It’s a definition thing…
From the wiki (and if we can’t accept the Pro-AGW Manicured Wiki, then it will only get worse for the CRU crew and friends…)
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”
Well, right off the bat, we have a major issue. “Empirical”. From the ’empirical’ wiki
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation.
A central concept in modern science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses.
We can immediately dismiss “experimentation”. The thermometers gather data, they are not an experimental apparatus.
But what about “observation”? Surely the data gathered are ‘observations’. Well, yes, they are. If we had them.
But the CRU crew has stated that they no longer retain the observational data. They have “value added” numbers they call “data”. The problem with this is that “value added” also means “no longer observation”. If you do not have the original observations, then all that is left is a belief that the transformation done in making a “value added” or “adjusted” data set is not in fact the creation of a “corrupted” data set.
Without “observations” or “experiments”, you are not conducting science, you are indulging a belief.
GISS and GIStemp
But what about NCDC and GISS with the GIStemp data sets?
First off, GIStemp takes as its input a computed value. It is the monthly mean of temperature observations at a variety of locations (at different times, different places) from many places around the world. These have passed through many hands and many transformations prior to being handed to GIStemp as the GHCN “dataset”. So GIStemp does not have “observations” either. It has a ‘data-food-product’ produced by others as the input to what might well be charitably called an ‘experimental transformation function’. It then produces as output an experimental (or one could say “fictional”) product that consists almost entirely of imagined values.
Depending on which generation of the software, GISStemp has either 8,000 or 16,000 “grid boxes” of fabricated temperatures to cover the planet – but in recent years there are only about 1200 actual thermometer instruments in the GHCN temperature records. BY DEFINITION, almost all grid boxes contain a fabricated number. It is a matter of belief that the transformation from GHCN “data-food-product” into hypothetical grid box temperatures bears some relationship to reality.
There is no observation data input. There is a ‘polite fiction’ that we hope the product is related to reality based on some rather arcane numeric transformation. There are papers reputing to show that some of the transformations are reasonable.
One, The Reference Station Method, shows that some stations in a limited geography can correlate reasonably well during one short period of time with some other stations such that from one set you can predict the others, more or less. OK… But then this belief is applied across all of recorded temperature history and all locations, stretched far beyond the paper ranges.
Does it change with AMO / PDO swaps? Between North and South hemispheres? During Grand Solar Minimums when the UV drops off a cliff and atmospheric height changes (and so changing past relationships for thermometers at different altitudes)? It is believed it does, but not shown.
Also, then this RSM is applied recursively inside GIStemp. Sometimes to infill missing data (‘homogenizing’). Then to “correct” for UHI. Then to fabricate the empty grid /box cells. There is no foundation for the notion that RSM can be applied recursively. It is a belief, not a fact. (When compared to reality, the results of the transformation ‘have issues’ with not matching reality. The Arctic, for example, is always shown as very anomalously warm. Why? Because the few stations near the arctic, from which the ‘coverage’ is hypothesized, are warm stations.) There are other similar issues.
So the operation of GIStemp is not validated by proper supporting proof of the validity of the transformations. The input is not observations. The output is not valid. In the end, it simply is not a scientific process.
So we go to swim upstream to NCDC. They, too, produce a transformational data food product. Can you get the observational data to compare and test? Nope. They too have papers claiming to support some of their transformations of the data. Can you test them vs the observational data? Nope.
They have input from around the world. Some of the input data is observational (sometimes called “raw”). Some of it is post processing product of various national meteorological services. Here, too, we have non-observational inputs masquerading as observations. Where is the observational data? Historically they provided “QA adjusted” data items for each instrument in the record (no longer just observational, and averaged over a month). Lately they have begun spicing different instrument series together to fabricate a single series. As splices are known to create issues (especially in calorimetry) this is a grave concern. We are told the observational data is a trade secret product of the various agencies, that it is proprietary and they sell it for a fee, so it is not available. Fine. They can do that. BUT, it means that the NCDC data food products are not “scientific”.
There is no ‘experiment’. There is no ‘observation’. There are processed proprietary numbers fed into a hidden series of transformations. That is not science. That is a proprietary trade secret manufacturing technique.
Yes, there are various papers published purporting to tell you how the technique works. BUT, those talk ABOUT the transformation ideas. They do not show the transformations themselves. It is rather like my saying “Well, to bake a bird, you pluck it, season it, and put it in the oven”. Lacking as such things as the implied “oh, and remove the guts” and details such as what species of bird, the size, temperature, kind of baking pan (it matters – stainless cooks more slowly than black), kind of oven, temperature, temperature range during cooking (it, too, matters. Some ovens wander 50 F, per cycle, others do not…), how long to let it rest, covered or not covered, basted or not, and the minor issue of just what seasoning to use… You see, you simply can not reproduce a perfectly cooked turkey from “pluck, season, bake”. To prove that the method is valid and correct, you need the observational data to put in (same kind and size of turkey) and the computer codes used (same type of pan, oven, seasonings, exact recipe).
We don’t have those things, so NCDC may cook a fine Turkey, but it isn’t ‘scientific’. Compare with how the Turkish Meteorological office does real science:
Since we can not TEST any of HADcrut (from CRU), the NCDC series, GHCN, nor GIStemp; by definition they fail as ‘scientific method’.
Prediction and Testing
The wiki on scientific method goes on:
The chief thing which separates a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, and contradict their theories about it when those theories are incorrect. Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable, to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.
The “climate scientists” go out of their way to consistently state that the results of their various climate models are “projections” not predictions. Well, if they are not predictions, then they are not scientific method. By Definition.
The output of NCDC, CRU, and GISStemp change month by month. (Even inside of a single month. Mid month, GHCN has often shown ongoing changes as various countries contribute their little bits of post-normal post-processed data-food-product to the computed values that end up in GHCN.) It is simply not possible to recreate any given ‘run’ of GIStemp as the set of numbers fed into it changes day by day. Historic copies of GHCN have values that wander all over. Month by month, year by year, country by country. If you have not archived every single version, you can not test nor reproduce any given product.
As near as I can tell, few (perhaps none?) of the copies are archived with any sort of granularity. When, for example, GHCN.v1 was obsoleted, then an archived copy was created that ceased changing. But all the various intermediate forms? Lost to history. But what we DO know is that this set of data constantly changes. Constant change is not repeatable. Unrepeatable results fail the test of the scientific method.
CRU have stated that they can not recreate their original runs (but have stated they could fabricate a pretty close data set if they had to, from going to the output and getting some stuff from GHCN). I’m sorry, but being able to make a “close” paint by numbers copy of an original hand crafted painting is NOT the scientific method. It is a decent set of ‘craft work’, but not science. How can we test the validity of the original transformation if the only ‘data’ available would be ‘back fit’ from the present data-food-product and a reverse engineering of the transformation?
Look at their own work products. Even these folks can not recreate their original process, transformations, and results. If it can not be reproduced, it might as well be “cold fusion”. Lots of claims. Lots of interesting appearance of results. Maybe something interesting going on. Potentially even decent craft work. Heck, you might even find some “excess heat”. But it isn’t in accord with the scientific method. Without reproduction we are accepting a belief based on hope and faith. That isn’t science.
Objectivity and Independent Verification
Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
The ClimateGate emails show, beyond any doubt what so ever and in their own words: That the CRU staff and related ( folks they corresponded with at NCDC et. al.) have no interest in being objective, nor in sharing data. There are emails (many) that decide if a result is as desired and if things are going to turn out good or bad for a desired warming agenda. Hardly an objective: “I wonder what the data say?”. We have folks working to ‘hide the decline’ and ‘flatten the 1940s’ and more. Objectivity is simply not present.
We have Phil Jones stating he would delete the data rather than release it to others.
We have “Harry-README” saying he can not reproduce the methods and products. How can you share a method if you can’t even find it?
We have emails stating they would not want to share data or methods with others as those folks would only use it to scrutinize and critique what was being done. Yet just that scrutiny and critique is what is the heart and soul of the Scientific Method. There is barely even partial disclosure, not even major disclosure. We are no where near “full disclosure” (and what ought to be disclosed may even have been destroyed rather than let it be shared.)
Without that objective approach and disclosure for repeatability; without the verification via scrutiny and the validation via reproduction: There is no scientific method at work.
Failure on any one or two of those key points of the Scientific Method would be damning enough. Yet these institutions manage to fail on substantially ALL of them.
IMHO: These are not organizations of science. They are organs of belief, faith, propaganda, and proprietary products of unknown and unknowable reliability and quality.
In short, CRU / HADcrut, NCDC and their temperature series, GISS and GIStemp are not products of the scientific method. They are not scientific and are faith or belief based creations at best.
Can this be fixed? Perhaps.
IFF the original observational data has been preserved. IF the data and ALL transformations done to it are released and published. IF truly independent teams can reproduce their original work product then validate and verify them. (As the Climategate emails show tight coordination between these three agencies and various of their staff, they can not be considered to be independent validators of the work). IF they are open, honest, sharing, objective and basically start over, but applying the Scientific Method honestly.
But given that we have them stating in email that the observational data are lost and only the “value added” product exists: It may well be that truly scientific analysis of instrumental temperature data will need to wait for another generation or two of fresh valid data to be gathered. If that is the case, it will truly be a horrific failure of post-normal science in its blatant failure to serve the public good and to serve humanity at large.