According to this profile, Miranda Devine (last seen making stuff up in an attempt to debunk the Lancet study), once worked for the textile physics division of CSIRO. So she should know that one purpose of peer review is to weed out scientific papers that are inaccurate or where the conclusions are not properly supported by the evidence offered. She went on to write an opinion column where accuracy and supporting your claims are not important, so perhaps that explains why in her latest screed she seems to believe that peer review is a tool to silence dissent. Devine takes on the hockey stick:
The so-called “hockey stick graph” published in 1998 by University of Massachusetts geoscientist Michael Mann became an article of faith, and underpinned the Kyoto Protocol. It purported to plot average surface temperatures of the Northern Hemisphere for the previous 1000 years. Temperatures appear to remain constant until 100 years ago when the graph takes a sudden upturn, supposedly showing the Earth heating up as the industrial revolution kicks in.
OK, except that Mann is at the University of Virginia and the 1998 paper containing the “hockey stick graph”, entitled “Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries“, only plotted temperatures for the past 600 years (the title is a clue). And the Kyoto Protocol dates from 1997. Which is before Mann (and Bradley and Hughes)’s paper was published. And the graph was not an “article of faith”—there have been many other temperature reconstructions published (see graph on right).
It took six years and several sacked scientific journal editors before doubt was thrown on the hockey stick.
Actually, what happened was that several journal editors resigned because the journal published a flawed paper that disagreed with the hockey stick. Not because the paper disagreed, but because the authors had failed to properly support their conclusions. And study the graph of the other reconstructions again.
Last year Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick discovered a fundamental flaw in the computer program which produces the hockey stick. It seemed, whatever random data it was fed, the program almost always produced a hockey stick.
This is a red herring. If you do a linear regression on random data, you’ll produce a straight line. Does that mean that linear regression is invalid because it always produces straight lines when there are none in the data? Of course not. What is important is whether the result of the regression is statistically significant—for random data it won’t be. William Connolley did some experiments and reported:
What that appears to demonstrate is that M&M are right about one thing: it often does lead to a “hockey stick” shape in random data. But the problem is that the variance-explained of the PC1 done this way is tiny: the first eigenvalue is about 0.03. Whereas when you run it on real data the first eigenvalue is about 0.55 (back to 1000) or 0.38 (back to 1400). Which means the two problems are very different.
Back to Devine:
The Canadians couldn’t get their work published by a scientific journal but they put it on the web for all to see.
Actually, they got it published in Geophysical Research Letters.
The voices of dissenters have been silenced for too long so all power to Crichton for bypassing the gatekeepers and going straight to the people.
Yes, it’s time that the elitist notion that what gets published in scientific journals be accurate is done away with! Let a thousand falsehoods bloom!
Oh yeah, Devine also drags out the Oregon Petition:
When Dr Fred Seitz, the past president of the US National Academy of Sciences, organised a petition opposing the Kyoto Protocol, he had 20,000 signatories – 17,000 with scientific degrees, including physicists, geo-physicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers and environmental scientists. But for simply stating there was no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases was causing catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of climate, they were dubbed “The Carbon Club, foot soldiers for the fossil-fuel industries”.
No they weren’t. Devine is just making things up again. Jeremy Leggett dubbed the lobbyists who work for the coal and oil industries the “foot soldiers for the fossil-fuel industries”, not the folks tricked into signing the Oregon Petition.