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Statistical death-match

If you have a lot of time on your hands and get excited by tests for unit roots, do have a look at contributions the thread on random walks at Tamino's blog and the longer (much longer!) subsequent thread at Bart Vergheggen's.

VS, for that is his nom-de-blog, reckons that the temperature records are a random walk (or something like one) which means that many standard statistical approaches to measuring trends, including all the ones currently used in climatology, are invalid.

The thread is interesting on another level too, with several days of calm debate at Bart's site rudely interrupted by an invasion of trolls from Tamino's.

Statistics wasn't supposed to be this much fun.


Josh 12



Big Oil forgets to bribe McKitrick

Hans von Storch reports that Edinburgh University's Tom Crowley has been doing some auditing himself, writing to Ross McKitrick to find out how much loot the Canadian is receiving from Big Oil.

Unfortunately it appears that the well-organised denier movement forgot to fund one of the most prominent sceptics of all.

Which prompts a question:

Are the Hockey Team conspiracy theorists?



Climate cuttings 37

Global warming campaigners have started what appears to be a concerted media campaign and the media is doing what it always does, failing to question anything they are fed by the PR people inside the climate machine. I've already pointed to Sir John Houghton's article in the Times. We've also had Lord Stern on Radio 4, desperately trying to shift the burden of proof onto those who doubt the word of the activists. US scientists have started a letter writing campaign, led by the usual suspects. The Australians have bashed together a six (!) page report repeating the mantra one more time.

Michael Mann and Judith Curry are interviewed in Discover magazine, as noted in an earlier post. Mann's contribution could probably best be described as "more of the same", while Curry's is fairly breathtaking.

TonyN at Harmless Sky (now up and running again) runs his eye over Peter Stott's recent attribution paper that received quite a lot of media attention this side of the pond.

An Australian academic has accused Steve McIntyre of being behind the UEA "hack". Everyone seems to think that John Quiggin will be lucky to get away without being sued.

Richard Tol continues to tear Working Group III's work to shreds. He finds that the IPCC's claim that emissions can be reduced at zero marginal cost is wrong.

BH reader, Adrian Ashfield, has been engaging in some correspondence with the HockeyStickMeister himself in the pages of his local paper. Original letter here, Mann's response here.


Judith Curry in Discover

An omigosh moment, this. Read Judith Curry's interview with Discover magazine. (Judith is a senior climatologist, from Georgia Tech).

Some choice excerpts:

Where do you come down on the whole subject of uncertainty in the climate science?
I’m very concerned about the way uncertainty is being treated. The IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] took a shortcut on the actual scientific uncertainty analysis on a lot of the issues, particularly the temperature records.


Is this a case of politics getting in the way of science?
No. It’s sloppiness. It’s just how our field has evolved. One of the things that McIntyre and McKitrick pointed out was that a lot of the statistical methods used in our field are sloppy. We have trends for which we don’t even give a confidence interval. The IPCC concluded that most of the warming of the latter 20th century was very likely caused by humans. Well, as far as I know, that conclusion was mostly a negotiation, in terms of calling it “likely” or “very likely.” 


Are you saying that the scientific community, through the IPCC, is asking the world to restructure its entire mode of producing and consuming energy and yet hasn’t done a scientific uncertainty analysis?



Sir John Houghton in the Times

Sir John Houghton is the former head of IPCC WG1 and also key figure in the story of the Hockey Stick's use as a promotional tool. He has been given some space in the Times today, in which he seeks to defend the integrity of his creation and the honour of climalogists in general.

It's well worth a read, but it's amusing to note that he accepts the glaciergate errors, which you will remember involved the use of claims from a WWF report. At the same time Sir John also claims that:

...a report from Greenpeace or any other campaigning body would not be included because the science would not be considered robust enough.


There are also some interesting claims about the recent lack of warming being a function of El Nino and natural variation. Lucia might have something to say aon thios subject.


Josh 11

More cartoons by Josh here.


Dowlatabadi on alarmism

Choice quote from Hadi Dowlatibadi, Lindzen's co-interviewee in the video linked in the last post. At the tail end of a discussion of aerosols, Dowlatabadi, a mathematician working in the climate area and not, to my knowledge a sceptic, said this:

Our commitment to speaking with alarm about the process is significant enough to influence the instructions to authors at the IPCC.


(The quote is at 48 mins if you want to check it).



Lindzen on TVO

Just watching a really interesting video interview of Richard Lindzen. It's long, but is actually worth the investment of time, which is not something I usually say about videos.

H/T Josh in the comments.


Harmless Sky

TonyN at Harmless Sky blog emails to say that his site will be down until the early part of next week and that he is still alive and kicking.


Questions for David Shukman

The Royal Geographical Society blog is asking if anyone has any questions for the BBC's Environment Correspondent, David Shukman who they will be interviewing next week. Details here.

I'm sure everyone will be polite...please.


Top 100 on Amazon

I've just crept into the top 100 books on, number two in popular science behind Ben Goldacre. I'm also at number 428 on




Josh 10

More cartoons by Josh here.



An interesting medical paper

I chanced upon this abstract, which somehow seems very pertinent to the discussions we've been having on this site. If anyone can lay their hands on the full paper I'd be interested.

In the last 20 years there has been a progressive decline in the honesty of scientific communications. In science truth should be the primary value, and truthfulness the core evaluation. Everyone should be honest at all times and about everything, but especially scientists. On the contrary, the activity stops being science and becomes something else: Zombie science, a science that is dead but it is artificially kept moving by a continuous infusion of funding. Many are the causes of dishonesty in science, for example scientists may be subjected to such pressure that they are forced to be dishonest. The corruption of science has been amplified by the replacement of "peer usage" with "peer review" as the major mechanism of scientific evaluation, thus creating space into which dishonesty has expanded. The hope is in an ethical revolution capable of re-establishing the primary purpose of science: the pursuit of truth.

Medical Hypotheses 2009;73:633-5



The IoP blog on the Nature trick

The Institute of Physics blog has a posting on the furore over its submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee. Among the gems are this:

[Mike's Nature trick], as mentioned by Jones in one of his e-mails to Mann, Bradley and Hughes, is a statistical method that is widely accepted in the climate community and is applied to proxy measurements in the years since 1960. It deals with the problem that some tree rings in certain parts of the world have stopped getting bigger since that time, when they ought to have been increasing in size if the world is warming.

"Widely accepted" is an, ahem, interesting way of putting it, given that Michael Mann himself says that nobody has ever grafted instrumental temperatures onto proxy records.

And there's more. Take a look at this from Rasmus Benestad:

According to physicist Rasmus Benestad from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and a blogger for, Jones’ reference to "hiding the decline" could have involved removing some tree-ring proxy data from the analysis after 1960 to produce a curve that agrees better with the evidence for global warming.

Throw out evidence that doesn't match your hypothesis? Can he really have said that?