Superior

Something I’ve done on this blog quite a lot is push back against the narrative that science is social. This doesn’t mean that I think individual scientists can’t be biased, or that we won’t sometimes go down the wrong path when the evidence is weak, but that ultimately we’ll converge towards some kind of reasonable understanding of the system being studied. However, I’ve just finished reading Angela Saini’s book, Superior: the return of race science. Angela Saini also gave a talk yesterday evening as part the Edinburgh Race Lectures. Angela Saini makes a very strong case that there are scientific disciplines where our biases have not only strongly influenced how evidence is interpreted, but have also influenced the assumptions that underpin that discipline.

Reading Superior made me appreciate better why some seem to regard science as being more social than I would normally regard as reasonable. I’ve always been aware that many aspects of science are social, but have been less comfortable with the suggestion that our biases can strongly influence how we interpret evidence. Why would our biases influence our understanding of the origin of the universe, our understanding of orbital dynamics, or how the Earth’s climate will respond to rising atmospheric CO2 levels? One concern I’ve had with the “science is social” argument is that it can potentially undermine the significance of some research if the implications are seen as inconvenient. On the other hand, reading Superior and listening to Angela Saini’s talk yesterday has made me better appreciate that we should be careful of under-estimating how much our biases can influence how we see the world.

I’m not actually sure where I’m going with this. I found Angela Saini’s book very enlightening and it made me more aware of why some might regard science as social. I do still, though, have trouble seeing how this can have a significant influence in the physical sciences. Well-founded conservation laws provide quite strong constraints on how we interpret evidence in the physical sciences. However, everyone probably thinks that their discipline has some way of overcoming these biases, so maybe I’m missing something about how they could influence our understanding of physical systems.

I should also be clear that I’m not suggesting that physical scientists are somehow less biased than other scientists; they clearly are not. I’m also not suggesting that there aren’t reasons for addressing existing biases within the physical sciences; these clearly do exist and we should do much more to address this. I’m also not suggesting that these don’t play a role in how we interpret the significance of some scientific evidence. For example, our views about how we might solve climate change, or the significance of the impacts of climate, are probably quite strongly influenced by these biases. I’m just not sure how these biases influence our understanding of physical systems, especially in the presence of conservation laws.

Of course, I’m probably missing something and I’m certainly uncomfortable with suggesting that our understanding of physical systems can’t be influenced by societal biases. I’m just not sure how, or why, they would do so, at least in a substantive sense. Maybe someone can present some kind of argument in the comments.

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211 Responses to Superior

  1. I should probably point out that Reiner Grundmann did once make the argument that:

    There is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science in that both see their services as essential for solving pressing social problems.

    Given that this was then followed by a discussion of the use of race science by the Nazis, I find the association quite objectionable. This may, of course, influence my interpretation of his argument. To my mind, to make this association you would need to illustrate how climate science emerged from some desire to solve some pressing social problem. What is this pressing social problem that led to the emergence of climate science? It seems much more likely that our sense of there being a pressing social problem emerged from an understanding of climate science (dumping GHGs into the atmosphere is changing the climate).

    To me, the fundamental problem with Grundmann’s association illustrates my concern with some of the science is social arguments. Clearly there are examples where some sense of a pressing social problem strongly influenced some scientific discipline. This doesn’t mean, though, that the causality always runs in this direction. There must be scenarios where our scientific understanding has illustrated that there might be some pressing social problem.

  2. Sou says:

    Of course, I’m probably missing something and I’m certainly uncomfortable with suggesting that our understanding of physical systems can’t be influenced by societal biases. I’m just not sure how, or why, they would do so, at least in a substantive sense. Maybe someone can present some kind of argument in the comments.

    I like this. Always good to have a challenge. It sounds like Superior might be a good book to add to the reading list 🙂

    To play devil’s advocate, a couple of thoughts about our understanding of physical systems. It depends on the time frame. If you go back in time, a lot of knowledge went down certain paths for years, maybe even centuries, shaped by prevailing views of the world and the place of humans. Paths that we now regard as “wrong”. It’s taken a long time to get to where we are today. Things have moved quickly over the past century as the population, and the number of people doing science, has grown so much.

    Even recently I’ve seen it in science e.g. where until recently (and probably still today), some people trained in animal science were firmly of the view that humans are so different to other animals that observations of any similarities in behaviour/thought, even pain, must be anthropomorphising – when in fact there would much behaviour/emotional/brain function &c that is shared. That’s probably because people are most comfortable with a human-centric view of the world. (Religion probably plays a part here, too.)

    Another point is that the direction science takes, priorities for research, what is funded, is determined by people making decisions on what is useful for society. Scientists usually have to play along with that or they won’t get funding. That means delays, maybe of decades (maybe of centuries, who knows?) in pursuing some areas of what technocrats used to call blue sky research.

    Not just blue sky research either. I’m thinking of all the areas of women’s health that’s been neglected over decades, or wrong assumptions made. That’s been shaped by the shape of society itself.

    I know that’s taking a different tack to your article. I agree that fields that are well studied stand on a strong and growing foundation of knowledge – physics, climate, biology, astronomy etc. That doesn’t mean that all that we take as solid science-based “fact” is as solid as we might think. Some fields where there has been very little research can be presented as if they are as solid as fields that are way more studied. (Maybe or maybe not by the scientific specialists, but by the general public, lobby groups and political leaders.)

    PS Sorry for the too-long comment. I’m out of practice 🙂

  3. Sou says:

    Just saw your comment, ATTP. It looks as if I missed the point of the article, or the context. Sorry about that. Any comparison between “race science” (if I understand what’s meant there correctly) and climate science is preposterous.

    I’ll pull my head back in now 😦

  4. Sou,
    Thanks for the comment. Superior is well worth reading. I also want to read Inferior.

    You may be right that some of our understanding of physical systems has evolved over quite a long time and, in some sense, some of the basics (conservation laws) have become pretty robust. This doesn’t mean that we won’t still get things wrong, but it does constrain things to a certain extent.

    Another point is that the direction science takes, priorities for research, what is funded, is determined by people making decisions on what is useful for society.

    Yes, this is certainly where biases can play a big role. What we choose to fund, and who gets funded, can certainly be influenced by societal biases. Some of this is good (we do want to fund research that is of societal interest) but it can also be bad (there are strong indications that certain groups are preferentially funded relative to others, and we can have situations where inconvenient research receives pressure from funders).

    I’m thinking of all the areas of women’s health that’s been neglected over decades, or wrong assumptions made. That’s been shaped by the shape of society itself.

    Yes, a good point.

  5. Sou,

    Just saw your comment, ATTP. It looks as if I missed the point of the article, or the context. Sorry about that. Any comparison between “race science” (if I understand what’s meant there correctly) and climate science is preposterous.

    No, I don’t think you missed the point at all. I was just using that comment to give an example where someone had tried to make an association between race science and climate science and why I thought such an association wasn’t well founded.

    I should add that the point you make about funding in your earlier comment is a good one. It’s probably something I should have acknowledged in my post.

  6. dikranmarsupial says:

    “There is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science in that both see their services as essential for solving pressing social problems.”

    Seems like sophistry to me. Climate science pre-dates climate change as a pressing social problem by many decades. IIRC Arrhenius thought it would be a good thing. As it became clear that climate change would pose a pressing social problem much later, it would be an odd state of affairs indeed if climate science didn’t see itself as an essential part of a pressing social problem caused by climate!

    I suspect there are plenty of climate scientists that are are interested in the science for its own sake, and would be studying it anyway even if climate change didn’t present a pressing social problem. This is also true of e.g. blog readers (I am rather more interested in dinosaurs than climate, and they can’t really be described as presenting a pressing social problem [other than in Japan]).

    Naturally social biases would also affect STS researchers, who may for instance oppose some forms of science communication because of their view on free market economics or government.

  7. Tom Dayton says:

    I strongly recommend Naomi Oreskes’s book “Why Trust Science?” She addresses the social aspects of science from philosophical, historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives, with many real examples. Here is a half hour interview of her: https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/naomi-oreskes-why-trust-science/

  8. Tom,
    Thanks. I had been meaning to read that.

  9. Jon Kirwan says:

    Writing this is premature. I’ve not read Angela Saini’s book yet and I’m not sure when/if I will. But that doesn’t mean your (ATTP) writing doesn’t stimulate some resonances (like striking a bell?) I wish I had time to do more, but right now I don’t have the time. So I’ll just apologize for that and write a few notes that come to mind right now. What follows is free-form and will not benefit from editing because of that lack of time. It could have been much shorter or longer, but I simply don’t have the time for either. Again, my apologies for just exposing you to ruminations that poorly respect the time of others.

    (I’m also glad, Tom, that you included that reference. I will listen to it, soon.)

    (1) I’ve worked as an engineer using theory and the body of experimental result to craft commercial instrumentation that has never been successfully made before. For example, I worked with the team that created the first commercially successful re-writable CD ROM. I worked with the team making the first single-point temperature sensor capable of measuring from -200 C through +1850 C (used as a part in the US Space Shuttle.) I worked with a team making a device that could both target and heat up a single in-vivo axon as well as simultaneously measuring its temperature using a 2 micron fiber (getting very close to subwavelength diameter, but not quite.) In all these cases, I depended heavily upon the collected understanding of many scientists, existing physical theory, and the mathematics I developed from rigorously deducing that theory into the specific circumstances at hand. If the interwoven and highly unified work product of these scientists had lead me astray, I’m sure none of what I’d achieved could have been possible in my lifetime.

    (2) Money guides where scientists choose to apply themselves. For example, decades ago there was a LOT of money going into research on schizophrenia. My daughter had just been diagnosed with profound autism (something at the time almost no one had ever even heard of) and when I examined the existing basic research available in the late 1980s, it was horrible. Their papers were poorly written, the conclusions they arrived at were on their face at odds or else didn’t clearly follow from the earlier presentations. Etc. I confronted one of the smarter researchers I knew at the time, who was working on a specific project (some syndrome I can’t recall anymore, related to schizophrenia), and asked why he hadn’t pursued something in autism he just laughed at me and said that he’d starve if he did that. Quite quickly, I understood. He chose to work where he did because there was money and many chances at low-hanging fruits due to new instrumentation becoming available at the time. The money meant assistants and tools and, together with a relatively unexplored but obviously available now array of research topics, he had a much better chance to discover something positive results (published in top tier publications) as opposed to negative ones, which only get published in 5th and 6th tier publications. Today, governments are pouring almost unlimited dollars into cov2 research. If you were a researcher with appropriate background and skills to move into this research, would you avoid it? Or would you grasp after some of it to garner a much better and more well equipped laboratory and better staff, as well?
    ,
    (3) I absolutely do *trust* the individual work (this means, I don’t question a single paper’s conclusions as much as I should) of those working in the physical sciences. I do so in part because I’ve depended upon them, at times, and been successful in following those pointers when creating something truly new commercially. I do so in part for the reasons ATTP mentions — that there are some serious constraints, born of centuries of work product and experimental result, placed on anyone performing work in their fields. I do so in part because of the highly unified nature of the physical sciences, where each piece is supported by while also supporting other work product. This unity in the physical sciences is almost unique, in my mind. And I don’t find that level of highly interwoven and tightly knit “theoretical meaning,” which works at so many different levels — where emergent ideas that exist at one level can be rigorously shown to derive from large number statistics from phenomena at lower levels where the emergent idea doesn’t exist, at all. Temperature and entropy emerge at a large scale quite readily from the application of statistics to smaller scales where those concepts really have little or no meaning. It’s things like this and so much else which makes me “feel” better about trusting what I read (if it is consistent) in a physical science paper than when I’m reading something from a researcher working at a pharmaceutical company, for example. (I treat the latter with a huge dose of skepticism — despite the fact that the work product may be quite good.)

    Physical science processes are human and in that sense as subject to human foibles as other such endevours. But there is a system in place, too, that helps deal with human failings more consistently than most other human activities in my opinion. The requirement to deal with informed objections and not just ignore them; the allowances for time to permit an informed consensus to arrive and not to just jump at the first tidbit; the tethering of our imagination to experimental result, which keeps our wandering ideas close to the ground, so to speak, allowed to drift away for a time but then re-stitched back down tightly against reality (from time to time); the requirement that the work be unified with the existing body of science and not just create totally isolated and unrelated ideas, so that the work is supported by while also supporting other work (this unity is probably one of the more important ideas in physical sciences); the requirement for sufficient descriptions that allow others similarly trained to equally rigorously derive the ideas to similar circumstances with similar results; the requirement for sound reasoning that must both start with appropriate and broadly accepted axioms and then applies valid logical steps to reach towards conclusions that others would similarly reach under the same circumstances; the severe punishments that result from being caught lying or seriously fudging data to achieve a personal and selfish goal, etc. It’s not any one of these, or any two. But it is the path being walked itself (admittedly grossly imperfectly and not always in the right direction, but self-correcting over long spans of time) that I think produces such a remarkably consistent result moving broadly speaking in the right direction from humans who are just as subject to their own vagaries as any and all of us are.

    I hope none of this suggests that I think scientists themselves working in these areas aren’t human and don’t have worldviews that color their perceptions or that they don’t live in denial about many things. In fact, I’d probably go so far as to say that most of what an individual scientist believes about the world around them is probably wrong. But we don’t read from our betters for their conclusions. We read from them for the WAY they think ABOUT the world. It’s how they process, not their conclusions, from which I try to understand and learn and pull into my own mind for later use. I try to reach my own conclusions where I have the time for it.

    Well, the above certainly exposes my biases. I guess after writing this I will have to go read Angela Saini’s book. As my due payment for imagining that any of what I wrote above was worth wasting the time of others reading. So I’ll order it from Amazon today. Oh, well.

  10. Jon,
    Thanks for the comment. Some really interesting points. Almost a blog post in itself 🙂

  11. Let’s take a quick look at how you recently framed the need for action on global warming. Your position was that we should avoid panic and should not turn everything off. This position is based in your social experience as a white man of some privilege. If you were a brown or black person with no economic advantages, you would be much more likely to experience deleterious impacts from climate change and environmental degradation and I think your sense of urgency regarding changes in the way we live might be different because the early and heavy impacts are going to hit those populations. btw, I am also a white man of significant privilege, but my eyes are open to the racist and classist impacts of global warming and environmental degradation and I do what I can to balance the scales in what is known in some of my circles as “right sharing of the world’s resources.

    https://e360.yale.edu/features/unequal-impact-the-deep-links-between-inequality-and-climate-change

    so, is science social. I think the answer is clearly yes in a number of ways, including how it is evaluated internally and re-presented to others, but reasonable folks may come to a different opinion.

    Cheers

    Mike

  12. You may have missed the biggest area of science, so-called military research. You ain’t ever been on that side of the so-called fence. But just about all we have, had its origins in militarily research. Weapons of mass destruction, rockets ,,, DARPA … basically everything. And if that isn’t biased then I don’t know what is, as it is very clearly meant to be biased, so as to gain a military advantage. D’oh! :(.

  13. Willard says:

    FWIW, many if not most or almost all philosophical papers written in the United States have been written using military grants, including Chomsky’s:

    The military were no less forthright in explaining why they funded Chomsky’s linguistics research. In 1971, having described how the Air Force needed to enhance its systems of computerised command and control, Colonel Edmund Gaines explained:

    Defense of the continental United States against air and missile attack is possible in part because of the use of such computer systems. And of course, such systems support our forces in Vietnam. … Command and control systems would be easier to use [if artificial computer languages] were not necessary. We sponsored linguistic research in order to learn how to build command and control systems that could understand English queries directly.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/chomsky-s-choice-how-noam-chomsky-s-early-military-work-led-to-life-of-campaigning-agai/

  14. Small,
    Indeed, our interpretation of how we should solve climate change, or the significance of the impacts are certainly influenced by our biases.

    One thing I will say is that one reason why I’m reluctant to get too worked up is that I’m not convinced it will be all that effective and may even be counter-productive. I do try to do this, though.

    We don’t need to panic or get worked up about this, but we might want to recognize the predicament we have created and speak clearly and with appropriate urgency about how to change our trajectory.

  15. EFS,
    Indeed, but that would fall under the societal biases that influence what we choose to fund.

  16. ATTP, I share your (implied) concern that we should not give up on ‘objective knowledge’ (nod to Popper).

    You, like me, would not support the more extreme forms of relativism characterised by Feyerabend. We do believe that there is objective truth – the universal gas laws, thermodynamics, the Navier-Stokes equation – all playing a role in many applied domains, such as climate science.

    But … the issue is the choice of questions we ask in those applied areas which are the overwhelming body of scientific output (truly fundamental changes are very rare; few opportunities for latter day Galilieos or Einsteins).

    So does a drug company invest in treatments that only affect poor people in Africa or prefer life-style drugs for rich westerners? We know the answer. The science may be done well, but if the questions being answered are narrow, the basis is baked into the research.

    And work on Ebola vaccination was accelerated … when Ebola threatened the west.

    And when there is lack of diversity in who is coming up with the questions, then guess what, the answers are biased.

    On decarbonising transport, do we want 30m non ICE cars in UK to replace the 30m ICE cars today, or a different vision? Science can help resolve the technical feasibility of this vision versus that one, but it doesn’t provide the value judgements required to make the final decision.

    If a gas network body offers money to a research-fund-strapped university to research how to use (not-so-green) hydrogen in heating homes (their motive being as way of extending the life of the natural gas and the network), someone will take the money, even though it’s a daft idea. Truth is rarely pure and never simple.

    In summary: We don’t have to be relativists to believe there is a social dimension, because in our overwhlemingly applied science world it starts with what questions we choose to ask and get funded, even while integrity of the researchers executing the research is beyond reproach.

  17. Richard,
    Yes, those are good points. I often think we should distinguish between the fundamentals that have been developed over quite a long time (which are less likely to be influenced by societal biases) and more applied research (the implications of which, or decisions about what to do, probably are influenced by societal biases).

  18. At ATTP: I am not suggesting you get worked up. I am suggesting that it would be beneficial if you spoke clearly about climate change in the manner that Fauci speaks about the pandemic.

    I don’t think I have ever seen Fauci speak on camera when he has spoken in an unclear manner about how we can be most safe in this pandemic. He has not slipped into conversational sloppiness and talked about not getting in a panic because he knows he is seen as an expert and he chooses his words carefully.

    I am suggesting that you are seen as an expert on the physics of global warming and that you might want to be as careful as Fauci when discussing the situation that we face with ghg emissions.

    We may agree to disagree that it could be counter-productive for a person who carries “expert” status to speak clearly about the need to present information in a clear and concise manner. It certainly brings personal risks as cases like Fauci or Mann make clear because entrenched interests and political opponents who are fast and loose with the facts don’t appreciate a steady and clear presentation of facts. The safest personal approach is to couch cautions in very soft and slippery language. I get that. Almost nobody gets too worked up or catches too much grief with that approach.

    This horse is dead.

    Interesting piece from the Sac Bee about race and perspectives on environmental degradation: https://www.sacbee.com/article244577292.html

    Cheers

    Mike

  19. Small,
    Ahh, I see. Well, that is what I’m trying to do. I may be failing.

  20. jacksmith4tx says:

    aTTP,
    While this comment is not directed at you specifically I hope anyone reading this blog takes a moment to consider their options.
    Is there one thing you have done to be carbon negative?
    I did 9 years ago when I installed a solar array (exported over 34MWh to the grid so far).
    I did 4 years ago when I bought a Volt (90% of my mileage has been electric provided by aforementioned solar panels).

    When not carbon negative I strive to be at a minimum to be environmentally neutral.
    100% composted organic waste & recycled plastic/glass/metal.
    Zero pesticide use, zero lawn fertilizer and I use a electric lawn mower.
    I always squeeze every last gram/watt/liter from everything I buy. Be it food, clothing, furniture, tools I live by the motto ‘waste not, want not’ second only to the golden rule.

    If not now, when?

  21. I am in similar position. Solar panels installed in 2013. 80 gallon solar hot water array that is primary source of hot water 7 to 9 months per year. A lot of insulation, high quality window installed on a house that was built over a century ago to improve heat management. A lot of grape and kiwi vines on trellis work attached to house to create shade and reduce heat buildup. Thought about a volt, but bought generation 1 honda hybrids and have been keeping them running by collecting and rebuilding the hybrid battery packs. Our daily driver is a 2007 Zenn vehicle – electric, top speed about 40 mph, range about 20 miles.

    No pesticides, no lawn, no lawn mower, everything on small property converted to permaculture. We have rocket mass heater in basement where we can burn the prunings in the winter and create a little heat in the bottom of the house.

    In addition to the improvements and modifications to shelter and transport, we took in 6 African son refugees from Sudan in 2001 and helped them get on their feet in the US. That meant free housing, food, teaching them to drive, helping them enroll in college etc. In addition to that direct connection to the third world as right sharing of the world’s resources, these young men linked us to families in refugee camps and tending cattle in villages in rural Sudan. That has been quite an education for all of us and I think we were the biggest beneficiary. Youngest son David finished college, did grad work and is now back teaching at Univ of Juba in South Sudan. Oldest son Deng Kuol has 16 years as a corrections officer in youth incarceration system in WA State where his African blackness and relentless optimism must be a revelation to young men of color caught up in that system. Other sons and wives doing well, lots of African grandkids who love time with grandma and grandpa. Still working on immigration process for another son’s wife and child to come to US from Uganda. Covid really messed up that process because the embassy in Kampala just stopped all appointments. We hoped they would be here no later than June when we started paperwork back in Nov 2019, now all of that is jammed up. But everybody is well so far and being patient.

    If not now, when? Yesterday would be good. There are few good reasons to justify delay.

    My $.02

    Mike

  22. David B Benson says:

    smallbluemike, I am impressed.

  23. Steven Mosher says:

    “The military were no less forthright in explaining why they funded Chomsky’s linguistics research. In 1971, having described how the Air Force needed to enhance its systems of computerised command and control, ”

    there was a lot of cool stuff DARPA funded us to do make better killing machines.
    when I first came into ops research I basically came with the code I had been writing
    to do natural language generation and applying it to analysis of engagement level combat.
    think of a chomsky grammar tree ( without the recursion) as a template for generating outcomes in a battle or as a template for classifying and understanding typical “sequences” or sentences you
    might see in a scenario. You could also get funding to study chess programs using the same
    “cover” One of the early AIs I worked on to create “killer logic” for a unmanned vehicles was just
    application of chess engine type logic with a different cost function

  24. jacksmith4tx says:

    Steven,
    My how time flies. Here’s some of what applied AI and Climate Change are working on today.

  25. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: since you quoted Grundmann, it might be worth revisiting his 2012 piece:
    “The legacy of climategate: revitalizing or undermining climate science and policy?”
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wcc.166

  26. dikranmarsupial says:

    Instead of discussing these problems with critics, climate scientists became defensive.

    [Grundmann article]

    This is bias as it doesn’t recognise the hostility of the critics, who clearly did not want dialog and were hostile to those on the side of mainstream science visiting their blogs.

    Ironic, huh?

    This was just after a discussion of the “Mike’s nature trick” and, as usual, is trying to suggest that splicing datasets is misleading. But it isn’t, of course. IIRC they were discussing cover art of a WMO report. Cover art. The sources of the data are clearly labelled, and the whole point of reconstructions is that it is splicing datasets together (and that if you have reason to think that some of the data is unreliable you leave it out of the reconstruction)!

    We need STSS to investigate the social biases in STS research. ;o)

  27. dikranmarsupial says:

    FWIW, this is apparently Prof. Jones responding to questions about “Mike’s Nature Trick” (via WUWT)

    “No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.”

    That doesn’t seem defensive to me. That sounds to me like Prof. Jones calmly explaining why the criticism is not correct and explaining the purpose of the splicing.

    Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Prof. Jones and he was always generous with his time with me and very open in discussions, and this response looks to me just like Phil directly responding to the question as he often does, even when they are loaded questions.

  28. Grundmann repeating the whole “hide the decline” conspiracy is bizarre (but not all that surprising). As Dikran says, it was for the cover of a report. It was well known that one particular tree ring series diverged from the instrumental temperatures (which more indicated a problem with that tree ring series than some suggestion that temperatures haven’t risen since the 1960s). If you’re putting an image onto the cover of a report, you probably want it to properly represent what it is you’re trying to show. Including some part of a time series that you know is wrong might be scientificially pure, but would probably end up confusing those who see the image without knowing the context. I suspect that’s the preference of those who complain about climategate and hide the decline.

  29. dikranmarsupial says:

    Another point is that the cover diagram is summarising the reconstructions from the papers and (AFAICS) the tree rings are only one component of the reconstructions. The point of summaries is to show the key ideas, so it is unreasonable to expect a detail (that has been explored openly in the literature) to feature prominently in a summary.

    Adversarial auditing is probably more susceptible to biases than the physical sciences being audited.

  30. izen says:

    ‘Superior, The Return of Race Science’ looks like it might be a useful update of Stephen J Gould’s ‘The Mismeasure of Man’.

    Reiner Grundmann gets another thing wrong with the comparison of Nazi ‘science’ with climate change science than just the order in which it raised social issues.
    Nazi race theories were explicitly intended to defend a status quo and BAU or at least an idealised version of the cohesive social order with the wealth and power held by the ancient aristocratic families and the lumpen proletariat knowing their place rather than getting all these ideas of economic reform and social mobility.

    The most common objection to climate science is that it invokes a need for a significant change in the status quo and BAU.
    The main social influence on science has always been to try and ‘prove’ that the current social, economic and political order is determined by innate biology and inherent physical laws in the material world. Part of this is because science and scientists may start off with the unquestioned assumption that the ‘way things are’ is a consequence of chemistry, physics and biology. Part of it is that the money for research often comes from those parts of society that have a vested interested in the status quo and BAU.
    And research that inadvertently reveals that the current setup of society is not an inevitable consequence of ‘Natural Law’ will tend to be opposed.

  31. izen says:

    And science that explicitly reveals that the traditional ideas, the status quo and BAU is neither optimal nor beneficial will be especially unpopular.

  32. John Mashey says:

    Grundmann wrote:
    ” I will focus on the so‐called hockey stick controversy which arose after Michael Mann and colleagues had published a graph showing an essentially flat temperature curve from AD 1000 until the late 20th century when temperatures shoot up (the ‘blade’ on the flat ‘handle’, hence the name ‘hockey stick’15, 16).This was taken up by the IPCC in its Third Assessment Report published in 2001. Prior to that a so‐called Medieval Warm Period was assumed to have existed at least in the Northern Hemisphere from ca AD 1000–1200.17 This view was still expressed in the First Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 1990. Mann’s temperature reconstruction revised this assumption, claiming ‘unrivalled warming’ in the late 20th century. ”

    a) IPCC(1990) Fig. 7.1(c), aka Lamb(1965) spliced modern temperatures with Lamb’s (wrong) guesswork about pre-1600s Central England temperatures and surrounded that Fig with caveats.
    It only got used because there was little else.

    b) By 1993, it was strongly disavowed by experts. (Houghon et al = IPCC(1990))

    Click to access hughes_was%20the%20a%20mwp_1994.pdf


    “In particular, the simplified representations of the course of global temperature variation over the last thousand years reproduced in various technical and popular publications (for example, Eddy et al., 1991; Firor, 1990; Houghton et al., 1990; Mayewski et al., 1993) should be disregarded, since they are based on inadequate data that have, in many cases, been superseded. ”
    That was the overview article for a whole early-1994 issue (i.e., 1993 research):
    https://link.springer.com/journal/10584/26/2

    c) IPCC(1995) spliced modern temperatures with Bradley&Jones(1993) reconstruction.

    d) Jones et al(1998) preceded MBH99, had a similar curve for NH and was included in IPCC(2001). MBH99 used more proxies, included confidence interval and spliced in modern temperatures.
    Had it never been written, IPCC surely would have done the same thing as in 1995, i.e., used Jones et al & spliced in modern temperatures … and denier fury would have fallen on that instead.

    Grundmann seemed *totally unaware* of the origin of IPCC(1990)’s figure, the caveats around it, progress in paleoclimate research 1990-1998. He repeats the same totally-false meme (that hockeystick suddenly overturned a consensus) pioneered by John Daly in 2000 and repeated by Steve McIntyre in 2005, although without the 1990/1995 fabrications.

    For images & annotated IPCC(1990) section, see:
    https://www.desmogblog.com/2015/01/26/medievaldeception-2015-inhofe-drags-senate-dark-ages

  33. Steven Mosher says:

    ” If you’re putting an image onto the cover of a report, you probably want it to properly represent what it is you’re trying to show. Including some part of a time series that you know is wrong might be scientificially pure, but would probably end up confusing those who see the image without knowing the context. I suspect that’s the preference of those who complain about climategate and hide the decline.”

    this is the “dont dilute the message defense” the reasoning is that you are communicating to non specialists in a document few will read, you don’t have to disclose everything to them, especially since
    A) it might confuse them and dilute your message
    B) Non specialists already know the truth published in literature that the non specialist will never read

    Ahem.

    Both Muir russel and gavin schmidt acknowledge that the chart was misleading and should have
    had a more complete description. meh.

    Fix the nits and carry on. One way you demonstrate that something is a nit is by fixing it
    and moving on.
    so just own it

    A) ya we created a potentially misleading chart for non specialists to keep it simple for them.
    B) we should have described/ noted/ explained in the caption or footnote, what we did.
    C) Sorry, here is an updated chart in case you want to republish a report than nobody will read.

    OR you could have just not hidden the decline and explained it a note, knowing that
    the report was “obscure” to use skeptical science’s argument, and not widely distributed.

    cover design might best be left to graphics artists.

  34. izen says:

    Re-litigating the ‘Hockey Stick’ might seem an odd diversion when the subject of the thread is the influence and bias that social factors have upon scientific research.
    But perhaps it illustrates the opposition that science faces when it conflicts with the desire within society to see the current status quo as an optimum. The socially preferred view can be found in the objections raised in the comments section of any tabloid newspaper when they have an article about AGW.
    “The Climate always changes” “It is just part of a cycle” “CO2 only has a small effect, it is mainly the Sun” and the classic, ” Its a hoax by leftists to tax us more and establish a NWO”

    The ‘Hockey Stick’ was the first widely disseminated scientific research that showed unequivocally that BAU was not compatible with the ‘Natural’ functioning of opur environment. For a couple of decades there had been an environmental movement claiming that the status quo in our economic consumer society was not benign, that it was damaging the biosphere we lived in. But it had been easy for those who desired the status quo to dismiss this as the rantings of radicals, people with a political agenda to force change and abandonment of the ‘Natural’ system of resource exploitation that had provided all the Goods and wealth over the last century.

    The hockey stick undermined this position. It clearly revealed that the current socio-economic system had an impact on the Natural world that was exceptional, and not benign. It was science that not only failed to support the dominate beliefs about the ‘Natural’ order of how society was structured, and what impacts it had on our environment, but demonstrated the damaging consequences of BAU.
    So it should not be surprising that then, and now, it attracts such vicious opposition when it poses an existential threat to the deeply held social belief that the exploitation of fossil fuels has been a Natural and inevitable public good.

  35. Steven,
    Sure, could have chosen to do something different. It’s not, though, a scientific paper in which you’ve explicitly failed to mention a key thing about the data that you’re actually analysing. The key issue here (as far as I’m aware) is that some portion of one tree series diverges after 1960. It’s clear that this does not represent a change in temperature. So, either there’s a problem with using tree rings to approximate temperature changes, or there’s a problem with this specific tree ring series, or something happens after 1960 with this tree ring series. Given that there’s lots of other evidence to suggest a hockey-stick-like shape for millenial temperatures, the cover art wasn’t really misleading. What was the purpose of the cover art? Was it to present millenial temperatures, or was it to present details about how millenial temperatures are reconstructed?

  36. Actually, I’ve found a comment by Gavin Schmidt:

    You have gone significantly over the line with this post. Accusations of dishonesty are way beyond a difference of opinion on how a graph should be displayed.

    If you thought that a single, smoothed graph of estimates of paleo-temperature told the whole story of paleo-climate reconstructions is far more a failing at your end than it is the authors involved. How can a single graph say everything that can possibly be said?

    Summary graphs are by their very nature, summaries. The graphs you pick out were summaries of various estimates of what paleo-temperature estimates from the literature were. It is therefore not surprising that they show only the reconstructions where the authors had confidence that the reconstructions were actually of the temperatures.

  37. Willard says:

    This exchange was fun:

    [NG] Judith, please be more specific when you say “any defenders of these global paleotemperature analyses by Mann et al.” If Mann et al. thought that their original hockey stick analysis was a sufficiently accurate temperature reconstruction, they would not have spent the following decade trying to come up with better reconstructions.

    [JUDY] John, the more recent reconstructions still suffer from the same problems: uncalibrated proxies, and statistical models that make no sense in terms of calculating hemispheric or global average temperature anomalies.

    [GAVIN] You betray complete ignorance of any of this literature. “Statistical models that make no sense in terms of calculating hemispheric or global average temperature anomalies” – got a cite for that?

    [JUDY] My detailed justification of this statement will be forthcoming at another time, in fact I will make it the subject of a thread at Climate Etc. sometime in the near future.

    [GAVIN] Of course it will.

    [JUDY] I’m delighted to hear that you are looking forward to it.

    [PETER] I have no real argument about using various proxy data to reconstruct things but I think that one has to take it on the chin and look carefully at what errors andre and what endless defense of questionable data and statistics has done to the field. It 2 a.m. in Bangkok and I am going to bed. I think your appeal to motive, statements about crossing a line are out of place and have done and continue to do immense harm. That is not a legacy I would like to have.

    NG has other comments elsewhere. Judy has an exchange with Fred and Bart. Mosh appears later, outing DC based on some sleuthing by Tony and the Auditor.

    ***

    Another interesting exchange is between Judy and Grypo. Then DC himself appears:

    [DC] The particular accusation against Mann is unequivocally false. It never happened. The version that was delivered on Oct 5 was not used in the First Order Draft, which in fact used an earlier “low frequency” version of Briffa (similar to the Briffa and Osborn in Science 1999). At Mann’s later request, Tim Osborn resent the newer data set in time for the Second Order Draft, where it first appeared. But that version of the data set only went up to 1960. So once again nothing was deleted by the IPCC.

    [JUDY] So does this mean the graphs in the TAR and AR4 and the WMO Report aren’t misleading? What a relief.

    [NG] Judith, at the end of your blog post you issued the following challenge: “If there is a problem, lets get to the bottom of it and fix it. ” I, and apparently DeepClimate, thought by this that you cared not just about whether they were misleading but how they came to be misleading. Otherwise, how do you intend to fix or prevent whatever errors were made?

    Then the Auditor makes a comment that tries to correct the record in the most obscure fashion, as is his wont when he gets caught. And of course he also tries to out DC. Which goes on to show that principled talk is cheap.

    And we’re not even past the first half of the ClimateBall comment thread.

  38. Bob Loblaw says:

    Oh, my. Steven says:

    …this is the “dont dilute the message defense” the reasoning is that you are communicating to non specialists in a document few will read, you don’t have to disclose everything to them…

    Yet just less than three weeks ago, we have Steven saying, in response to having been accused of cherry-picking:
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/cancel-culture/#comment-178864

    [The text Steven is responding to] “Instead of cherry picking one essay, here is the link to all eight essays …Introducing Free Speech Futures”

    [Steven’s response] err linking to something I call my preferred solution is now cherry picking?
    personally I always thought cherry picking was picking some evidence while suppressing
    other evidence, and specifically picking evidence that supports your case.

    1. an essay is not evidence. I dont present it as evidence, I present it as my preferred solution.
    2. of course there are other solutions, you are free to point to them, oh look you did.

    Once again, I detect that Steven is pretty selective in terms of what principles he applies to what people. It’s OK for him to be selective in his narrative, but for other people… do as I say, not as I do. Once again, there is a word for that.

    I suspect that Steven will probably try to argue that there is a difference between a blog comment and a report cover (well, Duh!), but will he try to claim that the report cover is “evidence’?

  39. Joshua says:

    Ah, a “hockey stick” discussion…

    Not that I’m immune to the tendency, but I don’t think that anything of value might come from another discussion of this. Particularly since it is largely among the same set of discussants.

    What is the force that generates these discussions?

  40. Joshua,
    The context was bias, and how that might influences one’s interpretation of scientific evidence.

  41. Funny how a graph presented as the display of scientific findings morphs so quickly into ‘cover art.’ Is that what that graph was designed to be?

  42. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > The context was bias, and how that might influences one’s interpretation of scientific evidence.

    No doubt. It’s an excellent example.

    And by extension it’s an excellent window into the interaction between “social” and science.

    True of course, for Grundmann not in the least – which as you often point out is strikingly ironic.

  43. Joshua says:

    I think I’ve mentioned here before that I interacted a bit at Jr.’s crib with Grundmann regarding his linkage between climate scientists and Nazis…my recollection is that his response was something on the order of… he wasn’t aware that “skeptics” compare climate scientists to Nazis as a tactic in tribal warfare.

  44. izen says:

    @-TF
    ” a graph presented as the display of scientific findings morphs so quickly into ‘cover art.’ Is that what that graph was designed to be?”

    The two roles are not mutually exclusive.

  45. Remember to steal this title …

    for the cover of your book …

    and use barbwire as data points on your lines.

  46. “If you take the highest temperature of a day (Tmax) and add the lowest temperature of that day (Tmin), you get a number. Divide that number by two and you get an average for the day. If you add up the numbers for a month and plot them on a chart and compare it to the previous year, you get a better idea. If you add up all the numbers for a year and compare it to previous years, you get the chart below:”

    Hmm, err, no you don’t.

  47. dikranmarsupial says:

    ‘[JUDY] My detailed justification of this statement will be forthcoming at another time, in fact I will make it the subject of a thread at Climate Etc. sometime in the near future.‘

    ISTR prof. Curry was going to write about Salby’s hypothesis, but it never happened (except as a reason not to give an opinion at the time)

  48. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM “ gavin schmidt acknowledge that the chart was misleading and should have
    had a more complete description. meh.”

    Please can I have a verifiable citation for that?

    There is a more complete description, the original sources are clearly given. Do you disagree that the diagram reasonably represents the conclusions of the three reconstructions?

  49. dikranmarsupial says:

    Joshua “ What is the force that generates these discussions?”

    A desire for people to be treated fairly and reasonably. Hanlon’s razor. Also some of us know, respect and like some of those not being treated fairly or reasonably.

  50. Steven Mosher says:

    “I suspect that Steven will probably try to argue that there is a difference between a blog comment and a report cover (well, Duh!), but will he try to claim that the report cover is “evidence’?”

    Err no.

    My good friend.

    1. I note the defense that people made at the time
    A) The report was obscure
    B) The Cover did not have to be explicit about removing the divergence, because
    The divergence was covered in the literature.
    That’s just a history of the defense people made.

    I agree with Muir Russell and Gavin Schmidt. The caption or text should have been better.
    So whether it was a blog post or cover art for a report to the WMO, I’m pretty happy
    with gavin’s Schmidt’s assessment. It could have been done better.

    Why is it so hard for people to agree with the independent assessment of Muir Russell and gavin?

    Next. yes I pointed you to a resource that had multiple choices– I said
    I prefer X, and you went there and easily found other choices. No specialist knowledge required
    None used. My suggestion for the wmo report is essentially the same. make it easy for a reader
    to see that other options are extant. I choose an option I preferred because it told my message effectively and I didn’t hide other options from you. They cited Briffa but changed the graph from what he had published

    here is the report
    https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=3460

    Short version
    1. Note the report has next to nothing to do with the cover art. it’s not even a report on paleo.
    Its a report on 1999 with a gratuitous mention of paleo work.

    2. They cite briffa 1999 but don’t actually use data as he published it

    here is Briffa’s actual paper and plot

    Click to access 6eae72b814d48adbe0e0662cb0a8c308de1e.pdf

    which is also in the PAGES publication they cite.

    So. my suggestion is they should have made it as easy as I did for you
    or they should have used briffa’s data as published. Or dropped it entirely.

    All in all it was inferior chartmanship. I think I called it that sometime back in 2009 when writing about it. bad chartmanship

    A) they picked cover art that’s almost totally unrelated to the
    detailed content of the report :what was 1999 like? is the topic. ( the graphic on page 10 would have been better as a cover, cleaned up a bit of course.)

    B) by changing the data without noting it.

    A typical thing you do when you remake a chart is say “After briffa 1999”

    Here is what they wrote:

    “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. The data are shown as 50-year smoothed differences from the 1961–1990 normal.
    Uncertainties are greater in the early part of the millennium (see page 4 for further information). For more
    details, readers are referred to the PAGES newsletter (Vol. 7, No. 1: March 1999, also available at
    http://www.pages.unibe.ch) and the National Geophysical Data Center (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov).
    (Sources of data: P.D. Jones, K.R. Briffa and T.J. Osborn, University of East Anglia, UK; M.E. Mann,
    University of Virginia, USA; R.S. Bradley, University of Massachusetts, USA; M.K. Hughes, University of
    Arizona, USA; and the Hadley Centre, The Met. Office).”

    So, here are my three suggested options

    1. After “The data are shown as 50-year smoothed differences from the 1961–1990 normal. ”
    add “Data from Briffa 1999 is processed to remove post 1960 divergence”

    2. Show the line as briffa published it.

    3. Pick a better cover to convey the message about the state of the climate in 1999, the actual
    subject of the report.

    I am happy with all 3. The science doesnt change at all. I suppose reasonable people could disagree. Me? I agree with gavin ” a better caption would be good” But if you want to attack both me and them for leaving details out I am also happy!!. or suggest your own remedies that would also be cool

  51. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I think I’ve mentioned here before that I interacted a bit at Jr.’s crib with Grundmann regarding his linkage between climate scientists and Nazis…my recollection is that his response was something on the order of… he wasn’t aware that “skeptics” compare climate scientists to Nazis as a tactic in tribal warfare.”

    Is comparing some group with Nazis in a discussion ever anything other than a tactic in tribal warfare?

    There were other linkages that could have been made that were more apposite and less offensive (e.g. I suspect those working on the Manhattan project would feel that they were essential in solving a pressing social problem, likewise those working on COVID vaccine now, or economists when there is a depression). So why choose Nazis?

  52. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Why is it so hard for people to agree with the independent assessment of Muir Russell and gavin?”

    You would view Gavin Schmidt as being independent?

  53. dikranmarsupial says:

    “suggest your own remedies that would also be cool”

    Apply Hanlon’s razor/the Golden rule/a bit of common sense?

  54. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM: “I agree with Muir Russell and Gavin Schmidt. The caption or text should have been better.”

  55. Dave_Geologist says:

    bad chartmanship

    Climategate: The Crutape Letters

    The Climategate scandal covered from beginning to end–from ‘Hide the Decline’ to the current day. Written by two authors who were on the scene–Steven Mosher and Tom Fuller–Climategate takes you behind that scene and shows what happened and why. For those who have heard that the emails were taken out of context–we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided. For those who have heard that this is a tempest in a teacup–we show why it will swamp the conventional wisdom on climate change. And for those who have heard that this scandal is just ‘boys being boys’–well, boy. It’s as seamy as what happened on Wall Street.

    Bad titlemanship? Bad blurbmanship?

    And please, please, please don’t insult us and demean yourself by claiming that it’s a true and honest representation of reality.

  56. dikranmarsupial says:

    Then: “we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided.”

    Now: “I agree with Muir Russell and Gavin Schmidt. The caption or text should have been better.”

    Social bias in action (along with the self-correcting nature of science)?

  57. izen says:

    @-DC
    “Bad titlemanship? Bad blurbmanship?”

    On the contrary, it is very effective in communicating that this book is something that can justify the rejection of the inconvenient truth that the use of fossil fuels is toxic and damaging instead of just a benign benefit to to our way of life. It promises a defence of the ‘BAU is okay’ beliefs and a refutation of the claims that AGW poses a serious risk that requires political and economic changes that are an existential threat to the status quo.

  58. Consistent multidecadal variability in global temperature reconstructions and simulations over the Common Era
    Published: 24 July 2019 PAGES 2k Consortium
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0400-0

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo-search/study/26872
    No evidence for globally coherent warm and cold periods over the preindustrial Common Era
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1401-2
    Last phase of the Little Ice Age forced by volcanic eruptions
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0402-y
    A global database of Holocene paleotemperature records
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41597-020-0445-3

  59. Bob Loblaw says:

    Fascinating. Steven responds to a comment of mine (regarding the difference between what he expects of others and how he acts himself) with a long diatribe about his opinion of the work of others.

    Lets’ get a couple of things straight:

    1) I am not your friend, let along a “good” one. I know little of you other than by your comments here and how you interact with others that respond to you on this blog.
    2) I have been trained in media relations, so I recognize a good deflection when I see one. It seems you have such a bad case of dislike against certain aspects of climate science that you just can’t resist the temptation to take any opportunity to to renew your attacks on part of that climate science, regardless of how tangential your talking points are.

    You close with the challenge: “But if you want to attack both me and them for leaving details out I am also happy!!.”

    I am not attacking you for leaving things out, and I have not commented on the behavior of others. You have created a strawman. Let me reiterate what I am attacking you about:

    1) You attack others using some principle that you hold regarding how you think others should behave (especially, leaving things out, it seems).
    2) You do not apply that same principle to yourself. You feel justified in doing things that you abhor in others.

  60. SM: “Both Muir russel and gavin schmidt acknowledge that the chart was misleading and should have had a more complete description. meh.

    Then they were much to generous. I guess as the general complaint is that we need better quality climate “skeptics”, they were a bit to happy to concede something, not to sound contrarian all the time in the face of such a flood of nonsense.

    The second quote/reply by Gavin, which ATTP reproduced, makes much more sense. Did I miss MS given a source for his quoted claim?

  61. Bob Loblaw says:

    Now, to try to return to the topic at hand – bias, science as a social activity, etc.

    My background is Geography. Physical Geography – climatology in particular. But a scholastic and academic background in Geography also exposed me to a lot of “Human” Geography – i.e., the social sciences. It also exposed me to a least a little “philosophy of science” – which I think a lot of people trained solely in the “hard” sciences lack.

    I’ve seen a lot of “social science” that deserves the name science – evidence-based, experimental design (even though much of it can’t be done as controlled experiments), analytical, testable hypotheses, etc.

    I’ve seen a lot of “social science” that is pretty much just-so stories and fairly clueless about scientific methodology. I was aware of the the fashion of “constructivism”, which at its worst seems to feel that there is no such thing as “objective reality”. Although I agree that we can never possibly have a complete picture of “objective reality”, I have the hubris to accept that there is a “real world” out there that is going to behave the way it does, whether I believe it behaves that way or not.

    I also have enough experience to know that the pursuit of scientific knowledge is not the same thing as the pursuit of an academic (or any other) career. Academia has its own expectations of behaviour, and the reward system has a lot more to it that the pure pursuit of knowledge. And science done in academia vs. government institutes, vs. private industry, etc. all have different drivers.

    “Pure” or “basic” science is largely the result of people being curious about the world, but it still depends on funding. It doesn’t need an immediate application, though – as long as someone feels that the curiosity is worth pursuing (and will pay for it), it can go ahead. Maybe some day an application will arise but it doesn’t need to (and it often won’t).

    “Applied” science shifts towards “show me something now”, and becomes much more dependent on sources of funding with short-term goals. Quoting from The Right Stuff: “You know what makes this bird [rocket] go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up.” Lots of money makes it much easier to get things done, and the U.S. space program got lots of money because certain people wanted certain things in a hurry. Applied science still needs to come up with something that works, though.

    Both “basic” and “applied” science can be performed with respect to social systems.

    And then you get the people that just want some sciencey-stuff to support other causes. The cause is the issue, not any genuine understanding of the physical or social world. This is a lot easier the more “social” the discipline is, and the less physically-based. That doesn’t stop people with particular motivations from arguing that science has evolution/vaccination/the age of the universe/climate science/the ozone hole all wrong. And people can have quite successful academic careers without doing much science.

    …but the idea that “climate science … see[s] their services as essential for solving pressing social problems. ” is pretty telling in terms of bias. I can’t imagine that work done in the 1800s was designed to solve some pressing social problem from the late 20th century.

    Enough for now.

  62. ATTP: “I should also be clear that I’m not suggesting that physical scientists are somehow less biased than other scientists; they clearly are not.

    Even if the scientists are not, the fields can show differences. In physics as an experimental science it is easier to get robust results than in astronomy (or climatology) as an observational science. Studying matter is easier than life, than animals, than humans, than society. My impression is that the scientists working in these more difficult fields would be happy to acknowledge this and not claim their field is the most rigorous of all fields.

    Studies of climate change can be on this entire range from matter to society.

    I have seen people argue on Twitter that “science is science” to defend stuff that is hard to study. That is not a good defence, there are differences.

  63. Reiner Grundmann: “There is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science in that both see their services as essential for solving pressing social problems.

    It is probably a complete coincidence that climate “skeptics” often claim climatologists are Nazis.

    Karl Rove strategy #3: Accuse your opponent of your own weakness

  64. Willard says:

    > I have the hubris to accept that there is a “real world” out there that is going to behave the way it does, whether I believe it behaves that way or not.

    Even Bruno shares that hubris:

  65. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    > Is comparing some group with Nazis in a discussion ever anything other than a tactic in tribal warfare?

    No. Obviously not. Grundmann’s claims, that he was simply seeking an analogy to characterize a key feature of climate science, doesn’t hold up

  66. izen says:

    @-W
    “Even Bruno shares that hubris:”

    But apparently lacks the insight that a simple extrapolation of the concept that science discovers socially constrained ‘Truth’ is the conclusion that ‘society’ performs the epistemological role of Descartes’ evil demon.

  67. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Latour had never seen himself…”

    Is this STSS in operation? Given STS seems keen on assigning implied/hidden motivations on the part of scientists (e.g. Einsteins “obsessions”), I don’t think I would take Latour’s view of himself at face value. I would have thought, for consistency, it would require analysis of what he said/wrote about that particular question (which is beyond me)?

    [visits Google translate to see if there is a good Latin translation of “who will sudy the studiers”…]

    quis studere ipsos alumni? ;o)

  68. Willard says:

    > I would have thought, for consistency, it would require analysis of what he said/wrote about that particular question (which is beyond me)?

    That presumes you analyzed what people said about Bruno, Dikran.

    Show me your homework, and I’ll show you mine.

  69. dikranmarsupial says:

    No, as I said, I don’t have the expertise to do the analysis, so I asked a question (“Is this STSS in operation?”) and explained my interest. I am willing to listen and change my opinions.

  70. Willard says:

    > I am willing to listen and change my opinions.

    You spoke of consistency. Consistency implies you should not have that opinion in the first place, unless you can justify why you would not take Bruno at face value.

    Why would you trust people who did an analysis you can’t judge instead of Bruno himself?

    Which analysis?

  71. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Consistency implies you should not have that opinion in the first place,”

    no it doesn’t. All I suggested was that if we are to be consistent, we shouldn’t take STS researchers self-judgements at face value as they evidently don’t take their subjects at face value. STS is a more difficult subject than science, and likely to be at least as subject to societal biases.

    “unless you can justify why you would not take Bruno at face value.”

    Does Bruno take Einstein at face value? No.

    “Why would you trust people who did an analysis you can’t judge instead of Bruno himself?”

    I didn’t say trust, I said I’d listen.

  72. Willard says:

    > no it doesn’t.

    Yes it does.

    ***

    > All I suggested was that if we are to be consistent, we shouldn’t take STS researchers self-judgements at face value as they evidently don’t take their subjects at face value.

    Yes, and that’s wrong.

    ***

    > Does Bruno take Einstein at face value? No.

    Actually he does.

    ***

    > I didn’t say trust, I said I’d listen.

    Your last comments show otherwise.

  73. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Yes it does.”

    Well that went to Monty Python sketch pretty quickly. Sorry, have better things to do than pointless argument, never mind mere contradiction.

  74. Willard says:

    > Sorry, have better things to do than pointless argument, never mind mere contradiction.

    Here’s a refutation of that claim:

    Given STS seems keen on assigning implied/hidden motivations on the part of scientists (e.g. Einsteins “obsessions”), I don’t think I would take Latour’s view of himself at face value.

    Using bogus reasons to ask people to work for you instead of asking directly ticks me off, Dikran.

  75. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” “[Einsteins] obsession with transporting information through transformation without deformation; his passion for the precise superimposition of readings; his panic at the idea that observers sent away might betray, might retain privileges, and send reports that could not be used to expand our knowledge; his desire to discipline the delegated observers and to turn them into dependent pieces of apparatus that do nothing but watch the coincidence of hands and notches…” ”

    is not taking Einstein at face value. At face value it is a thought experiment, nothing more.

    “Some of the critique was indeed ridiculous, and I was associated with that postmodern relativist stuff, I was put into that crowd by others. I certainly was not antiscience, although I must admit it felt good to put scientists down a little. There was some juvenile enthusiasm in my style. ”

    As I said, there is no reason to think that STS is any less subject to biases than science. This is only a problem if you expect it to be.

  76. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Given STS seems keen on assigning implied/hidden motivations on the part of scientists (e.g. Einsteins “obsessions”), I don’t think I would take Latour’s view of himself at face value. That would be inconsistent

    implication made explicit

  77. Willard says:

    > Given STS seems keen on assigning implied/hidden motivations on the part of scientists (e.g. Einsteins “obsessions”), I don’t think I would take Latour’s view of himself at face value. That would be inconsistent.

    Emphasis on the utterer, who’s not an STS guy. The utterer’s own sealioning is justified by a “by your logic” move that has no real referent in the current exchange as there is no STS guy around. At best it’s a performative “if there was an STS guy here, I’d ask him for receipts,” which does not cohere with the “I have better things to do.”

    Also note how Bruno’s mere mention of the word “obsessions” has been inflated to STS in general.

    ***

    You really should ask me directly, Dikran. Try it.

  78. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard, what I wrote in no way implies or requires that I am an “STS guy”. Someone from outside STS (or science) could reasonably want to see consistency in the way that science and STS were treated. I am happy to accept that both science and STS are subject to societal biases. Thus we should not take the statements of STS people at face value either (especially if they come close to admitting to those biases as Latour did in the quote I gave).

    You really should ask me directly, Dikran. Try it.

    I did (this is the second time I have pointed that out): “Is this STSS in operation?”

  79. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Also note how Bruno’s mere mention of the word “obsessions” has been inflated to STS in general.”

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Also note how Bruno’s mere mention of the word “obsessions” has been inflated to STS in general”

    No it hasn’t. I made the point that STS is likely subject to the same sort of social biases in my second post on the tread. Bruno perhaps provides an example of that, nothing more.

  81. oarobin says:

    ATTP,
    i have been waiting for you to return to this topic to get your thoughts on a blog post by Simon Whitten addressing this very topic
    Has Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man really been discredited?.

    in this very long post he argues for a number of example of how bias can actually influence science results

    1. Event Horizon Telescope team and their de-biasing procedures to produce the first ever image of a black hole.

    2. under the bandwagon effect section – the history of measurements of the electron charge shows a slow, decades long drift towards our
    current best value where each preceding value was with the margin of error of previous measurement even though the initial measurement was quite off.
    he cites other examples including the Hubble constant, speed of light and the muon g-2 experiments

    i would love your opinions on these examples and a view as to whether or not technological limitation played any substantial role in the obtaining the values

    The rest of the issue is interesting as it deals with the same topics of the OP.

  82. oarobin,
    I’m not that familiar with the details of those examples. The EHT example seems to be a good example of how one tries to eliminate bias. I do think that there is a tendency to be biased towards an existing result. We might tend to think that the “true” result is somewhere within the uncertainties of previous, less-precise estimates. Despite this, we do seem to eventually work out if there is some problem with these early estimates. We should do our best to avoid this (i.e., find ways to eliminate these biases) and it does seem that there is more of an awareness about this now and that many researchers are trying to think of ways to overcome this.

  83. dikranmarsupial says:

    @oarobin

    I started reading that article, but it didn’t take long to find cause for caution. The first link to some actual evidence leads to a paper in a journal from a publisher that was on Beale’s list MDPI and has only three actual citations, two of which are self-citations. I don’t think that is a solid basis to be writing Quilette articles. I don’t think it is unduly surprising for scientists to be susceptible to bias on such emotive topics, but it has to be argued on the basis of evidence, not suggestions of bias (and publishing it in an MDPI journal is not a good way of subjecting your work to close scrutiny). I’ve been meaning to read “The mismeasure of man” for a while, having read the controversial sections of “The Bell Curve” (including the all-important footnotes).

    I’d be very interested in a discussion of the black hole image though, as far as I understand it, there is quite a lot of “prior” that has gone into analysis of the data.

  84. Dikran,
    The Medium article was critical of the MDPI paper.

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    Yes, I’m reading the rest at the moment, got diverted onto the Quilette article. I think the checking your sources applies more there!

    I agree with Gould – I was biased against the “The Bell Curve” as well, fortunately the statistical analysis it used was clearly so unfit for purpose that I don’t think that mattered too much.

  86. Willard says:

    > what I wrote in no way implies or requires that I am an “STS guy”.

    What you wrote posits an imaginary STS guy who could give you receipts right now. That’s the opposite of constructiveness. Where’s the witness?

    ***

    > Someone from outside STS (or science) could reasonably want to see consistency in the way that science and STS were treated.

    That has nothing to do with “obsessions” or with consistency within one field, and everything to do with consistency in general.

    Anyone could reasonably want to see that those who claim to want to see try to look by themselves or ask directly and stop appealing to hypothetical STS guys who could appear here to produce receipts.

    ***

    > I did (this is the second time I have pointed that out): “Is this STSS in operation?”

    C’mon.

    You want receipts? Ask. I have them. They’re not far from the last tweet I posted.

  87. dikranmarsupial says:

    “What you wrote posits an imaginary STS guy who could give you receipts right now. ”

    no it doesn’t, that is just a blatant straw man.

  88. I suspect there isn’t much value in continuing this STS discussion.

  89. dikranmarsupial says:

    Indeed, I was right to try to disengage the first time. Time for a vacation.

  90. mdpi? Some of their articles are in the Scientific Reports class …

    How Much Human-Caused Global Warming Should We Expect with Business-As-Usual (BAU) Climate Policies? A Semi-Empirical Assessment
    https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/13/6/1365

    Was the last one I tripped over, just yesterday. Usual suspects, one dead, father-to-son and soon.

    “If the climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases implies a Transient Climate Response (TCR) of ≥ 2.5 °C or an Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) of ≥ 5.0 °C then the 2015 Paris Agreement’s target of keeping human-caused global warming below 2.0 °C will have been broken by the middle of the century under BAU. However, for a TCR < 1.5 °C or ECS < 2.0 °C, the target would not be broken under BAU until the 22nd century or later. Therefore, the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “likely” range estimates for TCR of 1.0 to 2.5 °C and ECS of 1.5 to 4.5 °C have not yet established if human-caused global warming is a 21st century problem."

    Which I consider a form of non sequitur. Goldilocks's Syndrome.

  91. Dave_Geologist says:

    Yes izen, it did occur to me that a defence might be that the title and blurb were indeed an accurate reflection of the content, and that it was the content that failed to meet a true-and-honest-representation test.

  92. Dave the Geologist, you write, “And please, please, please don’t insult us and demean yourself by claiming that it’s a true and honest representation of reality.”

    I don’t mean to insult you. I don’t mean to demean myself (or my co-author). But ten years on I still think we provided in that book a true and honest representation of reality.

  93. izen says:

    @-TF
    “But ten years on I still think we provided in that book a true and honest representation of reality.”

    I will assume that it was your co-author (with his Eng Lit background), who chose a as a title, a strained pun on a book that is about how devils can mislead and deceive people.
    To indicate that it was a true and honest representation of reality.
    (/sarc)

  94. izen, we both agreed on the title. Steven actually was leaning towards Noble Cause Corruption as a title, while I was actually musing on something more related to Mr. Lewis’ college friend. However even with a mere high school diploma backing my name, it was clear that the Middle Earth that comprises the blog domain did not need references to orcs, elves and… well… trolls.

  95. Joshua says:

    oarobin, –

    Thanks for that link. I look forward to reading it when I get the chance.

  96. Wow, they did things really fast back last century, circa 1999. Who knew they had paleo- dendro- data through to the year 2000. And then put that dendro- paleo- data, all by itself, mind you, on the cover of a WMO newsletter. Now that is some turnaround, the paper it was published on was the paleo- dendro- samples themselves, freshly sampled, pulped and pressed.

    Take that, fellow citizen scientists and interwebs Homer Simpson sleuths! The irony has killed me again. /:

  97. Jon Kirwan says:

    ATTP: “I do think that there is a tendency to be biased towards an existing result. We might tend to think that the “true” result is somewhere within the uncertainties of previous, less-precise estimates. Despite this, we do seem to eventually work out if there is some problem with these early estimates.”

    The tendency shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. It’s not rational to expect a researcher to have no opinions at all. Years ago, a young researcher who was a member of a weekly “get-together” on science topics, had started a new research project on an idea that fell out of an observation that there were markings on some spiders that we could see when examining them under ultraviolet light. They proposed the idea that spiders might be able to see these markings and respond to them in some way related to selecting mates. After three years of research, and that many years of her life spent on this work, she’d mentioned that her work was over and they had a result. I asked about it and she said it was “negative.” Turns out, they couldn’t demonstrate any effect with the species of spiders they researched. I was duly apologetic and asked her where her work was published (I was hoping she’d get some recognition by having it published in a better-read periodical.) She told me and it wasn’t as I’d hoped. It was in a “sixth tier” publication that pretty much no one would read. 🙂 That was three years of hard work out of her life. But that’s how science often works. We hear of the positive results and the lucky scientists who get to publish it. But for every one of those, there are probably hundreds more of the negative result variety. Fundamental science research is like that.

    There are several take-aways in the above. But the one that goes to your point is that she did have a preconceived notion (or perhaps a “hope?”) that they would find something. And I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with that. It motivates and pushes for still better work product, in my opinion. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. (I suppose, in some, it could be and might lead to “fudging data” to get a positive result. But luckily there are systems in place to help catch and then punish such behavior — imperfect, but “good enough” and very good given enough time to allow things to settle.)

    Your example of “expecting” a refined result that is within the “estimated error bounds” of earlier work is also reasonable. But as we have been lately finding with the Hubble Constant, researchers are still perfectly capable of coming up with new, novel and interesting results which do not necessarily conform that way. Science continues along, anyway.

    So there’s nothing at all wrong anywhere here. People have reasoned expectations. But these do not get in the way of good work. And in the hands of good people who can and do excellent work every day, a little motivation isn’t a problem but is instead a goad for hard, serious work-efforts navigating a host of constraints to reach towards the better work product possible under their limited circumstances.

  98. Jon,

    Your example of “expecting” a refined result that is within the “estimated error bounds” of earlier work is also reasonable. But as we have been lately finding with the Hubble Constant, researchers are still perfectly capable of coming up with new, novel and interesting results which do not necessarily conform that way. Science continues along, anyway.

    Yes, this is a good point. Some of my colleagues are quite involved in some of the research that is producing results that are slightly inconsistent with other recent results.

  99. Jon Kirwan says:

    I guess it just bothers me when someone comes in with a sledgehammer to break up and reduces the excellent built-up successes from the accumulated knowledge built from modern science activities and work product (experimental result) into nothing more than the mud of total ignorance.

    We’ve only just learned, these last few centuries, more of the details about how to move beyond mere charismatic argumentation and philosophizing from rocking chairs, so to speak, to win arguments in the minds of others. We now know that there is a kind of evolutionary process that is required — one that includes mutation (our imagination’s ability to modify and/or to create new concepts out of whole cloth), harsh selection (the process of death to those ideas that fail to succeed in the scientific environment), and “copy exact” (books, training, etc. which place very similar ideas into different people living in different places, times, and cultures.) That’s the big picture.

    The actual processes underneath that, the “scientific environment” I just mentioned, for example, is a collection of accepted practices and requirements. These include things such as taking some care in logical consistency, quantitative prediction, the requirement to test ideas via experimental result, a requirement that ideas possess “falsifiability,” the recognition that science “truth” is always tentative to what the future may yet bring and the willingness to change when new evidence requires that change, the push for replicability (which includes concepts such as quantitative estimation), the desire for comprehensiveness of view, sufficiency, honesty, a requirement of dealing with the objections of others similarly informed, allowing enough time for a sufficient for consensus to develop, openness about methods, scope, and data, and more. None of these things are guarantees of anything. But they do help with coping with real humans doing real work. And they form a part of that harsh selection process that is required to help demolish ideas that cannot be well-supported (given sufficient time anyway.)

    The sum of this is far, far more than just its parts would otherwise imply. It allows us to apply our imaginations and yet skim closely to the surface of a deeper reality. And modern science has made very rapid progress in a very short period of recent human history as a result.

    Yet there are those who would pull down science into the same ignorant mire they themselves live within, so that their own ignorant views might be seen as no worse. To do that, they must say things like “scientists are biased” (which if you accept that scientists aren’t inhuman machines no one can argue with, but is a strawman just the same) or that “scientists disprove themselves, so what scientists say today is no better now than then” (which is just another way of suggesting that there is nothing to be known at all and that all opinions are equal so why should we bother listening to science, at all.)

    And some argue that we all have a right to our opinions.

    Well, I made up a saying for that: “An equal right to an opinion isn’t a right to an equal opinion.”

    Anyway, it’s a pathetic strawman. To suggest that science knowledge is no better than common knowledge. To debase the highly unified nature of what’s been so rapidly accumulated within science in recent centuries (and its abundant applied successes), with everything so tightly linked and supporting while also supported by other science knowledge. To then suggest that we can’t really know anything at all because scientists doing science are human beings and they have opinions, thoughts, or worldviews like everyone else is to fail to understand the distinctions. (Which, being otherwise ignorant, is easily argued.)

    We all have internal states of mind about the world around us that aren’t solely the product of abundant affirming externally sharable evidence (and the lack of disconfirming evidence.) We all need such worldviews just to get by in life. But this individual nature should not be conflated with the unified body of science theories and experimental results into a mush that has no discernment left to it.

    There is a distinction to be made. And it’s a crime of sorts when we allow others to imply that scientists being human and having opinions is proof that unified science consensus is no better than ignorance. Science takes time. That’s its problem. But it is also its strength.

    Science isn’t about Truth with a capital-T. Absolute knowledge that is true forever and immune to future evidence. Instead it’s about truth of the small-t variety. That which is merely tentative, ever aware that the future may bring better ideas to the table to better explain past results and make better future predictions or else that may be demolished by what new evidence arrives in the future. Many appear to expect science brings Absolute Truth and with that expection dashed by reality, are skeptical of science. But that’s their failing in understanding what science is about. Not a failing of science.

    Sorry about my annoyances today. Yeah, I’m human, too.

  100. Steven Mosher says:

    “I will assume that it was your co-author (with his Eng Lit background), who chose a as a title, a strained pun on a book that is about how devils can mislead and deceive people.”

    Ah err no.

    So lets see.
    After reading all the mails and related blog posts what I started out to write was a dry history
    This happened
    This happened
    That happened

    But it needed some narrative structure at least for me to write. hmm think Tom Wolfe and
    new journalism..
    So, I tried to write it as a Mystery.. Who is the hacker?

    At that point i realized that it didn’t matter who the hacker was and this obsession was just a diversion.. hack/leak? as if that changed any mail.

    At that point I realized. hey, mails dont change science and cant change science.
    So, what became an organizing principle for me was the Briffa jones story and the closest
    narrative I could find was screwtape. ( you can review the plot of that I wont here)
    Anyway, I tried that angle on mcintrye and he disagreed with my analogy. In my view briffa was a good guy. Any way, steve thought I was wrong and said “its more like noble cause corruption”
    so I looked at that line of organization.

    In the end I could not make anything work to my satisfaction, dry history didn’t work, mystery didn’t work, and the screwtape structure was too clever by half and poorly executed.
    meh.

    So I gave up and dumped what I had to Tom who went through and did his best to edit my bad text, add missing connective tissue, write introductions for each chapter and a conclusion.
    I could not bring myself to write any more it was like 30 days from start to finish: binge on reading every mail, purge on getting it out.

    There are some mistakes, gavin caught 1, arthur smith caught another. Lots of copy editing errors.

    I would probably do it differently, but that is true of everything

  101. Steven Mosher says:

    “2) I have been trained in media relations, so I recognize a good deflection when I see one. It seems you have such a bad case of dislike against certain aspects of climate science that you just can’t resist the temptation to take any opportunity to to renew your attacks on part of that climate science, regardless of how tangential your talking points are.”

    i dont know how I can be more clear.

    1. The mails the wmo cover, NOTHING in Climategate changes the science.
    NOTHING. I said as much in the book. mails do not and cannot change science.
    2. The WMO incident is a case of bad chartmanship. period.

    Now you get to disagree. you get to disagree with me, you get to disagree with the Muir russel inquiry, you get to disagree with gavin schmidt.

    what you dont get to do is characterize it as an attack on climate science.

    well you can try.

  102. Steven Mosher says:

    some how I stumbled on this guy.

    I have watched a lot of his stuff.

    if you click your head the right way you can see how his argument could be framed as an example
    of how certain social pressures and decisions have shaped the path of physics

    Willard will enjoy the parallels with some contrarian tropes.

    of course Sir popper makes an appearance, as does consensus

    very interesting History of how truth was constructed.

    he has a lot of odd stuff on particle physics and an interesting view on physical constants

    my interest is just in the style of argument not so much the substance which is beyond me

  103. Steven Mosher: “you get to disagree with gavin schmidt.

    The thread is getting long, but I did not see any source for your claim that Gavin supports you. ATTP provided a direct quote that suggests otherwise.

  104. Steven Mosher says:

    Victor

    gavin and mike mann

    “One example of this was the cover art on a WMO 1999 report which, until last November, was completely obscure (we are not aware of any mention of this report or this figure before November in any blogospheric discussion, ever). Nonetheless, in the way of these things, this figure is now described as ‘an icon’ in the Muir Russell report (one of their very few mistakes, how can something be an icon if no-one has ever seen it?). In retrospect (and as we stated last year) we agree with the Muir Russell report that the caption and description of the figure could indeed have been clearer, particularly with regard to the way proxy and instrumental data sources were spliced into a single curve, without indicating which was which. The WMO cover figure appears (at least to our knowledge) to be the only instance where that was done. Moving forward, nonetheless, it is advisable that scientists be as clear as possible about what sorts of procedures have gone into the preparation of a figure. But retrospective applications of evolving standards are neither fair nor useful.”

    referring to

    “[Response: Ok, last word on this before I turn in. This 10 year old graph is irrelevant to any current readings of the science. The caption describing what was done is unclear and should have been more complete. I have no personal knowledge of how smoothing was done in any of a hundred different variations of this particular theme. The rule should be that what ever is done, and for what ever reason, the description should match. The latest version of this kind of figure in IPCC AR4 is very clear about what is done, and it does not merge the two kinds of data. However, if you have two kinds of data showing similar things I am not surprised that people want to plot them together and I don’t see why that is – in principle – problematic. I’d be much more interested if this actually mattered. – gavin]

    So 3 options

    A better caption : Mike Mann, gavin Schimdt, Muir russel steven mosher
    B. Show the divergence: Steve Mcintyre, Steve mosher
    C. Pick a better a Graphic: Mosher

    So I am ok with all three options.

    This is pretty simple: Got a bad piece of cover art. i’d be much more interested if this actually
    mattered, but as it stands what is More interesting ( thin green line) is the unwillingness of
    some to say

    1. The graphic doesn’t matter, the report doesnt matter
    and CONSEQUENTLY
    2. Any of the 3 options above should be acceptable to reasonable folks.

    that is , since it doesnt change the science and could never change the science and since it
    doesn’t really matter in any material way, one should fix the nit and move on. Like gavin said.
    Like Mike said. Like I said.

    Folks dont like the cover art of Our book. Cool. When we did it we kinda figured the
    book would piss off both sides.
    the cover would piss off one side and the last chapter would piss off the other side.
    we quite literally discussed this, basically how to throw some red meat to the skeptics and
    keep them reading until the last chapter.

    meh.

  105. an_older_code says:

    I have just finished reading “What is Real” by Adam Becker

    It charts the history of Quantum Mechanics, specifically the travails of the Copenhagen “sceptics / heretics”

    I must admit I had some clue as to the issues around the measurement problem and the fact that this was not addressed (and actively discouraged) in academia in any meaningful way until quite recently

    But I had no idea just how vitriolic it was and how the Copenhagen Interpretation became wedded to certain strains of philosophy and an almost religious devotion to Niels Bohr

    I thought the book is very good btw

  106. dikranmarsupial says:

    “But retrospective applications of evolving standards are neither fair nor useful.” is a rather important bit of context there.

    Things could always be done better when viewed through the retrospectoscope.

    It is still a mountain being made of a molehill. I rather doubt Briffa would have disagreed that the line plotted was a reasonable summary of what the paper as a whole would conclude about global temperatures.

    “the caption could have been better” is a bit of a damp squib, given the hyperbole of the book and the blog-bluster.

    “Folks dont like the cover art of Our book. Cool. When we did it we kinda figured the
    book would piss off both sides.”

    It’s more than that I don’t like it, it is that it is misleading, much more misleading than the cover of the WMO report, for the reasons we have discussed here. “Mike’s nature trick” – the very first quote on the cover – has no implications of dishonesty or malpractice whatsoever, and yet it is given maximal prominance.

    “we quite literally discussed this, basically how to throw some red meat to the skeptics and
    keep them reading until the last chapter.”

    you deliberately played to their social biases? … how very scientific.

  107. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Folks dont like the cover art of Our book. Cool. When we did it we kinda figured the
    book would piss off both sides.”

    It is ironic that people that make criticisms are often themselves resistant to criticism. Even more ironic when it is for the very same thing (misleading* cover art)

    * as I said, I don’t think the WMO cover art is really misleading, what it shows is pretty much what the Briffa paper concludes about global temperatures. There is more to a paper than the data. “the caption could be better” implicitly concedes that what is shown is reasonable.

  108. dikranmarsupial says:

    I should have stayed on vacation…

  109. The question to Mosher is how long did it take to write that book? From the timeline, it appears to have been written in less than a month. As I recall, the emails were hacked late November and the book was out by January?

  110. Paul Pukite, yes. We gave ourselves a 30-day deadline. The topic was newsworthy and both skeptics and alarmists were spreading copious amounts of misinformation about the subject almost from the day the emails were discovered.

    The book suffers in some aspects because of it. As Steve notes above, three factual errors crept in. The proofing and editing was rushed. I’m not entirely certain that either of us used spell check on the final version.

    I like the cover as art. That’s kinda the difference between it and the Hockey Stick graph. Art, you know–as opposed to science.

  111. Bob Loblaw says:

    “what you dont get to do is characterize it as an attack on climate science.”

    Once again, you try to deflect away from my main point, which is:

    1) You attack others using some principle that you hold regarding how you think others should behave (especially, leaving things out, it seems).
    2) You do not apply that same principle to yourself. You feel justified in doing things that you abhor in others.

    You can keep shouting “Look squirrel!”, but I”ll keep coming back to point.

  112. Mr. Loblaw, I think your criticism suffers from not having read the book. Had you done so you would have seen Steven’s very generous attempts to credit those we criticized and our attempts to place their mistaken actions in a context that led readers to see them as humans rather than evile bad guys in lab coats.

  113. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom, you can demean yourself unwittingly. And insult others unwittingly.

    Particularly if you’re so blind you will not see. The “corruption” working title is a stonking example of that!

    Amusing link to Lewis (or at least to that vein of writing and the religious background). Jonathan Swift apparently, although probably paraphrasing the Bible.

  114. dikranmarsupial says:

    Thomaswfuller The “Mike’s Nature Trick” is a nothingburger as this discussion demonstrates. In retrospect, people could say the caption could be better. Does that really justify the prominent place on the front cover and the cover blurb that says “For those who have heard that the emails were taken out of context–we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided.” In this case, the context shows that there there is nothing untoward in that quote.

    The cover of your book is deeply misleading, and neither you nor Steven appear to be able to accept that your cover is misleading. How ironic.

  115. dikran, I suppose there’s no reason for you to be aware of this, but Steven and I were among the first and most ardent explainers of the innocent nature of Mike’s Nature Trick. Breitbart News basically cut off a TV interview with me after I told them it was a nothing burger and that the emails did nothing to undercut the published science. For some reason they were not interested in things like ethics and best practice, good governance of institutions, etc.

    They literally said thanks, good-bye. I guess I wasn’t telegenic enough.

  116. Bob Loblaw says:

    Thomas Fuller:: “Mr. Loblaw, I think your criticism suffers from not having read the book.

    My criticism is not of the book. My criticism is not of the questions of how much it is appropriate to summarize or “leave things out” when presenting information to an audience.

    My criticism is of Mr. Mosher’s behavior here. Repeatedly, I have seem him criticize the behavior or actions of others, while justifying his own performance of the same behaviors or actions. The extent to which he or you bring in information from the book notwithstanding, it is the behavior presented here that I criticize.

  117. dikranmarsupial says:

    Thomas, you are evading the point. If you *knew* it was a nothingburger at the time, why is it the first quote prominently placed on the cover under the title, with the promise that “For those who have heard that the emails were taken out of context–we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided.”

    That is dishonest IMHO.

  118. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM: ““we quite literally discussed this, basically how to throw some red meat to the skeptics and
    keep them reading until the last chapter.”

    TWF: “Breitbart News basically cut off a TV interview with me after I told them it was a nothing burger and that the emails did nothing to undercut the published science”

    mystery, complete mystery to me as well! ;o)

  119. I resolved not to bother with folks who appear to be fundamentally dishonest. It’s a waste of time. Just call them out occasionally and remind everyone that their work has not been honest and above-board. Who cares what a person has to say if that person has a reputation and track record that suggests dishonesty?

  120. Steven Mosher says:

    “dikran, I suppose there’s no reason for you to be aware of this, but Steven and I were among the first and most ardent explainers of the innocent nature of Mike’s Nature Trick. Breitbart News basically cut off a TV interview with me after I told them it was a nothing burger and that the emails did nothing to undercut the published science.”

    Parallels my experience must have been 5 or so on camera interviews that never saw the light of
    day because I refused to question the science or entertain and of the fraud shit

  121. Steven Mosher says:

    \”1) You attack others using some principle that you hold regarding how you think others should behave (especially, leaving things out, it seems).
    2) You do not apply that same principle to yourself. You feel justified in doing things that you abhor in others.

    Oh I would not doubt it.

    if you can point out a place where I fucked up , and suggest 3 ways to remedy it
    I will gladly choose any remedy you suggest.

  122. Steven Mosher says:

    “The question to Mosher is how long did it take to write that book? From the timeline, it appears to have been written in less than a month. As I recall, the emails were hacked late November and the book was out by January?”

    On nov 19th or so I passed what I knew to Andrew revkin and told him to follow the foia.
    Tom and I went to a movie and I said I was done.
    Tom wanted to write a book and my opinion was that revkin would do a proper job and I’m no journalist.

    At that point our view was this.
    One side said : boys behaving badly (literally)
    One side said : fraud. literally
    Our view? neither of those captures some of the nuance we saw.

    Around Nov 26th ( I can look up the exact mail, maybe the 29th) Tom asked me if I was happy with my
    “leave it to journalists”
    I said no, because it was still being treated as Nothing or everything.
    So I sat down to write.
    I wrote from that day until sometime after xmas, and passed my stuff to tom to add his stuff
    we set a deadline of 30 days or so. I went final to tom on an 7th

    Bishop hill was working on something
    ( he was focused on the HS and I could care less about that)

    Anyway it might be instructive to look at the titles and art we rejected.

    I have all those discussions

  123. Steven Mosher says:

    “Thomaswfuller The “Mike’s Nature Trick” is a nothingburger as this discussion demonstrates. In retrospect, people could say the caption could be better. Does that really justify the prominent place on the front cover and the cover blurb that says “For those who have heard that the emails were taken out of context–we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided.” In this case, the context shows that there there is nothing untoward in that quote.

    Yup that’s why we dont discuss it

    “The cover of your book is deeply misleading, and neither you nor Steven appear to be able to accept that your cover is misleading. How ironic.”

    I certainly hope we mislead some skeptics into buying it!

    The cover was a struggle what we rejected ( the cover artwork was outsourced) was more problematic

    So here is the deal. you get a bunch of mails. after plowing through all of them you discover
    that the story everyone else comes away with is

    the HS is a hoax,
    Or
    There is nothing here move along.

    and you think it’s not a hoax, but there are some important issues about data sharing
    and FOIA that everyone is missing. you think there is something here ( data sharing and FOIA) that
    is WORTH talking about. Turns out so does the ICO. who knew?

    How do you tell that story? what picture do you use? So make 3 suggestions. Since it was self published maybe we can publish it again with your title and art work. there are the 3 mistakes
    that we need to do errata on as well. I cant remember the 3rd, I think Tom has it.

    So I think figure 10 from the WMO report would have been better.
    What artwork can you suggest to me to replace our misleading cover.

  124. As a Democrat I always have a laugh at my Republican friends. I tell them, “What were the odds? All the liberal politicians in the world and we kept picking Satan’s Spawn to run for president time after time. What an amazing coincidence.

    Equally amazing–everyone who opposes you is always on Big Oil’s payroll, completely ignorant of science, callously indifferent to the environment. I mean–what were the odds that we would all be this evil?

  125. izen says:

    It is difficult to express how deeply uninteresting I find a re-litigation of the legitimacy of the MBH paleoclimate reconstruction and the ‘hockey stick’ graph thjat derived from it.
    Its irrelevance is only exceeded by an argument over the rsignificance of the ‘climategate’ emails and the SM/TF opportunistic exploitation of that event.

    The succeeding decades have provided confirmation of the handle of the hockey stick, and lengthened the blade. While relegating the CRU emails to a footnote of no significance to the understanding of the climate.

    The only interest either issue hold in respect of the subject of this thread is WHY the hockey stick and the emails were so enthusiastically embraced as evidence of scientific bias by certain segments of society.
    Despite the paucity of real evidence that either provided that climate science had any significant bias.

    Those that still claim the recent exceptional warming is a hoax, or that climate scientists are part of a shadow cabal intent on perpetuating fraud have been relegated to a few fringe websites and the comment sections of tabloid media where they compete with the anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers for attention.

    The real question is WHY the idea that the results emerging from climate science, and the scientists involved were targeted. What element of the science motivated individuals and organisations to become dogmatically devoted to the belief that there was such a bias in the science and the scientists that the whole field of knowledge could be denigrated and dismissed with such vigour.

  126. dikranmarsupial says:

    ‘ Yup that’s why we dont discuss it’

    This is just more disappointing evasion. The cover of your book is wilfully misleading, yet you can’t appear to see the irony/hypocrisy of criticising the WMO report (that isn’t misleading, certainly not wilfully, just could be better captioned). This seems to me to be a clear example of what Izen was talking about

    “ if you can point out a place where I fucked up , and suggest 3 ways to remedy it
    I will gladly choose any remedy you suggest.‘

    Take the book off the market?

  127. dikranmarsupial says:

    Sorry bob rather than izen

  128. dikranmarsupial says:

    ‘ It is difficult to express how deeply uninteresting I find a re-litigation of the legitimacy of the MBH paleoclimate reconstruction and the ‘hockey stick’ graph thjat derived from it.’

    It’s interesting here as an example of the effect of societal/cognitive bias.

  129. dikranmarsupial says:

    ‘ So here is the deal. you get a bunch of mails. after plowing through all of them you discover
    that the story everyone else comes away with is


    So I think figure 10 from the WMO report would have been better.
    What artwork can you suggest to me to replace our misleading cover.’

    So why did you put “mikes nature trick” quote in the most prominent position under the title, given you know there was nothing to it? This is a direct question and a straight answer would be appreciated.

  130. dikranmarsupial says:

    To give a direct answer to your question:

    “What artwork can you suggest to me to replace our misleading cover.’”

    Anything that accurately represents the contents of the book and doesn’t mislead potential readers. For instance you could add a note to the front saying “there is actually nothing untoward about these quotes” and have arrows pointing to the “mikes nature trick”, “redefine peer review”, “hide the decline” and “can’t account for the lack of warming” quotes, and perhaps others.

    I look forward to the new cover.

  131. dikranmarsupial says:

    TWF “I like the cover as art. That’s kinda the difference between it and the Hockey Stick graph. Art, you know–as opposed to science.”

    So it is fine for cover art be willfully misleading on a supposedly factual book? Or is it just O.K. when it is your book?

  132. Bob Loblaw says:

    So it is fine for cover art be willfully misleading on a supposedly factual book? Or is it just O.K. when it is your book?”

    Oh, I know! I know! Pick me! Pick me!

  133. Bob Loblaw says:

    “I will gladly choose any remedy you suggest.”

    Sit down, think about the core principles of behavior that you expect from others, and then follow those principles in your own behavior.

  134. Steve will have to fight through me before we change the cover or the content, other than fixing the mistakes that were pointed out to us.

    The self-anointed Hockey Team erred badly and sometimes were quite conscious of the wrongness of their actions. Pointing this out was a public service.

    A greater public service was communicating to the skeptic community, the mainstream media and the British Parliament that although the Hockey Team erred badly, the basic thrust of climate science was not affected by their behavior.

    If you don’t want to relitigate Climategate, quit bringing it up. If you insist on bringing it up, at least find something interesting to b.s. about.

  135. izen says:

    I still find the reasons that SM/TF picked the cover art and quotes for the book much less interesting than WHY it was an economically vaible project.
    As with ‘The Bell Curve’ and similar articles dealing with Climate Science or Race, why is there a market for these spurious claims that mainstream science is biased.
    (these are rhetorical questions, my answer is contained in posts I made previously in this thread.)

  136. Tom,
    I have no interest in re-litigating Climategate. I think it’s a non-issue. I do, though, find it somewhat ironic that you ignore criticism of your choice of cover, despite the choice of cover of a report being a significant Climategate issue. I realise that you probably won’t think about this all that much, but the point is that there can valid disagreements about choices that are made, without this implying that anything dishonest/underhanded took place.

  137. izen, if you are claiming that mainstream science is biased, where is your evidence?

    Likewise, if you are claiming that we claimed that mainstream science is biased, where is your evidence?

  138. dikranmarsupial says:

    “The self-anointed Hockey Team erred badly and sometimes were quite conscious of the wrongness of their actions.”

    You mean like highlighting a quote prominently under the title and promising that the context would reveal that it was worse than it appeared, when you knew perfectly well that there was nothing whatsoever dubious about it? Utter hypocrisy.

    In the recent CRU documentary that featured SM, they mentioned that Prof. Jones was initially very helpful and forthcoming with data. I suspect this discussion amply illustrates how this relationship soured, and the fault probably didn’t lie with Prof. Jones, but the behaviour of his critics. I have lost a lot of respect for Steven on this thread by his evasion and unwillingness to accept the double standard being applied.

  139. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I still find the reasons that SM/TF picked the cover art and quotes for the book much less interesting than WHY it was an economically vaible project.”

    I know it is a rhetorical question, but Mrs Marsupial has a small publishing company. The major costs of writing a book appear to be in the writing/production, especially now there are print on demand services. If you look at Amazon, there are plenty of books published that way which will not make anybody rich.

    Bit of a return to the days of political pamphleteering (but not quite at the Thomas Paine level ;o)?

  140. dikranmarsupial says:

    “f you don’t want to relitigate Climategate”

    I’m not, I’m pointing out your hypocrisy. You have already agreed that “Mikes Nature Trick” is a nothingburger, so there is nothing to relitigate there – we agree. The question is why is it promenantly highlighted on the cover of your book (with the promise that the context shows the quotes to be worse than they seem) when you knew all along that there was nothing to it?

    Of course if you were going to give a straight answer to that, you would have done so already, you have had plenty of opportunity.

  141. an_older_code says:

    “In the recent CRU documentary that featured SM, they mentioned that Prof. Jones was initially very helpful and forthcoming with data. I suspect this discussion amply illustrates how this relationship soured, and the fault probably didn’t lie with Prof. Jones, but the behaviour of his critics.”

    yes it was clear from the doc he suspected bad faith……….

    broadly speaking there are two types of flatearthers – those that sell the T-shirts and those that buy the T-shirts

  142. I don’t think Climategate is a topic worth all that much further discussion. I’m also not that keen to have comments discussing individuals who have probably suffered enough because of the furore over a fake scandal.

  143. izen says:

    @-TF
    ” if you are claiming that mainstream science is biased, where is your evidence?”

    If I was claiming that I would have stated the claim explicitly.
    I struggle to understand how you arrived at the conclusion I may be doing so from the observation that there is a viable market for books and articles claiming that certain areas of scientific knowledge are biased, or outright fraudulent.

    Why do you think there was a market for your work on climategate while a comparable book about another subject in science, say disputing exo-planet discoveries, would not have the same appeal ?

    @-“if you are claiming that we claimed that mainstream science is biased…”

    I have no idea what it claims as I have never read it. I am only aware of its reputation, and the genre of books it is grouped with.
    If perhaps you find the company you keep an unjust association I suspect a certain lack of insight into the larger context of this issue.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3787818/#app1-0002764213477096

  144. Bob Loblaw says:

    “If you don’t want to relitigate Climategate, quit bringing it up. If you insist on bringing it up, at least find something interesting to b.s. about.”

    Thomas, please, please, pretty please make that clear to your co-author, Steven. I sincerely hope that you will apply the same principles of conduct to him that you expect from others.

  145. Willard says:

    [ESTR] As with ‘The Bell Curve’ and similar articles dealing with Climate Science or Race, why is there a market for these spurious claims that mainstream science is biased.

    [VLAD] If you are claiming that mainstream science is biased, where is your evidence?

  146. izen says:

    @-W
    “[ESTR]… [VLAD]…”

    Ah, thanks, now I understand, only the last four words in any sentence are processed.

  147. Bob Loblaw says:

    The [ESTR} and [VLAD] acronyms are lost on me, but…

    izen, it not a simple “last four words” algorithm, if we see a similarity between Thomas and Steven. Earlier in this thread, I had stated to Steven:

    It seems you have such a bad case of dislike against certain aspects of climate science that you just can’t resist the temptation to take any opportunity to to renew your attacks on part of that climate science,

    and Steven responded with

    what you dont get to do is characterize it as an attack on climate science.

    Somehow, the context of “…certain aspects of…” and “…part of that…” was discarded, to transform it into all of climate science.

    Sloppy reading skills? Sloppy writing skills? Selective retention? Bias? Lots of possibilities come to mind.

  148. Willard says:

    izen,

    If you ever wish to argue that our dynamic duo claims that mainstream science is biased, you might recall the lukewarm playbook. To bet under 3 in effect presumes that mainstream science is too high. In fact, any bet under the mainstream science’s spread also presumes such bias:

    There’s a reason why Eli calls that betting scheme luckwarm.

    That being said, it’s hard to know exactly what’s the luckwarm position. Here is one definition, and here’s my reading of its function:

    Basically, the strategy is this one:

    1. Portray your opponents as alarmists.

    2. Present yourself as the rationally optimistic middle ground.

    In politics, this is the Overton window:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

    Marketing gurus know this.

    INTEGRITY ™ – It’s what we sell

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/18/skeptics-make-your-best-case-part-ii/#comment-241688

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/lukewarmers-a-follow-up/#comment-56497

    Vintage 2015. Or vintage 2012. Time flies.

  149. Willard says:

    > The [ESTR} and [VLAD] acronyms are lost on me

    They represent the main characters of Waiting for Godot.

    I find them useful for informal dialogs:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/estragon-and-the-expert/

  150. Joshua says:

    Bob –

    > Sloppy reading skills? Sloppy writing skills? Selective retention? Bias? Lots of possibilities come to mind.

    That’s how Steven rolls

  151. Steven Mosher says:

    “Sit down, think about the core principles of behavior that you expect from others, and then follow those principles in your own behavior.”

    well, Bob, since I gave folks 3 options for the WMO cover I would expect others to do likewise.

    in short, I expect folks to amend cover art selection when
    A) an independent investigation found it to be misleading
    B) options for corrections are offered.

    Not that hard

  152. Steven Mosher says:

    dk

    ‘you deliberately played to their social biases? … how very scientific.”

    last I looked we didn’t set out to write a science paper.

  153. Steven Mosher says:

    ““In the recent CRU documentary that featured SM, they mentioned that Prof. Jones was initially very helpful and forthcoming with data. I suspect this discussion amply illustrates how this relationship soured, and the fault probably didn’t lie with Prof. Jones, but the behaviour of his critics.”

    Ah nope. you have the chronology all wrong and reasons (behavior of critics) all wrong
    as the mails show. not gunna correct you which would require posting mails.
    bottom line Jones shared data with Mc when Mc was an unknown, but after MM 2003 was
    published he got an earful from other people and changed his behavior.

  154. Maybe I can ask that we avoid discussing individuals. I’m not that interested in another discussion about the supposed motives of people who’ve probably suffered enough for something that was a non-event in the first place.

  155. Steven Mosher says:

    “I still find the reasons that SM/TF picked the cover art and quotes for the book much less interesting than WHY it was an economically vaible project.
    As with ‘The Bell Curve’ and similar articles dealing with Climate Science or Race, why is there a market for these spurious claims that mainstream science is biased.”

    ah it was not an economically viable project. That’s why we choose a self publishing route.
    Granted it sold more than most books because most books dont sell, but in the end I would hazard that Tom and I each earned about 25 bucks an hour.

    As for the bias???
    At the time The median value for ECS was ~3C.
    I have always characterized my position as this:
    Given an Under/Over bet of 3C I will take the under bet.
    Why? Not because I think the science is “biased”
    but rather
    1. Gavin’s model E was 2.7C and I respect his work. I probably said this on Lucia’s a few times
    2. James annaan was at 2.5 C and I respect his work
    https://climateaudit.org/2008/01/02/james-annan-on-25-deg-c/

    Plus
    some of the models at the high end of ECS had positive drift/oscillations in the control runs
    Miroc5 and hadgsm2_es — making me think models at the high end were probably less correct.

    So its essentially a 50/50 bet and given a choice I agreed with gavins model and James annan’s
    work. And there were some oddities in the models at the high end.
    Nothing strong enough to claim a “Bias”, but enough to tip a 50/50 bet.

    what would I base policy on? 3C of course.

  156. dikranmarsupial says:

    “last I looked we didn’t set out to write a science paper.”

    so it is O.K. to be misleading when presenting a history of science? Sophistry.

  157. dikranmarsupial says:

    “in short, I expect folks to amend cover art selection when
    A) an independent investigation found it to be misleading
    B) options for corrections are offered.

    Not that hard”

    A) is a classic example of an impossible expectation as a means of denial,

    and obvious sophistry as SM has already agreed that the “Mikes Nature Trick” is a nothingburger and hence it is misleading to prominently place it on the cover with the promise that the context of the emails make the quotes worse than they appear.

    B) has already been offered. Add a label to the quotes on the cover that are actually nothing untoward.

    More evasion from SM.

  158. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM “what would I base policy on? 3C of course.”

    that would be a bias as the loss function is likely to be super-linear.

  159. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM I will respect ATTP’s request. All I will say is that I have experiences of discussion with all parties involved (including this thread) and I am a big fan of Rashomon and know better than to believe any individual account. I know who I trust more and it isn’t people that employ sophistry to avoid criticism of their work.

  160. Bob Loblaw says:

    Steven responding to me:

    “Sit down, think about the core principles of behavior that you expect from others, and then follow those principles in your own behavior.”

    well, Bob, since I gave folks 3 options for the WMO cover I would expect others to do likewise.

    So, a core principle of Steven Mosher, covering his general behavior as a human being, is wanting to discuss the WMO report cover via three options?

    You’re avoiding the question, and using sophistry to return to a specific subject you want to talk about. It’s “Look, Squirrel!” yet again. Deflection.

    Or maybe you are just incapable of generalizing your behavior past a specific example? You compartmentalize each case, and they only exist in isolation? That would explain why you apply different principles to others than you do to yourself. Compartmentalization is a very useful technique to avoid seeing yourself as you really are.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(psychology)

  161. Willard says:

    Reminder:

    Maybe I can ask that we avoid discussing individuals.

    Thanks.

  162. Mosher: “Parallels my experience must have been 5 or so on camera interviews that never saw the light of day because I refused to question the science or entertain and of the fraud shit

    How is it possible that all those producers invested in these interviews and were surprised that they did not get the expected attacks? Maybe because they were interviewing the authors of such a disgusting booklet destroying a person by publishing their private emails.

  163. Bob Loblaw says:

    [Enough. -W]

  164. izen says:

    My interest in further analysis of the misbehaviour of SM is unmeasurable.

    I have encountered media reports of both of these new scientific papers recently purveyed as –
    “It’s WORSE than we thought” type news.
    Is this an example of how social factors distort neutral science into catastrophism, or might it be justified by the actuality of the science ?

    shorturl.at/dhwEW

    Interannual variations in meltwater input to the Southern Ocean from Antarctic ice shelves.
    “Here, we combine surface height data from satellite radar altimeters with satellite-derived ice velocities and a new model of firn-layer evolution to generate a high-resolution map of time-averaged (2010–2018) basal melt rates and time series (1994–2018) of meltwater fluxes for most ice shelves. Total basal meltwater flux in 1994 (1,090 ± 150 Gt yr–1) was similar to the steady-state value (1,100 ± 60 Gt yr–1), but increased to 1,570 ± 140 Gt yr–1 in 2009, followed by a decline to 1,160 ± 150 Gt yr–1 in 2018. For the four largest ‘cold-water’ ice shelves, we partition meltwater fluxes into deep and shallow sources to reveal distinct signatures of temporal variability, providing insights into climate forcing of basal melting and the impact of this melting on the Southern Ocean.”

    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2020AV000163

    Rapid Net Carbon Loss From a Whole‐Ecosystem Warmed Peatland
    “We experimentally warmed and added CO2 to a series of bog plots in northern Minnesota to investigate whether warming and drying would lead to the increased decomposition and loss of carbon from bogs to the atmosphere, where it would contribute further to warming. We found that warming changed the nature of these bogs from carbon accumulators to carbon emitters—where carbon was increasingly lost to the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases CO2 and CH4 as the level of warming increased. This carbon loss was faster than historical rates of carbon accumulation, demonstrating the significant impact of global warming on naturally stored carbon.”

  165. izen says:

    Do ‘Tipping Points’ cease to be a socially framed alarmist meme when one is detected ?

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-020-0001-2
    Dynamic ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet driven by sustained glacier retreat.
    “We show that widespread retreat between 2000 and 2005 resulted in a step-increase in discharge and a switch to a new dynamic state of sustained mass loss that would persist even under a decline in surface melt.”

  166. izen says:

    And if you think that Arctic ice loss has not been characterised as an alarmist meme, try this;-

    https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6180723767001

  167. Joshua says:

    Off topic… but I think that sharing this video is actually pretty important:

    Pass it on…

  168. Steven Mosher says:

    ya joshua been sharing it for a while.

    very interesting mistake that people made WRT to testing sensitivity.

  169. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    It is interesting. Common sense seems to say that we should want the most accurate tests possible to be used, and that it’s important for the FDA to regulate the use of less accurate tests.

    But MIna’s discussion of contagion control/public health vs. diagnoses/individual health makes a whole lot of sense. It’s not really a frame that I’ve considered before and I’ve been convinced.

    At first I found seeing his argument to be very hopeful. Seems like the first realistic plan for addressing that pandemic that I’ve seen. We could get the economy back up and running and get people back to a baseline in terms of safety.

    But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more it seems unrealistic to expect. We have to deal with the existing diagnostic/individual health mindset of the regulatory agencies. We have their risk aversion to shifting gears into a whole new paradigm. It could happen with real leadership – but the chances of seeing that from a Trump administration seems nil to me, and a Biden administration only very, very slightly more likely. So crazy because it should be a no-brainer – employ a bold new strategy and then take credit if it works. Kind of like an real infrastructure plan or a “public health peace corps” approach. No-brainers (seem to me). Who are these people who are advising these politicians?

    I’m certainly willing to consider that there are implications I haven’t thought of. What would it really be like to roll out the rapid tests on a scale unlike anything we’ve really seen? What logistical obstacles might develop? Would people really do the tests at home, isolate if they test positive positive, report to officials if they test positive?

    All unknowns, But even if there are problems in each of those aspects, it seems to me it would be far better than the near complete lack of plan that is unfolding now. And in the very least, allowing the tests to be made available would enable individual businesses and schools to use the rapid tests within their own cohorts, and allow individuals to test at home on their own.

    Maybe there are really strong counter-arguments out there but I can’t think of any and I haven’t seen any yet. That Atlantic article over-promised in terms of providing solid counter-arguments.

    I’m still hopeful that a groundswell of support might make a difference…but I”m highly doubtful.

  170. David B Benson says:

    Mid-Miocene already:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/561/back-future?page=1
    See today’s entry at the end of the page.

  171. Steven Mosher says:

    “It is interesting. Common sense seems to say that we should want the most accurate tests possible to be used, and that it’s important for the FDA to regulate the use of less accurate tests.

    But MIna’s discussion of contagion control/public health vs. diagnoses/individual health makes a whole lot of sense. It’s not really a frame that I’ve considered before and I’ve been convinced.”

    Yes, in the beginning I had a vague feeling that less accurate tests done more frequently
    might be a solution, but Mina’s argument put real teeth into that “feeling” and made it
    an actual argument that is very hard to deny. I got to read all about CT values and it
    is very clear why what he says is vitally important. I am kinda shocked that it hasn’t gotten the attention from policy makers that I would expect. This is the kind of thing I would expect policy makers to call the FDA in and grill them.

    At first I found seeing his argument to be very hopeful. Seems like the first realistic plan for addressing that pandemic that I’ve seen. We could get the economy back up and running and get people back to a baseline in terms of safety.

    Yes. I just took a PCR test to fly from Korea to UAE. Now I am thinking, wouldn’t it be easier
    to take the paper strip test before getting on the plane and after getting off.

    But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more it seems unrealistic to expect. We have to deal with the existing diagnostic/individual health mindset of the regulatory agencies. We have their risk aversion to shifting gears into a whole new paradigm. It could happen with real leadership – but the chances of seeing that from a Trump administration seems nil to me, and a Biden administration only very, very slightly more likely. So crazy because it should be a no-brainer – employ a bold new strategy and then take credit if it works. Kind of like an real infrastructure plan or a “public health peace corps” approach. No-brainers (seem to me). Who are these people who are advising these politicians?

    yes yes yes.

    I’m certainly willing to consider that there are implications I haven’t thought of. What would it really be like to roll out the rapid tests on a scale unlike anything we’ve really seen? What logistical obstacles might develop? Would people really do the tests at home, isolate if they test positive positive, report to officials if they test positive?

    I tried to think through the logistics and then I realized that DK could be kicking in.
    Lets see with home testing you are going to have the issue of people who test positive,
    dont feel sick, dont trust the test, and ignore the results. Or they trust the results and
    try to hide their illness and go to work anyway!.
    So.
    1. You probably have to roll it out in a controlled manner ( NBA used a similar test)
    A) Student testing (Minna is working with Boston schools )
    B) Employee Testing
    C) Traveler testing
    2. It would be cool to pass them out at voting locations
    3. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. Some fraction of people will not trust, not report their positive results. 100% sure of this. Perhaps there can be incentives for self reporting.
    Early on in Korea you were paid a wage when you reported to quarantine.
    I think it would actually save money to do this, but obviously cant prove it

    All unknowns, But even if there are problems in each of those aspects, it seems to me it would be far better than the near complete lack of plan that is unfolding now. And in the very least, allowing the tests to be made available would enable individual businesses and schools to use the rapid tests within their own cohorts, and allow individuals to test at home on their own.

    Yep. same with contact tracing. we cant do it perfectly, but we have to try something.

    Maybe there are really strong counter-arguments out there but I can’t think of any and I haven’t seen any yet. That Atlantic article over-promised in terms of providing solid counter-arguments.

    I’m still hopeful that a groundswell of support might make a difference…but I”m highly doubtful.

    When I first saw Minna I expected it to go viral
    crickets.
    WTF?
    I expect someone in power to seize the idea and move. get into action, take a chance.
    try something different. shake shit up.
    crickets.
    The science on this seems crystal clear and compelling. WTF?

  172. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    > Yes. I just took a PCR test to fly from Korea to UAE. Now I am thinking, wouldn’t it be easier
    to take the paper strip test before getting on the plane and after getting off.

    Hmm. As for testing when you get on and when you get off: it it takes a few days between exposure to infection and the point where you’ll test positive, even on a rapid test. Except that taking the test twice does make a difference in terms of mitigating the possibility for false negatives.

    > I got to read all about CT values and it

    The mathematical argument about the advantages to multiple rapid tests, especially given the CT values, is very compelling. I doubt that there’s any reasonable counterargument at that level.

    > WTF?

    Seems to me that cultural attitudes are a huge barrier. In the US, the general attitude is a focus on individual health and a distrust of policies directed for the collective good. But why hasn’t this been taken up in any Nordic countries yet, or a place like South Korea, where collectivist-oriented policies are much more palatable? I heard the head epidemiological dude in Sweden talking about the need for testing at this point…why aren’t they taking this up? They could adopt these policies and use them to mute criticism for their “herd immunity” policies.

    Have you talked to any of your libertarian buds about this?

    So, are you a socialist-libertarian now?

  173. SM says: “When I first saw Minna I expected it to go viral crickets. WTF?
    I expect someone in power to seize the idea and move. get into action, take a chance.
    try something different. shake shit up. crickets.
    The science on this seems crystal clear and compelling. WTF?”

    I felt the same way about greenhouse gas emissions. I thought everyone would look at the science, the predictions and say, Wow, we have to stop burning fossil fuels. But, WTF? It didn’t happen.

    It is clear to me in revealing/proposing some scientific issue is not sufficient to create change. That is especially the case if opportunistic propagandists seize the moment to make a fast buck and muddy the waters by casting doubt on the science that is abundantly clear. It is hard to know why people do some things. It is hard to know why people don’t do other things. I feel your pain, Mr. Mosher.

  174. Joshua says:

    Notice all the misinformation being spread about “T-cell immunity.”

    I would point to similar misinformation frequently promoted about climate change, but I don’t want do to that. 🙂

  175. Dave_Geologist says:

    Joshua, the problem with the herd immunity model is the one I pointed out months ago. The death rate did not flatten off at similar value per 100k across countries or between regions of countries.

    So either you had vastly different infection fatality rates in populations with very similar demographics and healthcare; or in some countries more than 100% of the population had to be infected to generate a large enough denominator and so had asymptomatic people infected multiple times over; or neighbouring countries and even provinces within a country had very different prevalence of T-cell reactivity (note that the author does not claim immunity) from previous common-cold coronaviruses. The first I think can be easily discounted, barring the overwhelmed ICUs we know about; the second means that those T-cells confer protection but don’t prevent infection and there’s no reason to believe they prevent transmission; or that those past common-cold outbreaks did not cross the border from Germany into France, Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg (all in Schengen, and Luxembourg has hundreds of thousands of daily cross-border commuters), or from Norway and Finland into Sweden, or between provinces in Spain.

    Alternatively, and I think William of Ockham would be with me on this one, the differences between countries reflect the strength and especially the timing of lockdown: the number of cases that had already escaped into the wild before the curve was flattened. With the infection rate doubling once or twice a week, a week or two earlier or later into lockdown makes a huge difference to the final death toll.

    See this admirably succinct paper: Have deaths from COVID-19 in Europe
    plateaued due to herd immunity?
    (Figures are in the supplementary material).

    Under herd immunity, the cumulative mortality rate due to COVID-19 per million of the population would be expected to plateau at roughly the same level in different countries (assuming similar basic reproduction numbers). This is not what the data show. For example, in Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, all countries with good quality health care and testing capacity, the difference in mortality is several fold, with Germany at 95 deaths per million population, the Netherlands at 332 deaths per million population, and Italy at 525 deaths per million population (as of May 17, 2020). Although no data are perfect, it is highly unlikely that differences in mortality reporting across countries could explain this scale of variation. …

    Second, countries that went into lockdown early experienced fewer deaths in subsequent weeks. Focusing on countries that applied strict suppression measures, we compared the per-capita deaths at the time of lockdown with the per-capita deaths in the following 6 week period (appendix). If herd immunity had already been reached, we would expect no correlation, or even a negative correlation, as lockdown would not alter the herd immunity threshold in the population or the ultimate death rate per capita. A strong linear trend suggests that countries that went into lockdown earlier experienced fewer deaths in the following 6 week period. …

    Third, and finally, a strong and consistent relationship exists between the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and mortality from COVID-19 in European populations, consistent with an IFR of 0·5–1·0%. Using data from serology studies (appendix), we compared the proportion of the population that has evidence of previous infection, as measured by antibodies (seroprevalence) at a given timepoint, with the proportion of the population that died from COVID-19 up to the same timepoint (appendix). A strong linear relationship between seroprevalence and mortality indicates that disparate regions have experienced a similar mortality per infection.

  176. Dave_Geologist says:

    If you don’t believe the Covid-19 mortality statistics you can cross-check with the Euromomo excess deaths. A quick glance at the countries with spikes should ring bells if you’ve been following the pandemic in Europe. Or check with worldometers.

    The IFR from the study above is consistent with the 0.65% in this recent analysis Estimating COVID-19 under-reporting across 86 nations: implications for projections and control, and with the WHO estimate.

    The UK may be an exception on their third point, since our peak deaths were mostly from strains which had been brought back by mid-term holidaymakers returning from infected parts of Europe, not from Chinese strains. Genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 spread in Scotland highlights the role of European travel in COVID-19 emergence, and Preliminary analysis of SARS-CoV-2 importation & establishment of UK transmission lineages). Neil Ferguson suggested we could have avoided 20k deaths by locking down a couple of weeks earlier, which is what I was saying at the time, thinking that the doubling rate was faster than government sources were saying. I now think that may have been the right answer for the wrong reason. R looked to have spiked (based on death count) because a bunch of new cases had arrived on flights and spread all over the country to seed new outbreaks, giving a false impression that the original outbreak had accelerated. An earlier lockdown would have nipped those imported outbreaks in the bud; but the same effect might have been achieved by quarantining arrivals from Europe during February. Deaths surged three or four weeks after the mid-term holiday, just enough time for a generation or two of spread and a 19-day median infection-to-death interval.

    Although even then their basic point still applies: what mattered was how many cases were in circulation at the time of lockdown, not how they got into circulation. Had we stopped the surge in imported cases, the same decision-making process would probably have led to us congratulating ourselves and locking down a few weeks later, and suffering just as many deaths in the end.

  177. @DtheG: I like your review of the outbreak and spread and I think it is accurate. The big takeaway for me is a measure of our species true ability to lockdown to handle pandemics. I think of our true ability as taking into account our lack of will to lockdown if it costs jobs and/or interrupts the economy. I think it will always take us many months to determine how deadly a new disease is and I think that the death per case rate will fall with a novel infection as we come up with ways to minimize first exposure (which often will correlate with mortality rates for airborne infections) and our medical system gathers enough data to have at least a few treatment regimens developed to reduce the severity of the disease on a case by case basis.

    Covid is not the last pandemic we will ever see. The 1918 flu pandemic can repeat if/when we see a particularly virulent strain of influenza and like Covid, the next deadly flu pandemic will be airborne and quite disruptive to our lives and economies. It appears to me from watching the Covid response that the “deciders” will choose to split the impact between lives lost and economic disruption. That’s a pragmatic decision that may look good in retrospect if you and all your loved ones survive.

    All that said, grounding of all commercial airflights and quarantine practices for any remaining fliers quickly upon identification of an outbreak would save a lot of lives and disrupt a lot of vacations. Hard stops on other forms of cross border travel (rail, pov, etc.) would need to happen quickly as well to maximize any nation’s effectiveness at stopping an outbreak within its borders (the New Zealand model).

    Clearly, this will all proceed on an ad hoc basis with the next pandemic and the countries with the bad luck to have leaders like Bolsonaro or Trump will pay a high price for their leader’s incompetence. Bolsonaro and Trump make Boris Johnson look good in this pandemic. That’s not an easy task, but these two pulled it off.

  178. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Seems to me that cultural attitudes are a huge barrier. !

    I suspect there are also logistical barriers.
    How many other products of a similar technical/chemical complexity are manufactured, distributed and made available on the frequency and wide scale to the population that would make this sort of testing viable ?

    Posting a piece of paper to more than 80% of the population seems to be beyond most governments.

    But the cultural barrier is the novelty. There is no tradition of the widespread use of a health test by a majority of the population. So inertia, reluctance and resistance are likely when faced with a unfamiliar procedure, of ambiguous accuracy that the ‘authorities’ are promoting EVERYONE to use.

  179. Steven Mosher says:

    Seems to me that cultural attitudes are a huge barrier. In the US, the general attitude is a focus on individual health and a distrust of policies directed for the collective good. But why hasn’t this been taken up in any Nordic countries yet, or a place like South Korea, where collectivist-oriented policies are much more palatable? I heard the head epidemiological dude in Sweden talking about the need for testing at this point…why aren’t they taking this up? They could adopt these policies and use them to mute criticism for their “herd immunity” policies.

    I dont know if the decision maps neatly on to individualist/ collectivist divide.
    As an individualist I want to manage my own risk. which to me means a rapid test every day
    seriously, if its 2 bucks a day, send me tests in the mail instead of a stupid check for 600 bucks.
    Korea has a rapid test but they dont use it that I can see. its weird.
    Seriously weird. Every day ~1000 people land at Inchon and are put through a test
    Foreigners are put in Quarantine. You get tested ONCE the day after you arrive and are then
    watched for a fever. It’s a perfect opportunity to test a rapid test. I fully expected to get
    rapid tested at the airport, but nope. I fully expected to get tested multiple times during my
    14 days in Q. Nope. Once.

    Have you talked to any of your libertarian buds about this?

    Nope. they are all anti mask

    So, are you a socialist-libertarian now?

    Nope. basically I would opt for solutions that maximize individual freedom, except where
    that solution manifestly fails to work. This bothers a lot of my libertarian friends.

  180. Steven Mosher says:

    “Notice all the misinformation being spread about “T-cell immunity.”

    wait until they discover that this disease has TINY age adjusted IFR in Africa and nobody can explain it.

  181. “wait until they discover that this disease has TINY age adjusted IFR in Africa and nobody can explain it”

    Wait until they discover that Africa has very low age demographics above say 65 years old so to speak, has no health care so to speak, no pharmacies so to speak, no artificial life extending operations or drugs so to speak, no old folks homes so to speak, no enclosed social spaces for people to get drunk or whatever so to speak and no fart (sic frat) houses so to speak

    Super-spreaders vs hermits-spreaders suggests highly heterogeneous spreading demographics that don’t lent themselves to mean/median/mode and gaussian distribution assumptions, same goes for heterogeneous age distributions, same goes for heterogeneous socitial environments.

    But about Africa, please explain most of north Africa (i. e. Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Sudan) and South Africa.

    If all you had were numbers of deaths and confirmed but not locations/cultures/practices/demographics/income, no one, and I do mean no one, would ever figure this thing out. The 86 country paper has more modeling assumptions than deaths! Heck there are more daft (sic draft) COVID-19 papers then their are confirmed/unconfirmed cases combined.

    All I know is that the US sucks big time and that it deserves to suck big time given our current feckless leader aka dipshit POTUS aka Small Hands.

  182. izen says:

    @-sbm
    “All that said, grounding of all commercial airflights and quarantine practices for any remaining fliers quickly upon identification of an outbreak would save a lot of lives and disrupt a lot of vacations.”

    Try looking at the flights arriving from your nearest international airport at present. or flight radar to see how many flights are still operating.
    https://www.flightradar24.com/

  183. Dave_Geologist says:

    wait until they discover that this disease has TINY age adjusted IFR in Africa and nobody can explain it.

    Before or after they discover porcine flight, Steven?

    And what would that say for us in a world of airborne pork? That we don’t need those nasty restrictive measures? All we need to do is knock twenty years off our age, infect ourselves with a bunch of other viruses we’ve not been exposed to, and swap out our DNA for someone else’s. If you have a potion for that, share it with the WHO.

    Everett, the basics really are very simple, no need for fancy modelling. Death curves are consistently flattened about three weeks after strict lockdown and social distancing rules are imposed. First-wave death toll per head varies by more than an order of magnitude between adjacent countries, and between states or provinces in federal countries where rules varied between them. Using measures designed to stop droplet transmission, personal contact and touching of droplet-infected surfaces. When lockdowns are released cases rise again, in some cases just as steeply as the first time. “Dark matter” immunity has not been demonstrated and if it existed it would have to magically fail to cross national and state boundaries. Herd immunity due to infection with an order of magnitude lower IFR than the consensus value requires some countries or regions to have more than 100% infection rates. But antibody testing shows 20% so either infection is not generating antibodies or some people are getting infected several times over in a matter of months and not noticing. Age-stratified IFR is consistent wherever there has been widespread testing, going all the way back to Wuhan and the Diamond Princess six months ago. Like ECS, it stubbornly refuses to move no matter how much new data comes in.

    As with AGW and evolution, the basics are simple and can be presented in one paragraph. The rest is just detail. What these three have in common is that the consensus view has consilience. That’s why it’s the consensus. If you ignore 90% of the evidence or 90% of the geography, you can always come up with multiple possible explanations for one isolated, limited study. What they all have in common is that they lack consilience. As soon as you lift your eyes from your one isolated, limited study, you realise that it makes a bunch of predictions about other datasets which have already been falsified by hard data. So even if you do have the right answer for your one isolated study, for some unusual reason specific to that study, its out-of-sample usefulness is zero.

    I wish the IFR was lower, herd immunity could be achieved at low cost and the virus would rapidly evolve to a less lethal form. Just as I wish AGW wasn’t happening, that it’s not our fault and if it is it’s happening slower than we think or that a natural feedback will kick in and stop it, and that it won’t be harmful anyway. And that all I need to do to have smart, athletic children is to exercise and read a lot before conceiving them. Sadly, wishes aren’t fishes.

  184. Steven Mosher says:

    “Wait until they discover that Africa has very low age demographics above say 65 years old so to speak,”

    That is why I said AGE ADJUSTED

  185. Steven Mosher says:

    “. Age-stratified IFR is consistent wherever there has been widespread testing, going all the way back to Wuhan and the Diamond Princess six months ago. Like ECS, it stubbornly refuses to move no matter how much new data comes in.”

    Not really, Korean data ( figuring in the latest seroprevalence) shows a HIGHER IFR.
    Some African data shows substantially lower.

    One missing piece ( for proper adjustments) is the cross tabulation of
    AGE with Co Morbidity.

    So, you’ll find higher and lower IFRs , even age adjusted IFRs, until you adjust for heterogeneous
    co morbidities across populations.

    Further, Since some of the early clinical decisions ( over intubating and refusing to treat
    with steroids — both of which have changed 180 degrees ) led to higher deaths, you’ll perhaps see the IFR ( age adjusted and co morbidity adjusted ) come down.
    or people will calculate it without the confounding factors of changed clinical practice over the
    course of the pandemic.

    None of this is policy relevant in my mind, but there are folks who will think it is

  186. Dave_Geologist says:

    Of course there’s a range Steven. That’s why I’ve usually quoted 0.5% to 2% IFR. Depends on treatment and co-morbidities as well as age. But most of the countries with high death numbers have very similar demographics and co-morbidities. And most of our discussion has been about those countries.

    I would expect the crude IFR to be lower in African countries with few old people. But that doesn’t make a tens of percent IFR among those non-numerous old people any less palatable for their relatives. Indeed one might argue that the West has a surplus of old people and developing countries are less able to cope with the loss of knowledge and expertise. Like an elephant or meercat or orca group losing its matriarch. Although there are some old people, like Mugabe, that countries could have well done without…

    It would only be policy-relevant if it changed by an order of magnitude. I’ve seen no evidence that it has and lots that it hasn’t. Certainly not from 4 days less in ICU but no demonstrated change in clinical outcome; a bit more from a 30% reduction in ICU fatalities. OTOH the growing evidence of long-term impairments among survivors, and about blood clotting which probably means some heart attacks and strokes should have been attributed to Covid-19 but weren’t, moves the dial the other way.

  187. Joshua says:

    Dave –

    I need you to unpack your comment a bit:

    > Joshua, the problem with the herd immunity model is the one I pointed out months ago. The death rate did not flatten off at similar value per 100k across countries or between regions of countries.

    I don’t get what you’re saying there. Do you mean that the HIT is likely to be at different levels in different communities? If so, I agree – just as the IFR is likely to differ in association with many moderators/mediators/interaction effects (age stratification, population density, mask wearing, co-morbidities, attendance to large events where super-spreaders might be lurking, etc.), so would the HIT, as it seems the HIT is to some extent a function of heterogeneity and heterogeneity is affected by all those behavioral and structural factors.

    > So either you had vastly different infection fatality rates in populations with very similar demographics and healthcare;

    I’m not sure what specifics comparisons you’re making there. Many confounding variables to account for. Particularly since there’s the whole issue of “viral load”/threshold cycle value, as it might affect both transmissibility/susceptibility to infection AND severity of infection

    > or in some countries more than 100% of the population had to be infected to generate a large enough denominator and so had asymptomatic people infected multiple times over; or neighbouring countries and even provinces within a country had very different prevalence of T-cell reactivity (note that the author does not claim immunity) from previous common-cold coronaviruses.

    I think that the distinction between T-cell activity in terms of severity of infection, and T-cell activity in terms of prevention of infection is relevant here.

    > Alternatively, and I think William of Ockham would be with me on this one, the differences between countries reflect the strength and especially the timing of lockdown: the number of cases that had already escaped into the wild before the curve was flattened. With the infection rate doubling once or twice a week, a week or two earlier or later into lockdown makes a huge difference to the final death toll.

    So I guess that despite the other parts above where I didn’t quite get what you were saying, that paragraph is your basic thesis?

    It certainly seems to me that the timing of the NPIs/shelter in place orders relative to the amount of spread prior is certainly significantly explanatory. As are factors that are directly related – such as amount of travel from hotspots and/or proximity to hotspots. But I do think that there other factors that are certainly relevant as well – such as the propensity of a given population to social distance or wear masks, or important demographics such as race/ethnicity and SES, the degree to which people changed behaviors prior to official interventions being initiated, the % of the population who could work from home/the % of the population who are “essential workers,” the % of the population who live in multi-generational households, etc. Seems to me that those factors would not only affect the fatality rate, but also the infection rate, and accordingly, the HIT.

    Is there something that I said there that I’m mistaken about?

  188. Joshua says:

    izen –

    > I suspect there are also logistical barriers.
    How many other products of a similar technical/chemical complexity are manufactured, distributed and made available on the frequency and wide scale to the population that would make this sort of testing viable ?

    >> Posting a piece of paper to more than 80% of the population seems to be beyond most governments.

    >>>But the cultural barrier is the novelty. There is no tradition of the widespread use of a health test by a majority of the population. So inertia, reluctance and resistance are likely when faced with a unfamiliar procedure, of ambiguous accuracy that the ‘authorities’ are promoting EVERYONE to use.

    I’m sure there are logistical barriers, foreseeable and un-foreseeable. And again, follow-through is a huge unknown. But it isn’t a binary situation. It can work imperfectly and still have a huge impact despite logistical and mind-set barriers.

    Tump is making a “huge” announcement tonight regarding a “breakthough” on therapeutics. Perhaps he’s gotten the FDA to approve the “less accurate” rapid saliva tests people can do at home/companies and schools can do on their own? I hope so. Let him take the credit. I’d even be happy in the end if he pushes this along, as even though I’d be unhappy about the bounce he’d get, it would be worth the return in many lives saved and many fewer illnesses contracted. I think that these rapid test might be able to push a HIT lower????

    An interesting note – I saw that Mina was questioning the characterization of the rapid at home tests as “less accurate.” As in a sense they are more accurate – because they are actually better at capturing whether people are infectious (and as a result, eliminate wasting resources on having people who aren’t infectious isolating) – even if they are less “sensitive” in a more technical sense.

  189. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Maybe you’re online? I have a comment in mod….

  190. Joshua says:

    Speaking of difference in approach across different countries…

    > Researchers in the German city of Leipzig staged a 1,500-person experimental indoor concert on Saturday to better understand how Covid-19 spreads at big, busy events, and how to prevent it.

    https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/germany-coronavirus-tim-bendzko-concert-wellness-scn-grm-intl/index.html

  191. “That is why I said AGE ADJUSTED”

    Unfortunately, you can’t adjust for something that isn’t there in the 1st place, small numbers means bigly yuge multipliers with even biglier yugher uncertainty limits.

    While you are at it, explain Pakistan.

  192. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Tump is making a “huge” announcement tonight regarding a “breakthough” on therapeutics. Perhaps he’s gotten the FDA to approve the “less accurate” rapid saliva tests people can do at home/companies and schools can do on their own?”

    No, after all Trump doesn’t believe in testing, on his thinking(sic) if there were less pregnancy tests less babies would be born….

    What he announced was the emergency use authorisation of plasma from convalescent/recovered COVID19 patients on the basis that it may contain enough antibodies to reduce the severity of the infection in serious cases.
    This has problems. It appears likely antibody levels fall quite rapidly after infection so you need patients to donate soon after recovery. Measuring the level of antibodies in any sample is not a high accuracy procedure at present, so different donors may have very different levels of antibody contributions. It may be difficult given the inherent limited supply of antibody containing plasma to identify which cases are serious enough to justify its use.

    This is one of the reasons why there is no solid evidence it is actually of benefit. because different places have used it according to different criteria as an experimental option, it is impossible to separate the success they claim from the variation, or noise, in the survival/death rate.

    But it allows him to boast that he has made a ‘cure’ available.

  193. izen says:

    @-SM
    “wait until they discover that this disease has TINY age adjusted IFR in Africa and nobody can explain it.”

    The largest single society data set on IFR indicates a significantly higher death rate among people of African descent. While this is confounded by co-morbidity, access to health care and poverty in this data, this would only be different on the African continent if those co-morbidity and poverty levels were significantly better in the highly populated regions of Africa than in the US.

    Unless you are prepared to look for a varied genetic susceptibility, the key factor appears to be the degree to which people can effectively social distance.

    https://www.bcg.com/en-gb/publications/2020/bridging-the-covid-19-racial-divide

  194. izen says:

    It occurs to me that there would be a certain irony if further research revealed that plasma antibody treatment was most effective when used to reduce the case fatality rate in African Americans….

  195. David B Benson says:

    izen — The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is quite young. Some opine that one cannot distinguish from the common cold in youth.

  196. David B Benson says:

    izen — The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is quite young. Some opine that one cannot distinguish from the common cold in youth.

  197. izen says:

    @-D E B
    “The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is quite young. Some opine that one cannot distinguish from the common cold in youth.”

    I agree that the age profile of sub-Saharan Africa skews young, while N Europe skews old by comparison. But SM seems to be suggesting that the fatality rate will be TINY in Africa with adjustment for the age related factor.
    If that IS what he is suggesting, I remain doubtful. As DG suggested the IFR seems to tend towards a common figure as case numbers and data increase and become more accurate. I would suspect that the prevalence of multi-generational large households and communal work environments will speed the spread in many African societies and I fail to see on what basis SM predicts a significantly different IFR.

  198. Dave_Geologist says:

    Joshua, I meant that the HIT is unlikely to be substantially different between countries, at least those discussed in the reference and others I’ve looked at as my amateur self. Yes there will be some variation in R because of social factors but Sweden vs. Norway or Finland: really? You’d need R to vary from barely over 1 to above 3 in adjacent countries or regions with very similar populations and societies. Yes France vs. South Korea or the USA vs. India. No Northern Ireland vs. England. In any case for most European countries the argument is now moot because there’s been a resurgence in cases as lockdown was eased. Ergo, no herd immunity. Or immunity only lasts three months, which in practice amounts to the same thing.

    If those cases don’t lead to hospitalisations and deaths because of T cell protection (I expect they will, but two or three transmissions down the line because it’s mostly young people catching it at the moment with a very low IFR), why was there such a strong age preponderance? Old people don’t have T cells? Their T cells don’t work? Then we’re in exactly the same position because the “dark matter” T-cell explanation was introduced for Germany, where the age distribution of deaths is just the same as everywhere else. The people who don’t need to worry about catching it already know that regardless of T cells, just from the age-stratified IFR. And the people who do need to worry still need to worry, whether it’s because they lack effective T cells or for some other age-related reason.

  199. David B Benson says:

    izen — DBB, if you please.

  200. Joshua says:

    Dave –

    Thanks for the follow up.

    > Yes there will be some variation in R because of social factors but Sweden vs. Norway or Finland: really?

    Like IFR on a broad scale, I think that the “herd immunity” status on a broad scale isn’t particularly useful. Too much would vary by context. Even within a country comparing Stockholm to more rural regions seems pretty useless. Even Stockholm to Oslo is probably not terribly useful.

    And even evaluating whether a locality has the cut-off status of “herd immunity” seems somewhat of limited utility to me, as what seems more relevant are the different stages localities are in heading in that direction. I don’t think it’s likely that the relatively high rate of infection in NYC is irrelevant to the current low rate of spread, for example, irrespective of whether the cut-off for “herd immunity” has been reached. And even beyond that, the status of NYC overall isn’t terribly relevant as there is such huge variance in different communities within NYC.

    >If those cases don’t lead to hospitalisations and deaths because of T cell protection (I expect they will, but two or three transmissions down the line because it’s mostly young people catching it at the moment with a very low IFR), why was there such a strong age preponderance?

    Seems to me that there’s still much about this that we simply don’t understand. I was just looking at what’s going on in France. The spike in infections is pretty striking – but as of yet not much spike in deaths at all – I think I read something about a slight increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Seems to me the lag between infections and hospitalizations is longer than what people were thinking…and in the US many were suckered in to the arguments that the spike in infections here was only due to more testing (more positive findings with asymptomatic and younger people)…but it still seems odd to me that there is such a pronounced spike in infections with so little movement in deaths.

  201. gator says:

    Steven Mosher “I dont know if the decision maps neatly on to individualist/ collectivist divide.
    As an individualist I want to manage my own risk. which to me means a rapid test every day”
    But taking a rapid test doesn’t manage YOUR risk — you are taking this test so that you hopefully will not go out and infect others if you get a positive result. You are taking this test entirely to benefit other people.

    Joshua “The spike in infections is pretty striking – but as of yet not much spike in deaths at all – I think I read something about a slight increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. …”
    Anecdote — I have a friend who manages a floor in a major CA hospital dealing with Covid. Knowledge of the disease and treatment has changed with experience. He described successful recent treatment of a young women with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) for example; he is sure she is alive today because of that, and that treatment was not being used for covid back in April. I dunno if this accounts for all of the apparent change in mortality, but surely better treatment accounts for some of it.

  202. Bob Loblaw says:

    But taking a rapid test doesn’t manage YOUR risk — you are taking this test so that you hopefully will not go out and infect others if you get a positive result. You are taking this test entirely to benefit other people.’

    Not necessarily. As a totally selfish person, someone could want to get tested often so that they catch the illness as early as possible, in the hopes that early treatment reduces the severity. Someone could have this viewpoint even if there is no legitimate early treatment that reduces severity – something doesn’t have to exist for someone to believe in it.

    There is no necessity that someone give a rat’s @$$ about anyone else.

    Of course, someone could be selfish and still care about others.

  203. izen says:

    @-DBB
    “izen — DBB, if you please.”

    Sorry.
    used to deal a lot with a D.E.B, old habits…..

  204. izen says:

    @-Bob
    “Of course, someone could be selfish and still care about others.”

    Altruism is rooted in self-interest.
    Life is better for the individual if it is also better for otters.
    Society is not optimal if it is a zero sum game.

  205. gator says:

    Bob Loblaw “There is no necessity that someone give a rat’s @$$ about anyone else.”

    You just invented the hook to get those people to comply with frequent testing. Thumbs up! Now think of a way to get them to wear a mask.

  206. Bob Loblaw says:

    ” Now think of a way to get them to wear a mask.”

    The same way we get them to wear pants in public.

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