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Hockey Stick Illusion at Santa Fe

Judith Curry cited the Hockey Stick Illusion in her Santa Fe conference presentation at about 2:10mins.

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Reader Comments (36)

It is closer to 3min and rather brief, but at least a pic of the book was shown in the presentation. This hopefully means that Dr Curry has read it.


Nov 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Walsh

What a great talk! Much better than Matt Ridley's in my opinion (sorry Matt if you are reading this!).

It's clear that there is a big difference between climate science being a field in which there is deep uncertainty (Judy's view) and it being a "pseudoscience".

Interestingly, Matt's accusation of pseudoscience would probably be perceived as part of a "war on science" and thus further entrenching the defensive mentality that Judy discusses round about 12 minutes into her talk.

In Judy's discussion of the "UNFCCC/IPCC idealogy" around 13 mins, she makes some exceptionally good points about differences between scientific and non-scientific aspects of the debate (values, policies etc). It is true that many on the "consensus" side get these things mixed up, but the thing she didn't point out was that the sceptic community also get these mixed up - indeed Matt Ridley's talk is again is an excellent example, where he uses his anger against policy (windfarms etc) to attack the science. Far better to do what Judy suggests, and be clear about which are scientific issues and which are policy issues.

Attacking a group involved in one issue with arguments that apply to another issue only creates confusion, and doesn't really achieve anything beyond selling newspapers and books and increasing blog traffic.

Hats off to Judy for a very clear, thought-out and informed argument!

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Sorry Richard, but it is not even psuedoscience -- it is agenda

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Quote, Richard Betts, "It is true that many on the "consensus" side get these things mixed up, but the thing she didn't point out was that the sceptic community also get these mixed up"

Examples please, and not just opinions of people like Richard Black.

What real things do sceptics get mixed up?

GW is real.

AGW is virtual.

CAGW is nonsense.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@ Richard Betts 2:02PM
Dear Richard, I am not sure I agree with your statement that Matt Ridley calls the complete field of climate science pseudoscience. My take on it was that he calls the CAGW (with emphasis on the "C" in CAGW) standpoint pseudoscience. For instance:
"I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm."
"Yet even to say things like this is to commit heresy. To stand up and say, within a university or within the BBC, that you do not think global warming is dangerous gets you the sort of reaction that standing up in the Vatican and saying you don’t think God is good would get. Believe me, I have tried it."

He clearly states he agrees with and finds scientifically valid arguments for AGW (1.2degC per doubling of CO2), just no proper evidence for CAGW.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

@Richard Betts

I agree that climate science, when practised using the scientific method and, heaven forbid, applying statistical techniques which are known to science, involves an enormous degree of uncertainty.

However, Matt Ridley is entirely correct to label the field in general as pseudoscience because a plethora of utterly worthess, antiscientific works of mass deceit such as those of the Hockey Team are tolerated, nay supported, rather than being struck from the scientific record as was Andrew Wakefield's discredited work on MMR.

No more tricks, no more hidden declines. No more self-deceit about hidden heat in deep oceans or that the observations must be wrong because they don't match the sacred, infallible models.

Until climate 'science' publicly embraces Feynmanian vaues and evicts the dissembling cuckoos from its comprehensively fouled nest then Ridley's label 'pseudoscience' is as good as it gets.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

You've got it wrong, Matt Ridley clearly spells out his view of greenhouse physics::

"So what’s the problem? The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible, while the threat of real harm from climate-mitigation policies is already so high as to be worrying, that the cure is proving far worse than the disease is ever likely to be. Or as I put it once, we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed."

I think this is a pretty measured statement and altogether acceptable.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered Commenteroxonmoron

Wijand - We must remember that it is CAGW that is driving current policy, not AGW nor GW.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Richard, when we are bombarded by statements by the 'great and the good' i.e. heads of prestigious scientific bodies that the science is settled and the concensus is in, when the IPCC uses lobbyists to provide input to its assessments (see Laframboise) and bases conclusions about the 'science' upon them, then in my book this is pseudo science.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

Whatever you label it, pseudo science or not, the important aspects of Ridley's speech are the substantive objections he raises to the science and politics surrounding the CAGW agenda. Your post gives the appearance of someone trying to distract attention away from the main points by focussing on a triviality.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobB

Did you catch her comment about the ink being barely dry on Michael Mann's PHD thesis ;(harsh)

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:37 PM | RobB

On the contrary, the pseudoscience argument was the central thesis of Ridley's talk, not a triviality, and this distracts from the detail (some of which I actually agree with).

Nov 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Hi Richard

I saw Chris Rapley give a talk to climate scientists - Communicating Climate Scince - yesterday, where he says not to be advocates or activists...

Yet, then has a whole section, about advocating enormous structural and economic change required, and the problems with weak governance to achieve this, even mention war footing and Home Front! for 'decarbonisation'

This seems divorced from economic and political reality (ie China/India/USA/Russia/Japan even Germany (building coal station) etc are Not going to decarbonise. Kyoto is dead, emissions have risen 40% since the begining of Kyoto. He seem s oblivious to this..

He talked about how climate scientists should reclaim sceptic for themselves (ie all scietists are sceptics), ie AGW sceptics suffered from dogma, and confirmation bias...

Yet completely failed to see that this was exactly what I percieve him to be doing... with respect to policy. He is a policy advocate and seems oblivious to this... (ie decarbonisation, other option for the UK are there, adaptation, doing nothing, etc,etc) he view of sceptics is a characture of them (albeit of the type he probably meets, sadly)

and the audience, a totally 'consensus' one lapped it up, it wasn't a public lecture as such
I just asked a friend there if it was OK to go, so front row, my questions threw him a bit.

ie a faculty lecture attended by undergraduatds, phd students, post grads/docs and a whole bunch of professors... The sad thing is if they knew who I was, I felt that their eyes would have collectively 'glazed' over..

I thought Judith speech very good as well.. Hopefully of the right tone that scientist would hear.

The sad thing is, my preception, I think (actually I know) her speech would have been beneath the pale at that Reading audience, which I think is a problem for the scientific community..

Judy would indeed be a heretic.

By the way, did you notice the guy doing the filming of Judy was sitting next to Lord Monckton....
must have been an interesting meeting!!

Richards, perhaps you could give me a call?

Nov 3, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


I had to read Matt's lecture and I think the other posters have correctly pointed out that he isn't saying that Climate research IS a pseudoscience, but that it is a scientific field that is filled with lots of pseudoscience. Just look at his conclusion at the very end. The main issues aren't to do with uncertainty in the field but the rubbish (based on pseudoscience/untruths or whatever you want to call it) that gets pushed by the media/politicians etc and the policy decisions it leads to.

Nov 3, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Judy's presentation was excellent and complements Ridley's. Her focus on uncertainty is pretty clinical and useful. Ridley's discussion is more sweeping and galvanizing. I agree with Richard Betts to the extent too much inflammatory rhetoric can be counterproductive. On the other hand, and the recent Black calamity provides a perfect example, being very pointed about the naivete and delusional quality of many of the solutions, like windfarms, to what may or may not be a significant problem is necessary from a political persuasion pov and to counter what amounts to distortions and propaganda from the pro-CAGW side.

Nov 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

One of Matt Ridley’s points was that we sceptics are regularly accused of pseudoscience by the warmists, Professor John Beddington for one.

It is a popular tactic of those accused of bad behaviour to visit the same charge on their attackers, but the fact that they do so, when all we have asked for is a little introspection, suggests that the boot is really on the other foot.

Nov 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


"my questions threw him a bit"

I wish I'd been there - he does strike me as a pompous ass. Can you remember what you asked?

Nov 3, 2011 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

RB...."indeed Matt Ridley's talk is again is an excellent example, where he uses his anger against policy (windfarms etc) to attack the science. "

Its fine that you come here and engage with the sceptics Richard but I totally understand Matt's "Anger against policy". You call it an attack on the science!

It seems to me that it is Mann, Hansen etc etc etc destroying your credibility but you have a pop at Matt! I simply do not understand where you are coming from or going to with this. Judith has been calling them out for some time now, are you saying she is anti science? The list of scientists calling it out is huge, whereas the IPCC scientists have been shown to be very small but with a huge number of NGOs mixing the garbage.

Nov 3, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Matt Ridley was simply stating the obvious in that it is CAGW that drives policy, not AGW nor GW; and it is CAGW that is plainly pseudo-science.

Judith Curry is simply stating that there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding AGW, not CAGW.

We are at the situation where CAGW is driving unsustainable energy, economic and social policies when it is clear that AGW science is far from certain?

Why is advocacy triumphing over the actual science?

Surely the science community have a responsibility here to say that evidence based policy should always trump speculation, scare-mongering and superstition..................... but it does not!

Nov 3, 2011 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

About mistakes in AR4 glacier and 30% extinction, and the media, how to handle the mistakes, ie initially it was 'denial' etc.. (actually that was Richard's question) my other question, was about scientists confuse 'climate policy with climate science.

and how to stop the ring around.. Ie scientists gets the media phone call. Is this... (hurricane, snow, flood, etc) due to global warming.. answer no, just weather.. the ring around continues, and another scientist give the quote.. what to do about the other scientist.

Nov 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Actually in Judy's presentation there is a section about how some Physcology groups define 'climate change denier' and by there definition (she joked) she was 50% a denier... (16 mins 50sec)

following a slide with Trenberth repeated use of denier...

Richard, et al I actually think Judith Curry's speech is far harsher criticism of 'climate science' than Matt Ridley's yet the criticism seems to on Matt Ridley

Nov 3, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Judy used to post quite regularly on climateaudit, and in face invited Steve McIntyre to talk to her students. I think she was a bit like Richard is now, certain that there will be catastrophes associated with AGW but willing to listen to the other side. However Richard's attempt to separate the science from the policy, while admirable, isn't seen that way by his colleagues, or if it is they're giving a convincing performance to indicate that it isn't. Why else would Julia Slingo use taxpayers' money to have 1700 scientists sign off on a letter of support for the CRU without reading the emails? Whatever you think of the climategate emails, and apparently the entire UK scientific community, including the RS, think they're ok, those scientists had no interest in the science and were trying to get papers into the IPCC that would influence policy. And the policy they want to influence is a reduction in CO2 output by the western industrialised nations and a redistribution of wealth globally. The latter is a noble cause, the former is little short of treason because the policy, if pursued to its final end will bankrupt and impoverish the UK. And not a peep from the scientific community in general and the climate science community in particular. Like it or not Richard, climate scientists are up to their armpits in policy and activism and there will be a price to pay for getting out of their box and trying to influence policy, when, if I'm sure it will, the catastrophic narrative is proved to be nonsense.

Nov 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I'm not sure where you are coming from Richard. There is so much pseudo-science out there on official climate web sites. I list a few:
Heat-trapping gases
Radiation-trapping gases
Radiative forcing
Back radiation heating the earth
Splicing datasets
Reversing the null hypothesis
Adjusting raw data
Making up data
Calling computer model runs experiments

All these things are practiced by climate pseudo-scientists.

Nov 3, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteeptown

Contrary to some previous commenters, I find the following four works to be generally complimentary and not significantly inconsistent:

- Judy Curry's talk at the Sante Fe conference (Fall 2011)

- Donna Laframboise's new book exposing the IPCC

- Andrew Montford's book 'The Hockey Stick Illusion'

- Matt Ridely’s lecture at the RSA (Fall 2011)

Healthy scientific and intellectual discourse will include those perspectives as long as we do not acquiesce to the fallacy of authority that seems to dominate the current climate science community and the IPCC.

I am optimistic for more healthy developments in climate science.


Nov 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

John Whitman - did you mean complementary?

Nov 3, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

John Whitman - did you mean complementary?

Nov 3, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Martin A

Martin A,

Yes, I needed 'complementary'. Thanks.

Errata, my first sentence in my comment ( @Nov 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM ) should read:

"Contrary to some previous commenters, I find the following four works to be generally complimentary complementary and not significantly inconsistent:


Nov 3, 2011 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

Judith's monster thesis is a rework of a very old theme that anyone familiar with the history of ideas will know about, expressed in christianity as 'The Fall'. In medieval times it was that the Ancients knew everything, and that knowledge had been progressively lost - the world sinking into ever greater ignorance.

AGW and CAGW is just another manifestation of the almost universal and hardly ever questioned theme that things are getting worse, despite the huge amount of objective evidence almost everything is in fact getting better.

The interesting question is, why the human propensity to believe that catastrophy is just around the corner on little or no real evidence?

The IPCC and the grant and tenure seeking climate scientists were selling into a market that was anxious to buy.

Science should be protecting us from our collective irrationality, and it was a sad day when under the aegis of the UN some scientists, or at least people calling themselves scientists, went hell for leather to exploit that irrationality.

Fortunately, the power of science is re-asserting itself, albeit slowly, and Judith is one of those at the forefront. I applaud her and others efforts.

Nov 3, 2011 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Bradley

I don't have time to watch now - but do we ever get to see Judy outside of the first intro? I fastforwarded a couple of times, seems only the slides were shown. Which is OK, but I much prefer when the camera goes back and forth.

Nov 3, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterKendra

On Nov 3, 2011 at 7:55 PM, John Whitman said.

Errata, my first sentence in my comment ( @Nov 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM ) should read:
"Contrary to some previous commenters, I find the following four works to be generally complimentary complementary and not significantly inconsistent:"

Of course, "errata" is the plural. I am sure you meant to say "erratum". If you append this error correction, "errata" will then be correct, making the correction an error. Oh my. What to do? Will creating this paradox cause the end of the world as we know it?



Nov 3, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary Turner

@Peter Walsh Nov 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM

This hopefully means that Dr Curry has read [The Hockey Stick Illusion]

Considering a recent comment Dr. Curry made:

[...] I give Montford’s book The Hockey Stick Illusion a full 5 stars. Montford’s book will stand the test of time in terms of a history of science book about this episode, and it is being cited in scholarly papers (check google scholar). It remains to be seen whether Laframboise’s book will achieve the same stature. That said, Laframboise’s book may be more influential politically in the short term.

I think we can rest assured that Dr. Curry has definitely read the book ;-)

I watched her presentation last night, and very much enjoyed it! It would have been nice if the sounds of crockery and cutlery in the background could have been muted, but one can't have everything!

P.S. @Kendra Nov 3, 2011 at 8:47 PM - Yes, the camera does go back and forth; although perhaps not as often as one might wish. In thinking about this, though, and other videos (or transcripts) of presentations where many/most slides are often not shown [and folks are asking to see the slides!] - I would say this was a reasonable balance.

Nov 3, 2011 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Of course, "errata" is the plural. I am sure you meant to say "erratum". If you append this error correction, "errata" will then be correct, making the correction an error. Oh my. What to do? Will creating this paradox cause the end of the world as we know it?



Nov 3, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Gary Turner


Gary Turner,

Oops. Thanks.

But then again, you did understand what I was saying even if the plurals were squishy, right?

/parody on

On the other hand, was I teleconnecting to a future comment error (thus more than one error; plural) some spatial and temporal distance from my original comment error? We may never know, But we could consult GISS on the teleconnecting thingy.

parody off/

Cheers to you too. : )


Nov 3, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

Prof Curry is a brave lady as well as a scientist willing to interpret data as scientists should.

All the best Prof Curry in your efforts to recover climate science from the sad depths it has fallen to.

Nov 3, 2011 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce of Newcastle

John W:
Please note that I made somewhat the same point at 3:45 above, but managed to spell complement the right way. ;>)
I think Donna's book addresses a somewhat different issue - more about the politics than the behavior, psychology and methodological biases of climate scientists.

Nov 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

I think Donna's book addresses a somewhat different issue - more about the politics than the behavior, psychology and methodological biases of climate scientists.

Nov 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM | Bernie


Hey, thanks for your comment.

I agree.

Each of the four takes different initial focuses and each use unique analyses/approaches. I think when all four are added together, a bigger view is achieved that tends to be complementary; though each is looking at a different part of the climate science arena.

Good night, getting late here.


Nov 4, 2011 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

It's not so much the human propensity to believe in deterioration and catastrophe as it is the human need to assume guilt. This need was anciently exploited in order to govern and is just as useful now as it was then. The utility comes at least in part from an element of truth; humans are responsible for the consequences of their actions, and to some degree all human action impacts the surroundings.

It's Kevin Trenberth's contorted null writ large and general.

All in all, though, I remain glad we are human. We could be much worse. Imagine us all guilt free.

Nov 4, 2011 at 5:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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