Sunday, August 31, 2008

a response to Bishop Hill

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Bishop Hill is a climate change denialist (633 posts, 134 of them with the tag 'climate' and as many of those as I could stomach to read poored scorn on climate change research) who recently penned a diatribe against the work of several climate change researchers. His work seems to be lauded by other climate change deniers like David Duff. I spent a little time ripping it to shreds recently and BH had the grace to post a comment in reply claiming that I was being misleading and suggesting that I was endorsing academic misconduct. This is my reply.

BH, you are not a climate scientist, are you? In fact you are not a scientist at all, yesno? I take it you have some modicum of understanding of statistical procedures as this is where your main criticisms seem to lie. There and in the conduct of the researchers in question. I will deal with these two criticisms in that order before dealing briefly with your bizarre suggestion that paleoclimate research is 'dodgy'.

I started trying to draft a critique of your own criticisms but quickly realised that my understanding of the ins and outs of the statistics in question fell short of that necessary to understand the finer details of paleoclimate modeling. McIntyre's blog contains much intricate technical analysis and I canot begin to verify whether his criticisms are justified. This is the point where my faith in the power of science is tested. Because if I- a scientist currently writing his PhD thesis with formal training in statistics- can't begin to fathom the subtleties of the science in question then I'm absolutely one hundred percent sure that you don't either. Do correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think I am. Therefore, BH, you aren't actually criticising anything. You are merely collating and regurgitating others' analysis- flawed or otherwise- that supports your own position of denial. This position- known as "cherry-picking"- stems from your fundamentally unscientific denial of anthropogenic climate change, as previously noted. Unlike you, I follow the consensus and accept without reservation that climate change is happening, as does every single national scientific body on the planet, because I afford the opinion of experts some considerable authority. There is a chance that you- as a layperson in these affairs- might have achieved some insight into the statistical procedures and methods used by these expert researchers that has previously been missed. It is also possible that there exists in orbit around mars a teapot belonging to one Bertrand Russell. It is also possible that McIntyre as an economist (note, not a climate scientist) might have achieved some insight into the appropriate nature, or otherwise, of the statistical procedures carried out by MBH and Wahl and Amman, as has been detailed by other researchers, as well as a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences, as you yourself observe. However, it seems that any error produced from inappropriately applied statistics on their part is small and does not significantly affect their conclusion- as reported by both independent researchers and the MBH group in a follow-up paper. I wonder why you fail to mention this affirmative follow-up work?

BH, fuck you with bells on. You are a climate change denialist and actively prosetylise your anti-scientific views in a pseudo-scientific manner so if anyone is being misleading, it is absolutely you, you, you. Pretending to report on scientific matters without any substantial grasp of the science involved is grossly fraudulent. I may as well criticise the design of my car for lacking the obvious efficiency saving of a fusion reactor and antigravity motors. Whilst I accept McIntyre's peer-reviewed criticisms I reject your ignorant regurgitation of them out of context and out of proportion without reservation.

Ah! That was refreshing. Righteousness is a refreshing beverage so excuse me while I take a moment to savour its zesty flavour . . . . . . . . . There! Now, on with the climate-change-denialist thrashing.

BH's second criticism of the climate researchers involves their conduct in not releasing the aforementioned R-squared statistics for subsequent independent confirmation. Irrelevant of the merit or otherwise of these data (as far as I can tell from subsequent review they stand up reasonably well) I can say that it is inappropriate for researchers to withhold supporting data from a fellow researcher attempting to independently reproduce your work. I have contacted several people to ask for such information when developing methodologies and have always been pleased by the prompt and comprehensive responses I receive. I don't know what else to say about the conduct of the researchers in question, except that they gave plausible reasons why they shouldn't share the R-squared statistics- that it wasn't relevant- and that they were awaiting publication of another paper which would establish that this was so. That that paper was then rejected does not make their refusal to share the statistic any more reprehensible but it is also unsurprising. Research has become a dog-eat-dog world thanks to the supremacy of the publish-or-die mentality which now pervades all fields and as a result data is jealously guarded until publication to prevent others copying and expanding upon your own hard-won ideas. If you feel this climate is an inappropriate one in which to conduct research with global implications then I wonder why you haven't blogged about it? (I don't even need to search your blog to know that you haven't, do I.)

Yawn! I'm bored now. This is all obvious to anyone who is prepared to look at issues objectively. I can't be arsed to make a decent job of trashing your statement that paleoclimatology is 'dodgy'. I have little doubt that you watch TV, use a computer, paint your house and take medicine. You are content for science to underpin our provision of all of these services but reject it out of hand when the very same process of critical reasoning leads us to conclude that we are catastrophically altering the global climate. That is called hypocrisy.

19 comments:

  1. "climate change deniers like David Duff".

    I realise that facts play very little part in this blog but for the record I am *not* a climate change denier. It is perfectly obvious that the climate changes. Having agreed (no easy matter in itself) the time period and the geographical area over which you intend to try and measure the changes, the first difficulty is in deciding the direction in which it is changing. The second is ascertaining the cause(s) of any particular change. The third is deciding what, if anything, to do about it.

    Happily, for you, there are no such uncertainties and in this blissful state I will leave you.

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  2. Grief, Duff! Are you suggesting that the very weather changes ? ?

    What heresy is this? You imply that at one moment it can be raining and the same time not? That the clouds can be different from those we see here and now ? ? ? ? That the wind howling around our ears might not be so one day hence?

    I deem thee a witch to be tested by the Church's representative and burned for your evill!


    Duff, you know full well that I am referring to anthropogenic climate change, which you deny.

    Idiot.

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  3. Well, if that is what you meant you should have written it.

    I fear for your Ph.D thesis!

    And by the way, I do *not* deny it absolutely, I just think that the HAFs (Hot Air Fanatics) have not mounted a very convincing case for their hypothesis, and I came to the controversy without any preconceptions, or with any hopes of getting a job in the HAF industry when I have grown up!

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  4. "Well, if that is what you meant you should have written it."

    What, Duff? Are you really serious? Are you actually implying that you misinterpreted this blog as a commentary on natural weather patterns?

    You're even more of an idiot than I initially imagined. Snigger.

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  5. "I came to the controversy without any preconceptions"

    Rule #1 of being a good liar: Remember which lies you've already told.

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  7. Hey, Duff! Guess what happened to your climate change denial post?

    Prick.

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  9. Duff, it was obvious that that wasn't your own work. You couldn't handle all those long words and big numbers.

    Could I also just point out that quoting another climate change denialist- who is also not a climate scientist and hasn't published any peer-reviewed papers in this field- doesn't really bring me around to your way of thinking. How do you still not get this? You are wrong Duff.

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  11. You don't understand the science so why bother, Duff? Save yourself and me the effort.

    I might get round to addressing why you are wrong one day because I feel its important for someone to do this for you because your ignorance- and that of other climate change denialists (I'm being charitable here and simply ignoring the great many who have a vested interest in the status quo)- is such a threat to society.

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  12. Duff, seeing as you are such a fan of the work of the Hadley Centre I will share this little gem with you from their website:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/4.html

    Changes in solar activity do affect global temperatures, but research shows that, over the last 50 years, increased greenhouse gas concentrations have a much greater effect than changes in the Sun's energy.

    You see, when you cherry pick individual references you ignore the synthesis presented by all reputable climate scientists. I could similarly choose to present evidence to you showing that certain untermenschen never made it to German concentration camps to be gassed but were allowed to escape to safe territory by sympathetic Germans. This does not demonstrate that the holocaust did not take place and was actually fabrication of the vengeful Allies.

    Fuck, dude! This is like talking to sky-pixie fanatics. You bore me Duff. Get stuffed.

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  14. Marc Morano?

    MARC FUCKING MORANO !?!?!

    The Prime Bitch of Sen James Inhofe, yes?

    Fuck off until you have a peer-reviewed reference Duff. Not a magazine article or blog post. Not some tortuous link through three different websites to get to a tirade by a TV weatherman! Peer-reviewed science, Duff!

    http://www.scruffydan.com/blog/?p=1125

    http://www.scruffydan.com/blog/?p=1476#comment-69277

    http://www.scruffydan.com/blog/?p=1504

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  15. Ah! I see you failed the litmus test. Why am I not surprised? Still, your other reader will have seen it before you reached for you rblue pencil and drawn his conclusions - as do I.

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  16. What part of "no climate change denial on this blog" do you not understand Duff?

    This isn't a scientific debate. If it was you would be able to present peer-reviewed science in support of your argument. Like I can.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/316/5825/709

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  17. "What part of "no climate change denial on this blog" do you not understand Duff?"

    What part of logic do *you* not understand?

    If I was to produce a peer-reviewed paper on AGW, according to your 'diktat' above, you wouldn't publish it - so what's the point?

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  18. You're right there, Duff. See the new post, just for you climate change deniers.

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Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.