The AAAS Award To Michael Mann And The Sad Rot Of Government "Science"

On February 17, the American Association for the Advancement of Science gave something called its "Public Engagement With Science" award to none other than Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann.  Here is its announcement of the award.  The AAAS claims to be the largest scientific organization in the world, with over 120,000 members.  

A few choice excerpts from the announcement:

In the past year, Mann has had 500 media interviews and appearances and directly reached public audiences via social media. His op-eds and commentaries have been published in dozens of outlets. . . .  He has also advised actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who spoke about climate change during a 2014 speech delivered to the United Nations. 

Mann, of course, is the guy who got caught red-handed engaging in clear scientific misconduct in connection with the Hockey Stick controversy -- undoubtedly the scientific controversy with the largest potential for economic damage of our era.  It is beyond incredible that the AAAS has not called him out for the misconduct, let alone that it has now chosen to give him this award.  

I put together a detailed write-up of Mann's misconduct in this lengthy post back in December 2016.  Rather than redo that post, I'm going to copy some extended excerpts.

The so-called Hockey Stick graph first appeared in a paper by Mann, Bradley and Hughes that was published in Nature magazine in 1998.  It purported to show a reconstruction of worldwide temperatures from the year 1000 to present, in which the temperatures had remained almost completely stable for the first 900 years (the "shaft" of the Hockey Stick), and then suddenly shot up in the twentieth century in the time of human CO2 emissions (the "blade").  This reconstruction effectively repealed the prior accepted version of climate history, in which temperatures had been warmer than the present at least in the so-called Medieval Warm Period of about 1000 - 1300, and probably also in the Roman Warm Period around the year 0.  When the UN's climate-evaluation body, the IPCC, issued its next Assessment Report in 2001, the Hockey Stick graph had suddenly become the icon of the whole endeavor, appearing multiple times in the Report.  The Hockey Stick seemed like the perfect proof of the proposition that global warming must be caused by humans, because anyone could see from the graph that the warming had all occurred in the era of human use of fossil fuels.  Here is a version of the Hockey Stick graph from the IPCC Third Assessment Report:


Unfortunately for Mann et al. and the IPCC, numerous people -- those nefarious "skeptics" --promptly began to ask questions about the source of the information behind the "shaft" of the stick.  Thus these skeptics were questioning the ideas that temperatures had remained essentially stable for a millennium and that there had been no Medieval Warm Period.  The most famous of the skeptical researchers was a Canadian named Stephen McIntyre.  McIntyre began a blog called Climate Audit, and started writing many long posts about his efforts, all unsuccessful, to replicate the Mann et al. work.  Requests to Mann et al. for their data and methodologies were met with hostility and evasion.  Over time, McIntyre gradually established that Mann et al. had adopted a complex methodology that selectively emphasized certain temperature proxies over others in order to reverse-engineer the "shaft" of the stick to get a pre-determined desired outcome.

The coup de grace for the Hockey Stick graph came with the so-called Climategate emails, released in 2009.  These were emails between and among many of the main promoters of the climate scare (dubbed by McIntyre the "Hockey Team").  Included in the Climategate releases were emails relating specifically to the methodology of how the graph was created.  From the emails, skeptical researchers were then able to identify some of the precise data series that had been used by Mann et al. Astoundingly, they discovered that the graph's creators had truncated inconvenient data in order to get the desired depiction.  A website called Just the Facts has a detailed recounting of how this was uncovered.  As a key example, consider this graph:

Hockey Stick truncated data.png


The bright pink represents data that was deleted from the Mann et al. reconstruction because, obviously,  it would have thrown off the nice, flat "shaft" of the stick, while also revealing that this particular "proxy" had totally failed at predicting the twentieth century rise in temperatures.  Most would call this kind of data truncation "scientific fraud."

The deleted pink data came from a proxy series that had been put together by a guy named Keith Briffa, a climate "scientist" then working for the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in England.  In 2009, there occurred a large release of previously non-public emails between and among top members of CRU and colleagues of theirs in the U.S., including Mann, who had worked on developing the "Hockey Stick" presentation for use in the UN IPCC reports.  That release of emails, which quickly came to be referred to by the name "Climategate," contained definitive proof of the data manipulation and truncation engaged in by this group, specifically including Mann.  The most famous of the Climategate emails was from Phil Jones (head of CRU) to a list including Mann, Mann's co-authors of the 1998 Nature Hockey Stick paper, and Briffa, dated November 16, 1999.  You can find the full email at the Just the Facts link along with information to take you right to full the Climategate email trove.  The key quote is this one:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

The intentional deletion of the inconvenient post-1961 proxy data that would otherwise undercut the whole basis for the reconstruction is thus referred to as "Mike's Nature trick . . . to hide the decline."  Equally damning for Mann was an email that he sent to Briffa on September 16, 1999, describing the process by which the people who put together the UN IPCC presentation intentionally left out the inconvenient data from the Briffa proxy series in order to deceive the public:

[Briffa’s proxy] series … is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably consensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series. 

After the Climategate emails came to light, I naively thought that Mann's defense of his Hockey Stick reconstruction would crumble and he would no longer be welcome in respectable scientific circles.  Shows you what I know.  As the AAAS release states, he remains out there making frequent public appearances aggressively promoting his doctored work as "proof" of human influence on climate, as well as equally aggressively attacking anyone who dares to question him.  Among other things, he has filed several defamation lawsuits against people who have dared to use the word "scientific fraud" in connection with his work.  So far none against me, but the defendants do include some people and institutions that I know and respect (Competitive Enterprise Institute, National Review, Mark Steyn, Rand Simburg, Tim Ball).  

Meanwhile, there's the brand-new New York City lawsuit against Exxon and other oil companies, accusing them of causing sea level rise by producing fossil fuels.  A copy of the Complaint in that lawsuit, filed January 9, can be found here.  Go to paragraph 36 on page 16 and you find this:

The recent, rapid rate of temperature increase compared to the last 2,000 years is shown in the following graph from an article published in the peer-reviewed literature that the federal government relies upon in a website explaining climate change. 

On the next page is the graph, featuring -- you guessed it -- a version of the Mann Hockey Stick.  Hey, it's from the "peer-reviewed literature"!  Admittedly, the version here is a slightly different one from 2008, but I have no reason to think that the obfuscations have been fixed.  

No outsider has ever succeeded in replicating Mann's work.  He continues to refuse to produce his data and code for checking by others.  This is the very opposite of anything that should ever get the name of "science."  And the AAAS gives him its big award.  Anybody who is still a member of that organization should quit immediately.

UPDATE, February 23:  I changed the title from "The Sad Collapse Of Government 'Science'" to "The Sad Rot Of Government 'Science.'"  Just thought it was a better word to describe what is going on.