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The Hockey Stick Illusion Kindle Edition

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Kindle, June 6, 2011

Length: 489 pages

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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

  • File Size: 2979 KB
  • Print Length: 489 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1906768358
  • Publisher: Stacey International (June 6, 2011)
  • Publication Date: June 6, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005A54KEM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,000 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

279 of 366 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DB on April 20, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would normally post 4 for this, for it to be about an approximation of my entire feeling on the book. The book is well researched and thoughtfully laid out. What is most disconcerting about this book is the amount of people who lie in their one star reviews with obvious agendas. They all have tendencies to review only things on partisan basis, and never be verified Amazon purchasers (they never read what they review, which is intellectually dishonest at best to begin with), and literally seem to get their kicks from lying day to day about reviewing products (which the vast majority never review), they virtually never post anything of substance, but instead regurgitate googled crap from their favorite blogs about the books, without even having the honesty to look at it yourself. So an honest review, read this book, and make up your mind for yourself. There is a lot of information in this book you will find to be thought-provoking.
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130 of 190 people found the following review helpful By B. Hutchins on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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102 of 150 people found the following review helpful By George Gilder on February 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The plot of the Hockey Stick Illusion will be familiar to any follower of the Colombo shows on television. In each case, we see the humble investigator initially ignored, brushed aside, stonewalled, disdained, doubletalked, waffled, red herringed, and evaded by lofty and complacent Establishment figures, citing their own authority, crowded schedules, sophisticated reasoning, advanced degrees, abstruse mathematics, and exalted ideals.

In this case, the Columbo figure is Steve McIntyre, a Canadian mining consultant. A.W. Montford's book tells the gripping and suspenseful details of McIntyre's pursuit of the self-denominated "hockey team" led by Michael Mann, who wrote the key chapters on his own work for the IPCC, and Phil Jones, who maintains the temperature record used by the IPCC to document the "Hockey Stick": showing unprecedented and anomalous anthropogenic global warming in the Twentieth Century while denying that any comparable or greater warming occurred in the Medieval period.

McIntyre relentlessly replicates and decodes the increasingly desperate devices used by the climatocrats to defend their findings. But parallel to this fascinating story is the amazing tale of the ascent of Mann. From an obscure newly minted PhD in 1998 at the U Mass department of geosciences, he became the Lead Author of the crucial Observed Climate Variability chapter in the IPCC report, contributor to several other chapters, 'Scientific Advisor' to the White House on climate change, pundit on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, BBC, NPR, PBS, and scores of Establishment newspapers and magazines.
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