04 August 2010

Romm on the Attack

[UPDATE 8/13: I see that Clive Crook has revised his posts that Joe Romm complained about. I wonder if Romm will be satisfied?  I'd guess not.]

Joe Romm is going after Clive Crook, a senior editor of The Atlantic, a columnist for National Journal, and a commentator for the Financial Times.  In a venting that is extreme even for Romm, he demands that Crook be sued and fired -- and calls for an email campaign to the Atlantic.  I've never met Crook, but I have long found his political arguments to be cogent and well worth reading.  I have also had my experiences with Joe Romm.  So, I am not surprised at what I found when I looked into this issue.

Here are Crook's two "libelous" offenses according to Romm:

First, Romm accuses Crook of "fabricating a quote" when Crook wrote of the Penn State investigation of Michael Mann that:
Three of four allegations are dismissed out of hand at the outset: the inquiry announces that, for “lack of credible evidence“, it will not even investigate them.
What did the inquiry actually report on the "three of four allegations" (here in PDF)?
Finding #1: ". . . no credible evidence . . ."
Finding #2: ". . . no credible evidence . . ."
Finding #3: ". . . no credible evidence . . ."
Crook should have put the quote mark before "credible" rather than "lack of."  There was no substantive harm done.  A firing offense?  Get real.

Second, and I don't even understand this one, Romm accuses Crook of falsely associating Mann with the infamous "trick" and "hide the decline" comments from the East Anglia emails.  Why Romm thinks this is a fabrication is beyond me as it was the Penn State investigation that correctly associated Mann with these phrases (here in PDF):
[I]n 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” 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.
Whatever you think about the East Anglia emails, for Crook to write about Mann being involved in the discussion about the "trick" and "hide the decline" is perfectly proper.  It isn't the first time Romm has made stuff in order to attack someone.  I know a bit about that.

In short, Romm's attack is unhinged and bizarre.  More than any individual -- James Inhofe and Marc Morano included -- Joe Romm is responsible for creating a poisonous, negative atmosphere in the climate debate.  Responsible voices should say so, this nonsense has gone on long enough.

46 comments:

Tom said...

Hey, maybe you two should have a debate! Oh. Umm...

Matt said...

I genuinely feel bad for Joe sometimes, I think this grade of zealotry betrays a deep seated, self-directed frustration. The more he "eviscerates" moderate voices for deviating from his particular orthodoxy the more he will marginalize himself and reveal what he truly is: a partisan hack. I don't understand how Friedman and Krugman can take this guy seriously.

Mike M. said...

As a street level "denier" I strongly oppose any muzzling of Joe Romm. In fact I encourage a left wing network like MSNBC to give Joe his own show. Normal people who are, whether by choice or apathy, undecided on the subject of CAGW will certainly be put off by Joe's unpleasant behavior.

Harrywr2 said...

If Joe Romm didn't exist Peabody Coal would have to create him :)

Ron Broberg said...

Your recap seems to miss some of the meat of Romm's complaint.

Romm points out that Crook has fabricated a quote and then attributed it to Mann.

The fabricated quote is "the trick to hide the decline." Indeed, there is no such phrase in the hacked emails. It is a concatenation of two separate phrases.

And the email that Crook is using to fabricate that quote comes from Jones, not Mann.

You might like Crook, Dr Pielke, and dislike Dr. Romm. But Romm clearly stands firmer on the facts. Crook is playing fast and loose with the facts, inventing new ones when he needs to, to smear Dr Mann. I am sorry to see you appear to be supporting the smear campaign rather than the call to stick to actual facts.

Nevertheless, I consider the call for lawsuits and firings to be over the line.

Craig 1st said...

"Here's Johnny" Romm. Serious axe to grind.

Barba Rija said...

But Romm clearly stands firmer on the facts.

Really? Now that's a new one.

Harrywr2 said...

"Romm, he demands that Crook be sued"

Romm should really read up on the legal concept of reciprocal discovery in libel suits.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

5-Ron

Crook accurately references that discussion to the emails, not to Mann specifically. Again, even under your and Romm's interpretation there is no substantive implication - "trick" to "hide the decline" versus "trick to hide the decline" -- that is a smear? Seriously?

C3 said...

As a daily reader and admirer of your blog, I must admit there are times your postings are infuriating. Don't get me wrong, your take on Joe Romm's bizarre threats seems entirely reasonable and appropriate. But it always appears you are needing to prove your liberal creds by inserting some gratuitous slander against admitted skeptics.

Let's be honest: Joe Romm has no equals. And to suggest those persons holding opposing views (skeptics) behave in a similar threatening fashion is frankly unprofessional, and gratuitous.

Or, put it this very simple way: remove the entire prior sentence to the last sentence of your post - if done, would that sentence removal change the importance of your post's message. Nope, not one single iota.

Roger, why make reference to Inhofe and Morano when its totally irrelevant to Romm's behavior? Honestly, if some blogger made an off-the-wall, gratuitous reference like this about your father, would you consider it fair? Would he?

I think you should leave the gratuitous slander to Joe Romm and the rest of us bloggers. Why not stick to the high road, Roger? It serves you well and is very welcome within this very venomous debate, at least in my opinion.

C3 Editor

charlesahart said...

Crooks response.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/08/more-on-climategate/60857/

"He and people like him are their own worst enemies."

Indeed.

Ron Broberg said...

Again, even under your and Romm's interpretation there is no substantive implication - "trick" to "hide the decline" versus "trick to hide the decline" -- that is a smear?

Yes.

Did Crook create the phrase "trick to hide the decline"?
Did Crook falsely attribute his invented phrase to Dr Mann?

If the facts were sufficient, then Crook could have stuck to the facts. He was either too lazy to become informed or he had to invent facts to bolster his point - which was to defame Dr. Mann.

In the vein of the discussion of the last few days ...

Is Crook displaying an 'expert' opinion?
Is Crook displaying an 'ill-informed' opinion?

Does the Honest Broker attempt to distinguish fact from fiction?
Or does he give a pass to the fiction, in order to allow the larger point to remain in play?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-9-C3

The message to Romm's supporters should be obvious -- their biggest enemy (a role often filled by JI and MM) is in their own camp.

I think that Morano's encouragement of emails to various scientists etc. and Inhofe's clownish calls for criminal investigations fit the bill as I described them. If that is gratuitous slander, then we are defining those terms down a la Romm, no?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-12-Ron Broberg

No point going around and around on this, but here is a last reply:

A. "Did Crook create the phrase "trick to hide the decline"?"

Don't know. Could be a mistake. Doesn't really matter in all honesty. As far as fabrications go, pretty weak tea.

B. Did Crook falsely attribute his invented phrase to Dr Mann?

No, absolutely not. Here is Corrk's sentence:

"Well. It seems to me, and I dare say to other open-minded readers, that the talk in the emails of a “trick to hide the decline” raised the reasonable suspicion that a trick had been used to hide the decline. "

There is no reference to Mann specifically there, but to "talk in the emails" a perfectly fair characterization of the PSU report.

Your questions about the "honest broker" are far from how I use the term in my book, so I'll pass. I will comment on this:

"Or does he give a pass to the fiction, in order to allow the larger point to remain in play?"

Is this some sort of test to see whether or not Americans get irony? ;-)

Ron Broberg said...

A. "Did Crook create the phrase "trick to hide the decline"?"

Don't know. Could be a mistake. Doesn't really matter in all honesty.


I agree with you here. The veracity of Crook's quotes in reference to Dr. Mann doesn't really matter in the context of this thread. ;-)

gmcrews said...

Does Romm really pose a danger to rational climate debate? I don't think so. Climate McCarthyism is self-destructive. Romm is only destroying himself.

Another thing. I understand completely why you mention JI and MM in the same breath as Romm. How can I distinguish fair and balanced authoritative voices from unfair and unbalanced authoritative voices when I have no expertise myself? Exactly. Noticing if the authoritative voice is willing to criticize both extremes.

markbahner said...

"Well. It seems to me, and I dare say to other open-minded readers, that the talk in the emails of a “trick to hide the decline” raised the reasonable suspicion that a trick had been used to hide the decline."

So, Ron Broberg, would you consider it to be acceptable and accurate if Clive Crook had written:

"Well. It seems to me, and I dare say to other open-minded readers, that the talk in the emails of a 'trick' to 'hide the decline' raised the reasonable suspicion that a trick had been used to hide the decline."

Ron Broberg said...

Accurate quoting is always preferable to make stuff up. Surely we can agree on that.

It would take some more work, within that op-ed, to make it clear that email belonged to Dr Jones and was referring to divergence in Dr Briffa's data since no one is mentioned by name by Crook except Dr Mann.

A journalist with integrity might even take the time to discover and report that Mann's 'trick' that Jones was referring to was documented in the journal Nature in 1998. And that the 'decline' was similarly documented in Nature the same year.

But I think making it clear that Mann never wrote the phrase Crook is trying to hang around his neck and the 'trick' referred to was documented in a science journal a year before the email was written would largely undermine Crook's obvious effort to discredit Mann.

Being open-minded is admirable. Making stuff up and mis-attributing, less so. When anyone with half a brain (and I claim no more) and Google can poke holes in your editorial, maybe you should take the time to make the corrections that would let it stand up to the least bit of skepticism.

Scruffy Dan said...

More than any individual -- James Inhofe and Marc Morano included -- Joe Romm is responsible for creating a poisonous, negative atmosphere in the climate debate

What!!! As someone who has had his email posted on Morano's site I absolutely disagree. Morano directs a level of hate that is truly astounding. And then there is his comments about flogging climate scientists. Has Romm ever called for violence? Do people he target get death threats? (This is an honest question, I don't know but my impressions is no).

Romm might bend the truth (and get bent out of shape on a daily basis), but Morano twists the truth beyond all recognition

And Inhofe, took it much farther than demand that someone be sued and fired. Inhofe wanted criminal prosecutions, and he has much greater power than Romm, so his threats are even more serious.

Malcolm said...

Forget saving the planet, skeptics should be arguing, "Save Joe Romm".

Romm's recalcitrant rants are riotously ruminant,

i.e. BS.

Ian Blanchard said...

I thnk Crook deserves just a slight censure for his inaccurate quote. If it hadn't been in quote marks or had included an ellipsis then no problems. As with Judith Curry on RealClimate recently regarding 'The Hockey Stick Illusion', a little inaccuracy (whether of recollection or of phrasing) gets blown up and can be used to give the impression of invalidating reasonable points.

However, again we have a high profile advocate of CAGW going way over the top. Seriously, as a skeptic (at least of the case of big warming) and in a PR battle, I'd want to invent a Joe Romm character - a virtual caricature of all that is wrong with the arguments being put forward.

I also accept that the skeptic / denier side does its fair share of shooting itself in the foot. Plenty of sensible comment and observation gets drowned out (worse on some of the blogs than others) by the noisy right wingers claiming it's all a conspiracy.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-19-Scruffy Dan

"Do people he target get death threats? (This is an honest question, I don't know but my impressions is no)"

Unfortunately, yes.

jgdes said...

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Feed on the real quote then, which is actually worse because it condemns Jones, Mann and the acquiescent Briffa. But then few people who laud this tainted science seem to have deigned to read the emails in "context". They prefer to argue trivia, defend the indefensible, or just haughtily ignore it all and say the "science" isn't affected even if the "scientists" compiling the science are proven to be untrustworthy.

lucia said...

It would take some more work, within that op-ed, to make it clear that email belonged to Dr Jones and was referring to divergence in Dr Briffa's data since no one is mentioned by name by Crook except Dr Mann.

And even more work would required to further make it clear that those men attributed the invention or first use of the "trick" to Mike Mann.

All that work would result in a rambling article.

I don't really understand why an oped discussing the outcome of an investigation into Micheal Mann's use of "Mike's Nature trick.... to hide the decline" is required to mention other people who may have also used the trick.

I'd assume any decent editor would remove all that additional 'clarification' as falling outside the focus of the article which is Mann and the investigation at Penn State, not an analysis of absolutely everything and everybody associated with climategate.

Stan said...

If we are creating a list of people who have created a poisonous, negative atmosphere, Morano and Inhofe don't even make honorable mention. Al Gore? Jim Hansen? Steve Schneider?

The calls for imprisonment for impure thoughts didn't come from skeptics. The ongoing daily slander of motives didn't start with the skeptics. Calling for investigations into fraud is perfectly appropriate when evidence of possible fraud surfaces. The first is totally reprehensible in a free society. The second isn't even poor manners.

Keep in mind the desires of the two sides. The alarmists want to use the violent power of the government to curtail liberty, appropriate property, degrade living standards, and deny opportunity to the world's poor. They want to do this because they say the survival of the planet is at stake.

The skeptics say that these are grossly exaggerated claims founded on dodgy "science" that refuses to incorporate the scientific method. Their desire is that life, liberty and property be protected from the state unless the scientific necessity for government action has been demonstrated.

The vast difference in these goals has a serious moral impact. Both in responsibility and in tactics.

Morally, who has the burden of proof? The alarmists, obviously. Have they made the case? Not even close. So they lie, slander, deny access to data, impugn motives, and deliberately follow the Gore/Schneider strategy of dishonesty in order to frighten people into action.

Finally, some people have started to push back in response and your example of those causing the poisonous atmosphere are those pushing back?

Bizarre.

Ron Broberg said...

Lucia: All that work would result in a rambling article.

It doesn't have to be a rambling article. Here try this:

The investigation at Penn State found no credible evidence of wrong doing by Dr. Mann. Open-minded readers will realize that the use of the phrase 'trick' by Dr. Jones to refer to a published statistical method by Dr. Mann is hardly credible evidence of wrong doing on the part of Dr. Mann.

See. That was fair, accurate, factual, and succint. It involved no fabrications or mis-attributions. If I can do it, so can Crook.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-26-Ron Broberg

This is an interesting comment as you have changed the substance of Crook's complaint -- that he was not convinced by the PSU investigation. It is fairly obvious that Romm doesn't like Crook's opinion so is making up charges of libel.

Can you answer -17- above?

Ron Broberg said...

A fair, accurate, factual, and succint statement changes the substance of Crook's complaint? Hmmmmmm.... ;-)

I believed that I answered #17 by #18. Is there something unanswered for which you would like my opinion?

As to Romm, I applaud his call for corrections/clarifications to the man who fabricated and mis-attributed to make his point. I condemn his call for firings and legal action - just as I have when such suggestions have been floated by Inhofe, Monckton, Cucinnelli, and Monckton (again).

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-28-Ron

Since the issues raised by Romm have to do with fabrication of quotes. A simple yes or no to -17- would be great. Thanks!

Ron Broberg said...

In my opinion: No

I do not consider the phrasing in #17 sufficient to clarify that the email in question did not originate with Dr. Mann (mis-attribution). I do consider the suggested phrasing sufficient to remove the issue of fabrication of quotes.

As long as Crook continues to obfuscate the fact that the "hide the decline" email did not originate with Dr Mann, his op-ed is not honestly addressing the issue of its relevance (or more to the point - its lack of relevance) to Dr Mann's actions.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-30-Ron

Thanks for the clarification. This is my last response on this, so feel free to have the last word.

I see absolutely to the issue that you raise about the the origin of the email with the words "trick . . . to hide the decline."
http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=154&filename=942777075.txt

The PSU investigation did not either, as they directly referenced it and associate it to Mann as follows: " ... 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 ..."

Crook said: " ... the talk in the emails of a 'trick' to 'hide the decline'..."

In short, there is absolutely no problem here as you allege, and certainly nothing approaching fabrication or libel.

You may think that Crook is wrong, misleading, unhelpful or whatever. But in terms of the factual charges that you (and Romm) levy, they are without merit.

All best!

Ron Broberg said...

Roger - in defense of Crook, you have misquoted him (check your single tick quote marks). :lol:

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-32-Ron

Uh-oh ... lawsuit! Fire him! ;-)

dagfinn said...

This is sort of tangential to this particular post, but I find it fascinating. As a result of the previous discussions, I just happened to discover that Schneider believed Crook was responsible for having misquoted him. "the Economist...ran a partial quote (also taken from the Discover article) without even calling me to see if it was valid. (See the quote from the Economist. The 'brave' editor of this attack does not even sign his polemic, but I am told it was Clive Crook." (http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Mediarology/MediarologyFrameset.html)

According to Schneider and http://climatesight.org/2009/04/12/the-schneider-quote/, the meaning of Schneider's "infamous quotation" was changed completely by misquoting. My problem is that even after reading Schneider's explanation, I don't get it. I can't find a clear answer to the simple question of why he believed that "we have to offer up scary scenarios". The intent behind that is still not clear to me.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-34-dagfinn

The issue, I believe, was the inclusion (or not) of the last sentence in the excerpt from Schneider that I discuss here:

http://cstpr.colorado.edu/prometheus/?p=3922

Talking about tradeoffs between effectiveness and honesty was probably guaranteed to get SS in some hot water, regardless of what he hoped for.

dagfinn said...

-35-Roger

Yes, I know it's about the last sentence. And my issue was that I couldn't see how that last sentence was seen as so important. To use your expression from the Prometheus post, the excerpt is underdetermined with or without it.

hro001 said...

Ron Broberg, you claimed that use of the phrase "'trick' to 'hide the decline'" was a "fabrication" used "to smear Dr Mann".

That being the case ... The Penn State Inquiry's "Finding", as Roger had noted, was:

"they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick” 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."

It would appear that you do not agree with the above Finding - and, by implication, that anyone who might have used a 'trick' to 'hide the decline' is, in fact, deserving of censure.

How else could one explain your rather puzzling determination that use of "'trick' to 'hide the decline'" is a "smear" against anyone?

Barba Rija said...

Has Romm ever called for violence? Do people he target get death threats?

Well, after Romm makes this hit piece on Crook, Crook got this comment on his newspaper website:

You deserve to die and your children need to be taken out of the gene pool...

http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/04/atlantic-...)

You are so incredibly fucking retarded you rival even McMegan. It's ridiculous how a child-raping mongrel like yourself can be hired by the same magazine that employs Andrew Sullivan. I should flay you and your wife and have you trade skins, you absolute waste of all human components.


Notice the link, telling clearly where he got his ideas.

Crispin said...

It is interesting to read how many posters here have concentrated on the culpability of Crook for trying to hang the phrase around Mann's neck. Anyone who is well read knows that it was Jones who said it, and far worse in my mind, did it! And who did he learn it from? And do you think they discussed how to do it? And who provided the instruction in this art of trickery?

Do you think the motivation for tricking the readers of their publication was good amd moral? Was its purpose to pretend that tree ring data was a more accurate and indicative of temperature that it actually is?

It is clear from the context what happened: the quote and the subsequent revelations show that the 'trick' was invented by Mann, used by him in a Nature paper (which amounts to an undersigned lie), shared as a method of hiding data that did not fit a preconceived notion, was copied by Jones, and that Jones, in an virtual form, celebrated his success in this subterfuge with Mann and Briffa in an email. This constitutes a second, undersigned lie.

Why on earth do you waste time talking about whether or not Crook should have used or moved quotation marks?

CAGW and its major scientist promotion team carries with it everywhere the odour of arrogance and perfidious manipulation of data in the service of an undeclared agenda. There is otherwise no need to trick nor to hide, nor to spend so much time deflecting others from a straightforward investigation into the matters revealed in Climategate emails.

As there is so much confidence by the team that all is well, no harm will be done by openness and the agitation by their detractors for justice will cease, right?

If on the other hand there is much to hide from an open investigation, then the strategic importance of all the tricking, hiding and deflecting will no doubt be revealed. Then justice can be done.

jgdes said...

Ron
"Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years" was certainly NOT "a published statistical method" as you wrongly state. The procedure of the "trick" had to be reverse engineered by 2 professional statisticians (not McI) at climateAudit.org. Mann denied doing this "trick" in front of the Wegman panel, saying it would be a very wrong thing to do.

The recent University exoneration consisted of listening to Mann's version of events and stating that as he is so successful at bringing in grant money to the University, he is surely to be believed. In other words, a complete farce which anyone who purports to be "open-minded" would laugh at!

So once again we have fanboys stating that a practice that is wrong, recognised to be wrong by the perpetrators, unpublished and initially denied is somehow good science. Ron is "defending the indefensible" and like others before him, trying to tell us that down is actually up.

Oh for some real open-mindedness. What a revelation that would be.

jgdes said...

That these toytown enquiries of mostly non-experts, that didn't bother to consider the science, the statistics, nor bothered to hear from critics, should be preferred to 2 expert panels which did do that and which concluded that the methods had no skill, the reconstructions were not "independent" at all, and the peer review process was a sham (now verified by the emails) is an object lesson on just how "open-minded" the climate community and their angst-ridden hangers-on really are...

Eric said...

Scruffy Dan

"Morano directs a level of hate that is truly astounding."

...and yet not even close to the invective that comes from Romm. Note #38 above as a representative case.

It is absolutely astounding to me that such high profile columnists as Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman still associate themselves with Romm. It says a great deal about them that they do not distance themselves.

dagfinn said...

-19-Scruffy Dan

I have no particular interest in defending Marc Morano, but he too should be quoted in context: 'He [Morano] doesn't wish anyone harm. But he sees opportunity. "I seriously believe we should kick them while they're down," he said. "They deserve to be publicly flogged."'

At least it should be clear that he didn't mean "flogged" literally.

alanw said...

Offensive oafs like Romm and his mates are so counter-productive to anyone with half a brain that the sceptics could well consider funding them.

Giordano said...

While Joe Romm is being criticized, I thought I'd remind some people of what has preceded and provoked this situation starting from years ago.

For years, AGWs have been the victims of the most vitriolic and outright psychotic accusations by Skeptic leaders like Lord Monckton. They are supposed to be guilty of genocide in Africa killing millions through famine or 40 million children who died from Malaria.

We have also been referred to by every political obscenity imaginable. We are Fascists, Communist, Socialists, Nazi, etc. ad nauseum.

The hypocrisy of mentioning those of us who have decided to respond to the steady stream of insults that have been vomited at our faces.

Cliff said...

A journalist should not make up quotes. Period. Crook did that.

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