Sunday, October 17, 2004


Now clearly proved even though a corrupt mainstream scientific journal tried to suppress it on plainly ridiculous grounds

Progress in science is sometimes made by great discoveries. But science also advances when we learn that something we believed to be true isn't. When solving a jigsaw puzzle, the solution can sometimes be stymied by the fact that a wrong piece has been wedged in a key place. In the scientific and political debate over global warming, the latest wrong piece may be the "hockey stick," the famous plot, published by University of Massachusetts geoscientist Michael Mann and colleagues. This plot purports to show that we are now experiencing the warmest climate in a millennium, and that the earth, after remaining cool for centuries during the medieval era, suddenly began to heat up about 100 years ago--just at the time that the burning of coal and oil led to an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.....

But now a shock: independent Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have uncovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the computer program that was used to produce the hockey stick. In his original publications of the stick, Mann purported to use a standard method known as principal component analysis, or PCA, to find the dominant features in a set of more than 70 different climate records. But it wasn't so. McIntyre and McKitrick obtained part of the program that Mann used, and they found serious problems. Not only does the program not do conventional PCA, but it handles data normalization in a way that can only be described as mistaken.

Now comes the real shocker. This improper normalization procedure tends to emphasize any data that do have the hockey stick shape, and to suppress all data that do not. To demonstrate this effect, McIntyre and McKitrick created some meaningless test data that had, on average, no trends. This method of generating random data is called "Monte Carlo" analysis, after the famous casino, and it is widely used in statistical analysis to test procedures. When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!

That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. How could it happen? What is going on? .....

McIntyre and McKitrick sent their detailed analysis to Nature magazine for publication, and it was extensively refereed. But their paper was finally rejected. In frustration, McIntyre and McKitrick put the entire record of their submission and the referee reports on a Web page for all to see. If you look, you'll see that McIntyre and McKitrick have found numerous other problems with the Mann analysis. I emphasize the bug in their PCA program simply because it is so blatant and so easy to understand. Apparently, Mann and his colleagues never tested their program with the standard Monte Carlo approach, or they would have discovered the error themselves. Other and different criticisms of the hockey stick are emerging (see, for example, the paper by Hans von Storch and colleagues in the September 30 issue of Science).

Some people may complain that McIntyre and McKitrick did not publish their results in a refereed journal. That is true--but not for lack of trying. Moreover, the paper was refereed--and even better, the referee reports are there for us to read. McIntyre and McKitrick's only failure was in not convincing Nature that the paper was important enough to publish.....

If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick. Misinformation can do real harm, because it distorts predictions..... A phony hockey stick is more dangerous than a broken one--if we know it is broken. It is our responsibility as scientists to look at the data in an unbiased way, and draw whatever conclusions follow. When we discover a mistake, we admit it, learn from it, and perhaps discover once again the value of caution.

More here


Certainly a lot safer than crossing the road

"In the late 1990s, political scientist Gregory Conko had been studying food and pharmaceutical regulation as a fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and noticed the rising concerns in the European Union over genetically modification of crop plants. "I saw this was an issue that was getting much bigger and that it would likely also become a bigger issue in the United States," he says. So he began shifting his focus almost exclusively to examining issues of the regulation of genetically engineered foods. Last month, Conko and Henry I. Miller, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, published The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution (Praeger Publishers), a book that examines some of what they say are the major misunderstandings about agricultural biotechnology.

Excerpts from an interview with Conko:

After recombinant DNA techniques were first demonstrated in the early 1970s, the scientific community started to take a very close look at the technology. They determined that while it certainly increases the flexibility of the kinds of genetic modifications that one can make in microorganisms, plants, or animals, the techniques don't inherently increase the risks of engineered organisms.

With both old and new technologies, you could create a crop plant that might have significantly heightened environmental risks. If you're making an herbicide-tolerant plant, for example, you can do this with either conventional breeding techniques or with recombinant DNA technology. There is no risk difference between the two end products. The scientific consensus essentially holds that you don't want to look at the process used to create a particular new organism; you want to evaluate its characteristics to ensure that the plants themselves don't become invasive or spread harmful genes either to related crop plants or related wild plants.

Similarly on the food safety side, you want to ensure that the genes you're transferring into crop plants or into the food supply are safe, and you want to do that whether you're using recombinant DNA technology or not. Potatoes and tomatoes are both part of the nightshade family, and both produce toxins that, if they were present in high levels, could be very harmful to human consumers. So when you're creating or breeding new potato and tomato varieties, you want to be in tune to whether you may be accidentally increasing the level of toxins-and that's true regardless of whether you're using recombinant DNA or more conventional technology.

For a very long time, the National Academy of Sciences and specifically the National Research Council panel have gotten the question of scientific risk right. Through the last decade and a half, there have been reports essentially coming to the same conclusion: that there's no reason to believe that organisms created using recombinant DNA will be inherently risky, either for the environment or for human consumers.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


No comments: