Oh No, not another hide the decline paper? Worse yet it was a PR hide the decline paper!

Russ Steele

I have been watching the analysis of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project with some interest and some caution. Interest because in shows the temperatures during the Dalton Minimun, and caution because it appears to be a major PR event with little real science.

The Berkeley Team headed by Dr. Muller have as yet to release their source data, or passed peer-review, even though we have been reading about their global temperature finding in the NY Times and the Economist .  One of my initial concerns was the breathless claims by the lame stream press that BEST had proven that AGW was happening.  Especially when the BEST team stated they had not examine the cause of the warming shown in their Figure 1.


Note that the data stops at 2006. When I saw that truncation, I was reminded of previous truncations by Dr. Peter Glick on his sea level analysis in San Francisco Bay, and “Mikes trick” to hide the decline which we learned about in the Climategate e-mails.  Both truncated the data in 2006. I posted a comment at Watts Up With That, asking why the data was truncated at 2006?

Willis Eschenbach writing at Watts Up With That has as answer to my question, though it was not just for me, but for all readers at WUWT.

Willis blew up Figure 1, and digitized it and then spread out the confusion spaghetti graphic into Figure 3.  This figure shows the BEST dataset along with the other datasets, this time displaced from each other so that we can actually see what’s happening:

Willis writes:

Hmmm … that gives a very different picture than Figure 1. Even with the bizarre 12-month moving average, the BEST record is clearly the outlier since 1998. You would think that in the modern era, the BEST would agree more closely with the other records. And indeed, from about 1975 to 1998 they were moving in something like lockstep.

But both before and after that time period, the BEST results are a clear outlier. And since 1998, BEST has been in a slow decline … funny how that didn’t show up in Figure 1. Yes, I know, a ten-year moving average shouldn’t show anything within five years from the end of the dataset. And I’m sure folks will argue that it’s just coincidence that they chose that exact smoothing length, and that it was the chance selection of colors that jumbled up the spaghetti graph so it’s unreadable … but y’know, after a while “coincidence” wears thin. I’m going with a more nuanced explanation, that it was a “deliberately unconscious choice to hide the decline”, although certainly you are welcome to stick to the story that it’s all just an unfortunate chain of events  …


Conclusion 1. It is extremely sneaky to send a truncated, smoothed result like Figure 1 out to the media to announce your results. That’s advocacy disguised as science. They did it to make it look like the temperature was headed for the sky and that BEST agreed. Instead, BEST actually disagrees with the other datasets by claiming that over the last decade, land temperatures are dropping, not staying stable or rising as per the other datasets. Using a graph that didn’t show that is … curious. As Gollum would say … “Oooooh, tricksy”. . . . Figure 1 was nothing but “hide the decline” PR spin. Bad scientists, no cookies.

 You can read the other conclusions HERE. However, Willis concludes: 

. . . The world is warming. It has been for centuries. Rather than saying anything about anthropogenic global warming, all the BEST dataset does is confirms that. How that’s gotten twisted into some supposed “victory” for the AGW crowd escapes me.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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