Interesting Perspective on the Consensus Debate

I’m happy to say not every critic of the infamous Skeptical Science consensus paper is a skeptic/denier/whatever. Plenty of people on all sides recognize it as a bad paper. Some are even willing to say so. One individual who accepts the general “consensus,” José Duarte, has recently posted his views on the subject. He says, “I think the consensus of climate scientists regarding the reality of human-caused warming is both real and correct,” but he also says:

In social science, it’s common to use trained human raters to subjectively rate or score some variable — it can be children’s behavior on a playground, interviews of all kinds, and often written material, like participants’ accounts of a past emotional experience. And we have a number of analytical and statistical tools that go with such rating studies. But we would never use human raters who have an obvious bias with respect to the subject of their ratings, who desire a specific outcome for the study, and who would be able to deliver that outcome via their ratings. That’s completely nuts. It’s so egregious that I don’t think it even occurs to us as something to look out for. It never happens. At least I’ve never heard of it happening. There would be no point in running such a study, since it would be dismissed out of hand and lead to serious questions about your ethics.


I don’t care who you are – even if you’re a staunch liberal, deeply concerned about the environment and the effects of future warming, this isn’t something you should tolerate. If we’re going to have a civilization, if we’re going to have science, some things need to be non-political, some basic rules need to apply to everyone. I hope we can all agree that we can’t seriously estimate the AGW consensus by having political activists rate climate paper abstracts. It doesn’t matter whether the activists come from the Heritage Foundation or the Sierra Club – people with a vested interest in the outcome simply can’t be raters.

In a sane world, this would be one of those “Duh” things nobody should need to say. Our world isn’t sane though so I’m happy to see more people recognize the problem. You can read more from him on this subject here:

It’s Time

As you may know, John Cook and others of Skeptical Science website published a paper finding a 97% consensus on global warming. They then refused to release data related to their work. I eventually came into possession of that data, as well as other material. When I contacted John Cook to discuss what should be done with that data, he refused any sort of dialogue. Instead, he had the University of Queensland make absurd legal threats (including threatening to sue me if I told people they had threatened to sue me) then broke off all communication.

Because of that and other reasons, I decided to release the material I came across. I explained my reasons here. I won’t repeat myself. Instead, I am going to just discuss the material I’m releasing. You can find that material here.

Denigrating Nonsense

Some things are just priceless. In response to comments about a person’s comments at Watts Up With That? being deleted, Anthony Watts recently said:

Oh Eli (aka Professor Joshua Halpern at Howard University) is being the stupid overly dramatic feckless bunny that he plays on the Internet.

The Weasel is “stoat”, and if you’ll look at the last post concerning him at WUWT, Connolley has had dozens of comments.

But, like the evil bunnies, I don’t let weasels run wild either. If they have valid points, they get published. If they just want to post denigrating nonsense (like being so petty as to not being capable of using my regular name, but instead using Willard Tony), then they don’t.

I agree with Watts’s general view here. People who just want to post denigrating nonsense, like being so petty as to refuse to use a person’s regular name, should be treated with disdain. Like people who go out of their way to say things like:

Eli (aka Professor Joshua Halpern at Howard University)

Releasing the Cook et al Data

Hello everybody. As you probably know, a couple months ago I came into possession of data for an incredibly popular paper by John Cook and others from Skeptical Science. The authors of the paper did not intend for people to see this data. When Cook realized I had it, he had his university (the University of Queensland) threaten to sue me in order to intimidate me into not releasing it. This threat was so absurd I was told I’d be sued if I showed anyone the letter it was in.

You may have read my post referring to all this last week. If you did, you know I recently discovered the University of Queensland and John Cook used references to six unimportant entries in the data files I found to imply all of the data I found needed to be kept confidential.

Having discovered Cook’s trick, I realized there is nothing holding me back from releasing the data. I wrote a post explaining Cook’s trick, and I intended to announce the impending release of the data shortly after. Instead, I got distracted by discussing problems with the Berkeley Earth temperature index (BEST). Still, better late than never. As such, I have an annoucement to make:

Cooling is Not Impossible

Recently, while discussing the Berkeley Earth temperature record (BEST), I made the comment it seemed every station showed a similar warming trend in recent times. I decided to test that idea by looking at the last 50 years or so. To do so, I created a map of linear trends from for the 1960-2013 period:


You’ll note, the scale of the map begins at 0. That’s because there isn’t a single point on it below zero. According to BEST, not a single location on the planet has cooled since 1960.

Pick a Spot

I’ve been discussing the Berkeley Earth temperature record (BEST) for the last few days.  My comments have been quite critical with me going so far as to say the BEST data has no accuracy at regional scales.  I’ve now set up an easy way to test this view.  All you have to do is pick a spot:


Pick any spot on that map that isn’t blue, and I will show you how BEST’s temperature estimates for that area compare to NASA GISS’s.  As an example, here’s what you’d get if you picked my house (a five year smooth is applied to each graph):


There are four BEST graphs to one GISS graph because GISS uses a 2º x 2º grid while BEST uses a 1º x 1º grid.  As you can see, there’s little point in BEST using that 1º x 1º grid as all four of its grids are nearly identical.  As you can also see, all four of those graphs are dramatically different than GISS’s.  They all have a strong warming trend not present in the GISS data.

The same is true for many other areas.  A particularly troubling one is in Atlanta, Georgia:


GISS shows that area has cooled slightly.  BEST says that area has warmed noticeably.  There is no legitimate reason for that.  One of these data sets must be wrong.

So pick a spot.  I’ll post the temperature for it, and you can decide for yourself which results you think are more believable.  Bonus points to anyone who can pick a spot BEST says is cooling.