As the World Burns, Epidose II: Curry the Quote Miner

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to slime she goes!
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to slime she goes!

UPDATE #1, 8/16, 6:58 PM: Mark Steyn tells me Judith Curry didn’t use the full Phil Jones quote from his book on her blog. See end of article for more info.

My name is Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard). I’m a professional climate change denier and I use this blog to blow the whistle on myself and sometimes others, too.

This is the third blog post in my series covering Judith Curry’s promotion of the latest smear campaign against climatologist Michael Mann. If you are just tuning in to this ongoing drama, I invite you to binge read the prologue and episode 1 to get caught up.

In today’s episode, we continue following Curry into the seedy underbelly of the climate debate with a look at her deployment of quote mining techniques against Mann. For those unfamiliar, quote mining is the crack cocaine for deniers hoping to destroy the reputation of established climate scientists. Unlike putting your nose to the grindstone and writing a well-researched, peer-reviewed, science-based paper to prove adversaries wrong, quote mining supplies deniers like Curry with lots of fast, cheap and easy scores against opponents.

Of course, quote mining has its pitfalls. Once you’ve been spotted using this technique, it’s next to impossible for you to win back your reputation as someone who shoud be taken seriously. Unfortunately for Curry, as we saw in her blog post promoting Steyn’s book, she’s seen taking hard hits from the quote mining crack pipe and appears heavily addicted. It’s sad and tragic to see her throw it all away. But if this is the route Curry wants to go, we must follow. It would be a disservice to the community to avert our eyes and not acknowledge the climate debate’s more unseemly dimensions.

Before we get to that, as an aid to others who don’t follow all the ins and outs of the climate debate, a short primer in quote mining is in order.

Quote mining is the process of digging through mountains of records, documents, testimony, papers, etc. and lifting a few sentences from what a person said or wrote and stripping them of the entire body of work in order to cast someone in an unfavorable light.

Imagine for a moment your biggest enemy hacked your email giving them access to every email you ever wrote and went through it with a fine-toothed comb with the aim of destroying your reputation in the community. Now, 99.99% of what you wrote is benign and demonstrates you are an upstanding citizen doing your best to solve life’s daily challenges. If someone read through all your emails, it would be clear to everyone you have absolutely no evil intentions. Of course, someone out to destroy you isn’t interested in highlighting those mundane emails. They’re looking for the .01% of the emails that can be used against you. Perhaps you and a close friend had a disagreement and you made some pretty rough remarks about her to somebody else. It doesn’t matter if you later worked out your differences with the friend and continue to be close friends today, the person out to smear you is going to highlight and publicize the nasty bits you wrote in order to make the case that you are a mean and uncouth.

But the worst kind of quote mining goes well beyond that. It involves the deliberate misrepresentaion of someone’s words by twisting and torturing them into a completely new meaning. People engaged in this dark art of deception are particularly dishonest and scummy.

Enter once again our antagonists, Mark Steyn and Judith Curry.

I’m going to introduce two mined quotes attributed to Phil Jones, one of Michael Mann’s coauthors on the famous hockey stick graph. The first mined quote from this email is one a mined quote used in Steyn’s book and repeated and highlighted by Curry on her blog. The second quote is one I concocted in order to contrast it with our partners in slime. These mined quotes both come the same email message from Jones to Mann, written in 1999.

Quote #1 (Steyn/Curry mined quote):

Keith [Briffa] didn’t mention in his Science piece but both of us think that you’re on very dodgy ground with this long-term decline in temperatures on the thousand-year timescale. It is better we put the caveats in ourselves than let others put them in for us.

Wow! Sounds pretty sinister. It appears there’s dissention in the ranks and Mann’s own colleagues are worried the entire premise of the hockey stick is on “very dodgy ground.” Jones seems eager to convince Mann to do the right thing and come clean with information that Mann would rather withhold from the public. It looks like, in the end, Mann was able to bully his team into going along with him and the hockey stick is one giant lie. zOMG, Dr. Mann is Dr. Evil!

Well, not so fast. Let’s take a look at a mined quote I created from the very same email.

Quote #2 (Heller Exposed mined quote, emphasis added):

Keith [Briffa] didn’t mention in his Science [journal] piece but both of us think that you’re on very dodgy ground with this long-term decline in temperatures on the 1000 year timescale. What the real world has done over the last 6000 years and what it ought to have done given our understandding of Milankovic forcing are two very different things. I don’t think the world was much warmer 6000 years ago – in a global sense compared to the average of the last 1000 years, but this is my opinion and I may change it given more evidence.

Hmm, sounds like an honest disagreement between two climate researchers. Too shocking for words!

Remember that this email dates all the way back to 1999, in the very formative years of the hockey stick graph. And without more context or famliarity over their debate, it’s impossible to say what the exact nature of the disagreement between Jones and Mann was, but it’s been sixteen years now and the hockey stick still stands the test of time despite the best efforts of denier zealots and powerful political figures to undermine it. Numerous other studies using different temperature reconstruction methods than what Mann used corroborate the hockey stick graph.

And now here’s the entire passage. Everything in italicized bold is what Steyn and Curry purposefully omitted:

1) Keith didn’t mention in his Science piece but both of us think that you’re on very dodgy ground with this long-term decline in temperatures on the 1000 year timescale. What the real world has done over the last 6000 years and what it ought to have done given our understandding of Milankovic forcing are two very different things. I don’t think the world was much warmer 6000 years ago – in a global sense compared to the average of the last 1000 years, but this is my opinion and I may change it given more evidence.

2) The errors don’t include all the possible factors. Even though the tree-ring chronologies used have robust rbar statistics for the whole 1000 years ( ie they lose nothing because core numbers stay high throughout), they have lost low frequency because of standardization. We’ve all tried with RCS/very stiff splines/hardly any detrending to keep this to a minimum, but until we know it is minimal it is still worth mentioning. It is better we ( I mean all of us here) put the caveats in ourselves than let others put them in for us.

Curry and Steyn keep their audience ignorant of all this context and in so doing they twist the original meaning of climatologist Phil Jones’ original email. Why? Why do Curry and Steyn do they deliberately do this? They had access to the full email. They could have linked to it. They could have been careful to point out the nuances of this quote like I did.

But they didn’t. And as I mentioned yesterday, it’s because they have absolutely no interest in painting the larger reality. They’re not interested in informing you, their audience. They don’t care about your need to be well informed about climate change. Steyn/Curry want only to present to you their twisted little sliver of reality where Mann is a master deceiver and bully to help them further whatever selfish agenda they’re trying to push. It demonstrates that Curry and Steyn are nothing but dishonest scum.

But let’s close out this drama on a high note, shall we? Like the good scientists they are, working to arrive at the truth which can be so elusive, Phil Jones and Michael Mann ironed out their differences and went on to refine and improve the hockey stick graph and achieve world fame and help provide understanding about the challenges facing us as a result of CO2 pollution.

We salute Michael Mann and all his colleagues for their pioneering work. We’re sorry they must endure such boorish behavior from a few loud mouths and ignorant dupes. Hang tough, Professor Mann, et al, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Stay tuned, our next episode is coming soon. Thanks for reading.

Click here for Episode III, Judith Curry, Climategate Junkie.

Just got back from a Twitter flame war with Mark Steyn, the man behind the latest swiftboating of Michael Mann, “A Disgrace to the Profession.” As you might guess, he’s just as much of a dick on Twitter as he is in real life. He called me a “pansy.” Tough guy. I’m sure he engaged with me because he thought it could help him stoke a war with Mann to help sell his shitty book. Just another opportunist. I tried to pin him down on the Broecker quote but he was too afraid to go there, using a lame excuse about my anonymity as an out.

However, I was able to squeeze some information out of him with regard to the Phil Jones quote. If what he says is true, it looks like  Curry quote mined Steyn’s quote about Phil Jones. If that’s accurate, then Curry is not just repeating Steyn’s quotes, she is actively involved in manipulating them even further. Here are the relevant tweets:

I assumed, wrongly according to Steyn, that Curry was using the complete quote from Jones on her blog. I guess she’s even more dishonest than I thought.

21 thoughts on “As the World Burns, Epidose II: Curry the Quote Miner

  1. Thanks for the legwork. Another great article. I must admit to being a bit too lazy to look up the original quotes and the follow up email. Context can be everything, especially if that context includes purposefully cut text.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How is Mann’s work ‘pioneering’… an Excel generated Hockey Schtick??… Follow Mann’s graph thru today… 2015… and its so hot we’re all dead…

    Fact is the Models have been way off for 20 years because of incorrect CO2 Sensitivity…

    Yours is just a namecalling trash site… nothing scientific… introspective or groundbreaking here… simply a douché…


    • Thanks. But you are confused. I’m a denier, Tony Heller. It is pretty tragic that our most reputable spokesperson relies on such despicable practices as quote mining, don’t you think? I don’t find that funny in the least.


  3. Tony, you put up a link to your blog below a Washington Post article on a recent big Jakobshavn Glacier calving event. In your blog post you accused everyone of fraud based on some satellite images that according to you showed that Jakobshavn was actually expanding, which is nonsense, of course. You obviously lack experience watching these images and probably don’t know much about Jakobshavn or glaciers in general, as those were clouds, not ice. If that was what you referred to. Maybe you referred to the ice exiting the canyon into Disko Bay, which would be an even bigger rookie mistake.

    Either way, the blog post suddenly isn’t there. I hope you didn’t remove it, it was such a nice testament to your expertise (when it comes to fraud).


  4. I’m totally confused. Steyn purposefully omitted, Steyn kept the audience ignorant, Steyn twisted the original meaning, deliberately did it and is dishonest scum. Or maybe not, if what he says is true?

    Well, is it true?

    And if it is, then shouldn’t you Mann up and apologize to Steyn for unjustly accusing him based on your own faulty research? It doesn’t have to be much of an apology, it could be the sort the Principal used to give me: “Okay, you didn’t commit this particular offense so I apologize for accusing you of it; but you’re still a rotter.”


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