Cherry picking the use of language.....
In the interesting House Committee on Oversight hearing and a discussion about has broken out on Real Climate, Gristmill and places west. Ethon, flew in carrying Prometheus (the bird has direct Boulder-DC flights and a good frequent flayer plan), told Eli to look at a use of language illustrating the care that some take and the traps that others fall into. On page 9 of P's testimony we read
A memorandum providing background to this hearing prepared 26 January 2007 by the majority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight illustrates the cherry picking of science (reproduced in Figure 1). Cherry picking literally mean “take the best, leave the rest.”Here we have the set up, a literal but never used interpretation of a common idiom. As the Wikipedia says
cherry picking is used metaphorically to indicate the act of pointing at individual cases which seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases that may contradict that position....Among the cherries is the basic science on global warming, After some discussion of a Committee staff document which references papers by Emmanuel, Webster, et al. and the WMO consensus statement at the bottom of the page comes the hammer
The hearing background memorandum is absolutely correct when it asserts that “recently published studies have suggested that the impacts [of global warming] include increases in the intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms.” But this selective reporting does not tell the whole story either. Such cherry picking and misrepresentations of science are endemic in political discussions involving science.Note the smoothness with which this was done. Eli forget that cherry picking is picking the best of the fruit, did you?
BTW, Steve Bloom pretty much nailed the WMO statement in the comments on P's blog
It was an exercise in statementism, pure and simple. Just as with last year's statement, it's simply an agreement that people shouldn't yell at each other in public until after the next round of papers and in particular up through the release of the AR4 WG1 reportHis host was not pleased.
UPDATE: How Prometheus compared Phil Cooney's editing and the Oversight Committee staff document has become a point of contention, especially at Chris Mooney's Intersection. Rather than engage in a parsing fest, Eli went and listened to the testimony on CSPAN (caution, RealPlayer Link). If you advance the slider to 2:47, Rep Welch questions Pro about the comparison that Pielke made in his written testimony. If you have 12 or so minutes listen to the whole thing, including at ~2:56 where Shindell tells the Congressman that Pro is wrong about the meaning of the WMO statement on hurricanes. At 2:57 this is followed by a direct question from Welch to Pro about whether the Committee memo is equivalent to Clooney's editing. Pielke responds: Not much difference, no.
Pielke is a serial defender of Cooney in any case, stretching a lot of cases.