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It’s Climategate II! Except It’s Not.

Kate at Small Dead Animals is virtually peeing herself with excitement: the lyin’ bastards have been caught again! Data manipulation! Climate change is a hoax! Etc.! She quotes from a Mail on Sunday article at length, which in itself quotes an American colleague of Richard Muller (of BEST climate study fame) named Judith Curry. The article states that Curry, who collaborated with Muller, accuses Muller is misrepresenting the data, and is effectively lying about climate change. Except it looks like the Mail on Sunday was playing fast-and-loose with the truth. From Judith Curry’s own blog:

To set the record straight, some of the other sentiments attributed to me are not quite right, I will discuss these here.

“Hiding the truth” in the title is definitely misleading, I made it pretty clear that there was uncertainty in the data itself, but the bigger issues are to analyze the data and interpret it.  I made it clear that this was not a straightforward and simple thing to do.

I told Rose that I was puzzled my Muller’s statements, particularly about “end of skepticism” and also “We see no evidence of global warming slowing down.”

I did not say that “the affair had to be compared to the notorious Climategate scandal two years ago,” this is indirectly attributed to me.  When asked specifically about the graph that apparently uses a 10 year running mean and ends in 2006,  we discussed “hide the decline,” but I honestly can’t recall if Rose or I said it first.  I agree that the way the data is presented in the graph “hides the decline.”  There is NO comparison of this situation to Climategate.  Muller et al. have been very transparent in their methods and in making their data publicly available, which is highly commendable.

My most important statement IMO is this: ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’  My main point was that this is a very good data set, the best we currently have available for land surface temperatures.  To me, this should have been the big story:  a new comprehensive data set, put together by a team of physicists and statisticians with private funds.  Showing preliminary results is of course fine, but overselling them at this point was a mistake IMO.

[SNIP]

And finally, this is NOT a new scandal.  An important new data set has been released.  Some new papers have been posted for comments, which are not surprisingly drawing criticism and controversy.   The main issue seems to be Richard Muller’s public statements.   All this does not constitute a new scientific scandal in any way. [Emphasis mine]

So essentially we have a public and somewhat technical disagreement between two scientists on how the data is presented, not the data itself. It’s rather funny Judith Curry appears surprised that a British tabloid — gasp — would misrepresent her remarks.

It’s also funny that I discovered what Judith Curry actually said by two clicks of a mouse button, which apparently Kate is too lazy to make. That she would use a British tabloid as a credible source for anything speaks for itself.

4 comments to It’s Climategate II! Except It’s Not.

  • Nice catch TorontoEmerg. After I had just eviscerated Curry over at LFR. Seems the only thing she’s guilty of this time is gross opportunism and naivete.

  • rroe

    Sister Sage do you understand what Curry means when she says, “I told Rose that I was puzzled my (sic) Muller’s statements, particularly about “end of scepticism” and also “We see no evidence of global warming slowing down.” That means the conclusions that Muller is drawing from the data (which Curry may endorse) are not supported.
    This is very important given that science works by the null hypothesis.
    1. You create a hypothesis, eg., “Global warming is caused by humans putting carbon dioxide in the air.”
    2. You create a test, eg., “If hypothesis is true then during last 13 years that carbon dioxide is rising, temperatures should rise.”
    3. You observe results, e.g 13 years of rising CO2 and no temperature ruse.
    4. Hypothesis disproved – Need new one.

    TorontoEmerg Reply:

    Actually, my point was that to elevate a technical disagreement over how data is presented into the outrageous outrage du jour is fundamentally dishonest. But that is a fairly typical tactic of the right, isn’t it? On the event I am not sure how disagreeing over how to present four or ten years of data which pretty well incontrovertibly shows global temperature increases over more than a century invalidates the hypothesis.

  • Holly Stick

    Curry lost the respect of many science bloggers long ago. Tamino, a statistician who actually knows what he is talking about, discusses the fooferaw:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/judith-curry-opens-mouth-inserts-foot/