Did you ever read a textbook on economic history, or an in-depth article on the relative value of goods over the centuries expressed in current US dollars? Have you ever encountered a graphic that shows long term trends in rainfall patterns or other climate variables, using a couple of simple lines, designed to give a general idea of relative conditions during different eras? Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
This is a graphic made by a major investment firm culling information from dozens or perhaps hundreds of sources into a single graphic. This is the graphic as it was initially provided by the researchers
This is a graph of oxygen concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is culled from a large number of different sources. This is the graphic, based on numerous proxyindicattors, as published in a peer reviewed paper:
This is a compilation from many different sources of stock market values assembled to show waves in stock market behavior over the last few centuries:
This is a set of climate related variables show in relation to human “civilization” over 18,000 years (n.b.: the term “civilization” is reserved in archaeology and prehistory for specific phenomena which did not occur before about 10,000 years ago).
In all these cases complex sources were culled in the peer reviewed literature 0r professional research literature, and turned into summary views of something happening over time. The graph itself is meant to show a derived variable, not the underlying complexity of the data. The graph is the sausage. The making of the sausage is laid out in the original documents, in some case in the peer reviewed paper the graphic appears in.
Here, Judith Curry makes the argument, in an excessively tl;dr blog post, that climate scientist Michael Mann acted inappropriately, perhaps fraudulently, or perhaps as a matter of scientific misconduct, when the IPCC published a version of his famous Hockey Stick Graph that instead of looking like this:
Looked like this:
For the record, here is the original version of that graphic from the peer reviewed paper. Note that it indicates where the data come from but that was back in the late 20th century when in order to have color graphics in your paper you had to hire monks to draw them and there weren’t any monks available.
And here is the same graph in a similar updated paper a year later, looking much better:
And, at the time of the publication, owing to the costs of monks and such, color versions of the graphics were made available. This is what anyone who wanted to could look at at the time:
Mann’s graphic representation of climate change, the Hockey Stick, is not fraudulent. But it is verified, real, and important. There are people in the climate discussion who make up graphs, of course (see this) but Mann is not one of them.
So Judith Curry and the flock of winged monkeys and child molesters that comment on her blog are arguing that Mann carried out scientific misconduct when he did something that is normal to do, and in fact, that he didn’t actually do. This is an “own goal” for Curry because it is a clear cut case of making up a version of reality in order to denigrate a fellow scientist and discredit his research on the basis of color coding rather than the science. Curry has credentialed herself a denialist.
(Related: Curry’s Credibility Crumbles by Climate Hawks.)
That. Is. Science. Denialism. Welcome to the list, Judith.
By the way have a look at this image:
If you ever see an image like this used by a climate science denialist, ACCUSE THEM OF FRAUD AND MISCONDUCT because this graph shows NOTHING about the multiple sources used to create the single black line squiggle therefore it is ILLEGAL.
Sorry… I get carried away sometimes. Anyway, I have a pro tip for those who are following along with the climate change discussion: Individuals who study climate change from any perspective (as a climate change scientist, some other kind of scientist, policy maker, communicator, interested citizen) should realize that some depictions or summaries are underlain by extensive and complex literature. A proper scholarly approach, even by an avocational scholar or journalist, requires keeping that in mind and digging beneath the surface where needed. So if you see a monochromatic hockey stick like curve, or any climate squiggle, hopefully there is a reference to where it comes from and then you can dig around and reconstruct the scholarship, if you are reasonably smart, reasonably diligent, not lazy, and well intentioned.
Or you can be one of Judith Curry’s followers and just whine about it.
Finally, here’s a recent version of the Hockey Stick Graph showing the many ways it has been verified. Checkmate, denialists.
Added: Judith Curry Picks A Cheery…