The McIntyre factor

The McIntyre factor is the amount that you have to multiply the size of an adjustment in the GISS US temperatures by to get the number of words in the resulting Steve McIntyre post. Empirical evidence puts the McIntyre factor at 125,000. You see, on Sep 10 GISS made some small changes:

We switched to the current version of USHCN data set which includes data through 2005. The effect of this change is shown by the following graphs. Also see tables of comparisons for globe and US-only.

In the US, 1998 and 1934 each changed by just 0.01 degrees C. So naturally Steve McIntyre wrote a 2,500 word post about how the changes were part of some NASA conspiracy to … ah, heck, if I summarized him you might wonder if I was being unfair, so in his own words:


This new leaderboard is really something else. I’m going to post on this: but if the SHAP version was what they used for the past decade, it’s a little – shall we say – “convenient” to decide in Sept 2007 that they are going to switch to the FILNET version (without announcing it on their website) and then, surprise, surprise, 1998 is now tied for the warmest year. This is going to send shivers up the spine of any readers familiar with accounting principles. …

So while the difference between 1934 and 1998 may have been “statistically insignificant”. Hansen was obviously quite annoyed by the attention paid to 1934 being called the “warmest year” even in the U.S. and the change in rankings must have stuck in his craw. Was that motivation in the change from SHAP to FILNET accounting? I certainly hope not. Perhaps long before the Y2K error re-arranged things, NASA had already made long-standing plan to shift from SHAP accounting to FILNET accounting. But if this was not the case, then the timing of the change, especially with the all too “convenient” restoration of 1998 to the top of the leaderboard is certainly unfortunate.

This is precisely the type of situation that would have been avoided by NASA adhering to GAAP principles. Companies cannot change accounting procedures on a whim. Auditors will not permit companies to change methods merely to enhance reported earnings. And if a company changed accounting procedures without any disclosure, it would be viewed very seriously by regulatory agencies – whether or not the company said that it “mattered”. If the change from SHAP to FILNET accounting didn’t “matter”, then Hansen shouldn’t have done it. If it did matter, he still shouldn’t have done it right now just when he was archiving source code for the first time – and to do so without either formal disclosure or a re-statement of prior results simply boggles the imagination.

So McIntyre reckons that NASA changed their procedure to put 1998 on top of the leaderboard. But NASA doesn’t publish a leaderboard of warmest years in the US. And not only that they’ve never reported that 1998 was the warmest year in the US.

The fact is, that 1998 and 1934 are so close in the GISS temperatures that any new set of numbers has a good chance of changing their ranking. Since 2005, the relative rankings have changed from 1934 warmest, to tied, to 1998 warmest, to 1934 warmest and to tied again. None of these changes means anything — it’s just noise, but the result of this noise is more noise from McIntyre. If 1934 hits the front he can post about how 1998 is no longer the warmest year and if 1998 edges ahead, he can post about how NASA is cooking the books.

And just as he intended, McIntyre’s post was picked up by denialist blogs like Noel Sheppard, who accused NASA of cooking the books like Enron. Charming.

Comments

  1. #1 John McKay
    September 20, 2007

    But NASA doesn’t publish a leaderboard of warmest years in the US.

    You mean… they’re trying to suppress that information!?! At last, their dirty game has been exposed!!

  2. #2 bigcitylib
    September 20, 2007

    Sometimes I think McIntyre is trying to make statistics seem boring.

  3. #3 sean Egan
    September 20, 2007

    NASA have made changes that alter the published results. The procedural changes where not published AT THE SAME time as the published results were modified. This causes people trying to reproduce and check the results to waste a lot of time. After they worked it out and published on a bog, NASA confirmed what they had done. It’s funny but lots of people get annoyed if you waste their time for no good reason.

  4. #4 dhogaza
    September 20, 2007

    It’s funny but lots of people get annoyed if you waste their time for no good reason.

    That’s funny. No one has FORCED you to take up this charming hobby of yours. NASA didn’t “waste anyone’s time”. If you choose to spend your time on your games, that’s your problem.

  5. #5 John Cross
    September 20, 2007

    I tried to publish on a bog once but it “burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.”

  6. #6 JB
    September 20, 2007

    McIntyre does seem to have taken a trip down Conspiracy Lane (or at least Persecution Lane) when it comes to James Hansen and NASA.

    With regard to statistics: I think he is just trying to convince us all that statistics are really difficult — by conveying with 2500 words, 15 graphs and 20 equations what could be much more clearly conveyed with 20 words, no graphs and no equations.

  7. #7 sean egan
    September 20, 2007

    In answer #5
    Not my hobby, I have lost nothing. But If you know people are going to reproduce your work, why would you make it difficult ? If they find any errors you fix them and your work is improved. When they can find nothing to complain about – I guess you win the game.

  8. #8 dhogaza
    September 20, 2007

    But If you know people are going to reproduce your work, why would you make it difficult ?

    Because making it easy isn’t part of the job description. Hobbyists don’t get to tell NASA how to spend our hard-earned tax money.

  9. #9 Dano
    September 20, 2007

    But If you know people are going to reproduce your work, why would you make it difficult ?

    Attention Busybody Amateurs Everywhere!
    An Amazing opportunity awaits YOU!

    Audit the BushCo Government’s cooked numbers, books, ledgers, payments on Eye-rack! On energy! On Gitmo detainees!!!!

    Opportunity awaits!

    Come one, come all busybody amateur auditors!

    Hello?

    Hello?

    Um…

    Anyone?

    Steve? Sean?

    Anyone?

    Hello?

    Best,

    D

  10. #10 Dano
    September 20, 2007

    Rather than Fergus’ prizeless contest, I suggest we set up a prize to the first person to successfully pitch a foundation for prize money to the first Amateur Auditor to successfully audit the books of, say, payment to Halliburton and the $Bns p*ssed away/lost/hidden/spent on hotties and booze/disappeared.

    Maybe Tim can set up a PayPal after our intrepid Auditors analyze gummint books and statistically show the loss of American treasure on this f’n folly.

    This audit effort would have immediate, tangible benefits and save real $billlllllllllyuns of American taxpayer dollars. Billllllllllyuns. Maybe as much as Kyoto expenses.

    Just a thought.

    Best,

    D

  11. #11 Dave
    September 20, 2007

    Tim I think you missed the point Steve was making. After the initial adjustments due to Y2K issues (identified by Steve), 1934 as the warmest year (only just), Hansen then readjusted the data to make 1998 the warmest again and republished the results without any public announcement. Steve is having a go at the NASA people for all these changes with no real explantion or auditable methodology.

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    September 20, 2007

    > Y2K issues (identified by Steve)
    Except it had nothing to do with the year 2000 date change

    > 1934 as the warmest year (only just)
    No significant difference between the top 2

    > 1998 the warmest again
    No significant difference between the top 2

    > republished the results without any public announcement

    And if they’d announced: “No change in what we know statistically, after minor data change” — you’d complain too, right?

  13. #13 cce
    September 20, 2007

    Since they are updating the code for release to the public, they are no doubt using this opportunity to update their methodology. As they said when this whole thing started, they are going to describe their methods in the end-of-year wrapup, and in a new paper forthcoming. If auditors can’t wait a few months for this documentation, they’re just going to have to take up Dano’s suggestion.

  14. #14 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    Actually, I’d love to see a hobbyist show NASA how to build a space ship that doesn’t have tiles and insulation falling off, damaging the ship and every once in a while causing them to blow up.

    I’m as likely to believe that someone from NASA is getting temperature adjustments correct as I am to voluntarily get in a space shuttle.

    I bet this is going to be an interesting thread for a few days…

  15. #15 muzza
    September 21, 2007

    From the tone of this thread (and others at this site) anyone would think that you guys don’t agree that scientists should adhere to required standards in their work.

    It is very clear now that Mann, Jones, Hansen et al have not done their work to normally accepted standards, and worse, have sought to prevent their work being subject to normal scientific scrutiny.

    This has led to a serious loss of credibility that risks the whole AGW movement. If you are serious about saving the world, shouldn’t you be in the vanguard of those demanding robust, verifiable science rather than acting as apologists and defenders of demonstrably shoddy work.

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    September 21, 2007

    Oh, we think that scientists should adhere to required standards. But we don’t think that the standards are defined by self-appointed auditors and their imaginary leader board.

  17. #17 David Duff
    September 21, 2007

    “But we don’t think that the standards are defined by self-appointed auditors”

    So, who does set them?

    And can you, Mr. Lambert, stand with hand on heart and swear that Mann, Jones, Hansen ‘et al’ have been scrupulous in observing them?

  18. #18 Adam
    September 21, 2007

    “After they worked it out and published on a bog”

    As good a description for CA as I’ve read. When they post, do they pull the chain? Because posts like that quoted, of SM’s, certainly help to flush away any credibility he might have.

  19. #19 Paul S
    September 21, 2007

    ==”Oh, we think that scientists should adhere to required standards.”==

    Except if the standards are WMO standards regarding US surface sites. No adherence required. No inspection required. No explanation required. Anyone questioning such data, will, as always, be labelled “denier”.

    ==”But we don’t think that the standards are defined by self-appointed auditors and their imaginary leader board.”==

    Yeah, the standards are set by climate professionals, violated by climate professionals and ignored by climate professionals. Cozy little setup. And as they keep telling us, their magic wand even fixes unknown country-wide errors. These guys are THAT good.

  20. #20 Boris
    September 21, 2007

    All the denialists have is technicalities. Since people like muzza must certainly know that all these complaints make zero difference to the global temperature anomaly. You guys do know that, right?

  21. #21 richard
    September 21, 2007

    “the standards are set by climate professionals, violated by climate professionals and ignored by climate professionals”

    What’s your alternative? The standard scientific methods and peer-review have worked quite well. Any real errors that have been found in this particular case do not seem to have changed much re AGW, so what is the problem? I do not see any ‘fatal flaw’. Conmplaining that exact recipes haven’t been followed when departures don’t change significantly the result sound petty.

  22. #22 SomeBeans
    September 21, 2007

    oh, the irony, free-marketeers resorting to an appeal to bureaucracy…

  23. #23 Demesure
    September 21, 2007

    If 0.01°C is nothing and can be tweaked without notice, then 0.7°C/century is insignificant.
    Suck or blow Tim but don’t do both.

  24. #24 Tim Lambert
    September 21, 2007

    Demesure, 0.7 is **seventy times** 0.01. Please stay away from anything involving numbers in the future.

  25. #25 Eli Rabett
    September 21, 2007

    So, the McMiceIntryre factor is 70?

  26. #26 Demesure
    September 21, 2007

    Tim
    If in just 1 week, Hansen can change 0.01°C without notice, then a change of 0.7°C in one century is insignificant.
    Integrating time factor may be too much for you to grasp, but try harder.

  27. #27 Jc
    September 21, 2007

    “All the denialists have is technicalities.”

    Well actually it’s not true. A lot of people labled as denialists (resembling a the old Soviet accusations) are noit denialists at all.

    Even taking Stern’s findings and even using his totally bizarre cost of capital (1/70)of that used in intergenerational accounting the real surprise is done do nothing.

  28. #28 JB
    September 21, 2007

    Demesure said “If in just 1 week, Hansen can change 0.01°C without notice, then a change of 0.7°C in one century is insignificant. Integrating time factor may be too much for you to grasp, but try harder.”

    No, 1 week is not the relevant time in the first case. In fact, the relevant time is precisely the same in both cases: 100 years.

    In the first case, the issue is how a 0.01C change in the temperature anomaly for one (or possibly more than one) year changes the rank order for “hottest years of the century” — ie, over 100 years.

    The length of time Hansen took to make/post the change is completely irrelevant to the argument of “significance”.

  29. #29 dhogaza
    September 21, 2007

    oconnellc:

    Actually, I’d love to see a hobbyist show NASA how to build a space ship that doesn’t have tiles and insulation falling off, damaging the ship and every once in a while causing them to blow up.

    I’m as likely to believe that someone from NASA is getting temperature adjustments correct as I am to voluntarily get in a space shuttle.

    There’s a hobbyist in Bend, Oregon building his own rocketship.

    I expect oconnellc to back up his bluster by offering to take the first ride …

    I haven’t noticed any hobbyists tripping off to the moon lately. Nor building rovers that are able to wander around Mars for *years*, unattended. On and on and on.

    Oconnellc’s disrespect for NASA is stunning and telling.

  30. #30 Jc
    September 21, 2007

    “I haven’t noticed any hobbyists tripping off to the moon lately”

    And I suppose the discovery of the Americas by people in rickety boats funded with private money was a cake walk?

  31. #31 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    dhogaza, if you aren’t struck by the fact that NASA is completely unable to do something now that they were able able to do in 1969, that is also telling. You have this insane desire to want to argue and win, regardless of how stupid what you are arguing is. How many times would NASA have to shoot up a firecracker, covered in insulation that won’t stay attached, before you start to think that maybe they are fallible? Do you really want a recount of all the stupid and repeated mistakes made by NASA in the last 30 years? If it would get you to use some sense, I’d be happy to do it.

    >> Oconnellc’s disrespect for NASA is stunning and telling.

    What, did they hire you to do PR for them? If they waste enough taxpayer money, yes, I start to disrespect them. Is that OK?

    This reminds me of your stupid defense of SS and your assertions of the great service they provide (Still waiting for you to answer those couple questions I had about their service) or the assertion that because they were required by law to give crummy returns we were supposed to be happy about it.

    Face it, the folks at NASA have as many schmoes as any other large beaurocracy. Their mistakes just happen to cost a lot more money and lives than most others. If they continue to make the same stupid mistake with insulation on a shuttle (I guess they are still working to perfect that 25 year old technology. It took less time for that agency to get formed and send someone to the moon then they have currently been working on shuttles), yes, I believe it is also possible that they can get temperature adjustments wrong as well. You can call me ‘blustering’ if it makes it easier for you to ignore what I said. I expect no less.

  32. #32 dhogaza
    September 21, 2007

    And I suppose the discovery of the Americas by people in rickety boats funded with private money was a cake walk?

    Compared to traveling to the moon?

    Well, yes, actually.

    Captain Bligh could’ve done it in an open sailboat, a launch (he did roughly the equivalent in the Pacific), and Shackleton sailed an even smaller open boat a very large distance near the Antartic.

    A privately-funded ultralight ain’t ever going to make it to Mars …

  33. #33 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    dhogaza, take a quick read about all private citizens who are lining up for a chance to compete with NASA in the space business. You come up with an apples-to-apples bet, I’ll take your money.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/G/GOOGLE_MOON_PRIZE?SITE=NEYOR&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

  34. #34 Lee
    September 21, 2007

    NASA is not responsible for many of the design decisions on the space shuttle. The shuttle was in large part a defense project, and the design criteria were largely guided by defense requirements for payload weight and size. This forced NASA to a large, heavy, unwieldy, fat and stubby vehicle, with all the design constraints this all entailed.

    NASA came up with some pretty good design solutions to a really ugly design problem that had been forced on them.

  35. #35 richard
    September 21, 2007

    “dhogaza, take a quick read about all private citizens who are lining up for a chance to compete with NASA in the space business”

    I doubt that they are lining up to compete with NASA. Instead, they are lining up to use technology, developed by the space industry, NASA, the Pentagon, etc, (all done with taxpayer dollars), in order to compete with each other. Without those public dollars, there would not be a space industry, let alone anyone ‘lining up’.

  36. #36 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    Lee, are they responsible for the design decisions or not?

    >>NASA is not responsible for many of the design decisions on the space shuttle.

    or

    >> NASA came up with some pretty good design solutions to a really ugly design problem that had been forced on them.

    It sounds like you are saying that the defense department came up with the requirements, and that NASA had to design something to suit those requirements. Or, are you saying that the defense department said “It has to carry X tons and it has to have stubby wings”?

    If they did design it, then maybe they could tell us how long they think it will take until they are done. Perhaps this is all related to Hanson etc. If NASA is still working on things like insulation etc., perhaps they could tell us and we won’t fund any more shuttle launches until they think they got it right. If Hanson is still modifying his methodology because he thinks it can be improved, maybe they should put that on his website where people are getting the results, so that they will know that they can wait for the new results, or use the old results. Couldn’t hurt to know, could it? Tim even has another post on his blog about how important it is for all of this information to be publicly available.

  37. #37 John Sully
    September 21, 2007

    oconnellc,

    Did you hear about what happened at Scaled Composites last month? One of their test engines for SpaceShip 2 blew up killing 3. Face it, space travel is dangerous whether it is done by NASA, the Russians or private enterprise.

  38. #38 richard
    September 21, 2007

    “If NASA is still working on things like insulation etc., perhaps they could tell us and we won’t fund any more shuttle launches until they think they got it right. ”

    Its called science and engineering. You take the best data you have and develop hypotheses. That leads to more exp design and data collecting. Even reasonable well-founded predictions are not always going to be right. In Hansen’s case, his models seem to describe things pretty well, despite some minor errors in data. If someone thinks they can do better, please proceed. But to suggest that everything must be perfect otherwise its tossed out, that’s nuts.

    NASA isn’t the only outfit to have design problems you know. How many vehicles were recalled last year in the US due to defects?

  39. #39 Mark Shapiro
    September 21, 2007

    Muzza, David Duff, and Paul S.-

    It took me some years of reading Climate Audit posts to realize why the audit model, which is necesssary for business, is unnecessary, even wrong, for science.

    A business’ books are private and closed. The only chance to verify them is via independent audit. Science, (or, if I may, “reality”) on the other hand, is open to all in the world around us. Anyone can read a scientist’s publication and then take their own measurements and do their own experiments. Everyone should be a skeptic in that sense; always looking for confirmation or falsification.

    Climate Audit has made a couple contributions over the years, but no one there has contributed as much as a single datum. If you really do want verifiable science, hand-on-your-heart and swear, adherence to standards, don’t yell for an audit, just look out your window and watch the world warm for yourself. Scientists (measurers) have shown us where to look: melting glaciers; droughts; floods; pine bark beetles; wildfires; poleward movement of flora and fauna, and more. Be your own scientist.

    Observe the warming, and weep.

  40. #40 Ian Gould
    September 21, 2007

    “How many times would NASA have to shoot up a firecracker, covered in insulation that won’t stay attached, before you start to think that maybe they are fallible?”

    How many times does NASA have to successfully put a manned spacecraft into orbit while the very best of the private would-be competitors are struggling to achieve suborbital flight before you start to think maybe they aren’t criminally incompetent?

    Ah yes, that’s right, they’re part of the government and therefore evil and insane.

    Since 1969, how many private sector manned moon missions have there been?

  41. #41 Ian Gould
    September 21, 2007

    JC: “Even taking Stern’s findings and even using his totally bizarre cost of capital (1/70)of that used in intergenerational accounting the real surprise is done do nothing.”

    Ignore the exceptionally poorly written section in the summary report about the time value of money and read the supporting paper about the computer modelling.

    They ran several thousand simulations, each with random perturbations of the main variables within fixed ranges. THen they averaged the results. The actual discount rate used was, IIRC, the UK Treasury recommended discounting rate plus an additional 1-3%.

    I’m uncertain how you managed to conclude that Stern was an argument for inaction.

  42. #42 dhogaza
    September 21, 2007

    dhogaza, if you aren’t struck by the fact that NASA is completely unable to do something now that they were able able to do in 1969, that is also telling.

    Ha! That’s a funny one, oconnellc, absolutely hilarious.

    Unintentionally funny, I’m sure, since apparently it’s based on absolute ignorance.

  43. #43 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    Ian:
    >> How many times does NASA have to successfully put a manned spacecraft into orbit while the very best of the private would-be competitors are struggling to achieve suborbital flight before you start to think maybe they aren’t criminally incompetent?

    Does it make it easier for you to argue with me if you have to make up something I never said? I never said that. I said they are fallible. They make mistakes. If the cost of a mistake would cost me $.20, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If verifying the work is so incredibly easy, it becomes a no brainer to verify it.

    My goodness, 40% of all the shuttles to ever take a flight have exploded in flight. Please explain what point you are arguing with me about. I started out by saying the NASA can and does make mistakes. Those mistakes aren’t limited to shuttle insulation. The response is that people start making insane arguments comparing small private companies with a government agency that has been in existance for 5 decades and that has spent hundreds and hundreds of billions? Are you serious? Are you so eager to argue and win some point that you don’t even think about what point you are arguing?

    richard, I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that since autos have design problems, there is no reason to assume that anyone at NASA can make a mistake? Please, there is no finite limit on the number of mistakes that can be made in the world. An engineer at Ford making a mistake does not mean that a statistician at NASA is less likely to make one.

  44. #44 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    dhogaza, careful… For a second I thought you were going to make a point or add something with your last post. I should have known better not to be deceived. Still waiting for your thoughts on SS, though!

  45. #45 dhogaza
    September 21, 2007

    Oconnellc, I did make a point, you’re just not smart enough to figure it out.

    Besides which, my answer’s the 42nd post …

    Two fatal accidents over a period of 26 years is actually quite remarkably low for something that pushed the limits of technology to the extent that the shuttle did.

  46. #46 oconnellc
    September 21, 2007

    dhogaza, you nitwit. I was referring to post #42. You read a comeback in a Family Circle cartoon once and you run with it on almost every post you make.

    >> Two fatal accidents over a period of 26 years is actually quite remarkably low for something that pushed the limits of technology to the extent that the shuttle did.

    Unless of course you happen to be on one of those shuttles. Fairly cavalier with the lives of our astronauts, aren’t you? Perhaps you’d like to explain to their families that you consider their loss within acceptable boundaries. You rarely answer questions, but maybe you’d care to answer this one? Just how many more would it take for the fatalities to no longer be acceptable? One more shuttle? Or maybe two? What if the reason was more insulation? Or if they came up with a new problem, would they get a few more freebies?

    Once again, the point is that we have an agency full of experts who are constantly checking and rechecking each others work who continually make very public and expensive mistakes. The counter arguments seem to be that since experts in other fields can make mistakes, those mistakes don’t count? No, that is just extra proof that the experts are constantly making mistakes! I personally don’t care if it is an amateur or an expert who catches them as long as they get caught. Will you be offended if Mc finds another?

  47. #47 dhogaza
    September 22, 2007

    Unless of course you happen to be on one of those shuttles. Fairly cavalier with the lives of our astronauts, aren’t you?

    I see … so you never fly on commercial airliners, right? Because people do die on them. Nor do you drive, because accidents do happen on the roadway.

    Perhaps you’d like to explain to their families that you consider their loss within acceptable boundaries.

    Well, actually, their families don’t mirror your outrage. They say things like “we accepted the risk…” blah blah.

    You rarely answer questions, but maybe you’d care to answer this one? Just how many more would it take for the fatalities to no longer be acceptable? One more shuttle? Or maybe two?

    Looks like Oconnellc, champion of free enterprise, wants government to ban automobiles, trains, airplanes, bicycles, skateboards and …

    Walking.

    All involve risk.

    This is an interesting exercise in right-wing nutassed extremism with faux concern for safety, isn’t it?

    Oh, of course, if the space shuttle were produced with private money the fatalities would be, hmmm, embraced, no, you ho?

    Once again, the point is that we have an agency full of experts who are constantly checking and rechecking each others work who continually make very public and expensive mistakes.

    No, they make mistakes that sometimes are significant, and often aren’t.

    But the rate of mistakes that are “very public” and “expensive” are actually very rare.

    Which is why their mistakes are news items.

    Will you be offended if Mc finds another?

    I wasn’t by the fact that he actually managed to find one that is not significant.

    Oh, BTW, you are aware that he has said this in public? No statiscal signifance?

    But of course he makes sure that it is of *political* significance.

    Because, that is, of course, what counts in his mind …

    and in yours.

    You don’t give a shit if you’re right or wrong, as long as the political winds blow your way.

    Which means you’re a fucking whore, you know.

    (well, yes, I’m sure you know)

  48. #48 oconnellc
    September 22, 2007

    dhogaza, this was amazing even for you. You made up entire paragraphs that I never said, then called me a fucking whore and said I don’t give a shit if I’m right or wrong. You take quotes from other people and automatically assume that they apply to me as well. Of course, I asked you a direct question which you ignored (which you even quoted, so I know you didn’t miss it), so I guess you are still being consistent.

    The average cost per shuttle mission is estimated at about 1.5B per (I’ve seen other numbers much higher, but I’ll go with the lower one). So with our two firecrackers you are putting $3Billion and 14 dead as within acceptable error bounds. The current disaster rate for the shuttle is 1/60 missions, compared to the estimated disaster rate at the start of the program of 1/75. Including the Columbia, 3 of the past 6 launches have had insulation problems. Have you even bothered to read about all the idiocy that had to happen for the Challenger disaster? My god, only you could be so publicly stupid as to defend that as part of the risk. The Rogers commission stated that the NASA culture and decision making process was a key to the disaster. No one accepts that! We all accept reasonable risk. Once the families found out why their loved ones died, they said things like (Ellison Onizuka’s widow): “I could spend the rest of my life being angry at something I couldn’t change.”. Or, as you paraphrased it “blah blah”. Real nice.

    And are you really so stupid as to think that someone will read my post, then read your post and say “Yeah, that oconnellc really is proposing that the government ban walking”? If you want to argue, go ahead, but don’t you think you are taking the idiocy just a little far, even for you? Oh, and are you making any progress on your research about SS customer service?

    So, I’ll ask again:
    >> Two fatal accidents over a period of 26 years is actually quite remarkably low for something that pushed the limits of technology to the extent that the shuttle did.

    How many would it take for you to not qualify the fatalities as “remarkably low”?
    depp=true
    notiz=[Enough already — TL]

  49. #49 cce
    September 22, 2007

    No one in the history of Earth has done what NASA has done. The shuttle, despite its flaws, is the most sophisticated vehicle ever constructed. It is complicated and it is old. It is also operated with shoestring budget compared to the early days of NASA. The argument isn’t that all private individuals are beneath NASA scientists. The argument is that NASA scientists aren’t beneath private individuals. We can say without hesitation that they aren’t beneath the likes of McIntyre.

    The only reason that the insulation is constantly in the news now is because no one ever thought it was a problem. It has fallen off since day one. Columbia was destroyed when the luck ran out and the true scope of the problem became apparent.

    All astronauts and their families know that space flight is dangerous. That is not being cavelier, that is a fact. The idea that spaceflight is somehow easy or safe and NASA is incompetent is a grotesque insult. It is an insult those astronauts, their families, to truth, not to mention common sense.

    McIntyre’s beef is with people who actually do stuff. Because people who actually do stuff make mistakes. McIntyre doesn’t do anything. He criticizes other people’s work. Years go by and then when all is said and done, his entire claim to fame is a 0.05 increase in the Hockey Stick’s amplitude and a 0.001 correction in the global temperature. But he has managed to sell a lot of doubt.

  50. #50 muzza
    September 22, 2007

    Well actually cce, in response to your comment, what Steve Mc has done is to demonstrate that the supposed consensus of ‘peer reviewed’ ‘climate scientists’ is based on very poor quality data that has been manipulated and distorted by people with a political agenda.

    This shoddy work has been used to alarm the public, with propaganda instruments like Al Gore’s AIT. It is noteworthy that Al, when challenged about inconsistencies, doesn’t seek to defend his work but instead argues that the end justifies the means. The problem with AGW it is said is so serious, that people like Al are justified in exaggerating and misrepresenting the real situation. This sounds remarkably like the famous Stephen Schneider quote. Steve McIntyre, Roger Pielke Snr and many other much derided workers, have shown Al Gore and his supporters up for what they really are.

    It is surely not unreasonable that people like Gore, Mann, Jones, Hansen et al are held to account. Their propaganda has been effective in causing 70% of the population in countries like Australia to believe that AGW is the most serious problem facing the planet. This puts the politicians in an invidious position.

    The misguided policies being introduced to deal with AGW are likely to cost trillions, disrupt whole communities and even whole countries, and all, probably, to little or no positive effect.

    It is becoming increasingly clear why Mann, Jones and Hansen et al have been so determined to not reveal their data and methods. When the data and methods ARE revealed to us all, either by reverse engineering by hard-working people, or by grudging disclosure of publicly owned data (it is mostly funded by taxpayers), the shortcomings become blindingly evident.

    In any field, such shoddy work would attract tough scrutiny, and perpetrators would not keep their jobs for long.

    As I said earlier, the tone of this site is that most posters act as apologists and defenders of people who are actually betraying your interests. ‘Climate scientists’ have lost credibility, not because of Steve McIntyre’s work, but because when they do reveal their work, it is apparent that despite having been ‘peer reviewed’, the faults become alarmingly evident.

    Nobody here has offered a cogent defense of this poor work. This suggests that those attacking ‘the denialists’ have either not examined the work themselves, or they lack the basic knowledge of scientific process to tell what sound science looks like. Persisting with the attacks on ‘the denialists’ only serves to illustrate that the attackers are not interested in robust, good quality science that is designed to uncover the truth.

    There is much we don’t know about climate, and we do need to gain a better understanding of why droughts happen, why glaciers retreat etc. We really do need ‘climate scientists’, and in fact all scientists, to determine what is the real story.

    There is no doubt that there are many serious problems facing the planet. One of the problems with the prominence that AGW has achieved in the public mind is that much more serious, and probably much more easily solved issues, (refer Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus) are being ignored.

    As Roger Pielke Snr points out, poor land management practices are having a very serious impact all over the world, and affecting climate as well.

    The brown cloud over Asia represents a very serious problem. Those of us fortunate enough to live in cities and countries where the benefits of enlightened conservationists have delivered real gains, now rejoice in clean air, clean water, clean streets, and clean harbours and seas nearby. There are many more trees. Good stuff.

    But lets focus on the real issues.

  51. #51 dhogaza
    September 22, 2007

    Well actually cce, in response to your comment, what Steve Mc has done is to demonstrate that the supposed consensus of ‘peer reviewed’ ‘climate scientists’ is based on very poor quality data that has been manipulated and distorted by people with a political agenda.

    Actually, all McIntrye has done is to show just how robust the process is, because all of his wingnuttery efforts have accomplished is…

    1. McMann’s hockey stick reconstruction largely confirmed by the NAS (despite wingnuttery misrepresentation of their report)

    2. A statistically insignificant correction to the lower-48 temperature record

    Peer review, on the other hand, led to a string of extremely significant changes to the analysis of the radiosonde and satellite temperature records, both of which now align very nicely with the ground station record and model results.

  52. #52 stewart
    September 22, 2007

    Just to weigh in here (I want my shot at the half-millionth), the Climate Audit model starts and ends with an accountant’s notion of science: if you’re not exactly right, you’re exactly wrong. Science itself is built on the notion that we’re always wrong, but we make our mistakes in public, and they get smaller over time. If CA helps catch errors or flags possible items, that’s fine. It’s not science, it’s accounting. When errors are reduced, that’s science.
    There’s a reason all science journals have ‘Corrections’ pages – because we know and accept we make mistakes – we also correct them in public. Our mistakes get smaller and our models get better over time; the appeal to perfection is simply a delaying tactic by do-nothings.

    As for the NASA vs. private contractor comparison – suborbital tourist flight is difficult, but not out of the realm of hobbyists. But why is no private contractor talking about Mars or the moon? Because it’s an incredibly large problem, with little short-term financial payback. Unless Bill Gates and his 10 richest friends want to focus on this over the next 30 years, it’s going to be government or nothing.

  53. #53 richard
    September 22, 2007

    “Are you saying that since autos have design problems, there is no reason to assume that anyone at NASA can make a mistake”

    Nope. I’m saying that, based on the auto model, plenty of private sector space vehicles will blow up.

  54. #54 oconnellc
    September 22, 2007

    In light of post 47, I’ve been told I’m abusive. I’m not being forced to do this by Tim… I want to apologize to anyone if my language has caused anyone to be offended. Based on what does not get disemvowelled, it is difficult to gauge the standard for that around here, so you are left to your own devices for protecting yourself from exposure to certain language.

    Regarding accuracy of scientific institutions, I’m going to suggest that someone try reading the Rogers Commission report and especially Richard Feynmens appendix (http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/v2appf.htm) to make their judgments about whether or not an agency can be considered corrupt or incompetent. If you decide that they are neither of these, then auditing of work by that agency might seem like a waste of time. If you decide that they are these things, then you might not care who is holding the flashlight, as long as the light is getting shone in the correct direction. I made every attempt to not be abusive and stay on the topic of people doing audits.

  55. #55 Eli Rabett
    September 22, 2007

    Stewart has the right of it.

  56. #56 oconnellc
    September 22, 2007

    >> Nope. I’m saying that, based on the auto model, plenty of private sector space vehicles will blow up.

    Oh. Since these private sector entities have a history of failures, you will probably want a very good reassurance that they have done everything in their power to make sure that they have solved all their problems. What if someone had described a catastrophe at private sector agency X:

    >> Official management, on the other hand, claims to believe the probability of failure is a thousand times less. One reason for this may be an attempt to assure the government of “agency X” perfection and success in order to ensure the supply of funds. The other may be that they sincerely believed it to be true, demonstrating an almost incredible lack of communication between themselves and their working engineers.

    (http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/v2appf.htm)

    How long would it be before you rode in a space ship made by that company?

  57. #57 dhogaza
    September 22, 2007

    How long would it be before you rode in a space ship made by that company?

    Let’s see … a culture of overconfidence based on a perfect record of never having lost a life in spaceflight makes them, in your mind, incompetent.

    You have an interesting habit of ignoring context.

    However, the bottom line was that the techies made the right call, and the PHBs screwed up.

    Now, which category does Hansen, a scientist, fall into?

    a) PHB
    b) Techie

    Regarding your precious private vs. public sector absolutism, the solid fuel booster O-ring seals were under-engineered.

    By Martin-Thiokol …

    And the PHBs who for years had ignored one of their engineers who repeatedly pointed out that the O-rings were become partially “eroded” (burned away) during launch?

    Those PHBs worked for Martin-Thiokol … not NASA.

  58. #58 Boris
    September 22, 2007

    The denialists should be reminded:

    1. McSteve’s discoveries have made no real impact on the worldwide trend, despite tens of thousands of words and dozens of appearances on right wing blogs and radio programs.

    2. Satellite data matches GISS data extremely well for the globe AND for the US region.

    As much as I enjoyed reading the first two graphs of muzza’s conspiracy theory….

  59. #59 oconnellc
    September 22, 2007

    *[Enough of the off-topic stuff – TL]*

  60. #60 Boris
    September 22, 2007

    Yawn. More distraction.

  61. #61 oconnellc
    September 22, 2007

    *[Enough of the off-topic stuff – TL]*

  62. #62 cce
    September 22, 2007

    I can only repeat the fact that McIntyre has not accomplished anything scientifically. He has, however, produced a lot of political controversy — i.e. congressional hearings and panels.

    His attacks on the Hockey Stick have produced nothing — A 0.05 degree increase in the amplitude. In the mean time, about 10 reconstructions have been introduced, none of them showing the Medieval-Faith-Warmers’ default assumption that the MWP is warmer than today. Gee, what a great scientific success! All those politically motivated AGW scientists are on the run!

    The NASA correction resulted in a 0.001 decrease in global temmperature. This result was not due to any UHI effects but the screwup in the transition to the new dataset. Are they going to find similar transitions all over the world, all requiring negative adjustments? I’ll answer that. No.

    In their heart of hearts, the auditors can’t believe that they are going to quantify UHI effects any better than has already been quantified. The real point is to provide pictures of temperature stations next to air conditioners, so that politicians and voters can say, “Those pictures sure make me doubt AGW.”

  63. #63 z
    September 22, 2007

    “And I suppose the discovery of the Americas by people in rickety boats funded with private money was a cake walk?”

    Uh, Queen Isabella’s “private money” was the treasury of Spain.

  64. #64 dhogaza
    September 23, 2007

    Uh, Queen Isabella’s “private money” was the treasury of Spain.

    But, of course, you’re ignoring that Spain was largely the private property of the Crown :)

    The libertarian fantasy essentially is that we should revert to that state … rather than pay taxes to a government that at least has some attributes of democracy, we should pay tribute to our private masters.

  65. #65 Jc
    September 23, 2007
  66. #66 Tim Lambert
    September 23, 2007

    JC, your bullshit detector needs adjusting. The Rasool paper is usually attributed to Steven Schneider, who was, at least, a co-author. It’s absurd to claim that a paper that Hansen did not write represents his views. As for Rasool, the IBD misrepresents what the paper says. [See here](http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/).

  67. #67 Boris
    September 23, 2007

    Wow, another attempt at changing the subject.

  68. #68 luminous beauty
    September 23, 2007

    Tim,

    If Jc had a bullshit detector, he’d be somebody else.

  69. #69 jb
    September 23, 2007

    cce: ‘The real point is to provide pictures of temperature stations next to air conditioners, so that politicians and voters can say, “Those pictures sure make me doubt AGW.”

    If anything, I’d think pictures of air conditioners would make most people actually believe in global warming.

    “Damn, even the ‘keepers of the thermometers’ are getting hot. The warming must be real!”

  70. #70 Pop Trot
    September 23, 2007

    Who writes those IBD diatribes? They’re always unattributed and always linked by Drudge.

  71. #71 MrPete
    November 3, 2007

    I’m amazed at the shilling for poor scientific practice here.

    ONE (annual) temp changed by only 0.01c. Others changed by far more. Individual places were changed by as much as several degrees. Doesn’t undocumented revisionism of PAST temperature bother anyone even a little?

    Doesn’t extending current (known, not controversial) warming out to 100 years, using bad data and bad methods, bother anyone?

    Doesn’t extending it further, 400 then 1000 years, using even WORSE, cherry-picked data and even WORSE methods, bother anyone?

    A few of us care about getting answers correct. And not being so sure of ourselves until we do. And so some of us are having to even go collect new data, on our own, because one sector of the science community states (in print) that they can TOSS any data that doesn’t fit their “desired signal”?!! That doesn’t bother anyone?

    Sigh.

  72. #72 John A
    November 5, 2007

    Sometimes I think bigcityfib tries to make ignorance look exciting.

  73. #73 LeeSmith
    November 5, 2007

    What’s wrong with wanting to verify things? Even if nothing’s found? Why all the pushback and obfuscation?

    Anyway. Here’s something like what a real problem looks like.

    Day 1
    One in the morning. A nuclear reactor is at full power and normal operation. Steam power is going to both turbines. Operators begin reducing power for a test; what are the dynamics of the RMBK (reactor cooled by water and moderated by graphite) reactor with limited power flow?
    Twelve hours later, the reactor is at 50% power. Only one turbine is needed to take in the steam, and so turbine #2 is turned off.
    Normally for this test, the reactor would have been reduced to 30% power but authorities refuse to allow it because of the need for electricity for peak evening hours, so the reactor remains at 50% for another few hours. Most safety protocols have been removed and the computers turned have been shut off.

    Day 2
    At twelve thirty in the morning, the staff (not very experienced…) gets permission to resume the power reduction. But one operator makes a mistake; a controller is not reset. Instead of keeping power at 30%, it drops to less than 5%, neutron absorbers water and xenon filling the core. This increases the nuclear reaction. The water added starts turning into steam and driving the turbines.
    An hour later, the operator forces the reactor to a few percent higher by removing all the boron control rods but 6, totally violating procedure and forcing the reactor to operate under conditions it was never designed for. RBMK reactors are very unstable when water fills the core, so the operator tried to take over the water flow, but he was not able to get the flow of water corrected. Very small temperature changes were causing massive power fluctions, and the reactor became even more unstable. In order to not halt the test, the operator disabled the emergency shutdown procedures. The control boards seemed as if all was fine so the operators started the test. They blocked automatic shutdown on low water level or loss of turbines because they didn’t want to have the test stop and have to rerun it… Turbine #1 is shut down.
    Power begins to rise due to the reduced water flow resulting from having both turbines shut down, and so the remaining water starts to boil. The operators start a manual shut down (SCRAM), but the control rod design leads to a very rapid power increase. The graphite displaces the water and increases the power even more; it burns when when exposed to air, so this further increases the nuclear reaction and the power.

    The reactor reaches many times full power and the radioactive fuel disintigrates, pressure from the steam that should have been going to the turbines breaks all the pressure tubes and blows the entire top shield off the reactor, spewing radioactive steam into the atmosphere.

    Located in north-central Ukraine in the city of Pripyat, reactor #4 had a badly planned and poorly implemented test, where operators purposely shut down safety features that turned the reactor into a radioactive steam pressure cooker that blew its top. April 26th 1986 at about 1:20 AM, Chernobyl released more than thirty times the radioactivity of the bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. The first indication outside of the Ukraine was when abnormally high levels of radiation was measured in Sweden. Over 30 people died at the plant, and hundreds of thousands were evacuated in a 30 kilometer zone of extremely contaminated area around the plant.

    The reactor at Chernobyl had no containment vessel. (Luckily, the reactor at Three Mile Island (1979) did have one; an unnoticed open value allowed coolant water to escape, further human error resulting in the fuel core melting, but it only burned through one layer of the contrainment field and not the second.)

    Source:
    http://www.fatherryan.org/nuclearincidents/timeline.htm

    This is probably more accurate, but you get the idea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_accident

  74. #74 Andrew Plemmons Pratt
    November 8, 2007

    Our statement at ScienceProgress.org: While the scientific process demands critical peer review of research data, that process should not detract from the overwhelming consensus of scientists all over the planet who say that human activity is a cause of climate change and that now is the time to act to slow its detrimental effects. We have to keep our eye on the globe.

  75. #75 Rick
    November 8, 2007

    The warming is slight, the warming is good and unfortunately the warming is temporary. Embrace it while it’s here.

    Cold Kills.

  76. #76 Eli Rabett
    November 8, 2007

    No Rick, stupidity kills. Take care

  77. #77 Dano
    November 8, 2007

    Standard issue teacher bumper sticker:

    If education is expensive, what about ignorance?

    I guess the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed thousands and reduced photosynthesis by ~1/2 was good! Good we say! Warming is good, everybody!

    Best,

    D

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