Cliff's Notes version for those who don't have the time to RTWT: The Global Warming "Hockey Stick" showing that most warming has been recent, and man-made (as shown in Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth") is not just hooey, it's almost certainly fraudulent.
While I don't know for certain, I suspect that Kim picked up on this particular story since he has a background in statistics. Statistics originally got started so that there would be a mathematical way to know when someone's trying to snooker you.
While I wasn't trained as a scientist, I was trained as an engineer (Electrical, thanks for asking), so I'm not a complete n00b when it comes to the Scientific Method. I don't want to shock you, but lots of science is hooey. That's just how science is; a wag once described the scientific process as "not replacing a falsehood with a truth, but rather replacing a falsehood with a more subtle falsehood." So I don't have a problem with Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) being wrong. I do have a problem with actual, you know, fraud. The pre-meditated sort, for professional gain:
That the statistical foundations on which they had built this paleoclimate castle were a swamp of misrepresentation, deceit and malfeasance was, to Wahl and Amman, an irrelevance. For political and public consumption, the hockey stick still lived, ready to guide political decision-making for years to come.Orson Scott Card discussed this some time ago.
This is background to the "Jesus Paper" post. It's more accessible (not much discussion of statistics, for example), and more entertaining, but both describe the same fraud. I'd like to think that this is an isolated incident, but it's not.
What's crucial is that Steve now understands why the "censored" data sets are smaller than the ones Mann used. The full source data includes those misleading results that shouldn't have been used. But the "censored" data sets leave it out.
This means that Mann knew exactly what he was doing. This was not an accident. Mann ran the program on the data without the misleading numbers, and then he ran it with the misleading numbers. What he published was the results that made his ideological case.
Bjorn Lomborg is a statistician, and wrote a book called the Skeptical Environmentalist. It documented a bunch of mistakes and failures in climate model computer programs. It was well documented (you might say excessively footnoted) and peer-reviewed by earth scientists. Michael Crichton has a long but worthwhile post that discusses this (among other cases of politically motivated scientific orthodoxy):
The scientific community responded in a way that can only be described as disgraceful. In professional literature, it was complained he had no standing because he was not an earth scientist. His publisher, Cambridge University Press, was attacked with cries that the editor should be fired, and that all right-thinking scientists should shun the press. The past president of the AAAS wondered aloud how Cambridge could have ever "published a book that so clearly could never have passed peer review." )But of course the manuscript did pass peer review by three earth scientists on both sides of the Atlantic, and all recommended publication.) But what are scientists doing attacking a press? Is this the new McCarthyism-coming from scientists?The worst was Scientific American - once a great magazine - debasing themselves with a whole issue as a hit piece on the Skeptical Environmentalist. Not only did they only publish critical articles by notorious, bised authors like Paul Ehrlich, not only did they refuse Lomborg the space to rebut these articles in detail, not only did they threaten to sue him for copyright infringement if he posted his rebutal online, but they titled the issue "Science defends itself from 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'".
Well now. I may be a rube that went to State U, but science doesn't need to defend itself. Nature provides the data, and if it's not reproduceable, you're wrong. "The scientist proposes and nature disposes."
All of this is cut from the same cloth, which is the intellectual class trying to wrap its pet theories up in scientific garb. When someone smells a rat, and starts a, you know, actual scientific discussion about the matter, all you hear is wagons being circled and Professor Torquemada issuing an excommunication. Sentence first, then the trial. Ask Larry Summers.
Personally, I'm skeptical about the whole AGW theory, because I'm actually pretty well versed on long-term (i.e. million-plus year) climate variation, and it doesn't look like anything is particularly out of whack today. I'm also pretty well versed in computer programming, and the fallibility of computer models. But I'm willing to keep an open mind - you know, be scientific, and look at the evidence.
However, when some idiot in the press (or worse, the American Association for the Advancement of Science) tells me that the debate is over, that there's a "consensus", that people who are unconvinced are "deniers" who should be fired (or jailed) - I reach for my wallet, and you should, too. Consensus? What the heck does that mean in scientific terms? I don't give a dang about the consensus, I care about the data. Oh, and I really, really care if you won't show me your data (like Mann and his Hockey Stick).
Deniers? Every scientific advance from Galileo to Darwin to Nils Bohr involved denying accepted wisdom. If you can't take the heat, get the heck out of the lab.
The sad realization is that much - maybe a majority - of the scientific community is involved not in science, but in class warfare. Eric Raymond - as always - puts the knife in:
You're part of the in crowd, or you're not. Me, I guess I'm not.
Secularists and leftists enjoy sneering at conservative Christians who believe in the Rapture and other flavors of millenarianism. Reasonably so: it takes either a drooling idiot or somebody who has deliberately shut off most of his brain, reducing himself to an idiotically low level of critical thinking, to believe such things....
It is therefore more than a little amusing to notice how prone these ’sophisticated’ critics are to their own forms of idiotic millenarianism.
UPDATE 17 August 2008 16:07: Confederate Yankee has a very interesting post about how we may actually be heading into global cooling (meaning new Ice Age). He has temperature graphs for the last 12,000 years, the last 100,000 years, and the last 500,000. It's well worth your time.