The Monkey Trial, Global Warming version…




Someone today made the claim I’ve heard from time to time that the climate skeptics, of whom I am one, shouldn’t be allowed to get away with picking holes in someone else’s hypothesis without having some hypothesis of their/our own to replace it.  Now while on the surface that may sound reasonable, let us look at it another way – by looking at what would happen in our court system if that was the case.

What an interesting court system that would be, that in order to find someone Not Guilty, the defense in a criminal trial was required to prove that someone else – someone specific – perpetrated the crime instead.  Of course, we would never consider such a thing, in this our enlightened age.  A criminal charge is either found sufficient or insufficient to convict the defendant, solely on the merits of the case against him.  Not on his ability to put the blame on someone else.

Though it is the defendant whose liberty is at stake, when a trial is held, it is the prosecution’s case that is really being judged. Many a case never  even goes to court, even when the prosecutor is certain that his suspect has perpetrated the crime, because the prosecutors recognize that they do not have sufficient evidence to convict. After all, in our system, if a defendant is found not guilty once, he may never be tried for that crime again.  Double jeopardy.  The prosecution gets only one shot, once it goes into the criminal courts.  So, rather than fail to convict, the prosecutor holds back, presumably hoping that more evidence will show up that will allow a successful conviction later on.

The defendant does not have to prove his innocence, and if found not guilty in the current fair trial, he is set free.  “Not guilty” means that the CASE against him was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, not that he was necessarily innocent.  It is not incumbent upon him to prove anything – only to create a reasonable enough doubt in the minds of the jury.

As taxpayers and as citizens, we are the jury regarding the facts presented, when our tax moneys are used to study a phenomenon.  As the jury, we are not required to derive solutions that others are – in our estimation – inadequately assessing.  Neither is this required of the defense counsel.  If called upon, we are only asked to assess and judge.  And what we the jury judge is not the defendant, but the case against him, and the case is limited to what has been presented in court.  It is the business of the prosecutor to present a strong case to convict, and it is the defense’s business to create a reasonable doubt.  The jury judges the evidence that makes up the case for each side.

The defendant in the case of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is human activity, specifically human technological activity, with a particular emphasis on that part called “human industry.”  It used to be called “progress.”  But “progress” has a positive ring to it, so the human activity labeled “industry” is in the docket, not progress.  Representing “The People”, are environmentalists, some of whom have garnered a virtual monopoly on a certain branch of science, climatology.  Like any prosecutors, the environmentalists are convinced of the sufficiency of their case.  It is, of course, their job to be convinced  – otherwise they would not be up to the task.  It is also obvious that in a courtroom if prosecutors themselves were allowed to be the jury, well, that would be a kangaroo court, wouldn’t it?  And no defendant would ever get off.  The prosecutors are not – and should not be allowed to be – the jury.  No one would disagree with that.

If that were the case, we would end up only having Grand Juries. In a Grand Jury, only the basics of the case made by the prosecutor (enough to get an indictment issued) is allowed a voice.  There is no defense of any sort permitted in a Grand Jury trial.


Thankfully, there are those who want to hear “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”   This we take for granted.  Yet this has not been done for the case of AGW.  In public courtroom trials, there are citizens who accept the word of the prosecutors, no matter what.  After hearing the prosecutor’s side of the case, they are all for convicting at that point, even before hearing the case presented by the defendant, his case challenging the prosecution’s version of “the truth.”  Those who in the mid-1990s followed the O.J. Simpson trial may recall that at the end of the prosecution’s case, there was a hue and a cry to put Mr. Simpson away right then and there.  This was the case, even though not one minute had been spent on the defense’s case.  Only after both sides have presented their cases does it become the jury’s business to decide if the prosecution’s case has withstood the challenges of the defense.

We who are skeptical about global warming simply assert that the climate scientists as prosecutors have made a case, but that the case is not strong enough, and we assert the right to challenge their evidence and to have the other the other side of the story heard.  We assert that, after listening to both sides’ cases, there will be sufficient reasonable doubt. But when some of us (Steve McIntyre, e.g.) tried to use “discovery” to be able to look at the evidence for ourselves, the prosecution (CRU, and now Michael Mann) has stonewalled, asserting that discovery isn’t allowed for the defendant yet the prosecution somehow still asserts that the trial (of humans and their economic activity) should continue anyway, even with some of the evidence not being presented.

If the prosecution (CRU, in this instance) is allowed to see the evidence, don’t you believe the defense should also be so entitled?  I assure you that Steve McIntyre had the wherewithal to assess the evidence.  When he did do so, in (<i>McIntyre & McKittrick 2003</i>), he found out that the prosecutor named Michael Mann had inexpertly mishandled the evidence, coming up with a non-supportable assessment.  In fact, McIntyre found that Mann’s “black box” statistics method (Mann is still yet to provide his evidence, and he is fighting such revelations in a real court) would produce the same kind of result (the infamous ‘hockey stick’ shape), no matter what kind of facts were put into it, even random data.  So, at least some of the evidence has been shown to be flawed.  That much is known.   Still, all the evidence available via discovery has not been handed over yet.  That was the specific issue (FOIA) in many of the Climategate emails of 2009, the issue that made the two sides very antipathetic to each other.

Coming back to it, should the defense HAVE TO come up with our own case, our own hypotheses?  We do have them, and have the people to deliver a more full hypothesis, but our people would need to have access to ALL the facts (i.e., data and methodologies) so as to know how to challenge the evidence. After all, the prosecutors did not themselves collect the data in the field.  Others did.  And the others provided that data to the prosecutors, but the prosecutors do not choose to let anyone else see the data or the methods.  Some might say that, yes, the data was made available to the BEST authors, whose results were publicized to great fanfare a few months ago.  That was not really true, though.  Some data was provided, but it was data that had been already adjusted.  Therefore, all BEST did was to do statisitcs on the adjusted data, so it made perfect sense that the BEST results were nearly identical to the previous work, the work done by the prosecutor/scientists at CRU, GISS and NOAA.  It is precisely the adjustments and the selection of data that is being challenged by the defense/skeptics.   We skeptics, thus, would come up with our counter-theory(ies), except the prosecution is not turning over all the evidence they have.  therefore, we do not have ebough information with which to work, in order to challenge the work of the prosecutors/scientists.

Human activities have been indicted, and we want to have a fair trial, and that means we get to challenge the evidence.  Isn’t that the way it is in any civilized nation, the way it is in any civilized courtroom?

I fail to see why supporters of the global warming argument mock us with ad hominem name calling (deniers” being the most egregious).  What about our case do they not get?  The activity of humans deserves to have a fair trial.  And that means hearing both sides of the case.  We all know that in the 1988-1990 period, when the “consensus” about global warming was first being  claimed, there was no fair trial.  The prosecutors acted as judge, jury, and executioner.  We did not hear any debate about the other side of the issue.  Everyone was told, “There IS no other side. All the opposition is manufactured by the oil industry, and we can’t trust any of it.  Our case is the only one worth listening to, and everyone should just ignore them.” Anyone reading this knows this is true: No debate has ever been held on this.  The prosecutor’s side ran around screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and everyone has been expected to accept it without debate.  The skeptics simply want to have their work replicated by someone outside the prosecutor’s office.


It is a sad thing that for a long time there WAS no debate.  Finally, when some people said, “Wait a minute! Are you sure?” The prosecutors said, “No fair!  We already concluded this!  Go home and shut up!  Move along!  There is nothing to see here!”


For some, the moment that began the defense of human activity was when Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” graph was presented, ten times as big as a lottery winner’s check.  Here is the IPCC version of it:

That is one of my own clear moments where I asked, incredulously, “WTF is going on here?”  That was because I knew from school that there had been two extreme periods in the last 1,200 years.  One, the Medieval Warm Period (about 900 AD to about 1350 AD), was extremely warm.  The other, the Little Ice Age (about 1400 AD to about 1800 AD), was extremely cool.  And neither one of them showed up on this anointed graph of Michael Mann’s. I myself also vehemently disagreed with the amount of the cooling and warming; I still do not believe that such small quantitative differences can produce such great extremes.  For example, the Vikings farmed in Greenland, when it was only 0.7C or so warmer than in 1900?  I find that impossible.  I believe someone has screwed up.  I do have my very clear reasons, but this is for another discussion.

The IPCC’s first graph, with the WMP and the LIA

I though, “Surely, someone will notice that oversight – the missing MWP and missing LIA – and point out the error of Mann’s ways.  Every meteorologist and climatologist in the world knows that those periods existed, so Mann must have screwed up.  Right?  Yeah, they will catch it.”  Wrong.  Instead of calling him out on it, everyone acted as if the MWP and the LIA had simply never existed.  It was as if Micheal Mann had time traveled to 850 AD and killed the grandfather of the MWP and the LIA, meaning that they were never born.

That was in 1998, and my skepticism pretty much dates from that time.  I began looking to see what kind of studies had been done.  I especially wanted to see what papers had proven that climate variability or climate were not the cause.  Other causes I was interested in, too – such as sunspot cycles, changes in the output of the Sun.  I wondered isf any of those might have been positively ruled out.  I write this in very early 2012, and still have not found anthing but assertions.  I’ve found no empirical studies that eliminate the other likely suspects.

I’ve since learned that basically there were two conferences in Switzerland in the 1980s, at which basically no one except environmentalists were invited.  The consensus among those enivronmentalists was that human indsustrial activity was putting more CO2 into the atmosphere, in line with Arrhenius’ late 19th century speculation.  In the 1970s we had been in the depths of the coldest period since the Little Ice Age, bringing some to wonder if we were going into a new Ice Age.  One of the organizations sounding the alarm about the coming Ice Age was no other than the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the UK.  Snce the 1980s, CRU has been at the forefront of exactly the opposite – telling all the world that a crime is being committed – the indiscriminate release of massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing the climate to warm.  Coming less than ten years after that cold spell, it didn’t occur to anyone among them to ask if it might be NORMAL for the world to warm up after an extended cold spell.  Instead they started making the case against human activity, and then began telling the world that such activities were going to destroy the world, if severe sanctions were not imposed.

From about 1988 until Mann’s paper in 1998, there were few people who didn’t hear the alarm, and few who asked, “Is it true?”  Mann’s hockey stick seemed to galvanize the people who did ask that question, and the beginnings of what are called climate skeptic blogs began to appear in the early 2000s.  The skeptics in essence became activists resisting the claim that human industrial activity was causing the climate to warm to dangerous levels.  The prosecutors – the environmentalist climate scientists – expressed a great deal of vitriol at the newcomers who disagreed with them.  Since the prosecutors had had their way for over ten years, at least a bit of hubris had set in, and it manifested in accusations leveled against the “skeptics” that they were paid shills for the oil industry.  Though no evidence has ever pbeen produced, over a decade later, the same charges continue to be made.

Prosecutors and defense council are never expected to be pals.  There is no reason that this case should be any different.  The climate scientists/prosecutors are not happy that their pronouncements of guilt are being challenged.  That is to be expected.  The defense/skeptics continue to point out the flaws in the prosecution’s case.  The ongoing case is still to be decided.  Of course, the real proof will be in what the climate does over the next several decades.  HOwever, with the prosecution asking the public to fund remedial actions that will, if enacted, seriously affect the economic activity of the nations of the world, the case can’t go on for decades.  They are asking for us to reach for our wallets now, to not wait to see what the evidence shows over the long term.  They assert that “we can’t wait any longer, we need to punish the perpetrators now.”

So, the defense’s approach was a holding action, while pecking away at the prosecution’s case.  All the while the prosecution has pushed for a summary judgement.  It appeared that they would succeed, but just before a critical juncture, some evidence was leaked implicating the prosecution scientists in a conspiracy to hide exculpatory evidence.  This caused a firestorm of support for the defense and was extremely injurious to the prosecution’s case.

As of this time, the case is still open, and the jury is still out.  But at least now the defense has begun to be heard, and the prosecution lost its mojo and the almost absolute monopoly on informing the public of the merits of the case.

Nothing is certain  right now as to the eventual outcome of the case, because it is not known yet how permanent the damage to the prosecution’s case has been.  A second batch of pertinent evidence has come out in the last two months, and it all seems to confirm the conspiracy to hide pertinent facts from the court.

The case seems now destined to go on for a long time.  The defendant is still free on its own recognizance.  More to come in this long and complicated case.  The fat lady has not sung yet.

7 responses to “The Monkey Trial, Global Warming version…

  1. jonathan frodsham

    Thanks for that: Good stuff. Keep you the good work. I would love to see a trial.

  2. Perfect summation of the situation. The fact is that the alarmist clique has no verifiable facts supporting Michael Mann’s preposterous doomsday scenario. His is a true Chicken Little scare story, based not on scientific facts, but on a debunked alarmist head fake.

    There is nothing unusual happening with the climate. In fact, we are fortunate to be in a “Goldilocks climate”: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. And more CO2 has not had any measurable effect, except to enhance the greening of the planet. The added CO2 has been entirely beneficial. There is zero verified global harm, therefore CO2 is harmless. All of the alarmist predictions have been falsified; ALL of them.

    The worm is turning. It will take a lot more time, energy and commitment. But when the worm turns, it turns with a vengeance. When Mann’s lies are exposed to the public, he will have no choice but to run for the hills.

  3. Smokey, I can’t disagree with anything you say, really. I DO think that they all think their assumptions are correct, so to them, they ARE facts. They just don’t meet my own standards, which I believe are based on the scientific method. For example, they should have – one by one – falsified alternate explanations about warming, such as solar irradiance, Milankovitch cycles, sunspot cycles, natural variability, our exiting the Little Ice Age only 200 years ago, etc. When I saw they had not done that, they lost me as an ally. It SEEMED reasonable, warming, and that humans may have had something to do with it. But reasonable hypotheses are a dime a dozen – they aren’t science until they have been shown to be supported by the evidence AND have predictive powers. So, to me, the science simply isn’t proven.

    Just discussing, not critiquing:
    As to the courtroom analogy, I’ve never heard of a prosecutor or cop who did not think – once the case got to court – that his take on the facts is the correct one. But that is what court rooms are for, to separate fact from opinion, even if that opinion is an informed one – especially to prevent convicting an innocent person. I guarantee you that the warmists have informed opinions – it’s just that they start out with that prosecutorial bias. On WUWT,, and, I’ve engaged in a few discussions about ‘confirmation bias,’ in which people pass much less critical judgment on evidence that seems to agree with their position. I know I do that myself, even though I try not to. I also read an article about science students at Standford who had a similar bias regarding evidence, in which it was discussed in terms of having blinders. They were almost literally blind (willingly is a bit harsh so I won’t say that) to evidence that did not agree with them. (This has staggering implications for science, BTW.)

    I assure you – and all the rest of the skeptics – that the warmists do believe that what they are presenting is facts. I simply don’t happen to agree with them – either that they are facts, nor that they are any kind of proof. And to convict humans of creating a catastrophe, it takes more than ones-sided assertions, no matter HOW informed the accusers opinions are.

    As to the Goldilocks climate, absolutely, you are correct. There is a TOTAL tendency in science – due to the Uniformitarian principle – to believe that when a phenomenon or a system is seen for the first time, that it has been that way forever. While some may think that is natural, I disagree. A first viewing is only a moment in the continuum. Uniformitarianism dictating a static environment (used in the broader sense of the word) is one of its flaws.

    The worm HAS turned, and it has to do with the efforts of the skeptics, that is certain. For example, at WUWT today, there is a blog post about Climategate 2 email #400, in which Anthony Watts’ efforts (using the NCDC’s own standards for grading) to grade the meteorological stations has the head of the NCDC, Tom Karl, thinking they need to use another set of sites (i.e., another data set), because he recognizes the validity of Watts’ criticism.

    Most of the damage done to the warmist cause is due to Climategate, the first one. See my post here “Was Climategate Conclusive In the AGW War?” at (cross-posted at WUWT).

  4. jonathan –

    The closest I’ve seen to a trial is a debate at MIT which included the late Michael Crichton on the side of the skeptics. It is available on YouTube. They took a poll before and then one after, and a LOT of people were swayed away from the warmist POV, just in the span of an hour. The skeptics kept bringing in facts, and the warmists kept appealing to authority and ‘what everyone knows.” It was not a winning warmist strategy!

    The whole thing should have been challenged way back in the 1980s, certainly by the 1990s. A debate or trial at this late stage – if it ever happens – would still be a black eye on science, because people will ask, “Why wasn’t all this contradictory evidence brought up back in 1988?” IOW, why wasn’t the defense allowed to speak up?

  5. What an interesting court system that would be, that in order to find someone Not Guilty, the defense in a criminal trial was required to prove that someone else – someone specific – perpetrated the crime instead.

    feet2thefire, Speaking of feet to the fire, in 1982 Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton was found guilty of the murder of her daughter Azaria. Lindy C-C was sentenced to life, her husband Michael (at the time) charged with being an accessory to murder.

    The Northern Territory Coroner will this month (2/2012) reopen the case because further evidence was provided of dingo attacks on children. In 2010 Lindy requested to have the cause of death amended on the death certificate of her daughter Azaria.

    It is now almost 32 years since baby Azaria disappeared that Lindy and her family have lived through the ‘facts, the evidence, the experts, the media’ and the public sentiment. A truly astonishing case and a truly remarkable family that faced all that [horror] and still each family member has the capacity to love and forgive. But not forget, their little daughter and sister.

  6. feet2thefire,

    As always, well thought out comments. I always appreciate your reasonable intellect.

    Also, many of the warmist crowd truly believe in their ‘save the earth’ position. Maybe most of them. But like Gresham’s Law, the dishonest fanatics eventually force out the sincere true believers. Stalin eliminated Lenin, and there are a hundred similar examples of the extremists liquidating the moderates for political power; for evil, never for good.

  7. Smokie, don’t forget that Stalin was, first and foremost, a bureaucrat who knew the inner workings of everything. And he knew where threats were going to come from. It has long been thought that he had Lenin killed in the first place. And he got RID of all the true believers, Trotsky and all. Trotsky he had to reach out to Mexico City to get, but he got him in the end. It is the H.R. types that I think the world has to worry about the most. They make everybody a number and evaluate based on value to The Machine.

    As to warmists and ‘save the earth’, everybody does that, in one way or another. You don’t think Karl Rove thinks he is saving his world from Liberals? Or that Cheney wasn’t trying to save the world from politicians, in his quest to bring all power into the White House? Once a person or group sees another group as the devil incarnate, their own humanity goes out the window and everybody and everything is fair game. It becomes an “us vs them’ or “our world threatened by their distorted reality.” We’d really be better off if we just broke up into two countries. Maybe three – I would want to go with the true independents.

    Personally, I think most of us skeptics tend to think the Liberals want to kill freedom and tax the Marlboro Man (representing the not ever really real independent macho male of our dads’ generation) out of existence. The Liberals have no such interest, though. They just think that some people are harming other people, and they are trying to find ways of keeping the injury from happening. It is the same reason we started police and military in the first place, so it is odd that the Conservatives who support law-and-order and a strong military don’t see that protecting little people from carcinogens and (the formerly very real) pollution. Global warming is absolutely the WRONG line in the sand, though. The science is bad, bordering on non-existent. If it was real, it would be fighting the good fight, and I’d be joining them. But it isn’t. So I am not.

    I am ALWAYS on the side of the little guy. I don’t accept the “trickle down theory”. I agree with daddy Geo Bush – it is voodoo economics. We have all gotten screwed and are going to keep on being screwed until we – all of us Joe Main Streeters – learn that the “übers” are not on our side.

    I personally think the über-wealthy have manipulated things so that a lot of Joe Main Streets are fighting their battle for them (the übers make sure that abortion and gay marriage are mentioned often enough so that the Main Streeters don’t notice how they can’t afford to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart anymore). And the übers are laughing all the way to the bank. And back to the bank. And back to the bank… And we are all suckers. And until the Joe Main Streeters wake up to being played for fools, nothing can ever change. It will always be the über-wealthy coming away with all the wealth, and the rest of us being lucky if our lives are more than week-to-week. remember the song “Ooby Dooby”? Well, we are all playing a song called “Über Do Me.”

    And BTW, I appreciate that you think my positions on things are well-thought out. I don’t come at any of them hip-shooting. I’ve thought long and hard on all this stuff. It doesn’t mean I am right, but it does mean I will make some good points along the way. Hahaha – you must be pretty smart yourself, if you can recognize good points!…LOL

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