Paul Graham: essays

My son told me I had to read this guy’s essays – they were brilliant!

I have barely ‘scratched the surface’  – but I do agree with him.  His ‘news’ feed is also interesting.



The ‘Tree Ring Circus’: what does ‘divergence of the proxy’ mean?

With the ‘leaked emails’ confirmed as authentic, many experts are sifting through the materials and analyzing them.

One thing which has been highlighted was the discussion about tree ring studies, from which the (now infamous – you can get T-shirts with it) ‘hide the decline’ phrase comes from. Here, I would like to explain what the ‘tree ring’ and ‘multi-proxy reconstruction’ thing is all about, and why it really, really matters.

When constructing the graphs of global temperatures, the scientists ran into a tiny little problem:  how do we know what the Earth’s temperature was like, say, 1 500 years ago? There were no ‘standardized measurements’…. So, how do we ‘know’?

Aside:  my explanation is going to be a simplification for the sake or clarity, which runs the danger of being an over-simplification.  Please, consider it to be a starting point for your own inquiry, not anything more.

The idea is that there are other ‘indicators’ of the Earth’s temperature than just ‘direct measurements’, like we can make today.

For example, ‘tree ring data’.  Each year’s growth can be measured on each tree, because tree-trunks grow radially outwards:  the latest year adds the newest (out-most) ring to the tree.  By looking at the rings, scientists can see which ones are thicker (meaning that the tree added ‘more growth’ that year) and which ones are thinner (meaning the tree grew less that year).

The reasoning goes something like this:

  1. The years when the weather is nice and warm, plants do well and grow more.
  2. Trees are plants, therefore trees do well grow more:  the warmer a year it was, the bigger the tree’s growth ring for that year will be!
  3. Therefore, looking back and comparing the size of tree rings will tell us when it was warmer and colder.

Sounds good, right?

So, that is what they did.

(By ‘they’, I mean the scientists who promote the ‘Anthropogenic Climate Change’ agenda and on whose scientific work the current political policies are based.  I shall refer to them as ‘the IPCC cabal’.)

They took core samples of very, very old trees and looked at their rings, counted the years and centuries, compared them, analyzed them, assigned temperature values to various ring thicknesses – and they came up with a nifty little graph. Because it does not measure the temperature directly, but uses a ‘proxy’ (a substitute) – the growth of trees – this nifty little curve was included on the graph they submitted to the IPCC report as one of the ‘proxies’ for actual temperature records from long ago.

Except that….

During the time period when we have had the most reliable, actual temperature readings, say, from 1960 to now, the tree ring growth did not correspond to the temperatures the scientists measured!

To the contrary:  while these scientists measured an in increase in temperatures, the tree ring ‘record’ from 1960 to now shows a DECLINE in temperatures!

The scientists did notice this divergence:  one set of readings went up, the other down. That can clearly be seen from the email exchanges between them – and from the graphs they exchanged, which I linked to above. Now, at this point, a real scientist would look at their data and say:  “We have actual, measured temperatures going up, while the temperatures reconstructed from tree-ring temperatures are going down!  Obviously, there are other factors at play here:  either some of our measurements are wrong, or the method how we are using to figure out temperatures from tree rings is wrong.  Therefore, either have to figure out what we are missing or figure out where we have made a mistake:  either way, this data cannot be used as is!”

Alas, that is not what happened.

Instead, they decided that since the first ‘divergent’ year that the ‘common data’ was available for both the actual measured temperatures and the tree-ring proxy temperatures was 1960nto now, they would simply stop showing the tree-ring data from 1960 on!!!

Then, nobody could tell that the tree-ring data showed something different than what they were claiming! This is hard to believe.  Please, consider the picture below:

get_th31.jpg get_th32.jpg

The bigger graph was what these people submitted to the IPCC thing.

The picture on the right (or below – depending on your browser and settings) is a close-up of the last few decades of the graph.  It shows the actual temperatures measured in modern times (black), and the ‘proxy’ temperatures as they were gleaned by the ‘scientists’ for the past dozen or so centuries.

The ‘tree-ring data’  – the temperatures they figured out the Earth ‘had to have been’ based on the thickness of the tree-rings from those years – is the pale blue line.

When one looks at the enlarged view of the graph, it becomes obvious that that line stops a few decades before the other ones do:  1960, to be exact…. And, the email exchanges show that the only reason that this data was excluded – why the line was not continued – was not because they did not have the data….it was because they did not like what the data showed!!!


By excluding the data, by stopping the blue line on that graph in 1960, even though the data since then exists, the IPCC Cabal of scientists PROVED they knew they were committing fraud!

And THAT is why so many respectable scientists are so very, very angry.

Disappointed, and angry.

Note:  the formatting of this post got ‘messed up’, so, I edited it to fix it.  Aside from formatting (and this note), the post has not been altered.

Feynman says: good science demands scrutiny!

Our policymakers have all been coerced, in one way or another, to ‘accept’ (or, at least, pay lip service to) the assertions that the Earth is getting warmer and warmer, and that we, humans, are the cause of it.

These policies are largely based on the UN’s series of IPCC reports on Global Warming/Climate Change which claim that there is a scientific concensus that the Earth is warming and that the increase of CO2 due to human activity is the cause.

Recently released documents (originally hacked, but since verified as authentic) have demonstrated that many of the scientists who produced the studies which demonstrated this ‘CO2 forced (caused) climate change’ have refused to release their data for scrutiny by other scientists:  they have even stated they would rather destroy their original data than permit other scientists to analyze it!

And, they have been caught hiding data which would contradict their official findings….

So, what would Richard Feynman – in my never-humble-opinion, THE most brilliant scientist to have ever walked this Earth – say about this?

Lubo Motl, of The Reference Frame, reminds us of Richard Feynman’s famous commencement speech at CalTech in 1974 , in which Dr. Feynman discusses ‘cargo cult science’ and how it is gaining a hold in our mainstream education and science….  The whole speech is an excellent read!  Still, this is perhaps the most salient point he makes:

It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards.

For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it:  other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.  Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem.  When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.


And, Dr. Motl asks:

Do you think the e-mails indicate that the climate scientists have followed the same principles?

ACC scientists’ fraud fallout: the lawsuits are starting!

While much of the mainstream media (MSM) is still sounding apoplectic apologetic about the ‘Global Warming Guilt’ scientists being caught in large scale fraud and subversion of the peer-review process, the documents leaked last week from UK’s University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) (I so do not want to use the term ‘ClimateGate’!), others are not so idle.

‘Watts Up With That?’, a well-regarded blog run by the outspoken and highly respected Anthony Watts, posted a story by Chris Horner of The American Spectator, entitled: ‘CEI Files Notice of Intent to Sue NASA GISS’.

Why, and how is it important?

CEI is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think-tank, which has focused on verifying whether or not ‘the government’ is releasing accurate statements, especially when it comes to issues with impact as pervasive as ‘Global Warming’ or ‘AGW’ or ‘ACC’ (whatever you want to call it).

NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (yes, the astronaut people) and GISS is NASA’s Goddart Institute for Space Studies.  And, in their own words, “Research at GISS emphasizes a broad study of global climate change.

Dr. Hansen heads up GISS, and is perhaps one of the best known voices on this side of the Atlantic pond (aside from politicians and celebs) calling for drastic action to save us all from the inevitable catastrophe caused by man-made ‘climate change’.

The article starts out:

Today, on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, I filed three Notices of Intent to File Suit against NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), for those bodies’ refusal – for nearly three years – to provide documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information sought is directly relevant to the exploding “ClimateGate” scandal revealing document destruction, coordinated efforts in the U.S. and UK to avoid complying with both countries’ freedom of information laws, and apparent and widespread intent to defraud at the highest levels of international climate science bodies. Numerous informed commenters had alleged such behavior for years, all of which appears to be affirmed by leaked emails, computer codes and other data from the Climatic Research Unit of the UK’s East Anglia University.

So – this is why it matters:

‘Good scientists’ – even the CRU scientists know this, as per the leaked documents – always hand over the ‘raw data’ (that means, exactly as it was collected (along with the methodology used, conditions under which it was collected), before it was processed or ‘normalized’ (scientific meaning of the word) in any way-shape-or-form), what they did with it and why, and their results along with their hypothesis and conclusions when they submit their work for peer-review.

This is really, really important:  errors or mistakes (not to mention fraud) can occur at any point of the work.  It can occur at the very point of data-collection.  For example, if a thermocouple ‘x’ were used to measure temperatures at 5 out of 15 points, and thermocouple ‘y’ was collected for the rest, it will be necessary for any reviewer to read up on both thermocouples to make sure they behave exactly the same way under all conditions.

Simplification:  consider 2 thermometers commonly used to measure fever.  One is an old fashioned mercury one, the other is the modern, stick-in-the-ear one.  If one takes a child’s temperature using the ear thermometer, they may get a different temperature than if they use the old-fashioned mercury one under the child’s arm.  Therefore, one would have to document taking the child’s temperature simultaneously with both temperatures and record the readings.  Then, one would ‘analyze the difference’ between the readings to see what the difference in readings is.  Then, if one recorded 5 temperatures with the ear thermometer, and 15 with the mercury one, then one would have to ‘normalize’ one set of the readings (by adding or subtracting the ‘normal difference’ between their readings) before one could lump all 20 together as one dataset.

When doing peer-review of another scientist’s work, making sure there were no errors or mistakes in how the data was collected (like lumping together readings from the two thermometers in the example above), that there were no mistakes in making any ‘normalization’, and so on. And, since errors or mistakes can occur at any point from here on, all the ‘work’ has to be subjected to scrutiny by one’s peers.

‘Good scientists’ consider this to be a necessary part of any peer-review process.

Yet, the ‘leaked documents’ demonstrate that many of their studies, on which so much policy is being based, have been submitted for ‘peer-review’ without supplying any of their actual data to the peer doing the reviewing!

They even threatened to stop publishing in journals which demanded to see all of their data and work!

That means that their work was not FULLY ‘peer-reviewed’!

That means we ought not put much weight in that body of work!

But, even worse:  the leaked emails show that, in multiple instances, some of these ‘alarmist scientists’ stated they would rather delete their data than release it for scientific review!!!

That is NOT what ‘good scientists’ do!

Which  brings us to the point of the Notice of Intent to File Suit:

CEI, using ‘Freedom of Information Act’ FoIA, requested GISS to release much of the data it used to make its predictions of doom and cataclysms.  It appears that, for years, GISS has not released it.

In addition, CEI appears to have requested access to the records of ‘discussions’ between various GISS employees about how the data was collected, processed and analyzed.  It would seem that they requested sort of similar-type material like was leaked, except from GISS instead of CRU.  And, it appears that GISS has not released it, either.

And, though I am no lawyer and people ought to draw their own conclusions, but it does seem to me that CEI is citing the information from the ‘leaked files’ that this ‘cabal of scientists’ was willing to deleted information requested under FoIA (which might constitute a pattern of behaviour among this group of scientists) to put NASA’s GISS on notice that if they do not release the requested information (as the law demands they do), they will indeed face a lawsuit.

As they say, we do live in interesting times…

Why do people do this?

This is one of those tear-jerker stories I usually avoid:  it shows people at both our worst and our best.

About 150 km North-East of Ottawa, there once was a musher who bred Huskies as sled dogs.  Then the economy went bad….

This is the ‘worst’ bit….I will never understand how anyone, anyone can just leave animals tied up, without food or water….over a hundred of them!

I don’t know the full story, but my ‘educated guess’ is that the owner permitted rescuers to look after the dogs and eventually surrendered ownership to them in exchange for not facing charges.  Personally, I would find it difficult to be so generous with such a person.  The animal rescue folk are better people than I!

OK – here is the ‘best’ bit:  people are helping.  Complete strangers are opening their hearts and homes, and many others are opening their wallets. Looking after and protecting those who are not able to do it themselves (and, let’s not forget, in our society, we do not permit dogs to ‘look after themselves’!) is one of those best qualities we have.

My son brought this story home from school and asked me to blog about it, to make sure that as many people as possible learned about it. He proudly told me that his teacher was one of those good people who are helping.  And, he himself is dipping into his allowance…

Like I said – a tearjerker of a story!

IPCC scientists, hacked emails and largescale fraud

By now, most people are aware that the University East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has had their database hacked and tons of documents –  including emails between scientists (if one can use that term, in light of the ‘now confirmed’ information revealed therein) which contain some extremely incriminating evidence of scientific fraud, collusion to defraud the public and systematic efforts to subvert the scientific ‘peer review’ process and turn it from an objective assessment into partisan shill.

To me, the last one is the most serious.  But, first I have to ask:  how come this has not been the leading story in every newspaper and newsprogram everywhere?

Most people have only had a chance to come across a few apologetic articles, like this one in the New York Times, which present tiny snippets of the information unearthed (I condemn the means – let’s get that straight from the beginning – but now that the info is out there, we must assess it), without reasonable context, in order to explain it away as ‘harmless’ and thus diffuse any resulting criticism.  SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!

I first came across this at The Reference Frame, and I recommend it for the following reasons:  Mr. ReferenceFrame himself taught Physics at MIT.  Dr. Lubos Motl is a respected Physicist in his own right, with ties and connections with scientists all over the globe.  These, he put to good use himself, verifying whether or not the data the hackers leaked is genuine or not and whether what it reveals can be trusted.  As a Physicist, he is much more thorough in this than I would trust most journalists to be, he has the knowledge to evaluate ‘things’, and, let’s face it, as ‘one of them’, most scientists will be more comfortable and open discussing things with him.  (The corollary, of course, is that many ‘bad’ scientists will feel more threatened by him because he’s trained to detect any scientific BS!)

Plus, he is updating his post to include the latest bits…

AND, he has posted a comprehensive list of sites which are analyzing/discussing this. Again, I much recommend it… overall, I find his post to be a most useful frame of reference!

In case the absence of the mass media coverage on this topic has left you wondering what it is I am jabbering on about, here is the tip of the proverbial (and growing, not melting) iceberg:

If you would like to check through all the ‘leaked documents’, you can download them from Junk Science, or Friends of Science.  Or, look through the database Lubo Motl provides  on The Reference Frame:  it is excellent.  There are many well written blogs (as opposed to news stories(!)) that give the ‘scoop’ on this!

What the emails appear to have revealed:

  • data had been altered to ‘hide cooling’
  • data had been forged to demonstrate a ‘warming trend’
  • Scientists lamented that their data did not demonstrate the conclusions they wanted:  this is nothing new.  What is new is that they sought advice from each other how to fiddle the data in order to hide what it shows and instead conform to their desired conclusion
  • Scientists threatened to destroy data rather than permit other scientists examine the un-altered dataset on which their study is based (this is an essential part of the peer review process – without examining the raw data, another scientist cannot possibly assess if it had been processed ‘correctly’:  it is unthinkable that a proper peer review could possibly be done without examining the raw data
  • Scientists knowingly passed only  the data that supported ‘Global Warming’ on to the IPCC panel for evaluation, suppressing existing data that opposed it.
  • Scientists intentionally manipulated ‘impartial’ scientists performing peer review on studies which had findings which did not support AGW/ACC point of view, tricking them into rejecting non-AGW/ACC supporting studies…

All this is bad.  Very bad.  BUT – and this is, in my never-humble-opinion, is something so vile and unforgivable, I am having trouble wrapping my brain around it:  THEY COLLUDED TO SUBVERT THE SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW PROCESS!!!

Why is subverting the peer review process the thing that upsets me so much?

Because if people do ‘bad science’ – the peers reviewing it will, eventually, catch it and expose it.

Because if people are committing scientific fraud – the peers reviewing it will, eventually, catch it and expose it, and ruin the reputation of the scientist committing it.

Because if there is a group of scientists conspiring to defraud everyone – the peers reviewing it may take a while to catch on, but, eventually, they will catch it, expose it and make sure these conspirators never get near any science again!

The scientific peer review process relies on the honesty and integrity of scientists.  It is nothing more – and nothing less – than, when one writes up one’s experiment/scientific study, one submits BOTH the write-up AND all the supporting data and materials to other scientists who have expertise in this field.  These other scientists read the experiment’s/study’s hypothesis, then they examine the methodology used, data (the actual, physical data that was collected,  the method/means it was collected by, the ‘controls’ that were placed to limit other possible factors that might affect the data and so on, the methodologies and techniques used to analyze the data, and so on) and then they analyze whether or not the data, collected in the way it was, analyzed as it was, supports the hypothesis as proposed.

It is not an easy process – and it relies heavily on the integrity of the ‘peers’ doing the ‘review’!

That is why it is so highly valued!

There is no fame or fortune in it, yet it is hard (and necessary) work!  That is why most scientists take ‘peer review’ at face value!

By showing that this very process which is supposed to test (and thus assure) the integrity of scientific findings can be subverted, and subverted so easily, these people have ended the ‘age of innocence’ among the scientific community!

To sum it up – they have falsified science (and manipulated policymakers) in order to increase their own funding, they have subverted (and thus for ever destroyed the credibility of) the scientific peer review process and utterly destroyed the credibility of science and scientists!

I wish I could think of names vile enough to call them – but, there are none!  Their names will go down in history and become the worst possible insults a person can be called!


‘His real name is Nitely Melikson’