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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Crichton on the "hockey stick"

Michael Crichton testifies before the US Senate last month. Excerpt:
Why did the UN accept Mann's report so uncritically? Why didn't they catch the errors? Because the IPCC doesn't do independent verification. And perhaps because Mann himself was in charge of the section of the report that included his work.

The hockeystick controversy drags on. But I would direct the Committee's attention to three aspects of this story. First, six years passed between Mann's publication and the first detailed accounts of errors in his work. This is simply too long for policymakers to wait for validated results.

Second, the flaws in Mann's work were not caught by climate scientists, but rather by outsiders-in this case, an economist and a mathematician. They had to go to great lengths to obtain data from Mann's team, which obstructed them at every turn. When the Canadians sought help from the NSF, they were told that Mann was under no obligation to provide his data to other researchers for independent verification.

Third, this kind of stonewalling is not unique. The Canadians are now attempting to replicate other climate studies and are getting the same runaround from other researchers. One prominent scientist told them: "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."
People complain about scientists being in the pay of oil companies, cigarette companies and so on with good reason. Yet they are perfectly willing to overlook the self-interest of scientists producing data for policy makers who are also paying them large sums of money, policy makers who almost without fail see doomsday round the corner and must make that decision NOW.

Compare that with how Crichton describes the strictures of medical research
It's 1991, I am flying home from Germany, sitting next to a man who is almost in tears, he is so upset. He's a physician involved in an FDA study of a new drug. It's a double-blind study involving four separate teams---one plans the study, another administers the drug to patients, a third assess the effect on patients, and a fourth analyzes results. The teams do not know each other, and are prohibited from personal contact of any sort, on peril of contaminating the results. This man had been sitting in the Frankfurt airport, innocently chatting with another man, when they discovered to their mutual horror they are on two different teams studying the same drug. They were required to report their encounter to the FDA. And my companion was now waiting to see if the FDA would declare their multi-year, multi-million-dollar study invalid because of this contact.
Compare that level of rigorousness to that you find at the IPCC. Not even close, not by a long shot.
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Posted by Chefen | 10/06/2005 06:34:00 pm


Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

You should read some of the snarky comments made about Crichton by Mann et al. They ignored his points and (of course) attacked his sci-fi background.

10/06/2005 06:50:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Crichton probably has halitosis as well for all we know. Mann & co have been well and truly blown out of the water, descending to ad hominem is the final sign of loss for a "scientist". It wouldn't matter except his farcical "graph" became the foundation of the entire house of cards and now too many people, pollies and scientists, have pegged their careers to it to let it fall anytime soon.

10/06/2005 06:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The easiest to read and most damning examination of the Hockeystick chart can be found here.


10/06/2005 08:32:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Thanks for the link anon. I've turned it into a post, in terms my simplistic mind can better understand.

I kinda thought the hockey stick theory was pucked.

10/06/2005 09:46:00 pm  
Blogger Ted C is Me said...

I dare anyone to find counter-counter-Kyoto arguments which do NOT descend to the ad hominem level...to my mind, the "in the pay of the oil industry" riff alone disqualifies 90% of the pro-Kyoto mob from further comment...

10/09/2005 12:24:00 am  

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