23 November 2009

Two scandals, one theme

There are two recent scandals that have very similar themes to them, and their parallels are interesting.

Phase I : The Start

First is the Madoff Ponzi Scheme started by a then young and up-and-coming investor who demonstrated some knowledge of the market and decent returns. He decided on a methodology of using secret sets of data for market forecasting and putting out graphs that showed a steady return on investment, year on year, if you just invested with him. A few inside members of his family and financial coterie knew that was nearly impossible to do, yet he was able to show the payouts. If the market went up, he went up steadily and if the market went down, he went up steadily: Bernie Madoff obviously had a secret way to know just which companies to invest in to yield that steady return on investment. He could show graphs of market sectors and show how his earnings correlated with some, but not all, market segments and that by the investing system he had, he could show that his services could obviously steady out market fluctuations and do better than just track the market.

Second are the individuals who put out a paper in the mid-1990's that demonstrated that a group of trees in Siberia were following 'instrument' readings and that there was a steady amount of 'global warming' witnessed elsewhere, too. Indeed they could show that carbon dioxide was a 'secret ingredient' to global warming and that the trees tracked that perfectly and were good measures for temperatures. They then had a select sub-set of trees that were claimed to be representative of the whole and tracked the whole very well and were useful as indicators for whole forests. That secret sub-set of trees wasn't put out, and its data held outside of greater review by the scientific community. Whenever questions of temperature fluctuations arose, they could point to the predictive 'hockey stick' graph that proved that the entire system was warming year on year, regardless of fluctuations. Not all indicators could be explained away by this, of course, but the claim was that they had 'other factors' and 'weren't indicative' of the whole planetary climate. By using a secret subset of data and special interpretations, those pushing global warming claimed that their methodology was superior to any others.

Phase II: The Deception

Madoff flouted the regulatory schema, and even was able to win popular approval for his work from regulators who would over-look minor problems and even recommend that he address Congress on financial matters. That ability to ride out the internet bubble surely showed that he had some great way to beat the averages. Yet, even by the late 1990's, a market analyst and mathematician was showing that the financial numbers that Madoff published could not be right: they were based on market factors that demonstrated volatility and he was inflating numbers beyond what the market return would allow him to do. Even with that regulators would not examine the Madoff Empire, and he still had the ears of those in the halls of power in DC and easily continued his 'market beating scheme' for years, gulling people with his lovely numbers that were not sustainable when analyzed. Yet he convinced regulators who investigated that all was on the up-and-up and that his books were in order. Really!

Critics of global warming started to notice that there was a non-correlation between graph data actual data, that there was something badly askew from what those publishing the data purported and what the data showed. Yet, by then, those pushing the line of alarmist global warming had already won over the minds of politicians and power brokers, and used their power to stifle the opposition. They would use their names at prestigious venues to continue showing that their numbers were 'right' and that they were, indeed, on the up-and-up. As other global data sets acted in non-accordance with the hypothesis of 'global warming' those pushing it then resorted to culling data, showing incomplete data sets and purporting that they were the whole thing. Yet when publications came in to ask 'where is the data' and 'how do we know its verifiable', the supporters would show their sub-sets and show that their books were in order. Really!

Phase III: The Cat Let Out of the Bag is a Beast

The day came during an economic downturn when a number of investors in the Madoff Scheme needed their money. One or two Madoff could handle, but when heavy investors started to ask for their money, they got subterfuge, excuses, and partial payouts. Something was up and when those representing the individuals holding funds in the Madoff Scheme examined the record, they found the financial and mathematical analyst that had, for years, been showing that there was something seriously wrong with what Madoff was doing. Even with that regulators were put off, but not permanently, and as the number of customers grew, the hue and cry increased and Madoff finally had to do something. When the numbers started to come out the Ponzi Scheme was revealed, and it was massive, the largest ever seen.

The day came when a number of skeptics and journals started to demand the original datasets on tree rings, as later evaluation of the actual forests and trees revealed a non-correlation between long published data and the current data. Graphs had been broken down, analyzed and shown to have some data sets grafted on to others, and yet other sets 'adjusted' by yet other sets of data, all which tended to skew the results being shown. The day came when those holding the data had to respond, publish a paper and also release the data set to a third party. When that data got out, others started to raise questions on methodology and measuring practices, and if the original researchers had considered that there were systemic errors in data sets they used. Still the supporters used their contacts to put off such hard questions, and when governmental requests for information came in, the researchers stalled or claimed to have 'lost the data'. Finally, one day, the data sets that had been used for multiple papers were released, along with the documentation on what was being presented, what held back and why. The scheme to distort the numbers so as to get certain ends out of the political system, be it mere grants and contracts or larger payoffs via industrial regulation changes, were revealed to be a huge fraud in the scientific arena, far surpassing Lysenkoism and the Piltdown Man scandal. Truly no one had ever seen such a distortion of science before.

As I have always said: you must show me the numbers, that is the actual, real data, on global warming for me to even consider it as a hypothesis. Now the numbers are coming out and just like with Madoff, they don't add up.

Phase IV for Madoff was trial(s) and imprisonment for fraud.

Phase IV for 'global warming' is just starting and those involved in it will continue to use anything in their means to put of a day of reckoning. The reason there will be no Cophenhagen Treaty on Global Warming, is that there is something rotten in the State of Denmark that global warming activists have brought with them.

No comments: