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Monday, July 26, 2010

Garbage In, Garbage Out -- the sad case of Judith Curry. JD responds to Joseph Romm's Climate Progress post on the discussion between Gavin Schmidt and her on Real Climate

Garbage In, Garbage Out -- the sad case of Judith Curry

Dear Readers,

Below are some of the comments from Joseph Romm's post on Judith Curry's bizarre commenting behavior over at Real Climate.

Tamino of Open Mind had written a thorough takedown of the most recent denialist book on the Hockey Stick.

Judith Curry, in what can only be described as a demonstration of a bizarre lack of normal scientific rigour and analytical capability on her part, wrote several comments that were subsequently responded to by Gavin Schmidt. (I posted these in a few posts below this present post.)

Now, she writes even more bizarre comments on the Climate Progress blog.  Have a look at her C.V.  Somewhere in the most recent two or three years, she stopped producing publishable work.  At the same time, she cozied up to the Climate Denial Machine.

There is no excuse for this other than cerebral deterioration, IMNSHO.

Note that she repeatedly reminds us that she has read all the denialist literature, long debunked, and suggests we should all read it, too.  Is she completely mad?  [WARNING: ATTACH HEAD VISE BEFORE READING HER COMMENT BELOW!]

Joe, what I’ve done is something very old fashioned in this postnormal, tribalistic environment. I’ve read nearly all of the major journal articles on the topic. I’ve read the North and Wegman reports. I’ve read most of the recent, relevant posts on RC, climateaudit, and Klimazweibel. And I’ve read Montford’s book. I’ve weighed the evidence on both sides. I thought that it was important for the RC side to rebut Montford’s book, since frankly the balance of evidence is tilting to the other side. Tamino’s review, which had very little to do with what is actually written in the book, and Gavin’s defense, are very weak. Tell Mike Mann that tamino and gavin did not do him any favors with that thread on RC. And that they need to raise the level of their game, because the other side certainly has.

So if any of you have actually read as much as I have on this topic including Montford’s book and the climateaudit threads particularly McIntyre’s most recent post, well then we might have something to talk about. Otherwise, we can just sit back and all be entertained by tribalistic wardances.

[Joseph Romm: Judy, you invented the "tribal" notion, joined the tribe of the proven disinformers -- as I said before, "tribes are determined by whose faults you gloss over," -- repeated stuff they say as if it were well-verified, peer-reviewed science as opposed to the long-debunked BS it is, and, for the record, I seriously doubt that you have read more of the scientific literature on climate science (or talked to more climate scientists) than Mann, Tamino, Gavin, or me, for that matter. 

But anybody can read. It's clear that what you did read, didn't take. Not only isn't the "balance of evidence tilting to the other side," (as if there were sides at all, as opposed to scientific understanding and everything else!) it isn't even sitting on its ass. The balance of scientific evidence and the overwhelming majority of the literature in the past 3 years have move hard in the direction of the climate situation being much more dire than laid out in the FAR (and, incidentally, in support of the Hockey Stick).

Mike Mann doesn't need any "favors." He has the evidence and the scientific literature and two Penn State exonerations and the "Supreme Court" of science (the NAS) backing him up. I just can't find a scientist who isn't scratching their head about why you keep beating this dead horse. Reality and science have moved on, Judy.

The person who isn't doing themselves any favors with that thread on RC is you. The clearest evidence that the tribal metaphor really only applies to you is your inability to see that.

Here's an idea. Find three scientists you trust who aren't in any of your hypothetical tribes (and who aren't relatives) and ask them to review everything you've written on the Internet this year and all the responses in the science blogosphere. If two out of three of them -- heck if even one of them -- thinks you are advancing the cause of science ... well, keep beating that horse.]

#50. Judith Curry says (July 26, 2010 at 7:42 am):

Consensus on a scientific issue is established as science evolves through the following successive stages (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1990):
1. no opinion with no peer acceptance;
2. an embryonic field attracting low acceptance by peers;
3. competing schools of thought, with medium peer acceptance;
4. a dominant school of thought accepted by all but rebels;
5. an established theory accepted by all but cranks.

  1. At the time of the TAR, MBH reflected an embryonic field (level 2). There was very little justification for any kind of consensus statements with “likely” and “very likely”, even by the standards of IPCC’s guidelines. By the time of AR4, the field had arguably matured to level 3, a more established field with competing schools of thought. The conflict that has ensued over the high confidence levels in the IPCC conclusions and the attempts to establish a premature consensus is described by Montford’s book.
    The response of a rational person considering the evidence from both sides (which is a necessity for level 3 science) is to weigh evidence from both sides and make both sides aware of arguments from the other side and emphasize the need for refuting arguments from the other side in justify your thesis.

    The response of an irrational person is to declare level 2 or level 3 science as “settled science”, “a fact on par with the theory of infrared radiative transfer of gases.”

    [Joeseph Romm: Judith, I have asked you many times to please define your terms. What "high confidence levels in the IPCC conclusions" are you objecting to? Seriously. There must be a bunch of them for you to go on and on about this. Name 5 in the AR4 (the fourth assessment). And I'm not talking about nitpicks in the full reports that nobody reads. They need to be in the Summary for Policymakers to represent some serious overstatement to the public of climate science. It'd be nice if they were on the scale of the understatement in the AR4 of, say, plausible ranges for sea level rise this century or the potential role of positive carbon-cycles feedbacks.
    Also, it is impossible to tell from this comment whether you are just talking about MBH -- a relatively tiny piece of the puzzle which has exceedingly little to do with any of the major conclusions of the AR4 (and which makes your extended comment puzzling to say the least) -- or whether you are actually talking about the major conclusions of the AR4, in which case your comment is simply a fringe view.

    On the latter point, the recent National Academy of Sciences report concluded, "A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems…. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities."

    The NAS is exceedingly staid and conservative scientific organization. If you disagree with their conclusions, then you're gonna have to explain that in some detail or just retract your comment.]

Readers, this is my take (comment #70):

The gods are full of avarice, aren't they?

Just when the contrarians are having to distance themselves from the totally off the rails Potty Peer Monckton, they are handed the gift of Judith Curry.

The Climate Denial Machine is going to bring her forward at every possible opportunity, make no mistake about it.

A published scientist with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, no less. 

Her comments demonstrate a self-delusion so severe that one can only assume that some cognitive capabilities are on the decline.

We can only wait and watch to learn if these are finally reduced to the level of those of Roy Spencer.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest DNFTT because the Climate Denial Machine is gonna love it every time she gets press.

Link to Climate Progress blog post:

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