John Hinderaker at Power Line gives us a tightly wrapped case study of how the newly exposed global warming e-mails betray a casual attitude toward accuracy in parts of academia.
Hinderaker’s case study: The clash between Keith Briffa and Steve McIntyre over Briffa’s finding that tree rings in Siberia prove that late 20th century temperatures rose so fast they could be charted sharply upward, like the handle of a hockey stick.
McIntyre, a global warming skeptic, reviewed the data presented by Briffa, a global warming theorist, and concluded Briffa might have “cherry-picked” trees in Yamal, Siberia, to assure that the global temperatures reflected by the tree rings were consistent with an earlier “hockey stick” chart, developed by Michael Mann.
In other words, McIntyre alleged that, considering the inconsistencies in Briffa’s data, Briffa might have ignored intentionally the Siberian trees that contradicted the theory that Briffa wanted to prove. McIntyre wanted Briffa to explain how he chose the trees that he sampled. He also wanted to know how many trees Briffa studied.
No loose cannons. According to the secret e-mails revealed two days ago, the response by the global-warming establishment to McIntyre’s challenge was panic and something worse than panic.
The “scientists” made little effort to check Briffa’s data. But even without confirming any of Briffa’s records and methods, the “scientists” announced falsely that they knew Briffa’s findings were valid. They did not know.
The alarmists’ effort to respond to McIntyre was complicated by the fact that Briffa had been ill and undergone surgery, and was then recuperating. So several of them wrote to Briffa’s co-author, Tim Osborn, for advice on how to respond to McIntyre’s critique. Osborn replied on September 29, 2009:Hi Mike and Gavin, thanks for your emails re McIntyre, Yamal and Keith. I’ll pass on your best wishes for his recovery when I next speak to Keith. He’s been off almost 4 months now and won’t be back for at least another month ....So: these scientists don’t really have any idea whether McIntyre’s critique of Briffa’s work is correct or not. Even Briffa’s co-author professes ignorance. There is one person they could approach who could “shed light on the McIntyre criticisms of Yamal.” But they don’t do it. Why? Because “he can be rather a loose cannon and shouldn’t be directly contacted....” In other words, his loyalty to the cause of climate alarmism may not be absolute.
Regarding Yamal, I’m afraid I know very little about the whole thing -- other than that I am 100% confident that “The tree ring data was hand-picked to get the desired result” is complete crap. Having one’s integrity questioned like this must make your blood boil....
Apart from Keith, I think Tom Melvin here is the only person who could shed light on the McIntyre criticisms of Yamal. But he can be a rather loose cannon and shouldn’t be directly contacted about this....
A silly game. Hinderaker’s case study goes into much more fascinating detail on the false certitude, and you really should read it all.