Friday, 11 December 2009

Lurgee's Paradigm VII: "They tried to 'hide the decline!'"

Pretty much any mention, in serious debate, of the emails hacked from the Climate Research Unit indicates the presence of a swivel eyed denier fanatic.

The reasoning here being that, while the emails may have contained some unfortunate, clumsy or downright childish statements, the debate has moved on.

Take, for example,the much cited comment by Phil Jones, from 1999:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each
series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to
hide the decline. (1)
This has been explained. The decline in question wasn't to do with temperature, but with accuracy - a declining correlation between tree ring data and the instramental record. Real Climate explained it as follows:

The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the
original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot
the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the
recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a
good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so
there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well
known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from
the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the
“divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been
discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391,
678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of
their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words
(since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is
completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Now, you might, or might not, agree with that. You might raise the point that if we can't trust tree rings post-1960, ho ca we trust them - or any proxy records - from before 1960? That's a legitiamte line of argument which - impostant bit - advances the debate. The point is that you are arguing against that response, not just pointing to the original email and squealing about how scientists conspired to "hide the decline." Anyone doing that (and there are plenty) can immediately be dismissed as a denier and impervious to reason or argument.
1 - 'The CRU hack,' posted by Real Climate on Real Climate, 20th of November, 2009. (
2 - ibid.


Robin Johnson's Economics Web Page said...

Apologies for commenting on spelling but its not "instramental", it's "instrumental". All the best.

lurgee said...

It's also 'important,' not 'impostant.' Must have been on te meths that night. Or might 'impostant' be a portmanteau word for a very important blog post?

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