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BBC review of science coming

Updated on Jul 19, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The long-awaited BBC review of science coverage is going to be published tomorrow according to the Mail.

According to the article, the BBC is going to challenge sceptics much harder, but there is no word of Brian Cox's Orwellian solution - having any programme that challenges mainstream science flagged as a minority view. I wonder if this means that they have stepped back from the edge. I for one have no objections to being challenged, as this gives the audience a better opportunity to judge how sound one's arguments are.

Click to read more ...


Tinfoil hat time

OK, this is slightly tinfoil hat-ish, but look at this video of Sir David King speaking just after Climategate.

At about seven minutes, he speaks of the hacking being incredibly sophisticated, and mentions not only disclosure of data but accessing of phone records.

Funny coincidence.


(H/T Tallbloke)


The bulldog that didn't bark

Tamino has been looking at the question of statistical significance in the temperature records. The good news is that he appears to agree with many on the sceptic side of the debate that AR1 is not a suitable model - it's always nice to find some cross-party consensus, particularly when this suggests that the IPCC is wrong. Tamino's preference is for an ARMA(1,1) model.

However, Doug Keenan emails to say that he has been trying to leave a comment suggesting another model:

The statistical model used above is a straight line with ARMA(1,1) noise.  I do not know of a good justification for that model, and it is easy to find alternative models that have a far better statistical fit to the global-temperature data. 
One alternative model is fractional Gaussian noise (also known as "Hurst-Kolmogorov").  Good justification for fGn has been presented by Demetris Koutsoyiannis.  In particular, fGn arises as a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics [Koutsoyiannis, Physica A, 2011].  The AIC value of fGn is also far lower than that of the model used above—you might check this for yourself.  For more details, see the post at Bishop Hill:
The fGn model has no trend.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to have made it through moderation.
Ho hum.
(Peter Gleick is also riffing on statistical significance, pushing Phil Jones' recent claim that the trend since 1995 is significant - we never did find out what basis this had in fact).

HSI on Kindle

Hockey Stick Illusion is now available on Kindle! (Finally!).  It's available from: Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Please spread the word.


Guardian: "No agenda"

The Guardian has an interesting thread in which it appears to deny having an agenda on the AGW issue. Or sort of denies it:

"I don't think that there is any deliberate skewing of our reporting to suit a particular set of beliefs that are at odds with editorial guidelines"



Gagging the sceptics

Nigel Calder is reporting the remarkable news that CERN is forbidding its scientists from "interpreting" the results of Svensmark's CLOUD experiment. In other words, if it's a success, one is not permitted to note that it makes a big dent in arguments for catastrophic global warming.

H/T Matthu


A quote for Paul Nurse

I came across this quote in the transcript of the Guardian Climategate debate last year. It's McIntyre's summing up of the importance of the failure of the inquiries to address the allegations made about the CRU scientists.

If climate scientists are unoffended by the failure to disclose adverse data, unoffended by the `trick' and not committed to the principles of full, true, plain disclosure, the public will react, as they have, by placing less reliance on the pronouncements from the entire field.

The thought struck me that you could delete the word "climate" at the start and the whole thing would stand quite nicely as a message for Paul Nurse, spelling out his responsibilities to science as a whole.


Days of yore - Josh 113

I might be tempted to say "Gotcha' but that would be inappropriate and unkind...

Cartoons by Josh


Illegitimate IPCC

A devastating paper by Jane Goodwin on Iowa State university is discussed at Judy Curry's blog. The subject is the IPCC consensus:

We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought.  If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not.  If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.

Both the paper and the blog post are must-reads.



A mezzo-soprano on climate science

H/T to Biased BBC for this quote from the mezzo-soprano Christine Rice speaking on BBC Radio last week. Before starting her singing career, Rice had been a climatologist and described her experiences thus:

I was amazed really by the inadequacy of what we had, because we're talking about climate change which is over tens of thousands of years as opposed to the twenty years of data that we had. So in a way we were putting out a lot of ideas and not really having concrete scientific research to support it, and I suppose at that point I did lose a little bit of my spark, thinking well I could propose an idea and I could probably draft a thesis that would support it and yet I wouldn't really convince myself necessarily.


De Freitas profile

The New Zealand Herald has a profile of Chris DeFreitas, which seems to be an extended riff on the idea that De Freitas maybe shouldn't be allowed to teach the things he does.

Kiwi climatologist Martin Manning is probably best known for his role in running the IPCC's Technical Services Unit for AR4, where he oversaw all the strangeness over the Wahl and Ammann paper and the non-inclusion of the Wegman and NAS reports. The article quotes Manning's thoughts on De Freitas's academic freedom as follows:

Victoria University's Manning disagrees: "I think Auckland University does have a bit of a problem with a course looking like it is taking one side of the story and a minority view of that." Yes, he believes in freedom expression and that it should be deeply ingrained in the structure of the university. "The right to have individual views is something that's preserved because it is important - but there does become a point when you have to ask should you be teaching that?"

I'm reminded of Brian Cox and his "Orwellian solution" to the question of allowing airtime to dissenting views. Manning knows he wants to propose something totalitarian, but knows he will be hammered for doing so. So he teeters on the brink, hoping that someone will take the hint.


The respected David King

The former chief scientist Sir David King is in the news again, this time calling for the Kyoto Protocol to be replaced with carbon rationing.

The world should abandon the Kyoto protocol on climate change and move instead to a system where each nation would have a carbon emissions quota based on population, the UK's former chief scientist has urged, in an explosive contribution to the long-running climate negotiations.

Sir David King is one of the most respected figures in climate change policy. He is the architect of the UK's response to global warming, credited with reviving the flagging climate talks in 2004 when he called the problem "a greater threat than international terrorism".

As readers here know, Sir David was responsible for a truly extraordinary bit of "hiding the decline" in his book on global warming. It therefore speaks volumes about the Guardian that they describe him as "one of the most respected figures in climate change policy". I hate to think how the less respected ones behave.


Warm climates of the past

An interesting looking conference at the Royal Society in October:

Warm climates of the past - a lesson for the future?

In several periods in Earth's history, climate has been significantly warmer than present.  What lessons about the future can be learnt from past warm periods?  The answer depends on the quality of reconstructions of past climates, our understanding of their causes, and the validity of climate models which aim to reproduce them.  This meeting will address these exciting and challenging issues.


Hockey Sticks in the wild

Donna Laframboise is looking for sightings of the Hockey Stick in the wild. There is a category on Climate Audit for this kind of thing which has some early examples, but if anyone has any other suggestions, do drop Donna a line.


Beware trolls bearing gifts - Josh 112

H/t Theo Goodwin. Fishy arguments a plenty this week.

Cartoons by Josh