Scientific fraud has been all over the news this past week. The latest example is an article titled "When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality," by Michael LaCour and Donald Green, that appeared in Science back in December. The LaCour/Green article reported on a study in which it was claimed that people's attitudes toward gay marriage were significantly changed following discussions of about 20 minutes in length with door-to-door canvassers. When the article came out, it created a mini media sensation, with discussion in outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, and others. Really, it's just remarkable how all BS radar gets turned off when a new study reports what the right people want to hear.
The unraveling began on May 19 when a critique of LaCour/Green titled "Irregularities in LaCour (2014)" appeared on the website of Stanford University, written by David Broockman and others. Trying to replicate and extend LaCour's results, Broockman and his co-authors uncovered serious irregularities in the LaCour data. They presented the information to Green, who then asked that the article be retracted. LaCour claims to stand by his data, but -- oops -- it has been deleted. And thus this past week we are treated to long philosophical essays on scientific fraud from the likes of NYT and WSJ.
I have to admit that in the world of scientific frauds, this is a pretty good one. Then again, compared to the Big One, this is pretty small time. By the Big One, I am of course referring to the world temperature data tampering fraud, by which 50 and 100 year old temperature records are systematically altered to make them cooler, thus exaggerating the extent of warming and keeping the "global warming" narrative going. Anything new on that one this week?
As a matter of fact, there is. On Thursday June 4, Science came out with an article by Thomas Karl and multiple co-authors titled "Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus." Yes, it's the same Science that also published the discredited LaCour article. This article is an attempt to deal with the now-famous global warming "pause" or "hiatus," in which world temperatures, as measured by multiple data sets including the highly accurate satellites, have refused to increase for a period now exceeding 18 years, in the face of predictions of disaster coming out of the UN IPCC and others. Tom Karl, for those who don't recognize the name, is a high-ranking bureaucrat at NOAA and a serious global warming alarmist. Here's the abstract of the article from Science:
Much study has been devoted to the possible causes of an apparent decrease in the upward trend of global surface temperatures since 1998, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the global warming “hiatus.” Here we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a “slowdown” in the increase of global surface temperature.
You see, we have just "updated" the "global surface temperature analysis." No big deal in that. And of course the updating "reveals" that temperatures are increasing faster than anyone thought!
Needless to say, the New York Times immediately picked up the story and reported it as fed to them by Karl, without any critical thinking of any kind. The article on June 4 is by climate-activist-masquerading-as-reporter Justin Gillis, and titled "Global Warming 'Hiatus' Challenged By NOAA Research." Excerpt:
Scientists have long labored to explain what appeared to be a slowdown in global warming that began at the start of this century as, at the same time, heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide were soaring. The slowdown, sometimes inaccurately described as a halt or hiatus, became a major talking point for people critical of climate science. Now, new research suggests the whole thing may have been based on incorrect data. When adjustments are made to compensate for recently discovered problems in the way global temperatures were measured, the slowdown largely disappears, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared in a scientific paper published Thursday.
So, Tom and Justin, can you kindly explain how you have managed to make temperatures of the past get cooler in order to make it appear that there is a warming trend where none previously existed in multiple data sets? The problem they have is that now lots of credible scientists are immediately all over their work, and before the week was out everybody who follows this knew how the trend got altered. By the end of the week we had "A First Look at ‘Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus’ by Karl et al., Science 4 June 2015," by Ross McKitrick; "Has NOAA ‘busted’ the pause in global warming?" by Judith Curry; "@NOAA ‘s desperate new paper: Is there no global warming ‘hiatus’ after all?" by Patrick Michaels, Richard Lindzen and Paul Knappenberger; and "Reports of the death of the global warming pause are greatly exaggerated," from the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The last is the least technical, so I'll quote from their list of obvious points:
* The authors have produced adjustments that are at odds with all other surface temperature datasets, as well as those compiled via satellite.
* They do not include any data from the Argo array that is the world’s best coherent data set on ocean temperatures.
* Adjustments are largely to sea surface temperatures (SST) and appear to align ship measurements of SST with night marine air temperature (NMAT) estimates, which have their own data bias problems.
* The extent of the largest SST adjustment made over the hiatus period, supposedly to reflect a continuing change in ship observations (from buckets to engine intake thermometers) is not justified by any evidence as to the magnitude of the appropriate adjustment, which appears to be far smaller.
And by the way guys, how about the data from the satellites? Anyway, for Karl, Gillis, et al., it's all very simple: pick one data set that you like, even though everyone knows it has big gaps and inaccuracies, and adjust all other and better data to that one to fit your narrative. The President will be proud!
And in other climate-related news, President Obama wanted to talk to famed environmental documentary-maker Richard Attenborough, so on the spur of the moment he had Attenborough flown over from London to "chat" about climate change. According to this report at Slate, Attenborough said he was "baffled" about why the President wanted to talk to him. And don't worry, the carbon footprint of that trans-Atlantic roundtrip doesn't count, because it was for Obama. Also, by the way, the carbon footprint of that flight was teensy compared to the one laid down by John Kerry. That's the guy who has declared global warming to be the biggest security risk to the United States, bigger than Iran and ISIS. After breaking his leg riding his bicycle in France, Kerry was flown home from Geneva. Here's a picture of the plane he flew home in -- a C17. Hey, it's smaller than a 747!