Hide the Decline – 2 pictures for 2000 comments

A guest post at Watts Up With That

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

Judith Curry has tackled the ‘Hide the Decline’ issue at her blog Climate Etc.  The issue is that data was hidden from policymakers  (and the public) so as to present a ‘simpler’ message… and other data spliced in to perhaps give a very different message?

Remember it is all about the idea of ‘unprecedented’ global warming because the politicians, media and public were warned by graphs like this….

Tree ring data – Thermometers spliced in – tree ring data truncated

Tree Ring Data alone – with deleted data reinstated

In the video link (30 mins in ) in Judith Curry’s article the second graph is how ‘all scientists at Berkeley’ would present the data.  The whole video is well worth watching.

The fact that the proxies temperature decline when the thermometer readings are going up, would indicate that they are NOT a good proxy for past temperature.  As temp reconstructions proxies (tree rings) were used to explain or ‘sell’ the idea that modern temperatures were ‘unprecedented’ so global warming ‘must’ be down to humans and that policy makers should something now.

I think even the most unscientifically trained politician, person in the media and member of the public can now see the problem with proxies, especially if you look at the 2 graphs above..    The screen captures are from the video Judith Curry links to (part I):

No point talking here about it here, go to where the debate is.    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/22/hiding-the-decline/

http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/23/hiding-the-decline-part-ii/

http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/24/hiding-the-decline-part-iii/

At the Bishop Hill blog, at least one scientist has chimed in to support Professor Judith Curry

Professor Jonathon Jones (Physics – Oxford University)

People have asked why mainstream scientists are keeping silent on these issues. As a scientist who has largely kept silent, at least in public, I have more sympathy for silence than most people here. It’s not for the obvious reason, that speaking out leads to immediate attacks, not just from Gavin and friends, but also from some of the more excitable commentators here.

Far more importantly most scientists are reluctant to speak out on topics which are not their field. We tend to trust our colleagues, perhaps unreasonably so, and are also well aware that most scientific questions are considerably more complex than outsiders think, and that it is entirely possible that we have missed some subtle but critical point.

However, “hide the decline” is an entirely different matter. This is not a complicated technical matter on which reasonable people can disagree: it is a straightforward and blatant breach of the fundamental principles of honesty and self-criticism that lie at the heart of all true science. The significance of the divergence problem is immediately obvious, and seeking to hide it is quite simply wrong. The recent public statements by supposed leaders of UK science, declaring that hiding the decline is standard scientific practice are on a par with declarations that black is white and up is down. I don’t know who they think they are speaking for, but they certainly aren’t speaking for me.

I have watched Judy Curry with considerable interest since she first went public on her doubts about some aspects of climate science, an area where she is far more qualified than I am to have an opinion. Her latest post has clearly kicked up a remarkable furore, but she was right to make it.

The decision to hide the decline, and the dogged refusal to admit that this was an error, has endangered the credibility of the whole of climate science. If the rot is not stopped then the credibility of the whole of science will eventually come into question.

Judy’s decision to try to call a halt to this mess before it’s too late is brave and good. So please cut her some slack; she has more than enough problems to deal with at the moment.

If you’re wondering who I am, then you can find me at the Physics Department at Oxford University. Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Jonathan Jones

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13 Responses to Hide the Decline – 2 pictures for 2000 comments

  1. LabMunkey says:

    Nice article. It can be easy to miss just how significant the splicing changed the graphs- these images show it very well.

  2. marchesarosa says:

    And well done, Jonathon for going on the record!

  3. davidg says:

    Yes, well done and thank you, Professor Jones!

  4. lapogus says:

    Barry – well done for taking screenshots from Prof Muller’s presentation video and getting them online. Like you I didn’t watch the video for a day or two after Judith put the link up. Considering how emphatic the graphs are, it is a wonder that no-one (to my knowledge) has done this before. As you say, even scientifically illiterate politicians should now be able to understand the significance and blatant dishonesty of ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ to ‘hide the decline’.

  5. Sonicfrog says:

    I would like to use the two images in a blog post on the subject, but like to supply the sources of images when possible (so people can’t say I’m making stuff up). Could you please provide those. Thanks.

    Will check back later. Have to go finish changing the head gaskets on my car. And yes, they blew because of Global Warming!!! 🙂

    • BWoods says:

      Here is the link to Richard Muller’s video that Judith Curry links to..
      Her webpage is a bit slow to load for me (must be all those comments)

      The whole video is well worth watching, Richard as I, clearly believes in the possibility of AGW, the issue is of course is the degree (sorry) of it. And he takes the alarmists to task. (ie 20 foot sea level rise, Hansen, etc)

      The images were just screen captures from the video (prtscrn, then dumped into Paint, and cropped a bit,

      Or just right click mine, and do save as.

  6. MattN says:

    Hi Jonathan, well said. I frequent Anthony Watts’ site and I’ll reiterate here what I said there. I am an engineer. I look at data all day, every day. Here’s a few of the things this issue violates:

    1) Just because you do not like the data does not mean you get to ignore it. It does not mean it is invalid data.
    2) When the tree rings “lost correlation after 1961” I immediately ask myself “at what other times in the last 1000 years did they also “lose correlation”? If you can’t answer that, then you have lousy data and you have not done your job.
    3) “Losing correlation” makes me wonder if there ever was any correlation to begin with.

    Glad to see others agree with me.
    Thanks!

  7. BWoods says:

    From the comments at Climate Etc

    Judith Curry’s repsonse to Gavin, I think is wworth repeating.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/22/hiding-the-decline/#comment-45770

    curryja | February 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Reply

    Gavin, the field does not need any more summary graphs of this nature. They have done an enormous disservice to climate science and its credibility. Continuing to defend these kinds of graphs is beyond anything I can understand.

    Leaving out that data and putting a “likely” confidence level on conclusions from that data is bad science, anyway you slice it.

    If you don’t like dishonest, try misguided and pseudoscience.

    There is no way this is defensible scientific practice.

    I really hope we don’t see any more of these kinds of graphs, in the AR5 or elsewhere. I’ve tiptoed around this one long enough, I’m calling it like I see it.

  8. BWoods says:

    My thoughts from, Climate Etc.

    ‘Hide the Decline’ has always been a political issue…

    Who were they ‘hiding the decline’ from?

    That is the question that should be asked and why do they feel the need to hide the decline..

    The answer is of course the policy makers…

    Even policy makers can understand if the proxies for temperature don’t match thermometers, for some unkonwn reason…. HOW THE HELL can they be used to reconstruct past temperature reliably.

    Thus, ‘unprecedented’ global warming, the claim that reconstruction show this, and it must (argument from ignorance) be due to humans.. GOes completely out of the window..

    Politicians, CAN understand this…

    Thus, evidence all along that the scientist are activists for policy, hididng, facts that might change policy
    Hence the defence and distraction to the bitter end

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/22/hiding-the-decline/#comment-46381

  9. BWoods says:

    PLease feel free to link anything of mine anywhere, same goes for the images..

    The more people that actually SEE it the better, it becomes clear to anybody.

    a source/quote would be nice.

    If they could do this then, as we can see this is where all the hype started

  10. johnb says:

    Great post, the video is dynamite.

  11. Marion says:

    Thanks, Barry, excellent post. Thanks too for the explanation on screen capture – much appreciated.

    Re Prof. Jones – well done indeed. So refreshing to see a scientist stand up and defend real science. The Climate scientists have had far too easy a ride and their current claims of their methods being the scientific norm are disgraceful. I very much agree with his observation that

    “The decision to hide the decline, and the dogged refusal to admit that this was an error, has endangered the credibility of the whole of climate science. If the rot is not stopped then the credibility of the whole of science will eventually come into question.”
    Let us hope more scientists will follow his example.

  12. Pingback: A fascinating new interview with Prof Richard Muller, quote: On Climategate – “What they did was, I think, shameful. And it was scientific malpractice” | Watts Up With That?

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