How do you explain a person seemingly legitimately trained in science drifting off and becoming more and more of a science denier?
In the case of Judith Curry I was unwilling to think of her as a full on science denier for a long time because her transition into denierhood seemed to be going very slowly, methodologically. It was almost like she was trying to drift over into denier land and maybe bring a few back with her. Like some people seem to do sometimes. But no, she just kept providing more and more evidence that she does not accept climate science’s concensus that global warming is real, caused by human greenhouse gas polution, involves actual warming of the Earth’s surface, and is important.
And lately she has added to this slippery sliding jello-like set of magic goal posts yet another denier meme. She is certain, after a convoluted review of “evidence” that one of the classic examples of deniers lying, deniers making stuff up to confuse and mislead policy makers, reporters, and the public, is real.
It is not real but she says it is real. If you were looking for a last straw required to place Judith Curry plainly and simply and undoubtedly in the category of Climate Science denier, this straw has fallen heavily on the camelid’s aching overburdened back. If you were looking for that one last fact that determines the balance of argument in favor (vs. against) Judith Curry being either nefarious (as all those who intentionally deny this important area of science must be) or just plain (and inexcusably) stupid (the only alternative explanation for pushing climate science denialism) than that fact has arrived.
What the heck am I talking about? This.
One e-mail Phil Jones of CRU sent to my coauthors and me in early 1999 has received more attention than any other. In it, Jones both made reference to “Mike’s Nature trick” and used the phrase “to hide the decline” in describing a figure … comparing different proxy temperature reconstructions. Here was the smoking gun, climate change deniers clamored. Climate scientists had finally been caught cooking the books: They were using “a trick to hide the decline in global temperatures,” a nefarious plot to hide the fact the globe was in fact cooling, not warming! …
The full quotation from Jones’s e-mail was …, “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Only by omitting the twenty-three words in between “trick” and “hide the decline” were change deniers able to fabricate the claim of a supposed “trick to hide the decline.” No such phrase was used in the e-mail nor in any of the stolen e-mails for that matter. Indeed, “Mike’s Nature trick” and “hide the decline” had nothing to do with each other. In reality, neither “trick” nor “hide the decline” was referring to recent warming, but rather the far more mundane issue of how to compare proxy and instrumental temperature records. Jones was using the word trick [to refer to] to an entirely legitimate plotting device for comparing two datasets on a single graph…
The reconstruction by Briffa, (see K. R. Briffa, F. H. Schweingruber, P. D. Jones, T. J. Osborn, S. G. Shiyatov, and E. A. Vaganov, “Reduced Sensitivity of Recent Tree-Growth to Temperature at High Northern Latitudes,” Nature, 391 (1998): 678–682) in particular …
…was susceptible to the so-called divergence problem, a problem that primarily afflicts tree ring density data from higher latitudes. These data show an enigmatic decline in their response to warming temperatures after roughly 1960, … [Jones] was simply referring to something Briffa and coauthors had themselves cautioned in their original 1998 publication: that their tree ring density data should not be used to infer temperatures after 1960 because they were compromised by the divergence problem. Jones thus chose not to display the Briffa et al. series after 1960 in his plot, “hiding” data known to be faulty and misleading—again, entirely appropriate. … Individuals such as S. Fred Singer have … tried to tar my coauthors and me with “hide the decline” by conflating the divergence problem that plagued the Briffa et al. tree ring density reconstruction with entirely unrelated aspects of the hockey stick.
In her most recent post, Judith Curry says:
In hindsight, the way the Climategate emails was rolled out, after very careful scrutiny by the targeted bloggers, was handled pretty responsibly. Lets face it – “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” means . . . “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline.”
That statement by Curry is demonstrably wrong. That is a fact borne of logical and scientific examination of the information, and information is not lacking. Curry is wrong.
Beyond that, I think, as implied above, she is either doing something here that is morally wrong (lying to slow down action on climate change) or stupid (she is not smart enough to understand what she is looking at). Here, I want to be clear. The argument that Curry is wrong is logical. Ends there. She’s wrong. The idea that she is either immoral or stupid is both my opinion and NOT an argument about her wrongness. I am not making an ad hominem argument. If you think that is an ad hominem argument then you don’t know what an ad hominum argument is (and isn’t).
And yes, I understand that this is a rather insulting thing to say, that one is either immoral or a dumbass. But it is my children’s future that is at risk here. Expect insults.
See also this: