Joe Barton (R-Exxon) vs hockey stick

I've stolen my headline from Tim Lambert, I'm sure he'll appreciate the imitiation. But Chris Mooney broke the story. So the naughty (and rather desperate) republicans are down to witchunting (cue Monty Python... except, one presumes, for the denouement). TL has a nice round-up of reaction from the blogosphere, all outraged by this attack (as am I). One notable exception to this sanity is Prometheus (but not RP), where KV manages to forget that the original MBH is 98, in order to push some cheap rhetorical tricks.

To inject a tiny bit of science into this... if you look at the nice piccy that Dragons flight created to display the variety of 1000 (and 2000) year temperature reconstructions, you discover that *all* of them fit the words of the IPCC TAR SPM:

New analyses of proxy data for the Northern Hemisphere indicate that the increase in temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years. It is also likely that, in the Northern Hemisphere, the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year [1].

This is all still true (the fact that 1998 is still warmest is just chance, of course) with any of the other records. Which shows you that the TAR was quite cautious in its use of the MBH record (which was entirely appropriate, it being fairly new then). So attacking Mann (or, being more charitable, attacking MBH98) is pointless, from a scientific standpoint. But then, this isn't about science, its about $.

Now that I have a chance to reflect, perhaps the Black Knight scene is more approriate...


Anonymous said...

There is more McKintyre ridiculousness here:


and I would note that the crazies are taking this to be a huge victory, see climateaudit and wizbang for those responses. Also, people are just blowing off realclimate.org because they are claiming that you guys are biased. So basically they are saying that there is no way whatsoever to have scientific progress because people will take sides, even if the taking of sides is due to small things like data and facts

Anonymous said...

With Mike as Arthur, I presume? In that vein, I had a close look (or should I say opened up... sorry) Mike's site for the first time and saw everything that had gone on in 2003 with the Soon and Baliunas papers. No sooner was that episode more or less over with than our friends M&M popped up. It's kind of like the Black Knight being able to re-grow limbs and not even offering a draw.

Regarding the first comment, the septics think the entire scientific consensus (IPCC, national academies, AGU, etc., etc.) is biased, so of course they won't grant RC anything.

William, I do have one question on the substance of all of this: OK, M&M have the data, they have the algorithm, now they say they have to have the code (which they say Mike refuses to give them). Is that a correct way to put things, and if so why doesn't Mike just hand it over to them?

Anonymous said...

Let me retract that question. It was based on some discussion over on Deltoid to the effect that all that was involved was "a few lines of code." Well, I visited Climate Audit (the link provided in the first comment) and all I can say is "I certainly didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" Except that I see no evidence of McIntyre providing a comfy chair. As I said at greater length just now over at Deltoid, Mike owes McIntyre absolutely nothing.

William M. Connolley said...

Actually I had Mike as the witch (err, which is why i said "except for the denoument", because it doesn't fit all the way).

I don't think the septic Black Knight is re-growing limbs - it just keeps talking. The MSU limb got hacked off a while back with the multiple series, and hacked even further back now S+C have had to "correct". Now M&M are threatening to bleed all over us...

You retracted your question, but I'll sort-of answer anyway: you're obliged to publish *your* data, your data sources (if its not your data), and your algorithms. You're not (I think) obliged to publish your code, and with people like M&M you're not going out of your way to do them favours. Most of MBH wasn't actually their data. Example of not-publishing code: I work with the UKMO climate model HadCM3. The code isn't public. Its UKMO copyright. What *are* public 9at least in theory, in papers and published documentation) are the algorithms used.

Anonymous said...

It is quite plausible that MBH don't even have all the code used in their original article. Scientists love to tinker with their programs, and sometimes you forget to make backups of the exact version you used for your publication. (You shouldn't, but you do) Things get lost over the years. I understand Barton has some kind of masters degree. Can he produce all the data he used in it?

Anonymous said...

"But then, ... , its about $"
Well that part is right, and they are my tax $s, so you may be very sure that I want a good audit before they get spent on Kyoto or any other such.

And if you can't produce whatever is necessary to replicate such an important piece of work, then how can you possibly call this science ?

William M. Connolley said...

ffreddy: MBH *has* been reproduced, both by direct replication and by alternative methods producing similar answers. How about another important series - the S+C MSU data, much used by the skeptics over the years? That series now turns out to be wrong. Will be see Barton asking for an audit of S+C's work, and a close investigation of how come they've been wrong all these years? Of course not!