Prediction markets

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It’s News On Academia, Not Climate:

Yup, this behavior has long been typical when academics form competing groups, whether the public hears about such groups or not. If you knew how academia worked, this news would not surprise you nor change your opinions on global warming. I’ve never done this stuff, and I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but that is cheap talk since I haven’t had the opportunity. This works as a “scandal” only because of academia’s overly idealistic public image.

It is a shame that academia works this way, and an academia where this stuff didn’t happen would probably be more accurate. But even our flawed academic consensus is usually more accurate than its contrarians, and it is hard to find reliable cheap indicators saying when contrarians are more likely to be right.

If you don’t like this state of affairs join me in trying to develop a more reliable consensus mechanism on such topics: prediction markets. It just takes time or money. Prefer instead to act shocked, just shocked, when the other side is shown to do this stuff, while reserving your side’s ability to do the same? Then I have little respect for you.

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61 Comments

  1. and it is hard to find reliable cheap indicators saying when contrarians are more likely to be right 
     
    Well, I’ve got one case. If there is a debate on differences in human behavior, and the academics are denying the impact of genes, and the contrarians are asserting it, bet on the contrarians.

  2. there’s a difference between what many would be willing to say in public vs. what they believe on some issues.

  3. As far as human population differences in behavior are concerned, it would depend on what type of academics we are talking about. The majority of sociologists would likely give a different answer than a majority of psychometricians.

  4. “I will be emailing the journal to tell them IÂ’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.” Â… 
     
    Uh… If a scientific journal hires the TimeCube guy as an editor, I would stop dealing with them as well – and let them know why. Apparently the skeptics are suggesting that scientists should be forced to send their papers to a journal, even if they regard it as illegitimate?  
     
    In all this brouhaha I have seen only one or two emails that might, perhaps, indicate dubious behaviour. And even then, it depends very much on the meaning of terms (like “blip”), and without the larger context of the discussion it is difficult to judge. I wish I could say with confidence that my own field is as “pure” as this! 
     
    As for the characteristic pro-market comment from overcomingbiasunlessitstowardsfairy-talelibertarianism.org (I recognised the style before I cliked on the link), I’m not sure how he addresses the obvious incentives for industries to step in and distort these prediction markets, as soon as they begin to have some kind of political relevance.

  5. In theory, prediction markets would be great. Invest how you really think, and let the market sort out whether there’s actually a consensus, reward the winners, and punish the losers. 
     
    In practice, it would seem scientists would often be investors in these science prediction markets, and I have to believe this conflict of interest would strongly tend to corrode the independence of their science. People do stupid things when their ego is on the line; people will do sneaky, manipulative, and evil things when money is on the line. 
     
    Sounds like a good idea, actually a very bad idea. 
     
    (Also the logistics of setting these up and defining good prediction targets seem decidedly non-trivial…)

  6. Have you guys all seen Harry Read Me, the chronicle of Poor Harry wrestling with the CRU software? Wot larks. Read it and weep. With laughter, or at the Death of Science, according to taste. 
     
    http://di2.nu/foia/HARRY_READ_ME-0.html

  7. I think that prediction markets would only work when well-informed people are in them and their stake in the prediction market is the biggest part of their stake in the outcome. But those criteria are opposed; the more people know about a field, the more likely they are to already have a stake in the outcome.  
     
    I think that office-pool prediction markets (one player one ticket, but many people can buy the same square) among insiders might work. Even then, though — before it happened, how many people would have voted for Watson and Crick over Pauling? My guess is that the distribution would have been random, but favoring Pauling because he had a bigger reputation at the time (IIRC.)

  8. There’s a very good book by David Raup, The Nemesis Affair that addresses the kind of stuff going on with climate and HBD. 
     
    People mostly pay attention to the “Death of the Dinosaurs” part, but the important stuff is in “the Ways of Science”. 
     
    Worth a read.

  9. And next you’re going to be telling us that HBD is false because the “consensus” of “scientists” say so?

  10. As I noted at OB, this should primarily about academia, or expert opinion more broadly. Assuming that prediction markets are the one true solution is a bit like the politician’s syllogism. 
     
    The editor of Climate Research, Hans von Storch, gave his account of events leading to his resignation here
     
    toto, I don’t think that’s an accurate characterization of Hanson. In arguing with Bryan Caplan over libertarianism he was willing to bite the bullet to embrace slavery, genocide, infant cannibalism and a host of other bugaboos. When Greg Mankiw proposed a height-tax as a reductio absurdum on common justifications for progressive taxation, Hanson bit the bullet there as well and endorsed it. It’s ironic you use prediction markets as an example, since Nick Szabo complained in the previous decision market dust-up that he wasn’t taking into account libertarian shibboleths. That thread there also discusses the incentives people have to warp such a market to affect the outcome (rather than make money through betting). Hanson’s response to Szabo was similar to that of someone objecting to his idea of mandating paternity testing: libertarian objections do not need addressing since most people aren’t libertarians and we already know that libertarians will object to statist actions. His recommendation that we subsidize journalism is a market-failure argument. The specific argument you’re referring to, having scientists bet on their theories to generate more common knowledge, doesn’t actually have anything to do with reducing government (if skeptics really are too chicken to bet the likely result would be more governmental action). 
     
    Half Sigma, do you remember Linda Gottfredson’s “Mainstream Science on IQ” ad? It was published in the wake of the Bell Curve, which noted in its intro that its premises were in the mainstream among the scientists studying the issues. You might object that’s mostly intelligence, but scientists don’t believe race even exists. Ernst Mayer did and scientists have no problem referring to “races” of different species. With humans they sometimes resort to the euphemism “population”, but it matches up pretty well with the common understanding of race. Doctors are recommending that medical treatments be tailored to the race of the patient, which they wouldn’t do if they thought it was all just skin deep.

  11. Yup. I usually admire (or envy) what you write toto, but TGGP is right. Hanson’s got sack, and knows biases. He also seems like he has successfully programmed himself to actually enjoy changing his mind when warranted.

  12. In arguing with Bryan Caplan over libertarianism he was willing to bite the bullet to embrace slavery, genocide, infant cannibalism and a host of other bugaboos. 
     
    Oh, he must be all right then.

  13. And next you’re going to be telling us that HBD is false because the “consensus” of “scientists” say so? 
     
    A consensus of scientists don’t say HBD, however defined, is false. In the broad sense, scientists publish loads of behavior genetic, sociobiological, and population genetic research. Even in the narrower sense of racial differences in cognitive abilities, a plurality of experts think genetics contribute. 
     
    You might object that’s mostly intelligence, but scientists don’t believe race even exists. 
     
    This isn’t true. It isn’t true in the narrow sense that a clear majority of polled biologists say that human races exist, and it certainly isn’t true in the broad sense that population genetics, and biological sciences more generally, are predicated on the existence of “populations” and genetic differentiation. e.g. working science is predicated on the fact that Africans and Europeans are genetically differentiated, and approaching the facts otherwise would make something like a genome wide association study impossible.  
     
    It’s like saying most scientists don’t believe mitochondria or South America exists. It is impossible to deny if you are working with it, in anything but name.

  14. Razib, 
     
    I think you’re missing the crucial point, which is not that low-level shenanigans occur, but rather that there is substantial unidirectional pressure on the system from non-scientific sources, creating the prospect of huge funding for alarmist findings versus unemployment for moderation and/or uncertainty. Interviews with emeritus climatologists on the sociology of their field are particularly enlightening.

  15. Also, for an informed but heated critique of Hanson & prediction markets, read Chris Masse’s Midas Oracle
     
    Jason: to clarify, the statement you quoted is not what I actually believe. It was a position I was putting to a hypothetical skeptic (Half Sigma perhaps, though I don’t know his position on that specific question) of the “scientific consensus”. The stuff I followed up with was to serve as evidence that scientists really do believe in the reality of racial differences.

  16. 1) In regards to the quote, Hanson’s point is completely silly. All academia is not like this. This kind of “oh you shouldn’t be surprised” sentiment is a sort of pseudo-wise cynicism that is actually profoundly ignorant. It stems from Hanson’s tenure in economics, which is on the same level as “climate science” in terms of scientific rigor [which is to say, not rigorous]. The more content there is, the less politics there are — come to a mathematics or even comp bio department and things are debated much more on the merits, as there actually *are* merits to debate.  
     
    You can recognize Hanson’s argument as radical relativism in another guise. Academic consensus is not the ultimate way to figure out truth. Neither are prediction markets, for pete’s sake. Actual working devices are the only way to REALLY know whether your theory is correct. (Yudkowsky would recognize this much faster than Hanson as he’s a little closer to the details in terms of actually trying to *implement* an AI. ) 
     
    As for Robin Hanson in general..he is kind of a professional contrarian and definitely — as noted above — an (irrational) market zealot. Mencius took him apart on the topic of prediction markets (not that I always agree with Mencius).  
     
    As noted, I think Eliezer is much more frequently interesting than Hanson. Hanson’s semi-autism makes him very poor at reasoning about how other people behave — not a big problem for a physicist, but a big problem for a socially oriented scientist.  
     
    2) HBD is an edge case where a huge amount depends on which panel of scientists you poll, how explicitly you poll them, and whether they can vote anonymously. I would definitely not call it the “consensus” opinion among geneticists or psychologists — perhaps only among the much more narrowly defined behavioral geneticists or differential psychologists, and then too only in sotto voce with plenty of appended caveats.  
     
    3) I was mostly rationally agnostic about warming before. On evolution & atheism the left was correct, while on HBD and social science the right was mostly correct.  
     
    So I sat out the scientific debate, though certainly on the political level I was more in favor of geoengineering and nuclear power than a futile effort to end Western Civilization [the ultimate leftist "New Year's Day" cause ever -- the enthusiasm would drop right like a stone right after they actually achieved the goal].  
     
    But at this point after doing a deep dig through those files, I can’t see how anyone who knows R or anything about programming can possibly believe that Mann, Jones, etc. are legitimate scientists.  
     
    The code shows straight up that they are fudging data. Full stop. I know academia in and out. No “context” can explain this. This is just not the way a reputable research lab conducts itself.  
     
    Consider the data hiding, for example — in genomics the funding agencies fairly rigorously enforce data release, recognizing that there are too many conflicts of interest & it’s too important a thing to leave to the scientists.  
     
    There is absolutely zero rationale or excuse for Mann and Jones to hide data and code unless their data and code is crap. Anyone who has been in academia knows this. A good scientist will give you their data sets and plasmids because they know their result is *robust* and can be *built on* and will *earn them citations*.  
     
    Some guys try to play this “just the tip game” with data — publish just enough to get the props of publication, but do a little dance and wait till the editor isn’t looking to refrain from posting the actual raw data with the paper. This is unfortunately more common as you move from (say) sequencing to (say) psychology. But it is inexecusable and against the whole idea of publishing. Journals and funding agencies must punish and deter such behavior as they are the only ones with power — it is too easy to delete some nagging guy’s emails and wait till he gets tired of asking for your ish.  
     
    Now, the key thing about the Mann/Jones stuff is that this is not fudging data to get plot 4b on the mating habits of snail darters out the door. That would be inconsequential, though obviously unethical.  
     
    No, this is fudging data on which the IPCC and hence trillions of dollars in world economic policy depends!!! 
     
    I cannot stress that enough.  
     
    Trillions of fucking dollars! 
     
    Every single string and float ever collected should be instantly and openly mirrored as is done with NCBI, EBI, and DDBJ. Is this a “funding” issue despite the fact that Jones alone has received $22 million in grants? Well if so, then fund a climate database whose sole purpose is to curate data and make it immediately accessible to all parties without login or credential, like NCBI.  
     
    Moreover, make it a mandatory condition of publishing in any journal that both source and data must be included, e.g. using Sweave or literate Haskell or a similar toolbox for reproducible research.  
     
    This is 2009, there is absolutely no reason that crap science of this kind should be tolerated at all, let alone used to decide the fate of the world economy.  
     
    (PS: needless to say, Jones, Mann, and Schmit should not be allowed near this database. Deleting data in response to FOI requests from an academic collaborator is (at best) simply research misconduct and (at worst) a criminal offense. These guys have committed scientific fraud of astonishing proportions and need to be brought to justice. )

  17. Well said, jeecee. From time to time I have opined on similar lines on non-climate scientific blogs, probably including this one. Forgive my my manners, chaps, but I TOLD YOU SO.

  18. jeecee, Hanson was a physicist before he went into economics. Hence his “mangled worlds” paper. 
     
    On evolution & atheism the left was correct, while on HBD and social science the right was mostly correct. 
    Do you say that because they have “working devices”? Are the other “social sciences” more rigorous than economics? 
     
    There are other areas of academia where results are fudged to come out “correct”. As long as people have something at stake in the outcomes there will be incentives for that to happen.

  19. I made the anonymous comment about the Raup book above. I did not mean it to be anon. Something must have happened to the cookie that puts my name on the header and I did not notice that it was not there. Sorry 
     
    As regards the brouhaha over CRU, there was a study of the “hockey stick” that members of Congress requested a few years ago. Their methods were pretty well debunked at that time but there was no press coverage so few people have read their report. 
     
    It is by imminent statisticians and somewhat deep for me (BS, engineering), but I imagine many of you will find it quite easily readable. 
     
    It is very interesting and worth a read if you are at all interested in the debate over Global Warming. 
     
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf

  20. It stems from Hanson’s tenure in economics, which is on the same level as “climate science” in terms of scientific rigor [which is to say, not rigorous]. The more content there is, the less politics there are — come to a mathematics or even comp bio department and things are debated much more on the merits, as there actually *are* merits to debate.  
     
    You’re picking it up from the wrong end entirely. The reality is that the more that there’s at stake in terms of wealth and power, the more controversy there will be. Leibniz (both an important mathematician and a Hanoverian courtier who had a behind the scenes view in the politics of his day) said something like “People would disagree about the multiplication table if there were enough money in it.” (Don’t remember the source; don’t try Googling because you’ll just find me). 
     
    Now that biomed is big money, there’s a lot more fraud and a lot more doubtful claims. And remember the debates about tobacco and cancer science going back to 1960? 
     
    On the one hand, advocates of political and commercial agendas, to the extent that they can, will tend to advocate them in scientized form and grab little scraps of misunderstood science to justify themselves. On the other hand, genuine science that has significant external consequences will be distorted and denigrated by the people whe are going to lose. 
     
    For another example, I know two geologists, and they both say that oil geologists are conniving reptiles, whereas science geologists are just blue-collar science types.  
     
    For a long time people have thought of science as pure and incorruptible, but it isn’t, and they thought that if science was applied to political problems uncontroversial solutions would be found, but it just doesn’t work that way.  
     
    As far as the “rigor” question goes, I think that in economics the mistake is in claiming, expecting, or even hoping for the kind of rigor you get in physics, physiology, etc. You’re dealing with extremely complex evolving systems and to the extent there’s turbulence and chaos in there, that really limits your predictive / control possibilities enormously. In other words, the slack or slop is in the data, not just in the scientific description. 
     
    Climatology has the same turbulence problem as economics, probabbly more so. A neglected factor in climatology is that, yes, the science isn’t as solid as it should be, but the urgency of the practical problem being faced has quite rightly motivated the scientists in the field to bring their data to the public early. The reason for this is that objective situation is changing at the same time that the science is being developed, so that by the time the science is perfectly developed the objective situation might have passed a tipping point. And one thing that scientists know is that there’s a big cause-effect lag time in climatological events, so today’s phenomena are the outcome of the cumulative events of decades, so that any action we end up taking (or stop taking) will only have its effects many years or decades down the road. 
     
    As far as outside pressure, it comes from both directions, and I find it striking how few defectors the anti-global-warming advocates have been able to recruit. If you look at those lists of global warming skeptic scientists that are printed here and there, very few of them are from climatology, oceanography, or any other relevant field. The lists are padded with engineers, chemists, MDs, and so on, and the groups are usually led by ideologues, economists, cornucopians, and so on. 
     
    In other words, on global warming I think that the denialists and the skeptics are the ones swayed by outside influences, not the advocates.

  21. The asymmetry of defectors was probably the main reason I switched from disbelief to mild belief. A lot of the skeptics really are genuinely skeptical though and don’t leap to conclusions unsupported by the evidence. Patrick Michaels, the guy they talked about punching, believes in global warming but just to a lesser degree. Steve McIntyre has never claimed anything he’s written debunks global warming, just exposes bad practices.

  22. John — fair point re: influence of power and politics. I don’t dispute that is a part of it. However I do think the main issue is to what extent the scientific field allows controlled experiments. Mathematics is the ultimate — the zeros of the zeta function are always in the same place. Then physics, chem, biology, and so on till we get to climatology and social science. I’m not saying it is impossible to make conclusions there, but I trust the empirical micro work MUCH more than I trust the uncontrolled macro work. Bio has become more rigorous as it has been imperialized by chemistry (sequencing for ex is just biochemistry, not genetics). I don’t see an obvious way to do controlled experiments with actual climates, though, outside of large closed chambers. 
     
    Anyway, as a better analogy, consider nuclear weapons. No one debates the science of radiation damage or whether nukes work. That is because nuclear physics works, builds actual devices.

  23. I don’t see that climatology can ever be a science in that strict sense, but what that means to me is that we can’t demand that level of success. In forensic or political debates, the intrinsic limitations of sciences are frequently used to discredit them entirely in favor of random speculation, and in such cases an unrealistically strict definition of what science is effectively amounts to rejecting all possible science on the topic. 
     
    I’ve been studying econ from this point of view (externally, as a non-economist). I think of econ now as a form of expert advocacy like law. It’s not really a science, but it tells you a lot that you need to know and you don’t dare ignore it. 
     
    Econ includes a lot of usable, pretty reliable nearly-scientific subroutines, plus various unsuccessful and at times nearly-fraudulent attempts to systematize them as Real Sciences, plus various unexpressed agendas.  
     
    My hunch is that theoretical excesses and unrealistic scientific claims are a function of the unexpressed agendas. My conclusion is not that the unexpressed agendas should be jettisoned, but that they should be explicitly avowed, and that the pseudo-science should be dumped. 
     
    From time to time, a new subroutine will be developed which will change the rules under which advocates are playing, but I don’t ever expect closure.

  24. John — I should also say that I still have something of an open mind. There are obviously things — LA smog, Superfund sites, Chernobyl, Exxon/Valdez — where humans have clearly caused environmental change. But there are also huge shifts like the warming which ended the Ice Age (or the Medieval Warm Period, or the Little Ice Age) which are climactic shifts that cannot be related to human activity. 
     
    I could be persuaded of the urgency of doing something *if* 
    I could play with the raw data myself — though what I woulddo would be heavy investment in nuclear power and carbon scrubbers.  
     
    But for the foreseeable future, anything from IPCC which has Jones or Mann or Schmidt — as opposed to say Judy Curry –is irrevocably tainted and just has to be dismissed out of hand. Those guys are over in terms of scientific credibility among anyone who has looked at their code.

  25. As I said above, almost none of the global warming skeptics are involved in the relevant sciences, and there are a lot of ideologues, visionaries, and politicos involved. (“Visionary” is not a good word for me at all).  
     
    The gotchas that I’ve seen so far from the recent hack are pretty chickenshit. I don’t know it at the level of code or math and I’ll have to let those things sort themselves out. The business of attacking results by destroying scientists’ reputations is dubious unless a very powerful case has been made. Both sides seem to be playing that game, not just one. 
     
    One thing to look for: suppose someone makes a specific criticism of GW, and it’s refuted. What do they do? Do they drop back to an unrelated backup anti-GW position? Because if they do, it tells you that they’re an advocate and not a scientist. 
     
    For example, now that the glaciers are disappearing and the Northwest Passage is opening, few claim any more that (#1) global warming isn’t happening at all. The backup claim is (#2) that we don’t know that it’s human-caused. Behind that, the claims are that (#3) GW might be a good thing after all, (#4) even though it’s human-caused, there’s nothing we can do about it, and (#5) there’s a technical fix. 
     
    My point is that the scientific reasons for #1, #2, #3, and #4 are more or less completely unrelated. These are four completely different questions which only are related by being arguments against GW. For example, none of the arguments telling us that GW is not human-caused have anything to do with the reasons why GW might be good or neutral. Or if you grant that GW is human-caused, the arguments that it’s impossible or too late to do anything about it diametrically contradict your earlier arguments that it isn’t human caused at all. 
     
    This is the all purpose defense-lawyer argument: “I wasn’t there, and if I was there, I didn’t do it, and if I did do it, it was an accident.” And this is perfectly normal politics, but it’s not science at all.  
     
    The GW skeptics and deniers I’ve encountered mostly have looked like either a.) people with a non-scientific (ideological) axe to grind; b.) contrarians, skeptics, and attention seekers; or c.) paid flaks. I don’t know the science, so I have to go by my instincts and the consensus of the field. Lots of things are like that, for almost everyone. Nobody knows everything.  
     
    But admittedly, this is easier for me because it doesn’t interfere with my political committments as much as it does for others. (Incidentally, this isn’t a left-right question at all — Marxists, liberal developmentalists, and free-marketers are all about equally committed to economic growth to infinity unconstrained by finite physical factors.)

  26. I mentioned Patrick Michaels before, linking to Barkley Rosser’s comment about him. He actually used to work in the same department as Mann. Lindzen, another noted skeptic, was fairly respected as a climatologist (hence why someone, Chris Mooney I think, called him “the last honest skeptic”). 
     
    I agree with jeecee’s point that replicable experiments and creating things that work greatly increases our confidence in a field. But I don’t completely discount astronomy or many topics in evolution where our ability to experiment is limited compared to many questions being asked. 
     
    David Friedman argues here that it doesn’t matter whether global-warming is caused by humans, since we should engage in geo-engineering to combat it even if it’s a natural cycle. Assuming of course that we don’t prefer the globe to be warmer, which Bryan Caplan thinks is the case.

  27. John — regarding the Northwest passage, I’m not sure that is evidence of “global” vs local warming. Until the Steig paper earlier this year the “consensus” opinion was that Antarctica — part of the globe, obviously — was not warming. They reversed course on this. The IPCC also went from saying 450ppm CO2 was a magic number in 2007 to saying 350ppm in 2009. Bill McKibben has built a whole protest movement out of this at 350.org. You are an intelligent guy — what fraction of people at those protests actually know what “ppm” means? It is roughly the fraction of creationists who understand the physics of isotope decay. 
     
    Regarding the 1,2,3,4,5 — absolutely, but I see that differently. All of those premises have to be false in order for the only option to be civilizational and technological hara-kiri. Moreover many on the left have never been too fond of the internal combustion engine in the first place. So it seems to those on the other side that this has been seized upon as the latest excuse for forming a totalitarian world government for the ostensible purpose of returning us to a simpler communitarian life — the exact same paradoxical goal as last century’s big leftist project, namely communism. Seems to many like (very) old wine in new bottles.

  28. Incidentally, on the “human-caused v. natural cycle” question, it cannot be assumed that the natural cycle is causing global warming. Maybe we’re in a natural cooling cycle now, which is minimizing the global warming effect, and when the cooling cycle turns around things will get much worse. There’s no real reason to believe this, to my knowledge, but AFAIK there’s no real reason to believe that the warming we’re seeing is part of a warming cycle either (i.e., to my knowledge a natural warming/cooling cycle is not clearly visible in the pre-1800 data. 
     
    I’ve seen cycles alleged in “world systems theory” (which sometimes includes a climate cycle, but usualy is just a political-economic-trade sysle) where there was no more cycle evident in the data than “things go up for awhile and then they go down for awhile and then they go up for awhile” — i.e., the cycle had no clear period. The guy (Gunder Frank) ended up imposing a ~50-year cycle on an independent ~200-year cycle, but these weren’t clearly visible either since the periods weren’t exact.  
     
    That’s just my way of saying that I’m suspicious of cyclis thinking using that word, which implies some regularity. If you just say “in systems of some complexity here can be endogenous change in either direction without there necessarily being a specific, dominant external cause” that seems possible, but it doesn’t necessarily give you a cycle.

  29. The code shows straight up that they are fudging data. Full stop.  
     
    I’m looking for an example where  
     
    1- data was actually fudged… 
    2- …for an actual publication… 
    3- …in a way that doesn’t account for a known, documented, already-published effect (like the “weirdness” of tree ring growth when compared with actual thermometers, or indeed with itself)? 
     
    All the “smoking guns” I’ve seen so far fail condition 3. Some fail 2 as well. Of course I’m not following this very closely. 
     
    (And yeah, I guess I was a bit snarky on Hanson. What can I say – anything I can parse as “scrap the FDA” or “trust the markets” sends my snark on overdrive. I guess I still have biases to overcome.)

  30. My point is that the scientific reasons for #1, #2, #3, and #4 are more or less completely unrelated. These are four completely different questions which only are related by being arguments against GW.  
    This is an odd point to press against the GW skeptics, as if it applies to them alone. 
     
    One thing that has always struck me is that, from a scientific point of view, it is actually the so-called GW alarmists who must defend a complex set of scientific beliefs, most of whose truths are largely independent of those of the others. 
     
    To be an “alarmist”, one believes in something that appears simple, namely, that we must cut emissions dramatically if human civilization is to escape some very dire consequences. Now that is indeed simple from an ideological point of view, and, taps well into an emotion many in the environmental movement likely experience, that we human beings are destroying our planet. 
     
    Yet from a scientific point of view, the belief system required to support that ideological belief is, inherently, actually quite complex. They must believe: 
     
    1. the increase in carbon dioxide is directly causing an increase in global temperatures 
    2. the increase in carbon dioxide is indirectly causing a far greater increase than by carbon dioxide alone due to positive feedback effects 
    3. the overall impact of increased carbon dioxide, both direct and indirect, is very dramatic, in the range of 2 to 5 degrees C over the next century. 
    4. the rise of temperature in the range of 2-5 degrees will have terrible effects on human existence, including a drastic and destructive rise in sea level of perhaps several feet 
    5. there is no effective way in which to counter any of these effects other than to decrease carbon dioxide emissions — geoengineering won’t work. 
     
    What is always remarkable to me is how committed any alarmist not just to one of these scientific beliefs, but to each and every one of them. Ideologically, this makes sense: if any of them fail, the alarmism itself fails. But scientifically, it makes zero sense. Each of these could be true without the later points being true.  
     
    It’s useful to contrast the alarmist belief system with a standard scientific theory, such as the theory of evolution. In the theory of evolution, when the occasional anomaly may arise (such as, once upon a time, the uncertain path to the evolution of an eye), it is more than reasonable to regard the anomaly as something that will simply go away after science progresses. It is so because the theory itself is so well confirmed independently that we can deduce from this independent certainty the certainty of finding some explanation for the anomaly.  
     
    This is exactly what is not true for the basic alarmist belief. There is no independent certainty attaching to their basic view that catastrophe will befall us if we don’t reduce emissions. That belief is, as a “theory”, purely ideological so stated. As a scientific matter, it reduces again to the complex of beliefs I stipulated above. It is methodologically wrong, therefore, to act as though alarmism has been well confirmed as a unified theory, and that it is natural and scientifically correct therefore for scientists simply to look for ways to bring any inconsistent data into conformance with that overarching theory, rather than to entertain seriously the possibility that the data refutes a proposition which is part of that complex set of beliefs.  
     
    Yet that is exactly how many alarmists do behave. The assumption is that anyone who doubts or opposes their belief is a “denialist” — as if there is some overarching and well confirmed theory that these doubters simply refuse to accept. Moreover, alarmists, when faced with any kind of contrary evidence to any of the propositions 1 through 5 above, will always find a way of “correcting” contrary data to support the proposition. It is as if they are indeed simply bringing recalcitrant data into conformance with a well confirmed theory. They do not treat the scientific case as one in which the data and facts might indeed go either way, because the particular proposition is scientifically independent of the earlier propositions. 
     
    Now these points really suggest that alarmists tend to be actually worse off in terms of their abuse of scientific methodology than the skeptics.  
     
    Skeptics might indeed “fall back” from one proposition to another based purely on ideology. No doubt many do; maybe most do. But there is nothing inherent in the belief system of the skeptic that must drive such behavior. 
     
    But the problems with the methodology of many alarmists is far deeper, because it is they, and not the skeptics, who are supporting a scientifically complex set of beliefs as if it is a unified theory to which all data and discoveries must conform.  
     
    And this raises one of the greatest difficulties I have with accepting without qualm the alarmist set of beliefs. I see some uncertainty as attaching to each of these propositions, even assuming all the earlier propositions are true. Even if each of these propositions has a good likelihood of being true if the earlier propositions are true, still, in aggregate, the set of propositions as a conjunction can become quite uncertain indeed when those probabilities are multiplied out.

  31. First of all, my point is that most people on either side talking about GW are political, and that that’s inevitable. Anti-GW people talk about PC GW alarmism etc., but they are playing a similar game. 
     
    It is more than reasonable to regard the anomaly as something that will simply go away after science progresses. 
     
    I don’t grant that at all. It sounds like the Gaia hypothesis. Your evolutionary comparison is far fetched; that’s a tiny blip in a species which is known to be the outcome of millions of years of evolutionary change. The processes of geophysical change are not as well known and not similar. Furthermore, ecosystem adjustments are not guaranteed to be conservative; sometimes they are extinctions. 
     
    As far as arguing that GW will not be a catastrophe or that GW can be handled by geoengineering, as far as I’m concerned they should be on the table. But the former seems like a hard case to make unless you take a broad view and say something like”There have been lots of disasters in history, and we’re still here). In all scenarios I’ve seen big areas will be underwater, large areas will become uncultivable, and even if there is balancing positive change in Siberia or Montana you’re still dealing with an enormous crisis. 
     
    Likewise, people who propose geoengineering solutions are proposing undeveloped technology with unknown effects (18 mile tubes disseminating sulfer dioxide) while adamantly opposing any attempt to reduce of use of fossil fuels (including steps that have actually been taken in any places) as impossible or unacceptable. And there’s no logic behind either-or; a combined approach might be best. 
     
    I’ve got other things going on and I have to leave it at this for now. I’m pretty totally unimpressed by the GW-skeptic case so far. I’ll have to see how the most recent scandal pans out. One thing — skeptics present themselves as tough-minded superscientists, but historically a lot of them have been last-ditchers trying to turn back the tide, and some (tobbacco-cancer skeptics) have been much worse than that.

  32. To liberalbiorealist: Re: Points #1-5.  
     
    Exactly!  
     
    To anyone sane and unbiased, it should be obvious that all of these are very, very uncertain at present. Which is not a fault of climatologists: The system is too complex, the good data is difficult to get and thus the questions are very hard to answer.  
     
    Take, for example, the simplest of them, #1. It makes perfect physical sense. Now let us take the most reliable – by far – historical temperature data we have:  
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png 
    (and even here, for simplicity’s sake, we must disregard complexities and uncertainties of local vs global!).  
     
    Now, it is clear that the temperature increase is almost the same for periods 1910-1945 and 1970-2005. But this simply *cannot be* if #1 is exactly right! (Because we know quite well the historical amounts of anthropogenic CO2 release.) To reconcile this graph (commonly used as one of the pieces of unequivocal evidence of human-made GW) with the claim #1, one absolutely must come up with additional, much less veryfiable, assumptions, qualifications or fugde factors.  
     
    The way I see it, climatology at present is something like dietology. Both are very soft sciences because their subjects are very hard. Both make very bold conclusions and predictions based on very limited and shaky data. Much of what dietology said in the past turned out to be wrong. No doubt, much of what dietology says now will also turn out to be wrong. Personally, I don’t see why climatology should be any different. it probably isn’t. (And the CRUHack only confirms that suspicion.)  
     
    There *is*, of course, one big difference:  
    Thanksfully, there is no international commission that just about convinced all major governments to drastically and urgently abandon the way we eat and live – radically changing world’s economy in the process.

  33. You’re joking, I suppose, but while there are plenty of unanswered questions in “dietology” (nutrition), there’s a lot of very solid stuff, for example about vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiency, and the correlations between obesity and health problems are pretty well established. A lot of the recent arguments are mostly about the fad-diet fringe, and about what the best way to lose weight is. 
     
    Likewise, there are anti-global warming forces more powerful than your dread “international commission”, for example the energy industries, the Republican Party, the auto industry, and the Chamber of Commerce. The single thing that has done most to convince me that GW (actually, global climate change) is a reality is the difficulty that the anti GW people have had in getting credible people to support them. It seems pretty evident that most people involved in the science believe that GW is real. people are always scavenging up individual dissenters, but there doesn’t seem to be a big split in the discipline.

  34. a totalitarian world government for the ostensible purpose of returning us to a simpler communitarian life — the exact same paradoxical goal as last century’s big leftist project, namely communism 
    Marx referenced “primitive communism” and the idea certainly drew a lot from what I see as an EEA-derived people’s romance, but actual communist governments tended to be characterized by what James Scott called “high modernism”. They regarded the peasants as horribly backward, and at least among orthodox Marxists thought full capitalism was necessary to transform them into proletariat. The Bolsheviks, communists in a hurry, were gaga for industrialization and cities. Lenin defined communism as “Soviet power plus electrification of the whole country”. Bob Black would be closer to your target. 
     
    I think Hanson’s proposal is for the FDA to issue “would have banned” stickers, which would let people know stuff is dangerous enough that it would otherwise not have been permitted for sale (he debated David Balan on the idea a while back). The tricky thing is that people may take the lack of banning as evidence that it wasn’t really that dangerous. You could also appoint a rationality agent with the authority to overrule your own decisions. 
     
    A possible argument for alarmists (not necessarily one I endorse): we live in a rare possible world fit for our habitation. The vast majority of other possibilities are far worse and may even result in us all dying. Recognizing that our current system may be fragile, we should be very conservative about changing it. If we believe its possible that man-made carbon emissions increase the earth’s temperature and that increase could result in severe changes, then the expected value of even an unlikely outcome is very negative. Considering risk aversion, we would feel it worth expending considerable sums in avoiding such disastrous outcomes. Now for me personally, I’m with Mankiw on a revenue-neutral carbon tax because I prefer taxing consumption rather than income. If it has environmental benefits, lucky us. 
     
    John Emerson, the CoC is an interest group within one country, the GOP is a minority party within that country. An international commission would have a much broader authority. Granted, collective action has prevented even that from really taking shape, but if it did it would be a lot more powerful.

  35. This is really not a left-right issue at all. When people pretend that it is, I tend to write them off. 
     
    Communists and capitalists were equally indifferent to the environment until 1970 or 1980, and by 1980 Communism was almost gone. (There was essentially NO environmentalist before 1960; before then you had the Audabon society and the SPCA, both with very limited goals. 
     
    There are various tendencies, left and right, which believe in economic growth unconstrained by any possible limits imposed by physical reality, and there are other tendencies which doubt that scenario.  
     
    TGGP, for six years the US was completely dominated by anti-GW ideologues who didn’t know any more about the GW science than most people’s dogs do. The United States is the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of the world. The US is the only superpower in a monopolar world. You must have been thinking of Sweden; Sweden is “one country”. Or maybe Mali. And as you canced, except for the EU international commissions are lame and helpless.

  36. John Emerson:  
    The single thing that has done most to convince me that GW (actually, global climate change) is a reality is the difficulty that the anti GW people have had in getting credible people to support them. 
     
    OK, let us start with *firmly* distinuishing between “global warming” and “anthropogenic global warming”. I don’t think anyone argues that 20th was seriously warmer than 19th. The argument is about what causes it and whether we can do or should anything about it – big difference.  
     
    Now, you are a reasonable and rational person. For some reason, though, the landscape of the squabbles around scientific subject convinces you *most* in where the scientific truth might lie… Hope this was just a hyperbole.  
     
    Now, (this should take you no more than five min), could you please look at the famous graph and tell me how it is, in your opinion, possible that the anthropogenic greenhouses release *caused the same rate of warming* in the first and the second halves of the last century? Don’t you feel that what the graph says and what the GW “alarmists” say about it are very diffeent things? And if so, wouldn’t you be at least a liitle suspicious of what alarmists say about other graphs and subjects? (Those that are not as obvious).  
     
    Also, re: credible people.  
     
    Say what you will, but McIntyre *is* a credible man. He may very well have an agenda and it is easy to imagine that he behaves the same as his opponents – yes. But he is serious and he does know his stuff! Time and time again, he has shown that he knows statistics way better and that he is a much more attentive researcher. That he is not an acedemic means absolutely nothing. Besides, there are more than a few academics that one can count to be in the “sceptics” camp. Plus, as you may imagine based on the HBD examples, with the money *and* political pressure flowing one way, what do unconvinced hapless Assistant Profs mostly do? Vocally oppose prevaling PC? Right…  
     
    Re: No, I was not joking about “nutrition sceince” (I prefer the term “dietology” because it describes better what these people do most). Most of the solid things that it knows come from good old biochemistry. And if you really delve in the literature, you will recognize that the connection from the basic things (e.g, “vitamin D is important”) to the more complex thing with immediate practical implications (“one should have this much vitamin D in the blood for optimal health”) is in most cases tenuous at best.

  37. Hey John — totally agree that to the extent tobacco lawyers were political, they were associated with the right and empirically in the wrong. As noted above, many on the right are likewise wrong about the existence of God, creationism, etc. Though I am nominally on the right I acknowledge their sins and don’t evade or deny that the label applies to idiots who are nominally on my side. 
     
    I think it should likewise be uncontroversial to note that environmentalism, animal rights activism, etc is currently a lefty thing. I give them hosannas for the Clean Air act but brickbats for cap and trade. Good goes with the bad. 
     
    Toto — the divergence problem alone is serious enough — just because it was published doesn’t mean it was solved. Tree rings not correlating with temp in modern times makes supposition of ancient correlation 
    highly suspect, as anyone who knows machine learning will tell you. 
     
    Another huge one — HARRY_READ_ME.txt indicates that they could not replicate their own published results (grep ‘publish’) from raw data. That is death for any scientist, the kind of thought that makes a researcher wake up at night with cold chills. Lack of reproducibility is the core reason that cold fusionand Hendrik Schon became scientific laughingstocks. Jones and Mann are guaranteed to follow in their wake.

  38. Jones and Mann are guaranteed to follow in their wake. 
     
    I’ll try to remember that.

  39. John — it is a concrete prediction. I predict Jones and Mann will either be forced to resign or at a minimum excluded from further  
    IPCC deliberations. This is smoking gun scientific fraud, cut and dried research misconduct. Same thing that killled the tobacco guys — the secret leaked data that showed they knew it was addictive but misrepresented to the public.

  40. Also, this has killed cap and trade once and for all. See today’s WSJ and quotes from Inhofe. Any who were on the fence have been decisively flipped. Copenhagen next month will be hilarious. 
     
    PS– the real knives will be stuck in by fellow scientists, after seeing themselves trashed in the Jones emails. They are going to get quite a frosty reception and go from excluder to excluded.

  41. Jeecee, you sound like the worst sort of political hack, which is what Imhofe is. I’ll keep my ears open.

  42. Also, this has killed cap and trade once and for all. 
     
    Really
    Does facts matter (in either ways) for politics?

  43. Aww shucks John, happy Thanksgiving to you too.  
     
    Re: political hack, I can only shrug. On many issues I’m way to the left of the Democratic party; on many more I’m far to the right of the Republicans. Call me when there is a Nietzsche/Watson ticket and I’ll happily become a partisan hack :)

  44. Kevembuangga, the only country that matters for cap & trade is the US.  
     
    The reason it is dead is that every “paranoid” suspicion about the state of climate models has been confirmed. No one who knows anything about programming can be but horrified at the pathetic state of “climate science” after reading this file:  
     
    http://www.devilskitchen.me.uk/2009/11/data-horribilis-harryreadmetxt-file.html 
     
    Data set after data set is undocumented and completely *non reproducible*. Hack after hack after layered hack.  
     
    Note that I do not simply come to throw brickbats. If you want to know how statistical research is done by ACTUAL statisticians who know what they’re doing, google “reproducible research” or look at this paper:  
     
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16646837 
     
    That is a *2004* paper by Gentleman. See also preceding work by Claerbout (Stanford Geophysics), Donoho (Stanford stats), Leisch (author of Sweave), etc etc etc. This idea is not new, and has been around for years.  
     
    Sweave is the gold standard of how a statistical paper should be written…*especially* one which will determine the fate of trillions of dollars and the industrialized world. And please don’t give me the excuse that there isn’t or wasn’t sufficient funding…given that trillions of dollars depend on this decision, there is surely enough to fund a climate NCBI. 
     
    Bottom line is that to a dispassionate observer, someone who actually has run a regression or two, there is zero reason — other than rank incompetence, ignorance, and/or the use of fraudulent data — why these guys didn’t use a system for reproducible research.  
     
    I could go on and on, but seriously. Just download the file and look at the code. If you have ever published a program or data set, that is an instruction manual in what *not* to do. Honestly, you could base a course off this — “How not to do data analysis.”

  45. GC: Jones and Mann are guaranteed to follow in their wake. JE: I’ll try to remember that. 
     
    Calls are only going to multiply. At least one (probably Jones) will be out soon. Mann will take a bit longer, but the looming federal investigation for research misconduct will definitely put a crimp in his grant writing machine.  
     
    Some quotes:  
     
    Monbiot 
     
    Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed. 
     
    Zorita 
     
    Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process 
    Eduardo Zorita, November 2009 
     
    Short answer: because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore. 
    A longer answer: My voice is not very important. I belong to the climate-research infantry, publishing a few papers per year, reviewing a few manuscript per year and participating in a few research projects. I do not form part of important committees, nor I pursue a public awareness of my activities. My very minor task in the public arena was to participate as a contributing author in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. 
     
    Von Storch 
     
    Going through the files, which due to the sheer size I can do only in a sampling mode, the mails begin in the late 1990s and extend to about today. They are all mails to/from Phil Jones. There are a number of problematic statements, which will be discussed in the media and the blogosphere. I found the style of communication revealing, speaking about other people and their ideas, joining forces to “kill” papers, exchanges of “improving” presentations without explaining. 
    … 
    I would assume that more interesting issues will be found in the files, and that a useful debate about the degree of politicization of climate science will emerge. A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC. 
     
    Curry 
     
    Scientists are of course human, and short-term emotional responses to attacks and adversity are to be expected, but I am particularly concerned by this apparent systematic and continuing behavior from scientists that hold editorial positions, serve on important boards and committees and participate in the major assessment reports. It is these issues revealed in the HADCRU emails that concern me the most, and it seems difficult to spin many of the emails related to FOIA, peer review, and the assessment process. I sincerely hope that these emails do not in actuality reflect what they appear to, and I encourage Gavin Schmidt et al. to continue explaining the individual emails and the broader issues of concern. 
     
    In summary, the problem seems to be that the circling of the wagons strategy developed by small groups of climate researchers in response to the politically motivated attacks against climate science are now being used against other climate researchers and the more technical blogs (e.g. Climateaudit, Lucia, etc). Particularly on a topic of such great public relevance, scientists need to consider carefully skeptical arguments and either rebut them or learn from them. Trying to suppress them or discredit the skeptical researcher or blogger is not an ethical strategy and one that will backfire in the long run. I have some sympathy for Phil Jones? concern of not wanting to lose control of his personal research agenda by having to take the time to respond to all the queries and requests regarding his dataset, but the receipt of large amounts of public funding pretty much obligates CRU to respond to these requests.

  46. btw, if you want to understand the divergence problem (i.e. the lack of correlation between modern tree rings and temperature, which had to be hidden by “Mike’s Nature trick”), this is a good intro to situations in which training & test sets diverge:  
     
    http://computational-learning.blogspot.com/2008/09/chess-example.html 
     
    It is just coincidental that they also call it “divergence”. It’s usually referred to as an unrepresentative training set.

  47. the only country that matters for cap & trade is the US 
     
    Creepy european “elites” will certainly make their best efforts to keep with the scheme, can’t abandon such juicy tax prospects so easily. 
     
    And Mann is still on the show
     
    Just download the file and look at the code. 
     
    No need to tell me, I am a retired software engineer with an interest in machine learning and statistics. 
    I am not arguing about the facts but about the opinion of “masses of asses”. 
     
    I think this debacle may have JUST THE OPPOSITE EFFECT of what you hope for, the dismissal of any kind of rational argument about climate, economy, HBD, whatever, because “you can’t trust the scientists”
     
    There is a nice leftist “correctness” weapon, summary dismissal, no ministry of truth even needed.

  48. And Mann is still on the show
     
    Wow, wow, wow. This is truly amazing! It’s almost like the man owns major journals. In 10 years, 10 papers in Science and 6 in Nature. This must be some sort of a record. Seems likely that, outside of fachionable biology, the number of labs with such record can be counted on one hand (if any exist!) Global warming certainly served Mann well.  
     
    And BBS writing about his latest paper as if it is totally unaware of that minor episode involving Mann is pretty unusual too.

  49. I suspect there is something to Hanson’s contention that this is more typical amongst academics than some may think. A corollary example would be CSICOP’s bungled attempt to discredit and subsequent attempt at covering up evidence that seemingly validate French psychologist and statistician Michel Gauquelin’s Mars Effect astrological theory. 
     
    Dennis Rawlins, an astronomer, co-founder of SCICOP and former associate editor of CSICOP’s official journal Skeptical Inquirer gave a rather thorough account of the incident here.

  50. Nanonymous — the only other non bio person with such a record that I can recall is Hendrik Schon… :)

  51. Kev — I do think facts matter here. Anyone who was rationally ignorant about the topic can now be convinced by looking at the files. At a minimum this buys 5 years. By that time the US will have entered hyperinflation a la Weimar. Obama and PC will be discredited by virtue of their association with the descent of the US and the Chinese will no longer have to listen to American lectures. Once the US’ credit is cut off, all the various PC causes will hit a major speedbump, and it will take them quite a while to get back up to cruising velocity. The concept of a worldwide destruction of industry (“cap and trade”) was at best iffy in good times. In bad times even the left will hare away from it just as they instantly moved away from a gas tax during the 2008 
    primaries. Basically, the left’s standard “New Year’s Eve” modus operandi will hit January 10 even before it hits January 1. 
     
    (here by New Year’s Eve I refer to the common leftist practice of hyping up to themselves and others what they’re going to do if only this bill is passed, this czar is killed, this system is toppled, this symbol of hopenchange is elected. The first few days they actually do move ahead with enthusiasm. Then reality sets in and they realize that they have destroyed the old system, which worked even when its participants were not shiny eyed. Uh oh.)

  52. BB, regarding astrology…I think you’ve been reading too much Mangan and Charlton. 
     
    Among other things there is no plausible mechanism for astrology. Local weather, diet, nutrition, etc all influence gestation. I’d be prepared to accept a seasonal or geographical effect on birth if the gestation period was well accounted for (i.e. tracked and geospatially localized). But the most plausible effect of a star’s position is through tidal effects — yet these are obviously nonuniform across the earth’s surface.

  53. John Emerson, no disrespect intended, but you haven’t displayed enough evidence of intellectual independence in this thread to have any high-ground from which to launch accusations of being a political hack. jeecee is somewhat vulnerable to the charge, but he at least acknowledged that the left is right about some things and the right wrong. Of course, if the left is correct about everything you have no reason to make any admission, but I hope you’ll forgive others if they associate such a stance with being a hack. 
     
    Just because astrology is ridiculous doesn’t mean that a debunking of it isn’t bungled.

  54. Just realized I mis-spelled CSICOP. Anyway: 
     
    jeecee says: 
    BB, regarding astrology…I think you’ve been reading too much Mangan and Charlton. 
     
    I never said I believed in astrology. The reason I brought up the astrology example is specifically because I am sure most here are skeptical of the notion and would be supportive of CSICOP’s misssion of debunking them, while I think people are primarily propping up the example of CRU because they disagree with the theory of anthropogenic global warming, and are therefore more willing to impute political motives on its advocates. People need to realize that academics that agree with them are equally as capable of petty political maneuvering. Again, if you haven’t I highly recommend you read Dennis Rawlins’ account of how CSICOP dealt with the Mars Effect theory. Rawlins’ makes a point of emphasizing that he doesn’t buy into Michel Gauquelin’s theory, but he was downright appalled with the dishonest manner in which Paul Kurtz and other CSICOP members approached the whole issue. 
     
    In regards to Mangan and Charlton, I think they have bought into a lot of pseudoscientific BS. I support vaccinations, I think the Duesberg hypothesis is false and I am sure the peer-review process is the least worst system we have for publishing scientific research.

  55. Hey BB —  
     
    CSICOP may be doing a bad job of debunking astrology — I dunno. I do know enough physics to know that astrology is highly unlikely to have any predictive value. Thus, with apologies, I’m not greatly interested in a bad debunking… :) 
     
    I only mention this b/c AGW != astrology in terms of a priori physical plausibility. Given data on the infrared absorption spectrum of CO2, I could imagine a world where AGW is true. Of course now that the paleoclimate reconstructions are toast, the idea that we are in an *exceptionally* warm time is false.  
     
    …by the by, many of the same points re: AGW can be applied to psychometrics. One of the reasons I’ve become a lot more hesitant about psychometric and heritability data over the last few years is that the raw data sets and scatterplots are almost never published. Instead you get tables of Pearson correlations and parenthetical p-values. The actual technical details of how (say) a heritability is calculated matter a lot but you wouldn’t know this from the literature, which freely mixes estimates for binary, ordinal, and continuous characters.  
     
    The NLSY is probably the most open data set. It would be an interesting exercise to Sweave-ify the Bell Curve with NLSY data, though you do have to dig quite a bit through the codebooks (last I checked, they don’t have a simple schema diagram you can look at). If you’re interested in doing this, I’d recommend taking the time to set up an ORM interface to the tables w/ Django ORM or SQLAlchemy or similar. This is fast becoming a best practice for complex (= multi-table, w/ multiple foreign keys) scientific datasets.  
     
    Anyway, aside from NLSY, many others are *not* open. Bouchard won’t release his twin study data and good luck getting anything out of Nick Martin’s group. Jelte Wicherts has been fighting the good fight here in terms of trying to get this data, but I’d call this (the matter of data accessibility) the core issue in psychometrics.  
     
    Of course there are huge semi-public datasets (e.g. SAT score averages or the Framingham data) which indicate that a lot of HBD-related claims are true in broad strokes. Still, nothing beats plugging the data into R and messing around with it yourself.

  56. Although I agree, the a priori physical plausibility of astrology is orthogonal to my point (i.e. academics behaving badly). 
     
    As far as the lack of transparency of climatologists is concerned, the people over at RealClimate recently put up a page cataloging all the publicly available data sources and code in order to counter-act the criticisms.

  57. That page at realclimate is not in good faith, as the fundamental CRU raw dataset continues to be unavailable. This is the one that Gavin Schmidt keeps saying they “can’t” give out because of some bogus unwritten agreements. Of course it is more a matter of “won’t” than “can’t” as this is the data Phil Jones said he’d rather delete than hand over in response to an FOI request. 
     
    See in particular these emails 
     
    1107454306.txt  
    1106338806.txt 
     
    In short this realclimate post is a head fake.

  58. John Emerson — Penn State just launched an investigation into Michael Mann: 
     
    In recent days a lengthy file of emails has been made public. Some of the questions raised through those emails may have been addressed already by the NAS investigation but others may not have been considered. The University is looking into this matter further, following a well defined policy used in such cases. No public discussion of the matter will occur while the University is reviewing the concerns that have been raised.

  59. ohn Emerson — Penn State just launched an investigation into Michael Mann: 
     
    a whitewash ??? 
    or for real

  60. jeecee said: 
     
    John Emerson — Penn State just launched an investigation into Michael Mann: 
     
    In recent days a lengthy file of emails has been made public. Some of the questions raised through those emails may have been addressed already by the NAS investigation but others may not have been considered. The University is looking into this matter further, following a well defined policy used in such cases. No public discussion of the matter will occur while the University is reviewing the concerns that have been raised. 
     
    Some have said that the investigation will require a lot of white paint.

  61. Phil Jones forced to step down pending investigation. 
     
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j_dt9Bjj5yVV7k1PAyDnVHKvKtgAD9CAM0VG0 
     
    Zizka I hate to say I told you so…but I told you so! :)

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