Climate Scientists’ Road to Hell

If some of Michael Mann’s followers think that prominent skeptics belong in a special circle of hell (see ‘Mannte’s Inferno‘), here’s news for them.  The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell*, as proposed by Neuroskeptic blogspot, are likely to be well populated with climate scientists (*An excellent post from 2010 recently published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science).  CAGW alarmism seems to think ‘the end justified the means’ and supporters have gone to extraordinary lengths to defend or justify highly dubious actions.

Dante's Academic Hell

Image Source: Neuroskeptic Blogspot

If Hell is for the unrepentant and those who try to justify their sins, where might such individuals meet their end?  In Dante’s Inferno the sinners in each circle face a punishment for all eternity that befits their crimes. What punishments might be meted out in relation to climate (other than the generic ones suggested in the original post)?  With a little help from Josh, and a suitable sound track, let me take you through the Climate Scientists’ Road to Hell.

But let’s begin with the repentant.  These brave souls have seen the light and thus have avoided Hell but face Purgatory, where they toil in reparation.  One scientist who has dared to speak out is Judith Curry.  Her Climate Etc. blog is one of the few places where sceptics mix with believers and she has developed a reputation of giving no quarter to those who step over the line on epistemological attribution.  Mark Lynas might also get a pass for his willingness to criticize the IPCC for its renewables report with a conclusion that owed more to Greenpeace than science.

Jude of Arc mark_lynas_scr

First Circle: Limbo

According to Neuroskeptic:

“The uppermost circle is not a place of punishment, so much as regret. Those who have committed no scientific sins as such, but who turned a blind eye to it, and encouraged it by their awarding of grants and publications, spend eternity on top of this barren mountain, watching the carnage below and reflecting on how they are partially responsible…”

Reserved for those who observe the mess that climate science has become, subservient as it is to politics, and wonder whether redemption and a return to a true science-serving path is ever possible. Despite this they remain silent and do not speak out even in defense of others. This place could be full to bursting, such is the influence of the Hockey Team of reviewers and the carrot of climate-related funding.

Likely Denizens:  hamstrung journal editors and others for whom keeping jobs has been more important than truth; reviewers who wanted to keep in with the Hockey Team; scientists fearful of having papers rejected; funding agencies (NSF, RCUK); many IPCC reviewers who quietly, but uncomfortably, toe the line (let’s hope more start to speak out).  Also found here would be The Royal Society, AGU and the world’s various scientific bodies.  They deserve to be  castigated for following their own financial interests at the expense of science, or alternatively, simply being fooled. Scientific method anyone? What happened to insistence on testing and evidence?

Second Circle: Overselling

join_the_dots_scr“This circle is reserved for those who exaggerated the importance of their work in order to get grants or write better papers. Sinners are trapped in a huge pit, neck-deep in horrible sludge. Each sinner is provided with the single rung of a ladder, labelled ‘The Way Out – Scientists Crack Problem of Second Circle of Hell”

Well where do we start? Another level full to bursting. The whole climate ‘movement’ is based on overselling uncertain science, turning it into a world-threatening catastrophe.

BEST_PRscrWho deserves to spend eternity here? The IPCC most definitely, and in particular its political aides responsible for the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) which rides roughshod over uncertainties; a vast swathe of alarmist climate scientists; Richard Muller for promoting BEST in advance of peer-review; University press departments who will happily spin a story on any finding way beyond its original significance; Tim Flannery for PR and wild statements; the late Stephen Schneider for his encouragement of climate science to oversell the science “So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”; Al Gore for An Inconvenient Truth; Bill McKibben for connecting the dots. I could go on. 

Third Circle: Post-Hoc Storytelling

First we were told winters would be warmer and wetter: according to UEA’s David Viner “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,…”.  Then, just when we had forgotten how to build snowmen in Britain, snowy winters returned with a vengeance. Now we have the explanation “warming makes winters colder“.

dr lizIn fact those who tout weather-as-climate alarmism in general will reside here, of which the most recent example is probably Superstorm Sandy – a wimp beside the New England Hurricane of 1938.   James Hansen blamed Climate Change for the Russian heatwave of 2010 and US drought; NOAA disagreed publishing an article that it was “well within the bounds of natural climate variability”. Here also we have Al Gore for “Dirty Weather” along with Bill McKibben and Joe Romm. Basically, take an extreme weather event and blame climate change for it in the media. No matter that others speak out to counter this propaganda – the damage is done.

Richard Muller may be deserving of this circle for saying that he was a sceptic when he wasn’t, and for saying that the BEST results had converted him to alarmism when he had been in that camp from the start.

Greenpeace also gets a place here for their renewables reporting.  As Mark Lynas put it -

“Whilst the journal-published version looks like proper science, the propaganda version on the Greenpeace website has all the hallmarks of a piece of work which started with some conclusions and then set about justifying them.”

Fourth Circle: P-Value Fishing

“Those who tried every statistical test in the book until they got a p value less than 0.05 find themselves here, an enormous lake of murky water. Sinners sit on boats and must fish for their food. Fortunately, they have a huge selection of different fishing rods and nets (brandnames include Bayes, Student, Spearman and many more). Unfortunately, only one in 20 fish are edible, so they are constantly hungry.”

eric_the_red_scrMatt Briggs will appreciate this one and no doubt can suggest some misdemeanors.

On the basis that flawed use of statistical analysis also lands authors in this circle, we might find a certain Dr Eric Steig here, still arguing his side, having smeared warmth from the West Antarctic Peninsula across the continent as an artefact of his analysis.

A recent sinner here would be Dr Vaughan Pratt of Stanford University and his execrable post Multidecadal climate to within a millikelvin on Judith Curry’s blog, in which he claimed to have matched Hadley Centre temperatures (which have error bands around +-100 milliKelvins) to within “a few milliKelvins”. See Mike Jonas’ criticism Circular Logic not worth a Millikelvin on WUWT.

Of course the poster child for p-value abuse has to be a recent paper that links heat waves and birth defects. Willis takes the authors to task in “Keep doing that and you’ll go blind” while Matt Briggs also damns it (as is deserved). Really, some authors (and reviewers) need a common sense check.

Fifth Circle: Creative Use of Outliers


According to Neuroskeptic: “Those who ‘cleaned up’ their results by excluding inconvenient data-points are condemned here. Demons pluck out their hairs one by one, every time explaining that they are better off without that hair because there was something wrong with it.”

Climate scientists like to do things a little differently; sometimes the outliers are more useful than the bulk of the data.

The ultimate example of the use of outliers in climate science has to be the Yamal hockey stick, where one tree came to represent the entire global temperature (see also: here).

Sixth Circle: Plagiarism

Miscreants in the Sixth Circle of Hell should be forced to sit while unable to move or speak and repeatedly watch others being lauded in their place for their work, stolen and used without attribution.

plagiarismCopygate produced bluster over plagiarism of a book (by Raymond Bradley) by Edward Wegman’s report to Congress investigating hockey sticks before it was shown that Bradley had copied captions from a 1976 book, also without citation. Eventually Wegman was “slapped on the wrist” for ‘extensive paraphrasing’ and ‘poor attribution’. But lack of attribution seems common enough in climate science. Kevin Trenberth was caught out by Steve McIntyre and quietly added citations, while Anthony Watts handled attribution oversight by Matt Menne and NOAA in an exemplary manner.  At blog level Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate has certainly incorporated information without acknowledgement, probably out of pettiness as Steve McIntyre suggests.

See also Donna LaFramboise’s post highlighting uncomfortable parallels between text in a chapter of the IPCC Second Assessment Report (1995) and a book by the lead author.

Seventh Circle: Non-Publication of Data

Phil Jones and colleagues at UEA CRU, and Michael Mann/UVa get star billing here for their determination to avoid FOI requests.  Non-archiving of data counts too, but perhaps the most insidious example is the disappearing data from the Polar Urals enabling the perpetuation of the hockey stick sham. The story is well covered by Andrew Montford’s The Yamal Deception:

“… [Steve] McIntyre discovered that an update to the Polar Urals series had been collected in 1999. Through a contact he was able to obtain a copy of the revised series. Remarkably, in the update the eleventh century appeared to be much warmer than in the original – in fact it was higher even than the twentieth century. This must have been a severe blow to paleoclimatologists, a supposition that is borne out by what happened next, or rather what didn’t: the update to the Polar Urals was not published, it was not archived and it was almost never seen again.”

Eighth Circle: Partial Publication of Data

Michael Mann gets a nomination for this circle for telling the story but not the whole story in Nature.  Of course Phil Jones and Keith Briffa are condemned here too by Phil Jones’ email:

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Gergis et al, deserve a mention for prescreening of data (see subtitle “Screening Fallacy” here); selection of proxies in this manner constitutes partial publication – by only publishing the data that fits the presupposed relationship.  Partial publication could also be construed from the paper’s subsequent withdrawal – it partly made it.

lewpaper_scrNinth Circle: Inventing Data

The ultimate crime. Inventing results, or publishing such erroneous and/or contrived data that the results constitute fraud near as dammit, comes pretty close too.

Stephan Lewandowsky is an offender here for “an article relying on fraudulent responses at stridently anti-skeptic blogs to yield fake results“.

Peter Gleick lands himself in this circle too. Luboš Motl summarized it as published a guest post by Eric Dennis Selling your soul for a narrative: understanding the Gleick fraud:

This fraud did not involve any aspect of his own research, but was purely ideological in nature, directed against the Heartland Institute, [...]. Gleick impersonated a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents including the institute’s donor list. He proceeded to combine this material with a fabricated strategy memo, [...] and send the package anonymously to media organizations for the purpose of outing the donors and undermining future contributions.

Only after himself being outed as the source of these documents by the detective work of a non-catastrophist blog contributor, Gleick fessed up and thereby cemented his career self-sabotage.

Worthy of a Gleick Tragedy indeed.

902844-19260909-thumbnailFinally, if we total up the work done by Michael Mann and IPCC collaborators in producing, perpetuating and defending the Hockey Stick graph, clearly he has done plenty to earn a spot here for eternity.  It is a lot more than just ‘hiding the decline’ – see a History Of How The Hockey Stick Was Manufactured; How to Make a Hockey Stick– Paleoclimatology (What they don’t want you to know) and consider what Climategate, and FOI uncovered. If you are still in any doubt, review maps and graphs from Jo Nova’s Fraudulent hockey sticks and hidden data that make it clear ‘just how brazen the Hockey Stick fraud is’.

ipcc_titanicthat_sinking_feeling_scrI like to think of Mann and his IPCC cohorts marooned in a ship frozen into the Arctic ice at the pole waiting in vain each year for the summer melt to bring an ice-free Arctic thus enabling the release of their ship.  In the meantime they are forced to use their own analytical methods to analyze large quantities of data.  If the method can produce anything other than a hockey stick they will escape, but it never does – all data run through the programme produces hockey sticks – even data from a telephone directory.

Acknowledgements: thanks are due to Anthony Watts, Andy C. (for suggesting the title and soundtrack) Mike J. for suggestions and links, and to DB Stealey for encouragement.  Thanks guys, I hope it met your expectations.

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25 Responses to Climate Scientists’ Road to Hell

  1. The high priests of climate science learned some of their wickedness from the Medieval church that sold indulgences (c.f. Carbon Credits).

    Thanks for a rib tickler and best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

  2. I just noticed your footnote. Like Rush Limbaugh you exceed audience expectations on a daily basis.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Right back at you! I clearly stated my source. I claim not to have seen yours. Since my source predates (2010) your posting (2012) can you say honestly that you had not seen it or a version by someone else that resulted from it? The levels and their numbering show a striking similarity. Here is the image – let others judge for themselves:

  3. hro001 says:

    Verity, that was a delight to read … a wonderful year-end wrap of the warps!

    All the best for 2013 :-)


    P.S. I think you need to bring over the image of Andrew’s Hiding the Decline to your image library on WP, as it is not currently showing here!

    [Reply - thank you - keep up the good work yourself, verity]

  4. Unfortunately some sceptics commit such “crimes” from time to time also. Most involve misrepresentation, claiming that a particular chart or graphic demonstrates or “proves” something when it most certainly does not. In one case, a chart is used (by several bloggers) to “prove” no recent Pacific sea level rise, when the source specifically states that the data used has had both trend and annual cycles removed. Something that has had the trend removed clearly won’t show one. Apologists might claim simple ignorance or misunderstanding, yet all of these authors provide a link to the containing document which clearly describes what the chart represents.

    I’d say that if you don’t understand precisely what charts or graphics represent, you shouldn’t use them, and if you don’t read any accompanying description of the data used and reproduce it along with the chart or graphic you’re guilty of “partial publication”, or gross misrepresentation or both. Such “sins” do the sceptical argument no good at all, especially as they are examples of “sins” which sceptics skewer the “other side” for committing. Cast out the mote from thine own eye first.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Personally I think a Skeptic’s Road to Hell is equally deserved. I am a great believer in the saying that when you point a finger at someone you have three pointing back at yourself.

      • “Whiter than white” is the required colour scheme for sceptics. Blindly accepting and applauding shaky “science” and “facts” is what we accuse warmists of. Doing the same is sheer hypocrisy, yet some blog posts and comments fall apart if subjected to even cursory verification, but even that process is conspicuously absent in those cases. Sceptical arguments don’t need such “support”; genuine facts and counter-arguments speak for themselves. Only the truth will do, even if it dilutes our case or counters a sceptical argument.
        nullius in verba

  5. John Robertson says:

    Thanks great post, I do not hold critics of the so-called science and the strangely uniform solution for every ill,of CAGW to the same standard.
    I did not attack others values, lifestyle and freedom, in the name of my ideology .
    But I have felt under attack for some years now and when people propose violence including imprisonment for questioning their beliefs, that as a home-owning, truck driving, productive member of society I am an evil carbon belching monster, I take offence.
    The less informed these do-gooders are, the more extreme their behaviour .Amazingly blind to the consequences of their own actions.Stunningly hypocritical.
    And the overlying point of the CRU emails, IPCC 4th report and UN statements, is science is being used as a cloak, as distraction.The IPCC is the cover used by govt and used for hysterical people control, not considered policy.
    Science is secondary, defeating the ideology is my primary goal, of course property replicated science is useful for ridiculing these buffoons.
    Your ridicule of the levels of hell the faithful create is superb.
    And ridicule seems to be the only way to reach the righteous of this faith.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Thank you. I had so many doubts about this. It took ages and at one stage was rather boring – I hadn’t got the tone right and it was a litany of complaint and woes. Overall I’m glad I stuck with it.

      Like Steve McIntyre I’m tired of the whole thing and it is easy to lack the will to go on. It’s hard to be original and find anything new worth saying. Actually it is the friends and acquaintances I’ve made that keep me blogging; I’d miss them.

  6. John Robertson says:

    The worst of the grind comes just before victory,those of you who have led the investigation, are needed to bring the newly dubious & curious up to speed.(help them avoid the overshoot)
    The Harper Govt actions give me some hope and the growing cynicism of the greater public as the teams clamour becomes more desperate,gives me even more.
    Now that the team is down to claiming weather is caused by acts of man,its almost over.
    The mopping up of this latest outburst of civic insanity, mass hysteria will be entertaining .
    If the normal climb down occurs, first the politicians will blame their science advisors, these bureaucrats will blame the published science and the scientists.
    The scientists get to be the scapegoats.
    Unless they can blame the media, who are the propagandists for this farce.
    But the true rot in my eyes is within our civic structures, these agencies, which were set up to prevent the damages public hysteria cause, have all failed.
    Yes I am very tired of the whole nonsense and since reading the CRU emails have noticed an inclination toward violence in my attitude toward my would-be saviours .
    Bottom line self-defence requires me to not ignore promises to kill me nor promises to rob me.
    If these Lemmings would have us stampede over the edge, I insist they go first.
    And the best resolution I can conceive at the moment is to ridicule and further discredit each and every politician and civil servant, who has actively promoted this hysteria, now and into the future.
    Banishment to the icy arctic being an unlikely punishment, shame cause it burns me up that the foolish and guilty have cost us all so much, yet they will get pensions and self applause not punished.

    I suppose we should be grateful that this lesson has not escalated into full warfare as yet and the needed reminder that govt must be strictly limited and ruthlessly watched, might sink into the public mind ,as the costs of this episode have to be met.

    I am appalled by the enablers of this fear, their stupidity and ignorance of the nature of man is frightening. Each time one of these nits tells us in loving detail how the heretics shall be crushed, I am stuck with this conclusion. They believe they hold a monopoly on fear, rage and violent resolution to threatening situations.
    Absolutely daft. Unfortunately that is what my father thought about the situation in 1930s Germany, before he joined the Canadian Army in 1942. Hoping the crazy will sober up is not an option.

    • Verity Jones says:

      I suppose we should be grateful that this lesson has not escalated into full warfare as yet…

      Has it not? It is and has been a war of words, a war about truth, and one fought for hearts and minds. A slow war. One side has attempted to control the battle, note their choice of weapons and insistence on a traditional battleground (peer reviewed publications). They stealthily moved to besiege their opponents, stifling alternative views. The sceptical side has therefore waged an effective guerilla war with a dispersed army of volunteers, circumventing the strictures imposed by the other side by using the newfangled communication technology of the internet. A very modern war!

      • John Robertson says:

        When you put it that way, I concede . Its war. However because they chose to use the big lie techniques they are very vulnerable , being evil and stupid is a tough combination to fight, but they do so much to defeat themselves. Where would we be without their own words? The scheme of going after children has major defects, once kids realize you are lying you lose them for good. As the science cover collapses, the true believers become unstable and as the costs sink home the disengaged become the enraged. Windmills, solar panels and pixy dust.
        Humour, ridicule and strength of knowledge are still our best hope, tho I do concede some of these righteous gasbags idiocy can only be corrected thro judicious use of a baseball bat.

      • Baseball bat? Sure you didn’t mean a hockeystick?

  7. Which category does simple failure to acknowledge you “got it wrong” fall into? Trenberth and his “missing heat” is a prime example. Calculate a “climate forcing” due to CO2 alone, watch while the climate doesn’t respond in the correct modelled manner, and claim the surplus heat’s “gone missing” somewhere. Luckily the ocean’s a big enough sink so nominate that as the likely (it’s the only) candidate. Ignore the fact that the best part of 4000 ARGO floats didn’t spot the “missing heat” slinking past into the abyss and your crime’s complete.

    Scientists of the “old school” would go back to square one and rethink and recalculate and look for the possible error(s) that sceptics have identified. A number of climate scientists are beginning to acknowledge in published papers that either the claimed climate sensitivity is too high or some of the feedbacks are weaker or work in the opposite direction to that currently assumed.

    Trenberth’s (just in time – phew!) claim that the heat isn’t simply absent but is hiding in the watery depths is akin to the phlogiston theorists “discovery” that the weight gained by metals burned to oxides was due to the little-known “fact” that phlogiston had negative weight. I’d suggest his penance should be to roam the oceans forever like the “Ancient Mariner” with an ARGO buoy round his neck as a constant reminder, in lieu of the albatross of course.

    Steig’s now claiming that the reconstructed (you thought the Ancient Mariner was fiction?) temperature series for ONE station – Byrd Station, un-debunks his results. A one- way ticket to the Costa del Coats Land should be his route to purgatory. He’ll need one (a coat that is).

    • Verity Jones says:

      Science has been a victim in this war. Perhaps I’m wrong, but academia seems to attract more than its fair share of large egos who seem to think that being right is more important than recognising they have had a place in the path to truth. In my early days as a scientist after many, many negative results, I was asked by a senior scientist in the company what would I do if I discovered something significant. I’d already learned the answer and I told him “Go back and check everything, repeat the experiment, ensure there were no flaws in the measurements and to try to understand what was the critical factor in success”. Flaws and biases weren’t such an issue in that field as there were very simple and clear cut measures of success.

      Comment on WUWT from Keith G:

      It is those that would occupy the First Circle, “Limbo”, those that have turned a blind eye, that should be of greatest concern – if only because they are, without doubt, the greatest in number. [...] There are few phrases in the English language more potent than “No, I do not agree”. Sadly, in recent years, it is a phrase that has not been heard often enough.

      Those that do not admit they are wrong are probably in the First Circle too, but with eyes opened to the flaw in their behaviour.

      • I don’t think you’re wrong at all. I’ve skewered a few giant egos in posts over the last year. An author claiming that the phrase “absent or missing” in an abstract doesn’t actually mean quite what it clearly does mean is just one example. I’d say that Mikey “chainsaw” Mann is the prime example. His paranoia and “shields up” defensive attitude is a parody of good science. “They’re all out to get me” – if hist analysis and results were cast-iron solid he’d not have to worry, just stand back while criticisms and barbs bounced off his unassailable scientific armour.

        Many moons ago, when I was a humble lab technician in the prestigious Kodak research laboratory, I achieved (almost by accident) what seemed to be a novel result. After an independent check by a senior researcher, It took two days of intensive slog in the technical library and a further week in the patent Office before I discovered that at least one other had passed that way before and my result was documented. Was I downhearted? In a word, yes. Was I discouraged – no! The intensive reading and searching gave me new interest and not just a few insights into the greater scientific world.

        Science and research is hard, as you’re well aware. Shortcuts achieve nothing of worth – something the marine researchers who add “just a little” hydrochloric acid to seawater to bypass the tedious process of adding CO2 and waiting days for chemical equilibration to occur need to acknowledge. Sea water with added HCL is just that and nothing more. Their apparently alarming results are consequently worthless. I wonder if they’re actually aware of that and if so how they feel about it?

  8. “Like Steve McIntyre I’m tired of the whole thing ……………………………….”

    Like so many of us you realize the battle is won. It is tempting to rest but please keep going!

    “On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died.”
    Adlai Stevenson

  9. The only thing that can save the Warmists now is a sharp and sustained uptick in global temperature, confirmed by observations by satellites and ground stations.

    While that is possible, Mother Nature seems to love teasing pompous “Climate Scientists” so my bet is that a cooling trend is much more likely.

  10. John Robertson, December 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm,
    There are some very profound implications in what you say. For example:
    “But the true rot in my eyes is within our civic structures, these agencies, which were set up to prevent the damages public hysteria cause, have all failed.”

    Daren Acemoglu and James Robinson recently published “Why Nations Fail” in an attempt to identify the origins of power prosperity and poverty. Their theory is that the institutions of a country determine its ability to achieve prosperity or poverty.

    Today’s first world countries need to recognize that they can only remain powerful and prosperous by strengthening the “Inclusivity” of their institutions in both the economic sphere and the political sphere. Once institutions become “Extractive” in either economics or politics, decline is inevitable.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Indeed, my endeavours here were driven by understanding. Having come to doubt the extent of warming I wanted to explore it myself (nullius in verba) and share what I found. There were times when the balance of what I found led me to consider if skeptics were wrong to deny the catastrophe (as that’s about all we do deny). As I learned more that diminished but so did the drive to keep going. Yes the battle is won, but the war is not yet over. Good quote.

      Mother Nature will do what she will and the CAGW side will attempt to spin it in their favour but the public is wiser than is sometimes credited. It is now a waiting game, sadly aided by world economics.

  11. Verity

    This was a very good post, I am glad it got wider coverage on wuwt

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