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Did Douglass, Christy, Pearson & Singer (2007) arrive at incorrect conclusions because they are not competent ?

in statistics or because their "robust statistical test" was engineered to produce deceptive and misleading results. The Douglass et. al. study is found here.

A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions

David H. Douglass 1 *, John R. Christy 2, Benjamin D. Pearson 1 a, S. Fred Singer 3 4

The results of Douglass et. al. are shown to be incorrect here

Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere

B. D. Santer 1 *, P. W. Thorne 2, L. Haimberger 3, K. E. Taylor 1, T. M. L. Wigley 4, J. R. Lanzante 5, S. Solomon 6, M. Free 7, P. J. Gleckler 1, P. D. Jones 8, T. R. Karl 9, S. A. Klein 1, C. Mears 10, D. Nychka 4, G. A. Schmidt 11, S. C. Sherwood 12, F. J. Wentz 10


Prior questions asked about the significance of the Santer et. al. study.;_ylt=ApgP6...;_ylt=AkQTh...

I am not asking for an opinion about the Douglass et. al. study, I am asking for an opinion about the motivation for the study and what does this indicate about the competence and credibility of Douglass, Christy, Pearson & Singer?


Ben: here is the broken link

The issue is scientific integrity. If Douglass et. al. had used established and proper methodology, they would have concluded, based on the data sets that they used, that the evidence was inconclusive. Instead they invented a statistical procedure to produce an intended result. That is scientific misconduct. Journalists have been known to depart from the truth to sell a story. Scientists are expected to work to a different standard.

Update 2:

Eric: you are changing the topic. I condemn academic misconduct where ever it occurs. I reported a serious case of academic fraud on another matter to the RCMP commercial crime division last year. The perps occupy senior positions at a university. There has been a cost, but I believe in integrity. Please stick to the topic of Douglas et. al. If you want to talk about others, ask another question.

Update 3:

Eric: you are changing the topic. I condemn academic misconduct where ever it occurs. I reported a serious case of academic fraud on another matter to the RCMP commercial crime division last year. The perps occupy senior positions at a university. There has been a cost, but I believe in integrity. Please stick to the topic of Douglas et. al. If you want to talk about others, ask another question.

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well I haven't seen much of Douglass or Pearson's work. Christy on the other hand - I've had to view his work with an extra-skeptical eye ever since he and Spencer screwed up the UAH satellite data analysis to conclude that the lower troposphere was cooling. Christy was even interviewed on the Swindle talking about it.

    I think once you've made such a large error, become famous for those erroneous results, and then somebody else has to correct that error - not only does it show some degree of analytical incompetence, but it also may bias you toward the result you had claimed for so long (namely that the AGW theory is flawed). Basically if it turns out that AGW is flawed, then Christy and Spencer are somewhat vindicated.

    On top of that, there's also evidence that the UAH TLT analysis continues to be flawed to this day:

    "I find that the annual cycle shown in recent UAH TLT data is implausibly large, is implausibly very strong in the tropics, is implausibly larger over NH ocean than land, and is implausibly of roughly the same phase in both hemispheres."

    "My final conclusion from the previous post stands: there’s something wrong with UAH TLT data."

    And then there's this flawed Douglass et al paper. That's a lot of analytical errors by Christy, and I think it's fair at this point to say he's not very statistically competent.

    As for Singer, first he said CFCs weren't causing the hole in the ozone layer, then he said secondhand smoke didn't cause lung cancer, and now he says AGW is a scam. And coincidentally, he was also interviewed in the Swindle. Great cast of characters in that film.

    I don't know about Singer's competence, I would say based on his history it may be more likely that his scientific opinion is for sale to the highest bidder.

    But regardless, it's clear that the statistical analysis in the Douglass et al paper was highly flawed, and I don't think it was a coincidence that it was flawed in the direction of disputing AGW.

  • bob326
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Motivation of the study? Really, dx, this post is below you. Yes, there is a major flaw in the Douglass et al., study. There also looks to be some flaws in the Santer et al., paper, though not quite as large and/or blatant.

    Do I take a skeptical eye when looking at the work of Douglass and Christy? Like Dana, yes, but then again, I take a skeptical eye when looking at any research I come across, as everyone should. Christy is competent and credible. Singer, not so much. Douglass--I haven't read enough of his work to come to any major conclusions. One major flaw (or even several) in their research does not mean all credibility should be lost. Christy, at least, has a long and meritorious career in atmospheric science.

    And I would not take lightly any accusations of scientific misconduct.

  • Ben O
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    If you were being objective, you would say, the findings of Douglass et. al. are questioned or disputed by Santer et all, not "shown to be incorrect". I'm not sure Santer et al even claim to have findings contrary to Douglass et all, just slightly different.

    Any mathematical modelling is by nature an approximation and simplification of an extremely complex phenomenum. What Santer et all claim to have done is found an innacuracy which could be made more accurate, which of itself means nothing because the same could be said about any scientific analysis. They've also produced their own study which shows the same trend, but they claim it isn't statistically sigificant.

    Most of the links you posted don't work, but I haven't found anywhere where Santer et all claim to have contrary findings. They only claim that their numbers are less adverse to the theory of global warming by an enhanced greenhouse effect. They haven't said how much less adverse they are.

    The motivation for the study by Douglass et al is clearly to set the record straight and the motivation of Santer et al is to attempt to disprove Douglass et al.

    Nobody is trying to be evil here, but some people are trying to overstate global warming for the percieved greater good.

  • eric c
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I had to laugh when I read your comment to Ben about scientific integrity. You have a comment under oath before congress from David Demming (formerly from the University of Oklahoma, who was fired a couple of days ago for being a well known skeptic):

    “ Around 1996, I became aware of how corrupt and ideologically driven current climate research can be. A major researcher working in the area of climate change confided in me that the factual record needed to be altered so that people would become alarmed over global warming. He said, "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."

    You have Mann coming out with the hockey stick graph using very bad statistics. He refused to release his source code. A prestigious magazine refused to publish McIntyre and Mckitrick's rebuttal to the hockey stick study saying "it was of no interest to its readers"!!!! A study that was front and centre of the IPCC third assessment report that may have contained serious flaws, and they were saying that no one would be interested in that?

    Does this quote sound like someone with integrity?

    Scientist’s need “to get some broader based support, to capture the public’s imagination...that, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have…each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

    Stephen Schneider, Senior Fellow at the Center for Environment Science and Policy of the Institute for International Studie, and Professor by Courtesy in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, Discover Magazine.

    I suggest you read this article by Lindzen about the corruption in the climate science community, and then talk to me about integrity.

    Edit: You question sounds more like a rant than a question. Your only purpose is to discredit a group of scientists.

    Do you also know that 16 of those authors are non statisticians? Doug Nychka, is a statistician who, unfortunately, is no longer independent.

    To answer your question then. The motivation is seeking the truth. I suggest you read this discussion by McIntyre, were real experts discuss the statistical analysis of Santer et al.

    Does this also sound familiar? How much scientific integrity does Santer have? From McIntyre:

    At present, I've requested the 49 Santer runs as used, but have received no response from Santer other than that he is at a workshop. The Santer coauthor with whom I've cordially corresponded did not personally ever receive a copy of the data and indicates that Santer will probably take the position that I be obliged to run the irrelevant gauntlet of trying to reconstruct his dataset from first principles, even to do simple statistical tests - the sort of petty silliness that is incomprehensible to the public.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    My first reaction was yes. But on page 4/11 the realclimate link emphases how the CCSP Reports relied on non peered reviewed publications. In retrospect it could of happen to anyone...wrong place at the wrong time. If one has the time to read about all the stastical datasets NASA reconcils, it amounts to a very long list. But thats not a bad thing, it just shows things change during the gathering of information.

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't know the studies...but in divining the future think about the early 1900s there was a oil crisis...we were running new sources...they whale oil was gone with the whales..the price went to 3 even 4 dollars a gallon......then OMG the answer...coal oil...expensive but prices would go down with high production...oops...forget coal oil...big oil strike in Pennsylvania...with the production of cars demand jumped...not enough oil!!!! prices about 5 dollars a gallon...a weeks paycheck for most...OMG we are running out of oil again 1910..1920,,,big strikes in Texas...spindle top!!!! oil prices 5 cents a gallon.... world war 2 oil rationing....and on and on...never believe a prediction [or scientific study]

    Source(s): been alive 56 yrs...lived through Jimmy carter LOL
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    sorry d/dx, i cant really contribute, just reading v interesting,

    but i wanted to thank linlyons for the sourcewatch link. gosh arent there some good sites now!

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