Skepticalscience.com quote surgery on Pat Michaels

I read with amusement Skepticalscience’s latest in their lineup of posts on climate scientists whose views diverge from the consensus. First it was the ‘Michaels Mischiefs’ series. Now he’s been turned into a ‘serial deleter’. Michaels’ probably getting off easy – John Christy is stuck with ‘Christy’s Crocks’. I guess if you run a website, you can call people whatever names you want.

The present story though goes to Pat Michaels’ ‘More Ice than ever‘, an article that appeared in American Spectator way back in February 2008. Michaels was then responding to a alarmist Washington Post news item on Antarctic ice loss reported by Rignot and co-authors. The article draws attention to increasing Antarctic sea ice, and how little information there was on whether the Antarctic land ice was really going down, or its significance.

Now direct your attention to this article at Skepticalscience.com. This is them trying to ‘debunk’  a supposed Antarctic myth.

(c) SkepticalScience

It begins with a quote attributed to Pat Michaels, linked to the American Spectator article:

“The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level since satellites began to monitor it almost 30 years ago. It’s simply too cold for rain in Antarctica and it’ll stay that way for a very long time. The bottom line is there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.”

You can examine the Spectator article—the above passage does not appear at all. It has been created by pulling together sentences from two different places. Skepticalscience.com then provides the rebuttal, beginning as follows (emphasis in original):

“Skeptic arguments that Antarctica is gaining ice frequently hinge on an error of omission, namely ignoring the difference between land ice and sea ice.”

In his article, Michaels wrote:

 [...]

So it’s not warming up, and the snowfall data are equivocal, yet the continent is experiencing a net loss of ice. How can this be, and is it even important? The current hypothesis is that warmer waters beneath the surface are somehow loosening the ice. That’s plausible, but again, there’s precious little proof of it.

And further, the bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.

Whereas John Cook says Michaels wrote:

 “The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level since satellites began to monitor it almost 30 years ago. It’s simply too cold for rain in Antarctica and it’ll stay that way for a very long time. The bottom line is there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.”

Cook makes Pat Michaels look like an ignorant stereotypical ‘denier’ who says that ice cannot melt because it is too cold to rain and craftily ignores the distinction between land ice and sea ice. Only Michaels did nothing of the sort. Indeed in the conclusion he says:

 One of the tired tropes that reverberate throughout global warming reporting is that inconvenient facts get left out. In this case, it’s blatant. Midway through the Post’s page-long article comes a statement that “these new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate.” Wouldn’t that have been an appropriate place to note that, despite a small recent loss of ice from the Antarctic landmass, the ice field surrounding Antarctica is now larger than ever measured?

Which is what Cook puts down as well. Only Michaels said it before Cook/Skepticalscience did.

In other words, Skepticalscience.com creates an impression that ‘skeptic arguments’ are grossly wrong and simplistic, uses a manipulated quote from Michaels’ article to exemplify such a position, and then proceeds to provide a rebuttal which consists exactly of the same facts laid by him in the first place.

John Cook, who seems to have a need to create ‘skeptical myths’ out of whole cloth (in order to debunk them), has consistently had a problem representing what people say (see here, here and here). An earlier version of his Antarctic ice post carried a slightly different passage. Even then, Cook lopped off a crucial sentence about IPCC predictions on Antarctic sea ice from Michaels’ original.

From the Waybackmachine: Skepticalscience quotes Pat Michaels in 2008 – A sentence is missing

Skepticalscience.com are free to nurture their delusions about skeptics, but it should not be at the cost of false representation.

Update: A Skepticalscience.com author dana ‘corrected’ the quoted passage by inserting ellipsis marks between the sentences. Quickly following the move, the whole Pat Michaels quote has now been taken down silently and replaced by an article summary from journalist Greg Roberts’ piece in The Australian. Unfortunately the Australian’s article too makes the clear distinction between land ice and sea ice. At this point, it is unclear which skeptic actually said anything resembling what John Cook and his cohort claim they do.

Further update: The Skepticalscience article now carries this at the end:

On 20 Jan 2012, we revised this article upon learning it referenced an incorrect quote. We apologize to Dr. Michaels and to our readers for the error.

Readers point out this is an useful graphic to show what was done:

[minor edits]

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52 comments

  • Thanks for this. I think it applies to most of the site.

    The worst thing about SS is that scores of.ignorant journalists take it as Revealed Truth.

  • Sadly, the clowns at sceptical science are held up as if they are a shining light of reason by those who want to believe in the religion of Mann Made Global Warming ™. Far too often its supposedly intelligent scientists themselves who are quoting Skeptical Science to back their opinions up.

    To me, the difference between the cultists of Mann Made Global Warming ™ and sceptics is that its the sceptics that are open minded while its the cultists that do everything to dictate how conversations are controlled.

    Regards

    Mailman

  • Thank you Shub for your work on this – much appreciated. I think people using distortion to promote agendas should be held to account – on all sides. SkS stand out to me as being particularly dishonest – and the above is a perfect example.
    It seems such a painful irony to use two words linked to noble endeavours/attitudes and to besmirch them with the kind of tawdry partisan sophistry practised by ‘Skeptical Science’.

  • Scott “Super” Mandia allows and encourages his students to use SKS as a source for their papers in his class. I wonder, now that Peter Gleick (big SKS promoter) is a NCSE board member, if all school children will be required to read SKS as part of their science curriculum?

  • In an ongoing open thread at The Blackboard, there’s been a discussion of SkS’ recent charge that Michaels is a Serial Deleter. As is the way of these things, that conversation is interwoven with others, making the arguments harder to follow.

    Anyway, it begins at Comment #88665 and continues through #88771.

    My own view: neither Michaels nor SkS comes off looking particularly good in their exchange (see #88766).

  • Good work, but I need to say the level of mangling has been underplayed! They haven’t just joined sentences to form a new paragraph they’ve altered the internal grammar as well. (though all up the altered meaning is the worst consequence)

    Actual: The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level since satellites began to monitor it almost 30 years ago
    SkS 2008: The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level ever measured for this time of the year, since satellites first began to monitor it almost 30 years ago.
    SkS 2012: The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level since satellites began to monitor it almost 30 years ago.

    Actual: It’s simply too cold for rain in Antarctica, and it’ll stay that way for a very long time.
    SkS same apart from comma.

    Actual (own paragraph): And further, the bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.
    SkS 2008: The bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica
    SkS 2012: The bottom line is there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.

    There’s no excuse for getting it so wrong, if you want to quote the man you just swipe your mouse over his text and hit copy, as I did to get the above. The removal of “And further” was needed to give the impression they were quoting a block of text verbatim, it’s outright deception they’ve engaged in. This is already on Bishop hope Anthony picks it up too.

  • The slight misquote was unintentional. Thank you for discovering it – I have corrected the page in question. If you find any other such errors, please post them in the comments on SkS so we may correct them as quickly as possible. We strive to always get the facts right on SkS, but of course everyone makes mistakes.

  • Pingback: A Response to Skeptical Science’s “Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data” | Watts Up With That?

  • hengist mcstone

    I think you’re giving John Cook too much credit here “Cook makes Michaels look like an ignorant stereotypical ‘denier’ “

  • Bentley Strange

    Whereas you, Hengist, look like a standard serial liar and confabulator. What additional untruths are you peddling today ?

  • Hello dana1981- does this mean you’re finally going to bin the silly list of made-up “skeptical arguments” and replace it with original quotes in full and attributed, your take on the topic and the original author’s reply to your comment? And what about providing scientific papers’ conclusions in full, rather than cherrypicked interpretations?

    Because, you know, everything else makes SkS look like doctored fiction.

  • Dana

    “The slight misquote was unintentional.”

    Dana please explain how you could have ‘unintentionally’ picked out select quotes from the article in question, and then put them together to make it sound like a single claim. The single phrase used in the SkS article, Pat Michaels clearly never stated. The full context of Pat Michael’s article makes it quite clear what he is saying, yet any reader would not know this from reading your website.

    As shub pointed out

    “Cook makes Michaels look like an ignorant stereotypical ‘denier’ who says that ice cannot melt because it is too cold to rain and craftily ignores the distinction between land ice and sea ice. Only he did nothing of the sort. ”

    The SkS article in question clearly misrepresents Pat Michael argument.

    And you still haven’t answered the fact that Pat Michael’s very clearly acknowledged a decrease in land ice, yet SkS makes no reference to this. In the ‘rebuttal’, John Cook just repeats a fact Pat Michaels has Never denied, yet makes it look as if he has been ‘refuted’.

    Dana the SkS ‘rebuttal’ was obviously very misleading, and I can’t see how it could possibly have been unintentional. And I now see on the article in question you appear to have quietly got rid of Pat michaels article and referenced an entirely different one completely. Therefore there is now no way for readers to check Pat Michaels argument themselves, and see how you misrepresented it.

    One other thing,as Shub pointed out several months ago, your blog has repeatedly removed, and edited comments, simply because of the fact that they were inconvenient
    http://nigguraths.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/skepticalscience-rewriting-history/
    And I’ll note that your website has not responded to the article.

    Care to explain it away?

  • Whoops I botched up the first “Actual” (3am posting), should be:

    Actual: Antarctica is now at the highest level ever measured for this time of the year, since satellites first began to monitor it almost thirty years ago.

    Both SkS versions are quite different.

  • You had to change the grammar of 2 sentences to make it look like the manufactured block was contiguous. This approach required more work than presenting a verbatim quote so the only striving going on here is geared towards deceiving your readers with falsified quotes.

    We see in this example why you’ve got that rule forbidding allegations of deception.

  • dana,
    Your insertion of ellipsis only further betrays a casual attitude toward representing other peoples’ words.

    [1] The ellipsis you threw in, makes things worse. It draws attention to the stringing together of bits and pieces of sentences, to create an impression that was not present in the original. Look at this image to see the parts that had to be pulled together to create the quote. Can you see how far apart they are? If anything, this illustrates the jaundiced vision with which you view what a skeptic would say

    [2] It comes across as insincere. What text you have up on the page, still doesn’t exist in the original.

    [3] Everyone may mangle a quote on occasion. Not everyone follows high standards of scholarly practice. But what Skepticalscience did with Michaels was to change the meaning of what he said, into its opposite.

    [4] Why are you messing around with the quoted text? You didn’t write it in the first place.

    [5] Many of your website’s so-called skeptical myths, similarly, don’t exist. Stop imagining them so you can make as though you are valiantly battling them. You are spreading confusion, creating false impressions, and slandering regular everyday people by doing so.

    And lastly, do you have any idea of the number of problems that have been pointed out to you folk, just on the Antarctica thread alone?

  • “ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica” is the title of the Australian article, as SkS posted. The first lines are “ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.” And those quote are not true. “Around” Antarctica, yes, but not “in” it.

    Your original article should note the loss of Arctic sea ice far exceed the gain in Antarctic sea ice (something the Royal Society makes clear in their current global warming position paper).

  • erschroe,

    Byt the same token, Cook’s article is titled ‘Is Antarctic ice increasing or decreasing?’

    Even to date, Cook’s claims of ‘accelerating ice loss’ are based on data series not more than 10 years in length. How do you see those who point out to the last 10 years of temperature standstill and predict cooling out into the future?

  • I’m a professional geologist, and an ardent skeptic.

    In the years that I’ve been struggling to gain an unbiased understanding of contemporary climate change, I have NEVER, EVER heard an AGW Denialist admit to having been wrong about anything. Unwillingness to admit to error is a useful criterion for distinguishing valid skepticism from dogmatic denialism. (Bear in mind, I do not claim that AGW Deniaists are necessarily wrong in their conclusions… only that their arguments are often specious, and their conclusions effectively non-falsifiable. I’m well aware that AGW Denialists commonly make the same accusation against the scientists they derisively describe as “Believers”, however, I’ve seen little evidence to support this.)

    The recent correction by SkepticalScience.com of the erroneous quote from Pat Michaels provides demonstration (to me) of their commitment to providing valid, verifiable information on climate change. This is why the site was established in the first place.

    In contrast, the vitriol that has greeted skeptic Richard Muller’s BEST report provides a telling example of what I’m describing as denialism.

    More to the point, Pat MIchaels response to the SkS article provided an opportunity for him to address concerns that the modifications he made to various diagrams clearly misrepresented the conclusions of the papers he was citing. He chose not to “come clean” about this, but offered what I viewed as a lame rationalization. Those of us who are SINCERELY interested in understanding the issues resent this sort of manipulation.

    It’s unfortunate that SkS used a quote from a secondary source that proved not to be accurate; however, when informed of it, they moved quickly to correct it. Otherwise, I feel their quotations and examples provided a reasonable representation of what Michaels said and did. I appreciate this, as I don’t have the time to “suss out” all these things on my own. Accordingly, I will continue to turn to SkS to help me to “get to the bottom” of many confusing questions in the climate debate.

  • I’m assuming you are referring to the article at Skeptical Science entitled, “Is Antarctica losing or gaining ice?” (http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

    The article makes a straightforward empirical observation. The available data show pretty clearly that the rate of land ice loss is accelerating. This is an important piece of information for someone wanting to assess the evidence for warming (irrespective of driver). It’s similarly important to know that the globally averaged rate of warming has slowed, as this will have important implications regarding the redistribution of accumulated solar energy and/or climate sensitivity to GHG-driven radiative forcing. Extrapolation of these trends into the future absent an understanding of the processes controlling them is ill-advised in either case, as is ignoring the presently available trends until we have another 20 years worth.

  • “Extrapolation of these trends into the future absent an understanding of the processes controlling them is ill-advised in either case…”

    Exactly the point I was making.

  • TP,
    My ‘sussing out’ Skepticalscience.com’s quoting exercises pre-date the recent brouhaha by a good amount of time. I offered it as a comment on a thread followed by Skepticalscience commenters. No action was taken.

    Action is taken however, when the same findings rise to prominence depending on circumstances. This has happened with Skepticalscience, three times, in my experience. The ‘willingness’ to correct mistakes, as occurs under these conditions, unfortunately cannot be interpreted as a positive sign.

    Your description of the error as an unfortunate occurence that somehow proved itself inaccurate is, shall we say, only to go a bit easy on them and perhaps yourself?

    I would agree that Cook himself appears open-minded, and responsive to critiques. But the general atmosphere of his site has taken a tumble due to a clique of participants who increasingly seem to wield control over its tone and content.

    I have looked into the issue of Pat Michaels’ graphs. I am unconvinced that he did anything wrong. If you take someone’s graph and rub off a few lines, it is not an issue as long as it clear what you did. Indeed I think the argument made by Skepticalscience in this regard makes them look stupid.

    Climate science is a complicated soft science with no definitive source of information that can simply be trusted, and there are no shortcuts. One is forced, again and again, to go to the source directly. In many instances it is quite clear that the press release or even the auhors’ own discussion does not do justice to ‘what the data says’. Under such circumstances I would hesitate to simply give a clean bill of health to the whole website, and would rather take one question at a time and explore it on my own, rather than continuing to suspend one’s critical faculties in order to be able to use it as a source.

  • You are quite right about the difficulty of finding data and interpretations that one can feel confident have not been influenced by a political agenda. The intrusion of politics into the science has been disastrous from the standpoint of rational dialog. That said, I’ve observed relatively little obvious intrusion of politics into the conventional science, but with even a casual glance at most “skeptical” web sites, the politics will hit you right between the eyes… some more than others, of course.

    Patrick Michaels’ affiliation with the Cato Institute immediately raises suspicions regarding his objectivity and goals. (Sorry.. I know that sounds ‘ad hominem’. It’s not intended to be. I still would want to let the data speak for itself, but at this point, the climate change debate has become so highly politicized, one has to be aware of the possibility of political agendas intruding on how data are presented. In this regard, it just so happens that the changes Michaels made were consistently in the direction of: a) discrediting previous scientific work, and b) minimizing the interpreted impact of anthropogenic forcing(s). This consistency makes me suspicious.

    Given the present politicized environment, if Michaels truly wants to maintain scientific credibility, he would need to take extra-special care to be completely transparent regarding his arguments and methodology. Otherwise, people will get the impression that he’s “spinning” the data to support a particular interpretation, whether he is or not… And that, I’m afraid, is precisely what has happened in the “blow-back” regarding his previous work.

    e.g. I don’t think it was necessarily inappropriate for Michaels to have used only the “Business as usual scenario” from Hansen’s 1988 climate projections, but it wasn’t appropriate to do so without CLEARLY acknowledging that only one of the three scenarios was depicted. I don’t believe this was made clear. As a result, it cast Hansen’s predictions in the worst possible light. Could this have been his goal?

    Hansen’s 1988 climate sensitivity may have been larger than they should be. If so, my impression is that Hansen himself will be quite happy to be proved wrong. I take his concerns about the impact of GHG forcing as sincere. Unfortunately, we still don’t know enough to answer this with a high degree of confidence.

    Michaels’ ex post facto explanations ring a bit hollow, as they were offered only after his modifications were pointed out. If he had been more forthright about if from the beginning, the entire flap would have been avoided… but frankly, I don’t think this would have suited his purposes. (Just my suspicion!).

    And there’s no reason to pin this entirely on SkepticalScience either. After all, they have quotes from the original authors indicating that they, too, felt that their work had been misrepresented.

    Regarding SkepticalScience.com…. No source can be regarded as completely free of bias, and SkS, is not exempt, particularly if, as you say, there are a variety of people contributing to the content.

    I cannot explain the various deleted comments that you’ve documented, but I tend not to see it in a nefarious light. From my perspective, they seem to maintain a pretty open forum for the expression of dissenting views, assuming that certain standards of decorum are maintained. I gain a lot from seeing the skeptical responses and replies. It’s not my sense that they are trying to muzzle dissenting voices, but only trying to keep things focused on science.

    It’s possible that some deleted comments were perceived as violating the standards. In other cases, certain comments may have been deleted in an effort to keep the content up to date (where certain other information had been modified or updated). In addition, there may have been some deletions that were inappropriate in retrospect. It’s hard to imagine that this would not occur occasionally, but I’m just speculating. In any case, I don’t think this defines the overall character of the site. Nothing is perfect, and despite any flaws I still find it quite helpful.

  • Thomas – please be serious. Little obvious intrusion of politics in conventional science???

    Let me guess…you don’t even know what Climategate is, never heard of John Houghton, and have only a SkS knowledge of the IPCC

  • I’m generally pretty serious about science, Maurizio, so there’s no need to encourage me. That’s why my efforts to understand climate science are based on science, and not by prying into people’s private email correspondence. I much prefer to stick to published papers, as well as Web sites that I have found to be helpful and generally reliable.

    I find your reference to Climategate quite apropos as an example of the unwelcome intrusion of politics into science. The hacked emails proved to be a “tempest in a teapot”. All the scientists implicated were cleared of misconduct by the various panels who investigated them. (That’s not my opinion, but an empirical fact.) This didn’t stop partisan politicians in the U.S. Congress from conducting a “witch hunt” and making unfounded accusations. I’m aware, of course, that there is a cult of paranoia in the who believe the Climategate emails provide evidence of some sort of conspiracy… but as I say, I’m interested in science, not conspiracy theories, and there was nothing in Climategate that influenced my understanding of climate science one way or the other.

    As for the IPCC… Of course I’m familiar with them in many other contexts other than SkepticalScience. I regard it to be one of the remarkable accomplishments of modern times that 194 countries–capitalist, communist, socialist and totalitarian–1st world, 2nd world, and 3rd world–India and Pakistan—Russia, China, and the USA–India and China– Greece and Turkey, etc. are members of the IPCC and can contribute toward the contents of the IPCC reports. If you can discern a coherent political agenda among all these participants, I would suggest you have a vivid imagination, because most everything else I’ve seen points to competing agendas.

    On the other hand, perhaps my knowledge of the IPCC is lacking. If you are able to provide actual evidence of a political agenda, please let me know, but bear in mind that I don’t find conspiracy theories titillating or even vaguely believable.

    If it turns out that you have no evidence of a political agenda at IPCC, and merely infer it, based on the their conclusion that there has been a significant human impact on contemporary climate change, I would suggest that you read up on the fallacy of “circular reasoning”.

  • Thomas – we live in different universes. In mine the intrusion of politics affects the science side of the IPCC. The story of John Houghton and the mangling of the chapter on Regional Climate Information is exemplary (and deadly).

    In yours people dismiss evidence as they look for straw men such as a common international political agenda.

    Qed

  • My more prurient side was looking forward to a lurid tale of dastardly deeds and deadly mangling by the evil Sir John, as he imposed his political will on the earnest, though helpless, authors of the chapter on Regional Climate.

    Pielke Jr. seemed quite delighted by your story, but I have to admit, I feel a bit let down. I wasn’t able to find the “mangling” part… And as far as the politics go…. well, I must have missed that as well. (It’s not that I dismiss evidence. It’s more like I just plain-ol’ miss it.)

    Maybe we do live in different universes. I just wish that my universe was the one where there’s no warming. How did you get so lucky, while I get stuck here in the universe where Earth is actually heating up? Drat. I just can’t seem to catch a break.

    (By the way, I think that QED must mean something different in my universe than in yours. Just one more difference, I guess.)

    (Also by the way… Have you ever considered a name change?… say, to dextrologos? Or maybe even hypodextrologos? omnologos may be a bit much to live up to, but I think you’ve got the dextro- part nailed!. Just a idea. ;-)

  • Thomas: I wasn’t able to find the “mangling” part

    Not sure what would convince you. We have a whole IPCC chapter transmogrified between TAR and 4AR into exactly what Houghton had “encouraged” at the beginning. A Lead Author writes privately that “The quality of the global models are too poor to give any clear information about regional climate change” and then puts his signature exactly below that. Etc etc.

    You know what is the word for a person who will never be convinced by any kind of evidence? Well, it’s not “skeptic”.

    Have you ever considered a name change?

    You show no interest in understanding what you’re talking about. How unsurprising.

  • Thomas Paine
    Your many statements do not match with the claim that you are an ‘ardent skeptic’. Maybe you are just a professional geologist.

    Looking at your comments, one is persuaded to think, that what you say is reality whereas what anyone else would say would be ‘politics’.

  • Thomas Paine wrote:

    On the other hand, perhaps my knowledge of the IPCC is lacking. If you are able to provide actual evidence of a political agenda, please let me know

    I’m not sure where you might have acquired your knowledge of the IPCC. No less a personnage than “climate expert” Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair of this august body. has declared that the IPCC’s “primary client” is the UNFCCC – and things do not get much more political than that, do they?

    But, in fairness, I should also note that Pachauri has also declared that the IPCC is not a UN body, so perhaps he is as ignorant of its mission as he is of its origins.

    But, Pachauri aside … your:

    I regard it to be one of the remarkable accomplishments of modern times that 194 countries–capitalist, communist, socialist and totalitarian–1st world, 2nd world, and 3rd world–India and Pakistan—Russia, China, and the USA–India and China– Greece and Turkey, etc. are members of the IPCC and can contribute toward the contents of the IPCC reports

    seems to indicate that you have bought into the myth of miraculous membership. I suppose that (not unlike The Guardian‘s Damian Carrington) you also firmly believe that all of these 194 countries have “approved” various and sundry IPCC reports … for example the SRREN.

    However, by the IPCC’s very own numbers, this claim is, well, unsustainable.Pls. see:

    Of IPCC reports … and press releases in which they “hide the declines”

    But I do appreciate the amusement you have provided with your “seriousness about the science” – and your willingness to come to the aid of the indefensible shenanigans of SkS.

  • I have seen the climate science community pressed to push their data and interpretations beyond conservative limits at times, but I’m still unable to see evidence of “mangling”. So I’ll concede 1/4 of a point to dextro… er,.. omnologos on this.

    I used to be proud of being a skeptic, but now the whole concept has changed. In order to PROVE I’m a skeptic in the modern sense, I’m apparently expected to subscribe to political ideologies that don’t appeal to me. So, by this criterion, I guess I’m not a skeptic, nor would I want to be. I’m just mired in the past, when being a skeptic didn’t require political affiliation. So I’ll concede this point to Shub Niggurath.

    Despite this, I will still lay claim to adhering to “the-approach-to-science-formerly-known-as-skepticism” by admitting that I was wrong about something I said previously (which most modern-day “skeptics” are loath to do):

    In a previous post in this thread, I stated:

    “I don’t think it was necessarily inappropriate for Michaels to have used only the “Business as usual scenario” from Hansen’s 1988 climate projections, but it wasn’t appropriate to do so without CLEARLY acknowledging that only one of the three scenarios was depicted. I don’t believe this was made clear. As a result, it cast Hansen’s predictions in the worst possible light. Could this have been his goal?”

    I now feel there was no justification for Michaels’ manipulation, either in 1998 or (in retrospect) in 2012.

    My revised position is based on two followup posts by dana1981 at SkepticalScience.com, providing further analysis of Pat Michaels’ 1998 Congressional testimony, where Michaels “cherry picked” Hansen’s Scenario A, without making clear that two other scenarios had been deleted, including the one that Hansen described as the “most plausible” (Scenario B), and the one that proved to be the most appropriate in matching the actual net radiative forcing (Scenario C). Anyone interested in this topic should read this updated analysis.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/michaels-continues-to-distort-hansen-1988-part-1.html
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/michaels-continues-to-distort-hansen-1988-part-2.html

    Although I try to apply the principle of multiple working hypotheses, I’m unable to come up with any plausible explanation other than that this was done specifically to cast Hansen’s predictions in the worst possible light. In reality, Hansen’s model fits the measured temperature trend remarkably well, even when extrapolated out to 2010. (see Fig. 1 in the Part 2 SkepticalScience post referenced above.

    dana1981 agrees that Michaels missed an opportunity to “come clean” on this. Anyone can make a mistake, but how many have the courage to admit it? I’m resentful that these sorts of shenanigans vastly increase the amount of work I have to do to try to get at scientific truth. I wonder if anyone else will be inspired to admit to having erred on this topic? It may be too much to hope for, but it could be a cleansing experience. You won’t know until you’ve tried it!

    I suspect this reply will further erode my credibility as a modern-day skeptic, since what I ought to be doing is bashing SkepticalScience, Hansen, and all “warmist” “believers”, but what can I do? As Lady Gaga says, “I was born this way.”

  • You write a lot Thomas but say little. I still don’t know what evidence would you need to see to admit the political mangling of the ipcc science. Also feel free to rationalize whatever SkS tells you to think about Michaels…how can’t you tell though that it is of little interest as the exact opposite could be argued as well, I’m not sure.

    Happy reading of dana1981 and John Cook and if you’ll ever notice an old page change (without notice) at their site, don’t you worry, they’ll explain it had been like that since the beginning of time.

  • Thomas Paine seeing as how you claim to come to conclusions based on the science, and claim be ‘an ardent skeptic’ here is a link you might want to take a look at.

    Here are 900 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

    Now surely you agree that if there is an overwhelming number of peer reviewed papers questioning a theory, then that might be a good reason to change your mind.
    No AGW supporter has EVER been able to provide a credible argument against the list.

    In fact Skeptical science tried too, but their attempt was shown conclusively to be wrong
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2011/02/google-scholar-illiteracy-at-skeptical.html

    Now, you have been talking about the important of admitting being wrong if that is indeed the case.
    Skeptical science NEVER acknowledged that it was wrong about the issue.

    In fact if you read the article you will see that every single attempt to post that rebuttal to SkS was immediately deleted.

    Not only that, but they have now deleted EVERY SINGLE ONE of the comments that Andrew (Poptech) wrote on the article showing how it was wrong. Why would they do this if they actually cared about science

    Thomas Paine, like you said, in science if you are wrong about an issue, then you should admit it, yet skeptical science never did this. It simply tried to stifle dissent.

    Thomas Paine SkS doesn’t care about truth (and therefore science) they just care about “winning” against an argument. The website is extremely biased and not a reliable source of information,

  • TP,
    Hansen’s predictions, if they were any good, must have been robust. They should have come to pass, given the high rate of accumulation of CO2 that has since occurred. Hansen and his supporters should not have to hide behind minutiae.

    Can we agree that Hansen’s predictions have failed in this respect?

    The same is true with James Annan’s bet with David Whitehouse. He should have won it comfortably.

    What Michaels is subjecting Hansen’s graphs to, is a simple stress test. It is telling that it cannot survive such a simple test.

    Look at the latest post on your Skepticalscience. They have a post up where they are trying to ‘prove’ that Michaels’ ‘distorted’ something, by a post-hoc adjustment process of smoothed graph mangling. It is clear they are the ones tying themselves up in knots.

  • “I used to be proud of being a skeptic, but now the whole concept has changed. In order to PROVE I’m a skeptic in the modern sense, I’m apparently expected to subscribe to political ideologies that don’t appeal to me.”

    Well, …two things. Firstly, I am sorry you feel this way, and I can relate to what you are saying.

    Secondly, you are mistaken in the above. You don’t have to subscribe to any political ideologies, much less those that don’t appeal to you, to be a climate skeptic. I know lots of skeptics who are of a political orientation completely opposite to what is stereotypically associated with climate skeptics. I am one myself. …

  • Adam,

    This is somewhat round-about, but I’ll respond to your comment by way of an analog:

    When climate skeptic Richard Muller recently published his re-analysis of the surface temperature data, he made a particular effort to state EXPLICITLY that their group DID NOT address the question of whether there is or is not a significant anthropogenic impact on warming. In other words, their research documented global warming, but did not address the underlying cause.
    (Despite this disclaimer, Muller was castigated by AGW Denialist Marc Moreno, who accused Muller of confusing “warming” and “anthropogenic warming”, when Muller clearly made this distinction. (This is called a Straw Man argument… all too common in AGW Denialism. The concept is relevant to the present discussion, as we should avoid misrepresenting what people actually say.)

    I glanced at just a sampling of the papers listed on the PopularTechnology.net web site. Most of the papers I looked at drew no conclusions, nor made any inferences, regarding AGW. Several were based on the premise that AGW is occurring. So just imagine that the same disclaimer that Muller made also appears in every paper that does not explicitly draw inferences or interpretations claiming to disprove, ACC/AGW. If these papers are removed from the list, the resulting count will be far, far fewer than “900+”. I don’t know how many fewer, but it would be a lot. There are some papers that actually do support “skeptic arguments”, but they are few, and many of them were published in the very controversial journal, E&E, that seems not to have very rigorous standards for publication.

    According to the explanation on at the top of the list, the evidence in each of these papers is either consistent with or, perhaps, “not inconsistent” (double negative!) with skeptic arguments…. but what the article claims is that the papers listed “Support Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW”. In my view, this is deceptive, as these very same papers might be interpreted either as supporting or not disproving AGW, so what is the point, if they actually say nothing one way or the other?

    Scientists drawing conclusions regarding contemporary climate change are obliged to either account for, or to refute previously published data. I have no reason to believe this is not being done in the field of climate science.

    Here is one author’s perspective, taken from Roger Pielke Jr.’s Web site:
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/11/better-recheck-that-list.html

    After repeated communication with the authors of http://www.populartechnology.net I have concluded that the content of the site is intentionally inaccurate and misleading. That list a paper on which I am a coauthor as “skeptical.” Our paper supports the view that man-made climate change is a substantial danger to human health and the environment. The site refused to remove our paper(s) from their list after repeated written requests to do so..

    Regarding SkepticalScience.com, my previously stated position stands. I find it a very helpful and generally resource, the expose on Pat Michaels providing a recent example. I cannot speak to the deletion of the comments by Poptech. I simply don’t know.

  • Thomas – you are so absolutely clueless about the topic, Muller looks like a skeptic to you. Please go stick your “denialist” labels where light doesn’t shine.

    The fact that you find Skeptical Science useful is expected.

  • I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t… agree that Hansen’s model failed.

    CO2 was not the only GHG driving warming during the time interval from 1988 to 1998. Another substantial contributor–CFCs–decreased significantly in concentration, owing to implementation of the Montreal Protocols, partially offsetting the impact of increasing CO2. This is discussed in the two posts by Dana on SkS. In Part 1, he discusses adjustments to the net radiative forcing based on actual atmospheric composition, and in Part 2 he presents the amended model results, extrapolated all the way to 2010.

    Hansen provided three different scenarios for the very reason that he wasn’t sure what would actually occur. The question in 1998 was which of the three models most closely approximated what actually happened…. and the answer was not Scenario A, but Scenario C. Scenario B, which Hansen said was the most plausible, would have been a reasonable choice, but Pat Michaels used Scenario A. If this was inadvertent, it was bad science. If it was intentional, then it was bad science AND it was unethical. Only P.M. knows for sure, but I know what I think.

    Testing the robustness of Hansen’s model is, indeed, a simple matter: 1) Choose which of the three scenarios most closely matched what actually occurred, then plot this versus the actual temperatures observed. This plotted in Dana’s Part 2, and if that’s not robust, I don’t know what the word robust means.

    The sword of skepticism should cut equally in both directions. Keep both edges honed and ready; and don’t be reluctant to use it.

  • TP,
    Hansen called Scenario A as the business as usual scenario. Michaels’ 1998 account was in response. Sometimes, people steeped in the debate fail to provide adequate context to those coming in late. Michaels is certainly guilty of this. I don’t think it can get clearer than this. You are wrong.

  • “I glanced at just a sampling of the papers listed on the PopularTechnology.net web site. Most of the papers I looked at drew no conclusions, nor made any inferences, regarding AGW. ”

    TP how many papers did you actually look at. And can you please list examples to support your claims. I have read a lot of the papers and they do indeed support skeptics arguments. Many of them were published by numerous climate scientists and published in hundreds of peer reviewed journals.
    Could you please provide evidence for all your claims.

    “does not explicitly draw inferences or interpretations claiming to disprove, ACC/AGW. If these papers are removed from the list, the resulting count will be far, far fewer than “900+””

    TP did you even read the list properly. Nowhere does in claim that all the papers on the list “disprove AGW”. The definition of the list is quite clearly stated:

    “Read: The following papers support skeptic arguments against Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC), Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) or ACC/AGW Alarm.

    ACC/AGW Alarm: (defined), “concern relating to a perceived negative environmental or socio-economic effect of ACC/AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.””

    “There are some papers that actually do support “skeptic arguments”, but they are few”

    That is not true. There are hundreds of papers on the list supporting skeptics arguments. You would know this if you had actually had a proper look through the papers without your biased views.

    “and many of them were published in the very controversial journal, E&E, that seems not to have very rigorous standards for publication. ”

    All the misinformation about E&E is thorougly refuted here
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2010/04/correcting-misinformation-about-journal.html

  • “but what the article claims is that the papers listed “Support Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW”. In my view, this is deceptive, as these very same papers might be interpreted either as supporting or not disproving AGW, so what is the point, if they actually say nothing one way or the other? ”

    Once again, have you actually read any of the papers on the list? The scientific data and their conclusions make it quite clear what the papers saying. You are simply speculating, and that speculation is not based on the actual facts regarding the papers.

    “I have no reason to believe this is not being done in the field of climate science. ”

    TP that is based on faith alone.

    And see ‘Rebuttal to Roger Pielke Jr’
    http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=4019

    TP if you have a question or criticism regarding the list, then I suggest that you contact Andrew, who runs the website. I have had numerous contact with him and I assure you he will answer any questions you may have.

    “Regarding SkepticalScience.com, my previously stated position stands. I find it a very helpful and generally resource”

    TP it is a propoganda website. When you actually research, all of their “scientific rebuttals”, you will see they are simply based on strawman arguments and cherrypicked papers.

    “I cannot speak to the deletion of the comments by Poptech. I simply don’t know.”

    Yes, you do. All you need to do is go to the SkS thread in general, and see very clearly that all of Poptech’s hundreds of comments were clearly removed from their website.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/meet-the-denominator.html

    I myself attemped to post many critiques of SkS onto a thread where John Cook claimed there was virtually no scientific critsm of SkS, yet my comment was deleted after about 10 minutes.
    http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/home/9864-john-cook-and-his-award#comment-33825

  • I glanced at just a sampling of the papers listed on the PopularTechnology.net web site. Most of the papers I looked at drew no conclusions, nor made any inferences, regarding AGW. Several were based on the premise that AGW is occurring. So just imagine that the same disclaimer that Muller made also appears in every paper that does not explicitly draw inferences or interpretations claiming to disprove, ACC/AGW. If these papers are removed from the list, the resulting count will be far, far fewer than “900+”. I don’t know how many fewer, but it would be a lot. There are some papers that actually do support “skeptic arguments”, but they are few, and many of them were published in the very controversial journal, E&E, that seems not to have very rigorous standards for publication.

    This is a completely unsubstantiated statement as most of the papers explicitly mention ACC/AGW.

    Since the list includes papers that support skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm naturally it would include papers that support the premise that ACC/AGW is occurring (in some form). As an example a paper can support ACC/AGW is occurring but it is not affecting Hurricanes. According to you these papers should be removed yet ACC/AGW proponents would never use them to support their arguments.

    E&E has a rigorous peer-review process,

    Regular issues include submitted and invited papers that are rigorously peer reviewed.

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2010/04/correcting-misinformation-about-journal.html

    http://ip-science.thomsonreuters.com/cgi-bin/jrnlst/jlresults.cgi?PC=MASTER&ISSN=0958-305X

    According to the explanation on at the top of the list, the evidence in each of these papers is either consistent with or, perhaps, “not inconsistent” (double negative!) with skeptic arguments…. but what the article claims is that the papers listed “Support Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW”. In my view, this is deceptive, as these very same papers might be interpreted either as supporting or not disproving AGW, so what is the point, if they actually say nothing one way or the other?

    There is nothing deceptive about using fully cited peer-reviewed literature to support your argument.

    Here is one author’s perspective, taken from Roger Pielke Jr.’s Web site:
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/11/better-recheck-that-list.html

    After repeated communication with the authors of http://www.populartechnology.net I have concluded that the content of the site is intentionally inaccurate and misleading. That list a paper on which I am a coauthor as “skeptical.” Our paper supports the view that man-made climate change is a substantial danger to human health and the environment. The site refused to remove our paper(s) from their list after repeated written requests to do so..

    I have updated the rebuttal to address this strawman argument,

    http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=4019&st=0&#entry5499173

    The paper in question is,

    Climate Change: The Need to Consider Human Forcings Besides Greenhouse Gases
    (Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, Volume 90, Number 45, pp. 413, November 2009)
    – Roger Pielke Sr. et al.

    It does not include any of the following words,

    man-made (Ironically Roger Pielke Jr. criticized my used of this word as “not scientific”)
    substantial
    danger
    human health

    The paper was not listed as “skeptical” but as, “supporting skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm”. In this case this paper was listed because it supports skeptic arguments that CO2 is not the sole dominant human forcing as the IPCC has argued.

    I cannot speak to the deletion of the comments by Poptech. I simply don’t know.

    I do know and every single one of my hundreds of comments were deleted. If they could simply out debate me then they would have no reason to do so. The fact is they got caught lying and demonstrating they are Google Scholar illiterate.

  • One thing that couldn’t be any clearer is that Michaels was guilty either of scientific incompetence or of willful deception in his Congressional testimony. (I can’t think of a third option.) In defending Michaels’ “business as usual” rationalization, it sounds as if you favor the “scientific incompetence” argument. And as much as I’d be inclined to agree with you, I suspect there was something more involved… but I’m just guessing. Too bad coudn’t admit that Hansen’s model is robust, at least admit that Michaels’ lame argument didn’t prove that it isn’t… But I’ve been around, and know how it goes in this sorts of blog sites.
    ————————————————————————
    Hey, Poptech!!! Here’s an important study you overlooked for your list:

    Geisel, T.S., 1971, The Lorax: New York, Random House, 45 p.

    This is an incisive work that definitely supports skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW at least as much as most of the papers you have listed, by demonstrating that factors other than CO2 cause climate change… and it’s been peer-reviewed millions of times. You can list it under your “Ecological” heading.

    and here’s one more:

    Defoe, D., 1719, Robinson Crusoe: London, W. Taylor, 364 p.

    This is another seminal work, providing evidence that severe storms occurred during the Little Ice Age, from which we can logically infer that worries about them getting more severe is just more silly alarmism.
    You can file it under “Hurricanes”

    ————————————————————————
    For Adam:

    Actually, I’ve read more than a few of the papers in Poptech’s funny list.
    I recommend that you read up on scientific method, then think about what specific hypotheses you want to test, and how the evidence provided in the 950+ papers in Poptech’s list might be taken to provide evidence proving this hypothesis (or–even better–disproving the null hypothesis). This might require some effort, but I’m sure it will be worthwhile, if you’re diligent about it.

    e.g.
    1) Hypothesis: Global Warming could cause large scale retreat of mountain glaciers… or maybe something like: “The retreat of nearly all mountain glaciers in the world SEEMS to provide evidence of global climate change, yet we know that climate change couldn’t be happening, so there must be something wrong with this…..
    2) The papers by Georg Kaser on Poptech’s list have shown that the shrinkage of the ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro was NOT related to warming.
    3) Therefore… if the glaciers on Kilimanjaro are retreating, and it’s not due to warming, then this MUST mean that warming isn’t happening… Or MAYBE it means that warming doesn’t cause retreat of mountain glaciers…. OR>.>> Aw, shucks… NOW Im getting ALL CONFUSED…. but I’m sure Poptech, will be able to ‘xplain what Kaser’s data is supposed to prove, even if I can’t. After all… He’s the one that put them on the list!

    Aside from that, I think I’ve run my course at this site. I think I’ll go argue with my dining room table for a while instead.
    .

  • I’ve suggested two additions for your list in my comment below.

  • “But I’ve been around, and know how it goes in this sorts of blog sites.”

    I’ll be honest. From what you write, it doesn’t sound like you’ve been around at all. Examine your posts here – a duck-and-weave after another for excusing your favourite website’s behaviour, but a predetermined conclusion against Michaels.

    Hansen’s original graph is unscientific. He could have inserted two more trendlines for different ‘scenarios’, he could have inserted 15 more scenarios even – so that any he could claim to have predicted the future temperature course, come what may. Do you believe such an approach has anything to do with science? Prediction is at the heart of first-principle driven scientific activity. It tells that you have *understood* the system you are trying to tackle. Hansen’s ‘C’ graph is roughly horizontal, and ‘A’ graph takes off at about 45 degrees upward. Given that a precipitous rise or fall in temperatures is virtually impossible in the earth system in the timescales between the two hearings which served as a test for Hansen, his prediction range has a 1/2 chance of being right, even if his science was wrong!

    Despite such odds, Hansen actually failed the test Michaels lays out for him – his graph did not follow the business-as-usual pathway. How difficult is this to understand?

    I have looked around for the original testimony transcript, and the back-and-forth over Michaels’ testimony as well. It is not clear what Hansen said in his presentation at all. In effect, Hansen’s defence essentially depends on jumping onto his vague formulations, and claiming ex ipso facto, that ‘that’s what he meant’.

    I don’t take your protestations to the contrary seriously, because you show no evidence of having done any homework. The devil is always in the details. If you can demonstrate conclusively what Hansen meant, in 1988, by his ‘business-as-usual’, and then contrast it with Michaels’ words, I will accept what you say. Otherwise you can safely be chalked up as lazily casting aspersions on people whose political orientations you don’t like, leaning on childish propaganda found on websites whose representational integrity is suspect.

    Always welcome if you can bring specific material and details to the table.

  • TP, you seem confused those books are examples of what you might find in a study done by skeptical science,

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2011/02/google-scholar-illiteracy-at-skeptical.html

    Neither meets the criteria to be included on my list,

    Criteria for Inclusion: All counted papers must be peer-reviewed, published in a peer-reviewed journal and support a skeptic argument against ACC/AGW or ACC/AGW Alarm.

    You also seem incredibly confused about the purpose of the list, it is not a hypothesis but a resource of peer-reviewed literature that supports skeptic arguments. One of those arguments is that “global warming” is not to blame for the glacial loss at Kilimanjaro,

    Kaser’s papers support this argument,

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-06/uow-two061107.php

    It is a strawman argument to use that paper as evidence for “climate change” not occurring.

    Skeptics believe climate change happens, they are just skeptical of how much man influences the climate and alarmist claims.

    You have yet to present a rational argument in relation to the site.

  • LOL,

    Thomas Paine is a perfect example of someone who is in a fantasy world.They have a god named AGW and must defend it to the death.Despite that it is a failed hypothesis many times over.

    That is why they do the things they do.The continual half truths mixed with strawman and absurd unverified claims.

    He make it clear by his vague replies and silly comments.

    Example is their refusal to face reality on the Dr.Hansen 1988 three scenarios paper.His defense of it is in fantasyland.He like so many others can not accept that Dr. Hansen was WAY off on his projections.

    He is destroying his credibility when avoiding the obvious.

  • The IPCC has a more developed variant of the same thing:

    Consider this diagram:http://nigguraths.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=2126

    Since temperature/time will not run backward, all points to the left of the vertical grey line are out of consideration. Among all possible outcomes, the temperature can either rise, rise precipitously, fall, or fall precipitously – corresponding to the 4 sectors one can divide the range, going forward. In the timescales shown in the graph, the possibility of a precipitous rise or fall (the red and blue shaded areas) is low.

    Of the remaining 90 degrees, in all its ‘scenarios’ put together, the IPCC exercise has given itself a full 45 degrees of room for itself. It has given itself a 50% chance of being right, even if the underlying science is completely wrong. It is like performing a prediction experiment on a test subject using a coin-flip and secretly letting the subject know that a coin is being used. If you do enough flips, he/she will be correct 50% of the times even without any predictive skill!

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  • graphicconception

    The head of the IPCC seems to make a lot of political statements well outside the IPCC’s scientific remit. For example, see: http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/06/21/pachauris-cause/

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  • PopTech “Skeptics believe climate change happens, they are just skeptical of how much man influences the climate and alarmist claims.”

    I’m having a giggle at that – “how much man influences alarmist claims”
    I know that’s not what you meant, but it can be read that way :)

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