Saturday, 28 November 2015

THE MANN WHO WOULD BE KING: STEYN VS. THE STICK



The hockey stick has nothing to do with reality but was the result of incorrect handling of proxy temperature records and incorrect statistical analysis.

Professor William Happer Ph.D.

 

Nullius in verba [Take no-one’s word for it].
Motto of The Royal Society 

 

President Obama, the most powerful man in the world, will waste no time in racing to Paris in the wake of the Islamic attacks of November 13th. He will go to warn of the danger the world faces. For Obama, however, a product of affirmative action now severely out of his depth, that danger is not Islam; it is climate change.

‘Climate change’ is the re-branding of ‘global warming’ made unavoidable when even the most zealous alarmists had to face facts; the world hasn’t got warmer for 19 years. The whole medicine show of climate change – Al Gore, the IPCC, wind farms, the Greens, the UN, the elites – needed an icon for the greatest heist in history and, courtesy of Michael Mann, they got one; the hockey stick.

The (ice- not field-) hockey stick is a schematic representation of proxy temperature indicators which shows an approximate 900-year flatline for global temperatures suddenly taking off in the 20th century. It appears in An Inconvenient Truth, the fraudulent film sent to schools packaged as the indisputable truth evident once, as the warmists like to say, ‘the science is settled’. The problem is reductio ad absurdum; if something is settled, it isn’t science, and if it is science, it isn’t settled.

Mark Steyn is a Canadian columnist, author, radio presenter and – really – crooner. He is about to meet Mann in court, Mann having sued Steyn for libel. A Disgrace to the Profession is not merely Steyn’s criticism of the hockey stick as science, it is a compendium of what the scientific community think of Mann’s method, and the effect on the integrity of science that method has had. As Steyn writes;

‘When something bears the imprimatur of science, the public assumes it’s, well, scientific. But the hockey stick is essentially a statistical creation – and yet no statisticians were involved at any point of the process.’

The initial problem with the stick is the paucity of proxies used as the core data;

‘I wonder how many of those who regard it as an authoritative graph of global climate across the centuries are aware that its hockey-stick shape for the entire hemisphere depends on two clumps of trees: some California bristlecones, and some cedars from the Gaspé Peninsula – or rather, for the years up to 1421, just one cedar from the Gaspé Peninsula.’

Charles Babbage, the 19th-century polymath credited with inventing the computer (he certainly coined the word) described three forms of scientific dishonesty: trimming data to smooth results, bias by discarding ‘unhelpful’ data, and forging or invention of data. Mann breaks all three rules.

The problem is that of political conformity, an enemy which will have to be defeated before long on many cultural battlegrounds. This conformity – in accordance with Leftist thinking – dictates the way the world ought to be and seeks confirmation that it is that way. Joint winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, Professor Ivar Giaever Ph.D., explains;

‘Pseudoscience is a very strange thing, because in pseudoscience you begin with a hypothesis which is very appealing to you, and then you only look for things which confirm the hypothesis.’

In the strange world of climate change – as with economics – the real world tends to take second place to predictive models, and in this respect computational capability has introduced as many problems as it has solved. The scientific maxim ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ finds a prime example with the hockey stick.

The problem is not just data selectivity. Mann and his sidekicks also refuse to recognise protocols which make science communitarian and thus genuine. As Mann’s colleague, Phil Jones, famously said;

‘Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?’

This is not how science works, nor is it sufficient to call the agreement of a cabal of friends ‘peer review’, when it is no more valid than mutual book cover blurbs given and reciprocated by friendly novelists. And it was a result of precisely this boys’ club attitude that got Mann and his cronies into trouble; the University of East Anglia ‘Climategate’ email leak.

Whether it was a leak or a hack is immaterial. A chain of emails got into the public domain (see Watermelons by James Delingpole), and the truth about Mann’s methods were exposed to the scientific world (which was interested) and the general public (which was not). Subterfuge, factual manipulation, tricks and deceit; the whole armoury of the contemporary Left is here. A clue comes when Mann talks about ‘the cause’. Thus every zealot, with or without an attendant god.

That global warming mirrors religion is scarcely an original proposition. There are Holy scriptures, heretics, priests, an elitist language, and all the obfuscation and trickery you would expect from the religious. Dr. Jarl Ahlbeck Ph.D., also notes another aspect of coalition;

‘Greenhouse religion is a funny thing. There are so much [sic] feelings and aggressions in it. Just as in classical religions.’

When you see the Left shout down ‘climate change deniers’ (note the implicit link to Holocaust denial), you see a rabid fervour every bit as maniacal as the most crazed jihadi. In terms of cortical theory, the higher brain has abdicated responsibility for the Left; the limbic brain rules.

In a sane world, A Disgrace to the Profession would be sent to every politician, every head teacher, every policy maker and every scientist on the planet, a planet which is no more doomed by climate change than by anything else. If you are new to the sin of climate change denial, read the introduction to Björn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist, then read this. And look out for Mann vs. Steyn, already being touted as the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st century.

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