Phil Jones Q&A at the BBC

The BBC has an article up which includes a Q&A session with Phil Jones of the CRU:

Let’s start with the most important:

E – How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

Get that, journalists with reading comprehension issues?  100% certain that the climate has warmed and that there’s evidence that most of it is due to human activity.

Here’s a few more:

Q – Let’s talk about the e-mails now: In the e-mails you refer to a “trick” which your critics say suggests you conspired to trick the public? You also mentioned “hiding the decline” (in temperatures). Why did you say these things?

This remark has nothing to do with any “decline” in observed instrumental temperatures. The remark referred to a well-known observation, in a particular set of tree-ring data, that I had used in a figure to represent large-scale summer temperature changes over the last 600 years.

The phrase ‘hide the decline’ was shorthand for providing a composite representation of long-term temperature changes made up of recent instrumental data and earlier tree-ring based evidence, where it was absolutely necessary to remove the incorrect impression given by the tree rings that temperatures between about 1960 and 1999 (when the email was written) were not rising, as our instrumental data clearly showed they were.

This “divergence” is well known in the tree-ring literature and “trick” did not refer to any intention to deceive – but rather “a convenient way of achieving something”, in this case joining the earlier valid part of the tree-ring record with the recent, more reliable instrumental record.

I was justified in curtailing the tree-ring reconstruction in the mid-20th Century because these particular data were not valid after that time – an issue which was later directly discussed in the 2007 IPCC AR4 Report.

The misinterpretation of the remark stems from its being quoted out of context. The 1999 WMO report wanted just the three curves, without the split between the proxy part of the reconstruction and the last few years of instrumental data that brought the series up to the end of 1999. Only one of the three curves was based solely on tree-ring data.

The e-mail was sent to a few colleagues pointing out their data was being used in the WMO Annual Statement in 1999. I was pointing out to them how the lines were physically drawn. This e-mail was not written for a general audience. If it had been I would have explained what I had done in much more detail.

R – Why did you ask a colleague to delete all e-mails relating to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC?

This was an e-mail sent out of frustration at one FOI request that was asking for the e-mail correspondence between the lead authors on chapter six of the Working Group One Report of the IPCC. This is one of the issues which the Independent Review will look at.

S – The e-mails suggest you were trying to subvert the process of peer review and to influence editors in their decisions about which papers to publish. Do you accept that?

I do not accept that I was trying to subvert the peer-review process and unfairly influence editors in their decisions. I undertook all the reviews I made in good faith and sent them back to the editors. In some e-mails I questioned the peer-review process with respect to what I believed were poor papers that had appeared. Isn’t this called freedom of speech? On some occasions I joined with others to submit a response to some of these papers. Since the beginning of 2005 I have reviewed 43 papers. I take my reviewing seriously and in 2006 I was given an editor’s award from Geophysical Research Letters for conscientious and constructive reviewing.

I’ll post blog responses below:

Here’s the Daily Mail: “The professor’s amazing climate change retreat”

Even more strikingly, he also sounds much less ebullient about the basic theory, admitting that there is little difference between global warming rates in the Nineties and in two previous periods since 1860 and accepting that from 1995 to now there has been no statistically significant warming.

So? Those periods cover warming in different periods and for different reasons. He tries to point out that the latter period is far too short for the determination of longer term trends. This is the problem with journalists — they don’t seem to be able to read or comprehend. Given that’s their job, it’s really quite disgusting.

He also leaves open the possibility, long resisted by climate change activists, that the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ from 800 to 1300 AD, and thought by many experts to be warmer than the present period, could have encompassed the entire globe.

Activists?  Who cares what they say? I care about what the science and scientists doing this work say.

When I’ve read the literature, the scientists are careful to point out that the data is incomplete and it is not possible to conclude with any high degree of certainty that the warming seen in the northern hemisphere was global due to a lack of proxies in the tropics and southern hemisphere.

This is an amazing retreat, since if it was both global and warmer, the green movement’s argument that our current position is ‘unprecedented’ would collapse.

Wait a minute — what did he actually say?

Here it is:

There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.

Of course it’s much more subtle than the writer makes out. He admits there is debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was as warm globally as it is today. This is not new to anyone who is familiar with the literature. There are not many proxies in the tropics and southern hemisphere so the claim that the warming in the northern hemisphere was global is not backed up by solid reliable evidence.

Here’s another Daily Mail article: Climategate U Turn  as scientist at centre of row admits there has been no global warming since 1995.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

No — as usual, the writers of these articles do not get it — he said that if the MWP was found to be as warm globally as it is today, then the warming would not be unprecedented. That has nothing to do with attribution.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

That is not the same as saying that global warming is wrong or has stopped. It merely means that there is a possibility that natural variations have swamped the signal from AGW.

But let’s look a bit more closely at what Jones said:

B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

Of course, being cautious, he agrees with the question since there was no “statistically significant warming” over the period. There was a measured warming, of 0.12C, but it was not “statistically significant” to the 95% confidence interval. It was almost significant, but not quite. In part, this is due to the short timeframe.

What is it with the quality of journalism I see in this matter?  Are they illiterate and unable to read words?

Of course this is all spun by the contrarian / denialist blogosphere.

Here’s some commentary from The Air Vent’s coverage:

When Actually Thoughtful asks the following:

If you could show a different reason for the pre-1950s warming you would not necessarily have to doubt AGW.

I think understanding why we are warming now is the most critical piece. If it is as the AGW theory claims then it is reasonable to push for a reduction in CO2.

If it is the same cause as the earlier periods – we can take a little more time weaning ourselves from carbon fuels.

Someone not quite so thoughtful says this:

Say what? How do you propose to tease out the CO2 impact from the natural variation that has occurred in earlier times? Getting rid of earlier warmings like the MWP was crucial to their argument precisely because you can’t otherwise attribute the Modern Warm Period to CO2. There is no evidence that increased CO2 is a probelm.

Obviously, reading comprehension is also a problem for JLKruger. He/she doesn’t seem to understand the issue of attribution.  Well, all that tells me is that I can ignore his/her comments henceforth…

CA has a post up with no commentary from The Great Puzzler…

Here’s one choice bit:

Yes, it’d be difficult not to feel some empathy for poor old Phil, if I didn’t know – if I hadn’t known for a long time – what a proper little git he’s been in the past. If I didn’t know how freely he abused the basic tenets of science and scientific research with his offensive history of ad hominem attacks on anyone else who dared to criticise his work, or the work of his friends.

So no. Bottom line, I take the WHOLE picture, including the sordid behaviour of Jones and his ilk over the last decade and more, and I reject the press office-manicured impression of a victim of cruel circumstance. In my judgement, I take ALL available evidence, not just the perpetrator’s testimony.

While some CA readers are expressing sympathy of a sort with Jones, Kenneth Fritsch is having none of it:

His reply is totally misleading in that what was being hidden was that the proxy was no longer following the instrumental record and not that the instrumental record was wrong. How uninformed does Jones think thinking people are? A scientific approach would have had to make that divergence a big issue – and certainly after the email put it in the public domain would be a proper time to detail issue and not evade it.

People, such as the wonderful Ms Palin — next president of the United States of America OMG shudder at the thought — assumed that “hide the decline” referred to hiding an actual decline in temperature. Jones was clarifying that the decline was in the proxies — that they no longer reflected the instrumental temperature record.

The graphic was meant to be part of a high level summary and the scientists didn’t want to include the ‘decline’ as that section of the proxy tree ring record no longer reflected the instrumental record — for reasons not yet clarified. In other words, the scientists agreed that the period after 1960 showed some other effect, possibly aerosols, ozone hole, or some other factor, rather than temperature. It would only cause confusion for the audience to include it without benefit of a great deal of explanation.

Jones hand waves that an explantion for the divergence is available without actually talking about it. Of course, a tough interviewer would not have passed from that topic until some detailed answers were forthcoming.

In my mind, either Jones is not a good scientist and does not understand the implications of the divergence or he indeed intended to “hide the decline”.

Well, I understand completely his reasons. If he had used different terminology, this would be a non-starter.

Let’s review the email in question:

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or
first thing tomorrow.
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.
Mike’s series got the annual
land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
Thanks for the comments, Ray.

If he had written:

I’ve used Mike’s new methodology of adding the instrumental temperature record onto the paleoclimate proxy record, adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s, and have taken out the questionable proxy data post-1960 as the literature suggests tree rings in some regions no longer reflect the temperature record due to yet-unknown effects, perhaps aerosols or ozone depletion- caused decline in growth.

ETA: I changed “splicing” to “adding” because it is incorrect.  Thanks to Ron Cram for pointing this out.

instead of “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline”, we wouldn’t be discussing this now.

Steve McIntyre does make a few comments:

Jones says:

I was justified in curtailing the tree-ring reconstruction in the mid-20th Century because these particular data were not valid after that time – an issue which was later directly discussed in the 2007 IPCC AR4 Report.

If the ring widths or densities were measured wrong, then he could say that the data wasn’t valid. But there’s never been such a suggestion. The data is what it is. He was not justified in deleting the adverse results.

There was no discussion of the issue in the IPCC 2001 report. Or in the First or Second Drafts of the 2007 report. No dendrochronologist submitted comments suggesting that the issue be discussed. One reviewer did object to the deletion of the adverse data and they grudgingly included a discussion which was never presented to external reviewers.

The data weren’t adverse — they were what they were. What they were was no longer representative of the instrumental record. As such they were no longer valid as temperature proxies. I take it that’s what Jones meant.

What’s important is to understand what the WMO graphic was intended for — it was for public consumption and had no footnotes or citations. It was just high level — of the sort produced for public consumption. McIntyre may claim that each and every statement on AGW should be of the detail of the IPCC WG1 reports — or some other ridiculous claim about business quality audited reports — but he obviously isn’t familiar with– or is pretending not to be for strategic reasons — public communications documents. In those, you do not discuss cans of worms like the divergence problem — those kinds of issues are issues of discussion and research amongst scientists.

It’s pretty clear from my reading of blog science that many laypeople do not understand the issues.  Better communication is warranted.


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35 Responses to “Phil Jones Q&A at the BBC”

  1. Many of the questions were loaded, provided to the journalist by contrarians (this is stated in the Q&A), and designed to get answers that could be easily spun. The questions regarding warming rates, that arbitrarily chose specific years and time periods, is a good example, as the DailyMail article spin indicates.

    Regarding statistical significance since 1995, Jones is pointing out that this is true for most relatively short time periods, and he’s referring to reaching a 95% confidence level, which his dataset falls just short of. Moreover, the GISS trend reaches that statistical significance. Jones is only referring to HadCrut, which has a more pronounced 1998 value.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1996/trend

    There is debate over whether MWP existed at the global level, although this is different from whether or not MWP matched recent levels. The latter is also an issue of statistical confidence, and that’s hardly anything new. Recall the words “likely” used in the original reconstruction. See also this interesting recent multi-proxy study:

    http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/5/2631/2009/cpd-5-2631-2009-print.pdf

    “The strongest result relates to the temperature of the last decade, which exceeds any decade prior to 1850 with 95% certainty. The increased certainty compared to the 66% certainty expressed by IPCC2001 is primarily a consequence of the continuing high temperatures which have made the last decade 0.24 K warmer than the last decade of the 20th century, a warming greater than one standard deviation of the reconstruction uncertainty.”

    Lastly, the following contrarian comment is revealing:

    “A scientific approach would have had to make that divergence a big issue – and certainly after the email put it in the public domain ”

    Considering the divergence problem had been discussed extensively in the peer-reviewed literature and with the appropriate weight, this statement reveals stunning ignorance. I think that deniers should take Jones’ advice, and take more time reading his and other academic studies rather than just his personal emails, which they apparently have no ability to decipher.

    It’s disconcerting to see the words of scientists distorted so regularly. Jones is answering the questions honestly. One wonders why sometimes they are tempted to be less than forthcoming with regards to political hacks and pseudo-journalists.

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  2. Susann,
    You are wrong in several places. First of all, Jones could never have explained that he had spliced the temp record onto the proxy record because they are two different series. It simply is not done. Any statistician would have said “That’s not right. You can’t do that.”

    Michael Mann knew it was not right when he did. People asked him about it specifically and he denied splicing the temp record onto the proxy record. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/myths-vs-fact-regarding-the-hockey-stick/#comments

    Mike’s embedded comment is to comment #4. He writes:

    “[Response: No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum. Most proxy reconstructions end somewhere around 1980, for the reasons discussed above. Often, as in the comparisons we show on this site, the instrumental record (which extends to present) is shown along with the reconstructions, and clearly distinguished from them (e.g. highlighted in red as here).”

    Mike provides a link to a graphic which people are supposed to be able to see a different color. But the graphic is from 2003, not 1998 or 1999.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/temperaturevariations-in-past-centuries-and-the-so-called-hockey-stick/#figures

    Here’s is what you need to learn. Mann knew it was wrong to splice the surface temp data onto the proxy record. I don’t know when he learned it, but he knew by 2003 at least.

    What was the date of Phil’s “hide the decline” email? Wasn’t it 2001?

    But Mike says he doesn’t know anyone who would do such as thing as splice the temp data onto the proxy data. Really? McIntyre says he knows at least two who did.

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/02/05/splicing-temperature-and-proxy-records/

    So, you see, there is no way Jones could have written the email in the way you suggest. He would be admitting fraud.

    A few other comments. Attribution is a big deal. This was one of the areas Lacis was criticizing Chapter 9 ES about. You seem to have an overconfidence about how temp changes may be attributed. I suggest you don’t just read one side of the debate.

    The fact Jones admitted there has been no statistically significant warming for the last 15 years is significant. You seem to gloss over it as though it is meaningless. If the earth’s radiative budget is out of balance as Hansen says, how long can this go on when CO2 is rising all the time before people begin to question CAGW theory? Schmidt used to say we would see a new temp record within 10 years or the theory would need to be reexamined.

    • There we go, Ron Cram *again* misrepresenting the views of certain scientists. Lacis explained in the NYT what he meant. You decided to ignore what he said in the comments (so I know you actually read the stuff). Lacis criticized the way it was written, *not* the attributions.

      And as it stated time after time after time after time (including by Jones in the Q&A): you need about 30 years of data to see the trend in the noisy data that annual weather is. Your favorite, Schwartz, even points to a more problematic issue: that aerosols linked to our CO2 emissions are masking a warming by CO2, until the moment we start to reduce the (ongoing increase in) aerosol concentration in the air.

      • Marco,
        You are being disingenuous. Here is a quote from Lacis review comments:

        “Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.”

        So obviously Lacis is concerned with attribution issues. Why? Does he have a view of the causes of warming in the 20th century which differs from the IPCC view?

        Yes, he does.

        Here is a quote from the abstract of a paper Lacis co-authored with James Hansen in 2000:

        “But we argue that rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as chlorofluorocarbons, CH4, and N2O, not by the products of fossil fuel burning, CO2 and aerosols, the positive and negative climate forcings of which are partially offsetting.”
        http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.abstract

        I have asked Lacis to clarify his view on Dot Earth. So far, he has not done so.

        • Ron, you are being more than disingenious. Yes, Lacis commented on the ES, because it used the wrong type of language. There is no anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic signal in e.g. circulation or temperature. There is an anthropogenic *attribution* to the temperature and changes in circulation.

          Of course, you have commented on this piece:
          http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/nasa-scientist-adds-to-views-on-climate-panel/#more-14429
          But clearly did not understand a word Lacis wrote. Simply because those words contradict everything you *want* him to say. That’ll be attribution of your apparent inability to understand what people are actually saying.

          More evidence comes from Ray Pierrehumbert’s explanation up, which, as I expected, you did not understand either. I tried to explain it earlier here (with Schwartz), but that fell on deaf ears, too.

    • On the splicing of the temperature record onto the proxy record:

      I stand corrected — it should be ” I’ve used Mike’s new methodology of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s, and have taken out the questionable proxy data post-1960 as the literature suggests tree rings in some regions no longer reflect the temperature record due to yet-unknown effects, perhaps aerosols or ozone depletion- caused decline in growth.”

      The term splicing is wrong and I shouldn’t have used it so thanks for pointing that out. I’ll correct it in the text above.

      • Susann,
        The term used does not really matter. Jones is still describing a splice, which he is hiding from readers because he does not want them to know the proxies used to create the reconstruction have a Divergence Problem. This is not honest. Jones is faced with the choice of either not using the proxy or using the proxy and advising readers of adverse results since 1981 (or 1961 for Keith’s reconstruction). When faced with the choice Jones determined to hide the fact he was using proxies which had the Divergence Problem. This is fraud.

        • Ron, ‘skeptics’ persist in this like drowning men grasping for straws. I understand, really I do. This is big to ‘skeptics’ — it’s a way to reassure themselves that they are right. They keep repeating it over and over like a mantra — “hide the decline!” “hide the decline!” but but but what about “hide the decline!” despite people explaining it.

          Should these non-responders be used to construct temp recons? I’ve read some comments in which dendros suggest that until the issues are settled as to the reasons for divergence, they shouldn’t be used. Others have said that since there is a strong correspondence with other trees in the same area and in other areas, this is likely a matter restricted to the post-1960 era and due to anthropogenic factors like aerosols and ozone depletion. This is a methodological question that I am not qualified to adjudicate. I can’t make that decision as I am not an expert.

          High level summaries are intended just to convey the key messages. Divergence is an important issue in dendro, but it is not the kind of issue appropriate for a high level summary document. It’s not scientific fraud since divergence is no secret.

    • Here is what he said:

      B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming
      Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

      So, for the hard of reading comprehension or the deceitful, we’ll go slow…

      Jones said that the trend was warming of 0.12C, which was just below the 95% significance level due to the short time frame.

      So he calculated a 0.12C warming over the decade but it just missed the 95% significance level. It was very close though,

  3. Susann,
    One other point. You seem to not understand the difference between “invalid” and “adverse.”

    If a doctor is testing a medicine and some people die from it, he cannot ignore that data saying it is invalid. Adverse reactions to medicine are part of the data.

    Similarly, if a supposed proxy does not match up with temp changes, then it is not a temp proxy. A researcher cannot claim “this proxy was good in centuries past but it is invalid for the last 20 years.” That is not going to fly with any scientist. If it is not valid now, how do you know it was valid before? You cannot. The entire proxy must be thrown out.

    This is why Mann and Jones wanted to “hide the decline.” They did not want people to know they were using proxies that had the “well-known” Divergence Problem.

    • Wrong again, Ron. A doctor who tests medicine cannot ignore adverse reactions, *unless* he has good reasons to assume these were not related to the treatment. And this happens all the time.

      A researcher *can* claim that a proxy is good for centuries but not for the last 20 years, when he has good reasons to assume the last 20 years are different from any other time. Most tree ring chronologies do *not* suffer from the divergence problem, and some show the divergence problem only very very late (1980s, e.g.).

      The divergence problem has also been extensively discussed in the literature, including in AR4. Quite the hiding…openly discussing the issue in the scientific literature.

      • “A doctor who tests medicine cannot ignore adverse reactions, *unless* he has good reasons to assume these were not related to the treatment. And this happens all the time.”

        having worked for many years in clinical research at a large biotech company, and with some of the finest MDs (in the US), I can assure you that doctors do not “assume” anything, would never assume any AE during clinical trials in not related to the treatment, or that this happens all the time.

        • Both of you are providing claims without backing them up with evidence. This was one of my areas of grad research and suffice to say that there is and has been under-reporting of adverse events in pharmaceutical research and by doctors due to a number of factors.

          Likely the vast majority of docs are ethical, but there are those who are not, and research bears this up and there is always the financial incentive to under-report adverse events associated with pharmaceuticals in order to maintain the profitability of the corp. VIOXX is a case in point.

          • True. Underreporting does happen, but I would guess you would not support underreporting in the medical field. And you shouldn’t. Why are you supporting underreporting by Jones? It makes no sense.

            • Jones didn’t under-report anything. Divergence is not a secret. There was no misrepresentation of temps for post-1960 in the 1999 WMO graphic.

              Now if you want to talk actual under-reporting and misrepresentation, let’s talk about Merck and VIOXX since I wrote a grad policy paper on it. 😀

              • Jones did not tell readers the recons were based on proxies which suffered from the Divergence Problem. In fact, Jones went out of his way to “hide” the fact and the uncertainty that goes with it. The principle of full disclosure is in effect. If Jones did not feel guilty about his actions, he would not have used the words “hide the decline.”

                • Actually, Jones *did* tell that. If you were smart enough to follow the pointers in the WMO report. In the PAGES newsletter, which the WMO tells you to read for more information, the divergence problem is discussed.

                  Your inability to understand scientific language has already been established (see e.g. Lacis, see Schwartz).

          • I take your point. However, I would point out that the point I made was that the principle investigators in clinical trials do not ignore AEs or assume they are caused by other factors and thus do not capture that data (basically the screening of data is not done at the point of data collection). In fact, the VIOXX example demonstrates my point quite well. The original data were there, submitted to the FDA, some even published in other places (not the NEJM). Also, knowing which AE to look for in the colon polyp study, they still captured that data, the trial’s PIs captured that data, and they even analyzed the safety data during the trial which caused them to stop that trial and pull their drug from market. This doesn’t make them heroes, but they did have even more financial incentive at that time not to risk doing anything that would show VIOXX as being unsafe, especially if it is assumed they knew their drug was unsafe but were driven solely by greed.

            Also, the failure here wasn’t just Merck’s, but the FDA, which shouldn’t have had any internal pressures keeping them from requiring the appropriate safety studies be conducted by Merck.

            BTW, it seems there was talk of allowing VIOXX back on the market (it still being a very efficacious drug). Do you know what’s become of that?

        • Allow me to clarify:
          The “assumption” is mainly the comparison to a control group. They will thus make a comparison and determine the likelihood that the AE is related to the treatment.

          Beyond that, the possible actions of the person with the AE is checked. The test subject drinking a few beers despite being expressly prohibited to do so is not uncommon…

          • on the whole, clinical trials, especially for determining the efficacy of drugs, are double-blind and randomized, so the subject and researcher wouldn’t know which treatment is the control, and which is the experimental drug.

            The deeper issue here is bias and trying to remove bias. Science is always trying to reduce bias in data. While it’s obvious, it should be noted that bias doesn’t need to be reduced to some nefarious intent (fraud, hoaxes, etc.), though it can/does exist, or that good intentions mean that bias hasn’t been introduced in some manner.

      • Marco, wrong again. If a patient dies while taking an investigational drug, it must be reported. Even if the doctor has good reasons to believe the problem was not related to the drug, the rules require it to be reported.

        There is a difference between the literature discussing the Divergence Problem and a researcher publishing a reconstruction or analysis of reconstructions and hiding the fact they use proxies which suffer from the Divergence Problem. This should not be hard for educated people to understand.

        • Reported yes, but it is not solidly linked to or separated from the drug without attribution. As I already told you in a previous reaction, Jones *did* inform about using proxies with the divergence problem. You just had to do what every sensible person would do: go to the source. Especially when the byline to a figure explicitely points to more background information elsewhere.

    • Ron — researchers think, but don’t know for certain, that the decline in response to temp on the part of some high latitude trees in some areas is due to anthropogenic effects such as aerosols and a decline in the ozone layer. We know that other trees in the same area and trees in lower latitudes did respond to increased temperatures and Briffa showed that both higher and lower latitudes were quite synchronous back till the MWP so the divergence appears to be unique to the post 1960 period. This merits further study, obviously. These trees may still be sensitive to temperature in the past when these effects were not present.

      This is discussed over at “Skeptical Science”.

    • Invalid means not valid as in not representing that which it is supposed to represent.

      Adverse means a negative outcome, such that some kind of harm has come to something.

      BTW, I have dealt with the analysis of adverse events in my current job and have studied adverse health and medical events and I do know a thing or two about what it means. thanks.

      • Susann,
        I’m glad to hear that. If that is true, then you know researchers always have to report any adverse outcomes when patients are taking an investigational drug. They may also file additional information about why they think the adverse reaction was not related to the medicine but the principle of full disclosure is always in effect. Jones did not operate with full disclosure.

        • Aw, gee Ron. I know that they are supposed to report adverse events, but, sigh, they don’t always do it.

          Divergence is not an adverse event in a drug trial. It is a science phenomenon that is not yet fully understood. It suggests that some trees post-1960 are not valid temperature proxies. Since they do show congruence with other trees that do respond to temp post-1960 all the way back to MWP that it is likely due to recent anthropogenic conditions and thus the trees are valid temp proxies pre-1960 and can be used for that period. At least, that is what I understand their argument as being.

          Like I say, I am not an expert. I couldn’t say for certain if this is a valid conclusion but it does make sense to me.

          Let’s think of an example: say, I’m a court reporter who transcribes trial proceedings. I have worked well at transcribing trials for three decades. People are able to compare my records with the taped recordings and see that I am pretty must bang on.

          Then, I stop being able to transcribe trials. My transcriptions do not bear any relation to the proceedings when compared to the taped recordings. When I’m tested, docs find out I’ve have a stroke due to a blood clot. Now, I have damage to a part of my brain that is able to remember names and dates. As a result, my transcriptions are no longer valid. Therefore, I am no longer a good court reporter. Because I can’t do it now, doesn’t mean I wasn’t good at my job before.

          Silly I know, but the principle is the same.

          • “Divergence is not an adverse event in a drug trial. It is a science phenomenon that is not yet fully understood.”

            True. But that does not mean you do not report it. Like an adverse reaction to a drug, we may not be able to explain the mechanism of action but that does not prevent docs from reporting what happened.

            Perhaps most surprising to me is that Jones was willing to “hide the decline” in an effort to promote the idea that 20th century warming is unprecedented – a view he is not fully convinced of himself, according to his recent interview.

  4. Having just discovered this website (and enjoying it, by the way), I am really baffled at the attitude of those like Ron Cram who just seem intent on repeating accusations and certain words or sentences (like ‘hide the decline’), even when there is no justification for such accusations, as far as I can see.

    I seem to be inhabiting a different, parallel universe : one where I can understand and accept the perfectly rational explanations and descriptions given by shewonk and Marco (and, indeed, by Phil Jones); but one which seems to be giving out different meanings to someone like Ron Cram.

    What am I missing ? What are the facts that Ron Cram is using that I can’t see ?

    (And, I’m not trying to be funny or insulting, so I hope this isn’t taken in either sense. I seriously want to know how to read and respond to comments like those from Ron Cram.)

    • Yes, it’s clinically interesting, isn’t it?

    • JMurphy, really? You don’t get it? I suggest you reread my comment above written on Feb 14 at 9:30 am. And this time read the links I provide. You will see what I mean. You see Michael Mann had been accused of splicing the temp record onto the temp reconstruction and he denied it. Now this email comes out and Phil Jones says he “just completed Mike’s Nature trick” obviously referring to the splice Mike had publicly denied. Try a little harder. I’m sure you’ll get it.

  5. Susann,
    Matt Briggs, aka Dr. William Matthew Briggs, a great statistician by the way, wrote a nice piece regarding one of Jones’s comment that it has not warmed in the last 15 years. I highly recommend it.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=1958

    • And what do you take away from that comment, Ron?

      Just one small correction to take into account: Briggs claims Jones used a climate model, while everyone should know he just did a linear fitting.

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  1. واژه زمان » واکاوی یک بازی رسانه‌ای در مورد گرمایش جهانی - February 21, 2010

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