Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data

Posted on 17 January 2012 by dana1981

Patrick Michaels is a research fellow at the Cato Institute think tank, the chief editor of the website World Climate Report, has been given a climate blog at the business magazine Forbes, and his articles are frequently re-posted at climate "skeptic" blogs like Watts Up With That (WUWT).  Despite his clear conflict of interest (Michaels has estimated that 40% of his work is funded by the petroleum industry), many people continue to rely on him as a reliable source of climate information.  This is an unwise choice, because Michaels also has a long history of badly distorting climate scientists' work.  In fact, not only does Michaels misrepresent climate research on a regular basis, but on several occasions he has gone as far as to manipulate other scientists' figures by deleting parts he doesn't like.

Patrick Michaels is a serial deleter of inconvenient data.

Hansen 1988

Skeptical Science has previously documented the most high-profile example of Michaels' serial data deletions, which involved James Hansen's 1988 study projecting future global warming.  James Hansen is a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and one of the world's foremost climate scientists.

Climate scientists aren't in the business of predicting how human greenhouse gas emissions will change in the future - that is a policy question.  Instead, climate scientists predict how the climate will change in response to a series of possible emissions scenarios (for example, continuing with business-as-usual emissions, dramatically cutting our emissions starting in the year 2020, etc.).  In 1988, Hansen used the NASA GISS climate model to predict how the planet would respond to three possible scenarios.  Scenario A assumed continued exponential (accelerating) greenhouse gas growth.  Scenario B assumed a reduced linear rate of growth, and Scenario C assumed a rapid decline in greenhouse gas emissions around the year 2000.  Hansen believed Scenario B was the most likely to come to fruition, and indeed it has been the closest to reality thus far.  In the summer of 1988, Hansen presented his results in testimony before U.S. Congress.

Ten years later, with the Kyoto Protocol international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the works, Patrick Michaels was invited to testify before Congress about the state of climate science.  He spoke of Hansen's 1988 study, and in the process, grossly misrepresented its projections and accuracy by deleting Scenarios B and C, wrongly asserting that the planet had warmed "more than four times less than Hansen predicted." 

Original Version

Hansen 88 Figure

Michaels Version

Michaels Hansen Deletion

James Hansen had this to say about Patrick Michaels' distortion of his work:

"Pat Michaels, has taken the graph from our 1988 paper with simulated global temperatures for scenarios A, B and C, erased the results for scenarios B and C, and shown only the curve for scenario A in public presentations, pretending that it was my prediction for climate change. Is this treading close to scientific fraud?"

Michaels certainly didn't mess around with his first known case of data deletion, using it to mislead our policymakers as they decided whether or not to commit to reducing American greenhouse gas emissions (they ultimately refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol).  Michaels' other data deletions, while being almost as misleading, were not made on nearly as grand of a stage.

Schmittner 2011

Another example of Michaels' serial data deletion involved a paper by Schmittner et al. last year which attempted to estimate the climate sensitivity - how much the planet will warm in response to a continued rise of greenhouse gases.  Schmittner et al. used geologic data to calculate the climate sensitivity based on the transition between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the current relatively warm interglacial period (approximately 20,000 years ago), and came up with an estimate towards the lower end, but within the likely range listed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

However, there are two strong caveats associated with their results.  First, based on their interpretation of the geologic data, they estimated a smaller temperature change from the LGM transition than most previous studies, which was the main reason that their climate sensitivity estimate was relatively low.  Had they used a more widely-accepted global temperature change for the period in question, their climate sensitivity estimate would likely have been very close to the most likely estimate from the IPCC.

Second, and more relevant here, Schmittner et al. arrived at two fairly different results when they used ocean temperature data as opposed to land temperature data.  Their climate sensitivity estimate based on land-only data was significantly higher than with ocean-only data.  When they combined the two, the result was close to the ocean-only estimate, because the majority of their data came from ocean measurements.

This is an important caveat because climate sensitivity applies to the planet as a whole.  If different results are obtained from ocean and land data, then we can't be sure which is correct, and in fact many climate scientists are skeptical of the small LGM temperature change estimate, which is based heavily on the ocean temperature data.  Thus Schmittner et al. felt it important to include both estimates in the figures in their study.

However, it is very important for climate "skeptics" like Patrick Michaels that climate sensitivity be low.  This would mean that the planet will not warm as much in response to rising greenhouse gases, and we don't have to worry about reducing our emissions as quickly.  Thus as he did with Hansen's figure, Michaels deleted the inconvenient data from the figure in Schmittner et al., leaving only the combined estimate, which as noted above, is heavily weighted by the lower, ocean-based climate sensitivity estimate. 

Original Version

schmittner sensitivity

Michaels Version

Michaels Schmittner Deletion

On Planet 3.0, thingsbreak had an excellent interview with Nathan Urban, co-author of Schmittner et al., in which Michaels' distortion of his results was discussed:

"World Climate Report doctored our paper’s main figure when reporting on our study.  This manipulated version of our figure was copied widely on other blogs....I find this data manipulation problematic.  When I created the real version of that figure, it occurred to me that it would be reproduced in articles, presentations, or blog posts.  Because I find the difference between our land and ocean estimates to be such an important caveat to our work, I made sure to include all three curves in the figure, so that anyone reproducing it would have to acknowledge these caveats....I find the result of their figure manipulation to be very misleading...They intentionally took our figure out of the context in which it was originally presented, a form of “selective quotation” which hides data that does not support their interpretation...I find World Climate Report’s behavior very disappointing and hardly compatible with true skeptical inquiry"

Gillett 2012

The latest example of Michaels' serial data deletion involves a recent paper by Gillett et al. which like Hansen (1988), projects future global warming in several different emissions scenarios.  However, Gillett et al. made three different projections for each scenario.  For the first projection, they simply ran their climate model to see how much global warming it would predict in each scenario.  For the other two projections, they scaled their climate model run based on observational temperature changes that they estimated from greenhouse gases and other influences over two timeframes, 1851-2010, and 1901-2000.

In their figure showing the results of these projections, they illustrated the results using the two different timeframes, because the results in each were markedly different.  When Gillett et al. constrained their model using the timeframe from 1851 to 2010, the model projected less warming than when they used the timeframe from 1901 to 2000.  

This is a very similar situation to Schmittner et al., in that using two different sets of data produced two fairly different sets of results.  Thus like Schmittner et al.,  Gillett et al. made a point to note the fact that their results were very sensitive to the timeframe they used, and included both results in their figures

But once again, the data projecting larger future global warming was inconvenient for Patrick Michaels' narrative, so he simply deleted it

Original Version

Gillette Projections

Michaels Version

Michaels Gillett Deletion

In these figures, the dashed lines in the horizontal direction are the projections from the unconstrained climate model for the three emissions scenarios (the RCPs).  The solid vertical lines are the model projections using the 1851-2010 data, and the dotted vertical lines (deleted by Michaels) are the model projections using the 1901-2000 data.

Deleters and Enablers

In every case discussed above, Michaels has deleted the data which contradict his constant arguments that the planet will warm less than most climate scientists expect, and thus that global warming is nothing to worry about.  Given his history as a serial data deleter, rather than being given so many platforms from which to spread his misinformation, Patrick Michaels (and certainly the World Climate Report website) should be considered an unreliable source of information.

This is a problematic situation.  There are a large number of people who simply don't want to accept the scientific reality that humans are causing rapid global warming.  However, this reality is accepted by the vast majority of scientific experts, because it is supported by the preponderance of scientific data.  Denial enablers like Anthony Watts, Forbes, and other media outlets have found a way around the first problem by giving fake skeptics like Patrick Michaels a platform to speak to those who are in denial about the science.  Patrick Michaels has found a way around the second problem by simply deleting the data which is inconvenient for his narrative, only presenting his audience with the bits of evidence which seem to support their denial, as long as the inconvenient data are ignored.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page


1  2  3  4  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 191:

  1. 1 - Bert.

    Not at all. Michaels is making an important point. Climate "skeptics" just can not make a case without distorting data. Any NGO, blog, commentator or presenter who uses this material is clearly and explicitly conceding that fact.

    As Mann recently point out

    "It's frustrating that to some extent all of that context had been lost and the result has been caricatured. Often the errors bars are stripped away, making it appear more definitive than it was ever intended."

    0 0
  2. Good to see these 'issues' being called upon. I note the utter silence on the well-known self-prclaimed 'true skeptic' websites regarding this misrepresentation from Michaels and the WCR. How different then during uproar that followed af the Himalayan error in the IPCC AR4 WGII report was found. One cannot help wondering if this is really true skepticism or merely one-sided skepticism...

    Here's Ben Santer showing how Micheals misrepresents science during a congressional hearing.
    0 0
  3. Cynicus @2,

    Michael's attempt to misled Congress (not for the first time as noted in the main post) was not only wrong as Ben Santer correctly noted it was also disingenuous (because we know Michaels knows better, either that or he is ignorant of the climate science). That Michaels was wrong has recently been reaffirmed by by Huber and Knutti (2011). They find:

    "Our results show that it is extremely likely that at least 74% (+/- 12%, 1 sigma) of the observed warming since 1950 was caused by radiative forcings, and less than 26% (+/- 12%) by unforced internal variability."

    Michaels could only create his illusion by excluding error bars and by ignoring the cooling affect of sulphates.

    Should you or I trust him or the World Climate Report that Michaels runs? The evidence strongly suggests no, we should not, nor should we trust people or groups who uncritically trumpet his ideological propaganda.
    0 0
  4. Cross-posted from another thread where World Climate Report (WCR) representative was trying to defend/justify them doctoring the Gillett et al. graph:

    "And if anyone had any doubts that this is an isolated incident by WCR (i.e., Michaels) they would be wrong, and it is not limited to doctoring graphs, but also ignoring or amending text from papers that does not support their narrative. Here DeepClimate shows how Michaels and Knappenberger misrepresented the work of Easterling and Wehner (2009) and Solomon et al. (2010) in a post titled "Michaels and Knappenberger’s World Climate Report: “No warming whatsoever over the past decade".

    There is a very clear pattern of deliberate attempts to mislead and misinform by the WCR. well, either "deliberate" or they have no clue how to properly undertake science and report on science."
    0 0
  5. Political comments are not allowed here. But What does the CATO Institute & Forbes Magazine have to do with Science?

    Dr. Michael- he represents both. Conflict of interest?
    0 0
  6. I know of at least one other related example. In Michaels' blog "The EPA to the greens: so sue us", Michaels deletes a caption for a figure from the USGCRP that contradicted Michaels' claims.

    Remarkably convenient, that.
    0 0
  7. cynicus-" One cannot help wondering if this is really true skepticism or merely one-sided skepticism..."

    It is neither.It is denialism.
    0 0
  8. Don't worry, Steve McIntyre will be along shortly to shine the light of truth on Michaels' unsavoury doings.

    Any moment now.

    Any... er...
    0 0
  9. tmac57,
    Putting on my pedantic hat, those in denial honestly believe, whatever belief that is; I find it difficult to imagine scenarios where you can exhibit a bias toward deleting information contrary to your position and still be called honest.
    0 0
  10. If Michaels, Singer, Ball, Spencer, McIntyre, McKitrick et al. were executives in a public corporation and committed such fraud in a Prospectus, Financial Statement or MD&A there would be an outcry and charges would be laid. Why are people associated with think tanks, Universities and other Institutions exempt from this?

    For example, three top executives of Nortel Networks Corporation are on trial today in Toronto for such examples of fraud.
    0 0
  11. Dana's excellent article has been cross-posted in its entirety on both Climate Progress and on Planetsave.

    "Cato’s Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data” Climate Progress

    "Patrick Michaels Loves to Delete Inconvenient Data” Planetsave
    0 0

    [dana1981] Thanks, also by Climate Crocks and Deltoid.

  12. Has no one reproduced Hansen's '88 study using actual measured data as opposed to scenarios A, B & C? It's been almost 25 years, that might make for an interesting investigation.
    0 0

    [dana1981] Indeed several have, including SkS here and here

  13. tmac57, I may have another one: professional disinformation.

    Anyhow, now that these problems have been shown, will the WCR staff correct them? The IPCC did fixed the Hymalaya error (took a while though), so as the WCR strives to be better then the IPCC I assume they will fix pronto? Chip, tell me you will please...
    0 0
  14. hi dana, glad you getting noticed! writing style for general consumption cracked i reckon; very clear, no jargon (barmaid understands all), no sarcasm (despite this guy being such a prime target), no reps except last para, excellent clear graphics as usual. sorry, i sound like a school teacher!
    cheers, lrg
    0 0
  15. Extensive profile of Patrick J. Michaels, and an entire page only about Patrick_J._Michaels's funding
    0 0
  16. Publication of deliberately false climate change data literally ought — i.e., MUST — be treated, not as a peccadillo, but as a Crime Against Humanity.

    False climate change data a Crime Against Humanity
    0 0
  17. From the first link in my post #16

    In 2004: Michaels-McKitrick Climate paper basic error
    Michaels "co-operated with Ross McKitrick on another paper that managed to "prove" that global warming wasn't happening by mixing up degrees with radians."
    0 0
  18. prokaryotes @17,

    The fundamental error and its implications is discussed at Deltoid.

    But to be fair, that time they did not delete inconvenient data, they were just being grossly incompetent.
    0 0
  19. cygnus@2 Thanks for the link to that video. Surely it must be an offence to knowingly mislead Congress? Aren't witnesses presumed to have sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Michaels is supposedly an expert who knows better, not just some guy they met in a bar. Who was it who said "half a truth is a whole lie"? Jeez, I must have led a sheltered life: I would have expected a patriotic American to guide his government to the best of his ability, not misguide them.
    0 0
  20. Almost 1 year ago, today...

    Rep. Waxman Presses for Inquiry on Global Warming Denier Pat Michaels
    0 0
  21. prokaryotes @20,

    So can we assume that Upton (a staunch anti-science Republican and denies that we need to reduce our GHG emissions) turned a blind eye and failed to follow up?

    It would not surprise me. Nothing these anti-science extremists do surprises me anymore.
    0 0
  22. Re. my further thoughts @16 in yesterday's (16th Jan) posts under the 'Issue of the Week' item. Michaels would seem to be exactly the sort of person I am targetting.
    0 0
  23. Michaels has responded on WCR, but his response as usual is a whole bunch of...let's call them untruths. We're discussing whether his comments warrant a response.
    0 0
  24. Remember, folks, Patrick Michaels is the guy who republished a map with two entire islands missing and claimed it was accurate, see Michaels Mischief #3: Warming Island

    I'd bet Michels never won a spot the difference competition.
    0 0
  25. dana1981,

    Try as I might, I honestly cannot see why the uproar over our treatment of either Schmittner et al. or Gillett et al. As Pat pointed out over at WCR, our presentations closely followed the Abstract (as written by the original authors) of each paper. It was never our intention to discuss the intricacies of the paper, but to introduce our audience to their existence and place the findings in some context. Don’t you all, here at SkepticalScience publish collections of abstracts from the recent literature from time to time to alert your readers? Perhaps it would sit easier with you if you just considered us as presenting an “abstract” of main Figures in each paper?

    And as far as the 1998 testimony goes, your article has added absolutely nothing new to the topic which has been discussed ad nauseum at various point and places across the web. I have laid out my take on the event in various Real Climate discussions (see here and here and my comments esp. #21, #65, and #90 of the first link). Nothing has really changed since then, from either side.

    So to me at least, your article lacks both novelty and substance—but then again, perhaps I am too close to the situation to offer a fair assessment.

    -Chip Knappenberger
    World Climate Report
    0 0

    [DB] Chip, you are neither the focus of the OP of this thread nor are you the Chief Editor of the World Climate Report (WCR).  Michaels is, both.  So while your opinion is duly noted, Michaels failing to personally present his case on this thread will be construed as de facto evidence of the merit of the OP.

    Unlike WCR, comments are allowed by all parties in this forum, with the caveat that comments be on-topic of the thread on which they are placed and that they also be constructed to comply with the Comments Policy.  That standard should prove no difficulty for men of good character and conscience.

  26. Chip @25,

    Please let Michaels speak for himself. Why does Pat Michaels send someone else to cover up his dirty work for him? This speaks volumes about Pat Michaels, he likes to try and control the message-- no one is allowed to comment at WCR. How cowardly, how totally untransparent and how nicely designed to evade critique. The double standards at WCR are astounding.

    I suggest that from now on you let Pat speak for himself and defend his own transgressions. Surely he is man enough to to defend his own work, rather than have a foot soldier do the work for him?

    What stuns me is that in trying to defend/rationalize/justify his doctoring of graphs, Michaels then elects to propagate more half truths, and misinformation, while making a good few strawman arguments to boot. (-snipYou guys know no shame. It is clear that Patrick Michaels (and anyone defending him) lost his (their) moral and ethical compass a long time ago-).
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please, let us model what we wish others to emulate.

    Inflammatory snipped.

  27. Chip Knappenberger#25: "... It was never our intention to discuss the intricacies of the paper"

    That is a recipe for spreading misinformation. By pulling selectively from the abstract and neglecting to analyze the work, you may as well be summarizing a newspaper by reading the front page headlines only.

    A case in point is Michaels' commentary here:

    Schmittner et al. results join a growing number of papers published in recent years which ... have come to somewhat similar conclusions, especially regarding the (lack of) evidence to support the existence of the fat right-hand tail.

    That 'presentation' cleverly missed the fact that Schmittner found low sensitivity in large part by using data that were truncated at the high and low ends and a model with known limitations. There is 'no evidence' of the fat tail because the authors didn't look at the fat tail.

    But from this you feel free to build false conclusions:

    But, as the evidence mounts against a high value for the climate sensitivity ... the IPCC is going to be hard-pressed to retain the status quo in its Fifth Assessment Report, especially in light of the enhanced scrutiny that its AR4 misdeeds brought upon the process.

    Nice to see Michaels taking an opportunity to throw a punch at the IPCC with unspecified 'misdeeds'. Such superficial analysis has lots of color, but no substance. Gross simplification makes it easy to spin, if that is your real goal.
    0 0
  28. Chip @25,

    "Try as I might, I honestly cannot see why the uproar over our treatment of either Schmittner et al. or Gillett et al."

    Seriously? You are that numb to the severity of your actions?! (-snipIt is probably because you have deluded yourself-). People are very good at rationalizing and defending even the most indefensible of crimes Chip. It is also probably because you chose to simply ignore/dismiss Dr. Urban's and Dr. Hansen's legitimate concerns-- ignore them and the problem goes away, at least in your mind.

    If you fail to see the uproar, just shows how completely divorced you are from acceptable and ethical scientific practices. You and Michaels are routinely engaging in scientific misconduct-- but you will deny that, just as you deny the seriousness of continuing along our current emissions path.

    Anyhow, I for one will from now on respond only to Patrick Michaels (the promulgator of misinformation, distortion and half truths, and the deleter of inconvenient data) (-snipshould he manage to summon the courage to post here-).

    I hope your conscience, (-snipshould you have one,-) does not let you sleep well tonight.
    0 0

    [DB]Again, let us embody that we wish others to emulate.

    Inflammatory snipped.

  29. I would also like SkS readers to note that Chip elected to post his above comments after Pat Michaels made several untrue, offensive and disparaging comments about Dana and SkS in his post at WCR (which has now predictably been parroted uncritically by Anthony Watts).

    I find that highly duplicitous on Mr. Knappenberger's part. Chip can drop the "good cop, bad cop" shtick, no one is buying that little act anymore.
    0 0
  30. Chip, if you really can't see what's wrong with repeatedly deleting inconvenient data from other scientists' papers, then perhaps you should take that as a sign that you've been working with Pat Michaels for too long.
    0 0
  31. It seems to me that Chip Knappenberger's defense of Michaels and the World Climate Report @25 can only hold validity if Michaels and the World Climate Report similarly reported on (for example) studies which find high climate sensitivity. They clearly do not do so. Given that failure, a failure to analyze and report on the caveats and possible flaws of studies that they do report on can only be regarded as telling half truths.

    In stark contrast to Michaels'and Knappenburger's very selective approach to information, the new series (for SkS) on Skeptical Science that he highlights does report on all relevant studies, even those we personally consider to be poorly done, or whose results we may happen to disagree with.
    0 0
  32. Tom @31,

    "....if Michaels and the World Climate Report similarly reported on (for example) studies which find high climate sensitivity"

    Highly doubtful. They wish to pursue a very particular narrative-- that climate sensitivity is low, so there is no need to limit GHG emissions. Quite simple.

    For example, I find no evidence of WCR or Michaels publishing and highlighting the paper by Lunt et al. (2010).
    0 0
  33. I am astounded that Knappenberger thinks that Michaels' actions are acceptable. That he compares paper abstracts to selective use of figure portions makes me think he has never drawn a figure for publication, yet he is author on several publications. I wonder how he would feel if, as in one of his publications, all mortality data below 70F temperature was casually missed out and a new caption written? It would utterly alter the conclusion one takes from the graph.

    An abstract is written by the author and so is usually a fair summary of the key elements and findings of the paper (though there are of course poor abstracts!). There is less room for misinterpretation as it is the author summarising the paper's findings, in a setting where a summary is expected. A figure is usually a very important element of a paper in which details are refined and the exact presentation is often quite painstakingly deliberated over in order to present a point and make best use of space. Deliberately leaving some of the information out of a figure can completely alter the conclusion one takes from the figure. It is noteworthy, as Dana says, that the data deleted always happens to be in one direction - this is not a neutral "abstraction" of a figure.
    0 0
  34. And let's face it. If you want to use a particular part, range, area, scenario of a graphic to emphasise that you are talking about this specific thing, modern photoshopping or other techniques can easily let you bold or highlight the target and present the others in faded or other minimised fashion. No need to omit entirely.

    And the same thing goes for arguments and for data selection. If you want or need to exclude them, you can find a way to say "I've left out ... because ..."

    There is neither explanation nor excuse for silent omission.
    0 0
  35. (-snipSeriously guys your outrage exceeds its merit-). Our WCR articles covering the work of Schmittner et al. and Gillett et al. would not be impacted in the slightest had we not included the figures in question at all. In both cases, we included large portions of the abstracts in our coverage so our audience could read how the authors summarized their findings in their own words. We included our version of the figures to help visualize what the authors were describing in the abstracts. If the figures bother you so much, just put your hands over them when reading the article, the take home message is unaffected.

    If you don’t like the conclusions of our WCR articles, fine. But to go after our handling of the figures with such (-snipdisdain-), when they are immaterial to the points we are making (because you could read a textual description of them written by the authors themselves in the included abstracts), just seems like making noise for the sake of making noise.

    -Chip Knappenberger
    World Climate Report
    0 0

    [DB] Inflammatory tone snipped.

  36. Chip Knappenberger - So: you have modified major graphs from various papers for various reasons.

    Does that mean you would support modifying quotes from various papers as well? Because that's exactly the same behavior - changing context and presentation to emphasize a particular point.

    "But to go after our handling of the figures with such disdain, when they are immaterial to the points we are making..."

    Yes, folks can dig in further. And find out that Michael has misrepresented the data by omitting large portions of it. Your figures are essential to the points you are making - and you are being disingenuous.
    0 0
  37. >>If the figures bother you so much, just put your hands over them when reading the article, the take home message is unaffected.

    That strikes me as rather a silly defense. Obviously, the experts here could put their hands over the graphs and still get the message you are trying to convey. Unfortunately, the non-experts would be mislead by your graphs. If you claim that your message "would not be impacted in the slightest" had you left out the graphs, then why didn't you? What could possibly be the justification for doctoring a graph?

    My job right now involves creating graphs for a report. One thing I refused to do, even though my boss requested it, was make a graph with two scales for the same units, one on the left and one one the right, specifically because the difference in scale is considered bad practice and misleading. Your graph goes beyond what my boss asked me to do: in your case, even a careful reading of the graph would not reveal the missing time frame and easily leads to the wrong conclusion.
    0 0
  38. KR @36,

    Good points and valid ones too-- Michaels et al. have in the past modified the text of scientific papers to change its meaning as I noted at #4 above.

    It is very sad that Patrick Michaels apparently still has not got the decency to come here and defend his own transgressions, instead we have to repeatedly hear from a loyal apologist.

    If the graphics were immaterial to their case/narrative then why did they have to doctor them or even bother including them for that matter? The fact remains that they did both. You saying they are being disingenuous is being incredibly generous.

    Now this is when reasonable and rational people would apologize to both the authors and the journal, and would replace the doctored figures with the originals. But I they probably won't. If so, then I sincerely hope that the AGU goes after them.

    That is the nice thing about being a fake skeptic, you never have to concede error or correct mistakes. There is simply no accountability.

    There are more problems with Michael's sad attempt to justify his scientific misconduct while slander (SkS and Dana; for all we know Chip co-authored that response), but I'll let Dana have the pleasure of dealing with that.
    0 0
  39. KR @37,

    Actually Patrick Michaels also omitted key portions of the text from Gillett et al., so either way their readers have been mislead.

    Same deal with Schmittner et al. (2011).

    Now can you imagine their outrage and indignance had someone done that to one of their papers. Well, they now officially have no grounds whatsoever to complain about how anyone presents one of their papers.
    0 0
  40. For those new to the discussion: - Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger are principals in New Hope Environmental Services, "an advocacy science consulting firm" that apparently contracts with various fossil fuel interests (Patrick Michaels - 40% of income from the fossil fuel industry).

    I have seen a great deal of "advocacy" papers over the years. Many of them are worth reading - presenting interesting data that may have been overlooked, that supports their position.

    However, presenting edited graphs (and misquoting papers) IMO crosses the line between advocacy and, to be frank, deception. A harsh statement, but I feel well supported by the data, as presented in the OP here and on the links in various comments. Michaels and Knappenburger are living examples of the Nick Naylor character from Thank You For Smoking.
    0 0
  41. Chip said... If the figures bother you so much, just put your hands over them when reading the article, the take home message is unaffected.

    Or perhaps it might be advisable to cover both the graphs and the words at the same time. //sarcasm
    0 0
  42. 35 - Chip,

    Might I point out that your response is not just to the SkS authors (and commentors) but to the audience who read this material; a great many of whom are only interested in the substance of the posts - more than which "side" they're on...
    ... and, I should ad, many of whom are quite used to reading scientific papers as well as press articles, NGO reports etc.

    It can't really be said that your response is vindicating Michaels and WCR against the accusations made, now can it?

    If the authors of the papers put information in graphs to go with their own words, who are you guys to contradict them?

    All the examples above are of important data having been removed from the graphs which materially changes their content. Very poor practice.
    0 0
  43. If the graphs are not key instrumental to the point the WCR is trying to make in the text, then why not leave the graphs out? Or, alternatively, show them as the original authors created them.

    But showing the original graphs means including the data that contradicts the point the WCR is trying to make. However discussing and showing contradictory data is key in science, the IPCC does it constantly but the WCR doesn't. Even worse, WCR does not only fail to discuss existing contradictory data the authors actively delete it.

    Why is that? I have yet to see Chip or Patrick present a clear valid reason to actively delete contradictory data to the point they are trying to make.
    0 0
  44. #39 Albatrosss :
    "Now can you imagine their outrage and indignance had someone done that to one of their papers. Well, they now officially have no grounds whatsoever to complain about how anyone presents one of their papers."

    Honest brokers should always be honest. We should hold ourselves to higher standards than Michaels has done in the past.
    0 0
  45. Chip K at #35:
    "We included our version of the figures to help visualize what the authors were describing in the abstracts."

    Wouldn't using the original graphs the authors made be a better help in visualizing what the authors were describing? Why would doctoring the authors' original graphs (without saying so) make the graphs better express the authors' ideas? If a climate scientist had done that to a "skeptic" graph, don't you think there would be big outcry? As for the omission not affecting the argument you made, what nonsense. Of course it did, that was the whole point in doing what you did.
    0 0
  46. That Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger (and Watts, in his evasive turn) do not and/or will not acknowledge that this altering of the material is an egregious misrepresentation of the data, seems to reflect the more broad crisis of rational cognition that afflicts those who deny the validity of climate science.

    It's the intellectual equivalent of the punctum caecum. Just as with a visual blind spot, they are unable to see what is in that part of the field-of-view, and just as with a visual blind spot their brains fill in the gap with what it thinks should be there.

    For several years now I've been ruminating over the fact that humans as a species seem too fundamentally flawed to perceive, as a whole, the pickle that they're entering of their own volition. Given their audience's response and the authors' own comments after the criticism that has been justly levelled at them, I think that this ( and of itself, insignificant...) little antic of Michaels and Knappenberger (and by extension, of Watts) has cemented for me that the propensity for exaggerated subjective ideology/mythology is a phenotype too prevalent in the human genotype for the species' long term extancy.

    Or, more succinctly... Michaels, Knappenberger and Watts are proof that we're stuffed.
    0 0
  47. "Or, more succinctly... Michaels, Knappenberger and Watts are proof that we're stuffed." I had the same sick feeling last night. I'm not angry, but definitely feel sick about it. The thing is, as Albatross has discovered, if you post critically at Forbes, you'll likely get an email from Michaels. To him, he's the victim (of "pal review"), he can't see good intention in others, but only sees noble intention in himself, even when you point out things like this...
    0 0
  48. Sorry about the double post. Something odd happened when I refreshed.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [Albatross] No worries Bernard J. your duplicate post has been deleted.
  49. MarkR @44,

    "Honest brokers should always be honest. We should hold ourselves to higher standards than Michaels has done in the past."

    I, of course concur fully Mark, and we do hold ourselves to higher standards, or at least we strive to. Ordinarily this all goes without saying, but I think it needed to be said here because whatever moral high ground that Michaels thought he once might have held has just vanished (together with the deleted data and ignored text).
    0 0
  50. We probably all remember the hype surrounding the "Hide The Decline" email. The skeptic websites buzzed in outrage with posts about how scientists supposedly removed inconvenient data from the IPCC hockeystick graphs, how the world is actually cooling.
    But, ofcourse, the warming is real and the data was left out by the data supplier with good and publicly documented reasons.

    Even massively zoomed-in portions of graphs were minutely dissected by the skeptic auditors and again scientists were found guilty of hiding the cooling signal in tree rings by plotting other series on top of the supposedly 'inconvenient' data.
    Never mind that the skeptics got tricked by one of their own and that any hiding -if there was any at all- is impossible to notice at normal zoom scales.

    Yes, great storms of outrage ripped through the skeptic community. But that was a bit more then a year ago and how different the skeptics respond now when some fellow-skeptics remove inconvenient data from other peoples work. No outrage, no minutely dissected graph investigations. Nothing of that at all. On the contrary, there are only excuses.

    This is a clear case of how fake skepticism works.
    0 0

1  2  3  4  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2019 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us