Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”

Warning: This post abounds in “hockey sticks.”

Poneke’s recent blog post, 13 years of Climategate emails show tawdry manipulation of science by a powerful cabal at the heart of the global warming campaign, precipitated a lively discussion. Well, perhaps “discussion” is too kind because it was dominated by extreme deniers.

Now, I don’t want to label people unjustly. I respect those who are sceptical of the IPCC climate change conclusions, but are willing to stick with the science in discussing them. I reserve the term “deniers” for those irrational souls who grab at anything they can (cold days, snow, 1998 temperatures, IPCC mistake on Himalyan glaciers, etc., etc.). No interest in the science – just in using “sciencey” claims to advance their preconceived conclusions.

But my point in this post is to deal with one of Poneke’s claims which is demonstratively untrue.

The “Gish gallop”

A tactic of deniers, also common to evolution deniers, which dominated their approach in the comments on Poneke’s post is the “Gish Gallop.” They fire out arguments like a machine gun, one fabrication after another – moving quickly on before any particular fabrication can be examined and refuted. I guess it’s what you do if all you rely on is fabrications.

Well, taking George Monbiot‘s advice (stick with the first fabrication, concentrate on that and don’t be diverted by new fabrications) I thought I would show Poneke he is wrong in his claims about “Mann’s now infamous “hockey stick” graph.” He calls it “the ‘hockey stick’ graph the IPCC has quietly dropped from its reports” and also claims “it was totally discredited and dropped from subsequent IPCC reports.”Mann’s data on temperature changes over time were included in the 2001 reports and Poneke claims they were not in the 2007 IPCC reports.

I challenged Poneke several times on this and he repeated “Mann’s hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited and the IPCC has dropped it from its reports, just as I state.”

The “infamous, discredited” hockey stick

That’s the problem with quoting yourself as the authority – you can be wrong and not know it. It’s always best to check. If Poneke had done so he would have found this figure below in the 2007 reports. The original data from Mann (MBH 1999) is included with, of course, more recent data. Here is the reference for Poneke, or anyone else doubting my claim – Figure 6.10, page 467,  Chapter 6: Palaeoclimate,The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), WG I The Physical Science Basis. Mind you, I gave this information to Poneke in a comment to his post – but it was deleted!

Poneke’s cavalier attitude to facts like this should surely leave any claims to journalistic integrity in tatters.

And far from this work being “thoroughly discredited” or abandoned, it has been expanded with more, recent, data. The graph below is from Mann’s 2008 paper (Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia).

National research Council report vindicates Mann

In this paper Mann was responding to suggestions made by the National Research Council in its report  Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years. This thorough and rigorous investigation formed part of US House of Representatives Committee hearings on Mann’s “hockey stick” figure arising from criticisms made by climate change sceptics. It is very authoritative.

The report basically supported Mann’s findings:

“The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.”

In fact the NRC produced their own “hockey stick” in the report (see figure below):

Lord Monckton’s lies about the “hockey Stick”

Poneke’s false assertions on the “hockey stick” graph are, unfortunately, very common. It’s one bit of mudslinging that has found purchase with most deniers repeating the lie. Even some sceptics believe the story.

Lord Mockton has been a prolific propagator of this lie. He even appears in the infamous “climategate” emails saying of the “hockey stick”: “the US National Academy of Sciences has described as having “a validation skill not significantly different from zero”. In plain English, this means the graph was rubbish.”

Problem is – search through the NRC report and you just won’t find those words (“a validation skill not significantly different from zero”). Nevertheless this allegation has been repeated innumerable numbers of times in conservative newspapers and websites. Some of these also claim (as does Poenke) that the IPCC had abandoned the data (see for example the policy Brief from the Commonwealth foundation – Climate & Penn State – demanding a McCarthyist-style investigation of Mann). But even Mockton acknowledges that the UN continues to use the defective graph.”

I guess it just makes a good story so these conservative sources tack it on. As does Poneke.

But, again, where is the journalistic integrity it that?

Footnote: Poneke is continuing his campaign against facts by petulantly demanding that scientists should not speak out on climate change! (see Taxpayer-funded Science Media Centre gets a curious ratings boost from global warming).

Why – because they are biased!

Well, I guess they are – after all they are obliged to deal with facts – not the fairy tales of witch-hunting deniers and conspiracy theorists.

Mind you, he makes sure these facts don’t get into his blog comments. Mine certainly haven’t lately.


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See also:
Journalist thinks world climate-science publications are controlled by cabal
Analysis of stolen CRU emails by NZ blogger shows tawdry manipulation of facts – Poneke’s credibility now in tatters — Hot Topic

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23 responses to “Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”

  1. Richard Christie

    Poneke’s at it again with arguments of total irrelevance:
    and comments:


  2. Yes, Richard. I am tempted to comment but he has been deleting or refusing to allow through moderation any of my comments containing information.

    I will see how it goes. Depending on the comments I might do my own post here explaining the CO2 story and showing how silly his (implied because he isn’t actually stating anything) arguments are.


  3. My comments are now also not getting through moderation over there.


  4. Poneke: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant of them all.”

    Pity he doesn’t practice what he preaches.


  5. Yes, I have a fair number removed or not allowed through moderation now. I wonder who else is being effected?

    I have noticed with mine he has deleted anything with substantive information – like links to the NRC report, and the figures from the IPCC reports – possibly because they show he is lying.

    Perhaps he has just got too emotional about the whole issue.


  6. Richard Christie

    I’ve a couple stuck in the pipes as well.


  7. One appeared, two still MIA.


  8. I don’t understand the deleting of rational posts. Is it a lecture or a discussion?

    Were you rational?


  9. Richard Christie

    Is the use of that clip as some sort of indicator of the significance of changes to CO2 concentration a rational argument?
    Poneke is avoiding rational argument, he has none.


  10. I had one that just vanished about two days ago.
    All I did was
    1) point out that he didn’t actually give a real answer to the first commenter.

    and 2) I left him with two links to clear up a couple of PRATTs.

    No harsh language involved at all.
    Only one post but…it never showed up.


  11. Richard Christie

    Sorry Kerry, I didn’t fully answer your question; yes by posts were rational, simply asking for justification for his (and hr0001’s) claim. One post I repeated and it did finally appear, only to be labelled by him as a attempt to troll.
    David Mcloughlin has a fine record for investigative journalism, I don’t know why he has descended to polemic hyperbole and on more than one occasion, name calling and spleen, over this subject.


  12. Well, I think I was rational. I was only insisting on him acknowledging that he was incorrect to claim the “hockey stick” data had been discredited and dropped by the IPCC. He started deleting when I placed links to the figures in IPCC reports and the NEC report.

    Mind you he got very snarly before that. So I think it’s a matter of his emotion and defensiveness,

    Sent from my iPod


  13. Ahh well for asking that question my posts are being banned…..

    Obviously a blog interested in intelligent debate!


  14. Richard Christie

    I’m banned too. Well, if he follows his own precedent he’ll presently “pack a sad” and close his blog down for a month or so.


  15. Pingback: I thought the award for mistakes was mine! « Open Parachute

  16. I gave up commenting there when he whined about mistakes or misunderstandings being pointed out. That was August 2008, as I posted at the time. Lots of agreement in the comments, too (and an excursion into the strange world of Ken Ring).


  17. Poneke: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant of them all.”

    He gave me a similar line, something on the lines of “Sunlight. Disinfectant. Rinse and repeat.” I replied to the effect that I was handing it back and he could keep it, with a smiley to indicate I mean it lightly.

    Quite a few of my recent posts have been moderated, two disappearing until prompted. On the positive side, at least he did re-enstate them after being prompted.

    David Mcloughlin has a fine record for investigative journalism, I don’t know why he has descended to polemic hyperbole and on more than one occasion, name calling and spleen, over this subject.

    I have related sentiments and wrote to that effect on “signing off” his blog. His response was to extract one sentence from it and make it out to be me (using words to the effect) behaving like a bully throwing out his toys because a couple of people didn’t do as he asked, when I’d actually written the words in the light-hearted spirit some leaving a BBQ (“I’m outa here”) and I didn’t ask people to “do things”.

    It was a real shame as anyone who read my post in full would surely have seen the honesty that I’d written it with.

    A pattern I dislike is his posts and comments is of accusing someone (or some organisation) of something first, rather than checking first.

    In fact several times he made an incorrect assertion/accusation after the correct story was given to him. For example, in his post about the SMC, he’d already had it pointed out to him that I wasn’t attacking him (but the claim he made) several times, that the SMC and Sciblogs are two different things and that the “role” he quoted was for the SMC, not the blogs.

    I’m considering posting a “debriefing” comment to round out the thread. No-one will read it, but that’s fine with me! 🙂


  18. Pingback: Poneke: If only scientists were more like god… « The Standard

  19. Pingback: Spinning exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash” « Open Parachute

  20. Pingback: Chris Mooney interviews Michael Mann on “climategate” « Open Parachute

  21. The Hockey Stick Illusion – Climategate and the corruption of science

    A W Montford

    Available from Amazon.

    Receiving raves reviews:



  22. A Human – I notice that this book doesn’t appear to have enabled you to make a comment on my post.

    Not a good advert for the book, is it?


  23. Pingback: New “Hockey Stick” but same tired old denial | Open Parachute

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