Currygate, part 3: the key papers exposed

DSC_3876-e-pensive-against-light Oh well, everyone else has a gate, perhaps I can have one too. Incidentally the picture is there for two reasons: firstly I have far too many pix of Darling Daugther and no-one looks at them. If Jules can put up huts, I can do children. And second, it is a cunning attempt to make me a human bean rather than just a face on the internet, so my enemies will find it harder to attack me. Clever eh?

So, the story so far (pay attention at the back!): I wondered about the list of 3 "key" papers that Curry was proposing should have been considered by the Oxburgh inquiry. Or perhaps by the parliamentary inquiry (Curry quite specifically says my source for the specific papers and why i think they are relevant to the UEA investigation is the documents submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee). And the question was, in what sense were they key? Well, in this there is no secret that she is quoting McI, because she has said as much. So we should look at McI's evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry. Which contains a helpful reference list at the end. And I don't see the key papers on that list. Or you could read the evidence form Andrew Montford. Again, no hint of these so-called "key" papers.

So the answer is: the papers are key, post hoc, because they were not considered by Oxburgh. Had Oxburgh considered them, a different set of papers would have become key.

And once again, Curry simply hasn't done her homework properly. she got muddled over Wegman and withdrew jsut ab out everything she said; I think she now needs to look very carefully at what she has said about "key papers" and consider whether she is just acting as a mouthpiece for the septics rather than doing what she can and should, which is using her expertise to add something new to the debate.

Incidentally: IMHO Curry's motivations in all this remain somewhat obscure, and I'm interersted in what they might be. KK seems to have gone from chiding people about speculating to inquiring himself, and there is an interesting post: Curry: The Backstory at c-a-s. Which does demonstrate one thing, that journalists do at least have the virtue of asking people questions and some times they reply.

[Update. Oh no, this is going to turn into one of those eternally expanding posts. Over a c-a-s comment 355 (yes really) KK quotes Romm as saying She has joined the WUWT and McIntyre tribe (note my appearance as a side-dish, perhaps at one of JA's feasts). Well, critical as I am of what Curry has actually said, I don't think that comment is either true or helpful. And indeed, Curry has no problem demolishing it. There is enough tribalism around without trying to push it futher. Incidentally, the comment that Romm is responding to has misunderstood Curry, though she makes it very easy to do so: she is *not* saying that IPCC is on a level with NIPCC; she (like all sane folk) regards NIPCC as a joke. She is trying to say (but alas saying it very poorly) that the IPCC needs to retain the features that clearly distinguish it from the NIPCC. Like not being crap. My difference with Curry is that I think it is still doing this well, though like all things on this earth it could be better.]

[And another. Speculating on Curry's motives is the game of the day, but I have no new ideas on that, so instead I'll offer an analogy. Curry is like the outsider who looks at the two parties fighting over politics and decides to stand as a "clean-up" candidate (no, remember, this is an analogy; I'm not saying that climate is like politics). So she says a number of things, and garners a lot of media attention, and then either doesn't get elected because the two-party system exists for a reason... or gets elected, and is then either useless or gets dragged into the system anyway.

This musing was brought on by HR drawing out her quote: "... I have been extremely critical of the NIPCC, it is basically a joke ....". As I said in reply: you won't find Watt, or McI, or *any* of the sceptics say that - they are, as she says, too tribal. Curry is *not* one of their tribe. Curry is fundamentally a scientist, and a sane one, and wandering off into attacks on her (which I hope I haven't done) isn't good -W]

[Also, another note on the paper-selection issue (DS notes): the initial announcement states: The University, in consultation with the Royal Society, has suggested that the panel looks in particular at key publications, from the body of CRU's research referred to in the UEA submission to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.]


More like this

I agree her comparison to NIPCC was misunderstood, but easy to do given her vague "corrupt" charges directed towards the IPCC.

"Incidentally: IMHO Curry's motivations in all this remain somewhat obscure, and I'm interersted in what they might be."

It's an interesting challenge in psychoanalysis. What we do know is that Dr. Curry is very wrong on a variety of issues, as revealed here and in the comments section of the Kloor thread. Why that is remains a mystery. I offer a series of not-necessarily-mutually-exclusive general possibilities, with a reference or two to this blog:……

The reason I call Judy naive is precisely this sort of taking the septics at face value. She's decided they constitute a movement that must be catered to rather than ignored and that catering to them will actually accomplish something.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 27 Apr 2010 #permalink

Judy said elsewhere, appparently quite seriously, that she thought the NIPCC had acquired more (non-scientific) credibility than the IPCC.

Re Romm's tribalism charge, I think it's correct in the sense that Judy does advocate that the scientific community take the septics seriously on the terms offered by the septics.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 27 Apr 2010 #permalink

Curry lost me completely with the Wegman thing; she's bending over backwards to maintain the fiction that there are "two sides" and what is needed is more "civil discourse." It's a real temptation to want to be a peacemaker, and it does her credit, I suppose.

The problem is, there are not "two sides." One side will say or do anything, and the other won't. And also she takes blogs far too seriously.

It doesn't take a crystal ball to see what's going to happen -- sooner or later she'll say something she thinks is fair play criticism, and the denialist crowd & wingnut blogosphere will absolutely crucify her. Until that happens there probably won't be any talking to her.

I agree with Romm and Arthur Smith. Curry has become enamoured with CA and co and is treating them as genuine sceptics with valid 'arguments'. (She is currently writing a 'review' of Montford's latest effort, to the applause of the CA crowd. It will be of minor interest to see the result and the aftermath, whichever way she comes out.)

She has expressed contempt for scientists working in other fields in no uncertain terms. She has judged people on the say so of the CA / WUWT / Leake / Delingpole crowd. She has demonstrated she knows nothing of the basis on which she makes a judgement. Firstly with Wegman (which she recanted but without apology to DeepClimate). Secondly when she judged Jones expressing in a private email that he was not inclined to compile yet more data for a denialist blogger in Australia, who had been harassing him for years (since 1991 according to Hughes himself). She obviously knew nothing of the circumstances of the situation but has it in for CRU (and Mann).

She is now switching her 'argument' to that of questioning climate sensitivity. Again she gives no grounds for this, but implies that others are nefariously misrepresenting the science.

If she were serious at all, she would have written a paper or referred to a paper on sensitivity to support her 'feelings'. I believe this is just another excuse for her to slam scientists and scientific organisations.

She's slippery, dishonest, and impugnes with no restraint the reputation of her colleagues.

Frankly, her behaviour is disgusting. Maybe she is suffering Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe she can't handle the pressure of attention. Anything could be happening with her - who knows. But she is senior enough and old enough to know better.

Steve may be misremembering where Curry says at KK's:…

But she's saying she worries that in the view of the public, the NIPCC will be taken seriously.

See also:…
Judith Curry Says:
April 27th, 2010 at 4:39 pm
â⦠I have been extremely critical of the NIPCC, it is basically a joke â¦.â

This is yet another boring plea for people to actually cite to sources.

It's a poor sort of memory that only works one way -- poorly. It's all we have, unless we cite sources and check our recollection.

[Citing sources is good. But I'm not sure what you're saying here (and perhaps this is a chance to reply, obliquely, to some other commentators). Curry has indeed said, unequivocally, that the NIPCC report is a joke. You won't find Watt, or McI, or *any* of the sceptics say that - they are, as she says, too tribal. Curry is *not* one of their tribe -W]

My thoughts on this echo Arthur Smith above - it almost seems as though she has tried so hard to understand M, W, L, et al, that in reading all their stuff with an "open mind" she has (in another way of phrasing it) "gone over to the dark side".

Alternatively, she's had some kind of 'Damascene' moment which she is as yet unable to clearly explain to us mere 'warmists'.

Or, perhaps she's actually under some kind of duress (someone blackmailing her?) and is being forced to say all these things. That would explain all the hints and half-explanations and suggestions of "you know what I mean, hint hint".

By William T (not verified) on 27 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Curry is *not* one of their tribe. Curry is fundamentally a scientist, and a sane one, and wandering off into attacks on her (which I hope I haven't done) isn't good -W]"

That's important indeed. Too much accusations slung at her risk becoming a self fulfilling prophecy: She will start identifying more strongly with the 'skeptics'.

You analogy ends with the two party system being unmoved, as if it is somehow unchangeable. Is that indeed how you view the climate discussion as well? Is the 'us versus them' tribalism an unavoidable part of the game? I'm afraid it may be, but I'm quite sure that it's a detrimental characteristic, both for the science and for the public discussion.

[I knew I should never have put up tht analogy but I couldn't resist. No, I don't think the system is immovable; and (most importantly) nor do I think the current climate debate is like a political two-party system. But there are analogies. The strongest one is that you need to understand the system. It is no good saying "oh dear these politicians are so tied to the party machine; that is bad; why can't we go back to the good old days of stout independents" without understanding *why* this has come about. Similarly, if you are saying "oh dear these climate scientists are being defensive, this is bad" whilst failing to realise that they are under sustained attack by people of bad faith, then all you are doing is contributing to the noise -W]

That's where I agree with Curry.

(see also… )


I would withhold such strong judgement, unless you want to push people to 'the other side'. Curry said that climate sensitivity may not be so well constrained at the lower bound as it's made out to be, and agrees that at the upper bound it isn't well constrained either. She's not rooting for a small sensitivity, as far as I see. I'd be careful interpreting everything she (or anyone for that matter) sais in the most negative way possible.


I fully agree with your in-line reply to my previous comment. I'd wish Curry also discussed the context of all of this, which goes a long way to explaing why the scientists are acting as they do.

I think she honestly wants to help, and honestly does not understand what the deniers are like. They see her attempts as a dismantling of AGW, and 'one more nail in the coffin'. Any protests that AGW is real will just be proof of her being attacked by the scientists and being forced to fall back into line.

Bart, I think I understand where you are coming from but I don't agree with your take on the matter. However I realise W also wants us to be reticent, so I'll just post this link for my further illustration.…

If Curry cannot even see that what her friend did was appalling, even after the fact, then that says a lot to me. Even if it was a friendly blog I would not be encouraging untold numbers of anonymous people to send emails a colleague requesting them to take time to compile and send me information. Certainly not without at least checking first. (I note that the Jones was generous to Curry's friend in the past, which makes it a worse betrayal.)

I agree with Bart on this one. It is obvious that Curry has a very poor grasp of the situation and is not prepared for this kind of exposure. I would recommend not engaging her any further to avoid giving her opportunities to dig herself deeper into the hole.

Dr. Curry would do well to lay out, in detail, the evidence for these accusations (in her most recent maddeningly vague yet accusatory post to c-a-s):

"The formal assessment process is important in the presence of all this noise, which is why *I am particularly concerned about the process corruptions of the IPCC and its lack of policy neutrality.*."

(emphasis mine)

She should explain on what basis she concluded the above -- something like Mosher's book, or some experience more personal? And she should do so in a place where scientists will read it and debate it. A note to Nature? Science? There are a few other former IPCC authors with gripes, perhaps they could collaborate.

This is similar to what Gavin at RealClimate told JC to do. As a reputable scientist, if she's going to fire at will she'd better be ready to explain why her targets are worthy, and not just in 'skeptic' havens. If nothing else, further engagement with and from RealClimate would be interesting at the point.

By Steven Sullivan (not verified) on 28 Apr 2010 #permalink

Where is the background material for the hurricane papers Curry talks about as the appropriate response to criticism? I recall people asking but haven't seen a pointer to it.

Hank #8 was responding to my #5, but he linked to the wrong comment. This is the one I was thinking of:

Unfortunately in my opinion, there is a very large number of people that prefer the NIPCC to the IPCC.

Looking at this more carefully, it doesn't support the interpretation I gave it (that Judy thinks the NIPCC has more support than the IPCC), and while probably somewhat hyperbolic it still reflects a considerable misjudgement.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 28 Apr 2010 #permalink

re: #20
I interpreted her to mean she was lamenting the fact that many people took NIPCC seriously. She may not have expressed it clearly enough, but I think it did get mangled in the retelling.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 28 Apr 2010 #permalink

> wrong comment

It was my best guess (grin). The first comment by JC I linked was 9:06am; the one you point to was about an hour later in the same thread, and they're from a conversation that went on for many hours. Good example of how paraphrases easily escape their origins.

Of course climate blogs would be far quieter if cites were required, as at Climatesight and More Grumbine.

Re: #20,#21

I think it's a given that many people take the NIPPC seriously. Many people take Morano, Monckton, Singer, Watts, McIntyre, etc. seriously as well, and that's been the case for a number of years (some longer than others), well before the frequent manufacturing of the various ----Gates started. Where Curry errs is in asserting that her alleged "corruption" of the IPCC and other claims are the primary reason (or even a significant one) for certain groups taking the NIPPC and other similar propaganda groups seriously. I think she's trying to legitimize her corruption claims towards the IPCC and scientists, not by providing evidence, but by pointing to the fact that many people respect the NIPCC and don't like the IPCC, and much (if not most) of those opinions are new.

While it's true that global warming denialism has increased, this started before the email hacking incident and various stepped-up media antics. We should also not mistake this for stepped-up interest from existing deniers. U.S. politics, which has a fair amount of world influence, has moved in the direction of cleaner energy / efficiency, and carbon pricing/regulation (not there yet and may not be), and it's brought the crazies out of the woodwork. The prior U.S. administration was like a security blanket - one that was taken away from them, which initiated much wailing.

Finally, note the sequence of reinforcing rhetoric (paraphrasing here):

1. "I'm deeply concerned about the IPCC and climate scientists losing credibility"

2. "The IPCC is corrupt and climate scientists are engaging in very bad behavior."

For #2, Curry offers scant credible evidence to support her claims, but the assertion itself perhaps contributes to loss of credibility of those she's "concerned" about, in the eyes of those she's speaking to. Is her concern genuine?

William, if you read all the way to the end of this… you saw this link already but haven't mentioned it that I recall

[Yes, I saw that. It doesn't seem to add much. Montford has clearly missed (what I also missed, until DS pointed it out): that the Oxburgh inquiry was directed towards the UEA's submission -W]

Thanks, Hank Roberts #24, that link is very illuminating regarding Curry's specific complaints.

There, Judith Curry says: "the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation".

Where does this idea come from? I've read about this idea on internet forums and blogs (the statistical correlation is visually apparent) and I've always dismissed it because I hadn't read any peer-reviewed paper supporting that notion.

I agree that if PDO happened to be a relevant driver of the recent warming, that would certainly diminish the attribution to anthropogenic forcings, wouldn't it?

I like Dr. Curry a lot. I remember when she began posting on CA (back when I used to post there).

But her criticisms do seem to take the skeptic side too seriously and she doesn't seem to know about some of the dishonest things McIntyre and other skeptics have done. I don't think you can constructively improve the IPCC by relying on folks or are actively trying to destroy it, so I disagree with her type of engagement from the outset.

But then again, there are tons of scientists who disagree with aspects of the IPCC--some who think CS should be lower, some higher. It's not like she's a maverick in that regard. She's just the most visible.

Can you point to a clear statement of Curry's estimate of climate sensitivity? She is on the record as saying a lower bound of 2C is too high. She says it should be 1.5C or maybe lower (it's not too clear to me). But what about the upper bound? "Best" estimate? If in general, uncertainties should be wider, then that implies an upper bound greater than 4.5C, no? Myself, I haven't the patience to wade through all the blog comments to find out if she addresses this.

[I would certinaly agree that a hard lower bound of 2 0C is too high. I think JA would too -W]

Curry also differs with the IPCC on attribution:

The IPCC statement says that âmost of the warming in the latter half of the 20th century is very likely caused by humansâ. âmostâ implies greater than 50%, and âvery likelyâ means > 90% as defined by IPCC. Do I agree with the combination of 50% and 90% in this statement? No. At least some of the warming is caused by anthropogenic CO2 (no one argues with that), exactly how much requires sorting out all the causes of natural variability. In the 90âs, the warm temperatures got a boost from warm phases of both AMO and PDO (the same thing that i think caused the bump ca 1940).…

That begs the question: if she disagrees with 50%-90%, what does she think it should be and why?

Deep Climate, IMO Curry is positioning herself for a 'no action necessary' policy stance. She has said she won't comment on policy but she's doing it by default. She says she doubts the sensitivity, and calls on the oft-cited (by deniers) PDO and volcanos. She dumps on the same people that McI does - why does she pick on them? AFAIK their work is outside her field of expertise. What she's doing is obvious and blatant.

Some people don't want to believe a serious scientist could trash her colleagues in this way or raise doubts in such a clumsy typical denier fashion. But that's exactly what she's done. Almost concern trollish.

From what I can glean she's been working up to this for at least a couple of years.

She says she doesn't even agree to keeping CO2 below 550ppm, calling it a 'value-laden issue'!!!

Re climate sensitivity and policy, this is what she had to say (my emphasis and the italics is a question posed by Daniel Kirk-Davidoff):

If you agree with 3, doesnât that pretty much settle Joe Rommâs policy question about the preferred level of CO2 concentration: putting aside cost for the moment, we should aim to keep CO2 well below 550 ppmv?
No. There is the whole issue of what constitutes âdangerousâ climate change. Which is a value laden issue.
I for one do not have any confidence in setting a CO2 limit with two significant figures, given the uncertainties described in 1-3. This takes us into a policy arena, which is where I am drawing the line in this discussion.…


[I would certainly agree that a hard lower bound of 2 0C is too high. I think JA would too -W]

I'll let JA speak for himself (third comment, but the post is worthwhile too, IMHO - W, you may want to point to it):

Yes, I saw she was grumbling about the IPCC lower limit, apparently without any substance. She doesn't seem to know anything of the work that justifies this claim and has never made any contributions in this area, as far as I can tell. So I have no idea what basis she has for that criticism.

Frankly, it is hard to distinguish her behaviour here from the typical argument-from-ignorance of the garden-variety sceptics. The only real curiosity is in why she is coming out with this stuff...

[Err hold on, what exactly are we talking about? IPCC sez it is likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C which, if true, means there is a fair chance of it being outside that range (disregarding the traditional quiblles about what does probability mean). So a hard lower limit of 2 oC is unsupportable. Using 2 oC as the lower limit of the likely range isn't unreasonable, of course -W]

#29 The rest of the exchange from the CA exchange referenced in #28 may shed some light:

geo Posted Jan 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Yes, I think a lot of us sense that IPCC took âworst caseâ and passed it off as âmiddle of the roadâ and then tried to shout everybody else down. Re AMO and PDO. . . would you agree that weâre likely going to have a relatively firm grip in say, about 10 years, as to what the real future temperature trend line is liable to look like?

Judith Curry Posted Jan 19, 2010 at 8:02 PM

10 more years of data (plus model improvements) will certainly help us sort all this out.

She says she doesn't even agree to keeping CO2 below 550ppm, calling it a 'value-laden issue'!!!

I agree that it is a value judgment and not necessarily a scientific one. After all, if you think that 1-2% of GDP growth per year is worth loss of biodiversity, flooding, increased droughts and etc, then that's your prerogative.

However, the fact that no one anywhere ever says "Yeah, AGW is going to have a lot of bad effects on the environment and society, but my mutual fund is more important." I don't think it's a particularly controversial value judgment.


W., the whole point is that Curry disagrees with the IPCC on climate sensitivity. That's one area where the uncertainty is claimed to be too narrow, at least at the low end. Exactly what Curry's problem, or the evidence against the IPCC, is unclear.

In effect then, the "hard lower limit" argument is a straw man, no? Since the IPCC doesn't say that, in fact? So what is Curry's problem, exactly?

[What indeed? I think asserting that you think the lower limit is too high isn't unreasonable, but if you're saying that as a scientist with (it is to be presumed) some kind of scientific backup, then you ought to be able to say why. If it is just a septic talking point, or if it is just part of her "the uncertainties are too narrow" then it is unconvinving. Because she is a respected scientist the assumption ought to be, when she talks about specific issues like CS that could be within her purview (though I think it isn't; it isn't really her field), that she has some specific crit in mind. Since (as far as I can tell) she hasn't backed up what she first said, then, well, I guess she has nothing -W]

I think the fundamental problem with what Curry's interviews of late is that she has been saying a lot of stuff (eg, about "corruptions of the IPCC process") without 1) defining what she actually means and without 2) backing up her claims with evidence.

For better or worse (in this case worse), most of the general public has their own ideas about words like "corruption", and when they hear a respected scientist talking about IPCC and "corruption" in the same breath, what are they supposed to think?

Perhaps it is not Curry's intention to stir the pot in this way, but that is certainly the effect of her words.

What Curry has been saying in her interviews has far more in common with the kinds of unsupported claims you read on blogs than it has with science.

Hank, I think W. misunderstood something I said ("2-4.5C" instead of "IPCC likely range of 2-4.5C")and then we straightened it out. Or something like that.

JC published an AGW and hurricane paper that was heavily criticized by Landsea and Gray. She said very publicly that Gray's brain had fossilized. Lots more hurricane pubs come out, some with good data going against her initial paper. She feels bad about her name calling and experiences self doubt. She does penance (her paper on climate science psychology and her posts on skeptic sites) and vows never to hurt again. The CRU Hack emails come out. She is deeply troubled as she is once again in the den of sinners through no fault of her own. She gets angry and lashes out at those she feels have betrayed her (Mann).

Only thing is: Dr. Gray's brain has undergone total petrification. Kick it. It'll break your toe.