Journal: ClimateGate Meets Yamal Divergence

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ClimateGate and Yamal Evidence
ClimateGate and Yamal Evidence

Phi Beta Iota: ClimateGate has outraged us for two reasons–first, the lack of integrity among the scientists and the selected United Nations officials concerned; and second, the naivete, ignorance, or corruption of government officials  all too eager to create a new Global Warming Complex that profits from carbon trades (another form of phantom wealth) while imposing severe social costs on the five billion poor.  ENOUGH.  Below the fold are the original comments of Contributing Editor Chuck Spinney, relating past Pentagon data manipulation with the data manipulation that charactizes the Climate Change movement.  It is our view that the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be disbanded, while the UN High Level Panel and the UN Environmental Program, both of which kept their integrity intact, are asked to create a World Brain with embedded EarthGame that can address all ten high level threats (environmental degradation is third, after poverty and infectious disease) by providing the world with information that allows the harmonization of spending across all twelve core policy areas in a manner attractive to the eight demographic challengers (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards such as the Congo, Malaysia, and Turkey).

Yamal: A “Divergence” Problem by Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, September 27th, 2009

Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

Yamal: An Inconvenient Divergence Analysis Triggers Old Memories

Chuck Spinney Sends:

Some old fogies with long Pentagon experience may recall the tortured analytical methodology used in the infamous Combat Lancer Study to “prove” that the effectiveness of the hugely expensive F-111A fighter bomber was an incontestable fact.  For those who do not, Combat Lancer was a study to demonstrate the accuracy of the ballyhooed F-111’s blind (i.e., radar based) bombing system in actual combat in Vietnam.  The analysis aimed to silence noisy critics of the controversial F-111, and the Air Force believed it would justify continued expenditures in for the troubled program.  A rehash of ancient history, may help us to understand what is really at stake in the recent controversy over the 

In late 1960s, the AF deployed a special F-111 squadron to Thailand to conduct bombing missions over Vietnam.  The AF also deployed a team of analysts from the Rand Corporation (a notoriously pliable think tank) to conduct a statistical analysis of the bombing results.  Unfortunately, the actual results were disastrous, or as we would say in the Pentagon, “anomalous.”  So the analysts from Rand found it necessary to devise a methodology to eliminate the non-representative data.

As I remember it (my numbers could be a little off but not much), the data clarification operation went something like this: More than 80 missions were scheduled, but only a little more than 50 missions were launched. Of these only 32 of these missions reached the target area to drop bombs whose holes could be located, and of these 32 missions, only 19 were considered to be “representative enough” to be used for analytical and reporting purposes, and, presumably, for later use in the deeply buried assumptions of the complex combat models used to predict results in force effectiveness analyses and wargaming.   The accuracy and mission effectiveness derived from the 19 representative samples was still worse than promised by the blind bombing/F-111 hypesters, but the analytical reduction of the data base effectively mitigated the evidence of what was in reality an outright disaster, at least for enough time to keep the money flowing.  Of course, such assumptions are never visible to the decision makers being briefed on the models’ predictions, which are always presented as unbiased “observations,” scientific jargon implying they were data produced by detached objective analysis and experiment.

Of course the AF and the contractors believed that billions of dollars rode on the outcome of Combat Lancer, and they faced a real threat that ignorant naysayers or critics with hidden agendas, like those in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Congress, or the Fourth Estate (for you children, the mainstream media was somewhat more inquisitive in those days) would pounce on the anomalous data to hose the F-111.  Therefore, the AF leadership, which clearly believed it knew best, deemed it appropriate in the interests of national security to classify the study and limit its access to only those with a real need to know or to those morally challenged individuals they deemed to have the scientific flexibility to understand why such data gymnastics was both necessary and justified.  In this way, those who claimed to have a kind of superior understanding of the greater good could control the debate by neutralizing the influence the irresponsible skeptics and malcontents who were not permitted to see and therefore did not understand the big picture.

The I-know-what-is-best mentality exhibited in Combat Lancer is a specific example of the dominant policy-making mindset that now fabricates perceptions of truth in Versailles on the Potomac and perhaps throughout American culture as well.  It is a topdown, authoritarian, intolerant mindset that starts with the answer and works its way backward to fabricate its proof.  The aim is to achieve an agenda and the end justifies the means.  It is a mentality that stands in stark contrast to the ideal of science, which displaced medieval scholasticism about 400 years ago to unleash the stunning advances that created the modern human condition.

More than anything else, the rise of science reflected the triumph of facts and reason (tolerance) over interests and faith (intolerance).  The practice of science enabled and indeed encouraged competitive dissent, and the enabler was the invention of a self-correcting cybernetic process popularly known as the modern scientific method. This process can be thought of as a process of Observation-Hypothesis-Test.  According to the eminent philosopher of science Karl Popper, the essence of scientific proof is testing under the Principle of Falsification.  That is, a hypothesis can not be proven to be true; it can only be proven to be false by banging its predictions against observations taken from the real world.

Therefore, for any scientific hypothesis to have meaning, it must be constructed in such a way that it is possible to falsify it through rigorous testing.  Under this logical structure, any test or analysis that confirms a hypothesis (i.e., by failing to falsify it) establishes “truth” on a conditional basis only. That conditional truth is always subject to further testing, resulting in confirmation, elaboration, mutation, or falsification. The long term result of this process is a gradually expanding edifice of conditional truth, punctuated on rare occasions by stunning shifts in world views, known popularly as scientific revolutions, or paradigm shifts, to use a much abused term that was much regretted by its inventor, the late distinguished historian of science Thomas Kuhn.

This in the late Nineteenth Century is perhaps the most spectacular example of punctuated epistemology in action; it contradicted the Newtonian world view, which was previously accepted as being true, and helped to pry open the door to Einstein’s new world view. The experiment was constructed in such a way that it could be replicated by others, and as it was replicated over and over, pressure built up to question the unthinkable — the theoretical validity of the Newtonian Cosmology.  Under the Principles of Falsification and Conditional Truth, science and the evolution of knowledge lurched forward from the bottom-up, without design or a known end point, by what can be thought of, paradoxically, as a creative search process for identifying what does not work.

Clearly, two necessary conditions for a scientific process to thrive are that experiments and analyses be (1) transparent and (2) subject to replication by other scientists — both stunningly absent in the Combat Lancer Study.  This is why clear and open data sourcing and the encouragement of divergent views in scientific journals  are so central to the healthy practice of science.

The foregoing makes clear how Combat Lancer violated the spirit and the letter of the search for conditional truth, because the interests and faith the AF decision makers and the contractors clearly displaced facts and reason.  The result was a kind of intolerance that Galileo would have recognized immediately.

It is this same conflict between facts and reason (tolerance) on the one hand and interests and faith (intolerance) on the other that makes the mushrooming scandal involving the hacked emails the UK’s Climate Research Center so deeply troubling, even to avid proponents of the global warming hypothesis.  Bear in mind, unlike those idiotic Creationists who would deny the existence of the scientific method by thinking it is pejorative to claim that Evolution is merely a hypothesis and not a fact, I am using the phrase “global warming hypothesis” precisely to give Global Warning science the benefit of the doubt by confirming its status as a legitimate scientific a theory open to testing and refutation in accordance with the principles of falsification and conditional truth and the necessary corollaries, transparency and replication.

Now lets look at the  blog posted by Steve McIntyre.

It is a good example to illustrate why the advocates of Global Warming like Monbriot ought to be concerned about the venomous tone and collusive techniques for suppressing dissent and enforcing consensus that are revealed or suggested in the hacked emails.  McIntyre, a mathematician with training in philosophy and economics, is a well known, controversial critic of the Global Warming hypotheses.  He has long argued that there is a lack data transparency in the analyses and models claiming to prove Global Warming is a true fact (remember, that would be a conditional truth) in peer reviewed journals and the data bases of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Lack of data transparency means that the results of their published analyses can not be replicated, because assumptions, such as those used to select and size the data samples, can not be examined or tested under the keystone principle of falsification.  So, if McIntyre’s critique is valid, it is very serious indeed, because it addresses the integrity of  the scientific enterprise itself.

In this case, McIntyre eventually did manage to get access to some the data he had long sought.  The main focus in his blog entry is use this data to question the hugely important tree ring analysis that revealed the so-called and now famous “hockey stick” temperature spike coinciding with onset of the industrial age.  The hockey stick lies at the heart of the hypothesis that mankind’s activities are the cause of the most recent spout of global warming.  It is central to a debate that has policy implications involving trillions of dollars for the beneficiaries on either side of the debate.

While I am not qualified to review the scientific validity of the hockey stick, I can read, and as all of you know, I have a great deal of experience in being suppressed for highlighting inconvenient dissenting views.

McIntyre’s analysis appears to be well sourced and trenchantly unemotional.  His central critique is clear: namely, that the data used in the sample to conditionally prove the hockey stick is an unrepresentative sample of the data that was available (but not publicly available until very recently) and could have been used — shades of Combat Lancer?  He explains what data should or could have been included and why it should have been included.  He calculates that if one includes this omitted data, the hockey stick disappears. The charts are breathtaking.  If his assumptions and analysis underpinning these charts can be found to be both transparent and replicatible, it seems to be a legitimate test for falsification of f the hockey stick hypothesis.  Of course, McIntyre’s hypothesis should also be also subject to an equally legitimate test for falsification.

Will the inconvenient albeit conditional truth of McIntyre’s analysis get its day in the open court of scientific opinion?  This question brings us back to the hacked emails and the agony of George Monbriot, because what the emails suggest is a communal predilection by the pro-global warming scientists to politically and bureaucratically suppress the dissent of those who dare to threaten the sanctity of their “truth consensus.”