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The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
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311 of 617 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
For those who are familiar with the various contours of the Hockey Stick debate over the past nine years, there is only one thing that needs to be said in this review: the name 'Montford' does not appear anywhere in Mann's book - not in the main body, not in the footnotes, and not in the index.

For those who haven't a clue what I am talking about, I am referring to the book by Andrew Montford, "The Hockey Stick Illusion" (HSI). Montford's work presents the alternative perspective on the so-called Hockey Stick War, a work that came out in the wake of Climategate 1. He carefully and extensively documents all of the minutiae of the hockey stick debate, including detailed, but fully readable, explanations of the controversial scientific and statistical points, the twists and turns of the publishing and peer review processes, the outcomes of the congressional hearings, the manipulations of the IPCC process, and the discoveries of undisclosed problems with successive "hockey stick" studies. Overall, the book is a damning indictment of Mann's scientific method and his maneuvers to try to cover over his errors. For Mann to completely omit any mention of this book is a telling admission that he does not want his readers to hear "the other side" of the story.

This omission is a characteristic of the book as a whole. Rather than responding in a meaningful way to the significant and documented criticisms that have been raised by many, he fills his book with a lot of bluster, hand-waving, and accusations that his opponents are simply 'corporate/industry/fossil fuel/-funded, well-organized deniers, who have been thoroughly discredited.' Of course, he provides scant evidence to substantiate these accusations, particularly with respect to his most prominent detractor, Steve McIntyre. But the rhetorical effect is very powerful, and it no doubt persuades many (as evidenced by the number of 5 star reviews here).

One hears repeatedly that Mann's work was vindicated by the NAS study - a point that Mann relies upon in his book. However, those who have actually read the NAS study, and those who have actually read or listened to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings realize that Mann's methods were thoroughly repudiated by both Wegman AND the NAS panel. Under sworn testimony, Gerald North, chair of the NAS panel, was asked if he disputed the conclusions or the methodology of the Wegman's report. He responded, "No, we don't. We don't disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report." Yet, Mann is somehow able to conclude that "In the end, the conventional wisdom was that Barton and gang fared poorly in the two days of hearings that summer" (Locations 3461-3462). This statement can only be supported if you assume that Mann is the sole possessor of "conventional wisdom."

There have been two primary criticisms (and dozens of secondary ones) leveled against Mann's hockey stick reconstruction: questionable statistical methods, e.g. incorrect PC analysis and poor validation statistics; and the reliability of tree rings as temperature proxies (bristlecones and foxtails in particular). However, Mann completely omits discussion of any criticisms of tree rings as a temperature proxy until he begins discussion of his 2008 paper. This in spite of the fact that he had just finished discussing the Loehle 2007 paper, which was explicitly conducted with a view to create a millennial scale temperature reconstruction without using tree rings. Nevertheless, he is constrained to begrudgingly address these criticisms because his 2008 paper was written ostensibly to demonstrate that the hockey stick is preserved without the use of tree rings. Nevertheless, amongst the many problems with this study (e.g., the use of upside-down contaminated sediment records, data infilling, truncated divergent series), the most striking was that the reconstruction only yielded a hockey stick if either bristlecones were included OR the contaminated, upside-down Tiljander sediment record was included. Take both of these out, and the hockey stick disappears! Mann 'forgets' to mention this part of the story, even though he eventually admits this in the Supplementary Information to the paper.

Mann's discussion of the Yamal tree ring record of Briffa is equally intriguing. This proxy series from the northern Russian peninsula of the same name was one of the dominant hockey stick-shaped series used in multiple temperature reconstructions. The raw data for this series had been withheld by Briffa until late in 2009, when he was forced by the journal Phil Trans B to archive his data (after 9 years). With the release of this data, McIntyre quickly realized that the sharp upward trend of the late 20th C was the result of a mere 10 cores in 1990, dropping to 5 in 1995. Moreover, amongst that paltry few, a single tree (YAD06) with an 8 sigma 20th C deviation was shown to be almost solely responsible for the Yamal hockey stick shape.

Of course, Mann neglects to share this tidbit of information in his discussion of Yamal. However, he does make a most remarkable statement, claiming that "Most climate reconstructions either didn't use the Yamal series in question anyway", for which he adds the end note: "This includes the hockey stick itself" (Kindle Locations 3944-3945). This is a starkly disingenuous comment. Both MBH98 and MBH99 pre-date the publishing of Yamal in Briffa 2000 and thus it was unavailable to the hockey stick. More than that, Yamal appears in no less than 10 of the so-called "independent" reconstructions that supposedly "confirm" the hockey stick, of which 5 are included in the IPCC AR4 Spaghetti graph (Mann's Figure 12.1). Most egregious, though, is that Mann himself uses Yamal in Mann and Jones 2003, Mann et al (EOS 2003) and Jones & Mann 2004. Hardly insignificant.

There are many more problems with Mann's work, which can't possibly be fully explored here. His discussion of Climategate deserves many pages of comment for the ways that he sidesteps the most troubling aspects of the whole affair. There are stories of imaginary spreadsheets, incorrect use of statistical terminology (i.e., "censored"), self-contradiction, allegations of criminal misconduct, manipulation of IPCC reviews, the Wahl & Ammann study and much more.

So if you are interested in the history of the hockey stick, do yourself a favor. By all means read Mann's story. But read the "Hockey Stick Illusion" as a companion book - and then you decide which account is more credible.
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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
Geography Major and Climatology Minor here so love science. Science looks at the world, sees what is going on and tries to decipher it by experimentation leading to theories that are accepted or rejected. If you want to understand climate, I would suggest Googling:

Watts Up With That
Jo Nova
Climate Audit
Greenie Watch
Heartland Institute
Junk Science
Mark Steyn

Wherein these astute and intelligent truth seeking websites expose Herr Doctor Professor Mann to the sunlight of facts and truth, thereby throwing Dr. Mann's scribblings into the dustbin where they belong.
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209 of 450 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having a postgrad degree in Statistics and therefore able to comfortably follow the whole "Hockey Stick" affair over the years, I found reading this book something akin to a Labour of Hercules. Just for starters, Mann got himself into a whole lot of trouble with Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Ian Jolliffe, a world-acknowledged leader in the field, had this to say when he was provoked into publicly distancing himself from Mann's methods by Mann falsely claiming he had Jolliffe's support: "Of course, given that the data appear to be non-stationary, it's arguable whether you should be using any type of PCA".

Not only that, Mann made a schoolboy error in his implementation of PCA. When this was discovered by Steve McIntyre, he backtracked on his original claim of having found the "dominant signal" in Northern Hemisphere proxies, to a position of having to depend on an obscure signal explaining less than 10% of the proxy data. Few understand the invidious subtlety of Mann's 2-stage approach:- 1) data mine the proxies for a hockey-stick signal, however faint that signal is, and 2) exploit this unrepresentative signal mercilessly by virtue of a spurious relationship to a (principal component of) highly autocorrelated 20th century temperatures.

Mann's Hockey Stick failed all verification statistics, even - when properly calculated - his favourite, the Reduction of Error (RE), a statistic that is virtually unused in modern professional statistics due to its predisposition to accept completely spurious relationships. Mann's pals, Ammann and Wahl, invented just in time for AR4 (actually too late, but that's another story) a flawed statistic never seen before or since in scientific circles - the so-called Calibration/Verification RE ratio - as a truly desperate attempt to salvage the doomed Hockey Stick. How this charade passed peer-review I will never understand.

The worst thing is that Mann's errors and Ammann/Wahl's shenanigans are the least of the problems, the main ones being that the Hockey Stick depends on two hopelessly flawed data series:- Graybill & Idso's CO2-sensitive bristlecone pines, which the National Academy of Sciences said should not be used in multi-proxy reconstructions, and the Canadien Gaspe series, which had at most two trees during the critical 15th century step, risibly short of even a minimum quality standard. Take these away - no Hockey Stick. Even if, theoretically, these two series met minimum quality standards and were indisputably temperature-sensitive, they represent spatially only a small fraction of North America, let alone the Northern Hemisphere as a whole.

In his seminal paper, Mann claimed his reconstruction enjoyed good spatial coverage, and insensitivity to the presence or absence of dendro proxies. It is self-evident to anyone who has taken the time to look over Mann's work that both claims are totally, even laughably false. As for his confidence intervals (which are crucial for proper statistical inference), to this day no-one on the planet has been able to replicate Mann's numbers, which are incomprehensively narrow in the earlier years of his reconstructions.

Needless to say, you will read nothing of all this in Mann's self-serving worldview.

And this is what makes it so difficult to read Mann's book without wanting to throw it out of the nearest window. All the absurd paranoid attacks he makes on "fossil-fuel industry backed deniers" and his "attackers", etc , etc , etc, are actually true about him. He is the one who denies the science. He is the one who attacks people (like me) - who, having absolutely nothing to do with the "fossil-fuel industry" have simply used their mathematical and scientific skills to follow what he has done. And what he has done has been found wanting, to put it extremely mildly.
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187 of 436 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Michael Mann's book distorts the views of his critics, and in doing so, paints a false view of the controversy surrounding the hockey stick. This is accomplished with numerous misrepresentations and fabrications. I've written over ten thousand words documenting some of these which can be found in Mann's book. It's available in two parts, both of which were published this week on the blog Watts Up With That? (you can find them by searching for my name).

One of the most serious examples of misrepresentations in Mann's book is Mann claims a critic of his, Edward Wegman, denied collaborating with another of his critics, Stephen McIntyre, while under oath. If true, Wegman would be guilty of perjury. To support his claim, Mann provides this quote:

"Mr. Stupak: Did you or your co-authors contact Mr. McIntyre and get his
help in replicating his work?
Dr. Wegman. Actually, no..."

This can only be described as a blatant misrepresentation. Wegman's full answer gives the exact opposite impression:

"DR. WEGMAN. Actually, no. What I did do was I called Mr. McIntyre and said that when we downloaded his code we could not get it to work either, and it was unfortunate that he was criticizing Dr. Mann when in fact he was in exactly the same situation. subsequently, he reposted his code to make it more user friendly and we did download it subsequently and verified that it would work."

Following this are several more paragraphs in which Wegman details the amount of collaboration between he and McIntyre. By removing almost all of Wegman's answer, Michael Mann manages to make it seem like Wegman said the exact opposite of what he actually said. In doing so, he portrays Wegman as committing a felony offense.

That is the quality of work you'll find in this book.
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17 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have read this book and I think its only suitable for a certain minority of readers who just love the same-old same-old. Some people are legends in their own mind and thats great,,, I just wish they wouldn't write books. BUT if you are a fan of his ideas and love reading his sob story then you will enjoy this book hugely.
Its incredible how many gullible people alarmists still sucker in... This book seems a desperate attempt to gain revenue at a time when he is getting strong signals that the game is up on his theory.
Real scientists have been caught on the hop with climate fiascos. Many were too busy to check out all the claims and just accepted the "peer review" passport to fame that Mann enjoyed. However the debate that Mann says "is over" is still being debated in greater depth and greater scrutiny than ever before while the Author puts his fingers in his ears and goes "la la la la".
One look at his facebook page and his desperation to marshall his followers gives the neutral all they need to know about the Author. A paranoid and self-deluding flavour seems to reign supreme in the jottings in this book and apart from being poorly written, this book just panders to his close fan base who long ago tore the page out of their dictionary that had the word "rigour" on it. They also seem to collectively not understand that its legitimate for a trillion dollar industry to want to ask detailed questions about a theory that is/has/will cost them billions of dollars. This questioning Mann views as " an attack on science " and he states this in the book more than once, the most laughable part of his paranoia since that industry is at the cutting edge of many real sciences and their scientists producing ground beeaking work in many fields. Meanwhile the pseudo science of climate science enters a new phaze and this book perfectly illustrates this.... Its very handy indeed for Mann to use the word "wars" in the title, it make it all seem real. But its not real. There is no war, no "attack on science", just people asking for rigour and transparancy and for more re-evaluation of theories based on assumption. This it seems is too much for the Author who is scared it seems of scrutiny. And no I am not working for an oil company. I am just a scientist who likes rigour and adherement to basic principles of scientific investigation.
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16 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
Mr. Mann has used sloppy data and science to promote his views and career. So many scientists have refuted his findings, even the IPCC has backed away from his theories. Unfortunately, we don't hear much discussion because Mr. Mann is exceptionally good at SLAPP lawsuits designed to silence any opposing opinion. Not very scientific, is he?
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13 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
COMRADES! Gather around this book, our heroic leader will dispense with important news that will educate you and help save the Earth! Our everlasting leader, Dr. Michael Mann, gives on-the-spot guidance to all scientists, of all war-hating nations, through His words of deep and incredible wisdom. Born on the lush slopes of the Greatest of Mountains, raised in the bosom of sincerity and wisdom, He has come to deliver the truth as only He can. As He speaks to us through the pages of this publication many doves, the birds of eternal peace, may flock above you as they did I, their wings fluttering with great effort in order to cool our over-heated planet. Sometimes His voice is that of a gentle breeze, like the summer waft of air off the Sea of Korea, and sometimes it is that of the Great Tiger, a roar that frightens our enemies and gives comfort to all seeking truth.

Yet you must beware, as there are many dangers ahead for you Comrade. Many, from their Capitalist perches overlooking their blood-soaked streets of their decaying cities, will dare raise questions of our Supreme and All Seeing Leader. Do not listen! They are the Deniers of All Things Truthful and Decent! They are the Destroyers of The World! So rejoice in The Truth. Embrace His words and ideas. And most importantly, do not Deny and Question! They are the tools of the darkness and deceit! The Light is shining on you fine Comrade, the Science is Settled, the Thinking is done and repetition is required, so what shall you do?
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Pure hogwash, Mike Mann style. The opportunist who along with Lysenko belongs in the Stalinist Soviet Union era, resurrected under new and catchy climate change moniker that has nothing to do with 2014 2015 climate developments, showing an onset of another Mainer cycle in the making. Playing fast and loose with statistics, refusing to divulge the R^2 correlation coefficients for his so called scientifically derived equations.
His modeling of the future climate has already, two years later proved exactly the opposite of reality. Mike Mann is still waging legal battles to make his version of climate change the law of the land by judicial dictum. What Michael Mann does not understand is the real world.
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23 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
Michael Mann has fought a losing battle to defend his broken hockey stick... He and his disciples dismiss widely acknowledged failings in his statistical methods and misused proxy data. When his book gets a non-positive review on amazon, Mann sends his flying monkeys to down-vote it. Pathetic.
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102 of 288 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought the Kindle version. This is a badly written, partisan screed, not worthy of the stature you might unknowingly imagine Michael Mann, a scientist, to belong to.

Mann places great emphasis on his own version of events he was a part of. Thus, at the same time, the forces of evil in American democracy are 'attacking' him, but he is able to wave away their questions with ease. In the book, Mann revels in the Congressional hearings he was a part of, yet exhorts us, repeatedly, to believe that he was greatly harmed by what was inflicted upon him during the hearings.

The latter half of the book especially is loaded with minutiae and immature and incoherent ramblings. I did manage to finish the book. And then, one realizes that Mann has hidden some of the more juicier science bits - the whole reason why people requested his data, his code, wrote rebuttals to his papers and hearings were arranged - in the footnotes.

A tedious and depressing read. Essential reading nevertheless if you ever wondered why climate issues sounded so gormless.
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