Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Charles Murray on Climategate: That ain't no way to handle data

Social scientist Charles Murray weighs in on Climategate, indicating, once again, that the people who give all those preachy lectures to the rest of us about respecting science don't respect it themselves:

I don’t know anything about global warming but I know a lot about quantitative data analysis. The little secret—not dirty, exactly, but akin to the reasons it’s best not to watch how sausage is made—is the number of judgments that have to occur during the course of data analysis.

... That brings me to Climategate. The thousands of temperature measurements used to prove long-term warming cannot be treated as-is (“60 degrees Fahrenheit at 6:30 AM, 15 May, 1895, Cotswold station”). That “60” has to be treated in the context of time, date, location, local effects on the background temperature—and on and on—when it is analyzed.

The people who made those adjustments are, we now know, desperately invested in proving the truth of man-made global warming. And they lost the data. That’s more damning than anything else in the emails. If you’re doing important work that you know will be controversial, you don’t lose the data. You document everything you did to the data. You make the data available to others. If you don’t do all of those things, people are right to ignore anything you have published about the data. And that’s what we should do with everything these men have published about man-made global warming.

Read the rest here.

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