the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Remarkable Heretic

Posted by Jeff Id on October 25, 2010

Guest post Dr. Judith Curry.  I asked permission to repost this here in it entirety because it is a perfect description of the current climato-political situation.   There is so much nuance and reality in it I promise that you will be impressed, unless you are TCO.

Honesty and reality all balled up in a single post, total Air Vent material.

Check out her thread for commentary here.


The narrative

Why am I being singled out here?  Richard Lindzen and Roger Pielke Sr. have been making far more critical statements about the IPCC and climate science for a longer period than I have.  And both score higher than me in the academic pecking order  (in terms of number of publications and citations and external peer recognition).

The answer must be in the narrative of my transition from a “high priestess of global warming” to engagement with skeptics and a critic of the IPCC.  The “high priestess of global warming” narrative (I used to see this term fairly frequently in the blogosphere, can’t spot it now) arose from my association with the hurricane and global warming issue, which at the time was the most alarming issue associated with global warming.

The overall evolution of my thinking on global warming is described in the Q&A at collide-a-scape (the relevant statements are appended at the end of this post.) My thinking and evolution on this issue since 11/19/09 deserves further clarification.  When I first started reading the CRU emails, my reaction was a visceral one.  While my colleagues seemed focused on protecting the reputations of the scientists involved and assuring people that the “science hadn’t changed,” I immediately realized that this could bring down the IPCC.  I became concerned about the integrity of our entire field: both the actual integrity and its public perception.  When  I saw how the IPCC was responding and began investigating the broader allegations against the IPCC, I became critical of the IPCC and tried to make suggestions for improving the IPCC.  As glaring errors were uncovered (especially the Himalayan glaciers) and the IPCC failed to respond, I started to question whether it was possible to salvage the IPCC and whether it should be salvaged.   In the meantime, the establishment institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere were mostly silent on the topic.

In Autumn 2005, I had decided that the responsible thing to do in making public statements on the subject of global warming was to adopt the position of the IPCC.  My decision was based on two reasons: 1) the subject was very complex and I had personally investigated a relatively small subset of the topic; 2) I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientists says, trust what thousands of IPCC scientists say.”  A big part of my visceral reaction to events unfolding after 11/19 was concern that I had been duped into supporting the IPCC, and substituting their judgment for my own in my public statements on the subject.  So that is the “dupe” part of all this, perhaps not what Lemonick had in mind.

If, how, and why I had been duped by the IPCC became an issue of overwhelming personal and professional concern.   I decided that there were two things that I could do: 1) speak out publicly and try to restore integrity to climate science by increasing transparency and engaging with skeptics; and 2) dig deeply into the broader aspects of the science and the IPCC’s arguments and try to assess the uncertainty.  The Royal Society Workshop on Handling Uncertainty in Science last March motivated me to take on #2 in a serious way.  I spent all summer working on a paper entitled “Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster,”  which was submitted to a journal in August.  I have no idea what the eventual fate of this paper will be, but it has seeded the uncertainty series on Climate Etc. and its fate seems almost irrelevant at this point.

Monster creation

There are some parallels between the “McIntyre monster” and the “Curry monster.” The monster status derives from our challenges to the IPCC science and the issue of uncertainty.  While the McIntyre monster is far more prominent in the public debate, the Curry monster seems far more irksome to community insiders.  The CRU emails provide ample evidence of the McIntyre monster, and in the wake of the CRU emails I saw a discussion at RealClimate about the unbridled power of Steve McIntyre.  Evidence of the Curry monster is provided by this statement in Lemonick’s article: “What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.”  This sense of McIntyre and myself as having “power” seems absurd to me (and probably to Steve), but it seems real to some people.

Well, who created these “monsters?”  Big oil and the right-wing ideologues?  Wrong.  It was the media, climate activists, and the RealClimate wing of the blogosphere (note, the relative importance of each is different for  McIntyre versus myself).   I wonder if the climate activists will ever learn, or if they will follow the pied piper of the merchants of doubt meme into oblivion.

A note to my critics in the climate science community

Let me preface my statement by saying that at this point,  I am pretty much immune to criticisms from my peers regarding my behavior and public outreach on this topic (I respond to any and all criticisms of my arguments that are specifically addressed to me.)   If you think that I am a big part of the cause of the problems you are facing, I suggest that you think about this more carefully.   I am doing my best to return some sanity to this situation and restore science to a higher position than the dogma of consensus.  You may not like it, and my actions may turn out to be ineffective, futile, or counterproductive in the short or long run, by whatever standards this whole episode ends up getting judged.  But this is my carefully considered choice on what it means to be a scientist and to behave with personal and professional integrity.

Let me ask you this.  So how are things going for you lately?  A year ago, the climate establishment was on top of the world, masters of the universe.   Now we have a situation where there have been major challenges to the reputations of a number of a number of scientists, the IPCC, professional societies, and other institutions of science.  The spillover has been a loss of public trust in climate science and some have argued, even more broadly in science.  The IPCC and the UNFCCC are regarded by many as impediments to sane and politically viable energy policies.  The enviro advocacy groups are abandoning the climate change issue for more promising narratives.  In the U.S., the prospect of the Republicans winning the House of Representatives raises the specter of hearings on the integrity of climate science and reductions in federal funding for climate research.

What happened?  Did the skeptics and the oil companies and the libertarian think tanks win?  No, you lost.  All in the name of supporting policies that I don’t think many of you fully understand.  What I want is for the climate science community to shift gears and get back to doing science, and return to an environment where debate over the science is the spice of academic life.  And because of the high relevance of our field, we need to figure out how to provide the best possible scientific information and assessment of uncertainties.  This means abandoning this religious adherence to consensus dogma.

Addendum: reproduced from my Q&A at collide-a-scape

” Circa 2003, I was concerned about the way climate research was treating uncertainty (see my little essay presented to the NRC Climate Research Committee).

I was considered somewhat quixotic but not really outside of the mainstream (p.s. the CRC didn’t pay any attention to my essay, they went off in a different direction that focused on communicating uncertainty and decisionmaking under uncertainty).  During this period,  I was comfortably ensconced in the ivory tower of academia, writing research papers, going to conferences, submitting grant proposals.  I was 80% oblivious to what was going on in terms of the public debate surrounding climate change.

This all changed on September 14, 2005, when I participated in a press conference on our forthcoming paper that described a substantial increase in the global number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes. The unplanned and uncanny timing of publication of this paper was three weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.  While global warming was mentioned only obliquely in the paper, the press focused on the global warming angle and a media furor followed. We were targeted as global warming alarmists, capitalizing on this tragedy to increase research funding and for personal publicity, a threat to capitalism and the American way of life, etc.

At the same time, we were treated like rock stars by the environmental movement.  Our 15 minutes stretched into days, weeks and months.  Hurricane Katrina became a national focusing event for the global warming debate. We were particularly stung by criticisms from fellow research scientists who claimed that we were doing this “for the money” and attacked our personal and scientific integrity.  We felt that one scientist in particular had crossed the line and committed a series of fouls, and this turned the scientific debate into academic guerrilla warfare between our team and the skeptics that was played out in the glare of the media.  This “war” culminated in an article published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, “Debate shatters the civility of weather science”  on Feb 2, 2006 . . .  This article became a catharsis for the hurricane research community, that engendered extensive email discussion among scientists on both sides of the public debate. We did an email version of a “group hug” and vowed to stop the guerilla warfare.

I had lost my bearings in all of this, and the Wall Street Journal article had the effect of a bucket of cold water being poured over my head.  I learned several important lessons from this experience: just because the other guy commits the first “foul” doesn’t give you the moral high ground in protracted academic guerilla warfare. Nothing in this crazy environment is worth sacrificing your personal or professional integrity.  After all, no one remembers who fired the first shot, all they see is unprofessional behavior.

I took a step back and tried to understand all this craziness and learn from it. I even wrote a journal article on this, “Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis that Greenhouse Warming is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity.”  This paper got quite a bit of play in the blogosphere upon its publication in Aug 2006, and at this time I made my first major foray into the blogosphere, checking in at all the blogs where the paper was being discussed.  See esp realclimate and climateaudit (but I can no longer find the original thread on climateaudit).

At climateaudit, the posters had some questions about statistics and wanted to see the raw data.  I was pretty impressed by the level of discussion, and wondered why I had not come across this blog before over at the realclimate blogroll.  Then I realized that I was on Steve McIntyre’s blog (I had sort of heard of his tiff with Mann, but wasn’t really up on all this at the time).  I was actually having much more fun over at climateaudit than at realclimate, and I thought it made much more sense to spend time at climateaudit rather than to preach to the converted at realclimate.    Back in 2006 spending time at climateaudit was pretty rough sport (it wasn’t really moderated at the time).  When I first started spending time over there, the warmist blogs thought it was really funny, and encouraged me to give ‘em hell.

I was continuing my overall thinking on how to better deal with skeptics and increase the credibility and integrity of science.  I gave an invited talk at Fall 2006 AGU meeting, entitled “Falling out of the ivory tower:  Reflections on mixing politics and climate science.” This is where I first started talking about circling the wagons, etc.  I don’t think this was quite what the convenors had in mind when they invited me to give this talk, but at the time I still had pretty solid status as a survivor of vicious political attacks during the hurricane wars and was a heroine for taking down Bill Gray.

When the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report was published in 2007, I joined the consensus in supporting this document as authoritative; I was convinced by the rigors of the process, etc etc.  While I didn’t personally agree with everything in the document (still nagging concerns about the treatment of uncertainty), I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientist says, listen to the IPCC.”  During 2008 and 2009, I became increasingly concerned by the lack of “policy neutrality” by people involved in the IPCC and policies that didn’t make sense to me.  But after all, “don’t trust what one scientist says”, and I continued to substitute the IPCC assessment for my own personal judgment [in my public statements].

November 19, 2009: bucket of cold water #2.  When I first saw the climategate emails, I knew these were real, they confirmed concerns and suspicions that I already had.  After my first essay “On the credibility . . .” posted at climateaudit, I got some emails that asked me to be sensitive to the feelings of the scientists involved.  I said I was a whole lot more worried about the IPCC, in terms of whether it could be saved and whether it should be saved.  I had been willing to substitute the IPCC for my own personal judgment [in public statements], but after reading those emails, the IPCC lost the moral high ground in my opinion.  Not to say that the IPCC science was wrong, but I no longer felt obligated in substituting the IPCC for my own personal judgment.

So the Judith Curry ca 2010 is the same scientist as she was in 2003, but sadder and wiser as a result of the hurricane wars, a public spokesperson on the global warming issue owing to the media attention from the hurricane wars, more broadly knowledgeable about the global warming issue, much more concerned about the integrity of climate science, listening to skeptics, and a blogger (for better or for worse). . .  People really find it hard to believe that I don’t have a policy agenda about climate change/energy (believe me, Roger Pielke Jr has tried very hard to smoke me out as a “stealth advocate”).  Yes, I want clean green energy, economic development and “world peace”.  I have no idea how much climate change should be weighted in these kinds of policy decisions.  I lack the knowledge, wisdom and hubris to think that anything I say or do should be of any consequence to climate/carbon/energy policy.”

54 Responses to “Remarkable Heretic”

  1. Jeff Id said

    If she keeps going, I can quit blogging soon.

  2. kim said

    When you quit substituting the IPCC’s judgment for your own about climate, I knew the jig was up. That’s all anyone has to do.

  3. Brian H said

    I’d certainly like her response to the Iconoclast comment I referenced elsewhere!

    After twenty years of study, and as expert reviewer to the IPCC from the very beginning , I can only conclude that the whole affair is a gigantic fraud

  4. Pops said

    There was quite a bit on climateAudit about the IPCC process and how it was biased toward AGW. It’s curious that Dr. Curry didn’t pick up on that, having been “convinced by the rigor of the process.” I’m pretty much appalled by how the process was implemented.

  5. David Jay said

    …I can quit blogging soon

    Or at least to back to politics 😉

  6. E O'Connor said

    Thank you Judith Curry for this insight of how and why you began to change your your views.

    Now, with this hindsight, there is new perspective of your comments on various blogs in the past year.

    I wish the editors of the EDGE and TED websites would pick up on this remarkable post.

  7. Jeff Id said

    #6, O’Connor — Title changed. thanks.

  8. artwest said

    Congratulations to Judith Curry for being able to radically re-examine her own preconceptions. That’s more than most people can manage even on far less important matters.

    Dr Curry confirms, what I’ve said before when people have raised the “XX% of scientists believe” nonsense – that even she wasn’t any kind of expert on climate science in general, even though she was considered one of the major players, at least outside the inner cabal.
    Most scientists, of course, don’t have anything to do with climatology at all and most of the rest only have experience with a tiny corner of related science.
    I suspect that most scientists have less knowledge of CAGW than the average sceptic because the average sceptic is likely to have at least read up on the subject in order to arrive at an unfashionable opinion whereas the average scientist has simply assumed, like Judith Curry did, that the IPCC is right.

  9. Brian H said

    Re: artwest (Oct 25 22:48), Somewhere in a lecture Lindzen scoffs at the ‘000s figure. He says the climate science community is very small, a few dozen or so. He should know, as the MIT’s top prof. in the field!

  10. Pat Frank said

    Doesn’t anybody want to question this? Judy: “on September 14, 2005, … I participated in a press conference on our forthcoming paper that described a substantial increase in the global number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes

    What other branch of science holds press conference to announce results? Maybe in high energy physics following some breakthrough at CERN or Fermilab. Maybe an important new cure.

    But all of that is episodic. It’s only in climate science that scientists regularly hold press conferences to announce some fairly ordinary result. It’s the context of human-caused global warming that fuels the media frenzy, and the context of human-caused global warming that fuels the self-promotional confidence of climate scientists.

    I’m presently overthrowing a dominant theory in my field. It would never occur to me to have a press conference announcing my latest results. None of my colleagues have ever had press conferences for their often very interesting results. I work at Stanford, which regularly issues press releases about some new results, but actual press conferences about them are rare. Scientists don’t call them — and probably don’t even think to call them — and the media pay merely routine attention.

    And yet, Judy Curry decides to have a press conference about results concerning category 4 and 5 hurricanes. That wasn’t an innocent decision. It was a decision made with confidence, to exploit the public ideological fever of AGW, with clear and positive professional ramifications.

    Climate scientists, far too many of them, are drunk on fame and publicity. And Judy was right into the mix of it. Look at this quote in a story from June 20, 2006, in the Charleston, SC, Post and Courier: “More hurricanes and worse hurricanes making landfall in South Carolina are not far ahead, a leading climate scientist warned Monday, because sea temperatures are rising as humans continue to burn fossil fuels. (emphasis added)

    “”There’s been a lot of debate in the media. Unfortunately, the public debate has diverged from the scientific debate,” said Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Scientists no longer are debating whether global warming is occurring or that sea temperatures are rising, she said. They are debating whether warming is a direct cause of hurricanes becoming more intense.

    “Curry told a skeptical audience of about 50 area educators and professionals that a 5-degree Fahrenheit rise in sea temperatures is well within range over the next century.

    And so on. Judy was participating in the glories of media exposure, and that’s what the 2005 press conference was all about. It wasn’t that she was just yielding to the IPCC view in her public statements. Judy was actively promoting the hysteria.

    In her July 20, 2006 testimony before Congress (Committee on House Government Reform), Judy described her journey from skeptic to proponent of greenhouse gas warming, telling the committee that, “The evidence that greenhouse warming has caused an increase in tropical sea surface temperature is substantial.”

    But the “evidence” depended entirely on climate model projections of the greenhouse effects of CO2. And it was clear in 2005 that climate models had no predictive value. Looking at the attribution data and the GCM tests in the 3Ar would have told anyone that. Judy promoted AGW hysteria without having done her homework. Her acceptance of the ‘many scientists vs. one scientist’ was uncritical; acceptance of an argument from authority. Is that what a scientist does in a hotly politicized field?

    Nonetheless, in her Congressional testimony, Judy decried, “The tendency of a large number of forecast meteorologists (including TV meteorologists) to deny global warming and in particular the possibility of a link between increasing hurricane intensity and global warming.

    If she had any private doubts, Judy never expressed them where they’d do any good. And in the 2006 WSJ article linked above, she said of Bill Gray that he suffered from “brain fossilization” for daring to contradict her and anyway that, “Nobody except a few groupies wants to hear what [Bill Gray] has to say.” Hardly the stuff of inner doubts and scientific dispassion.

    So, I’m very happy to see Judy finally qualify her position. But it seems to me that she didn’t take the high road getting there.

  11. Brian H said

    As for the large damaging landfall storms, we’ve just passed 750 days without one. There’s a website taking bets on making it to 1000!

    I’ve seen it opined by other ‘sperts that falling temp contrast tropics-poles cuts the total power of weather systems, and hence of major storms. Hisotical records suggest that the LIA had epic destructive storms.

    So I suspect Bill Gray is/was right on.

  12. Pat Frank (October 26, 2010 at 12:08 am)

    We are being too harsh on Professor Curry. If she had not once been an active supporter of the IPCC view, her opinions now would be of little interest.

    “A wise man changes his mind.
    A fool never does.”

    As politicians shifted public tax funds to support research from:

    _a.) Nuclear science to
    _b.) Space science to
    _c.) Environmental sciences.

    They learned to distribute the funds so they got the answers that they wanted: Eliminate individual grants; Pour funds into large research groups where dissent will be eliminated before the results are reported.

    Thus, climatologists didn’t have a chance to figure out the real causes of climate change because they received misinformation about Earth’s heat source from nuclear and space scientists:

    The Sun is a giant ball of H (NOT);
    The Sun’s main source of heat is H-fusion (NOT);
    Solar neutrinos oscillate away before reaching our detectors (NOT).

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  13. Eric Anderson said

    Thanks, Dr. Curry, for the courage to examine your views and go where the facts lead. Hopefully that journey will continue for you, and for all of us.

  14. Rob R said

    Pat Frank,

    I agree with Oliver K Manuel in relation to the first portion of his posting here. On the second portion I have no opinion, as the inner workings of the sun are beyond my experience.

    While Judith Curry may have rather unwisely taken advantage of an opportunity a few years ago she seems to have learned from it that publicity has its perils. It may turn out to be for the best in the end. My view is that her experience of what ensued has toughened her while at the same time introducing a measure of humility and flexibility.

    She appears to have become more open-minded as time has advanced. You should ask how many other senior climate researchers have had been audacious enough to invite Steve McIntyre into the Lions Den (Georgia Tech in her case) to give a presentation in front of staff and impressionable students?

    Judith is now in a position that few of her peers will be able to reach any time soon. She has seen how corrupt the IPCC process can be, is less likely to take the consensus position at face value and is in a position where she can speak out on aspects of the science that don’t hold up to close scrutiny. This position is positive for the progress of real science. I say it is positive even in the knowledge that she is not particularly skeptical on core aspects of the IPCC stance on climate science.

  15. Brian H said

    Edit #11: “Historical records”, not “Hisotical records”. ;p

  16. anna v said

    Re: Pat Frank (Oct 26 00:08),

    You are being a bit harsh on her description of the scenery on the road to Damascus.

    I have seen the same mentality, group think, in my discipline, which is particle physics. It is the human tendency to follow the group when in doubt. Once a group of about 50 people decided enthusiastically to endorse a “new resonance” and announce it to the world. The same 50 people turned on the researcher when it could not be verified by other experiments.The data did not change, it must be still there in some archive. The methodology created a four sigma resonance out of the background, and nobody checked or had questioned it, it seemed so reasonable and attractive.

    The difference with climatology is that they are in the public eye because of the huge investment in $$$$ and the huge impact on everyday life decisions the research has. “Sorry, wrong conclusions” is not enough when those conclusions ask the western world to committ economic hara kiri and leave the third world to starve in the millions.

  17. Hoi Polloi said

    @Pat Frank, that’s really unfair to Dr.Curry, she clearly describes her path to Canossa. One can only have the highest respect for her personal integrity and immense courage to escape the save but corrupt enviroment of climatology, knowing she’ll be chased by a pack of jackals who will not stop until they’ve ripped her apart.

  18. E O'Connor said

    Don’t jump on Pat Frank. The issues raised are valid and maybe one day Judith will address these.

    Time will reveal the depth of her changed attitude and what she now takes on trust.

    I shouldn’t be surprised if again, the servile Hounds of Climate Disruption Heaven are straining at the leash to hunt her soul.

    It will be interesting to observe the tactics by their masters to counter or reel in this lost soul.

  19. curryja said

    #10 Pat Frank, it was not our decision to hold the press conference, it was the AAAS. There were hundreds of reporters participating, recall this was a few weeks after hurricane katrina. We were deluged.

  20. Jason Calley said

    Dr. Curry says: “What I want is for the climate science community to shift gears and get back to doing science, and return to an environment where debate over the science is the spice of academic life.”

    If that is an honest and sincere statement (and I think it probably is) then all is forgiven. We sometime forget that science is hard; it is simple to explain the process, but difficult to do. The main thing that makes it so difficult is the absolute need to reign in our prejudices and preconceptions on what we think is true. We must allow ourselves to be slaves to the data, no matter where that data leads. Saddly, the monkey-wiring in us pushes us to follow the troop, not the data.

    Being a monkey is easy. Being a scientist is difficult. Good luck to you, Dr. Curry!

  21. Frank K. said

    Pat Frank said
    October 26, 2010 at 12:08 am

    “Climate scientists, far too many of them, are drunk on fame and publicity.”

    Thank you, Pat Frank, for succinctly expressing what I feel is one of the most pervasive problems in climate science today (particularly at one institution that begins with “GI” and ends in “SS”). One need look no further than the back patting and self righteousness that occurred after the Al Gore (heh) and the IPCC won the Nobel Prize in Physics the Nobel Peace Prize.

  22. stan said

    I have made the point repeatedly that the credibility of climate science “experts” has been severely damaged because so many did the same thing Dr. Curry did. We constantly hear that we should defer to the scientists because they are the experts and they “know”. Of course, they didn’t know. What makes her different is that she has finally decided to admit her previous failure and is working hard to try to re-establish credibility with the public.

    What Dr. Curry didn’t appreciate at the time (and I assume she deeply regrets now), is that she was putting her own credibility on the line when she mouthed the IPCC line. People who listened to her assumed that she had investigated the science. She hadn’t. I understand that she thought she could trust that the IPCC process had integrity. In doing so, she took a risk. It’s likely that she didn’t appreciate how much risk she was taking. But that’s how it works. When you claim expert status and seek to persuade the public, the public has a right to assume that you know whereof you speak. It’s no defense later to try to explain that you really were an ignorant dupe of others. Your credibility as an expert has been shredded. The public doesn’t have any need for experts who turn out to be ignorant dupes. We can handle that role without any expert help. The whole point of relying on “experts” is to avoid that situation.

    In Dr. Curry’s defense, she probably just fell into the mindset which is so prevalent in climate science. They don’t check their instruments (and apparently never even thought about it). They don’t replicate anyone else’s studies. They don’t even audit them. They don’t insist on quality control of the databases. They don’t insist on transparency. They don’t get any stats help from stats experts or software help from software pros. Quality just doesn’t seem to have ever been a concern. When everyone in the field accepts at face value every claim made by anyone else, trusting the IPCC might have seemed to be the natural thing to do.

    But credibility got shredded nonetheless. With apologies to her, this line from Animal House seems apropos:

  23. Steve Fitzpatrick said


    Should you return: Your efforts to deconvolute politics from climate science, while certainly laudable, strikes me as tilting at windmills. I applaud your efforts, but I fear that those who are politically dedicated to a specific policy outcome are not interested in a rational discussion, and will never accept anything less than relgeous dedication

  24. Kenneth Fritsch said

    First I want to be clear that Judith Curry deserves credit for showing up at skeptic oriented blogs and not disappearing the moment she gets some push back. Some of her colleagues have been hesitant to appear and quick to disappear. But when all is said and done I would much rather have the discussions with her be based on a climate paper of common interest than to rehash the politics, policies and advocacies involved in AGW and potential mitigations.

    Curry is more than capable of speaking for herself, but in my view she remains motivated to work in the advocacy part of climate science and I believe sincerely wants to limit the suspected damage done by climategate and some of the IPCC claims.

    I doubt very much that I will learn much from Curry in the arenas of politics and advocacy, but, on the other hand, I have and can learn much about climate science when the discussion is focused on her areas of expertise. What a pleasant change it was to have Gavin Schmidt appear here, sans snark, and have a conversation at this blog with AM.

  25. #22 Stan: “What Dr. Curry didn’t appreciate at the time (and I assume she deeply regrets now), is that she was putting her own credibility on the line when she mouthed the IPCC line. People who listened to her assumed that she had investigated the science. She hadn’t. I understand that she thought she could trust that the IPCC process had integrity.”

    Unfortunately, Stan, the corruption of science extends far beyond the boarders of climatology. Almost every astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, nuclear and solar scientist puts their own credibility on the line daily when they mouth the SSM line [Standard Solar Model], ignore experimental observations that directly falsify the SSM [1,2], and accept federal research funds from NASA, DOE, NSF, etc. for their services.

    Former President Eisenhower warned of this danger in 1961: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    1. “Scientific Genesis: The origin of the Solar System”

    2. “Solar abundances of the elements from neutron-capture cross sections”

    Click to access LunarAbstract.pdf

  26. BarryW said

    Heresy is not hated in climate science but apostasy will bring the full anger of the believers down on you.

  27. Andrew said

    The interesting thing about being called a “heretic” is the self-styling of “warmers” as backers of a religious Dogma. Not something you’d think they’d want to be compared to, yet they self-consciously refer to themselves, if indirectly, in that manner.

    Well, with all due respect to Dr Curry, and I certainly wish her well against the inquisition an apostate inevitably faces, I think that the implication of the piece, that Dr Curry is “apolitical” and that Dr Curry has never played the role of “stealth advocate” in the words of RP Jr, is pretty obviously false. Not only does the cliche that as a human being she must be somewhat political, even if not fully consciously, apply, but well, if you followed her comments on climate audit regularly you know Dr Curry invented a monster of her own: The Dreaded Limbaugh Monster! Using his Evil Hypnotic Powers to raise an Army of Anti-science Ditto-heads to Destroy Researchers Everywhere!


  28. Bob B said

    I don’t know if any of you have taken this poll? I of course voted Dr Curry as a peacemaker and overall through multiple other questions,the state of climate science as being bad.

  29. Derek said

    I have read the article, I am impressed.
    As Jeff Id says, it is a perfect air vent piece.

    Dr. Judith Curry, as Oliver K. Manuel said most aptly,
    ” A wise man changes his mind.
    A fool never does ”

    Well, apart from the obvious man / woman bit.

    You are now way ahead of many of your piers, and “superiors”..
    The main clue is the bracketed, “in public statements” – a bit naive possibly.

    I sincerely hope your blog success, but doubt I’ll post there for some time yet.
    A mixed blessing I hope you’ll agree.

  30. J said

    Dr. Curry is a true scientist. No doubt about that.

  31. steven Mosher said

    Having read Dr. Curry’s account of the press conference and exchanged email about it ( a few months back) I would trust that Pat can correct himself.

  32. John F. Pittman said

    I also wonder if Pat is wrong, not because he is wrong, but is not right about the right important thing.

    That would be consistancy. Not in beliefs, but in what I would call passion. I remember the dousing several sent towards her for using the word denier. Yet she came back. When engaged at RC on HSI, she took hits. Yet she came back.

    I would say that she has shown consistancy in serious conversation in her spare time (if such actually exists). She has not always been right. But, someone correct me if I missed this, she has not been afraid to either tell what she thinks, admit things she may have erred in (though perhaps not as a certain 3rd person rabbit might like), and tries to engage. Yet she is not a rollover. She maintains a certain balance. It is not the balance I like for myself, but then one of the things I dislike about “concensus” is the one “true” answer approach. I don’t think such is realizable for people in general, and for myself in particular.

    So, even though I thought the same as Pat did, when those events occurred, I think well of Dr. Curry, now. I was especially impressed when she invited Steve McI to Ga Tech. That does not mean agreement, nor should it be demanded. What I think she helps is the concept I think of as an honest intellectual argument (though I like the word fight, myself).

    I think this fight is neccesary and always has been necessary for a cultural change. If AGW proponents want to change our culture, this open fight has to occur. They have tried concensus, pre-emptive strike, POV politics, closed invitation fighting, rewording, and restaking, selling the easy now but pay much later, and other tactics. Yet, in many ways we are no closer than we were a decade ago, if action is the goal.

    I think she is entitled to her POV.

  33. Brian H said

    Apparently even JC thought the remit of the IPCC was to do good science, not prepare justifications for government climate action. What’s outrageous is how the IPCC exploited and cashed in on that widespread misapprehension.

  34. LearDog said

    I really appreciate the cojones it takes to stand up to the slings and arrows of a prior position (eg., Pat) for a newly discovered reality. I don’t think we should decry it – rather we should applaud and support it.

    Dr Curry is a target these days because she is absolutely DRIPPING in credibility. Precisely because of her past associations.

  35. TGSG said

    Bravo..Brava? to Dr. Curry! taking enormous steps in the right direction she is.

    I loved this line in her above statement “So how are things going for you lately?”

    Seems things are going better for her than for them and I applaud her for it.

  36. Pat Frank said

    #19, Judy, no one forced you personally to participate in that press conference.

    Honestly, I’m really, really glad you have gotten your head above water on the issue of the IPCC brand-X science. I also honor the internal challenge you met to turn around and question your own strongly held position. That was especially courageous in light of your strong public support of your prior position, and in light of the criticism you must have known you’d get from many colleagues; not to mention collaborators.

    But you didn’t just ‘substitute IPCC judgment for your own in your public statements.’ Your public statements weren’t of a neutral sort, such as: ‘I follow the IPCC view that human-produced CO2 is dangerously warming the atmosphere.’

    You were an outspoken partisan, given to actively stoking irrational fears, publicly making alarming connections between CO2 and hurricanes that were scientifically unfounded (because climate models were and remain non-predictive), and even descending to personal attack.

    So, I do honor your unique courage in standing up for your own scientific integrity, and for the integrity of science. You have done what almost no one else among the supporters of the IPCC could bring themselves to do. Three very sincere ‘Huzzah!s’ to you, and I mean that. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! 🙂

    But I cannot put aside all that came before. I think your description of your stance at that time is composed to be far too bland. Maybe some think I’m unkind in stating so (Hoi Polloi, Oliver Manual), but I presently disagree and there it is.

    Looking deep into the 3AR, one can find that the disparity between the measured and GCM predicted TOA IR flux was a good (+/-)10 W/m^2. GCMs couldn’t even get the energy balance right, and still can’t (see 4AR Figure S8.5). That error alone is (+/-)4x more than the forcing due to all the greenhouse gases. Who has ever propagated that error through the time steps of a GCM projection? You have a Ph.D. in Geophysics. How did such uncertainties in the science escape you?

    Did you ever read the paper by Soon, Baliunas, Idso, Kondratyev, and Posmentier (2001) “Modeling Climatic Effects of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Unknowns and Uncertainties” Climate Research 18, 259-275? They didn’t invent the huge GCM uncertainties in W/m^2 that they reported. Why didn’t that give you pause by 2002?

    The scientific method is that theory gives meaning to results by way of first principles prediction, and results test the predictions of theory. The entire meaning of your hurricane analyses depended on the predictive success of GCMs, because they represent the predictive statements of the physical theory of climate. And GCMs have no valid predictive success.

    I’m merely a chemist, and that became obvious to me on reading the climate literature, just as it became obvious to others such as Anna V (who actually understands the deep physics), and just as Dick Lindzen and other highly qualified climate scientists such as Henk Tennekes and Roger Pielke Sr. (and William Gray for that matter) have been convincingly arguing for more than 10 years.

    I think climate physics is beautiful. And I think those promoting AGW have unforgivably debased it. Not to mention have terribly threatened the public perception of the integrity of all the rest of science.

    So, Judy, I do admire you for your turn about, for what you’re doing, and as John Pittman reminds us, for inviting Steve McIntyre to GA Tech over the angry shouts of many colleagues.

    But I need some understanding about what you did and didn’t do, and bland statements about being duped and about blindly following authority don’t cut it for a scientist. You are trained in the field. The information that the science is not there has been readily available for 10 years — 20 years really. And yet, it took a political act, not a scientific investigation, to catch your attention and impact your mind about the science. How did that happen?

    Please don’t feel compelled to answer here, Judy. In some sense, I’m just venting long held questions. But maybe my questions can be thinking points.

    #16 Anna V, I fully take your point, Anna. And yet, other examples of acts of willfully corrosive negligence do not forgive acts of willfully corrosive negligence, do they?

    #21, Frank K, you’re welcome.

    #31, Steven Mosher — correct myself about what, Steve?

  37. Brian H said

    Judea Perl on scientific ethics and human freedom.

    Ravetz and other post-normalists hate this. I have it on direct authority.

  38. woodNfish said

    While I applaud Dr. Curry’s attempts to bring actual science back into the climate junk-science religion, statements like the one below prove that she has a way to go yet:

    And because of the high relevance of our field, we need to figure out how to provide the best possible scientific information and assessment of uncertainties.

    There is absolutely nothing highly relevant about climate junk-science. It is a grossly over rated and unimportant field that gets too much attention and should be completely defunded. Outside of idle curiosity, it has no value at all.

  39. stan said

    Relevance and value are not synonyms. Marxism is junk, but you would have a hard time telling the 100 million dead, and billions more who were tortured, repressed or threatened by regimes spouting its tenets that it wasn’t relevant.

    As long as governments seriously contemplate reordering the world economy and restricting our freedoms on the basis of climate “science”, that junk is relevant.

  40. Ecoeng said

    “A brief history of this publication is as follows. As early as in 2002 we noted that the ontogenetic growth model of Geoffrey West and Jim Brown’s group (Gillooly et al. 2001, Nature) violates the energy conservation law. A relevant comment of ours was submitted to and rejected by Nature, then to and by Ecology Letters, due to the obvious reason that the topic of energy (non)-conservation cannot compete for space and the readers’ attention with the other more important issues normally covered by the two journals. Two years later the critique was ultimately published in Ecological Modelling. In the same 2004 we also published a short comment in Ecology on Brown et al.’s MacArthur Award paper. There we cited the critique as “in press” and were explicit about our concerns that energy should be conserved at all times. Still that did not evoke any reaction from the criticized group. In 2006 the group published a paper in Functional Ecology (West et al. 2006) where, without citing our work, they explicitly refuted our concern about their incorrect interpretation of Em (energy to build 1 g biomatter) insisting that it is equal to the energy content of biomatter and can be easily measured.

    It took another four years of persistent pressure from our side that in 2008 in American Naturalist this group explicitly admitted the error (Moses et al. 2008) and cited our critique. At the same time in their latest model’s version published in Science (Hou et al. 2008) the group admitted that the original model was incorrect almost literally in our own words, but did not cite our critique as the source where the error was pointed out. Instead, they cited their own incorrect model (ref. 7 in Hou et al.). Since we found the renewed model incorrect as well, we submitted our Comment to Science. Using this opportunity, in the cover letter we also asked the Editors for a corrigendum, implying that here we might be dealing with a misprint rather than an intellectual expropriation, however, to no effect. Nevertheless, adhering to the spirit of open scientific discussion, Science published our above Comment.

    What is it all about? Think that in modern scientific society it took six years for an error in a biological model to be admitted. It was an error though that related to the authorities and reputations of a visible and influential group of scientists….”

    Sooner or later there is going to have to be a consensus that there is an awful lot of gangrenous flesh in the corpus of post-modernist Western science.

    That will be when every journal gets forced onto the Internet and the days remaining for all the little mutual back-slapping boys clubs start to be numbered.

  41. woodNfish said

    39. Stan: I am certain that Dr. Curry did not mean relevant in the same way as you mean it. She may be a heretic to alarmists, but she still thinks global warming is real and may be catastrophic.

  42. Brian H said

    Mebbe so, mebbe no. She states that her opinion was “delegated” to the IPCC’s authority, which she now entirely discounts. And she seems to actually understand that uncertainty is another word for ignorance.

    Come to think of it, much clarity would be contributed to the debate if “uncertainty factor” was called “ignorance factor”. So, e.g., “observations fall within the ignorance box of this model”.


  43. sleeper said

    Re: Pat Frank (Oct 27 03:35),
    Thanks for putting my feelings about the state of climate science into words more succinctly than I could ever manage. IMO, climatology’s starting point has such huge uncertainty that when climatologists are able to “narrow” down the uncertainties to levels that are laughable in other scientific disciplines, they think they have it “nailed.” It seems that Dr. Curry is slowly but surely coming to terms with this over-exuberance.

  44. Pat Frank said

    #43, Sleeper, the entire corpus of AGW science, so-called, rests on willful scientific negligence; most particularly the negligence of uncertainty. When that’s taken into account, the way it is in other branches of physical science, the basis for alarm dissolves into a profound ambiguity.

  45. Brian H said

    Re: Pat Frank (Oct 31 03:01),
    Agree; motivated venal willful scientific negligence. [But a word quibble: that would be “neglect of uncertainty”; you can’t “negligent” something! It’s not a verb.]

  46. Pat Frank said

    #45, Brian H, with the connivance of scientists there is a negligence of uncertainty. One can be negligent but practice negligence. I don’t see the grammatical problem.

  47. Brian H said

    Semantically and syntactically “negligence of” a negative activity is awkward. Negligence with respect to, or negligence concerning proper treatment of, perhaps. “Negligence of” a person or group being negligent is OK. “The negligence of the police in allowing the killer to escape.” The root verb, “neglect”, also forms a direct noun use, so “neglect of” is suitable.
    Negligence means “the breach of a duty of care”, and applies to specific affirmative actions required. “Uncertainty” is not one of those.

  48. Pat Frank said

    #47, Brian H, attention to “uncertainty” is indeed a duty of care in experimental science. You’re shifting the ground of your argument.

  49. Brian H said

    Negligence of “paying attention to uncertainty” is certainly a valid construction. But “uncertainty” is not a duty. “Paying attention” to it is.

  50. sleeper said

    I suppose you can take solace in the fact that I knew what you meant. Brian, this is a science blog. There are probably some grammar blogs out there suffering from neglect.

  51. Pat Frank said

    #50, Sleeper, thank-you. I never doubted that for a second.

    #49, Brian H, “paying attention” has no meaning apart from its contextual object. Despite an attachment to semantics, you sacrifice meaning to a defense of your argument.

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