The other day, going through my RSS feeds on Google Reader, I noticed that WattsUpWithThat (yes, I subscribe to climate-drama blogs too) had featured an article entitled ‘Proxy Science & Proxy Pseudo-Science’. Obviously, my interest was stirred. Further, this was written by Mr. Pat Frank, a man who doesn’t believe in proxies. Browsing through it, I was flattered to notice that my name and article were featured. It took Mr. Frank ≈1.5months to reply to my article and my name wasn’t the only thing he got wrong.
As I noted in the last blog post, I have been (and am) very busy this month: I am in the process of graduating with my MS degree, writing my MS thesis, completing assignments for classes, preparing an article for publication, doing my own geochemical research and getting prepared to go into the field. Essentially, I am busy doing what any graduate student of science is busy doing: science.
Having said that, time is very important to me and I have no inclination in wasting it on correcting, line by line, Mr. Frank’s error-riddled blogpost (even Steve Mosher says that Pat Frank is not worth bothering about). I have already explained the physical basis of proxies and I will happily provide/suggest peer-reviewed articles to anyone who wants to systematically understand paleoclimatology. In any case, Mr. Frank’s aim is to obfuscate and unfortunately, I do not have the time to spend on correcting people who volitionally misdirect. I would love to engage this man in debate IRL, as one cannot fully unleash one’s debating skills via internet exchanges (debating skills > scientific knowledge, right?), though I doubt that it is a logistically viable option. However, what I can do is point out some glaring errors in Mr. Pat Frank’s approach. I hope that the reader does his/her homework before subscribing to Mr. Frank's non-scientific, convoluted, self-conflicting views:
- Reader, please understand, nobody is more critical of paleoclimatology than other paleoclimatologists (as is with any other science).
- If there was a sliver of truth to what Mr. Frank claimed, then I would apply to NSF with said claims regarding the fundamental principles of proxy development and obtain more (evil) funding to do my science.
- Mr. Frank claims that he has ‘worked with similar glass gas/vacuum systems with lapped-in ground-glass joints, and the opportunity for leak, crack, or crash-tastrophe is ever-present.’
- “I am very bad at oil painting. It is very tough. If I can’t do it – nobody else can.” – This is Mr. Frank’s attitude. I guess this is his way of saying that he is a bad experimentalist. I have worked on a g/v setup for many a year and have successfully reproduced thousands of standard values – this is in India, where we lack the ‘sophistication’ of Western instruments! Modern carbonate stable isotope mass spectrometery does not require a glass vacuum setup.
- Mr. Frank claims ‘The non-science of published paleothermometry was proved by their non-defense of its tree-ring center; an indictment of discretionary silence. Nor was there one word in defense of the substitution of statistics for physics, a near universal in paleo-thermo.’
- Ha! This borders on the absurd. Just because I don’t talk about Christianity (or Hinduism, Buddhism for that matter) in my blog doesn’t mean I endorse/negate the concept.
- If Mr. Frank believes that stable isotopic proxy reconstructions do not work, I would like him to formally, openly admit that he is at odds and disagrees with Dr. Fred Singer & Steve McIntyre:
- Fred Singer claims that proxies do not show warming. Hence, he utilizes proxies to ascertain that the climate isn’t warming – or, he believes that proxies do indeed work as tools to reconstruct paleotemperature.
- Steve McIntyre has favorable articles on SST-reconstructions utilizing foraminiferal geochemistry even in the most saline of areas (rightly so). Think about that. (hint: the location of core is critical to the interpretation of the paleoclimate record)
- Mr. Frank conveniently forgets about his gripes with foraminiferal δ18O when he finds a record that reconstructs a large Medieval Climate Anomaly (get with the academic times – nobody calls it the MWP anymore). Further, his statistical analysis is flawed considering that with the very same (wrong) error bars he has drawn on Keigwin’s Sargasso Sea record, the modern would be indistinguishable from 3 ka.
- Here is a fun read: Corals Do Not Lie
- Lastly, I would like to point out to Mr. Frank that if he detracts from paleo-reconstructions, what makes a foraminiferal record from the Eastern Pacific Ocean look exactly like one off of the coast of North Africa on Late Pleistocene time scales? How about Greenland and Central America? What about several others? Coincidence? Can you deny that the signal to noise ratio is that high? How do we possess quantitative knowledge about ice age temperatures?
The strength of paleoclimatology lies in replication and reproducibility and we have known this since the 1950s. Paleoclimatology and proxy development is rooted in physics. Mr. Pat Frank continues to lead people down a road of confusion with ‘scientifical-sounding’ words and phrases and singles out portions of paleoclimate reconstructions that appeal to him. Reader, if you are on the fringe on what to 'believe' or have any doubts on paleoclimatology, please, please contact me and I will certainly take the time to explain what we as a paleoclimatological community know and don't know. As for Mr. Frank - I have no more time.