Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Positively Stalinist

Positively Stalinist

I've started picking stuff at random from the CRU dump--and I'm astonished at how Stalinist it is. For example, this email from Tom Wigley to Rick Piltz suggesting that someone should work on getting the University of Wisconsin to reassess the granting of a Ph.D. to a scientist who Tom Wigley decided was a problem for their global warming cause:
You may be interesting in this snippet of information about
Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to
open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels,
PhD needs re-assessing?

Michaels' PhD was, I believe, supervised by Reid Bryson. It dealt
with statistical (regression-based) modeling of crop-climate
relationships. In his thesis, Michaels claims that his statistical
model showed that weather/climate variations could explain 95%
of the inter-annual variability in crop yields. Had this been
correct, it would have been a remarkable results. Certainly, it
was at odds with all previous studies of crop-climate relationships,
which generally showed that weather/climate could only explain about
50% of inter-annual yield variability.

How did result come about? The answer is simple. In Michaels'
regressions he included a trend term. This was at the time a common
way to account for the effects of changing technology on yield. It
turns out that the trend term accounts for 90% of the variability,
so that, in Michaels' regressions, weather/climate explains just 5
of the remaining 10%. In other words, Michaels' claim that
weather/climate explains 95% of the variability is completely

Apparently, none of Michaels' thesis examiners noticed this. We
are left with wondering whether this was deliberate misrepresentation
by Michaels, or whether it was simply ignorance.
Now, even if we assume that Wigley is correct, and Michaels' doctoral work was flawed, Wigley is admitting that this was at the time "a common way to account for the effects of changing technology on yield." Wigley claims that Michaels' might have done this out of "ignorance," while also admitting that it was common practice at the time. If it was common practice, then how does it qualify as "ignorance"?

Trying to get someone's Ph.D. revoked under such conditions is positively Stalinist. Those who want to pretend that there's nothing to this scandal are beginning to look positively delusional.

No comments:

Post a Comment