Monday, October 05, 2009

Climate Science in the Age of Hypermedia

Andrew Sullivan posted something from Eric Trager that I think applies to the climate "debate" as well:
The problem, however, is that the Age of Hypermedia has magnified the incentives for crude political behavior substantially. Indeed, desperate politicians – particularly those expecting stiff competition in the next election – know that outrageous statements are more likely to get broadcast/blogged/tweeted/posted/forwarded than well-reasoned ones.

If you want a review of all the ridiculous things people have said about this so-called Yamal controversy, read Deltoid.

I don't think 80% of the stuff posted by the likes of Jennifer Marohasy or Bennie Peiser (who on Friday titled his daily email "A Scientific Scandal Unfolds") are intended to address the scientific debate at all -- they're intended to just throw flak into the air, to confuse the uninformed and make it appear as if there is still much doubt about AGW. What else can you make about a statement like this?
In response to recent suggestions by Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre that the official reconstructions may have been fudged, Keith Briffa, from the Climate Research Unit associated with the UK Met. Office, has responded explaining that there was no cherry picking of data in the development of the reconstructions used by the IPCC and others, rather, the methodology is not yet robust.

That's such an intellectually dishonest twisting of what Briffa actually wrote it's hard to take its measure (as Tommy Lee Jones said in a different context).

Here's what Briffa actually wrote:
My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data. All he's simply saying is that they are working to make their methods as robust as possible.

That is (of course) hardly an admission that their methods are flawed, but rather that they're now the best they've been able to make them and they are working on making them even better. No science is every 100% robust. And on this basis, Marohasy calls for a postponement of the Copenhagen meeting.

1 comment:

Term Papers said...

I never thought of it like that, but it really is true.