The scientists who attempted to re-invent Michael Mann’s hockey stick global warming graph and were caught fudging their data have admitted their data is worthless


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The scientists who attempted to re-invent Michael Mann’s hockey stick global warming graph and were caught fudging their data have essentially admitted that their data is worthless.

This is what they say in a FAQ they have added to their paper:

Q: What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?

A: Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions. [emphasis mine]

They are basically admitting that the data used to create the temperature rise of their hockey stick during the past 100 years is unreliable and therefore useless for scientific purposes. Which raises the question: Why did they publish it in the first place? See especially this analysis of this paper and the press’s reaction to it by climate scientists Roger Pielke.

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21 comments

  • D. K. Williams

    Twice this week I’ve watched lectures online and heard the speaker refer to climate change or global warming like its an accepted truth. Sheer ignorance.

  • jwing

    Oh my, oh my….wait a minute…ahh…the Emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes afterall. How can this be?

  • jwing

    Oh my, the sky isn’t falling either!

    That ozone hole never really amounted to much.

    Acid rain didn’t kill all those fresh water fish. Limnologists everywhere rejoice.

    Alar isn’t going to give you cancer.

    Polar bears are thriving with increased population numbers.

    Carbon dioxide is plant food.

    Dihydrogen monoxide is safe to drink.

  • Thomas

    Gee Robert, its really a shame that you don’t have room to post the entire answer that was published, and were forced to edit out the last line, which does somewhat change the implications of your cherry picking. So Let me help:

    Q: What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?

    A: Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions. Our primary conclusions are based on a comparison of the longer term paleotemperature changes from our reconstruction with the well-documented temperature changes that have occurred over the last century, as documented by the instrumental record. Although not part of our study, high-resolution paleoclimate data from the past ~130 years have been compiled from various geological archives, and confirm the general features of warming trend over this time interval (Anderson, D.M. et al., 2013, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, p. 189-193; http://www.agu.org/journals/pip/gl/2012GL054271-pip.pdf).

  • I saw that last line and thought it made absolutely no difference at all. They admit that this other data is not part of their study, and that it was not included in their data. Thus, why did they show a spike when their data wasn’t robust enough to trust?

    Poor science, all around, and typical of the climate field. They might be right, but their work is so shoddy and inconsistent that it tells us nothing.

  • Thomas

    Its makes a huge difference. They showed a spike because the past 130 years are already well documented. What their work showed was average temp. from the height of the last ice age to the present, a period of about 11,500 years. The method they use is not that ‘robust’ for periods shorter then 300 years. But they can still draw a conclusion comparing the warming from the past ice age, to the warming of today, because of the ‘high resolution’ of the past 150 years. In other words, they don’t need ice cores, gases trapped in rocks, or other methods, to know what the temperatures were from the recent past.. because its ALREADY documented- such as readings from thermometers.

    So its not shoddy science. What is shoddy is people trying to make this into a scandal.

  • D. K. Williams

    Follow the money.

  • Edward

    Gee, Thomas, it’s really a shame that you missed the point. Using a proxy requires care that the proxy is valid. You pointed out that they changed datasets for the 20th century in order to draw conclusions. However, they changed datasets because the proxy did not match the high-resolution 20th century data nor did it match the “hockey-stick” chart that they desired.

    If during an overlapping time period the proxy does not match the data that it is a proxy for then the proxy is not reliable. Not for the 20th century, and not for prior centuries. Conclusions about prior centuries become as suspect as they would have been for the 20th century, and it is those conclusions about the prior centuries that were used to recreate the desired chart. It was that unreliable chart that was used to draw the conclusion that the 20th century was unusual due to anthropogenic-global-warming/anthropogenic-climate-change/whatever.

    Nancy Green points out a difficulty in drawing conclusions based upon changes from low-resolution to high-resolution data: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/03/proxy-spikes-the-missed-message-in-marcott-et-al/

  • Thomas

    Oh please, this is the type of argument that creationists use whenever they try to discredit evolution- that of data resolution. Heres how it goes, see if it sounds familiar:

    At one time, radiocarbon dating was accurate to within a few thousand years. So if measuring a butterfly, ‘darwinists’ might find it to be 1400 years old. If your radiocarbon dating can’t date a butterfly accurately, then how can you trust it to date the age of the earth? Of course,its an absurd argument, since 5 billion years give or take a few thousand years does not amount to much.

    And now ‘skeptics’ have dusted off this old warhorse and trotted it out again.

  • jwing

    Thomas…the question begs to be asked, why is it so difficult for those espousing a faith in AGW without in the least considering the possibility that the prior AGW science has been proved invalid, as any objective scientist would surley do?

    I ask this because I think you know the answer, and it is that we are not so much dealing with objective science as we are dealing with a very subjetive, personal worldview masking as science for credibility. It is a hard thing to grow in accepance that cherished values and ideologies are not always perfect nor always true.

    I believe a great manybelievers will be in denial and then in a depression in reconcilingr the undeniable evidence that their proudly proclaimed beliefs are not true.

    It’s kinda like when you realize that there is no Santa Claus or that maybe you can’t take literally everything you read in the Bible or any religious tome. Do you sense the irony and the shadenfreud I am enjoying watching secular environmentalists see their prophets of doom dismantled? I hope you do as I have been arguing against this pseudo-science, quasi-religion (aka environmentlaism) for about thirty years.

  • Scott

    Thomas – I know you enjoy the attention, so I feel it would be rude of me to merely read this conversation without contributing something. My question to you is this: What if you are wrong? What if man’s contribution – if any – to climate change winds up preventing another ice age? Huh? And if I may add some additional merriment to your evening – what if man’s contribution to climate change is so insignificant that nothing we do will have more than a marginal effect? Wouldn’t it be prudent to know the truth before setting off on an uncharted journey? I’m a rational person, Thomas. I prefer greater certainty than is provided by abstract statistical assumptions and computer models built from those same assumptions. I am certain of one thing. If I had to place a bet on who’s right it would be a very small bet.

  • wodun

    So you are saying because the proxy data wasn’t accurate they should use it anyway? Or that it doesn’t matter that it is inaccurate? Or that we should have faith that even though proxy data doesn’t match up with real time data that data from the geologic data set will magically be more accurate?

    It is nice to see people ranting about religion treating people like heretics. Maybe if we all pay our indulgences to Pope Al Gore our carbon sins will be forgiven.

  • Thomas

    wodun- Perhaps your money would be better spent on a remedial reading comprehension class.

  • Thomas, it would be a good idea to learn any fact at all about an argument you use intending to ridicule your “benighted” opponents. Carbon 14 has a half life of less than 6,000 years, so radiocarbon dating is useless already at 100,000 years before present, not to say billions of years. For such early dates you use uranium-lead, or potassium-argon, or whatever else.

    Your argument having anything to do with the discussion at hand would be helpful, too.

  • Thomas

    Marzo- I presented an argument against evolution I have read in creationist literature. I thought I was clear about that. But thanks for the info.

  • Thomas

    “Your argument having anything to do with the discussion at hand would be helpful, too.”

    Marzo- I am so sorry you do not understand ANALOGY. Nancy Green used it in her attempt to discredit Marcott, so guess what? I get to use it too. It would be a good idea if you would bother to follow along with the posts, before leaping in to the discussion.

  • Thomas:

    – I’d understood that you presented that argument as wrong, which it is indeed. I contended that you didn’t show you knew how it is wrong.

    – I further contended that your token wrong argument is not analogous to the data resolution objection. At least, not in a way that your mentioning it helps you. If it is at all relevant to this discussion, you (in the name of Reason!) were meaning that you can use a butterfly dating measurement having a precision of 1000 years to measure past butterfly population sizes with a resolution of 100 years.

    But I’d prefer to choose my own analogies, thank you. Let’s substitute spatial resolution for temporal resolution. Not getting stark outlines in a blurred image doesn’t prove there are no stark outlines in the original, unblurred one. You can see craters on Earth if you go near them. Not seeing craters on the Moon from Earth with the unaided eye doesn’t prove there are no craters on the Moon. Seeing craters on the Moon with Earth based telescopes while not seeing them on farther Mars doesn’t prove that there are no craters on Mars.

    And if these arguments are “Creationism”, woe to Evolution.

  • Thomas

    Marco-
    My contention is all you accomplish by bringing up ‘uranium-lead, or potassium-argon, or whatever else’ is transfer the creationist mistrust of dating from carbon14 to them. Congratulations!

    I have no idea what you are talking about bringing up butterfly populations. Perhaps I was not clear the creationist argument is that its a LIVE butterfly that is incorrectly dated to be 1400 years old.

    On your analogy- while your blurred image does not prove there are no craters, it also does not prove their are no UFO landing sites on the Moon, or no canals on Mars.. its just a blurred image. Using your analogy,what ‘skeptics’ do is they see a blurred image, and imagine little green men running around on mars, since there are people on earth .

  • D. K. Williams

    I had lunch Friday with a lib friend who grew red-faced with anger when I challenged his global warming belief system that ice is melting, polar bears are dying, etc. He had never heard of the ‘hockey stick’ which is at the core of his belief, much less that its author can’t (or won’t) produce the data. He had no knowledge of the East Anglia emails which prove that science has been corrupted on this issue. He was unaware that a math error caused a false report of glacial ice melting in India. His ONLY defense was to accuse me of listening to right-wing nuts. It must be nice to live in liberal la-la land in which ignorance is bliss.

  • Edward

    Thomas-
    You seem to have missed the point again and have driven the conversation away from the reliability of the report to a discussion of butterflies and how they relate to skeptics being creationists. The point is: it is folly to draw conclusions based upon dissimilar datasets. The point is: several reports of the Marcott paper drew conclusions based upon the sharp uptick shown in the published paper. The point is: the researchers used data points that had been altered, altered in the direction that proved the point that they wanted to make, a sharp uptick in the 20th century.

    Here are some additional comments on your skepticism of skepticism:
    1) Scientists are supposed to remain skeptical until they are convinced through data, analysis, and logic. The climate argument has depended upon data and conclusions that have not survived scrutiny, so we cannot make conclusions either way. We can, however, be disappointed in the quality of the scientific output. It cost us a lot to produce, and costly decisions are being made based upon unreliable science.

    The essay to which I linked had a scientific analogy, not religious analogy, although some people have compared climate science to a religion (e.g. the skeptic as heretic). I trust that is not why you compared the two.

    2) Implying that skeptics are creationists is unwarranted and is contrary to your argument of scientific methods. The radiocarbon dating example does not sound familiar to me. The confusion, throughout this thread, about that example suggests that it was also not familiar to others.

    3) The blurred image analogy does exactly the opposite of what you said. Skeptics see the blurred image and declare that conclusions cannot be drawn from the image. Skeptics are not saying that they see something that isn’t in the data, but they do point out that others are.

    4) Robert is right. The Marcott work was not up to par for convincing scientists that it could demonstrate temperature trends. As Robert pointed out, data points had somehow been altered, demonstrating poor workmanship. This calls into question the rest of the report, or any report in which poor workmanship occurs. It is why Marcott published the FAQ. Finding such errors before publication is just one of the reasons for peer reviews.

    5) The last line of the FAQ, as presented above, does not make as much difference as you think, and certainly not huge, because similar upticks and downticks could have existed in previous centuries but are lost in the low resolution data. If temperature swings have existed in previous centuries, or millennia, then we should not be alarmed by a temperature swing in the 20th century. Before becoming alarmed, we need to determine how unusual the temperature swing is and, more important, whether it is man caused. It would be a shame to bankrupt our children by going on a wild hypothesis chase. It would be a shame if our generation were to be the first to leave our children worse off because we didn’t figure out whether or not we needed to spend huge sums of money to solve a (possibly non) problem.

    6) Implying that skeptics are creationists is a distraction from the topic and suggests that you have run out of arguments. That you continue to argue the distraction is further evidence that you have run out of arguments to the original topic, the Marcott report.

  • Thomas

    Edward-

    Did you even bother to read your own words? I only need point to the inherent contradiction of statement 1) where you insist scientists should be skeptical till they are convinced thru ‘data, analysis, and logic’, and 5) where you say similar upticks and downticks ‘could have existed’ in previous centuries or millennia- while acknowledging there is not at present the slightest bit of empirical data to support such speculation, other then wishful thinking.

    Where is the ‘skepticism’ in that?

    You claim its not valid to draw any conclusions from Marcotts study because the proxies measurements are different from the instrument readings. No kidding , of course they are different. The reason we use proxies is because we lack the instrument record we have today. Does that mean we should toss out the instrument record? To what end? What alternative do you propose? Do you seriously propose we should wait another 200 years to see where proxy data points (that we no longer need to establish temp) might pop out on a 300 year chart, and in the meantime keep pumping the atmosphere full of more and more carbon dioxide? Or do you want us to wait for other charts that have resolutions of 100 years? Micheal Mann’s chart, the ‘infamous’ hockey stick ,had a better then 100 year resolution. But your real problem is that there have been over 24 climate reconstructions that have upheld the ‘infamous’ Hockey stick and Marcott et al is just the latest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_large_scale_temperature_reconstructions_of_the_last_2,000_years ) Are ANY of them good enough for you?

    Allow me to answer for you- No, because its all junk science, its all researchers just making up and ‘altering’ numbers, scientists are corrupt, one day your view will be accepted. As I said ,its the type of arguments made by creationists. Don’t get me wrong. Im not accusing you of making religious arguments. Its also the type of arguments made by conspiracy theorists- such as 9-11 truthers. Their websites are full of the same types of charges ‘skeptics’ make. So are crackpot physics websites where someone claims they have solved cold fusion, or the experiments at CERN will cause Earth to be swallowed by a ‘black hole’ . In ALL of them, there are appeals to open mindedness about their loony idea, skepticism about the supposedly entirely wrong mainstream science, supposed ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ showing just how right they are, and how wrong mainstream science is, accusations of corruption within the scientific community… and scientific jargon and methodology tossed about to make it all seem reasonable.

    Most people see it for the crap it is, while others are taken in by it.

    As to your ‘wild hypothesis chase’- I do not see how delaying action on climate change makes any sense at all, when scientists say their best evidence to date indicates manmade carbon dioxide is a main contributor to it. You want us to delay action, do nothing, and conduct an experiment on the only atmosphere we have… to keep pumping billions of metric of tons of a known greenhouse gas into our atmosphere per year, , just to see what happens? And not only do ‘skeptics’ (and the fossil fuel industry) say we should do nothing, they say we should actually double the amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere over the next century. Its a greenhouse gas for krissakes- its was proven to be a greenhouse gas 150 years ago. Its properties are well known, and have been for 150 years- carbon dioxide HEATS the atmosphere.

    You are kidding yourself if you think basic laws of chemistry and physics don’t apply. You are kidding yourself if you think the 35 Billion tons of metric CO2 we add every year to the atmosphere is just sitting there, and for good measure, lets up that to 70 BILLION metric tons per year. Good luck with that.

    We KNOW the temperatures have spiked up from the last century.
    We KNOW carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, We KNOW what we are putting into the atmosphere is going to be on TOP of any natural variability.

    The skeptic answer to all this is MAYBE it won’t be as bad as everything indicates it is, or MAYBE in the future when we know more, all the ringing warning bells will turn out to be false alarms, or MAYBE climate change will be turn out to be good.

    I dont find ‘ MAYBE’ very convincing.

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