Moving Goalposts

Hockey stick wars, the story so far: McIntyre and McKitrick (M&M) first claimed that the hockey stick graph was the product of “collation errors, unjustifiable truncations of extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculations of principal components, and other quality control defects.” Mann, Bradley and Hughes (MBH) published a correction to the supplementary information about their article, but which did not affect their results. Next, MM argued that the hockey stick was the result of incorrect normalization of the data. However, Hans van Storch, a strong critic of the hockey stick, concluded that “the glitch [McIntyre] detected in Mann’s paper is correct, but it doesn’t matter, it’s a minor thing.” Next, MM argued that the hockey stick depended on the inclusion of the bristlecone pine proxies. However, a new reconstruction by Osborn and Briffa once again finds that the late 20th century is the warmest period in the last 1000 years and the result is not affected by the exclusion of any one, two or even three proxies. Mcintyre responded by arguing that many of the proxies used were defective (as far as I can tell, he thinks that all the proxies that show the 20th century to be warmest are no good.)

The latest development is that the NAS is convening a panel to assess the scientific evidence on temperature reconstructions for the past one or two thousand years. MicIntyre’s response? He is attacking the panel as biased because it contains people on the “Hockey Team”. As far as I can make out, the Hockey Team is Mann, Bradley and Hughes, plus any of their co-authors, plus any of the co-authors of their co-authors. Oddly enough, McIntyre is not complaining about the inclusion of John Christy on the panel. You see, Pat Michaels is a co-author of McKitrick — they wrote a paper which was flawed by the use of degrees when they should have used radians. And Michaels is a co-author of Christy. Looks like Christy is on the M&M team.

Comments

  1. #1 John A
    February 16, 2006

    This article is a perfect example of lies, innuendo, smears, outright falsehoods designed to mislead, personal attacks, ignorance and crass stupidity.

    It certainly outshines the rest of your output, Lambert. You should be cracking some books on 19th Century thermodynamics rather than attacking your superiors.

    Oh and by the way, your trackbacks will be marked as spam. I fail to see why we should give your worthless drivel the comfort of any clickthroughs

  2. #2 hank
    February 16, 2006

    The rules for participating in a NAS evaluation as McIntyre describes them do seem to rule out anyone with prior work in the area. I wonder if that’s an accurate description (and who lobbied for those rules, if they are as described)

    I immediately imagined a response to this letter:

    F.D. Roosevelt
    President of the United States

    Sir:
    Some recent work by E.Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations ….”

    – Albert Einstein …
    August 2nd 1939

    Dear Mr. Einstein,

    A committee of experts, which cannot by law include any of the researchers you name or their coworkers, will be developed in due course ….

  3. #3 David Roberts
    February 16, 2006

    Funny how you can tell John A is a dishonest hack in this debate without knowing anything about the substantive issues, just by virtue of his comment.

    The internets are magic that way.

  4. #4 John A
    February 16, 2006

    Yes, and the dittoheads arrive just in time to make Tim look like an intellectual.

    I will give Tim credit. He knows how to play a bad hand.

  5. #5 Dano
    February 16, 2006

    Where there’s smoke there’s…oh, wait: this is John A blathering.

    Never mind.

    Best,

    D

  6. #6 Urinated State of America
    February 16, 2006

    From another John A thread:
    From another John A blather in another thread:

    “”Any minute Tim will return from his reading of basic thermodynamics texts, with an explanation for why a mean temperature IN A NON-EQUILIBRIUM SYSTEM has no physical meaning.”

    Well, let’s see, the surface of the sun ain’t an equilibrium system (all those cooler sunspots and whatnot), but from out here on Earth, the pattern of the black-body radiation certainly looks like a black-body at a mean temperature of ~6000 deg C.

    Wonder if M&M have heard of Stefan’s law…

  7. #7 John Cross
    February 16, 2006

    John:

    I seem to recall that you said that you were never going to post here again. Am I recalling incorrectly or are you really Fumento in disguise?

    Regards,
    John

  8. #8 Eli Rabett
    February 16, 2006

    Christy and Spencer were on the NAS panel which reported in 2000 about the difference between the MSU and surface temperature records
    http://fermat.nap.edu/books/0309068916/html/81.html

    The bottom line was
    *******************************
    In the opinion of the panel, the warming trend in global-mean surface temperature observations during the past 20 years is undoubtedly real and is substantially greater than the average rate of warming during the twentieth century. The disparity between surface and upper air trends in no way invalidates the conclusion that surface temperature has been rising. The recent corrections in the MSU processing algorithms (referred to above) bring the global temperature trend derived from the satellite data into slightly closer alignment with surface temperature trends, but a substantial disparity remains. The various kinds of evidence examined by the panel suggest that the troposphere actually may have warmed much less rapidly than the surface from 1979 into the late 1990s, due both to natural causes (e.g., the sequence of volcanic eruptions that occurred within this particular 20-year period) and human activities (e.g., the cooling of the upper part of the troposphere resulting from ozone depletion in the stratosphere). Regardless of whether the disparity is real, the panel cautions that temperature trends based on data for such short periods of record, with arbitrary start and end points, are not necessarily indicative of the long-term behavior of the climate system.
    ***************************

    Of course, what turned out to be the case is that the disparity was not real.

  9. #9 Dano
    February 16, 2006

    Saaaaay…you guys aren’t auditing John A’s wurdz are you?

    Best,

    D

  10. #10 Dennis Williams
    February 16, 2006

    I take an interesting position regarding this debate: I believe that McIntyre has, for all practical purposes, debunked the original hockey stick paper and it’s methodology. Seperate from McIntyre’s arguments and intuitively, the idea of doing a (multi)millennial temperature reconstruction with y values of two tenths of a degree seems to be a bit ridiculous.
    I have also noticed that N-O-N-E of the usual parade of McIntyre detractors here and at RC are willing to challenge him on the technical merits of his arguments.

    All that being said, those that wish to use McIntyre’s work as a basis for disproving AGW are up against some basic science, aren’t they? The greenhouse effect has been known since the 19th century, the idea that certain gases promote this effect is well known, and while perhaps the idea that increasing these gases would warm the planet was theoretical 50 years ago, I think you have to be in denial to not accept it now.

    And Lambert, your guilt by association trick vis-a-vis McIntyre and McKitrick is noted.

  11. #11 Marc
    February 16, 2006

    I went to the NAS page and looked at the list of committee members, and then went to McIntyre’s page. I really can’t believe that anyone can actually defend the absolutely bizarre entry there; Tim is far from being unfair. McIntyre quite literally is complaining because he doesn’t believe that anyone from UCAR should serve, and because he found a convoluted and indirect link between one committee member and an author with whom he disagrees. This is not science; it’s paranoia.

  12. #12 Scott Church
    February 17, 2006

    John A.
    “This article is a perfect example of lies, innuendo, smears, outright falsehoods designed to mislead, personal attacks, ignorance and crass stupidity.”
    Nothing on this earth identifies ignorance and unprofessionalism faster than a sting of accusations and abusiveness without one single properly researched fact to support them. Tim linked all of his statements to peer-reviewed science or sources that used it. You on the other hand, have provided nothing other than cheap shots.
    What lies? What innuendos? If you want to be treated like a professional and taken seriously, then get to the point. Back up your claims properly the way the rest of us do or stop wasting our time, if you please…

  13. #13 Harald Korneliussen
    February 17, 2006

    typo: [...]but which dod not affect their[..]

  14. #14 Steve Bloom
    February 17, 2006

    Dennis, Steve M. states that he has devoted himself full-time for the last couple of years to all of this. Realistically, who exactly would want to expend the time needed to engage him in a real debate given the excruciating amount of detail involved? BTW, I will be the first to admit that these proxy reconstructions are open to an awful lot of interpretation, which is why the IPCC said MBH (an “early paper”) was less than certain to be right. This also meant that a debate over the methods and conclusions was guaranteed to be endless, which in turn guaranteed that none of the scientists involved were going to debate him directly.

    Since, as you correctly point out, “overturning the hockey stick” mostly has just propaganda value, I figured that if there was anything to what Steve M. said he ultimately would get an appropriate scientific hearing. Well, he got that hearing in the form of von Storch and Zorita, and the conclusion was that maybe the HS is a bit bumpier than MBH found. This was no big surprise. Steve M.’s response was to say that vS+Z were wrong too, and in fact *all* of the reconstructions that rely on tree cores are wrong (in effect taking on a whole scientific field). I asked him recently about this, and he responded that he was “satisfied” with his response to vS+Z. Fine, but apparently vS+Z remain satisfied that they’re right. But in any case, Steve M. got his hearing and there wasn’t much of a result.

    Now, thanks to the WSJ and Barton, he’s getting another, much more substantive hearing from an NRC panel with some real heavyweights on it. The outcome is fairly predictable, IMHO, and Steve even agrees with me on this. But fair to say that the NRC panel’s conclusions will truly be the end of it as far as anyone in the scientific community is concerned, although Steve M. will no doubt once again be satisfied with his response. Hopefully when the AR4 comes out we will all be able to move on, although I suppose it’s inevitable that some other aspect of the issue will be seized upon by the skeptics.

  15. #15 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    Of course the corrigendum of MBH did not affect their results as it was a correction of their wrong data source references!!!

    Their disputed method was not part of the corrigendum, and neither a discussion if bristlecones are temperature proxies at all.

  16. #16 John A
    February 17, 2006

    Nothing on this earth identifies ignorance and unprofessionalism faster than a sting of accusations and abusiveness without one single properly researched fact to support them. Tim linked all of his statements to peer-reviewed science or sources that used it. You on the other hand, have provided nothing other than cheap shots.

    What lies? What innuendos? If you want to be treated like a professional and taken seriously, then get to the point. Back up your claims properly the way the rest of us do or stop wasting our time, if you please…

    You’re right. I should stop wasting your time. Why on earth I should waste my time talking to rank amateurs is beyond me.

    John Cross: You’re right. I did say I wouldn’t post on this POS weblog again and I allowed myself to be suckered into responding to a troll post and trackback by Tim “non-equilibrium” Lambert. He desperately needs the attention, so please provide it for him in my absence.

    My bad.

  17. #17 Steve Munn
    February 17, 2006

    John A says: “This article is a perfect example of lies, innuendo, smears, outright falsehoods designed to mislead, personal attacks, ignorance and crass stupidity.”

    It so easy for a effete coward to hurl insults from the safety of anonymity.

    Cast off your cowardice, step into the sunlight and fight like a man.

    Steve Graham Munn

  18. #18 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    This article is a perfect example of lies, innuendo, smears, outright falsehoods designed to mislead, personal attacks, ignorance and crass stupidity.

    There.

  19. #19 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2006

    Dear Hans, please provide some evidence in support of your claims. Do you actually want to be considered as credible as John A?

  20. #20 Peter Hearnden
    February 17, 2006

    Hans

    I KNOW you’re better than that :(

  21. #21 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    ok then these are evident

    innuendo, smears, outright falsehoods designed to mislead, personal attacks

    Agreed, I’m not quick to call somebody a liar (mendacicizationist).

    But yes innuendo:
    a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
    “they wrote a paper which was flawed by the use of degrees when they should have used radians.”

    outright falsehoods designed to mislead:
    “Mann, Bradley and Hughes (MBH) published a correction to the supplementary information about their article, but which did not affect their results”

    personal attacks:
    google McKitrick Lambert

    OK “ignorance and stupidity” is a bit crass, I’d need to rephrase that.

  22. #22 John Cross
    February 17, 2006

    Hans:

    I would like to add some comments on your analysis.

    1) But yes innuendo:
    a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
    “they wrote a paper which was flawed by the use of degrees when they should have used radians.”

    Well, the statement is true so perhaps a little bit of latitude is in order here.

    2) outright falsehoods designed to mislead:
    “Mann, Bradley and Hughes (MBH) published a correction to the supplementary information about their article, but which did not affect their results”

    What am I missing? That is what you wrote in your first post. As far as I can see there is no falsehood.

    3) personal attacks:
    google McKitrick Lambert

    Well, your post said “this article” so I was expecting to see something that could actually be found in the article.

    Regards,
    John.

    P.S. I will gently point out that you missed “smear”, or did you mean to include that with innuendo.

  23. #23 Peter Hearnden
    February 17, 2006

    Hans – http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/?p=1122

    Perhaps ‘John A’ is Lubos? Or that ‘spqr’ character? Or MF?I dunno. But I do have quite enough experience of his ‘best efforts’ and that post was one…

    You can’t defend that kind of ‘John A’ post – he’s in a league all of his own wrt that kind of post :( please don’t taint yourself trying to :)

  24. #24 Jeff Harvey
    February 17, 2006

    Hans,

    You break me up. How rich of a contrarian to claim that only ‘the other side’ is guilty of distortions, lies and smears. I suggest you read Andy Rowell’s excellent “Green Backlash” and learn a little bit; or else, come to one of the lectures I give on the subect and see for yourself how the PR firms, think tanks, and lobbying groups have been attempting to smear the reputations of scientists for years, and not based on the findings of our empirical research, but on such gobbledegook as us being ‘anti-human’, ‘doomsayers’, ‘chickenlittles’, ‘cassandras’,
    ‘luddites’, ‘fear-mongers’, and even such stuff as ‘potential mass murderers’ who are ‘assaulting reason’, ‘eco-fanatics’, ‘green harpies’ (Ron Bailey fo the CEI refereed to me as this in one of his purile “Reason” articles), ‘watermelons’ (green on the outside, red on the inside [communists]), etc. etc. etc. etc. Chuck Cushman of “Wise use” called national parks in the USA ‘Environmental gulags”. The PR corporations and think tanks, with their huge budgets, have also engaged in some pretty mind-numbing dirty tricks campaigns. There’s a pile of literature out there that you should swat up on before you can emerge from your glass house.

    Don’t underestimate the power of these groups, either. They’ve got bottomless barrels of corporate money to distort, deceive, ad twist the findings of empirical science to bolster the worldview of their paymasters. This is known as “Directed Conclusions”, and the anti-environmental crowd have turned it into an art.

    As for M & M, I’d like to know why they are on such a crusade over one – repeat one – aspect (the so-called ‘hockey stick’) of a field in which there are literally hundreds of other measures to determine human influence on planetary biogeochemistry and climate. In my opinion there is no doubt that McKitrick’s affiliation with the Fraser Institute (a libertarian think tank in Canada) IS an issue. The think tankers are part of the ‘directed conclusions’ crowd on behalf of their corporate sponsers. This is hardly conspiracy theory stuff – its a plain and simple strategy to maximize profits by ensuring that the status quo is retained.

  25. #25 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    Hey Jeff,

    No I am not a contrarian, I do agree hat CO2 is a greenhouse gas remember. But I do contest the high climate sensitivity and SRES alarmism.

    And remember also that it doesn’t matter who pays the scientist either.

    M&M have laid bare a real essential prerequisite of science: it has to be verifiable.

    Even the trumpetted new paper by Osborn and Briffa still fails has the fundamental flaw: undisclosed sources.

  26. #26 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    would like to add some comments on your analysis.

    1) But yes innuendo:
    a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
    “they wrote a paper which was flawed by the use of degrees when they should have used radians.”

    Well, the statement is true so perhaps a little bit of latitude is in order here.

    The innuendo bit is when Tim “forgot” to mention that the error was acknowledged, verified, corrected, and demonstrated that it did not affect the results significantly. And that Tim only had been able to discover it because the source code was available.

    Some people call this “flogging a dead horse”

  27. #27 Peter Hearnden
    February 17, 2006

    “No I am not a contrarian, I do agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas remember. But I do contest the high climate sensitivity and SRES alarmism.” Yup, I think that’s pretty much you :)

    Don’t you think MBH and the proxies have been flogged enough then?

  28. #28 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    Peter,

    My entire post-university career I spent on data QC. You should never stop flogging data.

    Osborn and Briffa are still using Sheep Mountain Bristlecones, although Graybill and Idso demonstrated that they don’t correlate with local temperature. Bristlecone criticism is taboo on Realclimate.

  29. #29 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2006

    “Innuendo! That’s what I say!”
    “Would you tell me, please,” said Alice “what that means?”
    “Now you talk like a reasonable child,” said Hans Erren, looking very much pleased. “I meant by ‘innuendo’ that Tim ‘forgot’ to mention that the error was acknowledged, verified, corrected, and demonstrated that it did not affect the results significantly. And that Tim only had been able to discover it because the source code was available.”
    “That’s a great deal to make one word mean,” Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
    “When I make a word do a lot of work like that,” said Hans, “I always pay it extra.”

  30. #30 z
    February 17, 2006

    “Any minute Tim will return from his reading of basic thermodynamics texts, with an explanation for why a mean temperature IN A NON-EQUILIBRIUM SYSTEM has no physical meaning”

    ?? I thought the “temperature has no meaning” trope was characteristic of the “therefore there is no global mean temperature, therefore it cannot increase” school??

  31. #31 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2006

    Plus, the error DID affect the results significantly. Which Hans would know if he had bothered to read my post.

  32. #32 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    innuendo:
    a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
    “they wrote a paper which was flawed by the use of degrees when they should have used radians.”

    Tim,

    Let me spell it out:
    Oh look McKitrick is flawed, Michaels is also flawed, So McIntyre must be flawed as well, because his name starts with an M and he is a co-author of McKitrick, and therefore the criticism of McKitrick and McIntyre on MBH is flawed.

    That’s your line of reasoning?

  33. #33 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2006

    z, John A believes that basic thermodynamics texts tell you that mean temperature IN A NON-EQUILIBRIUM SYSTEM has no physical meaning. (From which follows the therefores you mention.)

  34. #34 Steve Sadlov
    February 17, 2006

    Moving goal posts? A more accurate characterization would be a crime scene investigation. Once a particularly damning bit of evidence is found, there is sometime’s a thing I would refer to as investigator’s luck. After the first damning thing, a number of additional damning things might be later discovered. Also, as for the accused, generally, as this process unfolds, things tend to get rather ugly in terms of the accused responses and behaviors. It’s not a pleasant thing to observe.

  35. #35 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2006

    Hans, you rather seem to have missed the point of my post. McIntyre is complaining about the make up of the NAS panel because of some rather tenuous connections with MBH. I pointed out that Christy has similar connections to McI and McK. Your reading of my post is truly bizarre.

  36. #36 Dano
    February 17, 2006

    Your reading of my post is truly bizarre.

    I disagree, Tim. Lookit how effective it has been to distract away from the topic. 10-12 comments, all effective as spam.

    Best,

    D

  37. #37 Scott Church
    February 17, 2006

    You’re right. I should stop wasting your time. Why on earth I should waste my time talking to rank amateurs is beyond me.
    John Cross: You’re right. I did say I wouldn’t post on this POS weblog again and I allowed myself to be suckered into responding to a troll post and trackback by Tim “non-equilibrium” Lambert. He desperately needs the attention, so please provide it for him in my absence.”

    Notice how he still hasn’t provided any verifiable facts yet to support his statements? But of course… he isn’t going to “waste any more time” talking to us, and we’re the “trolls” even though he’s the one who refuses to provide us with evidence of his accusations of lying an innuendo.
    Hmmm… let’s see: Evasion, refusal to provide evidence of any kind, condescension, hypocrisy….
    How utterly predictable.

  38. #38 Anonymous
    February 17, 2006

    Hans, you rather seem to have missed the point of my post. McIntyre is complaining about the make up of the NAS panel because of some rather tenuous connections with MBH. I pointed out that Christy has similar connections to McI and McK. Your reading of my post is truly bizarre.

    OK both out then, Christy has little connetion to proxy studie anyway…

    In some objective scientist not involved in the field of climatology.

  39. #39 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    that was me

  40. #40 david
    February 17, 2006

    The question I really want answered is why don’t M&M or their cheer squad produce a proper “Hockey Stick” for us all? Surely they know which data to use and which methods are best because they have been nick picking for nearly 5 years.

    Of course we all know the anwer, their properly researched reconstruction would look like the other dozen or so which support MBH.

    David

  41. #41 Dano
    February 17, 2006

    See, david, all the proxies are…um…biased…no, wait…um…they’re uh…tainted.

    Yes, TAINTED! That’s it: tainted. Worthless. Can’t use ‘em. Gaspe bad R2 step bias tainted.

    Why? Why what? Why are they tainted? Hey, look over there! Green funding and bias! Hiding data! Bias! R^2 step hiding green nazis over there! Bristlecone bias.

    Best,

    D

  42. #42 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    Good summary Dano !

    On Topic: You may want to read the “Letter to NAS on Panel Composition and Balance” by M&M

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=534

  43. #43 Anonymous
    February 17, 2006

    Peter Hearnden: “Perhaps ‘John A’ is Lubos? Or that ‘spqr’ character? Or MF?I dunno.”

    ahem

  44. #44 John Quiggin
    February 17, 2006

    “Rank amateurs”

    This is an odd statement from someone hiding behind a pseudonym. Are we supposed to infer “Trust me, I’m a high-powered physicist, but my work is too secret for my name to be revealed”

  45. #45 Hans Erren
    February 17, 2006

    Dano is also hiding behind a pseudonym….
    and frequently uses “amateurs”

    Are we supposed to infer “Trust me, I’m a high-powered physicist, but my work is too secret for my name to be revealed”
    ;-D

  46. #46 Chris O'Neill
    February 17, 2006

    “Osborn and Briffa are still using Sheep Mountain Bristlecones, although Graybill and Idso demonstrated that they don’t correlate with local temperature.”

    A fundamental issue that many people don’t understand is that even if you include a proxy data set for temperature that doesn’t actually correlate with temperature in your set of proxies for Principal Component Analysis (PCA), it won’t actually change the outcome compared with excluding this non-correlating proxy. For a proxy to actually make a difference it must have a statistically significant correlation with, in this case, the instrument temperature record. So when people ask what difference does excluding some particular data set have on the reconstruction when this data set has zero correlation with temperature the answer is very simple. Zero. In actual fact they say in Scientists respond to Barton “The removal of the Gaspe series, or indeed of all the Bristlecone pine trees as well, has a minimal effect ( ~0.05 deg C) on the reconstruction as long as you include consistent numbers of PCs as described in the Dummies Guide.” The fact that there is at least some effect on the reconstruction shows there is some correlation with instrument temperature.

    “Bristlecone criticism is taboo on Realclimate.”

    That should be “Impertinent bristlecone criticism is taboo on Realclimate.” Checking mentions of “bristlecone” at realclimate.org shows they have responded to a fair number of questions about this issue in the past. I’d say if you want a response to some question regarding bristlecone pines you’ll have to check that they haven’t already answered it and that the question doesn’t have an impertinent attitude.

  47. #47 Chris O'Neill
    February 17, 2006
  48. #48 Eli Rabett
    February 18, 2006

    I would like to reply to an early post by Hans Erren in which he said that he thought that climate sensitivity was higher than shown in MBH and most of the Mann reconstructions. Hopefully this would lead to a more profitable discussion.

    It is important to note that this is precisely v. Storch’s criticism, and the implied climate sensitivity in Mann’s reconstructions are at the low end of the various models. Assume this is correct, then the current forcing would lead to climate change on the expensive (high) end of current predictions. Worry

  49. #49 fFreddy
    February 18, 2006

    Re Chris O’Neill @ 10:31 pm
    “… if you include a proxy data set for temperature that doesn’t actually correlate with temperature …”
    Chris, doesn’t your point assume that each proxy is measured against its local temperature record ? Whereas MBH is actually measuring all its proxies against some single global mean temperature, so any local effects have already been lost ?
    Sheep Mountain is in the unusual position of having a weather station just down the road from the tree location, which is why the lack of correlation can be stated definitely. I find it unlikely that the same is true of all the other proxies in MBH.
    Or am I wrong ?

    Incidentally, if you are willing to engage on the mathematics, I really recommend you go and have a look at http://www.climateaudit.org . You will find it is not a trivial place.

  50. #50 Steve Munn
    February 18, 2006

    I would like to offer one criticism of this blog which applies equally to all scienceblogs. Your font size is far too small. I hate to have to point it out but the Steve McI website (climateaudit.org) is much easier to read even if much of the content is questionable. Are you able to do anything about this Tim?

  51. #51 Tim Lambert
    February 18, 2006

    I can change the font size, but I want to discuss it with tech support first. And he isn’t back from vacation for a couple of days.

  52. #52 Chris O'Neill
    February 18, 2006

    Regarding (hoped for) temperture proxies, they are measured against time not temperature. MBH’s analysis decomposes the twentieth century instrumental data into a set of eigenvectors each of which has a characteristic spatial pattern, called the empirical orthogonal function, and its characteristic variation with time or “principal component”. Thus not only does MBH’s analysis not lump temperatures all together in one global average, it is actually an essential part of the analysis to allow for spatial temperature variations that are different between eigenfunctions. I don’t know what analysis you would have if you ignored spatial temperature variations but whatever it is would be completely different from MBH’s analysis and far more primitive at best.

    “I find it unlikely that the same is true of all the other proxies in MBH.”

    I presume fFreddy means “I find it likely that the same is true of all the other proxies in MBH.”

    It may well be that some types of tree rings aren’t very good at making temperature proxies but as I said earlier it doesn’t matter in Principal Component Analysis whether you include these in the data or not. If you can show that they have no correlation with temperature then you might as well save some trouble and leave them out. MBH didn’t invent the use of tree rings for temperature proxies, they’re just making use of the previously established fact that some types of tree rings are observed to be proxies.

    Regarding the mathematics that is written in articles at http://www.climateaudit.org , if what I’ve read there is anything to go by then it’s mainly fishing expeditions to try to find something wrong with other people’s work and often ends up being wrong itself. Whether you’re interested in following these fishing expeditions is a matter of taste.

  53. #53 fFreddy
    February 18, 2006

    Chris O’Neill :
    “… Regarding the mathematics that is written in articles at http://www.climateaudit.org , … and often ends up being wrong itself. …”

    Really ? Details, please.

  54. #54 Peter Hearnden
    February 18, 2006

    “Peter Hearnden: “Perhaps ‘John A’ is Lubos? Or that ‘spqr’ character? Or MF?I dunno.”

    ahem”

    Crikey, I’d forgotten him…Yup, styles very simmilar :(

  55. #55 Anonymous
    February 19, 2006

    “”… Regarding the mathematics that is written in articles at http://www.climateaudit.org , … and often ends up being wrong itself. …”
    Really ? Details, please.”

    Just have a look through the McKitrick category on this blog and google McKitrick at realclimate.org.

  56. #56 fFreddy
    February 19, 2006

    With regard to the McKitrick category on this blog, the first post I ever read here was the one about degrees and radians. The key points that immediately jumped out at me were :
    1. McKitrick had made a simple programming error that could happen to anyone.
    2. The fact that Lambert was able to find it shows that McKitrick published all his data and working.
    3. On being notified of the error, McKitrick immediately recalculated his results and published a correction.
    4. Lambert was crowing about how this paper had been through a particularly long peer review process, but he had found an error. He did not appear to realise that this implies there is something wrong with the academic peer review process.

    It is largely due to the unpleasant sneering in that article that I do not take Lambert very seriously.

    However, far more to the point, http://www.climateaudit.org is Steve McIntyre’s blog, not Ross McKitrick’s. I have only ever seen an occasional post from McKitrick; certainly all the mathematical heavy lifting is done by McIntyre.
    Although Lambert occasionally posts snarky comments there, I have never once seen him get anywhere near catching out McIntyre on the mathematics.
    Chris O’Neill appears to be more mathematically inclined than average; I repeat my suggestion that he will find non-trivial material to consider at climateaudit.

  57. #57 Tim Lambert
    February 19, 2006

    Oddly enough, fFreddy does not think that McIntyre’s unpleasant sneering id s reason not to take him seriously.

    As for McKitrick, anyone can make a programming error, but not noticing it is very negligent. His error significantly reduced the goodness of fit of his model but also increased the strength of the economic effect so he did not think to check it.

  58. #58 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    Which again stresses the necessity of publishing data and software.

    Sneering is bad, so stop it.

  59. #59 Jeff Harvey
    February 20, 2006

    Hans,

    Sneering is bad, so is non-peer reviewed science. For the umpteenth time, why don’t you publish your arguments in a mainstream scientific journal? I occasionally check out the ISI Web of Science with “Erren H” under the authors name but I always get a paucity of hits (like… one). This is exactly why I and about 99% of the scientific community questioned Lomborg’s ‘objectivity’ and scientific acumen. One hit for “Lomborg B” in the WOS (on iterated prisoner’s dilemma for heaven’s sake). Credible scientists send their results to peer-reviewed journals, and like to publish them in the most rigid ones with the higher impact factors (where they will also get more publicity).

    As for the hockey stick, I reiterate: it is but one piece of evidence for AGW in a field where the evidence is becoming massive. How many of the sceptics here are climate scientists who publish in the rigid journals? If not, why not? A couple of years ago I confronted a couple of pseudo-scientists who were aggrieved that Nature had published the Thomas et al. paper in which the effects of climate chane were predicted to accelerate the current extinction spasm. One of the critics claimed that he was upset because the paper will, as he put it “Scare people”. Unbelieveable. My refrain was as usual: if you think the paper is so utterly bad, why not submit a detailed rebuttal to Nature that will go through the same review process as the Thomas paper did? As expected, I never heard from either of the sceptics again, and they disappered back into the academic obscurity from which they emerged.

    What I tend to find as someone who works in another field of research (population biology) is that many of the sceptics here write as if the IPCC and every other academic body has missed something. The 2001 report – the next one will certainly produce more severe scenarios that the 2001 document based on recent empirical evidence – went through 12 rounds of internal and 3 rounds of external peer review. Many sceptics were involved in the process, both externally and internally. Whereas I am all for scientific debate, I’d like to know what Steven McIntyre thinks about all of the other evidence for AGW, and its consequences for communtiies, ecosystems and biomes around the world over variable spatial/temporal scales. These factors are rarely, if ever discussed, and its here that people like McIntyre, Hans and their ilk are out of their depth. I have read some patently absurd remarks from Hans in this area here and on other blogs (John Quiggen’s, the now discontinued Quark Soup site of David Appel). But this is the crux of the problem – what will the effects of climate change have on complex adaptive systems that have already been altered, simplified, and/or eliminated by a suite of human-driven processes? The prognosis is bleak. Yet in spite of the burgeoning evidence, we are being told by those with no real understanding of the ecological consequences of anthropogenic global change that all is well, and that if there are problems then our limitless human ingenuity will save the day. But the bottom line is that they say we do not need to change anything. Business-as-usual is the only business. Retain the status quo, etc. This is madness, the sprint of folly in the face of what little we know about the functioning of these systems except that they provide life support for humanity. Simply put, we exist because these systems generate conditions that permit it.

    Thus, these debates should be expanded and become more holistic. But so long as the likes of M & M keep the debate stuck on one small piece of a huge interacting puzzle, we aren’t going to get out of the starting gate. However, this is exactly why I believe that the anti-environmental lobby likes to focus on infinitely small details (what I’d appropriately call the ‘bristlecone pine effect’). Keep the public’s eye off of the bigger issues. Focus on pedantics. And for heaven’s sake, ignore the symptoms of the disease.

  60. #60 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    Which again stresses the necessity of publishing data and software.

  61. #61 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    Sorry for cross posting:

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1666

    Statistical results generally involve observing data from which correlations can be drawn to indicate possible cause-and-effect. An example is the much-acclaimed research on mouth cancer for which Dr. Jon Sudbo of the Norwegian Radium Hospital observed a database of 908 participants. Sudbo has admitted to fabricating his database. Many questions addressed to statistical studies involve little more than closely analyzing the specifics of the data. For example, when 250 of the 908 people studied by Sudbo shared the same birth date, a red flag should have fluttered.

    Results, such as those claimed by Hwang and the Newcastle team, are “yes/no.” That is to say, the cells and embryos were either cloned in the manner indicated, or not. The questions addressed to “yes/no” experiments may be more fundamental than those addressed to statistical claims but all research should be able to answer them. Those questions include:

    + Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination? If not, then the researcher is asking you to accept his word for the findings.

    + What is the researcher’s reputation? More credibility should be accorded to the claims of a scientist with a sound track record than to an unknown factor who comes out of nowhere.

    + Who funds the research? A questionable source of money does not invalidate research but public skepticism should sharpen if the funder stands to profit from a specific finding and, indeed, that finding results.

    + Have the findings been independently verified? Claims should be sufficiently documented to allow replication. (Unfortunately non-scientific concerns, like patents, sometimes interfere with disclosure.)

    + Does the claim contradict previous data? A breakthrough that achieves a difficult result is qualitatively different than one that achieves a result previously believed impossible. A ‘paradigm shift’ demands a high degree of proof because it involves invalidating previous findings.

    + Does the claim include policy recommendations or changes in law? Research that includes a political agenda is more likely to express the researcher’s personal beliefs than work that merely states data and findings.

    + What is the response of the scientific community?

    + Where was the research published? The differing levels of prestige for scientific journals has been quantified in terms of their “impact factor.” If a researcher publishes in a low impact journal, then asking ‘why’ becomes appropriate.

  62. #62 Jeff Harvey
    February 20, 2006

    Hans,

    A good post (for once). Each of your points bears scrutiny. Furthermore, nothing yoU have said invalidates the points I made ABOVE about peer-review, and of your reluctance to publish – or attempt to publish – your arguments in mainstream journals. However, I do use the internet as a major source of information and especially of comment in areas where I do not trust mainstream journalism which in my view all too often aims to promote the opinions of those with privilege, wealth and power. Thus, alternate web sites such as climate audit are welcome in the climate change debate. What is dubious, however, is the value of overscrutinizing certain points that prevent an evaluation of many other processes. Too much time has been spent, I believe, on the certain proxies in the ‘hockey stick’ because there are plenty of other biological indicators at present that reveal disturbing trends with respect to climate patterns. Many of these trends are perhaps unprecedented in many thousands of years. Moreover, ten years ago the hockey stick wasn’t even an issue as the MBH paper did not come out until 1998; AGW has been an important scientific concern since the late 1980′s. I am sure that many scientists would agree that focussing attention on certain proxies in the MBH model is akin to studying the importance of one grain of sand on a beach, or of one molecule in a gas. It seems to me that the reason this is being done by certain groups and individuals should be obvious (read my post above again). Now to your specific points:

    + Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination? If not, then the researcher is asking you to accept his word for the findings. I AGREE WITH YOU HERE, BUT AGAIN, YOU EVADE THE POINT. SO WHAT? THIS RELATES TO MY GRAIN OF SAND COMMENT.

    + What is the researcher’s reputation? More credibility should be accorded to the claims of a scientist with a sound track record than to an unknown factor who comes out of nowhere. THIS STATEMENT IS VALID. FOR EVERY GALILEO WHO CHALLENGES THE ACCEPTED WISDOM THERE ARE TENS OF THOUSANDS OR PRETENDERS WITH FLAT EARTH THEORIES WHOSE ARGUMENTS END UP ON THE SCRAP HEAP OF HISTORY.

    + Who funds the research? A questionable source of money does not invalidate research but public skepticism should sharpen if the funder stands to profit from a specific finding and, indeed, that finding results. THIS IS ALSO TRUE. I FIND IT HIGHLY DUSBIOUS WHEN RESEARCHERS LIKE MICHAELS, BALIUNAS, AND OTHERS IS OPENLY FUNDED BY A FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY OR THINK TANK WITH AN AXE TO GRIND. IF THESE SCIENTISTS ARE REALLY TRYING TO TELL US THAT THEY ARE ‘INDEPENDENT’, THEN THEY MUST BE PRETTY STUPID ASSOCIATING WITH INDUSTRIES THAT HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN DENIAL.

    + Have the findings been independently verified? Claims should be sufficiently documented to allow replication. (Unfortunately non-scientific concerns, like patents, sometimes interfere with disclosure.) THIS IS WHAT PEER-REVIEW IS ALL ABOUT. REVIEWERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO VALIDATE THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE RESULTS, AND POINT OUT POTENTIAL METHODOLOGICAL FLAWS. OF COURSE MOST SCIENTISTS ARE BUSY PEOPLE AND HAVE MORE TO DO THAN TO ASK FOR EVERY RESULT TO BE GIVEN TO THEM FOR RE-ANALYSIS. I REVIEW SEVERAL PAPERS A MONTH, AND IF I WANTED EVERY RESULT TO BE PROVIDED ON EXCEL FOR ME TO REANAYZE THEN I WOULD GET NOTHING ELSE DONE.

    + Does the claim contradict previous data? A breakthrough that achieves a difficult result is qualitatively different than one that achieves a result previously believed impossible. A ‘paradigm shift’ demands a high degree of proof because it involves invalidating previous findings. THIS IS TRUE, BUT ONLY IF THE RESULTS OF THE FIRST STUDY ARE NOVEL. IF THEY ARE SUPPORTED BY MANY OTHER EMPIRICAL STUDIES, THEN A NEW STUDY CHALLENGING THE ORTHODOXY WILL REQUIRE MORE INTENSIVE SCRUTINY. BUT SCIENCE DOES NOT ADVANCE BY CONSENSUS, AND NEVER HAS. I BELIEVE THAT PUBLIC POLICY, HOWEVER, MUST BE BASED ON IT.

    + Does the claim include policy recommendations or changes in law? Research that includes a political agenda is more likely to express the researcher’s personal beliefs than work that merely states data and findings. TRUE. BUT I BELIEVE THAT BECAUSE MOST SCIENTISTS ARE HIGHLY CRITICAL THINKERS, THAT NOT ENOUGH VENTURE INTO THE PUBLIC ARENA. I THINK THAT WHEN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS TRY TO ALERT SOCIETY TO THE POTENTIAL HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CHANGE OR BIODIVERSITY LOSS, OR COUNTER THOSE WHO DENY THAT THESE RISKS EXIST, THEY ARE NOT POLITICIZING AN ISSUE, THEY ARE FULFILLING A SOCIAL AND PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY.

    + Where was the research published? The differing levels of prestige for scientific journals has been quantified in terms of their “impact factor.” If a researcher publishes in a low impact journal, then asking ‘why’ becomes appropriate. THIS IS CORRECT. WHEN THE FIRST m & m PAPER WENT INTO A SOCIAL SCIENCES JOURNAL, WHOSE EDITOR HAS ADMITTED HER POLITICAL BIAS, THEN THIS SHOULD RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE PAPER.

  63. #63 Tim Curtin
    February 20, 2006

    20 Feb 06

    My previous posting was cut off in mid flow because I used the symbol for “less than”; here it is again with that replaced by the textual version. Apologies.

    The article by Osborne and Briffa in Science (10 Feb 06) has been widely reported as confirming AGM and in particular the IPCC’s controversial reliance on Michael Mann’s (et al.) “hockey stick” portrayal of global temperatures over the last millennium to the present. However O&B actually demonstrate that there was in fact a period of significant warmth around 1400 (without admitting that Mann et al. had not shown this), and that it was not much less pronounced (their Fig.2) than the present warming (allowing for uncertainties over whether tree rings are truly an accurate temperature gauge within not more than 1 degree C margins of error). Nevertheless O&B still conclude “the late 20th century was the warmest period during the last millennium” (p.841).

    But there are other problems with their paper:

    1. The authors used only those proxy records (14 in all) that “are positively correlated with their local temperature observations” (since those became available about 1850). This is a bit like joining up only those dots in a scatter diagram that fit a preconceived hypothesis, or in other words, there appears to be some cherry picking here. Why are the many other tree ring series Not “positively correlated”?

    2. This leads on to the validity of the correlations as presented. Only two of the 11 tree ring series used by O&B have correlations greater than 0.5. This suggests that the null hypothesis of b = 1 for the equation TR = a + bt (which is required for use of tree rings as proxies for temperature) is not confirmed.

    3. Whilst O&B rely on the equation

    TR = a + bt …… (1)

    (where TR are tree ring widths, and t is temperature)

    for the instrumental period since 1850, since it is known that tree ring widths are somewhat correlated with – and caused by – changes in temperature, they also perforce have to rely on the somewhat more dubious relation

    t = d + cTR ……(2)

    for the earlier period before 1850, when we have no general instrumental temperature record, so in effect temperature is “caused” by tree ring widths. Yet O&B assume that the correlations they find between TR and t after 1850 hold for the earlier period. For that period the nul hypothesis is

    c = 0

    and is supposedly refuted by the correlation coefficients cited by O&B.

    But if the correlation coefficients as cited by O&B are correct and both greater than 0 but less than 1, then there is some reason to believe that the temperatures asserted by them for the period before 1850 should be at least doubled, since on average their 11 tree ring correlations are less than 0.5. Thus the medieval warm period they admit to for around 1400 may well have been twice as warm as they claim, and therefore at least as warm as the period of the later 20th century.

    4. Another curiosum in O&B is that nearly all of their proxies show a DOWNTURN in northern hemisphere temperatures in the first half of the 1990s.

    5. Oddly enough, only one of the proxies used by O&B is from ice cores (from W. Greenland). Is that because the well-known cores from elsewhere are not “positively correlated” with instrumental temperatures as appears to be implied by their exclusion by O&B? That is quite likely, as much of the ice core data implies that temperature is a function of CO2 rather than the converse, because of the lags between first temperature increases and then increases in CO2. On the other hand the Greenland ice core seems to confirm the warm period there when dairy farming was possible (according to Jared Diamond).

    Tim Lambert: I am curious why a statistician so quick (and brave) to accuse the dead Julian Simon of “deceit” without a shred of evidence is so willing to accept an article like that by Osborne and Briffa which could never be accepted by any reputable economic or econometric journal, not least because it does not provide its RAW data.

    Tim Curtin

  64. #64 Jeff Harvey
    February 20, 2006

    Tim,

    A few questions: let’s say there was dairy farming in Greenland circa 1000-1400AD. So what? What does this tell us about the present situation? Moreover, the earlier warming was was quite possibly a regional effect (and let’s not forget that Diamond is one of those who argues most stringently about the consequences of human actions on ecological processes across the biosphere – he’s certainly not in the contrarian camp).

    Its been said a million tmes but its worth repeating: fifteen years ago talk of AGW was a “doomsday myth” and now even the most die-hard sceptics have moved on to, the “It’s natural and there’s nothing we can do about it” argument. The next step is inevitably to accept that humans are indeed primarily responsible, but that its too late to do anything except to adapt. No wonder Hansen, Schneider, Mann and others are frustrated. It’s not about science at all, but political expediency.

    The bottom line is that current change must be reconciled against a spate of stresses that Homo sapiens has already inflicted across the biosphere. The planet between 1000-1400 AD was much different than it is now; for one thing, it was not dominated then by a bipedal primate that now co-opts some 40% of net primary production and 50% of freshwater flows. In other words, biomes across the planet have been seriously altered by us in only the past 50 years. We know that humans now affect biogeochemical cycles operating over immense scales – why is it so incredible to suggest that we can not also influence regional and global climate patterns? Forget the hockey stick maths for a moment and focus on the bigger picture. This is exactly what I said above but for many sceptics it falls on deaf ears. There are plenty of indications that current patterns of global change driven by Homo spaiens – of which AGW is but one area – are unique and undermine the functioning of ecosystems. So how far do you and other sceptics expect us to experiment with systems whose functioning we barely understand?

  65. #65 Tim Lambert
    February 20, 2006

    Dear Tim Curtin, anyone who is interested can examine the evidence I presented against Simon and ask themselves why you are denying that it exists.

  66. #66 Chris O'Neill
    February 20, 2006

    fFreddy’s opinion is: “Lambert was crowing about how this paper had been through a particularly long peer review process, but he had found an error. He did not appear to realise that this implies there is something wrong with the academic peer review process.”

    Tim Lambert actually wrote:

    “Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the peer review process at Climate Research has failed. Last year, several of the editors resigned after another defective paper slipped through peer review.”

    I know the same thing appears differently to different people, but to me it appears that Tim Lambert did realise that there is something wrong with the academic peer review process.

    You can Google “McIntyre” instead of “McKitrick” on realclimate.org and this blog if you prefer. You may not like “unpleasant sneering” but the information is there if you really want it. And also, is there too much “unpleasant sneering” for you at realclimate.org?

    In any case the issue was about whether I want to spend much time studying material on http://www.climateaudit.org. I really don’t have to justify to anyone what I want to spend my time studying. If I think I’ll be wasting my time on something, the ownus is on someone else to provide evidence if they want to change my mind.

  67. #67 Peter hearnden
    February 20, 2006

    I think “On the other hand the Greenland ice core seems to confirm the warm period there when dairy farming was possible (according to Jared Diamond).” gives the rather wrong impression. JD says the cows were only outside for three months a year, spending the other nine inside eating, if they were lucky, hay, or seaweed or nowt. You could probably do the same now, indeed perhaps now cows could live outside in the same places for longer each year?

  68. #68 Chris O'Neill
    February 20, 2006

    “+ Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination?”

    Where in the above statement does the word “software” appear?

  69. #69 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    What matters wrt MBH98

    Statistical results generally involve observing data from which correlations can be drawn to indicate possible cause-and-effect. An example is the much-acclaimed research on Milennial Climate Reconstruction By Mann Bradley and Hughes. Many questions addressed to statistical studies involve little more than closely analyzing the specifics of the data. Those questions include:

    + Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination? If not, then the researcher is asking you to accept his word for the findings.
    - Answer No.

    + What is the researcher’s reputation? More credibility should be accorded to the claims of a scientist with a sound track record than to an unknown factor who comes out of nowhere.
    - Mann was a novice in the field.

    + Have the findings been independently verified? Claims should be sufficiently documented to allow replication. (Unfortunately non-scientific concerns, like patents, sometimes interfere with disclosure.)
    - All “replications” were by co-authors using the same data.

    + Does the claim contradict previous data? A breakthrough that achieves a difficult result is qualitatively different than one that achieves a result previously believed impossible. A ‘paradigm shift’ demands a high degree of proof because it involves invalidating previous findings.
    - MBH caused a paradigm shift.

    + Does the claim include policy recommendations or changes in law? Research that includes a political agenda is more likely to express the researcher’s personal beliefs than work that merely states data and findings.
    - We should inplement the Kyote protocol to avoid further warming.

  70. #70 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    Jeff,

    I won’t address your personal attack on me. Rest assured: I am preparing a very funny peer reviewed paper at the moment. I won’t publish by press release on this one.
    When was your last one again?

  71. #71 Jeff Harvey
    February 20, 2006

    Hans,

    I am not attacking you personally, and if you think that I am, I apologize. I just believe that sound science should be published in sound journals. You clearly have enough pedigree as a scientist to do this, so I say go for it. I get most concerned when I see the contrarian arguments relying disporportionately on op-eds from think tanks, articles on web sites from lobbying groups like the GES and C-oh-two, and web stes like TCS.

    My next peer-reviewed paper comes out in March – last year I authored or co-authored 8 papers in scientific journals (those that appear on the WOS). Granted, none are in climate science, but then again my research is in population biology.

    As for michael Mann beimg a novice when his paper was published, this is sour grapes. I know of several colleagues in my field whose first papers were published in Nature. Are you saying that Nature and Science should reject all papers from scientists who have published less than 10 papers in other journals? Pu-lease.

    Moreover, there was no paradigm shift at all in the scientific opinion over AGW because of the MGH paper. MBH’s paper was just another piece of evidence in a huge empirical pile that has been used to support the hypothesis that the current warming episode is in part being driven by the the human combustion of fossil fuels. Well before 1998 there was already a lot of literature making this point. I have a book published in 1992 (recently revised) that explores the effects of AGW on ecological communties and species interactions. For some reason the sceptics have latched onto MBH as if this is the be-all-and-end-all of climate change research.

  72. #72 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    MBH did change the paradigm on the magnitude of MWP and coined the phrase “unprecedented”.

    See Jeff, you as a full time professional publish 8 papers per year. See how time consuming it is. Then you want me to join the publishing lottery with a controversial paper?

    I mentioned already the positive and negative points on peer review publishing:

    +ve:
    CV: In my case not applicable as outside of profession, it doesn’t benefit my career.
    Peer review: Several biased papers lowered the esteem substantially.

    -ve:
    Waving of copyright: The journal owns the paper.
    Slow publication: It takes several months to publish.
    Low circulation: Only subscribers can read the full paper.

    See? The incentive for me is rather low to publish peer reviewed.

  73. #73 Chris O'Neill
    February 20, 2006

    In Tim Curtin’s opinion:

    “However O&B actually demonstrate that there was in fact a period of significant warmth around 1400 (without admitting that Mann et al. had not shown this), and that it was not much less pronounced (their Fig.2) than the present warming”

    This Fig. 2 is shown at A New Take on an Old Millennium and it appears that Tim Curtin has confused temperature with the variable plotted in this graph which is “Fraction of the records available in each year that have normalized values greater than 0″. As anyone thinking carefully about what this variable means would realize, this is NOT linearly related to temperature. Also as anyone who looks at all the curves on the graph ought to realize, there is a variable called “Fraction of the records available in each year that have normalized values greater than 2″. This variable is much bigger in the late 20th century (0.4) than at any other time (just over 0.1 around the year 1000).

    But this is not the most appropriate blog to ask the other questions. (I just responded to the above issue because it’s an obvious mistake.) The most appropriate place is realclimate because you may get a response from people far more expert than anyone here. The questions don’t look too impertinent so I think realclimate would probably show them. The page A New Take on an Old Millennium is still open and probably not too out of date.

  74. #74 Chris O'Neill
    February 20, 2006

    Hans Erren’s opinion is:

    “A ?paradigm shift? demands a high degree of proof because it involves invalidating previous findings.
    - MBH caused a paradigm shift.”

    As far as I’m aware MBH did not invalidate previous findings. I think previously no-one had much idea of what the global mean temperature was before the era of the instrument record. The rapid rise in temperature in the instrument record from 1920 was already known and was obviously different in behaviour from the instrument record before 1920. Basically there were no findings about the pre-instrument record to invalidate, as far as I know.

  75. #75 z
    February 20, 2006

    “Lambert was crowing about how this paper had been through a particularly long peer review process, but he had found an error. He did not appear to realise that this implies there is something wrong with the academic peer review process.”

    Ah, a few typos. Should read:

    McKitrick was crowing about how this paper had been through a particularly long peer review process, but Lambert found an error. He realised that this implies there is something wrong with McKitrick’s academic peer review process.

  76. #76 John Cross
    February 20, 2006

    As far as I’m aware MBH did not invalidate previous findings. I think previously no-one had much idea of what the global mean temperature was before the era of the instrument record. The rapid rise in temperature in the instrument record from 1920 was already known and was obviously different in behaviour from the instrument record before 1920. Basically there were no findings about the pre-instrument record to invalidate, as far as I know.

    Chris: That is an excellent point and one that isn’t made enough. I said something similar here in comment 52 Essentially, as far as I know, most of the work prior to MBH was based on some work by Lamb (I think Jones may have has an earlier paper out that showed the Holociene was warmer). Lamb used agriculture records to show climate but I don;t think he actually did any statistics on the records or intended his work to be taken as global.

    John

  77. #77 Hans Erren
    February 20, 2006

    So indeed the paradigm based on Lamb was: There was a Medieval Warm Period.
    The paradigm shift was: There was a Medieval not-so-warm Period.
    MBH’s results were taken at face value, it took six years before a corrigendum on the data was issued, and the statistical method used is still in dispute.

    Was there a paradigm shift or not?

  78. #78 John Cross
    February 20, 2006

    Hans: I believe that most of Lamb’s work was based on records from Europe. I am not sure that he claimed that the MWP was global and if so, how he justified it. Thus I am still not inclined to think of it as a paradigm shift.

    Incidentally, if he was alive today, Lamb would not be eligible to sit on the NAS panel since he co-authored with P. D. Jones who co-authored with Mike Mann who directed Al Pacino in Heat (1995) and Al Pacino was in Sea of Love (1989) with Brian Paul (I) and
    Brian Paul (I) was in Cavedweller (2004) with Kevin Bacon!

  79. #79 Eli Rabett
    February 20, 2006

    MBH is Man, Bradley and Hughes. The humor in all this is how Bradley and Hughes have been Rasooled. Bradley has been instrumental in developing instrumental temperature data bases (the only competition is Phil Jones at the UK Climate Research Unit), and Malcolm Hughes is one of the best know dendrologists. Mann brought statistical techniques from his doctoral studies at Yale.

    In short that line of attack is a crock.

  80. #80 nanny_govt_sucks
    February 20, 2006

    “THIS IS ALSO TRUE. I FIND IT HIGHLY DUSBIOUS WHEN RESEARCHERS LIKE MICHAELS, BALIUNAS, AND OTHERS IS OPENLY FUNDED BY A FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY OR THINK TANK WITH AN AXE TO GRIND. IF THESE SCIENTISTS ARE REALLY TRYING TO TELL US THAT THEY ARE ‘INDEPENDENT’, THEN THEY MUST BE PRETTY STUPID ASSOCIATING WITH INDUSTRIES THAT HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN DENIAL.”

    I find it highly dubious when researches are openly funded by politicians and bureaucrats who have much to gain in money and power by fearmongering and then offering only government solutions. If these scientists are really trying to tell us that they are “independent”, then they must be pretty stupid associating with governments that have a vested interest in alarmism.

  81. #81 Jeff Harvey
    February 21, 2006

    Nanny,

    Your argumet befits your name. As I said earlier, and clearly you haven’t read it, considering the hostility of the current US administration/regime to AGW (and this s true of most governments in the developed world who are beholden to corporate interests) its quite likely that any researcher submitting a detailed proposal to a government agency outlining scientific doubts about the human component would have a great chance of getting funded. Considering the researchers I mentioned in my earlier post are also on the government payroll, please explain why they eed to supplement their healthy incomes with dirty money from the fossil fool lobby. Of course you can’t. Argument over.

    You can’t also prduce a thread of proof that the vast majority of scientists have to use alarmism to obtain funds – this is the weakest correlation one could find, bt its the last resort for the sceptics to dredge this up. Argument lost again.

    Last point: the Bush administration does use fear, but to support an entirely different agenda. That’s why for years we were told time and again how much of a threat we were from communist hordes, when declassified government documents now reveal that the threat was vastly overblown in support of another agenda, that of preventing other countries from embracing nationalist forces that threatened the flow of cheap resources to the west and of our desire for the repatriation of other countries assets to fatten the bank accounts of western investors. With communism on the ash heap of history, the latest bogus fear spread by our plutocratic governments is that of international terrorism: same notation. None of this is really controversial, except by the media who swallow the latest government lie without a hint of scepticism that there may be alterior moties.

    Nany, now for some advice: try better next time.

  82. #82 Chris O'Neill
    February 21, 2006

    Hans Erren’s opinion is:

    “MBH’s results were taken at face value”

    which means what exactly?

    “it took six years before a corrigendum on the data was issued”

    which made no significant difference to the results and no difference to the method.

    “and the statistical method used is still in dispute”

    by only global warming contrarians, as we expect, who have not produced any peer-reviewed paper that shows significant problems with the method, as far as I know.

  83. #83 Tim Curtin
    February 21, 2006

    I am inclined to add Tim Lambert to his list of those offering “deceit” – those who call the kettle black…

    Here is Tim Lambert on Julian Simon’s “deceit”:

    I can add Julian Simon to the list of dishonest ones. In the Ultimate Resource 2 Page 261 he writes about “environmental scares”:
    DDT, sensationalized by Rachel Carson in 1962. Said to cause hepatitis. Discontinued in U.S. in 1972. Known then to be safe to humans (caused death only if eaten like pancakes). Some damage to wildlife under special conditions.

    [IN FACT CARSON'S VIEWS PLAYED A UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED MAJOR ROLE IN THE BANNING OF DDT IN THE USA IN 1972]

    With the aid of DDT, “India had brought the number of malaria cases down from the estimated 75 million in 1951 to about 50,000 in 1961. Sri Lanka reduced malaria from about three million cases after World War II to just 29 in 1964.” Then as the use of DDT went down, “Endemic malaria returned to India like the turnaround of a tide.” By 1977 “the number of cases reached at least 30 million and perhaps 50 million.”
    And pages 462-463
    Also, “Sri Lanka … reduced malaria from about three million cases after World War II to just 29 in 1964.” But then DDT was banned.
    [THIS IS SIMON'S ONLY MISTAKE BUT HARDLY DECEIT AS HE DID NOT ATTRIBUTE THE CLAIMED BAN TO HARRISON]

    And due to the evolution of pesticide-resistant strains of carrier insects and the concomitant damage to the insects’ natural predators, pesticides soon lose their effectiveness. The disease has returned in force; by 1970 Sri Lanka may have had a million cases of malaria per year.
    Now Simon’s four quotes all come from Gordon Harrison’s Mosquitoes, malaria, and man. Trouble is, if you read Harrison’s account of the resurgence of malaria in Sri Lanka and India (I have a copy here), you find out that DDT was not banned and environmentalists had nothing to do with it. It is true that DDT shortages were partly responsible for the resurgence, but that was because they were trying to increase DDT spraying in response to the malaria epidemic. So Simon must have read Harrison’s account, copied the quotations from it and then decided to blame environmentalist scare tactics for the resurgence, even though he knew it wasn’t their fault.
    Posted on January 19, 2006 12:35 PM

    Hi Tim Lambert

    Thanks for reference to Gordon Harrison’s book with its lovely picture of the “Banjalore Bicycle Club” in 1896 headed by the great Major and Mrs Ross – my own arrival was registered there soon after! – and my father suffered malaria in Ceylon during the great epidemics of the 30s that he mentions. But as ever you have been economical with the truth. Simon was NOT necessarily arguing for a return to DDT spraying, as even your quote shows he recognised its diminishing returns. Your own deceit lies in claiming that he sourced Harrison for his mistaken assertion that there were was a worldwide ban on DDT before the USA introduced its own in 1972. He did not. The truth is that Simon was ALWAYS meticulous in his references, and every quote from Harrison is duly attributed; nothing that is not in quotes is attributed to Harrison. If you should ever manage to publish as copiously as he did I hope you will be as scrupulous with your citations.

    Simon’s actual view like Harrison’s was that because DDT had been over-used by cotton farmers and the like, its efficacy had been compromised, and that therefore population growth leading to urbanisation might well be the only route for de facto eradication of malaria.

    If I knew that you shared Simon’s extraordinary humanitarian view of all our prospects I would be much happier about your Blog, despite your apparent preference for the absurd views of the Club of Rome in both its pre- and post-Simon versions.

    Tim Curtin

  84. #84 Tim Lambert
    February 21, 2006

    I am amazed that you could quote my argument and so completely failed to understand it. I didn’t say that he gave Harrison as the source of his assertion that there was a worldwide ban on DDT before 1972. What Harrison does is make it clear IN THE VERY PASSAGE THAT SIMON SELECTIVELY QUOTES FROM that there was no such ban and that the nonexistent ban was no the cause of the malaria insurgence.

    Simon was dishonest and I’m afraid that his sunny views of our prospects does not excuse his misconduct.

  85. #85 Anonymous
    February 21, 2006

    Curtin: Your own deceit lies in claiming that he sourced Harrison for his mistaken assertion that there were was a worldwide ban on DDT before the USA introduced its own in 1972. He did not. The truth is that Simon was ALWAYS meticulous in his references, and every quote from Harrison is duly attributed; nothing that is not in quotes is attributed to Harrison.

    So what your saying is that Simon fabricated the false claim himself and didn’t even bother to dress it up with some spurious citations?

    Or that he was writing about matters about which he was obviously grossly misinformed?

  86. #86 Chris O'Neill
    February 21, 2006

    Tim Curtin’s opinion is:

    “But if the correlation coefficients as cited by O&B are correct and both greater than 0 but less than 1, then there is some reason to believe that the temperatures asserted by them for the period before 1850 should be at least doubled, since on average their 11 tree ring correlations are less than 0.5. Thus the medieval warm period they admit to for around 1400 may well have been twice as warm as they claim, and therefore at least as warm as the period of the later 20th century.”

    Yes O&B are likely to fall for that mistake, aren’t they :-)

    The questions that Tim Curtin wonders about are pretty basic issues in reconstructions using tree rings so he should be looking around for educational material on the subject rather than looking for a teacher on this blog. But I thought this particular question was a good opportunity to provide some basic information about how a reconstruction can be done.

    Say you have a tree ring record along with a recent neighbouring instrument record from which you want to produce a reconstruction. One way to calibrate the tree ring record is to firstly shift its mean so that the mean over the instrument record period matches the mean of the instrument record. Then we have to magnify the variance so that it appropriately matches the variance of the instrument record. I say appropriately because this does not mean an exact match. The problem here is that the tree ring record contains noise as well as the temperature record and the variance that we want to match in the tree ring record is the variance of the included temperature record. Thus the total variance of the tree ring record need to be magnified so that it ends up larger than the variance of the instrument record.

    So how much larger than the instrument record variance should the reconstructed tree ring record variance be? That depends on the correlation between the two records (which we can only estimate over the period for which we have both records). We need to divide the instrument record variance by the correlation to get the variance that the reconstructed tree ring record needs to have.

    The reconstructed tree ring record then has a temperature signal with the correct (estimated) variance and correct (estimated) mean. The only problem is that it also has a noise signal in it whose magnitude distribution can be estimated from the correlation and other parameters. I won’t go into details but the smaller the correlation, the larger the noise signal. e.g. if the correlation is zero then the noise is infinite and the reconstruction is no use at all.

    The above description is for a single proxy and co-located instrument record. MBH’s method deals with many proxies and many instrument records in a very well organized way so its mathematics is far more complex (requiring matrix algebra).

  87. #87 Hans Erren
    February 21, 2006

    “and the statistical method used is still in dispute”
    by only global warming contrarians, as we expect, who have not produced any peer-reviewed paper that shows significant problems with the method, as far as I know.

    Chutzpah.

  88. #88 Chris O'Neill
    February 22, 2006

    Hans Erren says “Chutzpah.”

    Thank you for your opinion.

    Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition and Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition II are relevant to the few contrarian papers that managed to get through “peer review”.

  89. #89 Tim Curtin
    February 22, 2006

    Re Tim Lambert on Julian Simon.

    1. The first quote from Simon (p.261) does not mention any DDT ban other than the USA’s in 1972. The quotes from Harrison are exact in regard to the increases he cited in malaria case after India and Ceylon for their own reasons largely discontinued DDT. Harrison describes at length how essential it was to maintain spraying programmes until full eradication had been achieved. Those countries failed to sustain their efforts.

    2. The second quote from Simon (his pp 462-463) introduces his error (p.463) stating “then DDT was banned” (when in fact it had merely been discontinued in Sri Lanka for reasons not wholly clear, but according to Harrison mainly fatigue and fiscal). If one reads the cited pages in full (rather than just Lambert’s truncated extracts) it is clear that Simon’s main concern was that for whatever reason (including mosquito resistance due to over-use of DDT in agriculture), malaria was rebounding around the world, and that in his view it would not be beaten until population growth (and by implication concomitant urbanisation) led to effective public health measures like those pioneered in Bangalore by Ross, as described by Harrison. He was not demanding lifting of in fact non-existent bans on DDT.

    I do not understand why any reasonable person would rubbish Simon or accuse him of deceit on the slender grounds advanced by Lambert, namely one sentence from a book of over 700 pages of intelligent debate and sound evidence.

  90. #90 Hans Erren
    February 24, 2006

    Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition

    indeed, you also need to show your data

  91. #91 Chris O'Neill
    March 25, 2006

    “So indeed the paradigm based on Lamb was: There was a Medieval Warm Period.
    The paradigm shift was: There was a Medieval not-so-warm Period.”

    Anyone wondering about this should check CLIMATE OVER PAST MILLENNIA. One thing it says is

    “All protagonists (exemplified by Bell and Ogilvie [1978]) of documentary evidence stress the need to consult the original sources and not to use late 19th or 20th century compilations (such as those of Easton [1928] and Britton [1937]). Many highly respected climatologists pioneering the use of documentary climate histories in the 1960s [e.g., Lamb, 1965; Bryson, 1962] sometimes used less than reliable sources of information taken from such questionable compilations [see, e.g., Ogilvie and Farmer, 1997].”

    So if anyone’s looking for a “paradigm shift” maybe they should think about the status of this earlier work before deciding what their “paradigm shift” actually is.

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