Story Of Scientific MisConduct
With the recent news of a leading scientist being gagged from reporting his finding and the recent attempt by many in the climatologists' circle to destroy the reputation of those who disagree with their finds, Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion is worth reading, simply to understand the mindset of the climate alarmists and how far they are willing to go. This book reads like a mystery as opposed to science as Montford exposes how a major study, declared as the silver bullet for proof of man-made climate change, proved to be wrong and how much of the scientific establishment went out of its way to defend what they should have condemned.
If this study had been conducted by a pharmaceutical company, there would have been a rush to discredit it, or I suspect that it would haven’t gotten published. The hero of this story is a Canadian mathematician and retired mining prospector named Steve McIntyre who became suspicious when he saw the original Hockey Stick. He’s seen many promotional materials in the mining business and this Hockey Stick looked like something out of a promotional piece.
McIntyre started to investigate the methodology of Michael Mann’s study and found serious flaws as he found that during his investigation, that he could put in random numbers and end up with similar results. The Hockey Stick made Michael Mann a super star and the scientific community closed the wagon around Mann’s work and ignored McIntyre criticism which turned out to be true.
Nature magazine refuse to listen McIntyre, despite the fact the criticisms were upheld by reviewers it appointed. Even subsequent investigations upheld the thrust of McIntyre's criticisms and the IPCC kept changing deadlines to allow flawed references to refute McIntyre, and many of McIntyre’s critics often misquoted him.
The key to Mann’s work was to show that we were witnessing unprecedented increases in temperature, but the problem with Mann’s work was the methodology and the Hockey Stick proved elusive in the climate alarmists’ goal of providing this empirical evidence. The Climategate email showed that many of scientists working on the hockey stick and the various studies afterwards knew the evidence they had was problematic. Montford’s book is not about the emails but about the period before the emails came out when the McIntyre mathematic formulas showed the flaws in the Hockey sticks and the various studies that followed.
McIntyre asked Mann for the data used so he could check them out, but he quickly found errors nor did all the data McIntyre find even support a 20th century uptick in warming. Just 20 out of the 159 series showed an uptick and these were based on tree rings, the same three tree rings had been used in different series. The Hockey stick revolved around a few bristlecone and foxtail pines in the Western United States, some tree-ring data sent from a peninsula in Canada and from Siberian larch trees. The question that can’t be answered was the growth of these bristlecone pines from carbon dioxide and maybe strip bark recovery or temperature warming.
Eventually Mann decided to quit cooperating, but McIntyre found out enough to know that shortcuts were taken like standardizing the data by “short-centering” them, which means Mann subtracted them from a 20th century average rather than the whole period reviewed. This gave the data in the 20th century more weight than maybe data from the medieval warm spell. IPCC and much of the climate alarmist establishment closed rank behind the hockey stick and kept producing more studies supporting the Hockey stick but review the data and the same bad data kept showing up, bristlecone and all. The alarmists used a new set of Siberian data but this was small data when larger samples available would have shown no uptick. What we saw was cherry picked data used to produce the result they desired. McIntyre simply kept exposing the absurdity of the science and the Climategate emails reinforced the idea that much of the science being paraded as proof was compromised data and what was also exposed was corruption of the scientific community. When the Climategate email were released, an economist friend of mine told me that this was Watergate times ten. “If you can’t trust the natural sciences to produce honest data, who could you trust,” he told me.
In a congressional hearing, Professor John Christy who served on the IPCC and dealt with the chapter with Michael Mann on Observed Climate variability, stated, "Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another’s result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data."
Most recently we have seen how 97% of scientists state man is responsible for climate change, but this is also due to cherry picked data. The one study that details this 97% canard was recently debunked by yet another study which showed how the data was cherry picked and the numbers are far lower. In surveys done with meteorologists, at least half of meteorologists don’t buy into the alarmist position. Where I come from, when at least 50% of those who work in the business of weather are not sold on the science, that is not called a consensus but a debate. If you ask if climate is changing and is the planet getting warmer, you will get almost unanimous agreement among scientists whether they are realists or alarmists, but if you ask why, then you will get different answers. (Since 1997, there have been over 31,000 researchers including over 9000 PhD’s have signed a petition stating the science has yet to be settled. While this is not a scientific survey, 31,000 researchers signing this petition simply reinforces that there is no consensus on what is causing the present climate change or past climate change.
Montfords’ book shows how the science is being manipulated to produce alarmist projections, but those responsible don’t seem to care that they are damaging science and the future study of climate since much of the past work can’t be relied on for accuracy. If you can’t trust scientists to get past climate history correct or even accurately detail how many papers or scientists truly believe in what, then how can you trust the science to begin with?