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The Hockey Stick Illusion [Kindle Edition]

A. W. Montford
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Here is the definitive exposé of the distorted science behind the iconic global warming graph centrally responsible for the global panic about climate change.

From Steve McIntyre's earliest attempts to reproduce Michael Mann's Hockey Stick graph, to the explosive publication of his work and the launch of a congressional inquiry, The Hockey Stick Illusion is a remarkable tale of scientific misconduct and amateur sleuthing. It explains the complex science of this most controversial of temperature reconstructions in layperson's language and lays bare the remarkable extent to which climatologists have been willing to break their own rules in order to defend climate science's most famous finding.

The book also covers the recent leak of the email archives of the Climatic Research Unit which has led to the resignation of its Director, Professor Phil Jones, and exposed the degree to which climate scientists on both sides of the Atlantic have hidden and manipulated data to support their claims.

Editorial Reviews


Andrew Montford's The Hockey Stick Illusion is one of the best science books in years. It exposes in delicious detail, datum by datum, how a great scientific mistake of immense political weight was perpetrated, defended and camouflaged by a scientific establishment that should now be red with shame. It is a book about principal components, data mining and confidence intervals--subjects that have never before been made thrilling. It is the biography of a graph...Montford's book is written with grace and flair. Like all the best science writers, he knows that the secret is not to leave out the details (because this just results in platitudes and leaps of faith), but rather to make the details delicious, even to the most unmathematical reader. I never thought I would find myself unable to put a book down because--sad, but true--I wanted to know what happened next in an r-squared calculation. This book deserves to win prizes.
Matt Ridley, Prospect

Andrew Montford tells this detective story in exhilarating style.
Joe Brannan, Geoscientist

For anybody who wants to understand the scientific and psychological background to Climategate, there is no better read than Andrew Montford's new book, The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science.
Peter Foster, National Post

About the Author

Andrew Montford - The author studied chemistry at St Andrews University. He is a respected blogger at Bishop Hill where his layperson's explanations of the Hockey Stick debate have won wide acclaim. He lives in rural Scotland with his wife and three children.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
248 of 318 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hockey story January 25, 2010
This is a superb review of the story of the hockeystick, the temperature reconstruction which was supposed to show that late 20th century temperatures were unprecedented for at least 1,000 years and which was highlighted in the third IPCC report in 2001. What Montford does in this book is take us through Steven McIntyre's attempt to reproduce the original result of Michael Mann and the controversy that followed. His account is very well written and it reads like a detective story. The technical details of the debate are clearly explained even though there is no heavy mathematics or statistics. He tells the story chronologically and gives a good feel of what people on both sides of the debate actually said at the time (and there are plenty of references as well as judicious quotes from all sides). I have been following this debate for the past five years or so. To my mind this gives as clear an account of the debate as we are likely to see. What is now clear is that the Mann conclusions, far from being based on coherent evidence across a geographical widespread range of proxies all showing similar patterns across the Northern hemisphere, were based on a tiny subset of proxies, bristlecone and foxtail pines, from California whose anomalous 20th century growth was almost certainly not caused by high temperature. The apparently broad evidence was an illusion created by an eccentric implementation of a standard statistical technique called principal components analysis. Mann's version of this (which appears to be his own creation) effectively mined his hundred plus proxies for any which had hockeystick shapes and then gave them huge weight in the analysis. What is worrying about all this is not so much the fact that a paper is wrong. Read more ›
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119 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 500 Wonderful Pages of "Caspar" from the Bishop! February 6, 2010
The "Bishop Hill" blog was well-respected, but not particularly remarkable until the posting of "Caspar and the Jesus paper" in August 2008. With this posting, we learned that the esteemed Bishop (now also revealed as Andrew Montford), the author of this new book, had a talent for putting scattered bits and pieces of information into a highly coherent presentation. It was remarkable enough that he was able to take myriad blog postings and figure out what they all added up to, and further remarkable that he was able to map this understanding into writing. Would it be possible to achieve this Casper-style in a more encompassing work? Too much to ask for? Well, HERE it is!

The narrative is highly readable, not mathematical, except that Montford does specifically give the official names of things. Instead of saying something like "they blew the math" he tells you how data were improperly normalized, or the use of SVD, and the consequences. In addition to describing the ill-advised technical issues, he describes appearance of the poor science (seeing what you want to see), other more common human foibles such as possible (or likely) "cherry-picking", and the suppression of contradicting evidence, all of which are not supposed to be in science.

While it would not be difficult, based on his blog perhaps, to discern the Bishop's views on AGW and its politics, the current book is basically impartial, except as it relates to the poor science and the overriding political motives of the AGW advocates. It deals rationally and fair-mindedly with the (illusion of the) Hockey stick graph. People commenting on the book are advised to direct criticisms, if any, on the basis of what he writes rather than what "camp" they perceive the author to belong to.
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69 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vitally Important And Necessary February 23, 2010
Mr. Montford has written an extremely important and interesting book. The topic is scientific fraud, one of the biggest such frauds in the history of humanity. The fraud is the hockey stick assertion that the earth in the late twentieth century experienced unprecedented global warming and higher temperatures, at least for the past two thousand years. If this fraud had remained not refuted humanity would been subject to restrictions that would greatly reduce living standards and freedom. There is a lot a stake with the hockey stick hoax.

Mr. Montford describes in great detail how two courageous, persistent, and heroic Canadian researchers managed to refute the hockey stick hoax. Mr. Montford writes about how these Canadians managed to obtain the data and publish their work. Mr. Montford also goes into great detail about the misuse of data and poor methodology that characterized the hockey stick assertion. He provides a lot of information about the statistical principle components method and how this method was misused to derive the hockey stick shape for the world temperatures over the last thousand years. He also discusses the tree ring data and how such data that was represented to be a proxy for world temperature often was not. The book is encyclopedic in its discussion of the hockey stick hoax. Yet the book is very well written and understandable.

Mr. Montford also points out the hockey stick instigators and the climate journals they wrote for very often refused to provide independent researchers with the data and/or methodology for the articles in support of the hockey stick. Independent researchers had to put much time and effort into their efforts to replicate or at least partially replicate the statistical results of the hockey stick purveyors. Mr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) distorts...
This book exposes the shenanigans at the IPCC. Michael Mann's work which led to the famous hockey stick model of climate change made famous by Al Gore is shown to be full of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stephen A Rowland
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive
Gives a very broad and detailed story about the tricks played by Mann and the Hockey team to stop insight into the hockey club data and method. Impressive research by the writer.
Published 3 months ago by Stein
1.0 out of 5 stars McIntyre is not a good sign.
McIntyre's work was found to be wanting by the NRC, not Michael Mann's. Mann's work has actually be duplicated several times. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Beckasaurus
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading for all but the genetically deluded
The author, Montford, aka "Bishop Hill", has captured and documented much of the dishonesty, collusion and hypocrisy driving the "climatology" -driven global... Read more
Published 3 months ago by markotime
1.0 out of 5 stars More Fossil Fuel Funded Doubt
This book was difficult to get through, from the outrageous, unsubstantiated claims about the "debate" in scientific circles, to the conflated, over-stated... Read more
Published 3 months ago by M Conor Kelley
5.0 out of 5 stars This author wouldn't know a fact if it jumped up and bit him.
Just for openers, Professor Phil Jones did not resign from The Climate Research Unit. In fact, he is still there right now. He is Director of Research. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bubba
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and concise.
This book explains why scientists who promote the idea of global warming based on the "hockey stick" curve are wrong. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Greg Cook
1.0 out of 5 stars horribly dishonest book
this is a book of untruths and distortions. For the truth on the fake 'climate gate' scandal and for an authoritative debunking of Montford's dishonest claims, read Michael Mann's... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Climate Follower
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner
Montford's clear prose reads like a true-life detective story. If you want a clear intro to the climate debate, this book starts in media res.
Published 7 months ago by our ilk
4.0 out of 5 stars Story was exciting to read
Although technical and all about science, the stories in this book about scientific paper submittals, reviews and arguments about how's right were very interesting. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bill Hughes TC
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