McKitrick’s quote mining

Deep Climate dissects Ross McKitrick’s deceptive quoting from the emails stolen from CRU in 2009:

In one particularly outrageous and error-filled passage, McKitrick accuses IPCC AR4 co-ordinating lead authors Phil Jones and Kevin Trenberth of selecting their team of contributing authors solely on the basis of whether they agree with the pair’s scientific views. He even goes so far as to accuse Jones of “dismissing” (i.e. rejecting as a contributing author) one qualified expert who, supposedly in Jones’s own words, “has done a lot, but I don’t trust him.”

But the record clearly shows that it was Trenberth who made that last comment, and that he was expressing misgivings about the quality of the researcher’s work, not whether he was on the “right side” of scientific issues. And the expert in question, climatologist Joel Norris, was in fact selected by Trenberth as a contributing author. Even worse, McKitrick has reversed the order of the Jones quotes, taken them out of context, and then juxtaposed them to make it appear as if they were part of the same exchange. Meanwhile, an examination of the two separate email discussions show chapter co-ordinators trying to fill out their team with authors who will be able to contribute effectively, in complete contradiction to McKitrick’s central thesis.

Notice how much more work it takes to put the quotes in context than for McKitrick to misrepresent them.

McKitrick also had a post at Climate Audit complaining about an email where Stephen Schneider wrote something a little uncomplimentary about him:

Ah ha-the latest idiot-McKitrick-reenters the scene. He and another incompetent had a book signing party at the US Capitol-Mike MacCracken went and he can tell you about it-last summer.

The book Schneider was referring to was Taken By Storm by Essex and McKitrick and he was correct to judge their work as incompetent. The thesis of the book was that “global average temperature” was not meaningful and whether it was warming depended on how you defined it. Here’s their argument:

An example of something that behaves intensively would be the percent of milk fat in a coffee creamer. If you put two small containers of 10% coffee creamer together, you do not get 20% milk fat. The cream is still 10%, even if you have twice as much. In the same manner, if you have two identical boxes with the same energy and the same temperature, join them together. The resulting doubled box will have twice the energy, but it will not have twice the temperature. There is no amount of temperature; it measures the condition or state of the stuff in the box. …

For computing your average, why would you add up the cubes in linear form? … why not square the temperatures, or take them to the fourth power? … if you are averaging the kinetic energy of molecules, it makes sense to calculate the mean of the squares of the speeds, because energy, which goes as the square of the speed, is physically additive, while speeds themselves are not. Or, since the Stefan-Boltzmann law tells us that equilibrium radiative energy goes as the fourth power of temperature, why not raise the temperature to the fourth power before adding them up? …

With temperature, there is no basis on physical grounds to use a simple sum, some other sum or some other more complicated rule for averaging, because temperature is an intensive quantity.

I hope you can see why Schneider would be justified in describing Essex and McKitrick as incompetent. (If you can’t, it’s explained here).

I left a comment to this effect at Climate Audit, but they don’t tolerate dissent there, and my criticism was quickly censored.

Comments

  1. #1 doody64
    November 29, 2011

    The adulation McKitrick is getting from the CA fanboys is rather nauseating. ‘Course, that’s why he’s whining.

  2. #2 hveerten
    November 29, 2011

    Ha! you actually got me to click on the link with the explanation because I just could not believe McKitrick to be THAT incompetent… my reflex was to assume that I overlooked something obvious. Does this reflect poorly on my analytical skills or well on my civility?

  3. #3 Lotharsson
    November 29, 2011

    > For computing your average, why would you add up the cubes in linear form? … why not square the temperatures, or take them to the fourth power?

    Good f’ng grief – that’s some weapons grade stupid right there.

  4. #4 John Mashey
    November 30, 2011

    But Taken by Storm got the 2002 Donner Book Prize, $10K.

    Tim: How could it possibly be incompetent?

    =========

    Oh!, the book’s Acknowledgements start:

    “We are grateful to the Donner Canadian Foundation … for financial support of this project.”

    Hmm, looking at Form 990s, 2002 year, we find:

    p. 62: $20,000 to University of Guelph (Dept of Economics)

    INTO THE STORM: THE TROUBLED SCIENCE, POLICY AND POLITICS OF GLOBAL WARMING.

    SO, first they paid for it, then they gave it an award and they paid for it again. Where can the rest of us get that kind of deal?

  5. #5 Ed Darrell
    November 30, 2011

    In the future, would you refer to the incident more properly? “Skepticgate” would work. They’re the ones who did the Nixonesque “plumbing,” and now cover up.

  6. #6 Billy Bob Hall
    November 30, 2011

    How would slotharssson at #3 know ? He is king of stupid after all for believing in carbon nonsense.

  7. #7 Merve
    November 30, 2011

    If their case against the IPCC reports is so good, why do they have to lie to support it?

  8. #8 P. Lewis
    November 30, 2011

    Conduct unbecoming of a university professor?

    This can’t be the same man that is quoted saying

    …I have consistently found that when the layers get peeled back, what lies at the core is either flawed, misleading or simply non-existent.

    can it?

    Perhaps he should henceforth be referred to as Ross MuckTrickster, Professor of Economic Truth, University of Guelph.

  9. #9 chek
    November 30, 2011

    It seems to me that any future ‘research’ published by Ross McLiar should be instantly linked to [DC's article.](http://deepclimate.org/2011/11/28/mckitrick-hides-the-context/)

    It provides the correct degree of credibility to apply to any of his future output, and his trustworthiness when interpreting data.

  10. #10 OPatrick
    November 30, 2011

    Merve:
    “If their case against the IPCC reports is so good, why do they have to lie to support it?”

    This is a question that should be asked whenever the opportunity arises – and it arises very often indeed.

  11. #11 harvey
    November 30, 2011

    McItrick is a hard core Christian Libertarian which explains a lot…

    http://www.cornwallalliance.org/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornwall_Alliance

    scary

  12. #12 Richard
    December 1, 2011

    Would it be possible to see the note that you posted at Climate Audit – as to what upset them so much?

  13. #13 TrueSceptic
    December 1, 2011

    “Idiot” ? “Incompetent”? I don’t think so. This shows that “Professor” McKitrick is simply dishonest. He’s a disgrace, not just to his university but to the whole academic system.

    And BTW I assumed that he’s a deluded old codger but he got his BA in 1988 (yes, he could’ve started late but I don’t think so).

  14. #14 Jeffrey Davis
    December 1, 2011

    A “Christian libertarian” sounds like a square circle to me, but (according to some theology) having once been Born Again, you’re home free and can do anything. “Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita”

  15. #15 TrueSceptic
    December 1, 2011

    11 Richard,

    I think that Tim made the same comment [here](http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/importance-context)

    It has to be said, though, that Stephen Schneider did appear to take McKitrick’s comment about Oct-Nov temperatures at one location out of context … unless someone knows more?

  16. #16 richard
    December 1, 2011

    True sceptic

    I am none the wiser!

    I will have to re-read!

  17. #17 TrueSceptic
    December 1, 2011

    15 Richard,

    My 2nd para refers not to Tim’s comment but to Schneider’s email and McKitrick’s complaint about it. I think you might have to hold your nose and go to [complaining](http://climateaudit.org/2011/11/25/a-somewhat-late-response-to-schneider/) at ClimateFr@udit to see what I mean.

  18. #18 bluegrue
    December 1, 2011

    Over at CA McKitrick is complaining on how Stephen Schneider derided him in one of the stolen e-mails (#0020.txt). Schneider cited a specific op-ed in the Canadian National Post with link (now dead) of June 4, 2003. Ross claims that it must have been an op-ed of his in the _Financial Post_ of April 2003, which doesn’t really match Schneider’s description. As I don’t expect Schneider to have gotten both the date and the newspaper wrong, I tried to dig. The op-ed seems to be gone, but the date and newspaper given by Schneider is the same date on which:

    > Forty-six leading climate experts wrote an open letter to Canada’s National Post June 4, 2003.

    Coincidence? Does anyone happen to have a copy of that open letter?

  19. #19 Marco
    December 1, 2011

    bluegrue, it’s here:

    http://www.john-daly.com/guests/openletter.htm

    The inflation of the supposed expertise of many of the authors is almost baffling. But what else can you do if the science is against you? Do an Appeal to Authority!

  20. #20 Anonymous
    December 1, 2011

    #4, John Mashey, November 30, 12:11 AM

    The biggest local saloon offers a “similar type” of deal though I note it’s without commit to any actual numbers. Their slogan: “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you.”

  21. #21 bluegrue
    December 1, 2011

    Thanks Marco. I note that McKitrick didn’t sign that one. Looks like there is less of a connection in this case than I had suspected.

  22. #22 hc
    December 2, 2011

    I recently participated in a panel on environmental economics in Beijing with McKitrick. On environmental economic issues other than climate change he seems competent.

    On climate change however he disputes temperatures are rising and argues that, even if they were, it isn’t clear that humans are causing it and, even if they were, it is too expensive to address warming problems. There are layers and layers to his denialism.

    He stated all these propositions as self-evident truths without citing any contrary findings that, of course, make up the bulk of work in the area. Hence he argued the Chinese should ignore the issue and get on with other development priorities!

    The Chinese were stunned. I was too.

  23. #23 Lotharsson
    December 2, 2011

    > On climate change however he disputes temperatures are rising…

    That’s very interesting because (IIRC, and I may not have) in other forums he said he thought global warming was occurring.

  24. #24 Bernard J.
    December 2, 2011

    >The Chinese were stunned. I was too.

    This is the stench that should scream “rat!” to the otherwise clueless deniers of human-caused planetary warming.

    The Chinese still have a somewhat authoritarian approach to government, last time I looked. Their scientists have no need to participate in the Global Climatological ConspiracyTM, whatever the imagined (orconstructed) motivation ascribed to scientists by the Denialati, so why are they (the Chinese) subscribing to “The Consensus”?

  25. #25 Lionel A
    December 2, 2011

    Marco

    The list of names at the foot of that open letter are so familiar and kicks of with one of the biggest over-inflated of the lot, ’28 years Professor of Climatology’ indeed!

  26. #26 Jeremy C
    December 2, 2011

    Harvey @ 10,

    I don’t think the Cornwall alliance is christian. They know enough to use the sort of ‘christianese’ that will reel in certain types of evangelical christians or certain types of charismatic christians. It says nothing about core judeo/christian worldview/beliefs and if you sat down with either of those christian types for two minutes you can easily show them how the cornwall people are trying to do a snow job on them.

  27. #27 harvey
    December 2, 2011

    @25 I know :)

    @23 The upper echelons of the chinese administration is interestingly held by Engineers/Scientists rather than politico types.

    http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/17/eight-out-of-chinas-top-nine-government-officials-are-scientists/

    They probably laughed at McItrick behind his back…

    It’s why China is roaring ahead in renewable energy programs and nuclear electric plants.

    sucks to be American.

  28. #28 Jeremy C
    December 3, 2011

    Harvey @ 26.

    Hmmm not sure your idea about upper echelons holds true. Here in the UK lots of engineering and science graduates get seduced into working in ‘the city’ i.e. banking and finance because of their numerical skills. I meet a fair number of them at various stages of their finance ‘career’ and the stages that mark out such a career seem to include:

    1st five years or so – big moolah plus high status and newish environment keeps them excited so they put up with the ridiculouse hours and mundane work

    Next five to ten years – the treadmill emerges with boredom setting in big time as evidenced in conversations where they frequently refer to engineering and science stuff and topics they found interesting at university. However they are caught by huge mortgage etc. The thing that gets them excited is the possibility of financing some high tech venture – perhaps one % do this

    Fifteen to twenty years in marked by the ex engineering and science graduates, now thicker around the waist despite huge fees to exclusive gyms, planning their exit which often seems to revolve around ideas of running salmon farms along the coast of Scotland.

    All during this time the bankers have continued to call the shots and those one time eng sci graduates have to follow the same tune unless they get out.

    I predict the same thing will happen to Chinese engineering and science graduates in perhaps 20 to 40 years.

  29. #29 Neven
    December 3, 2011

    McKitrick is one of the nastier ones. But he’s relatively young, so he will see what he has been responsible for.

  30. #30 TrueSceptic
    December 3, 2011

    28 Neven,

    Do you really think that people like that will ever admit such a thing, even to themselves?

  31. #31 Ryan
    December 3, 2011

    Has Ross been given an opportunity to respond to this? I trust that if he has genuinely erred he will admit so and offer a correction. Prove me wrong.

  32. #32 Bernard J.
    December 3, 2011

    [Ryan](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/11/mckitricks_quote_mining.php#comment-6046827).

    McKitrick has the same freely-available opportunity to respond to this thread that you have, and that you used.

    Deltoid is not exactly an anonymous blog, so it’s unlikely that McKitrick is unaware of this post by Tim Lambert, or that McKitrick is unaware of the material to which Tim linked above. Thus, it would appear that up to this point at least, you are wrong.

    But given that you appear to be on first-name terms with McKitrick, perhaps you could tap him on the shoulder and advise him to come here and offer that overdue correction. That’s the only thing that would prove you correct.

  33. #33 Pete Dunkelberg
    December 4, 2011

    Ryan, see the update at Deep Climate.

  34. #34 ianam
    December 8, 2011

    I trust that if he has genuinely erred he will admit so and offer a correction.

    Then you’re a fool.

    Prove me wrong.

    That would follow immediately from the fact that he has genuinely erred but has not admitted it or offered a correction.

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