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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
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30 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I've just finished Mann's book for the second time, just to make sure that I was giving it a fair chance, and I still don't see how any critic could give it five stars. His defensiveness is understandable, but his attitude is offensive. He decries the attacks he and his colleagues have suffered, but makes strident ad hominem attacks on virtually all of his critics. His purpose is transparent. Mann's objective, from beginning to end, is to denigrate and dismiss any and all critics of his work, and of mainstream climate science generally. He spews vitriol at everyone that disaggrees with him. The word "denier" or one of its forms is used too many times to count. It seems every critic is either "industry-funded," "has ties to fossil fuel interests," is a "known hard-right extremist" or is simply incompetent. From the first pages, where he clumsily foreshadows his later explanation of his famous "trick" to "hide...the decline" Mann admits no imperfections. He is right in every case and his critics are venal, dishonest and stupid.

In reality, though, that's simply not true. There exist many honest, well-educated and thoughtful people who question the dogmatic position of the IPCC on anthropogenic global warming. I know many of them, and I consider myself one of them. We are not all on the payrolls of the Koch brothers or the Scaife Foundation. I know of nobody familiar with the subject who doubts that atmospheric CO2 has a warming effect on the the earth. The questions are: how much? and to what extent do other factors (known and unknown) counteract or dominate CO2's effects? The answers, clearly, are "We don't know." The last fifteen years of no warming, in defiance of all the models, attest uneqivocally to this fact. "We don't know" is a not a statement we hear nearly enough from the climate change community.

Mann's book makes no attempt to deal fairly with these questions. It is pure polemic. This is not surprising, but the ugliness and sheer dishonesty of many of Mann's words are disturbing. The instances are too many to list, but a few examples are appropriate: He takes obvious and mean-spirited pleasure in ridiculing a distinguished statistician for his lack of understanding of climate science, when he knows full well the statistician is concerned only with Mann's statistical treatment and makes no claim to being a climate scientist. He dimisses the "climategate" e-mails as misinterpreted and taken out of context. Some of them surely were, and he goes to great lengths to explain the "hide...the decline" e-mail. But he simply ignores the many much more damning and impossible to misinterpret e-mails as if they didn't exist. They do. He wrote them. I have read them--in context. Finally, [This one, trivial as it may seem, is important because it's right there in the book. It doesn't depend on any outside knowledge.] Mann dismisses as "nonsensical" a critic who suggests that "the blade at the end of the hockey stick" is exaggerated by the statistical methods used. Mann's sarcastic response is that "the end of the blade" represents actual temperature data and can't possibly have been affected by any statistical treatment! Mann surely didn't miss the fact that there is an important difference between "the blade at the end..." and "the end of the blade," and the reader shouldn't either. By conveniently misinterpreting his critic he avoids the real criticism (the "blade" that represents the entire 20th century)and invents a basis for denigrating the critic. Unfortunately, this pattern of dishonesty and vindictiveness permeates the book.

I understand and sympathise with Mann's need to defend himself and his science. Some of his critics are truly beyond the pale and deserve the label "attackers." This is the reason I resisted the urge to give the book only one star. But many of his critics are fair-minded and competent. He does them, as well as himself and his profession, a real disservice with this crude and mean-spirited diatribe.
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60 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am very grateful to Dr. Mann for calling attention on pp. 205-6 of his book to my 2009 critique of a 2006 article by Lonnie Thompson and others in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, Mann misunderstands the nature of my critique: I had demonstrated that the 2000-year ice core index in Thompson's Figure 6 and Data Set 3 cannot be derived as any linear combination of the individual ice core data in his Figure 5 and Data Set 2, even for the 400-year period for which he gives individual core data. Hence his key result, the 2000-year series, cannot be replicated from the data he presents as its source. Perhaps Dr. Mann has access to a private data set that Thompson used, but this mostly NSF-funded data should be be publicly archived if Thompson's results are to meet the minimal scientific criterion of replicability.

A more detailed blog discussion may be found by searching for Climate Audit, Irreproducible Results in Thompson.
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10 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Poorly organized and relies almost entirely on what should be footnotes which tend to be disconnected and not analyzed. substitute for.
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96 of 339 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
How many scientific theorists have you read about who, when challenged, proceed NOT to reinforce their theories with deeper and better science, but rather attack a myriad of unnamed enemies? Mr. Mann is such a theorist.

This book does not discuss much science. I find that understandable. This book appears more oriented to keeping its author from being discovered for what he is.

When we reflect on the costs, wasted decades of misguided education, and the human damage of such science that produced eugenics, Piltdown Man, Freudian psychoanalyis, and recovered memories of infantile sexual abuse, we begin to grasp the depth of the deception Mr. Mann is attenpting to impose upon humanity. He may believe his own baloney. More's the pity.

I recommend this book to all. The few dollars it costs will become a small part of a long testament to the ongoing folly of human culpability.
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28 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I was tempted to rate this book 1-star however I find Michael Mann's tone in the book entertaining...in a sad way. I see him as the butt of a joke in his own book. If you believe Mann, he is a modern day David fighting a Goliath. All his enemies are evil and he is the good guy who gives his entire salary to starving children. After several pages of this self-serving story telling, my irritation turned to laughter, hence my desire to add an extra star to this book. I ask myself, what kind of editor would allow this book to see the light of day? My hypothesis is the editor is a closet sceptic, seeking to hang Mann with his own words. I only read this book to read his defense of his hockey stick graph and I was disappointed. If sceptics are are dumb, knuckle-dragging neanderthals then destroy their arguments in your book head on. Unfortunately, he burns a few strawmen, beats his chest in victory while ignoring the real issues his detractors accusations.

Having dug through the data of his "hockey stick" graph, both sceptics and a few warmists have noted that when random data is fed into the "hockey stick" graph equations, you get a hockey stick shape. Which leads one to one of two conclusions, either he is a really dumb scientist or an unethical one riding the government gravy train of research grants. Normally I would say he is dishonest since how could any PhD with a brain cell in his head test a hypothesis w/ computer code that spits out hockey stick shape graphs when fed with random data? However, I understand he flunked his PhD orals the first time so in fairness it is possible he is this obtuse. If you have a bizarre sense of humor, like me, buy this book as entertainment to see a Lysenko-like scientist run amok and study his psychology. However if you're a normal person, I would save your money or find a friend who has a copy so you can read it for free, like me...
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17 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This writer, Michael E. Mann, is credited as the main author of the statistically based theory of recent acceleration of global temperature rise, resulting in a temperature graph showing a sharp spike in recent years, to about 1998, characterizing it as a "hockey stick." The graph purports to show the effect of man man made causes on global warming. In recent years a number of detractors have questioned the statistical methods used in the derivation of the hockey stick graph. In this book Mann attempts to defend his methods, unfortunately responding more to personal and political derogation than to scientific questioning. The result is a political diatribe, introduced with a bit of science.

In his reference to climate cycling the author fails to mention Milankovich cycles. Of course, Milankovich doesn't disprove global warming but the omission of that analysis is a gaping hole in this presentation of the case for global warming. He says, without further comment, that sun output hasn't changed in recent years, ignoring sun spot activity. He denies that Medieval Warming is eliminated from the hockey stick graph. That's not obvious to me. I wish he would supply some justification. There is nothing here to enhance confidence in climate models. It's very vague on the temperature data record after about 1998. I can't say whether the science is right or wrong, but there's enough missing to make it suspect.

The most informative item in the short science portion of this long book is an introduction to the principle components (PCA) method of showing statistical variation of a data set. Unfortunately the data set is missing so there is no way of judging results from the book.
The verbal interpretation of results is obtuse and unsubstantiated in the book. I need to learn more about the approach. but so far don't understand the relationship to the hockey graph. Why does Mann not incorporate his original paper, or the IPCC report, as an appendix? It doesn't seem to be available on his RealClimate website. If he's appealing to an audience that he deems too stupid to read it, that hardly enhances his case. [to learn: PCA eigenvector approach to data distrib and interp gw results]

Mann says we need to consider economics and ethics. Indeed! But there is none of it here.
He makes interesting reference to Paul Ehrlich' book "Population Bomb', then fails to incorporate population control in analysis of any scenario. He says we need insurance against disaster, never mind what peculiar and wasteful form it might take. He says that no action is a dangerous risk. So far we have demonstrated a rush to do the wrong things. The prime case of an experiment gone wrong is ethanol which we need to stop before trying something else.

In this response to his detractors, Mann, forgets one of his own epigraphs (from Mark Twain). It's very difficult for the reader to determine who the fools are here. His complaints about government intimidation suggests that government should stay out of the global warming controversy. I doubt that would serve Mann's purpose. What he really wants is government subsidies with no questions asked. Government involvement changes the nature of the debate to the intellectual detriment of both sides. I include Al Gore as a politically motivated debater. This book shows Mann to be one also. Invoking the ACLU, AAUP and FIRE in his defense adds nothing but suspicion to his case. How many scientists do those organizations employ? Perhaps we should leave the resolution to ACORN. Mann takes shots at both presidents Bush. Is that science or politics? He also complains about media slant. Readers need to distinguish the slant of reported content from media introduced slant. It's not easy from this diatribe.

Mann concludes by saying that the hockey stick graph was a game changer. His epilogue diverts to an analogy between the issues of global warming and tobacco usage. He doesn't draw a distinction between challengers to the significance of hockey graph statistics and denial of climate change. It's too bad that he didn't stick to defense of the hockey stick graph temperature theory, for which he is admirably qualified. It's a mystery why a scientifically oriented author engages in the political diatribe that characterizes this book.
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19 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an autobiographical account of Michael Mann, the climatologist who made a name for himself in the climate field by creating the "hockey stick" graph and became known to a broader public audience as the central figure referred to in one of the best known climategate emails. It reads pretty much like any other account made by a person who has been made famous by some event or series of events that has caught the public eye. It is a typical insiders account with all the usual embellishment of accomplishments and downplaying of failures.

While my title for this review may be harsh, it does not mean he isn't a competent scientist with an important body of work. I chose it mainly because I find him so unlikable. He seems paranoid, egotistical and seems to have what I consider an elitist view of the world. He and a lot of his supporters portray him as just a nerdy scientist who is being hounded by a well financed campaign by the fossil fuel industry. While that might seem plausible, there does not seem to be any evidence for it.

His main antagonist is blogger Steve McIntyre who appears to be rather good with statistics and has found flaws in Mann's hockey stick. Mann's supporters say these flaws are miner [sic] (no one outright denies there are flaws), while his critics say the hockey stick is completely discredited. Statistics is an arcane field and I have not gone into the details, so I won't take sides here.

Now "Mike's nature trick" to "hide the decline" is another matter entirely. We know the context. Keith Briffa's tree ring data show a decline in modern times when the instrument record shows a rise, so this decline is deleted and replaced with the instrument record. There may be no decline in temperature, but the integrity of the tree ring data is certainly called into question. In this book, Mann says that it is Phil Jones, who wrote the email, and not him who is using this "trick". Does this mean that Mann didn't hide the decline? Who's "trick" did Jones say this was? Mann is certainly a decline hider by the standard that he used to call himself a Nobel prize winner in his suit that he filed against National Review Online.

I've called him an elitist. He speaks with reverence for the rigorousness of the NAS that investigated his work. I thought McIntyre's criticisms of the NAS Panel were very pertinent. Mann has a blurb by Paul Ehrlich on his cover. I find Ehrlich, who is known for a string of spectacularly wrong predictions, to be incredibly arrogant. Mann calls him a personal hero. Him and his fellow alarmists may turn out to be right about the severity of the climate problem, but I would not want to put them in charge of dealing with it.

----Edited to explain my buffoonery----

I have made a spectacular error in the title line of this review! I wrote the review offline, pasted it in and transferred the title line. I went through the red underlined words and specifically remember changing the word "buffoon". Somehow this slipped by me.

I would like to note that this is very similar to Michael Mann's mistake of calling himself a "Nobel prize winner" in his suit against National Review Online. I had full use of Amazon's spell checker, yet I still flubbed it. Michael Mann had full legal council, yet he still flubbed it. I've explained my buffoonery. How does Michael Mann explain his?

----Reedited to add "(sic)" to the title and to further explain this error----

I knew I remembered changing the word "buffoon". I must have originally misspelled it as "baffoon". When I saw the red wavy misspell line under it, I assumed I had the wrong number of "f"s (the mistake I remember), deleted one and moved on without rechecking, ending up with the resulting "bafoon". While it's embarrassing, it does help my review stand out. I should also probably mention that I borrowed a hardcover copy of this book from the library, since I mention a blurb on the jacket. For some reason Amazon likes to say my reviews are from the Kindle edition.

----Reedited to address more minor buffoonery----

The minor error of spelling "minor" as "miner" is noted with "[sic]". The parentheses around "sic" in the title line are changed to brackets, although Wiktionary does cite "sic" in parentheses after a quote as an alternative usage.
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42 of 239 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am afraid another poorly written screed on climate warming is hitting the shelves.
My biggest complaint is that this book is re hashing all the old arguments, it is very poorly written and is it DULL. In addition, the author has no respect for some valid groups that consider that other factors may be at work...
SAVE YOUR MONEY - IT IS ALL ALREADY OUT THERE.
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16 of 132 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
The East Anglia emails show Mann and the climate change cabal engaged in efforts to suppress info with which they disagreed. What's not known, but is raised on occasion, is how much grant-bias was underway at the same time.

Bottom line is that the anthropogenic climate change cabal has insufficient data to support their populist "Chicken-Little" narrative. But there is way too much money, way too much group-think and agit-prop going on here, [For historical context one ought to recall the so-called science of eugenics a hundred years ago. Or the "proven" (but now largely debunked) focal infection theory in the same time frame.]

And why is government so prone to fund even more research if the "facts are in" as many like to say? (Are readers aware that this is the one area of gov't funded research that was plused-up by Obama for 2015?) It's all about the stream of nonstop PR gleaned from what is often a biased system (grants, publication bias and a welcoming mainstream media) favored by those who seek more and more government control over everything.

It's often popular to comment how "most scientists" believe the narrative. Even if true, so what? Too few scientists are capable of both doing their science and understanding the relevant statistical analyses in their own areas, never mind others. And the beauty for Mann and his ilk is that their inherently weak retrospective science produces conclusions that can't be debunked, say like bad engineering in an airframe

But I admit, here in Hawaii, I have PV all over my roof -- the scam on the poor and middle class here (who don't own their own roofs) is too lucrative to pass up. I can't help but think the whole thing is one massive scam, top to bottom.
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