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Muller Misinformation #1: confusing Mike's trick with hide the decline

Posted on 29 March 2011 by John Cook

The most cited 'Climategate' email is one from Phil Jones discussing a graph he produced for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, where he discusses "Mike's trick" and "hide the decline". A number of misconceptions have arisen concerning this email. Unfortunately a prominent source of 'hide the decline' misinformation Professor Richard Muller from Berkeley. One of Muller's errors is confusing several separate techniques, blurring them into a single "hide the decline". Muller commits this error in a public lecture (emphasis added):

"A quote came out of the emails, these leaked emails, that said "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". That's the words, "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". Mike is Michael Mann, said "hey, trick just means mathematical trick. That's all." My response is I'm not worried about the word trick. I'm worried about the decline."

Muller uses the phrase "Mike's nature trick to hide the decline" as if it's Phil Jones's actual words. In a lecture recorded last weekend at Berkeley, Muller continues to expound on how Michael Mann's trick was used to hide the decline (emphasis added):

"What they said is "how can we hide the decline?" And the suggestion came back from Phil Jones at the UK, "Let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline". Mike's trick consisted of erasing that data, calling it unreliable, and then substituting the temperature data from thereon."

However, the original text from Phil Jone's email indicates otherwise:

"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) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."

It's clear that "Mike's Nature trick" is quite separate to Keith Briffa's "hide the decline". Muller has taken different sections of Phil Jone's emails and morphed them into a single phrase. To understand how this is a misleading characterisation, it's helpful to examine exactly what "Mike's Nature trick" and "hide the decline" refer to.

What does "hide the decline" refer to?

Phil Jones' email is often cited as evidence of an attempt  to "hide the decline in global temperatures". This is incorrect. The decline actually refers to a decline in tree-ring density at certain high-latitude locations since 1960. However, Muller doesn't make this error - he clearly understands that global temperatures have been rising in recent decades as indicated by the instrumental record.

Tree-ring growth has been found to match well with temperature, and hence tree-ring width and density is used to plot temperature going back hundreds of years. However, tree-rings in some high-latitude locations diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. This is known as the "divergence problem". Consequently, tree-ring data in these high-latitude locations are not considered reliable after 1960 and should not be used to represent temperature in recent decades.

In Phil Jones' original email, he refers to a graph produced for the cover of a 2000 WMO report.

WMO graph by Phil Jones

Figure 1: Northern Hemisphere temperatures were reconstructed for the past 1000 years (up to 1999) using palaeoclimatic records (tree rings, corals, ice cores, lake sediments, etc.), along with historical and long instrumental records (WMO 2000).

To construct the green line, Jones took tree-ring density data from Annual climate variability in the Holocene: interpreting the message of ancient trees (Briffa 2000). Note - the reason the paper was eventually published in 2000, not 1999, was due to a publication delay. We can see the original tree-ring density data in the figure below, taken from Briffa 2000. The green line represents Low Frequency Density (LFD) and diverges from the instrumental temperature record (the thick black line), as noted by Briffa in the caption.

Briffa tree-ring density

Figure 2: An indication of growing season temperature changes across the whole of the northern boreal forest. The LFD curve indicates low-frequency density changes. Note the recent disparity in density and measured temperatures.

In creating the WMO graph, Jones cut off the tree-ring density curve around 1960 when it diverged from instrumental temperature and grafted the instrumental temperature onto the green line. This technique has been rightly criticised for failing to distinguish between reconstructed temperature and the instrumental temperature in a graph. However, the decline in tree-ring density is not a hidden phenomena - it's been openly discussed in the peer-reviewed literature since 1995 (Jacoby 1995) and was also discussed in the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) and Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Lastly, it bears remembering that other research finds tree-ring density is reliable before 1960. Briffa 1998 finds that tree-ring width and density show close agreement with temperature back to 1880. The high-latitude tree-rings that show divergence after 1960 also match closely with other non-diverging proxies going back to the Medieval Warm Period (Cook 2004). This indicates the divergence problem is restricted to modern times.

What is "Mike's Nature trick"?

This refers to a technique (in other words, "trick of the trade") used in a paper published in the journal Nature by lead author Michael Mann (Mann et al 1998). The "trick" is the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales. This graph is commonly known as the hockey stick.

Mann's 1998 paper in Nature plotted temperature back to 1400 AD. The temperature reconstruction was extended back to 1000 AD and published in Mann et al 1999 which was reproduced in the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR). The IPCC TAR version of Mann's hockey stick is shown below:

Hockey Stick

Figure 3: Northern Hemisphere mean temperature anomaly in °C (IPCC TAR).

There is nothing secret about "Mike's trick". Both the instrumental (red) and reconstructed temperature (blue) are clearly labelled in Mann's 1998 Nature article, the follow-up Mann et al 1999 and the IPCC Third Assessment Report.

A common and broadly held misconception is that Mann's hockey stick hides the decline. There is no "decline" in Mann's reconstructions. As we shall examine shortly, the source of "the decline" come from temperature reconstructions calculated from tree-ring density at high northern latitudes (Briffa 1998). There are very few of these in Mann's proxy data and hence his reconstructions never required removal of any declining tree-ring density.

Thus it's clear that "Mike's Nature trick" has nothing to do with Briffa's "decline". There is no "decline" in Mann et al 1998 and Mann et al 1999. To conflate two separate techniques via the phrase "Mike's Nature trick to hide the decline" is adding to the glut of 'Climategate' misinformation.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 200:

  1. Shawnhet @49, "Many supporters of the mainstream position want to have it both ways - essentially saying that one should accept the consensus position even though said consensus does not have a vigorous self-policing function." I find this statement incredibly ironic, hypocritical even, especially on a thread demonstrating very clearly yet another example (out of dozens) of a "skeptic" not being "policed" and spouting nonsense. And yet again his diatribe gets free pass by the "skeptics". "Skeptics" are very clearly cannot police themselves, never mind lecturing others on what they perceive to be right or wrong. It is this systematic poor behaviour, this systematic lack of quality control, this perpetual campaign of misinformation that results in those in denial of AGW (and those who claim to be "skeptics") having very serious credibility issues. It is also why they are largely ignored, except perhaps on some partisan internet blogs and by some naive and misguided journalists who do not have time nor the inclination to get their facts right.
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  2. shawnhet#49: "even though said consensus does not have a vigorous self-policing function." It's far more likely that the deniersphere does not self-police; from blatant cherry-picks to flat out repetition of debunked arguments, you almost never see one 'skeptic' calling out another. We've seen that here a number of times; there are threads where one 'skeptic' makes an outrageous statement -- especially one that's often been said before -- and all the other 'skeptics' disappear from sight.
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  3. Albatross raises a very good point... the quality of 'self policing' on the 'skeptic' side of the debate can be seen in the countless radically different, and often mutually exclusive, arguments put forward. Think about the 'intellectual integrity' of a group which simultaneously embraces those who claim 'it is not warming', 'the warming is a natural cycle', 'the warming is human caused but will be very mild', 'humans cannot cause warming', 'carbon dioxide cannot cause warming', and hundreds of other inconsistent arguments. By any rational basis the 'skeptics' should be broken into hundreds of warring camps as opposed to each others' ideas as they are to anthropogenic global warming. Yet that is not the case. They remain a unified group... because intellectual integrity plays no part whatsoever in this 'movement'. It is entirely an emotional opposition, and thus any pretense for disbelieving 'the enemy' is uncritically accepted. The consensus side agree on far more than they disagree. So while Wu and Jiang may have different estimates of Greenland ice loss both are pursuing actual science and further study is performed and we continue to get a more and more focused picture... instead of the more and more chaotic mish-mash of inconsistencies generated by the 'skeptics'. In a sense the 'skeptics' have developed a kind of 'anti-science'... the more effort devoted to studying the matter the less clear it becomes.
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  4. shawnhet #49:
    I don't think that a reasonable person can look at the use of trees as temperature proxies and conclude that they are very poor proxies that should not be used in reconstructions.
    I presume you were trying to say that no reasonable person can think tree rings are a valid temperature proxy. To which I would respond that just because you feel that way, doesn't mean that every reasonable person should feel that way. There's an entire research field devoted to dedrochronology, and there's strong evidence that in most cases, tree rings are a good temperature proxy.
    "consensus does not have a vigorous self-policing function."
    I discussed a good example of "self-policing" when Lindzen and the FEU made the same errors. The "consensus" side jumped all over the FEU and made sure the errors were made known to the public and corrected. I still have yet to see a single "skeptic" correct Lindzen's errors. Instead they have been propagated by various "skeptic" blogs. I think it's quite clear which "side" lacks self-policing.
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  5. CBDunkerson, I think that you have the makings of a blog post :) I am actually quite serious. Your post at @53 raises too many valid issues to repeat here. The one that stuck in my mind is the incoherence and contradictory nature of the arguments put forth by the "skeptics"-- what a confusing mess. But that is perhaps what it is mean to be in order to practice FUD? Again, as you noted, their main cause seems to be an appeal to emotion rather than science. And ultimately their approach is anti-science, anti-progress and anti-intellectualism. What I find particularly tragic is when people who should know better, like Muller, embracing this ideology.
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  6. CBDunkerson:"Given that they do go to great pains to point out flaws and limitations I'm sorry but that is just untrue. Climate science has extensive self-checking and policing. You'll note that even 'skeptics' like Lindzen and Spencer are taken seriously and studied even after they have been found to have shown clear biases and false statements... because they are at least doing actual research and presenting actual theories which can be checked and evaluated as part of the ongoing process. After those there are large numbers of actual skeptics (no 'square quotes') who continually challenge various parameters and findings of the science. Thus we get different views on, for instance, how much mass loss Greenland is experiencing and further study is performed to figure out who is right." Frankly, the behavior of the folks involved answers this question much more effectively than any claims either you or I can make. Again, any reasonable person should've known that trees were not good temperature proxies a long time ago. The fact that many high profile papers were published and made fairly central parts of the mainstream climate picture on such a shaky foundation and that no one except outsiders were making noises about this sort of thing is prima facie evidence of a culture that is poor at policing itself. Cheers, :)
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  7. @ Albatross (51) "I find this statement incredibly ironic, hypocritical even, especially on a thread demonstrating very clearly yet another example (out of dozens) of a "skeptic" not being "policed" and spouting nonsense. And yet again his diatribe gets free pass by the "skeptics"." Well-said, sir. Like a sleeping bear being poked & prodded I finally have had enough of "skeptics" being given a free pass by other "skeptics" to post a rant-ish comment on the subject only to find that I'd been scooped by you. Well-done. Over the course of the past 3 years, I can recall just one instance of one of our semi-resident "skeptics" taking another "skeptic" to task for inaccuracy. The wounded "skeptic" then responded with hurt indignation at taking a broadside from a perceived member of the "same side". A "Skeptic Code" violation, if you will. Where are the real skeptics in all this, I ask? Sailing darkly through a silent sea to a far and distant shore, perhaps? /Rant The Yooper
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  8. shawnhet #56:
    "Again, any reasonable person should've known that trees were not good temperature proxies a long time ago."
    Repeating a false statement does not make it any less untrue. A fact which "skeptics" never seem to learn!
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  9. Daniel @57, Thanks-- you are too kind. You asked "Where are the real skeptics in all this, I ask?"-- sitting at their desks day and night and weekends and holidays working on trying to satisfy their incredible (and passionate) endeavor to improve the understanding of the climate system and advancing the science. And note too--the real skeptics are not sitting in front of a computer in Toronto somewhere typing up innuendo, and engaging in dog-whistle politics and FUD on an internet blog, while simultaneously aiding the anti-science campaign of Inhofe and Morano.
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  10. dana1981:
    There's an entire research field devoted to dedrochronology, and there's strong evidence that in most cases, tree rings are a good temperature proxy.
    Not quite. In *some* cases, tree ring are a good temperature proxy, much of the research goes into trying to figure out which stands are, and which stands are not, primarily limited in summer growth by temperature as opposed to other environmental factors. Shawnet: if trees near their latitudinal or altitudinal limits aren't good temperature proxies in many cases, you wouldn't find such broad correlation with the dendro series and other proxies and much of the instrumental record. And, if you're right, you'll have to throw out much of what's known about the physiology of plant growth, not just climate science. Ain't likely, dude.
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  11. Couple of quick points here: First off, I agree that everyone should police themselves, but clearly a more popular piece of research should be better policed than less popular piece (OTW what is the benefit of a consensus?). You cannot argue that we should put more faith in a consensus viewpoint than a skeptical one if you don't feel a consensus viewpoint should also receive more critical attention. dana:"I presume you were trying to say that no reasonable person can think tree rings are a valid temperature proxy. To which I would respond that just because you feel that way, doesn't mean that every reasonable person should feel that way. There's an entire research field devoted to dedrochronology, and there's strong evidence that in most cases, tree rings are a good temperature proxy." Just a reality check here: if they were, in fact, a good proxy we would not be having these sorts of discussions at all. Dendrochronology is good science, it is dendroclimatology that is suspect. We can be pretty sure that they don't work now(real thermometers produce very different values than trees) and we can be pretty sure that they didn't work well a long time ago. If a temperature sensor can return the same value today as it did 150 years ago when it was ~1C cooler, how do we know what the temperature was 150 years ago? Not by using trees, that's for sure. Cheers, :)
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  12. shawnhet #61, I'll simply refer you to dhogaza #60. I don't agree with statements like "real thermometers produce very different values than trees". That's an inaccurate generalization. We've previously discussed the 'divergence problem' elsewhere.
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  13. shawnhet, Popular and unpopular research should receive the same level of scrutiny ("policing"). The benefit of consensus is to summarize the results.
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  14. Shawnhet @61, "if they were, in fact, a good proxy we would not be having these sorts of discussions at all. Dendrochronology is good science, it is dendroclimatology that is suspect." Interesting then that multiple temperature reconstructions that do not rely exclusively on dendrochronologies produce very similar results. Here is another one, and yet another for good measure. And what the heck, some more. I would argue that you are trying to deflect uncomfortable attention to Muller's manglings of the science by floating all these red herrings and arguing strawmen.
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  15. dhogaza:"Shawnet: if trees near their latitudinal or altitudinal limits aren't good temperature proxies in many cases, you wouldn't find such broad correlation with the dendro series and other proxies and much of the instrumental record. And, if you're right, you'll have to throw out much of what's known about the physiology of plant growth, not just climate science. Ain't likely, dude." Sure, tree rings correlate well with temperature except when they don't. It is the parts where they don't correlate that causes problems for the idea that tree rings are good proxies. If you found a group of perfectly preserved tree rings from a time period where you didn't have independent means of assessing the temperature, could you use their widths to determine the temperature? Of course not. Current history shows more than adequately that the relationship btw tree rings and temperature is much more complex than a straightforward prozy one. Cheers, :)
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  16. Shawnhet @65, You seem intent on derailing this thread. Do you have anything of substance and relevance to say about Muller's butchering of the science? You know, the actual topic of this thread :)
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  17. Albatross @66, I will admit that I am not particularly interested in Muller ;), but the only time he is mentioned above is to mention his interpretation of an email quote. The rest is about the divergence problem which I am interested in. Is the topic of this thread only the first section of the OP ;) ? Bibliovermis:"Popular and unpopular research should receive the same level of scrutiny ("policing"). The benefit of consensus is to summarize the results." I think you are being unrealistic here. Some papers may be read thousands of times and some only dozens. Can we really expect them to get the same level of scrutiny? Cheers, :)
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    Moderator Response: (DB) This thread is indeed as Albatross describes it in 66 above; you have been pointed to other discussions here for the dendro issues.
  18. Shawnhet @67, Funny how both you and Cadbury suddenly become uninterested in Muller when you are required to actually consider his errors.....that is not being a true skeptic. A true skeptic would be very troubled by his mangling of the science. You and fellow "skeptics" on this thread are very nicely demonstrating CBDunkerson's astute and insightful observations. The "divergence problem" has its own thread, please go here if you wish to discuss it further.
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  19. Honestly, Albatross, I don't know Muller from Adam, I have never been interested in him. I think a fair reading of the above is that a substantial part of the opening post is, in fact, about the divergence problem. Since this is not, apparently, the subject of this thread, I will stop commenting on it. I don't know how to address whether someone's statements are factually accurate without talking about the subject of those statements.
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  20. Shawn @69, "Honestly, Albatross, I don't know Muller from Adam" And you do not know Mann et al. from Adam either, but that has not stopped you from opining about the HS now has it? Anyhow, do you agree with John Cook's assessment of Muller's errors? There is no need to go into the details of the divergence problem to do that.
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  21. Come on, Albatross, I am familiar with the issues relating to the divergence problem, which as I said previously, was what I was focusing on. My defending myself here on this issue has been ruled OT which is fine with me, but don't complain about what I am saying being OT, then try and needle me with OT comments after the fact, please.
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  22. Come on Shawn @71, you can do better than that :) My comment @70 was not OT, I asked you a relevant question about John Cook's assessment (which you ignored), and made an observation about your commentary on this thread. Cheers, :)
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  23. Albatross, if talking about the HS is OT, how is the first sentence of #70 not also OT? How can I answer that without going OT? If the point of the OP is that two alterations to the data are exactly the same, then clearly they are not. OTOH, if the point of the OP is that there is no connection btw what was done in both cases, then that is not the case IMO. ( - Off-topic opinion details snipped - ). Now, I've likely gone OT here, but this is my honest opinion.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please re-read the OP again, including the first section and the closing paragraph of the OP. The post is not about debating the two techniques used; it's about Muller's repetition of falsehoods about what happened, and what actually happened in real life.

    If you wish to discuss the HS or dendro, fine. But not here; there are other threads specifically devoted to them.

  24. Sure, tree rings correlate well with temperature except when they don't. It is the parts where they don't correlate that causes problems for the idea that tree rings are good proxies. If you found a group of perfectly preserved tree rings from a time period where you didn't have independent means of assessing the temperature, could you use their widths to determine the temperature?
    Naked tree ring widths aren't the proxy ...
    Come on, Albatross, I am familiar with the issues relating to the divergence problem, which as I said previously, was what I was focusing on.
    Making this a false statement.
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  25. Shawn @73, Perhaps some simple and direct questions are in order. 1) Did Muller accurately and correctly reflect the content and true meaning of the emails to which John is referring? Yes or no. 2) Do you agree with John Cook's assessment of Muller's errors? Yes or no. 3) Do you agree with this statement by Cook concerning Muller's misguided understanding of events: "To conflate two separate techniques via the phrase "Mike's Nature trick to hide the decline" is adding to the glut of 'Climategate' misinformation." Muller could have easily avoided making the mistakes and perpetuating yet more Climategate/SwiftHack myths had he actually practiced due diligence, done some research, and read the reports on the Climategate/SwiftHack. Instead, it seems that Muller elected to source his "information" from notorious "skeptic" blogs. That is not acceptable on an issue this important, especially by someone of Muller's standing. And John has not even covered the myriad of other misleading statements made by Muller in his talk.
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  26. I can't really express myself here so I think there is not much point continuing. At best, the whole issue here is pretty trivial IMO. I think that, at no point was Muller attempting to claim that the two techniques were identical and he may've simply got confused about who was "hiding the decline". But, nevertheless, let's say I drink the Coolade and go for the position that he was [--snip--] about something that was pretty easy to check - What now? Does this discussion go anywhere or do we just all agree that all "skeptics" are evil and pat ourselves on the back? Dhogaza, I *literally* cannot respond to you, I will simply say that the post that you quote was written quickly and should be judged accordingly.
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  27. Shawn @76, "Does this discussion go anywhere or do we just all agree that all "skeptics" are evil and pat ourselves on the back?" No, not at all. I for one certainly do not hold that opinion that you tried to attribute to people here about all "skeptics" being "evil". You strike me as a fairly reasonable person-- I am trying to encourage you to apply your skepticism equally...to be a true skeptic. Muller has also made similarly inaccurate statements about Gore and other scientists in recent weeks....I sense a pattern of sloppiness on Muller's part, and perhaps even an eagerness to bring his political views into play in a discussion of the science. Remember, Muller is one of the science leads in the much touted BEST project. Ideally, this independent study of global temperature records will avoid being used as a political tool and avoid becoming mired in rhetoric and opinion. So Muller's recent misguided public musings on the climate file are very worrying and far from trivial, and does not given people much hope that BEST will value the science above all else. I do remain hopeful that science will prevail though, and that the "skeptics" will unequivocally accept their findings. Anyway, time to sign off, have a good night Shawn. PS: You can respond to dhogaza, but probably on the appropriate thread. I provided a link to one such thread @68. Just leave a note here directing those interested in discussing the "divergence problem" to the relevant thread.
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  28. @ Albatross Are skeptics comments on this site - post - are "off topic"? If we answered "yes " to this question, we would have to conclude that this post John Cook is "off topic" ... “On the occasion” of Climategate he tries to "offer" us previews of AGW supporters eg the "divergence problem" by ignoring the most recent (after 2008) work - papers on this topic. Criticizing Muller - He criticizes (again "by occasion”) opinions of skeptics on the MWA and the LIA. Similarly doing CBDunkerson "along with " disparaging opinions Lindzena and Spencer and the main arguments of skeptics (without the “right to reply” - because it is "off topic" - of course). Is this okay? You can not refuse the "right the reply" skeptics on these matters - if you do it try to "smuggle" through “the back door "... I appeal to supporters and adversaries AGW - by non-use of such "tricks ".
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Please read the moderator response this comment.
  29. Albatross, if I wanted to play gotcha, I could point out that anything except the issue raised in the OP is OT ;) Perhaps, Muller is wrong about everything in his presentation, but on the specific issue raised by this thread there is no evidence of anything except that he misread a single line. This misreading didn't affect his larger point IMO. Perhaps, at some point I will address dhogaza's concerns on the relevant thread, but frankly this whole exercise has been pretty frustrating and I am soured on the whole thing. Cheers, :)
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  30. "he misread a single line" Total BS. He gathered several lines and put them together in a certain way, so as to create a certain mental image in the listener. There is a name for that. I do not understand how one could call it "misreading."
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  31. No, Muller didn't just misread a single line. He combined several different statements about different subjects into one. He then claimed that he was providing a direct quote - "That's the words, 'let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline'." Those are not the words. He then incorrectly characterized "Mike's trick". Really, there are just so many wrong statements Muller packed into just a couple of sentences, it's pretty mind-boggling. As we'll see in future installments of Muller Misinformation, this appears to be common behavior for Muller.
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  32. Philippe@80 it does rhyme with 'misreading' though.
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  33. Phillippe, This looks like one sentence to me:"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) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline." He may've just thought that hiding the decline referred to both Mike's trick and what Briffa did. Cheers, :)
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  34. Hi All, I will start by openly admitting I am a complete layman in this subject, and continue to read this and many other sites to try and improve my knowledge. Whilst I have found a lot of useful and interesting information on this site, I do have an issue with this OP As I understand it, "Mike's nature trick" is merely a graphical tool for adding instrumental temperature readings to the end of a proxy series. "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) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline." So Phil Jones email reads plainly that he is saying for the Briffa reconstruction he is moving this addition of instumental data back 20 years, to remove what is considered outlier data (hide the decline). So I agree that the use of this "trick" in Mann's Nature graph did not (as far as I am aware) involve removing outlier data from his study. However Muellers paraphrasing and presentation when looked at in this context do not appear to be factually incorrect. He did not say the method used by Mann in his paper involved erasing data, he said the use of this method by Briffa Jones did. This is factually correct (if somewhat irelavent). I agree, by specifically calling out Manns name and not that of Briffa and Jones, the statement could be misinterpreted, however I don't see where he was factually incorrect in this area. Please correct me if I have missed the point or misrepresented anything here. I continue to look forward to more informed articles here. Regards Wolf
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  35. Shawn and Arkadiusz, I think part of your frustration is arising from the fact that you still appear not to grasp the intent of the OP. Daniel and others have tried to point out the intent of the OP to you, so it is now getting a little old to suggest that there is some "trick" or "conspiracy" going on to stifle your opinion (although this is a story about Muller mangling facts and words, and is not opinion or interpretation). Shawn, I asked you questions @75 to try and focus the discussion on the pertinent issues and move it forward. You are quite free to answer "no" (i.e., disagree with the OP) and explain why you disagree. But You have not taken advantage of that opportunity. You are also free to post on the relevant thread/s to discuss other issues further. Let me be frank, CA and WUWT or Air Vent would almost certainly not afford you the same courtesy, or even the polite exchange in this type of situation. As Dana says, there is probably more in the works documenting Muller's propensity to mangle his facts and to engage in rhetoric on this important issue--this was just a taster. Now that behaviour by someone of Muller's standing should concern you, whether or not you are a skeptic or contrarian. And, you can still be a "skeptic" or contrarian and agree with John Cook et al. from time-to-time you know :)
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  36. climatewolf> I agree, by specifically calling out Manns name and not that of Briffa and Jones, the statement could be misinterpreted, however I don't see where he was factually incorrect in this area. Muller's rhetoric seems to rely on implication more than direct factual statements. I don't think that should let him off the hook, especially when he's arguing that the work of all these authors is essentially worthless.
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  37. Wolf #84 - here are the examples of factually wrong statements from Muller outlined by John in the post above: 1) "That's the words, "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline"." Those weren't the words in the email. He didn't just get the words wrong, he repeated the misrepresentation and claimed it was a direct quote. 2) "Mike's trick consisted of erasing that data, calling it unreliable, and then substituting the temperature data from thereon." "Mike's trick" does not involve erasing any data, calling any data unreliable, or substituting the instrumental temperature record. It merely involves plotting the instrumental record along with the proxy record.
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  38. Hi dana1981, I agree with you and the OP that Muller paraphrased the actual email and in doing so added some potential bias to it, however that in and of itself does not invalidate his statements. The Briffa reconstruction showed a decline in temperature post 1961. As has been shown, there is a very good argument that this data was unreliable and so was not included and instead was substituted (in the graph) with instrumental data (as were the other reconstructions from 1981 onwards). So I'm afraid your points are incorrect from my understanding. It is entirely fair to say that Muller has presented his facts with a slant/bias, however he is still presenting facts. If the OP were worded in such a way as to point out this bias and paraphrasing, I would have no problem with it. I merely feel from a straight forward use of English point of view, to say Muller makes errors is not correct. I am completely open to any discussion of actual facts in these presentations that were incorrect and look forward to subsequent posts here, but in this instance I think the OP crosses the line in calling these errors rather than bias. Regards Wolf
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  39. Albatross, per 75, 1. Probably not, but this could've just been a misreading of the line I quoted to Phillippe above 2. Not sure as I don't know for sure what his point is. 3. I don't think Muller was talking about the techniques of either one being exactly identical. He was talking about their altering graphs in such a way as to make their overall message misleading. Comparisons here are legitimate IMO. As I have previously said, I find this whole issue to be trivial. Cheers, :)
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  40. Wolf #88:
    "So I'm afraid your points are incorrect from my understanding."
    No, my points are correct. I clearly demonstrated where Muller's comments are factually incorrect. You're arguing something different entirely. You're basically saying that even though what Muller said was wrong, he was right about the underlying science. That's a different issue which we have discussed elsewhere. Muller appears to focus on an obscure WMO report cover, which we agree was not well documented. However, the divergence problem was well documented in academic research, and in the IPCC reports. Frankly nobody even knew about this obscure WMO report until the Climategate emails were stolen, and I don't particularly care about it. I don't know why Muller is so focused on this obscure report cover. Regardless, it's beside the point. Muller made numerous incorrect statements, period. The fact that there's some sliver of truth behind them does not make his incorrect statements any less wrong. And as we'll see in future Muller Misinformation posts, Muller has this pattern of taking a sliver of truth and distorting it with misinformation, as he did here.
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  41. Hi dana1981, "You're basically saying that even though what Muller said was wrong, he was right about the underlying science" Nope, I am not saying this at all. What I am saying is that in the presentation from Muller he used this WMO cover graph and a paraphrase of Jones email to demonstrate what HE sees as a distortion of facts. I personally have not at this point drawn a conclusion. My issue with this particular OP is that in presenting the full and complete facts, it doesn't support the statement that Muller has his facts wrong. Nothing in Mullers statements is factually innacurate, just biased. Mr Cook even agree that this particular graph was rightly criticised for not making it clear which data was reconstruction and which instrumental. So to clarify for me as I am failing to understand your point. Please can you explain when Muller is refering to this specific graph and this specific email where Jones cleary states he has used the graphing "trick" of Mann to add the instumental records to the Briffa reconstruction from 1961 AND removed the reconstruction data from that point on, did Muller incorrectly state the facts? Please note, I am not defending Muller for his bias or fairly obvious attack on Mann, I just think if we are going to hold ALL scientists in this debate up to scrutiny on facts, it must be applied equally. I think Muller is making a valid point in regards that graph ALONE. The fact that he uses it to score "points" is pretty low as far as I am concerned, and the fact he doesn't put this graph into context with other or talk about the divergence problem in any detail makes this a one sided presentation. In fairness, in the 2nd link, he does at least point out that his view is one sided and there is no "fair trial" as such. Anyway to be clear dana1981 et al. I am not suggesting the use of this "trick" was in any way wrong, or undocumented, I am debating the semantics of this single particular post. Regards Wolf
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  42. Wolf #91:
    "Nothing in Mullers statements is factually innacurate, just biased."
    Sorry, I can't agree. I refer you back again to Comment #87, in which I showed two indisputably factually inaccurate statements. They are both wrong. Period. As I've said, I agree Muller has a valid point about the WMO graph. As I've also said, I don't really care, and don't see why Muller cares, because it was a cover on an obscure report that basically nobody even knew about or saw until the emails were stolen in '09. Frankly, the only reason Muller cares is because of the errors he's making. He's inflating the importance of the obscure report cover.
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  43. And Wolf, if you still disagree, I would ask you to explain how the statements I outlined in my Comment #87 aren't factually wrong.
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  44. "It is entirely fair to say that Muller has presented his facts with a slant/bias, however he is still presenting facts." When facts are distorted, they are no longer facts. Isn't it revealing that everyone who has suggested some misconduct from the "hide the decline" email has biased the facts in some way, while refusing to present an intellectual and complete discussion of the modern tree ring divergence issue?
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  45. Hi again dana1981, Again I would like to point out that I agree on the inflation of the importance of this particular graph, but whether we like it or not, this was a published set of data produced by those to whom we look for accurate information. To answer your question I shall try again to illustrate what I am talking about. A temperature recontruction from proxy data has a start and end point in time. A valid method of verifying such a proxy is to compare where possible against instrumental results. When comparing the Briffa reconstruction to instrumental records, it deviated in the period 1961 onwards from the observed data and so this data was determined by those compiling the graphic and paper as invalid from 1961 onwards. "Mike's trick" is as shown in the OP a graphical tool whereby you ovelay and/or splice instrumental temperature readings onto a proxy. The basic idea is that if your proxy follows the instrumental data for a period then it adds weight to your proxy reconstruction. In producing the data and graph, Jones et al used the graphing process known as "Mikes trick" to splice the instrumental data to 2 of the reconstructions from the year 1981, and to the Briffa reconstruction from 1961. This was done in the case of the Briffa reconstruction to "hide the decline" Now I have no issue with the word "trick", I totally accept that this is a term that does not imply any malfeasance but merely refers to a data/graphing technique. The "Hide the decline" I can accept as merely a bad choice of wording on the part of Jones and whilst it has been called into question, I am not going to join the lynch mob in putting too much emphasis on these words. So, regardless of bias, which I have already addressed, it is clearly obvious from the Jones mail, that the Briffa data was removed from the graph for the period 1961 onwards and replaced by the instrumental record. So based on this my issue with your points is; "1) "That's the words, "let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline"." Those weren't the words in the email. He didn't just get the words wrong, he repeated the misrepresentation and claimed it was a direct quote." Whilst he paraphrased the email, Muller did not change the underlying facts, which was using the technique of adding/splicing measured temperature to the later part of graphs showing reconstructed data "2) "Mike's trick consisted of erasing that data, calling it unreliable, and then substituting the temperature data from thereon." "Mike's trick" does not involve erasing any data, calling any data unreliable, or substituting the instrumental temperature record. It merely involves plotting the instrumental record along with the proxy record." The way in which Mann used this technique as I have said before has not been questioned in Mullers presentation. The fact that Jones et al used the same technique but DID remove data, i.e the Briffa results from 1961 onwards is fact. So the article and graph in question did in fact remove data from the Briffa reconstruction from 1961 onwards. Hence, Muller whilst biased does not actually say anything that is factually inacurate. I hope this explains the point I am making Regards Wolf
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  46. "There's an entire research field devoted to dedrochronology, and there's strong evidence that in most cases, tree rings are a good temperature proxy." Fine : if they are, the we can deduce with a great confidence from Fig 3 that most of the XXth century temperature rise has occurred before 1970, so it must be perfectly natural.
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  47. Gilles: "Fine : if they are, the we can deduce with a great confidence from Fig 3 that most of the XXth century temperature rise has occurred before 1970, so it must be perfectly natural." Actually Fig 3 shows that unicorns are real and that therefor we no longer have to worry about cancer. No, I can't really back that up... but it bears about as much resemblance to reality as your description of the graph.
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  48. I wasn't going to post here anymore but this sort of thing infuriates me. Mr Cook, you are ignorant of the facts. You say "The 'trick' is the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data." But this in untrue. Specifically the trick has been fully analysed, reproduced and is described in detail at Climate Audit and is described as Mike’s Nature Trick Mike’s Nature Trick was originally diagnosed by CA reader UC here and expounded in greater length (with Matlab code here and here and here ). It consists of the following elements: 1. A digital splice of proxy data up to 1980 with instrumental data to 1995 (MBH98), lengthened to 1998 (MBH99). 2. Smoothing with a Butterworth filter of 50 years in MBH98 (MBH99- 40 years) after padding with the mean instrumental value in the calibration period (0) for 100 years. 3. Discarding all values of the smooth after the end of the proxy period. So you see the instrumental data has a DIRECT impact on the proxy temperature curve before any instrumental temperatures are inappropriately tacked onto it.
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  49. TimTheToolMan, you do realize that the practical difference between the 'infuriating', 'ignorant', and 'untrue' explanation and your own is effectively nil, right? Take out the smoothing and you know what the results show? Exactly the same thing, just with more bumpiness on the curve. The current rate of warming is still greater than anything found in the proxy records. Temperatures now are still the warmest in the studied period. Every conclusion of MBH98 and MBH99 is still just as valid... as should be obvious given the numerous studies since then (even 'skeptic' studies) which have validated it. The difference between this and 'making a mountain out of a mole hill' is that the mole hill actually has some elevation to it.
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  50. TTTM... Can you please inform us as to how that would alter any of the broader implications of the research? As I seem to remember, MBH98 is not a study on a temperature reconstruction of the past 100 years, it's a study on a temperature reconstruction for the past 1000 years. Right? So, can you tell me how CA's quibbling over Mann's methods of splicing the data changes the broader conclusions of the research?
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