Saturday, 22 August 2015

Prof Curry joins Prof Wadhams, in my bin...

Prof Judith Curry has puzzled me for a while, now I am finally moved to consign her future scientific work to the waste bin.

There is a meme on the internet and in popular culture, from the stolen 'climategate emails', it is the quote: "Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline". This is often presented as evidence that the scientists were trying to hide a global cooling, this is done by liars and fools.

Here's what Dr Jones actually said (for context I quote Greg Laden at the end of the post).
"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” 
Such selective quoting is lying by omission. It is a deliberate act of sophistry utilised by the morally bankrupt and every time such dishonest behaviour can be seen it can reliably be used as a shortcut to the conclusion that the person employing it has lost the argument. From which point it is safe to ignore them as someone with nothing valuable to add to the discussion.

Dr Judith Curry has recently ended a blog post with the following comment:
This episode illustrates how a potentially legitimate FOIA request can get twisted by the media with amplifying effects of twitter that  serve to confuse the public and damage the reputation of the scientists.  In hindsight, the way the Climategate emails was rolled out, after very careful scrutiny by the targeted bloggers, was handled pretty responsibly.  Lets face it – “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” means . . . “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline.”
Dr Curry has left me puzzled for some time. Now by this act of sophistry the game is fully exposed, even for a very conservative sceptic like me. In her blog Dr Curry is clearly not interested in honest debate about aspects of climate science, it is a soap-box for sophistry and dishonest implication by selective quoting serving what I find to be a puzzling and weird bias against the issue of climate change.

I often consider scientists as being like the consultants I have had to use. If I came across such behaviour from a consultant I wouldn't use them again, I am too busy to be second-guessing whether their advice is biassed and based upon bizarre internal motivations. Likewise with scientists; I am not going to bother reading Dr Judith Curry's papers because I just cannot be bothered second guessing what weird biasses have crept into the method or the results. Which oddly enough, despite very different behaviour, is the same reason I have recently stopped paying attention to Prof Peter Wadhams.

It's a funny old world.


Context about the 'nature trick' and 'hide the decline' is given by Greg Laden.

The reconstruction by Briffa, (see K. R. Briffa, F. H. Schweingruber, P. D. Jones, T. J. Osborn, S. G. Shiyatov, and E. A. Vaganov, “Reduced Sensitivity of Recent Tree-Growth to Temperature at High Northern Latitudes,” Nature, 391 (1998): 678–682) in particular …
…was susceptible to the so-called divergence problem, a problem that primarily afflicts tree ring density data from higher latitudes. These data show an enigmatic decline in their response to warming temperatures after roughly 1960, … [Jones] was simply referring to something Briffa and coauthors had themselves cautioned in their original 1998 publication: that their tree ring density data should not be used to infer temperatures after 1960 because they were compromised by the divergence problem. Jones thus chose not to display the Briffa et al. series after 1960 in his plot, “hiding” data known to be faulty and misleading—again, entirely appropriate.


Anonymous said...

Pretty ironic using Greg Laden's explanation of "hide the decline" as evidence of Judith Curry et alia sophistry. Blending proxy and real data and leaving out data for the purpose of some kind of presentation effect is clever, but it isn't science.

Chris Reynolds said...


And in one statement you show your complete lack of grasp of what is involved in science. Combining different datasets, sometimes obtained by differing methods, is a common problem in both science and engineering. I am an engineer by profession, and I have read enough science to know.

Dreesen said...

Chris, I've been puzzled as to how Curry can justify saying that anthropogenic emissions have accounted for only 50% of warming, when the actual percentage is much higher than that. That and Wadhams' unfounded claims as to sea ice and a murder conspiracy don't help things.

Also, I hope I did not piss you off with the antarctic question. That was certainly not my intent.

Marco said...

The obvious issue here is that Mann is accused of doing something he did not do. His papers do not contain any examples of removal of data and subsequent replacement of the removed part with the instrumental series. Mike's trick was to plot the instrumental record in another color (black instead of gray) on top of the reconstruction. Not a very sophisticated trick, but apparently people had not thought about that before. It was a nice trick.

Of course, there is overlap between those who are up in arms about this supposed blending of proxy and instrumental data, and then refer to Lamb's sketch used in the IPCC FAR...which was a blend of proxy and instrumental data, and even then still just a sketch.

Chris Reynolds said...


I simply forgot to reply, I can't add more than I have already said on methane. The 50% claim by Curry was one of many things that have bothered me about her blogging. I found the 'stadium wave' stuff rather silly really.


Thanks for the comment. Really, at this stage, anyone still relying on Lamb from the FAR is deeply suspect. And as you no doubt know, there is now a stack of papers all showing a recent rise, though with different levels of variation in the 'shaft of the hockey stick'. But the recent rise in temperatures is strong and is the take home message, despite lame attempts to obfuscate.

Anonymous said...

Chris, you do yourself and Curry a disservice by repeating this meme. It has never been about hiding 'cooling' but always about how the deletion of the post 1960 dendro (on a graph) hides the decline in the proxy.

I think you should postpone judgement of Curry (re:hide the decline at least) until you've read this post from 2011.

Chris Reynolds said...


I do myself no disservice, my conclusion is considered and sound. "Hiding the decline" has clearly been touted as hiding a desired cooling of global temperatures. That is the only relevant meme here.

When Prof Curry writes scientific papers that are widely cited and used a bases for other primary peer reviewed science I will read. Otherwise I won't bother.

Anonymous said...

Well that's a shame Chris. I think you would change your mind on this particular issue if you read the post I linked to above - only takes 2 minutes to check if you've been fair to Curry.
Thanks for the reply nevertheless.