Tag Archives: Michael Mann

Exoneration fails to appease conspiracy theorists, cont’d, cont’d, cont’d

Image courtesy of Flickr user "Jennoit", used under Creative Commons

The National Science Foundation’s Inspector General office has completed its inquiry into allegations of misconduct leveled at Penn State climate scientist, RealClimate blogger, and “hockey stick” lead author Mike Mann. Yet again, Mann was cleared of all allegations of misconduct. And, yet again, this does nothing to dissuade the paranoid conspiracy theorists that fancy themselves “skeptics” but who are anything but.

As always, Conspiracy Theory 101 dictates that when an investigation fails to confirm your tin foil nuttery, it can only mean that the investigation was illegitimate and part of the conspiracy. Previous examples here, here, and here.

[UPDATELike clockwork...]

Wegman plagiarism scandal heating up


Courtesy of Flickr user TalkMediaNews


I’ve been a little unsure how or when to discuss John Mashey’s and Deep Climate’s yeoman’s work on uncovering the depths to which Edward Wegman stooped in attempting to discredit the work of Mike Mann, Ray Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes.

But the ScienceFair blog at USA Today has posted on it, so it’s probably going to reach “mainstream” status soon. Wegman’s university is formally investigating him for plagiarizing (at the very least) Raymond Bradley.

I’m curious to see how far this will go. There’s certainly enough circumstantial evidence to consider investigating the full extent of Reps. Barton and Whitfield’s offices involvement in this farce.

For those of you who don’t have a clue what this is all about, DeSmog Blog has a good backgrounder here.

As an aside- many of the champions of the Wegman Report (e.g Steve McIntyre) took up Wegman’s claim “Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science” as a sort of incantation, chanting it as though it might somehow dispel the fact that reality appears to have a hockey-stick-shaped bias. I am sure that these same people will maintain their integrity and immediately disavow the Wegman Report and its conclusions.



I’ve been an outspoken critic of Keith Kloor, but please give him deserved respect for at least covering this, unlike so many other “climate journalists”.

Exoneration fails to appease conspiracy theorists, cont’d, cont’d

Michael Mann has been unanimously cleared of the final accusation of wrongdoing by Penn State. Its full report is here.

In keeping with the tenets of Conspiracy Theory 101 (previous examples here and here), the panel’s findings were immediately dismissed as a “whitewash” by climate denialists, like CEI‘s Myron Ebell:

“It has been designed as a whitewash,” Ebell wrote in an e-mail. “To admit that Dr. Mann is a conman now would be extremely embarrassing for Penn State. But the scandal will not be contained no matter how many whitewash reports are issued. The evidence of manipulation of data is too obvious and too strong.”

Because as any good tinfoil hatter will tell you, when the investigation fails to confirm your pathological rejection of reality it can only mean that investigation is illegitimate.

[h/t John Mashey and Aaron Huertas]

UPDATE: Brian Angliss of Scholars and Rogues covered the “whitewash” nonsense back in February.

Fred Pearce is a rubbish journalist

If anyone needs evidence that the “reporting” crutch of He Said, She Said is still being employed by stenographers masquerading as journalists, here’s Fred Pearce in New Scientist.

No serious effort is made to inform the reader which of the parties is actually supported by reality. Note the weasel wording and false balance throughout, e.g.: “some of the researchers involved take issue with a suggestion that greenhouse gases are not primarily responsible for global warming”; “Foster’s team concludes… But de Freitas says”; “The vitriol continues”; etc. It’s a stereotypical example of the “on the one hand, on the other” style that has so distorted the public’s understanding of the issue of anthropogenic climate change.

It’s 2010, FFS. This article should be held up as a model for how reporting should not be done.

Of course, this is hardly the first time Pearce has done crap reporting, though it should be noted he’s an equal opportunity offender.

  • Boykoff, M.T. and Boykoff, J.M., 2004: Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press. Global Environ Chang., 14 125–136 doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.001
  • Foster, G., J.D. Annan, P.D. Jones, M.E. Mann, B. Mullan, J. Renwick, J. Salinger, G.A. Schmidt, and K.E. Trenberth, 2010: Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature” by J.D. McLean, C.R. de Freitas, and R.M. Carter. J. Geophys. Res., 115, D09110, doi:10.1029/2009JD012960.

The latest SwiftHack meme: ‘Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL’ outrage

It’s odd how some (sticky? viral?) memes propagate through the denialosphere. The classic example is how “hockey stick” lost all of its original context, and soon there was very little that was not a “hockey stick” according to the denialosphere: from the temperature projections in the AR4 to pre-industrial vs. current CO2 levels. And through an apparent belief in sympathetic magic, all it took was the labeling of something as a “hockey stick” in order to discredit it in the eyes of a certain audience.

The SwiftHack “scandal” is proving to be no different. “Hide the decline” has metamorphosed from the truncation of certain dendro proxy data post-”divergence”  into a fraudulent artificial inflation of, by turns:

  • the global surface temperature record
  • the US surface temperature record (occasionally with unrelated graphics of real NCDC adjustments)
  • GCM projections of future warming

And so on. They’re not really sure what it means, but they’re sure that it’s undeniable evidence of fraud and the global Gore-Commie conspiracy. It’s humorous to watch this spring up repeatedly in comment sections of forums and the like, as the reality-based community seems to be all over it. You can still see it popping up, but its “juice” has been diminished incredibly.

The latest (I’m sure as I write this something new is coming down the pike) meme concerns two nearly identical snippets of code in “briffa_sep98_d.pro” and “briffa_sep98_e.pro”, e.g. at RealClimate here and here, and addressed at Deltoid here. The code comments talked about “arifical” [sic] adjustments and “fudge factors”, and as such it is being taken as undeniable proof of Something Nefarious.

The code in question appears to “test the sensitivity of certain calculations to the presence or absence” of the post 1960 divergence problem in Briffa’s MXD archive. It does not appear to have been used in any published paper, figure, or data set. [Denialists can feel free to set me straight on that- you've got a fixed range in which the publication had to occur, the name of at least one coauthor, the archive it supposedly en-fraud-ulates, and a pretty good idea about what this adjustment will look like] In spite of this, if you’ll find claims that this bit of code is in fact:

  • “Mike’s Nature trick”
  • Phil Jones’s use of “Mike’s Nature trick”
  • fabricated warming in the global surface temperature record
  • fabricated warming in the US surface temperature record
  • fabricated warming inserted into the projections of GCMs

And so on.

I’m guessing that we can expect to this sort of thing repeated over and over and over again for weeks if not months to come. A line in an email, some snippets of code, etc. will be trotted out (completely excised of content) with no grasp of what it actually means as the newest Proof That Definitely Shows Global Warming Is Fake And We’re Serious This Time. The supporting evidence will be non-existent, the explanations of what the “proof” does will be incoherent and self-contradictory, but the confidence with which it will be paraded around will be unshakable. It will be the final nail in the coffin of radiative transfer the hippie scam.

Until the next one.

1500-year Atlantic hurricane record

One of the most common and easily debunked claims by denialists is that there is a massive global conspiracy on the part of the climate science community to deliberately and fraudulently overstate the severity of present climatic conditions (e.g. temperature, CO2 levels, etc.) relative to the paleoclimatic record in order to make the (non-existent in their minds) threat of anthropogenic climate change more frightening to the public.

The climate community is doing this presumably to continue their grant-funded lives of obscene wealth and debauchery. Or to cripple the American economy by destroying capitalism [ha!] in order to further a UN-run, communist world government.  Or something. In any event, among their frequent targets for such ludicrous conspiracy theories are Jim Hansen (who they believe in his spare time has single-handedly “fabricated” global warming by altering the GISTEMP temperature record; presumably his free time and mendacity are so great that he has been able to similarly propagate this faked warming signal throughout the biosphere), Phil Jones (likewise, but for the HadCRUT record instead), and perhaps most of all Michael Mann- for his temperature reconstructions of North America over the past two millennia. The steady blast of fetid hot air directed at Mann for his imagined attempts to exaggerate current climatic conditions relative to the past could, redirected through a turbine, easily comprise a stabilization wedge all its own.

So it is with much amusement that those in the reality-based community note papers like the one  published in today’s issue of Nature here (or here) entitled “Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1,500 years” by one Michael Mann- along with coauthors Jeffery Donnelly, Jonathan Woodruff, and Zhihua Zhang. The Mann et al. paper is a relatively straightforward attempt to reconstruct Atlantic hurricane activity over the past 1.5 ka, employing multiple (although admittedly sparse) regional overwash sediment records in an attempt to create a basin-wide record of landfalling hurricanes. This reconstruction is then compared against statistical modeling based on reconstructions of several climatic (sea surface temperature, Nino 3, and North Atlantic Oscillation) records.

Naturally Mann- no doubt twirling his mustache and laughing manically- has determined through premeditation and statistical voodoo that recent Atlantic hurricane activity is completely unprecedented in the paleoclimatic record, in furtherance of his dastardly fearmongering agenda. Wait- what’s that? Mann et al. actually found that around 1000 AD hurricane activity may actually have equaled and possibly exceeded that of today?!

But that doesn’t fit conveniently into my demonization of Mann or preconceived notions about the global climate conspiracy at all! No fair.

In all seriousness this is an interesting paper as despite some very serious caveats, it seems to indicate that we’ve got a decent grasp of the main drivers of hurricane activity for the region. Obviously it would be nice to increase the number of overwash records used, especially for the southeast US, the Gulf coast, and the Caribbean- for which we only have a single record per region.

The peak in medieval hurricanes is associated with persistent La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific and warmer tropical Atlantic SSTs- conditions that also notably produced a series of megadroughts in the US southwest and Mexico. Has anyone done comparisons between modern Atlantic hurricane activity and southwest drought conditions?