Mike’s Nature Trick

To see an example of “Mike’s Nature Trick,” go here…

Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia

Click this… EIV Temperature Reconstructions

Open up any of the **cru_eiv_composite.csv or **had_eiv_composite.csv files. All of them splice the high frequency instrumental data into the low frequency proxy data. To Mann’s credit, unlike his previous “tricks,” he at least documented this one enough to sort it out.

This statement from their PNAS paper is totally unsupported by proxy reconstructions… “Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years.”

The anomalous nature of the “recent warmth” is entirely dependent on the “tricky” use of the instrumental data. He didn’t use any proxy data post-1855.

This image from Mann’s 2008 paper falsely implies that all of the reconstructions are in general agreement regarding the claim that the “recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years”…

By cluttering up the image with many reconstructions and plastering the instrumental record onto end of the graph, it’s impossible to see any details.

Here are Mann (Had_EIV), Moberg and Ljungqvist without the clutter…

Zoomed in on post-1800…

And Mike’s Nature Trick

The Modern Warming appears anomalous because of the higher resolution of the instrumental record, its position at the tail-end of the time series and the negative deflection of the Little Ice Age trough (ca 1600 AD)…

If the Modern Warming is directly compared to the Medieval Warm Period, it appears to be far less anomalous, despite ithe better resolution of the instrumental record…

Particularly if you clutter the image with multiple reconstructions…

The Modern Warming might be 0.2-0.4°C warmer than the Medieval Warm Period. This would be consistent with a climate sensitivity of 0.5-1.0°C per doubling of the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 level (the Gorebots say the sensitivity is ~3°C). Although the difference between the MW and MWP is well within the margins of error of the proxy and instrumental reconstructions and could easily be explained by the higher resolution of the instrumental record.

The Penn State whitewash of Mike’s Nature Trick was ludicrous…

After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data.

There’s no evidence that Mann intended to suppress or falsify inconvenient data. OK. I’ll buy that. It can’t be proven that he intended to suppress or falsify inconvenient data. It’s entirely possible that he accidentally devised a method to suppress or falsify inconvenient data.

This bit here was laughable…

In fact to the contrary, in instances that have been focused upon by some as indicating falsification of data, for example in the use of a “trick” to manipulate the data, this is explained as a discussion among Dr. Jones and others including Dr. Mann about how best to put together a graph for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. They were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field.

The most benign possible interpretation of the “trick” is that they edited part of Briffa’s reconstruction because the tree ring chronology showed that the early 20th century was warmer than the late 1990′s. So, they just substituted the instrumental record for the tree ring chronology.

I suppose that there is no evidence that Mann did this with intent to deceive… However, when he advised Phil Jones to employ that same method on Keith Briffa’s inconvenient reconstruction, he was intentionally acting to suppress or falsify inconvenient data. The fact that they called it “Mike’s nature trick” sure makes it seem like this sort of thing was SOP.

Taking a set of data that shows that the 1930′s were warmer than the 1990′s and using another data set to reverse that relationship is not bringing “two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion.” It’s a total bastardization of the data.

The NOAA OIG “found eight emails which… warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity of particular NOAA scientists or NOAA’s data.” Most of the 1,073 emails reviewed by NOAA’s OIG did not involve “NOAA scientists or NOAA’s data.”

This is from the OIG’s actual report


In our own review of all 1,073 CRU emails, we found eight emails which, in our judgment, warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity of particular NOAA scientists or NOAA’s data. As a result, we conducted interviews with the relevant NOAA scientists regarding these eight emails, and have summarized their responses and explanations in the enclosure.

In addition to the foregoing, we also found two other emails that raised questions, one regarding a 2002 contract NOAA awarded to the CRU, and the second involving actions on the part of two NOAA scientists in 2007.


As detailed in the enclosure, we recommend that NOAA examine the CRU contract issues implicated by the one email and provide the results to us.


[T]he CRU emails referenced a specific IPCC-related FOIA request received and responded to by NOAA in June 2007 that led to our further examination of how those FOIA requests were handled. We determined that, at the time, NOAA did not conduct a proper search for responsive documents as required under FOIA, and, as a result, did not have a sufficient basis to inform the requesters that it had no responsive documents. Given that federal agencies are legally obligated to publicly disclose records under the terms of FOIA, we recommend that NOAA conduct a proper search for responsive records as required by the FOIA, and reassess its response to the four FOIA requests in question, as appropriate. Additionally, based on the issues we identified in NOAA’s handling of these particular FOIA requests, NOAA should consider whether these issues warrant an overall assessment of the sufficiency of its FOIA process.


The FOIA is particularly troublesome. NOAA claims that work they do related to the IPCC is not subject to FOIA and that they do not have to respond to FOIA requests related to IPCC-related work. NOAA informed the OIG that they made that determination based on legal counsel. The career attorneys, NOAA claims provided the advice, say that they were never asked for such advice and there is no record of NOAA receiving such advice…

Thwarting FOIA

“The Co-Chair of the IPCC AR4 WG1, who was the only NOAA scientist informed of any of the aforementioned FOIA requests, told us that she did not conduct a ‘comprehensive search’ for and forward potentially responsive documents for agency processing. This was based, in part, on her understanding that her IPCC-related work product was the property of the IPCC, due to the confidentiality provisions contained in many of the documents. In addition, she reportedly received verbal guidance from her supervisor and a NOAA OGC attorney that the IPCC-related documents she had created and/or obtained while on “detail” assignment to the IPCC did not constitute NOAA records.” [Emphasis added]

“We interviewed the two NOAA OGC attorneys whom the Co-Chair and her supervisor referenced during their interviews with us to determine what, if any, advice the attorneys provided to these individuals. Both attorneys specifically told us that they had not advised the Co-Chair or her supervisor on this matter at the time NOAA received the FOIA requests referenced herein. One attorney said that he never spoke to the Co-Chair about that issue, while the second attorney told us that he was consulted only after NOAA had already responded to the FOIA requesters that it had no responsive documents.” [Emphasis added]

“Based on our interviews of the two NOAA OGC attorneys, we followed-up with the Co-Chair and her supervisor, both of whom again told us that their handling of the aforementioned FOIA requests was based on advice they had received from these two specific attorneys. We requested from the Co-Chair and her supervisor documentation of any discussions with the NOAA OGC attorneys on this matter, which they were unable to provide. As such, we were unable to reconcile the divergent accounts.” [Emphasis added]


FOIA includes provisions as to what constitutes an “agency record.” Under FOIA, an agency must exert sufficient control over the requested documents to render them “agency records” such as would be subject to disclosure. To qualify as agency records, documents must be created or obtained by the agency and under its control at the time the FOIA request is made.23 The Co-Chair informed us that the IPCC process was governed by an implicit policy of confidentiality with respect to, for example, the pre-decisional correspondences of its members. We examined IPCC-related records in the possession of NOAA employees, some of which contained the directive “Do Not Cite or Quote,” and others of which had “Confidential. Do Not Cite or Quote.” However, none of the NOAA employees with whom we spoke who participated in the IPCC AR4 recalled explicit IPCC policies or procedures pertaining to the confidentiality of the material produced as part of the assessment process. Absent such an unambiguous directive, in our view, the IPCC did not demonstrate a clear intent to retain control over the records created or obtained by NOAA employees.24

OIG Report, Page 18

One of the “eight emails which… warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity”…

CRU email #1140039406. This email, dated February 15,2006, documented exchanges between several climate scientists, including the Deputy Director of CRU, related to their contributions to chapter six ofthe IPCC AR4. In one such exchange, the Deputy Director of CRU warned his colleagues not to “let [the Co-Chair of AR4 WGl] (or [a researcher at Pennsylvania State University]) push you (us) beyond where we know is right” in terms of stating in the AR4 “conclusions beyond what we can securely justify.”

The CRU’s Keith Briffa was warning his colleagues to not allow NOAA’s Susan Solomon or Penn State’s Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann to coerce them into going along with unsupportable conclusions. This particular e-mail exchange dealt extensively with paleoclimate reconstructions. Briffa also urged his colleagues not to “attack” Anders Moberg, who had recently published a climate reconstruction which actually honored the data and used proper signal processing records.

Susan Solomon is the NOAA official who claimed that NOAA work related to the IPCC was not subject to FOIA.

Michael Mann was the lead author of the thoroughly debunked original Hockey Stick.

Keith Briffa was the lead author of one of the problematic reconstructions in which “Mike’s Nature Trick” was employed to “hide the decline.”


Ljungqvist, F.C. 2010.
A new reconstruction of temperature variability in the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere during the last two millennia.
Geografiska Annaler: Physical Geography, Vol. 92 A(3), pp. 339-351, September 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-459.2010.00399.x

Mann, M.E., Z. Zhang, M.K. Hughes, R.S. Bradley, S.K. Miller, S. Rutherford, and F. Ni. 2008.
Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, No. 36, September 9, 2008. doi:10.1073/pnas.0805721105

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005.
Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data.
Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.

Instrumental Data from Hadley Centre / UEA CRU via Wood for Trees


One Response to “Mike’s Nature Trick”

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