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« Sir John B on climate change and food | Main | A new history of Climategate »

More Mother Jones

I missed the video embedded in the Mother Jones article. This is hugely funny. The author seems to think that hide the decline was something to do with assessing twentieth century temperatures:

...all the fuss over the decline came from one obscure dataset showing tree ring densities in some high latitude regions. When that data was computed in one specific way, that formula gave scientists the wrong idea about the Earth's climate over multiple centuries, and when they realised this they stopped using that formula on tree ring data to look at temperatures after 1960 and relied more on things like, say, actual recorded closed.

Ye gods, even the Hockey Team guys aren't arguing anything so daft. Mother Jones, if you're listening, the point is that the Briffa series doesn't track temperature - it declines while instrumental temperatures are going up. If tree rings (at least some of them) don't track temperature nowadays, it is not possible to use them to recreate temperatures of the past. The point about hide the decline is what it tells about what is knowable about medieval times, not about modern temperatures.

Hilariously, this video came to you via one of Mother Jones' factcheckers!

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Reader Comments (24)

Kate Sheppard an occasional contributor to Hoggan's Desmogblog... EOM!

Apr 21, 2011 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

"Kate Sheppard an occasional contributor to Hoggan's Desmogblog... EOM!" --TomRude

You mean "case closed," don't you, Tom?

Apr 21, 2011 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Well, I suppose that Prof Jones's Mum would say something along those lines, wouldn't she? One doesn't trouble with facts when one is the parent of the wunderkind.

Apr 21, 2011 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"...that formula gave scientists the wrong idea about the Earth's climate over multiple centuries, and when they realised this they stopped using that formula on tree ring data to look at temperatures after 1960..."

So they used "the wrong" data where it agreed with their hypothesis, and only "stopped using that formula" after 1960 when it no longer agreed. Apparently that's now acceptable scientific practice!

Apr 21, 2011 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

I can't resist posting the Rachel Sequoia video as a follow up to this post. I suspect that Rachel went to the same University as the Mother Jones research supremo:

Apr 21, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

This was linked in the Mojo comments on the posting: it's pretty revealing.

Apr 21, 2011 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson Presence

Fact Checked! Liberals are some of the most math and science challenged people on the planet.

Apr 21, 2011 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

So, the Warmista do have a communications problem. It is with their own faithful, even their own faithful communicators. No, wait a minute. Maybe this is the first step in communicating with the faithful. Maybe the language of this Mother Jones piece is something that the Green faithful can understand, so to speak.

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

The sum up on that video was so incredibly wrong on the facts, that it is horrible to think that it will stand as a "fact check" for all time.

Just a suggestion, but you have some clout, in re HSI, that perhaps they might listen if you contacted them.

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterThomasL

Showing, once again, why we don't have Humanities majors in charge of large construction projects.

They's dumb.

Apr 22, 2011 at 1:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermojo

I know not, who or what Mother Jones is, but I do like it when she talks “dirty”! Every time somebody brings up Climategate I rejoice, no matter what their slant, the more the merrier! More scope for a sequel dear Bish, having let them all spout first though.

I wonder who could be next? Aunt Briffa? Maiden Aunt Mann? Sister Schmidt? Or even rascal Romm?

Time will tell

Apr 22, 2011 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Greens waving the white flag - lead article in The New Republic.

Apr 22, 2011 at 5:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale

I made the following post on Climate Audit earlier.

Jimmy Haigh
Posted Apr 21, 2011 at 8:37 PM | Permalink | Reply
In the video the narrator introduces Briffa’s letter with: “and then a miracle happened”. This is exactly the phrase which was used on the Climate Audit thread to ‘introduce’ the Climategate e-mails…

Apr 22, 2011 at 6:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh


Apr 22, 2011 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

It's just slightly worse than that: the point of the hockey stick is to show that current warming is unprecedented, because the tree-ring record does not show any previous episodes of similar warming.

However, the tree-ring record doesn't show the current warming either -- the obvious deduction is that, whether the tree-ring record is generally useful or not, it doesn't show episodes of rapid warming.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterAMcguinn

"Mother Jones" - oo's she then? She ain't my Phil's mum, I'll say. My Phil's a good boy.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterProf Jones's Mum

"...and when they realised this they stopped using that formula for and relied on things like, say, actual recorded temperatures"

Gee, aren't we all stupid expecting the proxy to carry on, when we have like, um, real thermometers now dude and so we can lift the proxy series up or down and attach it to the real temperature record.

And Wow! The "decline" apparently all boils down to a "formula" that gave climate scientist the wrong idea and so they stopped using after 1960.

Utter bilge, the only good thing about this drivel is that seeing that it has the tacit blessing of the team who advised the reporter, this explanation can be held to account with them later on.

Apr 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


"Mother Jones Endorses Data Mixing and Cherry-Picking"

In a call to arms she said; OK boys remember your mission - and don't let the facts deter you - screw the scientific method!

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

We are seeing another example of that type of poor quality reporting that is basically only about providing a link so you can say "well X has been debunked see this link".

Think zebra crossings are striped? Well think again. Kate Shepard has a devastating new report that proves black is white and it has been fact checked ;)

Apr 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

We are seeing another example of that type of poor quality reporting that is basically only about providing a link so you can say "well X has been debunked see this link".

Isn't that RealClimate's primary purpose?

Apr 22, 2011 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Speaking of math, here is a short primer for AGW:
Scientists + Agenda + Credulous press + social standing (profit) = Crap science.

Crap science + profit motive + power of belonging = compelling social movement

compelling social movement + popularity + crap science = Bad politics

Bad politics + compelling social movement = bad policy

bad policy + compelling social movement + profit motive = more money for bad science

more money for bad science + credulous press = compelling crap stories

compelling crap stories + compelling social movement + bad policy = bad laws
bad laws = waste of public money + bad outcomes

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Actually, I tend to think kind thoughts on the fact checker. She tried, and she asked real questions of the team. How many warmests even ask the questions, let alone dig for answers? rhetorical question: answer...none.

With the responses that will be generated from her efforts, I expect she will wind up being a bit more "skeptical" of the team's pronouncements from now on.

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Forbes

It seems like such a simple concept: a proxy which exactly predicts the known past (on account of curve fitting) and is assume to be very precise about the distant past, despite an inability to track the present.

So, clearly a proxy which deviates from new readings is not a useful proxy (let alone one good to a fraction of a degree).

But, since it give us the answer we want, we are supposed to assume its ability to read temperature no longer works.

I am reading 'Future Babble' which anybody who listens to any predictions about anything should check out. There are some good lines in there, including one about how the pyramids were able to predict anything except the present.

Apr 24, 2011 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMingy

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Sep 25, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterivanovvv86

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