david b asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 10 years ago

So is Richard Muller no longer a trustworthy scientist?

A few weeks ago, skeptics were abuzz with the addition of Richard Muller to the list of prominent scientists who were skeptical of AGW.

Now that his preliminary results are contradictory to the conspiracy theories of massaged climate data, is Muller no longer an important scientist?

Will deniers and skeptics continue to praise him, or has he cast himself into the liberal elite, thus earning their scorn?

Do you think Anthony Watts will support Muller's findings as he promised he would?

Further commentary from Paul Krugman


6 Answers

  • A Guy
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    IMHO, a scientist who is willing to adjust his opinion to fit the data (rather than the other way around), is a good scientist.

  • 10 years ago

    Denialist Republicans invited Muller to testify before the recent climate congressional hearing. I don't think they were happy with the results. He did make some incorrect statements about the hockey stick and "hide the decline", which is a subject he is very confused about:


    But he also effectively dispelled the "surface temperature record is unreliable" myth, and overall his testimony was accurate and reasonable, so I doubt he'll be invited back. Christy, on the other hand, was a gold mine of misinformation.


    As for Watts, apparently he's a co-author on a paper using his surface station data which confirms that the temperature record accurately reflects the warming trend, but claims the diurnal temperature range (DTR - the difference between daily max and min temps) hasn't changed over the past century. So it's a little hard to understand why he's objecting so loudly to Muller discussing the preliminary BEST findings with the same result. I suspect Watts is upset he didn't get a chance to spin the results himself before Muller went public with them.

    As Krugman notes, various denialist blogs have already begun attacking Muller, after heaping praise on him and BEST over the past few months. But if Watts' paper has effectively the same result, he'll eventually accept BEST's results. I suspect Watts will shift from claiming the planet isn't warming (or at least not as much as the temperature record showed) to claiming the warming isn't anthropogenic, since decreasing DTR is an anthropogenic 'fingerprint'. However, records previously showed that DTR was decreasing *more* than AGW predicted, so I have a hard time believing Watts et al.'s adjustments made so much of a difference that it's now not decreasing at all. The paper is still in review - we'll see what comes of it.

    As for denialists in general, I suspect they'll attack Muller as an elitist Berkeley liberal.

  • 10 years ago

    What skeptics were abuzz about was a temperature analysis that actually published the data and the method along with the results. That would be something completely unheard of in climate science.

    Besides, there are certainly a lot more opinions than you or Paul Krugman. This for example: http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/i...

    This is an interesting quote: "...the Berkeley team had been "seriously compromised" by publicizing its work before publishing any vetted papers." --Peter Thorne, a leading expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center

    Perhaps you have been "seriously compromised" by asking this question prematurely?

  • 10 years ago

    I think it is clear that the contrarians are disowning him. You can already see it here on YA.

    Watts -- support findings inconsistent with Watts? No chance.

    Here is a link to Muller's testimony.

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  • 10 years ago

    There's been some interesting discussion on this topic at SkS. With Watts actually at one time on board helping out the BEST analysis by acting as a sort of advisor and also giving his station data, there was a chance that when the BEST analysis finally did conclude that the temperature record was solid and that warming actually did happen, Watts would have no choice at all but to accept the conclusions as he had a hand in forming them.

    Well, I'm not going to say no choice. Being FOS is always an option, but people would at least know he is since he'd have no excuse.

    Now though that Muller has testified to Congress based on preliminary data, Watts has an out. He now has the opportunity to claim it's political and that BEST has been tampered with because they haven't yet done the full analysis (yet are already showing results). He actually has already done this, and his readers have caught on quick to what will soon be the new denier attitude toward BEST.

    But while Watts will probably avoid the net of accountability, he won't be able to claim any longer that the methods of analysis and data correction are being hidden or biased. Muller may not fact-check all he possibly can when he's giving public presentations, but I think he has enough self respect as a scientist to follow through on his promise of transparency with BEST.

    >>>Do you think Anthony Watts will support Muller's findings as he promised he would?

    *cough* No.

    >>>So is Richard Muller no longer a trustworthy scientist?

    Besides that small gaffe with testifying to Congress, his work will very likely turn out to be the final (bajillion) nails in the coffin of the "the temperature record is unreliable/forged/biased/fraudulent" myth. Perhaps then we'll have a chance to debate the topics that matter, rather than this persistent and false red herring.

    Mike: Usually a full quote is needed to understand what was being talked about. Was Thorne actually referring to BEST's internal analysis integrity being compromised by their announcement on preliminary findings? Or the state of its claim that it would provide the best analysis possible? The two have very different meanings, and the former is quite an outstanding claim to make.

    I'm kind of saddened too that Pielke is bringing out the "hasn't warmed in 12 years" myth. Short time spans and only looking at satellite data, which is very sensitive to ENSO: he doesn't have an excuse for that.

    Source(s): I see our resident thumbs-downer is at work again. Pathetic.
  • 10 years ago

    The physical properties of the earth's atmosphere do not depend on the trustworthiness of any one scientist, or any human foibles whatever, actually.

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