Monthly Archives: July 2010

Wegman Report update, part 1: More dubious scholarship in full colour

This is the final instalment in a series of posts documenting dubious scholarship and unattributed sources in the background chapter of the touchstone of climate contrarians known as the Wegman Report. That report has been touted as Exhibit A proving the “destruction” of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph by self-styled climate auditor Steve McIntyre.

Previously, I found extensive passages bearing “striking similarity” to a classic text by the distinguished paleoclimatologist (and “hockey stick” co-author) Raymond Bradley in the background sections on tree rings and on ice cores. Subsequently, the background section on social networks was found to contain material apparently drawn without attribution from a variety of sources, including Wikipedia and several text books.

This time, I’m looking at section 2.2 (see Wegman Report PDF at p. 15), which gives the background of key statistical concepts, including Principal Component Analysis. Astonishingly, even this section appears to contain a significant amount of unattributed material from other sources, although quite a bit less than the other sections. Again, Wikipedia appears to be a key source, along with a couple of text books.

I’ll also introduce some refinements to the text analysis, based largely on John Mashey’s recent innovations. Those refinements allow a better characterization of the relationship between various passages in Wegman et al and their apparent antecedents, as well as permitting a quantitative analysis based on word counts.

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Open Thread # 4

Here’s another open thread for general discussion (I’ll try and open these more frequently from now on, say every month or two). Comments not related to specific posts should be posted here.

Maybe Willard and PolyIsTCO can get the ball rolling …

National Post shocking turnaround: “Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause”

First, I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.  And then I checked the date at the top of the screen to make sure I hadn’t stumbled across a leftover April Fool’s joke.

But the date read “July 15, 2010”. And the headline of the National Post’s lead opinion piece still read forthrightly:

Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause

The piece itself, by longtime Post columnist Jonathan Kay,  is as forthright an excoriation of “climate-change deniers” (his term) as I’ve read anywhere.  And, unlike previous (and very occasional) token AGW commentators, Kay is a National Post insider, who happens to be comment pages editor. Indeed, there are intriguing indications that the Post’s treatment of the climate change issue may be undergoing a shift, although it’s too early to say how far it will go.

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Terence Corcoran whopper: Mann’s hockey stick “eliminated some of the data from 1960 forward … and then spliced on actual temperature data”

Terence Corcoran may well have just unleashed the National Post’s biggest whopper yet about climate science – and that’s saying something.

Corcoran’s commentary on the recent Russell “climategate” email review lays one error-laden defamation on top of another, as he attempts to demonstrate that the report “provides plenty of evidence that climate science has been and remains an uncertain shambles”. Oh, and apparently the review “portrays climate science as a field filled with uncertainty, debate, lack of openness, data hoarding and ill-will.”

Along the way, Corcoran even manages to confuse a little known Phil Jones graphic with Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” millenial temperature reconstruction. This leads to the astonishing (and entirely wrong) accusation that the hockey stick creators “eliminated some of the data from 1960 forward … and then spliced on actual temperature data”. Yet neither the “hockey stick” graph (the real one) nor the associated Mann et al study are mentioned in the report at all!

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Muir Russell report on CRU: “Their rigour and honesty as scientists is not in doubt”

The long-awaited Muir Russell report on various controversies concerning the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia was released today.

The report thoroughly examined various accusations of improper conduct, and in the main exonerated CRU scientists Phil Jones, Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn of wrongdoing in such areas as scientific research, peer review and the IPCC process, finding that “their rigour and honesty is not in doubt”. The report does criticize CRU, and indeed the University, for a lack of openness, particularly in the handling of freedom of information requests.

There is plenty to digest here, and the report will no doubt generate much commentary in the days to come. For now, though, I’ll present the report’s  summary of findings, along with pointers to previous Deep Climate discussion of some of the issues.

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Morano and Lindzen: Mann exoneration a “whitewash”

Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, I covered the exoneration of Michael Mann by the Penn State University “climategate” inqury. And I wondered (mostly rhetorically, I admit) whether this would give impetus to allegations of  “whitewash”.

Lo and behold, Marc Morano of Climate Depot has come through right on schedule, even comparing Mann to disgraced investment fraudster Bernie Madoff and calling Mann the “posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber” .  And, the denialosphere’s star scientist, MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen,  has weighed in right behind him, echoing Morano’s “whitewash” characterization.

Can the rest of the denialosphere be far behind? Oh, the sad  –  and presumably unintentional – irony of it all.

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Mann exonerated by PSU inquiry: “No substance to the allegation”

The second and final phase of Penn State University’s investigation of   allegations of research misconduct against paleoclimatologist Michael Mann has just been completed. In a report issued today, the inquiry exonerated Mann of a remaining general charge of scientific misconduct, namely deviation from “accepted practices” within the academic community. Mann had previously been cleared of specific charges such as inappropriate manipulation of data and suppression or deletion of emails and other IPCC related material.

The final report concludes:

The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University. More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.

The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.

I’ll look at some of the highlights, as well as some no doubt controversial passages concerning self-described climate science “auditor” Steve McIntyre and MIT climate “skeptic” Richard Lindzen. The latter, somewhat surprisingly, was interviewed by the investigating committee as part of investigation into normal practices for sharing data and computer code. But he apparently had other things he wanted to get off his chest.

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