Losing Sight of the Goal

Like many, I have been astonished by the breaches of good scientific practice uncovered by the Climategate emails.  But to my mind, the end goal here is not to punish those involved but to

  • Enforce good data and code archiving practices.  Our goal should be that no FOIA is necessary to get the information needed to replicate a published study
  • Create an openness to scrutiny and replication which human nature resists, but generally exists in most non-climate sciences.

I worry that over the last few months, with the Virginia FOIA inquiry and the recent investigations of Michael Mann, skeptic’s focus has shifted to trying to take out their frustration with and disdain for Michael Mann in the form of getting him rung up on charges.   I fear the urge to mount Mann’s head in their trophy case is distracting folks from what the real goals here should be.

I know those in academia like to pretend they are not, but professors at state schools or who are doing research with government money are just as much government employees as anyone in the DMV or post office.  And as such, their attempts to evade scrutiny or hide information irritate the hell out of me.  But I would happily give the whole Jones/Mann/Briffa et all Climategate gang a blanket pardon in exchange for some better ground rules in climate science going forward.

Skeptics are rightly frustrated with the politicization of science and the awful personal attacks skeptics get when alarmists try to avoid debate on the science.  But the correct response here is to take the high ground, NOT to up the stakes in the politicization game by bringing academics we think to be incorrect up on charges.  I am warning all of you, this is a bad, bad precedent.

Postscript: I now your response already — there are good and valid legal reasons for charging Mann, here are the statutes he broke, etc.  I don’t disagree.  But here is my point — the precedent we set here will not be remembered as an academic brought down for malfeasance.  It will be remembered as an academic brought down by folks who disagreed with his scientific findings.  You may think that unfair, but that is the way the media works.  The media is not on the skeptic side, and even if it were neutral, it is always biased to the more sensational story line.

  • Pauld

    Cedric:
    We are not making progress. Sorry you did not quite understand my post. I was just laying out for you that there is a controversy in the peer-reviewed literature since you did not seem to think that there was one. You thought I was relying upon what people write on blogs.

    I wasn’t trying to exhaustively discuss the controversy to fully demonstrate that the hockey stick has been discredited. I was wanting you to apply your methodology to the question of how you would analyze the controversy.

    Can we at least agree that there is a controversy in the peer-reviewed literature?

  • Pauld

    Cedric:

    Just so you don’t think I am playing games with you, note the following language on my part:

    “That is an outline of the controversy in the peer-reviewed literature. Have you applied your methodology to this controversy? If so, specifically how.”

  • Ok, let me try again in a different way.

    The original claim is…the “hockey stick” graph was so thoroughly descredited in the peer-reviewed literature…

    I am happy to argue about this in good faith. However, you are not being consistant in your use of language to describe the status of the “hockey stick”.
    Before we get stuck into the argument proper, we need to both understand EXACTLY what it is we are REALLY arguing over so that we are not speaking at cross purposes.

    It’s incredibly annoying to have a discussion with someone over something only for that person to say ” Oh, that’s not what I meant.” It’s called “moving the goalposts”.
    Now, I’m NOT accusing you of moving the goalposts. I’m just looking at the language being used and trying to pre-emptively avoid such confusion half-way through an argument. That’s why I want to take care of this kind of thing BEFORE we get started.
    I’ve had arguments with creationists too many times before not to exercise due caution.

    It’s nothing personal and don’t take that as a veiled accusation. I’d say the same to anybody.

    The short of it is that either the “hockey stick” was “thoroughly discredited” or there is a “controversy”.

    A controversy does not convey the same meaning as “thoroughly discredited”. The phrase “thoroughly discredited” is a much stronger and definitive term. (The shows over. Two men went in but only one man came out. The whole thing is a joke. The fat lady has sung. etc.)
    “Controversy” implies a more of a “He said, she said” feel to it. It suggests an even match or something close. It suggests that there’s an ongoing issue that has yet to be resolved one way or the other.

    Here are the terms you have used to describe the “hockey stick” situation:

    In the original claim, you used “thoroughly discredited”.

    Then later you used “controversy”.

    …caused quite a stir in the scientific community…

    I have no problem with you using either “quite a stir” or “controversy” together in the same posting. I regard them as synonymous, as would most reasonable people. However, neither of them suggest that anything was “thoroughly discredited”.

    The debate has gone back and forth…

    Here you use the term “debate”. That matches up well with “quite a stir” and “controversy”. No problem.
    “Thoroughly discredited”, however, enters new and different territory. It is a different claim.

    “I wasn’t trying to exhaustively discuss the controversy to fully demonstrate that the hockey stick has been discredited.

    That’s fair enough but I want to work with language that is both consistant and accurately represents your position. I don’t want to put words in your mouth or be accused later of building a strawman. I want to squash any ambiguity like a bug to save grief and hair-pulling later on.

    We can go with one of two claims:

    The original claim with is “…the “hockey stick” graph was so thoroughly descredited in the peer-reviewed literature…

    Or a more cautious claim of “…there is a controversy in the peer-reviewed literature.”

    It’s your claim so you get to decide. Once again, no harm and no foul.

    (Plus, I would strongly urge you again to look hard at the information you provided and check if it really matches the claim. I’m not kidding. Double-check it. It’s better if you withdraw your own material ahead of time rather than me point it out to you. Specifically, I’m refering to the “peer-reviewed literature” part. Please double-check it. All of it.)

  • pauld

    Cedric: You say “I am happy to argue about this in good faith.” I have no interest whatsoever in arguing about the hockey stick controversy with you because it would be pointless. Considering arguments and evidence is not part of your methodology. Your methodology is to rely upon authority.

    Here is what I am interested in doing. I would like to see your methodology as it is applied to this specific issue. Is there a specific organization you consult? Is there a specific website you go to? Is there a person you speak with? Is there a report you read? Is there a book?

    You mention a whole list of organization you would consult on other scientific issues. You write: “So, if I’m arguing with a creationist numbskull about creationism and DNA for example, then I’ll go to the NIH and their partners.

    If I’m locking horns with a YECer then I’ll be happy to use the USGS.

    Antarctica? I’ll probably go to the British Antarctic survey.

    Forensic science issue? I’d go to the AAFS or the Forensic Science Service or perhaps just talk to the FBI.

    The moon landings were a gigantic hoax? I’d go to NASA.

    The link between cancer and smoking is disputed by scientists? Really? Then I’m checking out the NCI, the NIH and the Office of the Surgeon General straight away.”

    That is the type of information that I need to understand how you apply your methodology to this issue.

  • pauld

    Cedric:

    Regarding whether the hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited. M&M demonstrate in their peer-reviewed articles that Mann’s methodology generates hockey stick graphs out of “red noise” data (e.g. random numbers tuned to have the same autocorrelation pattern as the NOAMER tree ring data). Why this happens is fairly easy to understand at a common sense level and is demonstrated mathematically by M&M. They provide their computer code and the “red noise” data they used so that their results can be duplicated. I am aware that his basic findings has been confirmed in at least one peer-reviewed article and that it was confirmed by the Wegman report to Congress. I am not aware that it has been disputed in any peer-reviewed articles. If I am wrong on this, perhaps you could give me a citation. I think this basic result from M&M’s paper shows that Mann’s hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited.

    Now I realize that none of this means anything since you are not a scientist or a statistician and that you have no ability to understand the peer reviewed literature. I am, therefore, interested in specifically how you evaluate this issue.

  • I have no interest whatsoever in arguing about the hockey stick controversy with you because it would be pointless.

    Now you are talking about a “controversy”.
    This goes against your original claim.
    Before it was “thoroughly discredited”.

    You have dramatically changed how you yourself choose to describe the “the hockey stick”.
    You need to ask yourself why you have done this.

    I have no interest whatsoever in arguing about the hockey stick controversy with you because it would be pointless.

    Why? How have I been unreasonable? I have taken every step to meet you half-way. I am so confident that you cannot possibly demonstrate that the “hockey stick” was discredited in the peer reviewed literature that I gave you every chance to withdraw your claim or revise it or trim your source materials…BEFORE we started.
    I have given you every chance in the world to state your claim and prepare your position rather than take advantage of the inherent weakness of your claim.
    I even gave you strong hints as to where you had gone wrong.

    I am interested in how specifically you apply your methodology to the “hockey stick” controversy.
    How do you know whether the “hockey stick” is controversial in the scientific community? How do you know if or how the scientific community is split on this issue? How do you determine the where the weight of scientific opinion is on this particular issue?

    All of this is good. I’m willing to go through it all.
    Why would you just try and dismiss me out of hand? Why write off everything as “pointless” BEFORE we have even started?

    Considering arguments and evidence is not part of your methodology. Your methodology is to rely upon authority.

    If you know my methodology so well, then why can you not use it yourself? Why are you not prepared to use it and clearly DEMONSTRATE that it is fatally flawed?
    Surely, that would speak far better than just refusing to investigate and road-test my criteria?

    Your methodology is fatally flawed. It’s arbitrary. It’s subjective. It has no safeguards against the Dunning Kruger Effect.
    My methodology is different.
    My methodology is better than yours.

    Is there a specific organization you consult? Is there a specific website you go to? Is there a person you speak with? Is there a report you read? Is there a book?

    Astounding.
    You know enough to dismiss my methodology as mere “platitudes” and void of arguments and evidence.
    You know enough to be sure that it’s just to rely upon authority.
    Yet, and yet, you cannot imitate it accurately.

    Here’s what I have said before:

    I’ve gone into great detail many times on this thread about how I find out if a scientific claim is real or not. My methodology is consistant. It does not vary from scientific issue to scientific issue. My methodology is applicable across the board.
    It’s not arbitrary.
    I am no hypocrite.

    If I walk the walk and not just talk the talk then I have already answered your question.

    Is there a specific organization you consult?

    Well, I have not used a specific “organisation” so far, so why would I suddenly start using one now when looking at the “hockey stick”? I’m not a hypocrite.
    My methodology is consistant for any scientific issue.
    Not just climatology.
    Not just “the hockey stick”.
    Any scientific issue.

    Is there a specific website you go to?

    Did you notice a specific website that covered all of my real-world examples? Is that what you think I am doing?
    Honestly?

    Is there a person you speak with?

    Where does this fantasy person come from? Why are you just making things up? It’s not possible to even entertain this seriously. Read what I have written again and again in laborious detail. Where have I ever relied upon “a person” in any way shape or form?

    “There are no prophets in science”

    What do you think that means?
    Hello?

    Is there a report you read?

    What? Any old report? Do you think that I’m just going to read some report from somewhere/anywhere and that’s it? Have I not explained my criteria again and again? Have I not said that I have a methodology that works for ALL scientific issues?
    How could “a report” of any description possibly cover “all scientific issues”?

    Is there a book?

    Yeah, sure there is. It’s the Junior Woodchuck’s Guide Book.
    (Sheesh).

    “So, if I’m arguing with a creationist numbskull about creationism and DNA for example, then I’ll go to the NIH and their partners.

    If I’m locking horns with a YECer then I’ll be happy to use the USGS.

    Antarctica? I’ll probably go to the British Antarctic survey.

    Forensic science issue? I’d go to the AAFS or the Forensic Science Service or perhaps just talk to the FBI.

    The moon landings were a gigantic hoax? I’d go to NASA.

    The link between cancer and smoking is disputed by scientists? Really? Then I’m checking out the NCI, the NIH and the Office of the Surgeon General straight away.”

    “That is the type of information that I need to understand how you apply your methodology to this issue.”

    Yes and I gave it to you freely. I wanted you to understand my methodology so I gave you real-world examples on how I APPLIED my methodology. It’s right there.
    Those information sources have certain commonalities. They are not just random examples of websites.
    They match up to a strict criteria.
    A criteria that I have carefully followed and referred to again and again.
    It’s not like I have been speaking in riddles all this time.

    You spent all this effort repeatedly attempting to trivialise my position when it would be better suited to just reading what I have to say and following my methodology.
    It would cost you nothing and take you absolutely no time at all.

  • Regarding whether the hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited.

    Are we back to “throughly discredited” again?
    And what happened to the peer-reviewed part?

    Here is your original claim:

    …the “hockey stick” graph was so thoroughly descredited in the peer-reviewed literature…

    Do you want to use this or not?
    It’s your claim.
    Choose the wording that you want to use and stick to it.

    M&M demonstrate…

    Whoah up there. Let’s focus on the stuff that we can both agree on and establish the basic facts.

    1) The “Hockey Stick” comes first.
    2) Then M&M publish a paper. It was “anti-hockey” stick.

    Why this happens is fairly easy to understand…

    No doubt, no doubt. Let’s not rush ahead of ourselves.
    Focus on what’s objectively demonstrable to all, no matter what position they may hold.

    1) The “Hockey Stick” paper comes first.
    2) Then M&M publish a paper. It was “anti-hockey” stick.
    3) Then PaulD says that there was some other article that was peer-reviewed. It was anti-hockey stick.

    From this, you conclude that the “the hockey stick” was thoroughly discredited in the peer-reviewed literature?
    Seriously?
    That wraps it up as far as you are concerned?
    That’s your criteria?

    I think this basic result from M&M’s paper shows that Mann’s hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited.

    Wait. It’s what you think that is the RESULT from M&M’s paper that is the key? That’s the thing that thoroughly discredits the “Hockey Stick”?
    The “other article” is not really necessary?
    That is your criteria?

  • Pauld

    I don’t know why I bother to respond to your posts, except that it is kind of fun.
    I understand that you don’t think it is reasonable for any one person to read peer-reviewed articles and make a judgment for themselves what they establish or do not establish. I disagree, but I think I understand your point.

    You think that everyone should rely upon a trustworthy authority or authorities (?) that describes what the scientific community as a whole believes. Is this correct?

    Yet you studiously avoid mention of what that authority is as it applies to the Mann’s hockey stick graph. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding your methodology. To make certain that I understand, would you please show me how you would analyze the validity of the M&M critique of the Mann hockey stick papers using your methodology? If you don’t understand this question, please ask and I will try to clarify it. Just to be clear, however, restating your general methodology as applied in the the abstract is not what I am looking for. Nor am I looking for how you would apply your methodology if you were discussing an issue with , say, a creationist.

    Notice that I don’t write in abstract generalities. I first describe the specific papers that Mann published to support his hockey stick graph.

    I then cite the specific papers by M&M that critique his graph. I describe one specific conclusion, among many, from those papers. That conclusion is that Mann’s methodology is flawed because it consistently creates hockey stick shaped graphs even when random red noise data is substituted for the temperature proxies Mann used. If this conclusion is true, I think most scientists would agree that Mann’s hockey stick is “flawed”, “thouroughly discredited” or as Richard Mueller observed, “the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics”. Of course, I understand that is just my opinon.
    To reach my opinion, I have read Mann’s papers and M&M’s papers. I actually have academic background and work experience in the area of applied statitics so I can follow what M&M did and their explanations as to how their conclusions were reached. In my own opinion, I suggest that their finding is sufficient, if unrebutted, to “thoroughly descredit” Mann’s papers. I understand that you don’t care about my opinion.
    I then point out that I am not aware of any peer-reviewed articles that rebut M&M conclusion on the specific point that I describe. If there is one out there, I invite you to bring it to my attention. I then note that M&M, to make the job of criticizing their paper easy, have freely disclosed their computer code and the sets of red noise data that they generated to demonstrate their conclusion.
    I have specifically describe my methodology and I understand that you think it is unreliable. I am still waiting for you to describe your methodology with similar specificity.

  • pauld

    Cedric:
    you say:”You spent all this effort repeatedly attempting to trivialise my position when it would be better suited to just reading what I have to say and following my methodology.
    It would cost you nothing and take you absolutely no time at all.”

    Since applying your methodology would take “absolutely no time at all”, I am anxiously awaiting your response.

    I am certainly willing to reconsider my position, if you can help me out.

  • I understand that you don’t think it is reasonable for any one person to read peer-reviewed articles and make a judgment for themselves what they establish or do not establish. I disagree, but I think I understand your point.

    Would it be asking too much for you to tell me what you think it is you understand about my point?
    As this stage, I think I’m entitled to be just a tad cynical.

    You think that everyone should rely upon a trustworthy authority or authorities (?) that describes what the scientific community as a whole believes. Is this correct?

    Close enough. There not much point in a society going to the trouble of creating specialist scientific communities that are tasked with incredibly complicated jobs if you are just going to effectively ignore them for political or personal reasons.

    Yet you studiously avoid mention of what that authority is as it applies to the Mann’s hockey stick graph. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding your methodology.

    If I have to lead you by the hand and tell you how I would do it in this particualar case then all the other examples I have given and the criteria I always demand have been a complete waste of time.
    The idea is that you (or anybody else) should be able to follow my methodology. You are not supposed to just follow me.
    Stick with the process of peer review and those scientific communities that do the work and actually know what they are talking about.

    That’s why going to the NIH for cancer information (for example) is such a no-brainer. Though it doesn’t have to be just the NIH. Other scientific communities of the same calibre would be equally worthwhile.

    To make certain that I understand, would you please show me how you would analyze the validity of the M&M critique of the Mann hockey stick papers using your methodology?

    (sigh)
    If I really have to then I will.
    However, can I ask you to at least once try for yourself?
    Take away the the label of M&M.
    Forget about it been to do with anything with climate change.
    Reduce it to it’s basic element of just being “a peer-reviewed paper”.
    In this environment, you don’t know the contents or the subject of the paper. Therefore you cannot draw upon your own skill set to analyse it.

    Now then imagine that somebody says to you, “oh don’t worry about it-it’s been completely discredited”. If that paper really was discredited, then where would that sort of information show up in a popularised form for the benefit of the public? Remember the criteria.

    Try it with a real live historical example. Then take that same example and follow your methodology.

    I first describe the specific papers…
    (…)
    I describe one specific conclusion, among many, from those papers.

    Thereby injecting your personal version of events into the mix. Your interpretation. Your subjectivity.
    Your methodology is the same as…(pause)…ah, you know this part already.

    To reach my opinion, I have read Mann’s papers and M&M’s papers.

    How did you ensure that you did not cherry-pick? What safeguard did you use?

    In my own opinion, I suggest that their finding is sufficient, if unrebutted, to “thoroughly descredit” Mann’s papers. I understand that you don’t care about my opinion.

    Have I been inconsistant? Have you noticed me care about anybody’s personal opinion on any scienific issue (including my own)? Do you honestly understand why I scrupulously avoid doing this?

    I then point out that I am not aware of any peer-reviewed articles that rebut M&M conclusion on the specific point that I describe.

    Why should that be your sole criteria for gauging if a peer-reviewed paper has been thouroughly discredited in the peer-reviewed literature?

    Since applying your methodology would take “absolutely no time at all”, I am anxiously awaiting your response.

    You really can’t be bothered? After all this, you just don’t want to? Not even if I appealed to your better nature?
    I’ll ask you one last time for the hell of it.
    Please try.

    (If you don’t then I will lead you by the hand in my next reply.)

  • Pauld

    “If you don’t then I will lead you by the hand in my next reply”

    Yes, yes, yes. This is what I want you to do.

  • (sigh)

    Everybody has an opinion. Not all opinions are worth listening too.
    If I wanted to know if a paper was thoroughly discredited, then I’d want it to match up with the history of other scientific papers on different issues that were actually discredited.

    Wakefield got his paper peer-reviewed.
    Creationists sometimes get lucky and manage to subvert the process of peer review.
    Yet the scientific community has nothing but contempt for those papers.

    Here’s why:

    Publishing is not an end in itself. Scientific ideas mean nothing unless they can withstand criticism and be built upon. None of the “intelligent design” publications have led to any productive work. Most have had their main ideas rebutted.
    (talkorigins.org)

    If the “hockey stick” was thoroughly discredited, I would not expect it to withstand criticism.
    I would not expect it to be built upon.
    I would not expect it to lead to any productive work.

    Further, I would not expect journals or science communities to say anything good about it at all.
    Conversely, I would expect journals or science communities to favourably mention papers critical of the “Hockey stick”.

    I would expect it to be treated like Wakefield’s paper or Dr Hwang’s paper or suffer like the cold fusion guys.

    I go to the peer reviewed research and I look for the conclusions given by the scientific communities.
    Now most scientific communities might not care and not give an opinion at all. Yet if the paper really has caused a media uproar (which is not to say it’s caused a scientific uproar) then I would expect some scientific community to say something. I may not understand the paper myself but I don’t have to. The scientific community does not expect me to. So, they issue official press releases and make summaries and try and keep their conclusions simple.
    That’s easy enough to follow.

    Yet the track record of the “hockey stick” does not match up with those other papers that were torn to pieces by the scientific communities.

    You only mention one specific paper that according to you thoroughly discredits “the hockey stick”. Everything rests on your opinion.

    That’s not what happened with Wakefied.
    Nor is that what happened with Dr Hwang.

    The “hockey stick” is very famous. Surely, there must be other studies that tried to replicate the “hockey stick” and failed or succeeded?

    As it turns out, others did try and they succeeded.
    There was some genuine criticism of the “hockey stick” in the peer-reveiwed literature but criticism was accepted and used later. It did not, according to the scientific community, discredit the “hockey stick”.
    Further, the M&M paper itself came under criticism in the peer-reviewed literature.

    So how did I find this all out?

    Well, I’m not the only one with my standards.
    So as a first step, I went to Wikipedia to find out if others had already blazed a trail. I wanted to know if there were other papers out there and if other scientific communities had weighed in on the issue, in the same way the medical community has weighed in on the anti-vaccine issue.
    (I don’t use the Wikipedia article itself. Just the source material that matches my criteria.)
    Turns out that others with my interest had indeed done the required research.
    I then followed the source links to verify them.
    They looked good.

    Then I went to the science journal Nature to see what they had to say. A word search using “hockey stick” proved fruitful and the general tone of the articles was very positive. The same went for the science journal Science. If both those journals liked the “Hockey stick” then that was a very good sign. Excellent, really.

    Then I went to the AAAS. They liked the hockey stick too. So did the NAS.

    So, to recap, while your M&M paper was indeed peer-reviewed and did indeed criticise the “Hockey stick”, it itself was criticised in turn in the peer-reviewed literature.

    The “Hockey stick” has been closely examined but there are no scientific communities that seem to regard it as thoroughly discredited. Quite the opposite.
    “Nature” seems to like it. “Science” seems to like it.
    The “hockey stick” is quite old now yet others have chosen to build their own “hockey sticks”. That’s a great sign in peer-reviewed literature. The “hockey stick” has been fruitful.
    None of that should happen to a “thoroughly discredited” paper.

    Here’s a video that gives further details and sums it up very well.
    The whole “hockey stick” talking point is only a PRATT.
    It’s been looked at to death.
    The silly thing is that it was not that important in the first place.

    It’s wierd that the climate denier community still obsesses over it after all these years.

  • pauld

    Cedric: You are too funny: a link to Youtube? How do you know whether the video “sums it up very well”? That sound like your opinion. I thought your opinion did not matter.

    So you went to Wikipedia and looked at the sources it cites. You conclude that they looked good. That sounds like your opinion again. Did you actually read the sources and make a judgment about their credibility? That sounds alot like my methodology, not yours. You aren’t a scientist, are you? You don’t know anything about climate science, do you? Why do you trust your own opinion?

    Next, you went to Nature and Science. You thought the general tone of their articles “was very positive” My goodness, that sounds like your opinion cropping up again. What method did you use to make certain that you were not “cherry picking” Didn’t you argue that just because articles are peer-reviewed doesn’t mean they are valid? How can I or anyone evaluate your opinion without any titles or links?

    Then you went to the AAAS and the NAS. That was a good idea, because consulting such sources is part of your methodology. You say, “they liked the hockey stick too” That sounds like your spin. My goodness can’t you let these organizations speak for themselves by providing a quote or a link. I don’t mind you commenting on a position paper or statement, but I have no way of evaluating your opinion if you don’t provide a quote or link. You must have had the URL’s on your browser. Why didn’t you just copy and paste?

    You recap by stating that while your M&M paper was peer-reviewed and did indeed criticize the “hockey stick”, it itself was criticized in turn in the peer-review literature. So what? By your methodology, the fact that a paper was criticized in the peer-reviewed literature does not mean the criticism was valid. To determine the validity of the criticism one would need to read the papers and make judgments. But that is my methodology not yours.

    Next, you say that the hockey stick has been closely examined and there are no scientific communities that view it as thoroughly discredited. How do you know? And so what?

    Next, you say that others have chosen to build their own hockey sticks. Well that might be significant. To know, one would need to look at these studies. Just because they are peer-reviewed does not mean they are valid. That is just a necessary, but not sufficient requirement for accepting their validity. Are they independent? Do the avoid the methodological flaws of the Mann study? Do they rely on the same proxies? Do they establish the validity of the proxies they use? What if all these studies were written by a small, closely affiliated group of scientists who peer-review each others studies? Would that be relevant to accessing their value?

    Lastly, after doing all this work and reviewing all of this material, you link me to youtube.

  • So you went to Wikipedia and looked at the sources it cites. You conclude that they looked good. That sounds like your opinion again.

    They “looked good”, as in, they fit the criteria.
    They meet the standard that I demand.

    Did you actually read the sources and make a judgment about their credibility? That sounds a lot like my methodology, not yours.

    No. The way you gather source material is not the same as mine. They don’t meet my standards.

    You don’t know anything about climate science, do you? Why do you trust your own opinion?

    I don’t. I rely on the peer reviewed research and the scientific communities exclusively. I rely upon their official press releases and summaries that popularise the science for a non-specialist general public.

    Next, you went to Nature and Science. You thought the general tone of their articles “was very positive” My goodness, that sounds like your opinion cropping up again.

    Well, again and again I found articles that had nothing bad to say about the hockey stick. They would either mention it in passing or mention it specifically. They treat the “hockey stick” as good science. Go ahead and do a word search on those sites and see for yourself.
    The “hockey stick” is mainstream. It has been for years.

    Had I found articles that were 50% one way and 50% another or roughly so then I would acknowledge it.
    I’d be very surprised but I would do the right thing and acknowledge it.
    Nature and Science have incredibly high standards.
    That’s not my personal opinion.
    That’s the justly earned international reputation they have.
    If the “hockey stick” really was bad science, then I’d expect them to let the rest of the world know that in no uncertain terms.
    I’d expect an editorial or two or something else from them that came down hard on “the hockey stick” and condemned it outright.
    That’s simply not what has happened. Not even close.

    Didn’t you argue that just because articles are peer-reviewed doesn’t mean they are valid?

    Yes, which is why you should accept ALL peer-reviewed papers. Not just the ones you agree with.
    My standards are not the same as yours.
    I don’t cherry-pick.

    I don’t mind you commenting on a position paper or statement, but I have no way of evaluating your opinion if you don’t provide a quote or link.

    No, you are not getting this.
    It’s not my opinion that matters.
    I’m not asking you to consider my opinion.
    I’m not asking you to agree with my opinion.
    I don’t care about my own opinion.
    Dunning Kruger Effect.

    It’s the opinion of a journal like Nature or Science or some other scientific community that’s important.
    They go to great efforts to reach out to the public on contentious issues in the media and deliver conclusions in a simple, straightforward manner that does not require an in-depth knowledge of science literature or how scientists do their job.

    Go to the Nature site or the Science site and do what I told you I did. Type in “hockey stick” on those sites. Accept all articles and don’t cherry pick. If you think that I have maliciously maligned both Nature and Science then it should be easy.

    You recap by stating that while your M&M paper was peer-reviewed and did indeed criticize the “hockey stick”, it itself was criticized in turn in the peer-review literature. So what?

    Well, you failed to find any paper that criticised the M&M paper. I succeeded. That paper may indeed be wrong but it does exist and must be accepted as such.

    I then point out that I am not aware of any peer-reviewed articles that rebut M&M conclusion on the specific point that I describe.

    Why would anyone spend so much effort and energy going into so much detail on one paper without even acknowledging the existence of another paper that criticises the one that has you excited?
    I can understand you dismissing that paper as being unworthy or something…but you don’t even know of it’s existence. That’s disturbing.

    You recap by stating that while your M&M paper was peer-reviewed and did indeed criticize the “hockey stick”, it itself was criticized in turn in the peer-review literature. So what?

    I accept all peer-reviewed papers. I don’t focus on individual papers. All contenders are welcome. I go with the prepoderance of evidence. If there is a clear shift in one direction then that’s the one I’ll go with.

    By your methodology, the fact that a paper was criticized in the peer-reviewed literature does not mean the criticism was valid.

    That’s very true. I would hope that you would say the same thing. However, by my own methodology, I am forced to admit that such a paper at least EXISTS. By my own methodology, I must at least honestly try get a good overview of the body (the physical presence) of peer reviewed work out there and (very importantly) look at the reaction of the scientific community.
    No cherry-picking.

    The scientific community has not reacted to “the hockey stick” in the same way as it has reacted to Wakefield.
    They are two very different science stories.

    Further, if M&M’s paper is good science and others come along to criticise it then I’d expect a science bun-fight. That has not happened. M&M have not responded to defend their paper by going back in to the scientific arena. Nobody else has done so on their behalf.
    2006 was a long time ago.

    Next, you say that the hockey stick has been closely examined and there are no scientific communities that view it as thoroughly discredited. How do you know? And so what?

    I went to NASA and the NAS and the AAAS and a couple of other to sites and looked for any and all mention of “the Hockey Stick”. Nobody considered the “hockey stick” to be “thoroughly discredited”. In fact, the most important one of them went out of their way to defend it in detail and release an extensive official report. In the report, they acknowledged the criticisms but they ended up supporting it.

    According to my criteria, I must rely upon what the scientific communities say on a scientific issue. Their version of events and conclusions does not match up with yours, in the same way that the medical community’s conclusions does not match up with a defender of Wakefield.

    Next, you say that others have chosen to build their own hockey sticks. Well that might be significant.

    No, I accept all peer-reviewed literature. No cherry-picking. If somebody did the work required then then they get my attention.
    They may be wrong, they may be completely and utterly wrong, but I want to see what happens next to that paper.

    I will grab some popcorn and watch to see if anybody bites.

    Having others come in and try an replicate your work is about the best thing that can happen to a peer-reviewed paper. Having it happen multiple times is just icing on the cake.
    The very fact that it happened at all is a demonstration that the “hockey stick” is not throughly discredited.

    This is in stark contrast to the papers that the Intelligent Design creationists churn out. All their work withers on the vine. They always stink.

    Are they independent? Do the avoid the methodological flaws of the Mann study? Do they rely on the same proxies? Do they establish the validity of the proxies they use? What if all these studies were written by a small, closely affiliated group of scientists who peer-review each others studies? Would that be relevant to accessing their value?

    Sure, those are all good questions. There are probably othere important questions that could be added. Yet those questions are well understood by the professionals. It is they do the heavy lifting.
    They know ahead of time, thanks to their training and experience, how to critically examine a paper within their speciality.
    You have to take measures to actively defend yourself from the Dunning Kruger Effect.
    You have to step outside of just relying on your own personal opinion.
    It’s dangerous.

    There are scientists or people with skill sets out there that are capable of disputing “the hockey stick” if they really wanted to.
    Yet, they don’t really want to.
    The tiny circle of old contrarians stay on their blogs and and don’t enter the scientific arena to challenge the defenders of “the hockey stick”.
    In the peer-reviewed literature, things have been quiet for a while. M&M’s paper has not been supported. It’s been criticised. That criticism has been allowed to stand by M&M. Others have come along and built their own hockey sticks. They remain unchallanged.

    That’s not anything like what happened to Wakefield or the Intelligent Design Creationists or Dr Kwang.
    There’s no honest way that one can say that the “hockey stick” has been “thoroughly discredited”.

    Lastly, after doing all this work and reviewing all of this material, you link me to youtube.

    Well, yes. The youtube link is just a youtube link.
    I introduced it as a video that gives further details and sums it up very well. That’s my opinion. That’s my opinion on the video itself. The video sums it up very well. It sums up my methodology (mostly) that I myself use.
    The way that video goes about explaining the “hockey stick” PRATT would make an excellent example of how to expose a Wakefield PRATT.

  • pauld

    Long post Cedric that makes this much clear: Cedric’ methodology= hot air.

    Here is the problem with your analogy to anti-vaccine crowd etc.

    All of the groups you cite, have attempted to attack a fundamental tenet of the relevant scientific discipline that has been established by overwhelming evidence over a long-period. The anti-vaccine crowd for instance, is challenging the results of numerous, large-scale, double-blind FDA-reviewed clinical trial that establish the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Remember, such studies are the gold-standard of scientific research.

    Now lets compare that to the hockey stick. Prior to Mann’s publication it was the consensus of scientists that there had been considerable variation in climate over the past 1,000 years based on hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. Mann publishes his article and all of the sudden the “hockey stick” almost instantaneously overrides this previous consensus, which happened to be somewhat problematic for people trying to convince policy makers to be alarmed.

    Typically, a claim that a previous consensus is invalid is met with considerable skepticism in the scientific community. Not so the hockey stick. The hockey stick is featured in Al Gore’s movie. It is featured in the IPCC. It is highlighted everywhere.

    All of the sudden a small group of scientists who study paleoclimatology are at the center stage of the world. What they do, however, is not well-known by the scientific community in general. It requires a rather detailed knowledge of the arcane topic of temperature proxies and the application of sophisticated statistics. The broad scientific community takes Mann’s hockey stick on trust–it after all appeared in a prestigious peer-reviewed publication. He must have done his work carefully.

    Several years after the publication of the original hockey stick, M&M paper comes along and convincingly demonstrates that Mann’s sophisticated mathematics generates hockey sticks out of random data. All of the sudden it appears that the wind is about to be taken out of the sails of the small, closely affiliated paleoclimatology community. Not surprisingly, Mann and his close colleagues decide that they will not give up without a fight. They produce peer-reviewed articles that are reviewed by each other. They have discussion over email on how they can keep papers they don’t like out of the peer-reviewed literature.

    The peer-reviewed literature reflects this. Mann’s hockey stick is not as obviously wrong as the arguments made by the anti-vaccine crowd and understanding its problems requires some hard work.

    The dispute probably will not be solved until the broader scientific community starts to look at the issue carefully. That is starting to happen and I think in about ten-years the multi-proxy studies will be put in the trashcan. At this point, it is just a matter of time. In the meantime, more and more problems are being uncovered.

  • pauld

    “Long post Cedric that makes this much clear: Cedric’ methodology= hot air.”

    Let me elaborate. You seem to think that you went through a process in which you uncovered information I did not know about. I’m familiar with what was presented on your youtube video. I watched it long ago. Wikipedia summarized issues that I have been following for years.

    You claimed to have some unique methodology. Actually, its broad outline was pretty much the same as mine, with some important differences. You basically took a look at both sides of a debate as reflected in the scientific literature and made your own judgment.

    There are several differences, however, between your methodology and mine.
    1) You lack the technical background to evaluate the issues in contention. Honest enough.
    2) You eyeballed someone else’s summary of the peer-reviewed articles suggested to you by wikipedia. You didn’t read or analyze any of them.
    3) You maybe took a look at summaries of articles from Science and Nature that you found by searching their website. I am fairly sure that you did not read any of them, because a subscription is required to access their articles through their website.
    4) You claim to have looked at something on the websites of the NAS and AAAS. A policy statement? A position paper? Whatever it was, you thought it was favorable to the hockey stick. Well, Cedric, I calling you out on this one. You did not really do that did you?
    5) You finally came across of video on YOUTUBE that you thought was a good summary of what you found.
    6) Based on your cursory survey you made your own judgment on the current state of the debate.

    Now my methodology involved this:

    1) I have sufficient technical background to understand the issues in contention.
    2) I have been following what published in the peer-reviewed literature for years. I have read the basic literature that is set forth in the Wikepedia page and more. I keep informed of new developments by reading blogs that express diverse viewpoints on both sides of the issue. When something new is published, I read the article. I then read what is being said about the article on the internet by both sides. I read the back and forth on the main posts as well as in the comments. I find that the discussions on blogs is frequently helpful to gaining a more complete understanding of issues addressed in the peer-reviewed literature.
    3) I follow the debate that goes back and forth on the blogs that is not contained in the peer-reviewed literature. Over the years, I have gained a sense of which websites are useful and which are not. I continue to read RealClimate.org, with which Michael Mann is affiliated, even though I know that the comments there are censored and even though their representation of issues is frequently one-sided and incomplete.
    4) Just as you did, I then form my own opinion on the current state of the debate.