Science, Unsettled

A study that claimed that the oceans are warming 60% faster than the IPCC’s prediction turns out to have had a bit of an issue:

“The findings of the … paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake.

“When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there,” he said. “We’re grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly.”

Keeling said they have since redone the calculations, finding the ocean is still likely warmer than the estimate used by the IPCC. However, that increase in heat has a larger range of probability than initially thought — between 10 percent and 70 percent, as other studies have already found.

“Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.”

A correction has been submitted to the journal Nature.

Of course, to the crowd that thinks “I Heart Neil DeGrasse Tyson” is “science”, the narrative is already set.

53 thoughts on “Science, Unsettled

  1. This is a pattern with the Climanistas.

    An alarmist study will be published in a “reputable”, “peer-reviewed” journal, such as Nature. It’s summary is then trumpeted in banner headlines by The NYT, Washington Post, Miami Herald, The Strib and (among others) The Guardian.

    Within hours, the study will be utterly demolished by a hand-full of critics, such as Nic Lewis or Steven McIntyre.

    Two weeks later, the MSM will cover the error, beneath the fold on page 31, under the heading, SCIENCE IS SELF-CORRECTING, SEE HOW IT WORKS!

    The clearest case of this was Gergis et al 2012, a paper that was heralded around the world – despite its legs being kicked out from under it a mere four hours after publication.

  2. Climate heretics Nic Lewis and Judith Curry discovered and publicized the error.
    The SD Union-Tribune makes a common mistake in the article: “According to the most recent IPCC report, climate emissions need to be cut by 20 percent by 2030 and then zeroed out by 2075 to keep warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.”

    The IPCC report does not say this. The IPCC, a document assembled by politicy makers, not scientists, speaks of “confidence levels.” It does not use the absolute terms that journalists and climate panic spreaders use.

  3. That researchers have found errors and are revising their studies conclusions does not invalidate scientific methodology but rather confirms it and shows why the overall results it produces are called “knowledge” and not “beliefs”.

    Part of the publishing is so the wider scientific community can review and point out flaws. That’s what happened here.

  4. The researchers did not find their errors, Emery. AGW critics found them.
    Bad science is what you get when you make science a matter of consensus rather than data.

  5. Yes, those who think science is like religion will assume that mistakes mean science is bad. The actual conclusion should be that scientists test and correct their conclusions, as well as those of others., and admit when they are wrong.

    And in the end, the study confirms global warming and the rate there is, which is faster, but not as fast as feared.

  6. Emery, the purpose of “peer-review” is to catch obvious errors.

    When it fails to catch an error, even one that is glaringly obvious in the paper’s abstract, or when it fails to catch an error that is found four hours after publication – one must conclude that this branch of science has a systemic problem.

    So what is the systemic problem?

    The answer is obvious, the purpose of most “climate science” and most “climate journals” is to further a public narrative, not to advance science.

  7. That’s the beauty of science. You postulate and try to prove a thesis. And others examine
    it to find flaws. If it is wrong you admit it and correct it.

  8. Emery is describing the scientific method that was invented long ago by privileged white men in a patriarchal society. It’s obsolete.

    In America today, science is done by the Red Queen method: sentence first, verdict afterward. We know the result we want to see, it’s just a matter of manipulating the data and massaging the equations to make it all work out so the grant money keeps flowing.

    If only annoying nit-pickers didn’t check our math . . .

  9. What repeatable experiments underlie AW theory, Emery?
    For the IPCC’s report to be taken seriously, you have to prove that global warming is occurring, and that it is a long term trend, and that this trend can be reduced or eliminated, and that the cost of reducing or eliminating this trend is lower than the cost of allowing it to continue.
    That is a mighty tall mountain to climb, and it doesn’t involve a lot of science. It involves a lot of speculation.

  10. It’s a beautiful grift, Greg, as evidenced by Mr. Science’s evasive responses when compared to the very first paragraph of the quoted article.

  11. JD: I don’t think scientific literacy has changed much. Unfortunately, what has changed is that now the average American is sure they know much more than they really do.

  12. I just cant believe a MSM outlet, (Although calling my hometown paper a MSM outlet is INCREDIBLY GENEROUS) reported this. But it wont get far because it doesnt fit the narrative.

  13. That’s the beauty of science. You postulate and try to prove a thesis. And others examine it to find flaws. If it is wrong you admit it and correct it.

    But then there is the beauty of science journalism. You postulate something that confirms the biases of science writers. They then trumpet your findings to the world. If it is wrong, you quietly admit it then postulate another thing that confirms the biases of science writers.

    The real beauty of it is that you, as a scientist, you never have to be anywhere near right but the world of academia will bestow tenure and accolades upon you and between your televised appearances, you can charge $25,000 a pop for speaking fees.

    You do MANN.

  14. Because “peer review” never really worked for anything other than gate-keeping – the concept has a new name, it is now called: “pal-review”.

  15. NW: You mean we’re jumping from the 22nd floor instead of the 35th? What a relief!

    Greg: This is an excellent example of how science is supposed to work. The scientific community is the ultimate “reviewer” of published work, and scientists are constantly analyzing published work to see if it makes sense and if the conclusions that are drawn are supported by the data.

    If anything, the fact that errors were quickly uncovered and corrected should make the lay public feel much more secure about scientific conclusions that are robust and have withstood years of analysis and vetting.

    Unfortunately, there will be many who use this as an opportunity to claim that scientists “make mistakes”. Of course they do. And they are, in the fullness of time, corrected by other careful scientists, not people with political agendas who refuse to deal with facts.

  16. Really, the thing that troubles me most about the debate is how much the “consensus crowd” uses genetic fallacies. When someone comes out against the IPCC consensus, they immediately start saying the person is in thrall to the oil companies.

    And of course, if you can’t do basic informal logic, God help you with complicated math or climatology. They give the game away with how they argue.

  17. The Church of Failed Predictions and Data Distortion admitted a mistake, after being peer-reviewed, published in Nature, and breathlessly broadcast around the world by the MSM. They were contacted twice by Lewis, with no response. Only after going public via Curry’s blog did they admit the mistake.

  18. The mistake was glaring. Nature is perhaps the highest ranked science periodical in the world; getting an article accepted by Nature is a career high point for scientists.
    Something is rotten is happening in climate science.

  19. Greg: This is an excellent example of how science is supposed to work. – Emery

    Uh-huh…and I suppose after an innocent man who spent 30 years in jail is finally released on retrial, you would say, “This is an excellent example of how law is supposed to work.”

    When The Innocents Project frees a wrongfully convicted inmate, no one in their right mind suggests that this is the legal system working, instead a wrongful conviction is recognized as a gross failure of the process and a clarion call to revise our criminal procedures.

    Replandy et al is a failure of science, just as a wrongful conviction is failure of the legal system. The purpose of science is not to correct stupid mistakes, that is what peer-review and journal editorial review is for.

    The purpose of the self-correcting mechanism of science is to highlight cases where the scientist got the experiment right but the conclusion wrong – not when they grossly screwed the pooch.

    The fact that you do not know this demonstrates that you know nothing of science or the scientific process, so why do you feel compelled to comment on something that you know absolutely nothing about?

  20. Greg: This is a lesson on the value of science. Science seeks to answer questions about how one or more variables are related to (or affect) other variables. It does not seek to prove anything, which allows scientists to present and publish unbiased results, even those unexpected. Where errors are made or conclusions unwarranted, science corrects itself, mainly through peer review. This is not the case with dogma, experience, ideology, or faith.

    Something tells me you know precisely zero about science. There is no argument more common in science than quibbling over the appropriateness of error bars. When mistakes are made, they are acknowledged and corrected. Imagine if religion and politics worked that way.

  21. One more comment on this…

    Instead of suggesting that the scientific publication process works simply because someone spotted an error, we should be asking how the error got through the process in the first place?

    Who peer-reviewed this piece of crap?

    Who were the editors?

    Does Nature employ fact-checkers?

    Are Nature’s editors and fact-checkers capable of doing mathematics?

    Have the universities where these clowns work reviewed their publication processes?

    How did such a prestigious journal as Nature allow obvious errors like this to appear in print? Hint, this is not the first time a brain-dead climate article blew past review and onto the pages of Nature.

    Lastly, if Replandy et al undercut the “consensus” or the IPCC narrative, does anyone believe that the author would get a pass or that “processes” would not be reviewed?

    This shows how climate science, not science, works.

  22. Greg, you nailed it!

    Sadly, you’re explaining it to someone on an intellectual par with a Chatty Cathy doll. Doesn’t listen, doesn’t learn, simply repeats phrases from The Narrative when the string is pulled.

  23. Greg: All one has to do is look at the shift in the pH of the oceans. Measurements of temperature and sea level now and in the past are complex and subject to greater error than pH, which can be measured anywhere, with very little noise. Determining ocean pH in the past is also more easily arrived at through looking at what rocks were created when, and knowing how pH affects that chemistry. So even if all of the temperature modeling was hooey, changes in the ocean pH would still be a deeply serious problem. And that is why we need to cut down on the amount of hydrocarbons we convert to CO2 for the production of energy.

  24. And Emery has folded his tent.

    Here are a few quotes from the original article about the incorrect Scripps-Princeton research:
    Study: Oceans warming faster than anticipated giving humanity even less time to stave off worst impacts of climate change
    . . .
    The world’s oceans may be heating up faster than previously thought — meaning the planet could have even less time to avoid catastrophic global warming than predicted just weeks ago by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    . . .
    “The ocean warmed more than we thought, and that has serious implications for future policy,” said Laure Resplandy, a researcher at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute who coauthored the report. “This is definitely something that should and will be taken into account in the next report.”
    . . .
    The new report found that emissions levels in coming decades would need to be 25 percent lower than laid out by the IPCC to keep warming under that 2 degree cap.

    A major screwup, apparently caused by bad computer code that alculated averages incorrectly. An obvious error — the guy who found the error noticed on a first read that the results of an average were intuitively incorrect.
    The method the researchers used to calculate ocean temp was good, the data was good, the researchers’ math was bad, and it made it through peer review and was published in the first or second most prestigious scientific periodical in the world. Something is broken in climate science.
    God only knows what kind of economic damage would have been done if the incorrect number was used to form public policy.

  25. Look at the shift of PH level of the oceans

    Where (geographically)?

    At what depth?

    In other words, you have no idea what you are talking about, rather you are repeating something you read or heard from the popular media.

    I am not sure why you are doing this, I assume that you assume that you know where I am coming from.

    You do not.

  26. The research is interesting, even after the correction. What the Scripps-Princeton researchers were doing was trying out a new, cheaper method of estimating global ocean temp. The current method is to use a constellation of thousands of submersible buoys called “Argos.” The Scripps-Princeton researchers used the gasses emitted from the ocean surface as a proxy for directly measuring water temperature.
    If they were successful, a lot of money might be saved. Gathering gas samples from the ocean’s surface has got to be cheaper than running Argos.
    What they found was that their method showed greater warming than Argos. That should have been a red flag, it would mean that the Argos data was unreliable. After the computational error was corrected, the Scripps-Princeton method nearly matched the Argos data. This might merit an article in Nature. Science runs on money, the money you save by retiring or degrading Argos in favor of the Scripps-Princeton method of measuring ocean temps can be on other science (the entire purpose of the science industry is to input money & output peer-reviewed articles in journals like Nature.
    If the error had gone the other way, if the Scripps-Princeton method had shown significantly less rise in ocean temps than Argos, it is doubtful that the incorrect data would have seen the light of day. The researchers would have decided to reexamine their methodology & calculations, and would have found the error themselves.
    This is not the way science is supposed to work, you should not have a results bias.

  27. I would like to give MBerg credit for this timely column on what is sure to be this century’s overriding public policy issue.

  28. Hey Emery,

    The way the air traffic control system works is: a controller assigns a runway and others examine the assignment to find flaws. If it is wrong the controller admit it and correct it.

    Here is a wonderful example of the beauty of air traffic control.

    A Delta plane bound for Detroit with more than 200 people on board was in the middle of a high-speed takeoff on Tuesday morning when a Japan Airlines plane entered the runway at the other end. Quickly, the Delta pilot slammed on the brakes. According to passengers, before the plane was brought to a halting stop, its nose had already started to lift off the ground.

    The pilot hit the brakes…..see, the system is self-correcting. It works!

    So since the system is proven to work here, there is no need for the FAA to get involved, or a Stand-down implemented to review air traffic control procedures or pilot training, or even pilot certification – all we need to do is quote some lame talking-point from a left-wing website to assure the flying public that there is nothing to worry about.

  29. This is not science, this is a case of when the ends justify the means, the objective is headlines.

    Emery, at least be honest and admit that this is a gross failure of both the peer-review and media editorial process – and it is not the first, nor the last because both peer-review and the editorial process of scientific journals is utterly bankrupt – and has been for a long time.

    The retraction rate of major, popular scientific journals is abysmal and Nature is one of the worst. Google: Journal Nature, retractions for a rather stunning insight into scientific publishing.

  30. Your doggedness, Greg, in trying to get EI to admit something, anything resembling an error in this regard is laudable. Usually, you just have to be satisfied with after a (final) response. I’m rooting for you, man.

  31. About a decade ago I read an article in Nature‘s sister periodical Science. It was about the measured testosterone level of male & female olympic athletes. Because there was some overlap of testosterone levels on the extreme ends, the researchers stated that differentiating between male and female athletes was an improper use of biology to promote gender stereotyping.
    I remeber reading it and thinking “This is not science.” It was a meta study, the data did not support the conclusion. The paper was clearly written by partisan actors as a means of achieving a political goal — the end of sexually segregated athletics.
    I dropped my subscription and never looked back. Progressivism corrupts all that it touches.

  32. Let’s just if it’s what I wrote or me or just chance that put me in moderation jail. Repeating what I wrote before a few hours ago:

    Your doggedness, Greg, in trying to get EI to admit something, anything resembling an error in this regard is laudable. Usually, you just have to be satisfied with after a (final) response. I’m rooting for you, man.

  33. Your doggedness, Greg, in trying to get EI to admit something, anything resembling an error in this regard is laudable. Usually, you just have to be satisfied with crickets after a (final) response. I’m rooting for you, man.

  34. It’d be interesting to know what it is that set off the moderation machine… no links, no name-calling…

  35. So, let’s try sentence one.

    Your doggedness, Greg, in trying to get EI to admit something, anything resembling an error in this regard is laudable.

  36. Sentence one did set off the machine. Let’s try sentence two.

    Usually, you just have to be satisfied with crickets after a (final) response.

  37. The shorter Emery:
    -Peer reviewed science can not be questioned.
    -When peer reviewed science is proven false by questioning it, that shows that the system works!

  38. Love this Feynman clip:
    Science is really hard because it describes facts about an objective universe, and an objective universe, by definition, is not what we experience (our perception of the universe is not an object). Science does not describe the universe as we desire it to be.
    For those of you who who are not familiar with Feynman’s style, his success comes from his ability to determine what is real data and what is not real data, and in only considering real data when coming to a conclusion. Feynman’s report on the Challenger explosion is a classic and is accessible to laymen:

  39. MP, rather like that old marriage joke. Rule one, the wife is always right. Rule two, in the case where rule one is shown to be wrong, see rule one. Replace the word “wife” with “climate science” – or maybe just “science practiced by liberals”.

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