As you know, there is much discussion about whether or not a “strategy memo” leaked from the Heartland Institute is a fake. We are told by a trustworthy source that this policy memo was leaked to him, and that he then tricked the Heartland Institute to supply him with additional documents, which he then used to verify the “strategy memo” based on cross reference of factual information. Only after the apparent veracity of the memo was determined did that individual, Peter Gleick, release all of the documents to the public.

Subsequently, a number of untrustworthy sources, such as Heartland related people and the usual gaggle of Science Haters, have insisted that the original strategy memo is a fake. One set of evidence used to suggest this is that the memo was different from the other documents in several ways: It was a photocopy or a fax with different formatting, etc. This of course is evidence of nothing. There is nothing that requires that all of the documents associated with a particular institution, or even a particular event such as a board meeting at an institution, be created, formatted, and distributed with the same look, feel, and technology. It it obvious to me that if this is the case of Heartland getting caught red handed, they might then be grasping at straws.

However, we can use science to address this question further, and this is exactly what Shawn Otto has done. In a piece posted moments ago (here and soon to be at Huffington Post) Shawn carries out an analysis using a standard and widely respected software system to compare a sample of Gleick’s writing, some samples from Heartland, and the “strategy memo.” In this analysis, the memo is entered as an unknown, and the software shows the difference between that unknown document and the known document. Read Shawn’s analysis to see the details; the conclusion is that the strategy memo was more likely written in house at Heartland than by Peter Gleick.

In order to verify Shawn’s results, and to take this a small step further, I decided to use the same software on a slightly different set of documents. I use three documents from Heartland by authors Pullmann, Lehmann, (these were not used by Shawn) and the Bast document used in Shawn’s analysis. For Gleick, I use a paper he published a while back, which was not used by Shawn. These are compared to the memo in question, with the following results:

Using the strategy memo as it exists:

Canonicizers: none
Analyzed by Nearest Neighbor Driver with metric Canberra Distance
using Word 2Grams as events
1. HeartlandPullman 928.793701231854
2. HeartlandLehmann 1037.8138003775507
3. Bast 1124.7548224327647
4. Gleick 4310.191823786998

Analyzed by Nearest Neighbor Driver with metric Canberra Distance
using Sentence Length as events
1. HeartlandLehmann 25.02741702741703
2. HeartlandPullman 26.36184285751981
3. Bast 27.209481200489734
4. Gleick 42.91967923917308

Using the strategy memo with the sentence “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist
perspective.” removed as per the suggestion of Steven Mosher:

Canonicizers: none
Analyzed by Nearest Neighbor Driver with metric Canberra Distance
using Word 2Grams as events
1. HeartlandPullman 921.2521372517942
2. HeartlandLehmann 1028.7531365975046
3. Bast 1115.6711036869247
4. Gleick 4302.822829339724

Analyzed by Nearest Neighbor Driver with metric Canberra Distance
using Sentence Length as events
1. HeartlandLehmann 24.956989247311828
2. HeartlandPullman 26.307196401799096
3. Bast 26.952400231347603
4. Gleick 43.03531757495257

The numbers represent distance. The heartland related documents are more like the memo than Gleick’s writing. This result is similar to Shawn Otto’s, but using different source documents.

Had the situation been reversed, there would be a reasonable argument to make that Peter had written the memo in question. As it is, we see that the memo was not very likely written by Peter. This test fails to support the idea that the document is a fake. It does not conclusively prove that it is not a fake, for various reasons, but there is no a priori reason to claim it to be a fake, as far as I can tell. I will continue to assume that the strategy memo is a Heartland document. It is factually aligned with Heartland material. It is the style of Heartland documents, textually. Denial of it’s legitimacy by Heartland is expected and not meaningful.

Methods and Materials

See Otto 2012 for a description of methods.

Documents used for comparison:

Comments

  1. #1 ppnl
    February 23, 2012

    This does not address the possibility that it is an altered heartland document. But then the document pretty much describes heartlands standard operating procedure. Thats all I need to know anyway.

    The thing is heartland could probably admit that the document was real and it wouldn’t make much difference to their supporters.

  2. #2 JPGK
    February 23, 2012

    I’ve been following this whole debacle via your blog, Greg, as well as a few others (here on SB and elsewhere), and I must say that while I agree with the general notions that:

    1) the information from the rest of the documents are more than enough without this memo being authentic and
    2) the information brought to public knowledge by the release of these documents is far more important than how Gleick got them,

    I have mixed feelings over if I would WISH this memo to be authentic. If these people at Heartland were actually spending money to suppress science education, that would just be…distasteful. Knowing I share a nation with people like that would be distasteful too. So obviously I would prefer a reality in which they were NOT doing it, and thus the memo was a fraud.

    But if these people are actually trying to suppress science education (as they’ve been trying to suppress science itself), then hell yes let’s expose it, let’s expose them, and let’s shine a light on them hard and heavy so everyone knows what they’ve done, and won’t let them do it again.

    Sadly (for my taste in fellow countrymen), I’m not one of those who picks their reality: I look at the one that’s actually there. These are good analyses. The memo seems authentic.

  3. #3 MikeCoombes
    February 23, 2012

    One of the claims was that the memo was largely a cut and paste from the other Heartland documents. If that claim is true, wouldn’t this method naturally show that the memo was more like the other documents than Gleick’s writing? And wouldn’t your results equally be evidence in this claim’s favour.

    Perhaps you could make your own cut-and-paste document and run the test again?

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    February 23, 2012

    Mike, please review the blog post.

  5. #5 elspi
    February 23, 2012

    “One of the claims was that the memo was largely a cut and paste from the other Heartland documents.”

    It isn’t clear what you mean by this.

    1. Do you mean that the memo is plagiarized from the other document? This can be tested for using software and it should be done.

    2. Do you mean that the memo is a summary of the other documents? If the document is not forged, this is EXACTLY what it should be.

    If you mean 2, then that would be hard evidence that the document wasn’t forged.

    If you mean 1, then either the document was forged or the document is not forged but the original author was lazy.

    Neither option supports your case.

  6. #6 F
    February 23, 2012

    Cool. This is the sort of thing i was hoping for from those who find this particular doc important. (It is, even if only to provide evidence that Gleick didn’t shake and bake it himself.)

    But what I might do is to remove all the direct copypasta from the doc and analyze against the remaining fragments to see how close those are to available samples or those which might become available in the future (since those fragments might come from Jacqui the Unknown Staffer or someone who did do a compilation after obtaining dox from teh Heartburn).

    Not particularly critical, as all the other documents support the summary. It’s just what I’d do.

  7. #7 Dave H
    February 23, 2012

    One thing that leaves you open to criticism is using a paper published by Gleick. Mosher was quite precise in taking more unguarded writing that had not had the benefit of an editor. I would suggest collating a more random sample if you really want to demonstrate the soundness of your approach, otherwise it is too easy to dismiss as fatally flawed.

  8. #8 jemmeh
    February 23, 2012

    goodness! i must update my list of benchmarks in internet science sleuthing:

    “I’m an expert, and i can tell you for a fact that these MS Word 2003 docs were written on an IBM Selectrex typewriter!

    “Fire doesn’t melt steel!”

    “SCIENCE POINTS TO AYERS AUTHORSHIP OF OBAMA’S ‘DREAMS'”

    this is a valuable contribution you’ve presented here. keep it up. the truth is out there.

  9. #9 Bernard J.
    February 23, 2012

    Another interesting comparison would be with Bast’s email to donors requesting help for a legal fund.

    That document seemed to have a lot of stylisitc concordance with the ‘faked’ memo.

  10. #10 elspi
    February 23, 2012

    “I would suggest collating a more random sample if you really want to demonstrate the soundness of your approach”

    Bullshit.

    The analysis has be done by two different people using different documents and the results have been the same.

    The ball is now the court of the liars. What you’re suggesting is what they would do if they didn’t know already that the memo was genuine, but they know that Blast wrote the damn thing and they are just spewing fud.

    So instead of attempting a better experiment (like a scientist would do) they will nitpick.
    Complaining that we didn’t do their homework for them.

    By their fruits yea shall know them.

  11. #11 daedalus2u
    February 23, 2012

    ppnl @1 the problem with HI admitting that the document is real is because it had a limited internal distribution. Everyone on the board of directors didn’t get a copy and didn’t get a copy because senior management at HI didn’t want them to get a copy. That is a no-no in corporate governance because the board of directors is supposed to be responsible for anything and everything that the corporation does.

    If some of the directors are being kept out of the loop in some ways, that is problematic for those directors because they are being lied to and manipulated.

    If you are a director and feel that management is lying to you, you have two things you can do, fire management, or resign.

    The secret memo only discussed anti-AGW stuff. Maybe some of the directors are not delusional anti-AGW and the HI doesn’t want to bring up that HI is in full denialist mode in a board meeting?

  12. #12 MikeCoombes
    February 23, 2012

    @5

    “It isn’t clear what you mean by this.

    1. Do you mean that the memo is plagiarized from the other document? This can be tested for using software and it should be done.”

    Yes and perhaps by someone not associated with Heartland. I don’t think there is any software that can do that.

    There was an article in The Atlantic

    (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/leaked-docs-from-heartland-institute-cause-a-stir-but-is-one-a-fake/253165/)

    that discussed this.

    Peter Gleick claims it is genuine and that he received it directly from Heartland so the email routing should reveal the truth if it is ever released.

  13. #13 Bernard J.
    February 24, 2012
  14. #14 Lotharsson
    February 24, 2012

    Peter Gleick claims it is genuine and that he received it directly from Heartland …

    Citation please. The Gleick claim I recall seeing is that he received the doc (that he subsequently scanned) in paper form anonymously via snail mail. Most people wouldn’t read “anonymous” as “coming from a known institution, although without a named sender”. Has he in fact claimed that the paper doc came directly from Heartland – and if so how did he draw that conclusion?

  15. #15 Mike Coombes
    February 24, 2012

    @12

    Oops. Mea Culpa. I did not read Peter Gleick’s piece closely enough and thought that “all published” Heartland docs included the strategy memo.

  16. #16 TustUgnire
    February 24, 2012

    @MikeCoombes

    “One of the claims was that the memo was largely a cut and paste from the other Heartland documents. If that claim is true, wouldn’t this method naturally show that the memo was more like the other documents than Gleick’s writing?”

    But then what happens to the initial denier argument that “the document was obviously written by Gleick because it’s the same style of writing”?

    Seems that deniers can’t make up their minds. As we already know:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

  17. #17 J Bowers
    February 24, 2012
  18. #18 daedalus2u
    February 24, 2012

    There are several ways that Gleick could presume the original mailing came from HI. If HI uses a postage meter (very likely), it likely has a logo or name of the HI on it. If that postage meter was used to send the envelope, it is pretty clear that whoever did it had access to the HI postage meter.

    It may have been sent in an envelope with a printed HI return address.

  19. #19 Laurie
    February 24, 2012

    You have a program. It will tell you which data input is most likely a match to the “strategy report”. You have a suspect. You have a person you wish to exonerate and another person you wish to accuse. If your preconceived ideas are correct, you will have selected the correct input data. If not, your data must be incomplete and you can never identify the author. In any case, you will get some answer. What does it really mean?

  20. #20 F
    February 24, 2012

    Laurie, you describe a basic misunderstanding of what the program does. It is generating a score on how close texts x,y,z… are to the sample text. Lower scoring texts are closer to the sample text.

    It’s evidence, not proof. No one is trying to determine an exact author. But the scores of texts definitively written by the Heartland-associated authors put them rather close to the sample text, and Gleick farther away.

    Repeated tests with with other known Heartland documents and authors against other controls and against any other person accused of cooking up the memo will provide more evidence.

  21. #21 Hank Roberts
    February 24, 2012

    Someone’s run a plagiarism checker pass on the stuff, I trust? I mean an academic test paper checker against all the usual stuff out there

  22. #22 Mike Coombes
    February 25, 2012

    @16 TustUgnire

    I wouldn’t be able to comment on any denier claims. My original comment @6 was along the lines that if I had a bunch of letters from you, and if I cut and pasted from those letters to make a new letter, that new document would score a lot closer to your original letters by these tests than to any of mine. So thinking the test eliminates me as an author and implicates you is a mistake.

  23. #23 Barry Elledge
    February 25, 2012

    Ah, the consolations of the rational mind! If the wise man but applies his intellect, he can well convince himself of what he already believes or hopes or demands must be true (and yes, that sword cuts both ways).

    But here a few misbegotten facts lie stubbornly in the way.

    For one, an independent observer (Steven Mosher) fingered Gleich as a potential perp based on the linguistic idiosyncrasies present in the forged “strategy” letter. And miraculously, soon thereafter, as his world began to collapse around him, Gleich himself admitted that he had obtained the four actual HI letters by means of fraud. What a coincidence!

    Now Greg Laden would like us all to hold firm to that old-time religion: the allegedly forged strategy letter must actually be an authentic HI document, even though it contains the linguistic oddities that allowed Steve Mosher to correctly infer that Gleich was implicated.

    Ah, friends, no Christian bound for martyrdom at the claws of the Colosseum’s lions ever clung more stubbornly to his religious convictions than our brother Laden! Mere evidence is to no avail against the power of faith.

    But I am made of less adamantine stuff. I predict that eventually the ground will fall further from beneath Gleich’s feet, and he will be dragged to the admission that the strategy document is a fake. Who might have been the father of that forgery? Perhaps the man whose ungrammatical linguistic curiosities got himself fingered in the first place.

    Time will tell. I’m laying down my marker. Both Gleich and Laden will, I predict, be dragged kicking and screaming to the admission that the strategy letter was a hoax, that Gleich failed all ethical norms (not to mention the standards of science). If I’m wrong, I will return to eat a spicy fricassee of crow.

    When Laden is proved wrong, I trust he will do the same.

  24. #24 TustUgnire
    February 25, 2012

    @Barry Elledge

    “For one, an independent observer (Steven Mosher) fingered Gleich as a potential perp based on the linguistic idiosyncrasies present in the forged “strategy” letter.”

    What a weird and reality-denying comment.

    Mosher is independent?!

    How do you explain these “linguistic idiosyncrasies” that are evidently closer to Bast and other Heartland insiders when analyzed properly?

    Mosher has an agenda and a vested interest in spreading lies about climate scientists. He evidently made up these “linguistic idiosyncrasies” and mentioned Gleick because Gleick was mentioned in a document.

    Worse yet, could Mosher himself have been part of this? Did he know the memoy was sent to Gleick?

    Anyway, shame on your for ignoring facts and spreading lies.

  25. #25 Bernard J.
    February 25, 2012

    Hank at #21.

    I tried that a while ago and there was so much noise, now that the memo is widely circulated, that the exercise was futile.

    The stylistic approach a la JGAAP would seem to be better, and with sufficient material with which to compare the memo, and with sufficient understanding of the principles of such comparison, interesting hints do appear.

    I’ve been exploring and refining for a while now, and it is indeed curious what has bubbled to the surface. I’m not entirely convinced that Bast was the author, but I am currently even less convinced that Gleick was. Perhaps with further collation of material from both, and with liberal addition of third party controls, the relative likelihood of authorship can be confirmed or refuted.

    There’s one confounder that I’ve noticed, that hasn’t yet been mentioned… It’s been observed how editorial passes over a document can obscure authorship. Well, it seems that close association with people seems to mould them into more similar writing style than expected if there is no association. I suppose that this is trivially obvious if one thinks about it (I can’t remove the Jive-talk scene from Flying High from my mind!), but I wonder how much it is a factor in circumstances such as this one.

    These stylistic analyses aren’t exactly smoking guns, but they do offer some very intriguing insights. And seriously, for Heartland’s sake Bast should just STFU. Even if he isn’t the author, he is drawing close attention to his organisation…

  26. #26 TustUgnire
    February 25, 2012

    My mind is blown by the sheer hypocris of the deniers, and the lengths they will go to in order to maintain their delusion.

    First they claimed that the document was written in a style very similar to Gleick, and that was evidence that Gleick wrote it.

    When actual text analysis showed that the writing style of the document more closely resembled that of HI insiders, the denier argument changed to “that must be because they copied and pasted from other official documents.”

    Yet another example of denialist contradictions. They first make one claim, and then when the first claim is shown to be bogus, they make a completely opposite claim in an attemp to cling to their initial conclusion.

    Denialists are a strange breed indeed…

  27. #27 TustUgnire
    February 25, 2012

    Comment #27 is obviously spam. See the name + link.

  28. #28 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    February 25, 2012

    OK, now that we’re done analyzing this “Climate Strategy” thang, perhaps we can now correlate the authorships of the various independent or ‘independent’ commenters on this thread.

    Also, where’s Abu Ali-Hussain of the Doric Foundation when we need him?

    — frank

  29. #29 daedalus2u
    February 25, 2012

    If the Strategy Memo was put out by the HI, there are very good reasons why some people at the HI would want to deny it.

    First, it was for limited distribution, and not to all of the Directors. Presumably not to the Directors that were lawyers, or they would not have authorized or allowed the unambiguous statements (aka lies) that it is fake when it is not.

    Typical lawyer ethics require that if a client has lied to a lawyer and that lawyer has repeated and used that lie to further the client’s interests, that the lawyer has to recuse him/herself from representing the client on that case and if the lie or misrepresentation occurred in court, then the lawyer has to “fess up” about it to the court. Clinton’s lawyer had to do this in the Paula Jones case.

    Greg, since you have been invited to ask questions of the lawyer who sent you that email and Fedex package, why don’t you ask some her questions about the authenticity of the Strategy Memo. As a lawyer, it would be unethical for her to straight-out lie to you, and any lie could be used against the HI in any legal case involving this subject matter. Since there was some ambiguity about where the various documents came from, and there have been multiple and conflicting accounts on the internet, and since you do want to be “fair” to the HI, you want to hear her side of it now that she has had a chance to personally check the authenticity of the Strategy memo and the other documents.

    I suspect that there are two types of people at the HI, earnest and basically honest people who believe that AGW is a myth because they don’t know any better (aka useful idiots), and dishonest people who know AGW is real and are simply being denialists for the money and don’t care about the havoc AGW will have on the Earth. Maybe there is a third group of people who haven’t really thought about it and are just playing follow-the-leader (the usual SOP of conservatives).

    I think the strategy memo was for the dishonest deniers, and they really did mean to prevent the teaching of “science” because the science of AGW says that AGW is real and they know it.

  30. #30 daedalus2u
    February 25, 2012

    Another thought. Put the email you got into that writing analysis software and see if it did come from the person who “signed” it, or did it come from the person who owns the email account it was sent from.

    If people at the HI are so casual about identity that they routinely fake each other’s identity, that suggests that there was no big injury to HI from identity fakery.

    If the email was not sent by the person who signed it, then it is a bogus and fake document and doesn’t carry any weight as an official request to take down the material.

  31. #31 Chris Winter
    February 25, 2012

    Barry Elledge wrote (#23): I’m laying down my marker. Both Gleich and Laden will, I predict, be dragged kicking and screaming to the admission that the strategy letter was a hoax, that Gleich failed all ethical norms (not to mention the standards of science). If I’m wrong, I will return to eat a spicy fricassee of crow.”

    Witnessed and recorded.

    Your post is real purty, but I think there’s a “Gleich” in your logic. The software test was done by at least two people, Greg Laden and Shawn Lawrence Otto, and both found the strategy memo scored as closer to Heartland writing.

  32. #32 Barry Elledge
    February 25, 2012

    TustUgnire at comment 24 disputes that Mosher is an “independent” observer, pointing out that “Mosher has an agenda.”

    I suppose that each of us commenting here has a point of view, and to that extent an “agenda.” By “independent” I mean only that Mosher is not connected to HI. You might respond that Mosher shares some viewpoints with HI, and was predisposed to believe HI’s contention that the “strategy” memo was a fraud. That may be true; just as I strongly suspect that the reason you and Greg Laden prefer to believe that the “strategy” memo is authentic is that you wish it to be so.

    My point is simply that the now-acknowledged accuracy of Mosher’s guess tends to confirm the implication that Gleich is the author of the “strategy” memo. Is it proof? Of course not. Unusual word choices are not like DNA or fingerprints. Is it highly suggestive? Inexorably, yes.

    Since HI confirmed the authenticity of the four memos which Gleich fraudulently obtained from them, and which Gleich had in his possession before the memos were circulated, Gleich clearly had an opportunity to craft the “strategy” memo using the language and information contained in the authentic ones. Does the opportunity to craft the security memo in that manner imply that Gleich did so? Again no; but it does allow for the possibility. In turn, this would explain why parts of the “strategy” memo resemble the language of the authentic memos: those parts were cribbed from the real ones. This possibility confounds the interpretation of the results from the authorship programs.

    The stakes in this matter are sufficiently high that we will probably see legal actions taken, civil and possibly criminal. Thus the truth may well come out. Those who like me are old enough to remember Watergate may well sense that they’ve seen this movie before: a “modified, limited hangout” (already begun)followed by a glacial drip of revelations, and ending with a body or two “twisting slowly, slowly in the wind.”

    Whose body is the question. I’ve told you merely my hunch and the reasoning behind it.

  33. #33 idunno
    February 25, 2012

    I would be very interested to see the results of an analysis of the HI 2012 Climate Strategy document, compared to the published works of the HI senior fellow for environmental policy – James Taylor –

    http://blogs.forbes.com/jamestaylor/

    Just seems to me that the writing of a climate strategy document would naturally fall to him, not to Bast.

  34. #34 Lil Ms Tuffet
    February 25, 2012

    My IQ is lower for visiting this “blog”.

    idiots.

  35. #35 Drivebyposter
    February 25, 2012

    Thank god you pointed out where everybody was wrong and you are right, “ms tuffet.”
    You CLEARLY have no intellectual peers.

  36. #36 Bernard J.
    February 26, 2012

    idunno at #33.

    For every stylistic metric I’ve tested with documents from Gleick and Bast, and with Taylor’s piece to which you link, Taylor is always closer to the “faked” memo than is Gleick. Taylor tends to fall just in front of Bast, or in between different Bast documents.

    If I can find the time I’ll write up the results, but I am sure that the Denialati will scream “cherry picking!”, so I recommend that people download JGAAP and a random selection of documents by the various individuals (remember to save them as text) and try it themselves.

    If one is familiar with the mathematical and linguistic terminologies it’s not difficult.

  37. #37 idunno
    February 26, 2012

    Hi Bernard J,

    I think that is well worth pursuing.

    I would also note the obvious connection between Gleick and Taylor (my presumed author of the original); both are contributing opinion pieces to Forbes; dealing, presumably, with the same people at Forbes…

  38. #38 Barry Elledge
    February 26, 2012

    Greg, I just looked a bit more closely at the details of your methodology, and notice that the text used for establishing Gleich’s writing style is -astonishingly- a formal scientific paper published in a major journal. You and I both know that a major publication is extensively reviewed and critiqued by multiple friends and colleagues prior to submission, and then reviewed anew by the journal’s chosen reviewers prior to acceptance. During this process the author’s language gets edited for clarity and accuracy. Peculiar language and punctuation usages are likely to get smoothed out.

    Now contrast this formal, edited writing with the writings which got Gleich correctly fingered by Steve Mosher and others. How did they get familiar with Gleich’s peculiar linguistic characteristics? From his blog posts and other informal, typically unedited writings, in which his native style comes through. Notice the unusual features which Mosher talked about: overuse and ungrammatical use of commas and parentheses, and odd word choices such as “anti-climate” to describe skeptical climate scientists. None of these oddities would be likely to make it through the editorial review process in a refereed scientific publication, but they are sufficiently prominent in Gleich’s blog posts to attract notice.

    So Greg, if you really want to find out the likelihood that Gleich wrote the “strategy” memo, you should redo the calculation using Gleich’s blog posts as the training set rather than a PNAS publication. I strongly suspect you will get a radically different result.

  39. #39 Patricia
    February 26, 2012

    Thank you, Barry Elledge, for including in your comment the actual peculiar linguistic characteristics that caused Gleich to be suspected in the beginning. And for requesting that the analysis be done with writings that would have those characteristics in them.

    It also occurs to me that the Gleich sample should be on the subject of AGW. If the writings from the HI “suspects” are about the topic in the subject memo but the Gleich writing is about water issues, wouldn’t that also skew the results?

  40. #40 Barry Elledge
    February 26, 2012

    Patricia (comment 39),you are of course correct; the PNAS paper doesn’t concern the issue of climate change, and wouldn’t have any reason to contain any of Gleich’s language about climate issues. Tangentially, this emphasizes the fact that Gleich, a specialist in water resources, has no particular background in the sciences most relevant to understanding climate: chemistry, physics, biology, statistics, meteorology, astronomy and mathematical modelling (often an engineering topic).

    But climate science is inherently a mutt, a conglomerate of more basic disciplines; it is a field of inquiry rather than a discipline in itself. And of course it is not in any sense a mature science: the fundamental questions about the sources of natural climate variation are not well understood and absolutely are not reflected in the rudimentary and unverified climate models used by the IPCC.

    If anyone tries to tell you “the science is settled”, put your hand over your wallet.

  41. #41 Bernard J.
    February 26, 2012

    Even when Gleick’s blog posts are used, Bast and Taylor come stylistically closer to the “fake” memo. Of course, it might simply be a function of the random choice of samples, so again I urge others to try it for themselves.

    So far I’ve been doing my own analyses without reading much of the texts, simply to avoid prejudicing my impressions of what the individuals have written. However, given that Bast and Taylor almost always continue to surface closer to the “fake” memo than does Gleick, and given that there are supposed to be in the memo stylistics ‘tells’ attributable to Gleick that were so apparent to Bast and Mosher, I have to wonder if these were deliberately planted in order to sway the unaware reader… I joked about it a week ago, but now I’m starting to wonder.

    I think that we might have to knuckle down and collect extensive examples from each person. And for laughs it might be interesting to put Mosher into the mix – as a control, of course.

  42. #42 Barry Elledge
    February 26, 2012

    Bernard J (comment 41), thanks for reporting your results. Do you have any numerical comparisons? Does the inclusion of Gleick’s blog posts lower the difference in scores or leave the difference about the same?

    Inclusion of Mosher’s writings is of course perfectly legitimate. Unfortunately, the greater the number of individuals who are considered, the greater the possibility of a random correspondence: if every English language blogger were to be included, we might well decide the likely culprit is an 83 year old grandmother in Racine WI who writes about cats.

    As you suggest, perhaps those diabolical schemers at Heartland are so clever that they deliberately inserted Gleickisms into the “strategy” memo, then sent it anonymously to Gleich, knowing that this would drive Gleich to commit fraud to obtain other Heartland memos, which he would of course be compelled to release anonymously, which would of course lead inevitably to his discovery and disgrace. Damn you, Heartland!!! You are SO diabolically clever! Superhero villain clever. Lex Luthor clever. Real climate science has no chance against such evil Heartland heartless genius!

    On the other hand, maybe Gleich managed to obsess about Heartland all on his own, and went over the top due to the fact that he was losing the climate debate.

    About 700 years ago, William of Ockham suggested a logical principle by which to judge the relative likelihood of a simpler explanation versus a convoluted one. I leave the application to you.

  43. #43 Bernard J.
    February 27, 2012

    But climate science is inherently a mutt, a conglomerate of more basic disciplines…

    Eh? Climate science is no more a “conglomerate of more basic disciplines” than is chemistry, or biology, or geology. You obviously do not understand well the nature of climate science.

    And of course it is not in any sense a mature science…

    “[N]ot in any sense”? What utter drivel. Having started in the 19th century, climate science is a century or more older than other disciplines whose status as “mature” would not be questioned.

    …the fundamental questions about the sources of natural climate variation are not well understood and absolutely are not reflected in the rudimentary and unverified climate models used by the IPCC.

    Again, this is wrong.

    The “fundamental questions about the sources of natural climate variation” are in fact well understood. Insolation, orbital cycling, radiative physics including those of ‘greenhouse’ gases, vulcanism and other aerosol forcings, land-use and albedo factors are “fundamental” to climate, and their influence is well recognised.

    There are of course modifiers: some such as cloud cover require further study in order to determine the manner in which they operate, and some such as ice-sheet melting and ocean currents simply require more data in order to determine where trapped heat is ending up, and how quickly it is being distributed. This is a different issue to “understanding the fundamentals” – science is long past that point.

    Of course, if one is expecting climatology to be able to answer every last question in the field, one is then falling into the same trap as Thomson Lord Kelvin and Albert Michelson…

  44. #44 Bernard J.
    February 27, 2012

    With the three examples I’ve run Mosher nudges Bast out of the lead, for many metrics of most similar style to the “fake” memo.

    I think that it’s worth being a bit more structured about comparisons, so if someone can spare the time it would be worth finding multiple formal and informal examples from a range people, and conducting a latticed approach. Such an anlysis won’t prove that a particular person is the author of the memo, but I am becoming ever more convinced that it would probably indicate that Gleick is not the author.

    And as has already been suggested by this enterprise, that result in itself leads to some very interesting questions…

  45. #45 Bernard J.
    February 27, 2012

    As you suggest, perhaps those diabolical schemers at Heartland are so clever that they deliberately inserted Gleickisms into the “strategy” memo, then sent it anonymously to Gleich, knowing that this would drive Gleich to commit fraud to obtain other Heartland memos, which he would of course be compelled to release anonymously, which would of course lead inevitably to his discovery and disgrace.

    You grossly over-extrapolate.

    All I wondered was whether Gleick’s style had been copied. Given that it can be difficult to hide one’s own linguistic style (especially if one is not aware of and practiced in such matters), and given that it can be difficult to successfully imitate another’s, the presence of Gleick-like ‘tells’ in a document that consistently seems to identify with his accusers more than with Gleick himself is suspicious.

    The rest of your trainwreck of thought is purely your own speculation, and certainly not anything to which I subscribe. It’s ironic that you should attempt to wield Ockham’s razor – I am quite familiar with it, and it is very apparent that you’ve sliced yourself to ribbons on its edge.

  46. #46 TTT
    February 27, 2012

    If anyone tries to tell you “the science is settled”, put your hand over your wallet

    No one knows how many protons are in your body. No one has ever even SEEN a proton. I guess the atomic theory of matter isn’t settled either.

  47. #47 Barry Elledge
    February 27, 2012

    Bernard J (comment 45) says:

    “All I wondered was whether Gleich’s style had been copied…[T]he presence of Gleich-like ‘tells’ in a document that consistently seems to identify with his accusers more than with Gleich himself is suspicious.”

    Here’s the problem: if the “strategy” memo were what it purports on its face to be, i.e., a memo intended for limited circulation within Heartland’s officers and directors about a matter of great importance to their mission, why would its author go to the trouble to intentionally add extraneous Gleichisms embodying the worldview of a critic who dislikes them and their mission? Would a CAGW-promoting organization write a key internal memo in the voice of Anthony Watts or Mosher? It makes no sense.

    It might make sense if the “strategy” memo was a clever fraud intended from the start as a setup to ensnare Gleich. Such a fraud might be perpetrated by Heartland itself or by a sympathizer using their name. But if we assume that, we are right back at the “evil genius” scenario whigh you deride as a gross overextrapolation. Tell me, if Mosher or Bast or Taylor wrote the memo, what possible motive could they have other than a diabolically clever (and thus far successful) plot against Gleich? But for such a plot to redound to their advantage, they would have needed to suppose that Gleich would be prompted to do something else unethical or illegal: after all, if Gleich merely released an apparently authentic but embarrassing Heartland memo, the plot would work against Heartland’s interests.

    That is why I conclude it is far simpler to think that Gleich wrote the “strategy” memo himself. Heartland just isn’t that diabolically clever.

  48. #48 Tony Duncan
    February 27, 2012

    Barry,
    Certainly your scenario is extraordinarily unlikely. Which is probably why you are the only one that has suggested it
    It seems quite possible as has been suggested, that someone, either at Heartland or with knowledge of the information in the memo could have sent it to Gleick.
    Having in his hand almost exactly what he had been just recently denied, which he used as a reason for not debating at Heartland, he would gleefully “out” Heartland to the public.
    Heartland could then claim that it was a fraud and we would have another Rathergate.
    Unfortunately he did not go by the obvious and direct script and ended up getting genuine documents from Heartland. Something they did not at all expect, so they are doing the best they can with the situation.
    This is of course pure speculation, but I think it is not too far from your Occam test.

    Another option is that Gleick forged the document, after scamming Heartland into giving him the documents. He was convinced that no one would bother investigating the the forged document because Heartland and the denier community is just to stupid and clueless to even think of that possibility. And Gleick was stupid enough to highlight himself in the document because he is an arrogant egocentric fool. this certainly fits the thinking of deniers who believe Gleick and his ilk are irrational ideological fanatics willing to do anything to save their failed science now that the gig is up and to stupid to think through the consequences. Not knowing Gleick, I can’t put forth an opinion on that.

    I am not sure if there is any evidence to determine whether the forged document was created before or after the released (remember they were not stolen, they were willingly sent to him).

    Another option is that this all went down exactly how Gleick has said, which, with as little info as I have about the specifics, seems quite well suited to Occam

    I think we can rest assured however that someone is sweating bricks, or some other mixed metaphor

  49. #49 Barry Elledge
    February 27, 2012

    Bernard J (comment 45) says:

    “All I wondered was whether Gleich’s style had been copied…[T]he presence of Gleich-like ‘tells’ in a document that consistently seems to identify with his accusers more than with Gleich himself is suspicious.”

    Here’s the problem: if the “strategy” memo were what it purports on its face to be, i.e., a memo intended for limited circulation within Heartland’s officers and directors about a matter of great importance to their mission, why would its author go to the trouble to intentionally add extraneous Gleichisms embodying the worldview of a critic who dislikes them and their mission? Would a CAGW-promoting organization write a key internal memo in the voice of Anthony Watts or Mosher? It makes no sense.

    It might make sense if the “strategy” memo was a clever fraud intended from the start as a setup to ensnare Gleich. Such a fraud might be perpetrated by Heartland itself or by a sympathizer using their name. But if we assume that, we are right back at the “evil genius” scenario whigh you deride as a gross overextrapolation. Tell me, if Mosher or Bast or Taylor wrote the memo, what possible motive could they have other than a diabolically clever (and thus far successful) plot against Gleich? But for such a plot to redound to their advantage, they would have needed to suppose that Gleich would be prompted to do something else unethical or illegal: after all, if Gleich merely released an apparently authentic but embarrassing Heartland memo, the plot would work against Heartland’s interests.

    That is why I conclude it is far simpler to think that Gleich wrote the “strategy” memo himself. Heartland just isn’t that diabolically clever.

  50. #50 Barry Elledge
    February 27, 2012

    Bernard J (at comment 43 supra) asserts that climate science is a mature science comparable to chemistry or biology or geology, and that the sources of natural climate variability are well understood. I continue to differ.

    Chemistry and biology are mature sciences because an adequate theoretical framework exists within which verifiable predictions and internally consistent explanations of observations can be made. Chemistry appears to have an adequate theoretical basis in molecular quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and kinetics. For systems simple enough to be calculated by current computers, molecular properties can be predicted quite accurately with existing theory. Biology is much messier, but modern molecular biology/genetics allow fundamental cellular processes to be dissected and compared across divergent phyla, and related to evolutionary processes, the fossil record, and increasingly to organismic behavior. The successes of genetic manipulation indicate that predictive capacity is pretty good.

    Contrast these with climate science. The occurrence of processes known to be significant in climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and el nino-southern oscillation (ENSO) cannot be explained or predicted by the current climate models. The influence of solar cycle on climate is hotly debated: recent studies appear to support the hypothesis that the solar cycle modulates the galactic cosmic ray flux and concomitant cloud induction, but no one knows with certainty. Current climate models ignore this.

    Current climate models cannot be run successfully in reverse; therefore they cannot be validated by comparison to past climate. Nor have they been prospectively validated: all of the climate models used by the IPCC have predicted warming much, much greater than that actually observed. None of these models predicted the leveling off in global temperatures observed over the last 15 years. As the recent Spencer & Braswell paper demonstrated, none of the IPCC models accurately predict the T changes observed before and after an el nino event.

    When climate models have demonstrated the ability to make accurate predictions over decades – that is, when they have been verified – then they may be taken seriously. The failure of current predictions demonstrates they aren’t there yet.

  51. #51 Lotharsson
    February 27, 2012

    But for such a plot to redound to their advantage, they would have needed to suppose that Gleich would be prompted to do something else unethical or illegal…

    This embodies the fallacy of argument from lack of personal imagination – and Dan Rather might have some thoughts on precisely how such a forged memo might “redound to their advantage” without supposing that “Gleich would do something unethical or illegal”.

    (Hint: Killian memos.)

  52. #52 Lotharsson
    February 27, 2012

    Barry, you are being misled – perhaps by a poor choice of “information” sources.

    …all of the climate models used by the IPCC have predicted warming much, much greater than that actually observed.

    All of them? You know this…how? What’s your definition of “much much greater” and where does it fit with this analysis which suggests your sweeping claim is not supported by the data?

    None of these models predicted the leveling off in global temperatures observed over the last 15 years.

    Engineers and scientists alike well know that in a noisy system with an underlying trend, that is precisely what one expects every now and then. And indeed, the results are entirely within the envelope of outcomes projected by the models – and Meehl at al (2011) demonstrate in a model a mechanism that leads to this kind of observation.

    As the recent Spencer & Braswell paper demonstrated, none of the IPCC models accurately predict the T changes observed before and after an el nino event.

    And as recent peer review demonstrated, the recent Spencer and Braswell paper was so deeply flawed that it should not have been published in a peer-reviewed journal and anyone who relies on it indicates they know not what they are talking about.

    Might be worth finding better sources – or sticking to the memos on this thread.

  53. #53 daedalus2u
    February 27, 2012

    When a house is burning down, do you demand a fire fighting model to predict the degree of damage before water is used to fight the fire?

    When you buy insurance, how predictable does the potential loss have to be?

    Over what time frame is the melting of the Greenland ice sheet an acceptable risk? In other words, over what time frame would a 7 meter rise in sea level be acceptable?

  54. #54 Barry Elledge
    February 28, 2012

    Lotharsson (at comment 51) argues that a phony Heartland “strategy” memo sent to Gleich by Heartland sympathizers would have damaged Gleich even if he had simply revealed that memo without doing any nefarious acts. In support, Lotharsson cites the train wreck following Dan Rather’s revelation of the phony documents about George Bush’s military service.

    Here’s the difference: Dan Rather claimed to be a journalist who had examined the authenticity of the Bush documents and was vouching for their authenticity. If Gleich had merely revealed that he had received the “strategy” memo, without vouching for its authenticity, he couldn’t reasonably be criticized. And since others would assume the Heartland “strategy” memo was true despite Heartland’s denial (as is actually happening even now, despite Gleich’s admission), Heartland would be damaged rather than Gleich.

  55. #55 Barry Elledge
    February 28, 2012

    Lotharsson (at comment 52) disputes my previous assertion (comment 50)that all of the climate models used by the IPCC have predicted warming much, much greater than observed. Lotharsson links to a realclimate posting which shows that the current global T change remains within the 95% confidence interval of the IPCC projections forward from year 2000. However, figure 1 in that link indicates that the 95% confidence interval includes 0.0; that is, no change over the average T in the interval 1979-2011! At present, observed T is about 0.2 deg C below the central trend of the IPCC ensemble mean, and only about 0.1 deg C above the 0.0 deg “no change” value. To me, this suggests that observations are well below predictions.

    Figure 3 of that same linked realclimate posting indicates that observed T are below all of the high, medium and low T projections of Hanson from 1988.

    Parenthetically, by “all the models” used by IPCC, I had intended to indicate that each of the separate models used by the IPCC to construct their ensemble had predicted that T would rise over the interval 2000-present. I have seen an IPCC graph presenting the central tendency of each of 17 or 22 models under each of 3 climate assumptions over the 2000-2011 period (sorry,I didn’t save the link). Each of the resulting 56 projections indicated that T would increase, rather than remain unchanged as has been observed.

    Lotharsson further argues that “in a noisy system with an underlying trend,” a 15 year period of flat T should be expected to occur randomly. I do not dispute this point; indeed, I embrace it. Similarly, one should expect that over a 20 year interval (1979-1998) one might observe a random warming period despite an underlying trend of no T change. The warming over the interval 1979-1998 has nonetheless become the “evidence” cited to support the notion of AGW (1940-1979 showed cooling, and 1998-2011 is flat). You can’t have it both ways.

    Finally, Lotharsson argues that Spencer & Braswell should not be cited to support the proposition that current IPCC models do not adequately model ENSO events; Lotharsson links to a skepticalscience posting purporting to debunk S&B. However, the link in fact supports my assertion that IPCC models do not accurately model ENSO events. Examine each of their 3 figures: the model projections diverge from the observed T changes under even the best model. I rest my case.

  56. #56 Barry Elledge
    February 28, 2012

    Daedalus2u (at comment 53 supra)inquires:

    “When a house is burning down, do you demand a fire fighting model to predict the degree of damage before using water to fight the fire?”

    No, but I do want to know whether there is in fact a fire before I flood the house with firehoses.

    In the present case, the only indication that humans are causing significant global warming via CO2 emissions is based on climate models. If the models are inadequate, the proposition that decreasing fossil fuel burning will benefit the climate becomes untenable. A role for fossil fuels in global warming hangs on the only period of global warming observed since WWII, namely 1979-1998. Since existing global warming models have not been verified as able to predict natural (i.e., non-CO2 based)warming, we have no basis for deciding whether the warming from 1979-1998 was attributable to anthropogenic CO2 or natural variability.

    A proper understanding of the “precautionary principle” does not suggest that we ought to impoverish humanity by abrogating the energy sources which have lifted us out of preindustrial poverty, unless we are quite certain that the alternative is worse. The failure of the climate models suggests that we must instead wait for credible evidence.

  57. #57 Bernard J.
    February 28, 2012

    The occurrence of processes known to be significant in climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and el nino-southern oscillation (ENSO) cannot be explained or predicted by the current climate models.

    Yet again you are confabulating fundamentals with confounders.

    Consider genetics, where the basics of codons, genes, and such are understood, but where many of the finer epigenetic phenomena are not. Or ecological processes, where trophic relationships and growth asymptotes are understood, but many of the higher and more complex interactions amongst system components are not. Or even general physics, where gravity, electromagnetism and thermodynamics are understood at a broad level, but where the minutæ are far from being elucidated.

    In each of these disciplines the fundamentals permit us to well describe the essential processes of the respective fields, even as there is much refinement left to achieve. Similarly, the fundamental principles underpinning climatology are solid, and well describe its essential processes, including the action of ‘greenhouse’ gases and how human carbon dioxide emissions will warm the planet.

    This truth might be unpalatable to you, and you might like to deny it, but doing so won’t change the science, nor will it alter the future trajectory of the planet’s climate. You can go on harping about uncertainty and how the experts don’t understand their own fields, but your claims are mere smoke in the wind.

    The upshot is that climatology is as ‘mature’ as those other disciplines. Your protestations to the contrary are a sign of a lack of understanding of the science, and/or an attempt to sway from the truth people who do not have a technical understanding of the subject.

    You might manage in the short term to retain an illusion of knowing better than the professionals in science, but in two years, or five, or maybe another ten – depending on how those ‘random’ confounders behave – the inescapable truth that the consensus was right all along will come knocking on your door.

    I hope that when that time comes you have the good manners to answer with grace that knock. Unfortunately by the time you acknowledge that climatology was ‘mature’ all along, the global climate itself probably won’t have the slightest amount of time for your apology.

  58. #58 Bernard J.
    February 28, 2012

    A proper understanding of the “precautionary principle” does not suggest that we ought to impoverish humanity by abrogating the energy sources which have lifted us out of preindustrial poverty, unless we are quite certain that the alternative is worse. The failure of the climate models suggests that we must instead wait for credible evidence.

    You need to read someone such as Schumaker, or if you can bear a walk on the wild side, Greer.

    Your logic basically distills to the notion that we need to spend the capital, sell the farm, so that everyone can eat caviar.

    But now we’re wandering from the subject at hand and toward the reasons why you don’t like the implications of the (hard) science in the first place. Let’s stay on topic.

  59. #59 Barry Elledge
    February 28, 2012

    Bernard J (at comment 57) responds:

    “…but in two years, or five, or maybe another ten – depending on how those ‘random’ confounders behave – the inescapable truth that the consensus was right all along will come knocking at your door.”

    Bernard, we may be near a point of agreement. You think that the global T is about to resume its climb and begin to match the models. I suspect the next decade or two will trend flat or down as the quiet sun exerts its effects. We might both agree that the observed T over the next decade should either validate or disprove the current climate models.

    I will change my opinion if the data change. I hope you will do the same.

  60. #60 Lotharsson
    February 28, 2012

    If Gleich had merely revealed that he had received the “strategy” memo, without vouching for its authenticity, he couldn’t reasonably be criticized.

    How charmingly naive.

  61. #61 Lotharsson
    February 28, 2012

    However, figure 1 in that link indicates that the 95% confidence interval includes 0.0;

    Not by 2011 it doesn’t. Try again.

    To me, this suggests that observations are well below predictions.

    So firstly you’ve backed off from “much, much greater” to “well [above]“, and you’re indicating your opinions are driven by personal suggestion rather than analysis. We’re making some progress.

    Next, in a noisy system one needs to compares statistically significant trends so as not to be led astray by the noise. You are not doing so when you argue:

    …each of the separate models used by the IPCC to construct their ensemble had predicted that T would rise over the interval 2000-present.

    and you go on to (apparently ignore any confidence intervals) and compound the error by comparing either endpoints or statistically non-significant trends over an interval such as 2000-2011:

    Each of the resulting 56 projections indicated that T would increase, rather than remain unchanged as has been observed.

    and again when you compare endpoints rather than trends over a longer interval:

    that is, no change over the average T in the interval 1979-2011!

    If you want to do an honest assessment, then ask yourself what were the predicted trends (with confidence intervals) from the IPCC models – and what has the observed warming trend been over a period long enough to demonstrate statistically significance? Once you do that is one “much, much greater” the other? (Hint: the RealClimate article provides the numbers.)

    Thirdly, one needs to compare apples to apples. The real world has confounding natural variation effects that are not incorporated into the models such as volcanic eruptions, ENSO and AMO. What does the temperature record look like when you remove most of their influence? Would you claim that model trends are “much, much greater” than the trend in this underlying signal?

    Fourthly you cite Hansen’s 1988 model as some kind of support. It’s true that his predictions were high – the model assumed forcings that were too high, and the model itself is much simpler than today’s models and its climate sensitivity is believed to be too high because it didn’t capture important interactions.

    Strangely enough, though, that’s just one model – which scientists have acknowledged was too high. You claimed all of them were “way, way higher” – a claim that you have not demonstrated (apparently because you are cherry-picking noise instead of analysing the underlying signal).

    And then you compound your error by asserting that a statistically significant trend is actually random:

    Similarly, one should expect that over a 20 year interval (1979-1998) one might observe a random warming period.

    (Why do you think scientists test for statistical significance in the first place? What is the significance level over that 20 year period, and how exactly does it support your contention that it is likely “random”? If the significance level is not high enough for you, what about a 30 year period? And why do you ignore the influence of other forcings that provide a very good explanation for periods such as 1940-1970 – do you really think all the scientists have done is look at some temperature curves and go “yeah, that must be due to CO2″?)

    …the model projections diverge from the observed T changes under even the best model.

    Yep, you naively assume that projections are expected to model the “noise” of observations and then claim that means they are useless – entirely predictable fallacious claim. (What were the red dashed lines on that figure for, and why would they be relevant to your claims? Why is it said that all models are wrong – but some models are useful? How would one honestly determine whether a model is useful or not?)

    …the only indication that humans are causing significant global warming via CO2 emissions is based on climate models.

    “Skeptics” keep saying that, and they keep being wrong.

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