I have had a quick look at John Christy's recent Congressional testimony. Many aspects of it are deeply troubling. From my own personal perspective, one of the most troubling aspects is that Christy cites a paper by David Douglass, John Christy, Benjamin Pearson, and S. Fred Singer. The Douglass et al. paper appeared in the online edition of the International Journal of Climatology (a publication of the Royal Meteorological Society) in December 2007.
Shortly after its publication, it became apparent that the authors of the Douglass et al. paper had applied a flawed statistical significance test. Application of this flawed test led them to reach incorrect scientific conclusions.
Together with a number of colleagues (including Gavin), I prepared a response to the Douglass et al. paper. Our response was published by the International Journal of Climatology in October 2008. (DOI: 10.1002/joc.1756) I am also appending a "fact sheet" providing some of the scientific context for both the Douglass et al. and Santer et al. International Journal of Climatology papers.)
To my knowledge, the Douglass et al. International Journal of Climatology paper has never been retracted. Nor have the authors acknowledged the existence of any statistical errors in their work. The fact that John Christy has now cited a demonstrably-flawed scientific paper in his Congressional testimony - without any mention of errors in the Douglass et al. paper - is deeply disturbing.
It is my opinion - and the opinion of many of my scientific colleagues - that the Douglass et al. International Journal of Climatology paper represents an egregious misuse of statistics. It is of great concern that this statistically-flawed paper has been used (and is still being used) as crucial "evidence of absence" of human effects on climate.
The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.
- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Via a mailing list, reproduced here with permission:
Posted by Michael Tobis at 2:57 PM