Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ironic use by IPCC's Pachauri of term "voodoo science"

Back around 2000, Bob Park had a book titled Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud which had much to say, among other things, about Joe Newman's perpetual motion machine. An editorial review at includes the text:

Park is less forgiving of scientists (especially Edward Teller) when he thinks they've fallen down on the job, a job that should include helping the public separate the scientific wheat from the voodoo chaff.

Flash forward to the year 2010, with public attention first directed to the emails of ClimateGate, and then the questionable IPCC reporting on Himalayan glaciers dubbed GlacierGate. In an article titled Climate chief was told of false glacier claims before Copenhagen, TimesOnLine states that

Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it.

According to the Times, Dr. Pachauri told The Times on January 22 that he had only known about the error for a few days. He said: “I became aware of this when it was reported in the media about ten days ago. Before that, it was really not made known. Nobody brought it to my attention. There were statements, but we never looked at this 2035 number.”

The Times questioned the accuracy of Dr. Pachauri's assertion of prior knowledge for only "a few days", and finds Dr. Pachauri had invoked "voodoo science" [although the connection to Bob Park is not noted]:

However, a prominent science journalist said that he had asked Dr Pachauri about the 2035 error last November. Pallava Bagla, who writes for Science journal, said he had asked Dr Pachauri about the error. He said that Dr Pachauri had replied: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.”

The Himalayan glaciers are so thick and at such high altitude that most glaciologists believe they would take several hundred years to melt at the present rate. Some are growing and many show little sign of change.

Dr Pachauri had previously dismissed a report by the Indian Government which said that glaciers might not be melting as much as had been feared. He described the report, which did not mention the 2035 error, as “voodoo science”.

Mr Bagla said he had informed Dr Pachauri that Graham Cogley, a professor at Ontario Trent University and a leading glaciologist, had dismissed the 2035 date as being wrong by at least 300 years. Professor Cogley believed the IPCC had misread the date in a 1996 report which said the glaciers could melt significantly by 2350.

The irony here of course is that it was Dr. Pachauri did not "help the public separate the scientific wheat from the voodoo chaff." Arguably, as to the "2035" number, Dr. Pachauri propounded voodoo chaff. One wonders if Bob Park will say anything about this incident.

Park was rather dismissive of the emails of ClimateGate in a post on WN on 4 December 2009:

Last week someone broke into the e-mail files of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and posted the results on the web for the world to see. The Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily are having a field-day writing about "criminal conspiracy" and "scientific blacklisting." There were a few embarrassing comments about global warming deniers in a mountain of e-mails. I would hate to see some of my private e- mails on the web. The suffix was added to invite comparisons to the infamous break-in at the Watergate Hotel by Nixon's goons, but in this story the unnamed burglars are treated as heroes. No one wrote even a line about what was probably the only criminal offense in this sordid affair: hacking into private files. There are angry demands in Congress for an investigation of the affair. So far the only effect has been to shift the focus away from bad news about rising oceans and stranded polar bears to climate scientists more interested in scoring points than advancing science. All that's left is to figure out who paid for the break- in. That book has already been written.

and has been silent on the games played by the pro-warming forces as to FOIA requests.

The wikipedia entry for Rajendra K. Pachauri, as of January 31, 2010, does not mention the problem with Pachauri's concealment of problems with the Himalayan glacier lifetime.

Separately, there are some issues with Syed Hasnain. Anorak notes that after GlacierGate broke, Syed Hasnain stated:

“I was keeping quiet as I was working here. My job is not to point out mistakes. And you know the might of the IPCC. What about all the other glaciologists around the world who did not speak out?”

[IPBiz notes Hasnain is not taking a role separating out the mistakes of voodoo chaff.]

BUT Anorak stated as to before GlacierGate:

in a clip on 9 November 2009 – the day that the Raina report on glaciers was published, challenging the claims made in the IPCC report, he is seen to be defending the 2035 figure, and allowing himself to be styled as “author of the original IPCC report”.

Of Park and voodoo science, see also

Park notes favorable citation by Eugenie Reich in WSJ

New York Times promoting voodoo science?


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