth but in meeting political goals, just as they always have been. According to Trenberth, "None of the models used by IPCC is initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models corresponds even remotely to the current observed climate."

From Real Climate's summary:...

Great. Let's defer to the people who have admitted to cooking the books and hiding the real trends once again. I am sorry but if you want a credible argument you will need credible sources, not people who have admitted to academic fraud.

Gosh, those look like predictions. Not only that, it looks like their predictions were conservative ones.

The RC people have been making many predictions. The fact is that they have not come close to coming true. They claimed that temperatures would continue to rise as CO2 levels kept rising but we have not seen that. They claimed that the AGRO system would show that the energy imbalance showed up as warming oceans but the data shows cooling instead. They claimed that the Arctic would be ice free by 2020 or so but the ice has been recovering nicely and global ice cover at the beginning of this year turned out to be right on the 30 year mean.

Quoting the Intelligent Design talking points here won't get you very far in the world of science.

I guess that when you are losing the argument and have no real data to support the lies you resort to name calling. But that is not credible and even those in your camp who used to fall for the trick are getting tired of it. If you want to be credible try using empirical data to support your claims.

 
At 7:50 PM, November 28, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

VangeIV has repeatedly demonstrated that he really doesn't understand the process of science. I expect that's true all sciences, not just climate science. Until he can figure out what science is and what science isn't, I doubt he'll come to any rational understanding of global warming.

I know science thank you. A requirement is transparency. The data and methods have to be open to scrutiny so that others can verify the results. The warmers have failed to meet that basic requirement and as such cannot claim to have science on their sides.

And after a decade of hiding the data claims of destroying it for lack of filing cabinet space rings hollow, particularly when the released e-mails show evidence of conspiring to avoiding the disclosure that is demanded by the FOI Act. People who had the data required to prove their hypothesis would not be in a hurry to destroy it.

 
At 7:52 PM, November 28, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Francis

I think your own arguments about the whole matter and the way you discuss them show that you don't understand science as a process.


I agree. S/he does not understand science as a process. That having been said, the warmers never really cared much about the science. It was always about politics, power, and money.

 
At 7:51 PM, November 29, 2009, Blogger John_David_Galt said...

I would hope that the science community, or at least the refereed journals, would take this scandal as a sign that they need to protect the integrity of the scientific process against those who would exclude any viewpoint from publication or consideration for political reasons (as opposed to the legitimate process of rejecting a particular study or paper because it fails to prove its conclusions rigorously enough).

This "failure of objectivity" on controversial topics has been a problem for centuries, but of course is greater when most research is sponsored by governments and other powerful institutions, effectively giving them the power to pull the plug on anyone who would publish a conclusion they disagree with, either by withdrawing funding or by
using intellectual-property law (or in Britain, libel law) to prevent that conclusion or the results that appear to prove it from seeing the light of day.

All scientists' associations and journals ought to adopt ethics rules to prevent both these situations, and to give those so excluded a meaningful right of appeal, either to their peers or to the courts.
If this does not happen, no one should trust those groups any longer.

Of course, it's hard to keep out corruption when the people paying the bribes and making the demands are feds spending tax money. This is yet another good reason for getting national governments out of the business of sponsoring or publishing scientific research.

I would like to see these corrupt groups and publications made liable for this sort of corruption just as corporation CEOs are now liable for errors in their books that (in my opinion) do not even come close to rising to the level of felony fraud.

 
At 2:52 AM, November 30, 2009, Blogger neil craig said...

Because I believe in the overwhelming importance of scientific & technological progress i do think the state should encourage it. However this says that direct government funding, by controlling the agenda as we have seen in an extreme example on warming, means government funds actually damage science.
http://www.financialpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=0a545dbe-1ce4-467b-8220-d63f14046b83
I would like to see government funding going largely through X-Prizes, paying national insurance of sresearchers & giving legal aid to inventors patenting worldwide.

 
At 10:20 AM, November 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know science thank you. A requirement is transparency.

Again, you conflate science with communication and persuation. Until you learn to tell the difference, your opinions on science are dubious at best.

 
At 11:43 AM, November 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The IPCC leadership has hedged its bet and makes it clear that it makes no predictions.

The IPCC does not do science, therefore it would be silly for it to make new predictions. Again, your understanding of what science is really does seem at best tenuous.

 
At 12:33 PM, November 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious that the climate 'scientists' do not measure up because they don't know very much about the non-linear system that is our climate.

Ahh, proof by assertion. One of my favorite logical fallacies. Using similarly phrased assertions, I can show that it's "obvious" other 'scientists' don't know very much about the non-linear system that is...

biology
chemistry
multi-body mechanics
fractals
fluid dynamics
geneitc

or pretty much anything.

Logic such as used by VangeIV is something less than compelling. More precisely it's garbage.

 
At 1:03 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

The IPCC does not do science, therefore it would be silly for it to make new predictions. Again, your understanding of what science is really does seem at best tenuous.

But the IPCC references models that your side tries pass off as science and claims to do a review of the science. If you ask 100 people who have heard of the IPCC, I would say that more than 90% would claim that the IPCC does make predictions and would point to claims of a 3.5C to 10C increase in temperatures as evidence of those predictions. Yet, some of the lead authors have made it clear that the IPCC and the models that are used make no predictions. They play games of make believe and come up with scenarios assuming the make believe factors were true. As such, the IPCC can always claim that it would have been right if its transparently false assumptions about the UHI effect being 0.05C per century, CO2 remaining 100 years in the atmosphere, or the feedbacks being large and positive were correct even if the lead authors know those assumptions to be false.

The process is not about science and never was about science. It has always been abut politics, power, and money, which is why the worst people are so attracted to the AGW movement.

 
At 1:03 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Anonymous shows his lack of understanding by writing, "Again, you conflate science with communication and persuation. Until you learn to tell the difference, your opinions on science are dubious at best."

No matter how you spin it, you can't avoid the fact that the scientific method requires transparency. Data and methods must be available for review so that the results can be replicated or falsified. The fact that the AGW promoters failed to make the data available and avoided disclosure shows that theirs was not a scientific position.

 
At 1:07 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Ahh, proof by assertion. One of my favorite logical fallacies. Using similarly phrased assertions, I can show that it's "obvious" other 'scientists' don't know very much about the non-linear system that is...

biology
chemistry
multi-body mechanics
fractals
fluid dynamics
geneitc

or pretty much anything.

Logic such as used by VangeIV is something less than compelling. More precisely it's garbage.


My logic is sound. The climate scientists that you cite cannot understand the climate and cannot make any predictions. If we apply the Feynman criteria it is clear that would mean that climate scientists are not real scientists and are in the same category as psychologists, nutritionists, or economists.

 
At 2:04 PM, November 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter how you spin it, you can't avoid the fact that the scientific method requires transparency.

No it doesn't.

Data and methods must be available for review so that the results can be replicated or falsified.

Nope. Only the model need be available. Replication of results is better done with data collected by an independent source. Get back to us when you finally figure out where science ends and education begins.

 
At 2:08 PM, November 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My logic is sound. The climate scientists that you cite cannot understand the climate and cannot make any predictions.

You've presented no logic, and I've cited no climate scientists. That you think both of these things have happened explains your general inability to reason your way out of a wet paper bag.

 
At 7:06 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

No it doesn't.

Once again, you show your ignorance of the scientific method. As was pointed out to you previously, there is an expectation that all data and methodology are fully documented so that anyone who wishes to can replicate or falsify the results.

That is why Nature has a clear data policy that applies to its journals. It clearly sates, "An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors' published claims. Therefore, a condition of publication in a Nature journal is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers without preconditions."

So does AGU, which states, "Data sets cited in AGU publications must meet the same type of standards for public access and long-term availability as are applied to citations to the scientific literature. Thus data cited in AGU publications must be permanently archived in a data center or centers that meet the following conditions:

a) are open to scientists throughout the world.
b) are committed to archiving data sets indefinitely.
c) provide services at reasonable costs."


The US government clearly expects transparency. The USGCRP data policies are quite clear. They state:

Full and open sharing of the full suite of global data sets for all global change researchers is a fundamental objective.

Federal agencies have different data distribution practices affecting global change research data. The IWGDMGC proposes establishing a fundamental objective of full and open sharing of the full suite of global data sets for all global change researchers. Data sets should be made available in a timely manner, but the definition of timeliness is left as a responsibility of the funding agencies involved. As data are made available, global change researchers should have full and open access to them without restriction on research use.

Global change researchers include those in academic, industry, government, and non-government sectors conducting both basic and applied research.

The global change research data sets contain data of potential usefulness to a competitive U.S. economy for industrial applications and improved environmental management. As required by appropriate public law, global change research agencies will develop plans for commercial access to the global change databases.

To accomplish this objective, data must be submitted to archives, and information about data sets must be created and made available as well. The access policies for these archives should encourage the widest possible use of global change research data in meeting the objectives of the Global Change Research Program.


I suggest that you do some reading about the scientific method and try to figure out why scientific journals require data and methodology transparency before you expose your scientific illiteracy once again.

 
At 8:07 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Nope. Only the model need be available. Replication of results is better done with data collected by an independent source. Get back to us when you finally figure out where science ends and education begins.

You must be thinking of political science.

Try reading up on the scientific method and get back to us when you have learned something. You warmers keep citing scientists that apparently published peer reviewed papers but ignore the fact that those papers to not meet the disclosure policies at the journals that published them. That failure makes those papers narratives and discredits the scientific journals that published them.

 
At 8:45 AM, December 01, 2009, Blogger neil craig said...

Regarding my earlier point about "climate science" not being a proto-science because it is difficult but that it & other such are because governmen paymasters want it that way. I have just read a very good article on the Register (link to page 2) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/30/crugate_analysis/page2.html which shows how when Hubert Lamb established the CRU it was doing good, mathematically rigorous, science. Then the politicians & their political spinners moved in & it "just growed".

Lamb's graph of climate differs in all respects from the present one, particularly in being far less jazzy looking & in being correct - not only showing the Medieval warming but also the 1934 peak McIntyre rediscovered by analysing GISS figures.

Political support has caused this Lysenko style perversion of the science. In the early period Thatcher's since she had political opposition to coal mining, after the fall of the Wall, by all politicians because they needed a new scare story.

 
At 9:40 AM, December 02, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As was pointed out to you previously, there is an expectation that all data and methodology are fully documented so that anyone who wishes to can replicate or falsify the results.


And as was pointed out to you (repeatedly) that's not true. Go back (again), and review what the scientific method is. Since you seem to be having a great deal of difficulty with this, allow me to suggest that you read a biography of Kepler, and *then* read the presentation of his models in Halliday/Resnick. What you'll find is that Kepler's laws are an established scientific model with predictive powers, and that transparency into his methods, data and note have nothing to do with the validity of the model.

 
At 9:48 AM, December 02, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try reading up on the scientific method and get back to us when you have learned something.

You're the one who's confusing publication and funding requirements for science, not me.

You warmers keep citing scientists that apparently published peer reviewed papers but ignore the fact that those papers to not meet the disclosure policies at the journals that published them.

Again, you show your hand by constructing fictions in some convoluted attempt at logic. I'm not a warmer. This is the second time your brain has made up false fact. Neither have I cited any climate scientists, nor have I taken a position on AGW.

 
At 7:55 PM, December 02, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

And as was pointed out to you (repeatedly) that's not true. Go back (again), and review what the scientific method is. Since you seem to be having a great deal of difficulty with this, allow me to suggest that you read a biography of Kepler, and *then* read the presentation of his models in Halliday/Resnick. What you'll find is that Kepler's laws are an established scientific model with predictive powers, and that transparency into his methods, data and note have nothing to do with the validity of the model.


Nonsense. Even the bible of warmers, Wikipedia, is very clear about the subject.

Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[1] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[2]

Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently-derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process be objective to reduce biased interpretations of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.


And as I said before, if disclosure of data and methods is not expected then why does every journal have a policy that makes it clear that authors are supposed to provide access to both?

 
At 7:56 PM, December 02, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

Again, you show your hand by constructing fictions in some convoluted attempt at logic. I'm not a warmer. This is the second time your brain has made up false fact. Neither have I cited any climate scientists, nor have I taken a position on AGW.

You have certainly bought the excuse by claiming that data and methods can be hidden from scrutiny.

 
At 8:22 AM, December 03, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another basic expectation...

We covered this already, you're confusing an expectation with a requirement. If you'd like to actually learn something about it from the article, allow me to suggest reading the section "Elements of the scientific method".

 
At 4:00 PM, December 03, 2009, Anonymous Usenetter said...

Remember kids...the more comments you leave, the less likely you are to be correct.

 
At 7:24 AM, December 05, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

We covered this already, you're confusing an expectation with a requirement. If you'd like to actually learn something about it from the article, allow me to suggest reading the section "Elements of the scientific method".

You can't spin away from your problem. Without showing the data and method all you have is narrative, not valid scientific conclusions. The fact that Jones did not reveal which data he used for the reconstruction and what method was used tells us what we have to know. So does the leaked code that uses fudge factors to add a warming signature that does not exist in the raw data.

 
At 1:37 PM, December 08, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't spin away from your problem. Without showing the data and method all you have is narrative, not valid scientific conclusions.

No spin here. All you need is a model with predictive power. The data and methods you used to contruct the model are largely immatrial. Again (and again, and again), go read Kepler's biography, and let me know his data and methods relate to the predictive power of his three laws.

 
At 7:17 PM, December 09, 2009, Blogger VangelV said...

No spin here. All you need is a model with predictive power. The data and methods you used to contruct the model are largely immatrial. Again (and again, and again), go read Kepler's biography, and let me know his data and methods relate to the predictive power of his three laws.

But that is the problem for the IPCC. The models it has used have no predictive skills. And models are not science. To support a hypothesis what is needed is empirical evidence and after more than $50 billion in spending the IPCC is still looking for that evidence. As I wrote, narratives are not credible.

 

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