Climategate – The Scientific Method & Scientific Intregrity – Where It All Began – The McIntyre Presentation:Ohio State University, May 16, 2008

If you are reading this post – you are probably aware of the now infamous “ClimateGate”. The hacking of emails which disclosed some the irregularities in the “scientific method” used to create the questionable theory of “man made global warming.

The emails have called into question whether some of the leading “research” (using the term very loosely) has been “cooked” or “fabricated” to produce a predetermined or “desired” result .

The primary issue being whether certain leading individuals in the Global Warming campaign (yes, campaign – as in political) have failed to follow the basic precepts of the “scientific method”.

The “scientific method” is described in this manner by Websters; ” principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses”.

The “scientific method” includes, at a minimum, the following 4 elements:

Induction — Forming a hypothesis or theory by drawing general conclusions from existing data.

Deduction — Making specific predictions based on the hypothesis.

Observation — Gathering data, driven by the hypothesis or theory that tell us what to look for in nature.

Verification — Testing the predictions against further observations to confirm or falsify the initial hypothesis or theory.

True science embraces skeptics, because “modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which involves gathering data to test natural explanations for natural phenomenon. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent that it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions”. .

A skeptic is one who questions the validity of a particular claim by calling for evidence to prove or disprove it.

With this concept in mind I’m reposting the first few pages of Stephen McIntyre’s presentation at Ohio State University on May 16, 2008 along with a link to the original PDF of the the original presentation

The presentation is self explanatory.

After years of making requests for the “original data” upon which the premises of man made global warming are laid, a portion of the data was provided to Mr. McIntyre.

Applying the elements of the “scientific method” Mr. McInytre attempted to reproduce the original findigs upon which so much of the “Man Made Global Warming Theory” is based. The Scientific Method mandates that if a theory is to be proved “correct” or “valid” the results or outcomes of the “theory” must be reproducible by subsequent examiners ….. you can decide for yourself …….


How do we “know” that 1998 was the warmest year of the millennium?

Stephen McIntyre, Presentation at Ohio State University, May 16, 2008

In a prep for a radio interview coming here, the radio host commented that it was impossible for members of the public to personally investigate the science and thus, at some point, it was necessary to simply have faith in the scientists. But something similar could be said in all walks of life, where the need for faith is tempered by external due diligence. If you’re offering securities to the public, there are complicated and expensive processes of due diligence, involving audits of financial statements, independent engineering reports, opinions from securities lawyers and so on. There are laws requiring the disclosure of adverse results. These precautions obviously don’t eliminate financial misconduct, but they are serious attempts to protect the public and make markets work more effectively.

There is far more independent due diligence on the smallest prospectus offering securities to the public than on a Nature article that might end up having a tremendous impact on policy. At this time, I am not saying that journal peer review processes should be overhauled, only that policy-makers should bear in mind that journal peer review is a very limited form of due diligence. Under any circumstances, radically improving requirements for the archiving of data and methods would be a simple and cost-efficient measure for improving quality control and I urge this policy whenever I get a chance.

McAuley’s World – The sceintific community 1st “peer-reviewed” the existence of a “Medieval Warming Period” and a subsequent “Little Ice Age” in the mid 1800′s – The scientific community accepted these findings and “theories” for over 175 years – the only set of scientific studies to call into question the existence of the “MWP” and the “Little Ice Age” are discussed below – Is there any wonder as to why Mann’s original data was requested to confirm these “new” findings – the “new data” was said to refute 175 years of scientific study! How dare anyone ask to see this “new data”!   But this wasn’t 1996, when the scientific community universally accepted the existence of the MWP and the Little Ice Age – It was 2006 and the Canadian Government adopted an untested and unverified “theory” ….      

But in 2002, the Canadian government based its pronouncements on the 2001 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (International Panel on Climate Change 2001), which prominently displayed a graphic from then very recent studies by Mann et al in 1998 and 1999 (M. E. Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1998), which announced that 1998 was the warmest year of the millennium. The graphic from the Mann study was re-drawn by IPCC with considerable graphic expertise – indeed, the graphic expertise caught my eye. It was used no fewer than 6 times and occurred as a backdrop in the Working Group 1 press conference. So it was hardly an incidental graphic in the IPCC report; it could almost be termed their logo. (The graphic has been “nicknamed” the “Hockey Stick”)

Today I will only discuss one particular aspect of the debate – The 1000-year temperature reconstructions. I don’t claim that the results here invalidate all of climate science or that policy decisions should be deferred because of these problems. On the other hand, the exigencies of policy should not prevent proper consideration of individual smaller issues, even if these ultimately prove only of academic interest. Good coaches and good teams look after the details.

Some people have argued that if the Hockey Stick is not correct, then the situation is worse than we thought. My reaction is: well, then I shouldn’t be the only one examining the validity of these reconstructions. 

As a quick overview, I’ll introduce you to the infamous Hockey Stick, then its more recent incarnation in what we can call spaghetti graphs. I’ll show that these supposedly “independent” studies are nothing of the sort, but rely on the re-cycling of a very small number of stereotyped series to achieve the Hockey Stick effect. I’ll discuss several of these key proxies, identifying problems with each one.

Finally, I’ll briefly discuss whether another view of the matter can be rationally held.

I’m pretty sure that the first time I ever thought about climate change was in late 2002 when the Canadian Government was promoting acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol. The slogan for their campaign was that the 20th century was the warmest century, the 1990s the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the past millennium – a slogan that got repeated in speech after speech and presentation after presentation.

The past decade was the world’s warmest decade of the century. And that century was the warmest of the past millennium. Without action, the long term consequences will be devastating.” – David Anderson, Minister of the Environment (Canada) Oct. 27, 2001

“The 20th century was the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 1000 years. The 1990s was the warmest decade on record and 1998 was the warmest year – in Canada and internationally.” – David Anderson, April 5, 2002.

“The 20th century was the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 1000 years and the 1990s the warmest decade on record… The science of climate change has been subjected to international scrutiny, open to all qualified experts, peer review, atmospheric modeling and process studies.” – Liberal Party of Canada Caucus, Aug. 22, 2002

In Canadian grade school, you learn about the Vikings in the Middle Ages – about the colonies in Greenland and their discovery of North America long before Columbus, an explorer presumably well recognized at Ohio State. (OSU is located in Columbus, OH). Had one sought an interpretation of 1000-year climate history as long ago as, say, 1996, one would have been shown a diagram with a pronounced Medieval Warm Period in the early part of the millennium and a cold Little Ice Age from the 17th to 19th centuries.

The graphic (Hockey Stick) continues in use to this day. It occurs prominently in Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth (Gore 2006), where it is called Dr Thompson’s thermometer. I wondered about this in early 2003 in the most casual possible fashion. I thought that it would be interesting to look at the underlying data, rather as I might look at drill data from a mining promotion. Business was slow and I browsed the internet for a due diligence package. I could not locate such a due diligence package nor the underlying proxy data for MBH98. Out of the blue (I was then a Canadian businessman unknown toclimate scientists), I emailed Michael Mann, the primary author, inquiring as to the location of the MBH98 proxy data. To my astonishment, Mann replied that he had “forgotten” the exact location, but that an associate would locate it for me. The associate said that the data did not exist in any one location, but that he would get it together for me. I was dumbfounded. Here was a study that had been on the front page of the IPCC study, used in brochures sent to every household in Canada and there was no due diligence package. 

Dear Dr. Mann, I have been studying MBH98 and 99. I located datasets for the 13 series used in MBH99 … and was interested in locating similar information on the 112 proxies referred to in MBH98 … Thank you for your attention. Yours truly, Stephen McIntyre, Toronto, Canada

“Dear Mr. McIntyre, These data are available on an anonymous ftp site we have set up.  I’ve forgotten the exact location, but I’ve asked my Colleague Dr. Scott Rutherford if he can provide you with that information. best regards, Mike Mann”.

“Steve, The proxies aren’t actually all in one ftp site (at least not to my knowledge). I can get them together if you give me a few days. Do you want the raw 300+ proxies or the 112 that were used in the MBH98 reconstruction? Scott

I realized that this study had never been audited, as I understood the process. Since no  one else had done so, I thought that it would be interesting to do so – sort of like doing a big crossword puzzle. I had never written an academic paper nor had I any plans of doing so. Anyway, this led to a very unexpected and unusual introduction to the science community. I associated myself with Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, who I’ve become close friends with along the way. We published several articles, first in 2003 (McIntyre & McKitrick 2003) and then in 2005 (McIntyre & McKitrick 2005). 

So why was the Hockey Stick so influential? First, it appeared to provide a much more sophisticated statistical analysis than earlier efforts. It claimed to have “statistical skill”, reporting highly significant verification RE and r2 statistics. It claimed to be robust to the presence or absence of tree ring proxies, about which there was then considerable specialist caution. It used seemingly sophisticated principal components methods to handle a much larger data set than had been considered in prior studies.

But we (McIntyre & Associates) were unable to replicate these claims.

Our calculations showed that the verification r2 statistic in the AD1400 step, the first step in MBH98, was only 0.02 – completely insignificant. Other standard statistics failed as well.

The claimed robustness to presence/absence of tree rings was also untrue. Sensitivity analysis showed that the reconstruction was not only highly sensitive to the presence/absence of bristlecone pines, but indeed the shape of the early part of the reconstruction was entirely dependent on bristlecones. We also observed that they had modified the principal components calculation so that it intentionally or unintentionally mined for hockey stick shaped series. It was so powerful in this respect that I could even produce a HS (Hockey Stick) from random red noise. This last observation has received much publicity. However, we did not and do not argue that this is the only way that a HS series can be obtained from red noise: there is the old fashioned method – manually select series with a hockey stick shape and then average. 

McAuley’s World; The following is the link to the original PDF where you are free to read the full presentation:                                                                                         

I encourage you to review the original PDF where you can examine the original presentation slides, charts and graphics which I cannot reproduce in this forum ……. Updated PDF Here (1MB).

For those who do not know what transpired next – when Mann refused to supply a copy of his full data set or explain certain aspects of his methodology to Mr. McIntrye, Mr McIntrye went to the original sources and attempted to replicate Mann’s measurements and outcomes - neither the measurements nor the outcomes could be reproduced ….. I encourage you to review the actual PDF …… and decide for yourself.

Again, this presentation only concerns one of the cornerstones of the Man Made Global Warming theory – the cornerstone that insists, incorrectly, that the 1990′s were the warmest decade in the history of the earth ………. Mr.  McIntrye and a significant portion of the scientific community state we need only examine the MWP (as in King Henry 8th’s time) to discover a warmer period in the earth’s most recent past – a time when there was nearly zero man made CO2.

No one in the scientific community seriously questions that the earth was much, much warmer at the time of the dinosaurs than it is today – the additional warmth and the CO2 the increased temperatures caused were necessary for the great green jungles to grow, the same jungles that fed the herbivores of the jurasic period  …..


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