on 6 July 2013
Most interesting book I've read for a long time. As a scientist I was amazed at the shenanigans that have been going on about the climate change debate. This book is very illuminating
on 24 January 2010
This is a superb review of the story of the hockeystick, the temperature reconstruction which was supposed to show that late 20th century temperatures were unprecedented for at least 1,000 years and which was highlighted in the third IPCC report in 2001. What Montford does in this book is take us through Steven McIntyre's attempt to reproduce the original result of Michael Mann and the controversy that followed. His account is very well written and it reads like a detective story. The technical details of the debate are clearly explained even though there is no heavy mathematics or statistics. He tells the story chronologically and gives a good feel of what people on both sides of the debate actually said at the time (and there are plenty of references as well as judicious quotes form all sides. I have been following this debate for the past five years or so. To my mind this gives as clear an account of the debate as we are likely to see. What is now clear is that the Mann conclusions, far from being based on coherent evidence across a geographical widespread range of proxies all showing similar patterns across the Northern hemisphere, were based on a tiny subset of proxies, bristlecone and foxtail pines, from California whose anomalous 20th century growth was almost certainly not caused by high temperature. The apparently broad evidence was an illusion created by an eccentric implementation of a standard statistical technique called principal components analysis. Mann's version of this (which appears to be his own creation) effectively mined his hundred plus proxies for any which had hockeystick shapes and then gave them huge weight in the analysis. What is worrying about all this is not so much the fact that a paper is wrong. It is the failure to admit this when it is perfectly clear that it is wrong. Montford documents the evasions of debate and the consistent misrepresentation of what McIntyre and McKitrick actually said, as well as multiple refusals of access to data and clear descriptions of what had actually been done. By the time of the 2006 Wegman report it was clear that the hockeystick was broken, but it seems too much had been invested in it for people in paleoclimate to admit outright that it was just wrong. Montford tells this story too and documents the shenanigans surrounding the fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. But rather than me attempting to condense the book into a paragraph I urge people to buy and read this excellent account. Note that it was largely written before the emails from CRU became public, though there is a final chapter dealing quickly with them. What is remarkable is how much of the story was already known to people who had been following the debate, but also the lengths people were prepared to go to try and stifle proper debate. For me the cover-up of the story has been a bigger influence in turning me sceptical than the mere fact of the hockey stick being wrong.
on 29 January 2010
You may have seen a few articles about Mr Mann's 'Hockey Stick' graph and the way it underpinned IPCC Reports
and Al Gore's climate propaganda and David Attenborough's climate documentary, Dr Iain Stewarts climate
documentary, our MET office and wonder how this brilliant man became so famous just a year after getting his PhD.
This book tells you how he did it. Considering the amount of worldwide panic he has created and the money
that has been wasted on him and his friend Mr Jones at CRU this book should be treated as EVIDENCE.
This is a dissection of Mann's working methods and the way he has manipulated previously highly
thought of journals and ruined the careers of excellent diligent scientists around the world.
His refusal to be open and honest in his dealings with the scientific community will make your blood boil.
The planet may well be warming.. a bit. It would be surprising if we did not have something to do with it
but hardly enough to cause panic and Carbon Taxation worldwide.
You will have to decide if he did it for money, fame or for deeper reasons associated with UN/IMF/World Bank
ambitions to create a World Government based on Carbon Trading.
It is technical in places, it has to be, but it's worth lighting up a few braincells to get the full picture.
My only disappointment is that the story, as yet, is not over.
on 25 January 2010
The flood of blogs and blog-postings on climate threatens to overwhelm the concerned citizen wanting to deepen his or her understanding of climate topics and policies. This book is just what is required to keep one's head above the surface in at least one corner (?) of this tumultuous deluge. By adding a very helpful and well-written commentary to previously published exchanges of emails between critical commentators and climate conspirators (an emotive description, my choice, but readily justified by the CRU emails and software code exposed towards the end of last year), as well as blogposts and articles published in the regular media. Some more extended sections help explain technicalities, not least statistical concepts such as R2 and PC analysis. An important feature of the book is the naming of names, indeed there is a 'dramatis personae' at the start of the main participants, but others such as the chap who became the conspirators friend by censoring Wikipedia articles on climate (not mentioned in the book) are given passing mention. The roles of the two blogs 'RealClimate' and 'Climate Audit' are well covered. The former was lavishly funded by a leftwing PR agency, the latter was created by self-funded commentators and analysts taking an independent and refreshingly critical view of the statistical and other assertions of what I would be inclined to call 'professional climate alarmists'. All in all, a heartening piece of work. Heartening to see ordinary, albeit talented, people questioning the sermons, admonitions, analyses, and alarums of a remarkably influential coterie of climate scientists and political agitators who managed through the IPCC to have an impact utterly disproportionate to the merits of their case or of their morals.
on 29 December 2012
I purchased the paperback edition some time ago and decided to invest in the Kindle edition as well to keep it hand for reference for countering alarmists' false arguments. This book concentrates on the facts and it's a shame that these facts have been largely ignored by the mainstream media and politicians. The Hockey Stick Illusion should be compulsory reading for all politicians, especially members of the UK and European parliaments.
on 31 January 2010
This is an excellent book not only providing a complete picture but well written. I think it is also an important book as it tells a story of a science discipline gone wrong. The quote from Esper tells it all - "the ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology". THIS IS NOT SCIENCE! This book has provided me with many details which has helped me understand previous papers I had read. For example I never understood how Mann's original papers ever passed the review process as they were so muddled (and I am being kind here) and the NAS report why was it so ambivalent - well now I know! This book is accessible to all especially the layman who is concerned that he/she may not understand complicated science. I think it is important that as many people read it and understand the story of people behaving badly. To quote Einstein "try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value" and McIntyre has certainly shown himself to be a man of value.
on 16 February 2010
This beautifully-written book is a model of clarity. I was gripped by the narrative. The technical expositions were no obstacle at all.
The editing is first class and the organisation of the book is quite exemplary. This book is all that a book should be.
Whatever your position on the climate issue, you will benefit from reading this book.
on 28 January 2010
This book relates the story of the notorious (or still to some, iconic) hockey stick graph which served for so long to popularise the idea of man-made global warming. Starting with a brief summary of the consensus view prior to 1998, and the first incarnation of the hockey stick graph, this book traces the history of the slow unraveling of that same graph. Following an overview of the mathematics behind the reconstruction, and the initial challenges made by 'non scientists' (as the believers would call them), the history of the detailed attempts to check the validity of the hockey stick reconstruction are reviewed. Having followed this as it evolved, it is fascinating to read the key thread of the story which has slowly gathered pace over the past 5 years or so. For anyone who doubts the context of the CRU emails, the first 400 pages provide that context - the final chapter fitting some of the emails into that context. Anyone who claims the emails are being quoted out of context should make sure they have first read the context from both sides (not just the particularly confrontational view proposed by the alarmist or environmentalists who's primary aim seems to have been influencing the policy makers rather than trying to do accurate science). Sadly, there is no answer in this book. it does not prove that there has been no warming for the past 10 years, or that CO2 has no impact on climate. All it does show is that the scientific consensus is built on an optimistic hope that we understand what we are to blame for. In all likelyhood, we are unable to state with any certainty that the globally averaged climate is significantly warmer now than it was 1000 years ago. 20-30 years, yes, but then the measurements just arn't good enough, despite what anyone would like to believe.
This is a complex subject, covered in a good level of detail. I found the style of writing easy to follow, although it does necessarily use a significant number of specialist terms. Although this might be confusing to a reader with a non-scientific background I would expect the story would still be readable even if it is less persuasive. Failing that, these are often general scientific or mathematical terms and their meaning and application can be researched online.
If there was a contest to be the number one emblem of runaway catastrophic man-made climate change, Michael Mann's Hockey Stick graph would be a major contender.
The Hockey Stick Illusion, by Andrew Montford, is about the story behind the graph, and about the efforts of one man in particular - semi-retired Canadian mining consultant Steve McIntyre - to uncover its flaws. Published at the beginning of 2010, it follows the trail of events which started with the publication of Mann's papers MBH98 and MBH99, and with McIntyre's initial 2003 request for information regarding the original datasets for these studies. As the chapters unfold, a complex tale of scientific bungling, whitewash and obfuscation begins to emerge.
Put baldly like that, the book is in danger of sounding just a little dull, but this is actually not the case at all. It reads, if anything, rather like a good detective novel - specifically a police procedural, where the protagonist leaves no stone unturned in his long quest for the truth. Along the way, there's no shortage of statistical detail (which is where the devil is, as they say) but thankfully, for readers who like myself are more comfortable with words than numbers, the author has managed to explain statistical arcana, such as principal components analysis and "short centring", in terms that the layman can readily grasp but without dumbing down the subject matter. Andrew Montford has managed to tell this complex story with a spareness and a clarity that in other circumstances would merit a Crystal Mark from the Plain English Campaign.
This is an important book, I believe, and one which will grow in importance. Not because the Hockey Stick graph is, by itself, crucial to the scientific case for catastrophic man-made global warming - it isn't. The Hockey Stick Illusion is important because it anatomises the modus operandi of the scientists whose work has been used to sound the alarm on global warming and justify the rushing through of ill-conceived changes to the way we all live. And where we would have expected to find scientific rigour and thoroughness, we find (or rather, Steve McIntyre found) laziness, secrecy and corner-cutting instead. It is rather like taking the cover off a shiny new stereo to discover a rat's nest of malfunctioning components and badly soldered wiring underneath.
The Hockey Stick Illusion is a book that I would recommend to anyone interested in the climate debate. Even for those convinced of the case that man-made climate change is a potential threat to civilisation (and this is a category which, I believe, includes Steve McIntyre himself) there is enough here, surely, to lead to some deep misgivings about the way climate science has thus far been conducted. To quote Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and if that evidence is revealed to be sketchy, badly-documented and error-ridden, it does not inspire confidence.
on 4 February 2010
Montford's detailed forensic analysis clearly shows how a single scientist, with a huge ego and a small clique of uncritical supporters, was able to distort the whole, relatively new, field of "climatology".
In clear, unsensational but convincing language, he takes us line by line through the selective use of data, the deliberate abuse of statistical methods and the ruthless manipulation of the scientific peer review process which led to the most visible "poster child" of the global warming movement.
One of the most readable and disturbing books I have read about science.