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The hockey-stick graph explained

Says the man from the Devil’s Kitchen:

Bishop Hill has pieced together the full story of the hockey-stick graph and it is, in the opinion of your humble Devil, fucking dynamite.

Pardon his French. Unlike DK, I have not read this posting of BH’s yet, although I most certainly will be reading it very soon. But the Bishop has for at least the last year or so been one of my favourite bloggers, and Devil’s Kitchen is a regular favourite of mine too. This posting looks like it will confirm – no, strengthen – my high opinion of both of these bloggers, one for writing it, and the other for flagging it up. I came across the Bishop’s posting under my own steam, but soon after noting it, I noted Devil’s Kitchen noting it also.

Assuming that DK is approximately right about the excellence of this piece of writing by Bishop Hill, here is a fine example of one of the many things that the best bloggers are now doing very well, namely pulling together lots of postings on the same general topic (in this case all by the same person) and summarising them for the benefit of anyone who is interested, but who lacks the time or the inclination to read all those original postings.

18 comments to The hockey-stick graph explained

  • cirby

    I’ve been following (as much as I can, anyway) the Climate Audit posts for quite a while now, and it’s amazing what some supposed “scientists” have gotten away with in the climate field.

    If a medical researcher tried some of the stuff we see in modern pseudoclimatology, they’d be tossed in jail immediately.

  • RAB

    Well I’m no scientist
    and will happily defer to those that are (within reason).

    But a couple of years ago, during the heatwave we were having, that was supposedly killing the old French folk in droves…
    Wearing my fancy dress garb of long Egyptian dress and no knickers, sweltering my bollocks off,
    It was casually pronounced that next year would be even worse…

    So next year, I am sitting there,
    same time, same date,
    with the same garb on

    but this time I have to pull a pullover on.
    Or I would had frozen to death.

    Global Warming.
    Not as cool
    as you warm to make it!

  • Soupmonkey

    Global something or another is always going to be imminent. At least that’s what the secret masters of the unknown universe would like for you to believe. Next time you see a major study which calculates the best possible way for you to live: just fart, roll over and go back to sleep.

  • guy herbert

    Addressing Brian’s general point, rather than the content of the post he refers to, this is of course the original purpose of the web: to make citations easy to follow up.

    It is at least unfortunate (and bloggers are sometimes the worst offenders) that this fundamental facility is so little used, and that care with sources is such an amazingly rare phenomenon – perhaps as rare as it is in print journalism, even though web journalists and bloggers don’t have deadline pressures in the same way.

    The tendency is to post what fits one’s presuppositions about the world, backed-up by some chinese whispers from a friendly corner, rather than to do checking. I’ve done it myself.

    Relying on fisking to keep the web honest is even more hopelessly optimistic than the parallel reliance of the US Patent Office on litigation to sort out its own lackadaisical approach to examination. In the same way, but worse, it ensures a few points of clarity and justice amid restricted patches of unresolvable (but at least argued) partisan slanging, themselves a scattered archipelago floating on oceans of chaos and nonsense.

    People fisk most where they feel most strongly that the opposition is morally wrong, so it is often heat pretending to be light. The etymology of ‘fisking’ is metonymic; but so the context of its origin. It is born out of the irreconcilable fury and obscurity of levantine difference. And the process is an active synechdoche more often than it is plain counterexample to open unhinged logic: by showing pointwise failures of fact, the fisker seeks to satisfy his audience that the object of his attentions is in bad faith, a fraud, a witting or witless agent of evil.

    Where does this Manichaeism come from?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    It is certainly a long post but worth it. There does appear to be a slowly rising volume of commentary from people who are starting to question a lot of the AGW thesis, or at least its most extreme variants. There may be a number of reasons for this:

    1, Contrarianism. People get suspicious of rock-solid consensuses, and they smelled a rat at how the IPCC and Co have tried to smack down criticism. The religious aspects of Greenery have started to seriously piss people off. As I also pointed out a few days back, it is no longer very clever, or even cool, to be a Green.

    2, People realise that fighting so called AGW is going to be very costly, will reduce their living standards, and the payoff, if any, will not be seen for centuries, if at all.

    3, Actual evidence does not back up global warming or at least its more scary scenarios. I am sitting in my flat while the rain is pouring down and it is August, for god’s sake. We have had a coolish summer this year. Same as last year. We haven’t had a really severely hot summer on the continent either. I read that global mean temps are down over the last 10 years. If this continues for another five, say, it is going to get really hard for the doomongers to keep up the pressure.

  • Freddy

    Don’t know if we still give knighthoods to Canadians, but if we do, Steve McIntyre is seriously overdue for one.

  • Millie Woods

    Alas Freddy, if and that’s a big if considering the demographic shifts on the electoral map, the Liberals ever get back into power Canadians will not be allowed to accept such foreign honours. Poor old Conman Black had to give up his citizenship to accept his title. At approximately the same time the then PM Jean Cretin was twisting the Pakistasni PM’s arm to have the murderous patriarch of the Khadr family released from prison. Even now a leading Liberal Bob Rae is fulminating at the government for not going to war with the US in order to gain the release of yet another Khadr family member from Guantanamo. Is follow the money – ahem Saudi money – what’s behind this solicitousness for Jihadi murderers on the part of the oh so touchy feely Canadian Libs?

  • jd

    I’m not sure about a knighthood for Steve M, but I think one of those Nobel thingies may turn out to be appropriate.

  • Laird

    Especially as a counterweight to the one improvidently granted to the intellectual lightweight Al Gore.

  • Freddy

    Steve’s a mathematician, so he isn’t eligible for one of the real Nobels, and he’s too old for a Fields Medal … which only leaves the damfool Nobel Peace prize thingy, which will require a change in government in Norway, one suspects.

  • Laird

    I’ve read it several times, and I still don’t get the point of guy herbert’s post here. Is it to criticize the Bishop Hill piece, or fisking in general? If the latter, why here? If the former, as I read it the Hill article isn’t really a “fisking” at all, but rather a relatively simple chronology of some very convoluted events. And the obvious conclusion to be drawn, when all the dots are connected (as Johnathan says, it’s a long article but well worth reading), is that the active proponents of AGW are acting in bad faith, subverting the scientific process for their own political ends. Hence the “Manichaeism;” it is completely justified.

    And what on earth is “unhinged logic”?

  • Jon

    An “Adjustment/Verification ratio” that does nothing more than weed out the data that you don’t want in your way to prove your point?!

    Jesus Christ, if this were done in an area that wasn’t being politically protected these guys would get crucified by their peers!

    The same sort of thing goes in with some Econ papers, “researchers” will try and cherry-pick data points to get the politically acceptable outcome. Most of the time it gets pointed out, but by that time the damage has been done as the public has been told that “New research proves that…”

    What a crock full of shit.

  • Midwesterner

    Laird, here is a slightly tongue in cheek translation/paraphrase (You may want to correct my mistakes, Guy):

    Addressing Brian’s general point, rather than the content of the post he refers to, this is of course the original purpose of the web: to make citations easy to follow up.

    Sort of OT, but relevant in a general sort of way, the web was originally developed to make it easier for researchers to access each other’s research.

    It is at least unfortunate (and bloggers are sometimes the worst offenders) that this fundamental facility is so little used, and that care with sources is such an amazingly rare phenomenon – perhaps as rare as it is in print journalism, even though web journalists and bloggers don’t have deadline pressures in the same way.

    Almost nobody uses links or bothers to check out who they’re quoting, they’re worse than MSM even though they don’t even have to meet deadlines.

    The tendency is to post what fits one’s presuppositions about the world, backed-up by some chinese whispers from a friendly corner, rather than to do checking. I’ve done it myself.

    They post speculations and quote other people speculating the same thing as a ‘source’. It’s easier than doing it right. Oops, BTDT.

    Relying on fisking to keep the web honest is even more hopelessly optimistic than the parallel reliance of the US Patent Office on litigation to sort out its own lackadaisical approach to examination. In the same way, but worse, it ensures a few points of clarity and justice amid restricted patches of unresolvable (but at least argued) partisan slanging, themselves a scattered archipelago floating on oceans of chaos and nonsense.

    Expecting bloggers to fact check bloggers is even more bogus than that patent office’s habit of granting all patents and letter the courts sort them out. Worse, it leaves a few honest forums and the rest are grinding axes of one sort or another. Even the axe grinders are just a few points in a universe of genuine wacko moonbats.

    People fisk most where they feel most strongly that the opposition is morally wrong, so it is often heat pretending to be light. The etymology of ‘fisking’ is metonymic; but so the context of its origin. It is born out of the irreconcilable fury and obscurity of levantine difference. And the process is an active synechdoche more often than it is plain counterexample to open unhinged logic: by showing pointwise failures of fact, the fisker seeks to satisfy his audience that the object of his attentions is in bad faith, a fraud, a witting or witless agent of evil.

    People only go to the trouble of fact checking when they think the other side are advocating a moral wrong. Because they care, their passion is a negative. Even ‘Fisking’ doesn’t mean what it used to; and never did. It (Fisking) is because fiskers care too much to slow down and do their own research. They lump many disparate things together under one umbrella far more often than they actually make clear and thoughtful corrections to their target’s boo-boos. They use their target’s errors of fact as ad hominems instead of providing corrections.

    Where does this Manichaeism come from?

    How come people see things as either good or evil?

    If I read Guy’s comment at all correctly, he probably considers me to be one of those Manichaecs occasionally. :-)

    FWIW, myself I think the web does a far better job of outing the truth than what came before it, and I think Brian’s post shows examples. How quickly might DDT overreaction have been brought to a reasoned restriction had the web been available back when Silent Spring became a justification for ‘at any cost’ ‘corrections? How long might AGW carry on if only the MSM and academia guarded the portals of ‘truth’?

  • Laird

    Mid, I understood the words (mostly), I just didn’t understand the point of the post, and why it appeared in this thread. Your “translation” didn’t help me any. If it’s a criticism of the Bishop Hill article I think it’s off target; if it’s something else it’s just off topic in a way I couldn’t follow.

    Although I still don’t understand what “unhinged logic” is.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Laird,

    I believe he was bemoaning the tendency of emotionally partisan bloggers to use dubious factoids picked up from the web as rhetorical weapons, using the general AGW debate (and not this particular post) as an example. To the extent that the main benefit of debate is claimed to be the search for truth, these polarised debates fail because all sides are biased and the biases do not necessarily cancel out. The criticism is unsystematic.

    Brian’s point was that this post was good because someone had spent a lot of time sifting through raw material and distilling it into a readable summary backed up by links to sources. I think Guy was commenting on the fact that most other people in this debate don’t.

    But I have to say, I’m not very sure about it either. I think it was partly also an excuse to use the word ‘synecdoche’ in a blog comment. There is another common failure of postmodern debate besides lack of fact-checking, and that is a rhetorically obfuscatory deficit of clarity. :)

    And ‘unhinged’ is a common metaphor for ‘insane’.

  • What surprises me is the amount of protection you seem to have here, I point my readers to the said post by Bishop Hill and the jolly green idiots come flocking by to drop their shit!

  • Pa,

    You know what Niels Bohr said about Clarity don’t you?

  • Pa Annoyed

    NickM,

    Yes. But there’s another good one too. “Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.”