Hockey Social Stick Networks

John Quiggin is underwhelmed by Wegman et al‘s Social Network Analysis of Mann’s co-authorship graph.

On the other hand, the Climate Audit folks are really excited. I’m not sure if the Social Network stuff is good for them. (See graph on right.)


  1. #1 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    I was the one who asked for the CT analysis (twice, both request posts deleted without comment). I will put some replies up on their site. Will back the posts up at CA (or here if I get banned at CA). I’m a bit sick of losing content. You know how I am and I’m pretty close to a banning over there.

    P.s. Although I think your side is a bunch of pussies, I think JohnA (on my side) was wrong to ban Lee. I love a good ad hom or flame fight. And John is too heavy with the ban stick, not just out of general nannyishness but out against his opponents in debate.

    P.s.s. Only reason posting this here is that Steve asked for no discussion on the topic and I respect the man.

  2. #2 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    Oh…btw, your graph looks pretty juvinile and btw, Wegman is not indicting Mann BECAUSE of his connections. He blows apart the stats (and backs Steve up). He has the stats cred to do so and the general science cred to comment on things like Mann’s improper, opaque and flawed description of methods, of wrongness of refusing to share data and methods when asked, etc. When he does the social network, it’s in ADDITION to the stats body blow. It’s EXPLORATORY.

    The point is GIVEN that Mann is wrong, why didn’t people catch him. The Von Storch comments about the chilling impact of anyone who disagreed with the conventional wisdom are interesting here. Even if Steve is on the take from the Marshall Institute (and I see no evidence of that given how rinky dink the site is, tech-wise), it doesn’t matter if his STAT ARGUMENTS ARE RIGHT.

  3. #3 stewart
    July 15, 2006

    As noted; people who have a lot of collaborators show up as central in these kinds of analyses. So? Big research groups publish a lot, develop subgroups and you can quickly develop a short series of linkages.

    If this hadn’t been done purely to impress the rubes, they could have gone two more steps. First, to see if this finding was different from other subdisciplines (and it isn’t). Second, they could have seen if specific subgroups produced findings at variance with other subgroups. That would be the only finding that would justify a number of their other comments or uses made of the WSS report. Given that they didn’t report this, the evidence must not have been there. Otherwise, you end up with the Alice in Wonderland notion that productive and collaborative authors in a particular field should be banned, as everyone knows them. Clique is such a handy work, has the colloquial meaning is so perjorative, even when the technical meaning isn’t.

  4. #4 MarkR
    July 15, 2006

    Wegman Page 64

    What is the current scientific consensus on the conclusions reached by Drs. Mann, Bradley and Hughes?

    Ans: Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on MBH98/99. As analyzed in our social network, there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.

  5. #5 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    To me, the clear finding (which no one here can contest) that Mann’s work contained that off-centering issue that was never mentioned and THAT HE WON’T admit it or address why he did it (put it there or failed to note it)! I mean, it’s fine to have an argument that it doesn’t impact the study, but start by addressing why it’s there and what effect it has! That’s basic science ethics! If Mann can’t do that, then he doesn’t belong in physics.

  6. #6 jr
    July 15, 2006

    I like the graph

  7. #7 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    It’s cute.

  8. #8 Peter bickle
    July 15, 2006

    Hi all
    So JQ is so undewhelmed, so F*%$en wot!
    Peter Bickle

  9. #9 Lee
    July 15, 2006

    TCO, thanks (I think). I will mention that the fact that I am banned and you are not, is pretty damn good evidence that JohnA is using banning to silence disagreement rather than to police misbehavior. Steve not only condones it, and condones JohnA’s continuing goading and attacks, he explicitly approved it in this case. I do NOT respect the man.

    Tim, sorry for the serious off topic, but I wanted to respond to TCO.

  10. #10 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    Dude, I misbehave way more then you. JohnA is being a putz. He still needs to take his thermo whipping.

  11. #11 per
    July 15, 2006

    I don’t see the network analysis is particularly probative of anything. It leads to speculation that there is a clique that peer-review one another’s work, but that remains speculation. (and it wouldn’t be the first time anyway…)

    I think the substantive point is that we have a prominent statistician pointing out that the statistical methods used in this inbred field are not getting appraisal/ input from the mainstream statistical community, and additionally pointing out that the methods are flawed.

    Much though they didn’t emphasise it, the NRC panel also endorsed numerous of the criticisms of mbh methodology.

    I am betting that the fourth ar is getting thoroughly de-hockey-sticked even as we speak !


  12. #12 Eli Rabett
    July 15, 2006

    Oooooo…. this is going to be so much fun. Speaking of them networks, did you know that Yasmin Said was a PhD student of Edward Wegman ( Just more of the George Mason connection. Guess where SEPP is located.

    The interesting point here is that none of the people associated with this report have a clue about the various proxys or climate in general. Contrast the handling of such matters in the NRC report with this one. However, they proceed to make handwaving, maybe sophmore level, pronouncements about all sorts of stuff, with the old confident assumption. Kind of reminds me of Lubos.

    Labeling Mann (the postdoc) as the senior author is another sign that Bradley and Hughes are being Rasooled (as in the Science paper by Rasool and Schneider about aerosols effects on climate, that ended up being just Schneider because the denialists wanted to go at him).

    It always struck me as super strange that with all the todo about the various tree-ring records, that no one has ever asked Hughes, who was the one that selected them, why he made the choices that he did. Certainly Hughes was intimately connected to Graybill and Idso.

  13. #13 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    So, Eli, what mistakes can you call out in their assessments of the statistics? Or even their vanilla descriptions of proxies? Do you think Wegman has a good stats standing to judge the stats analyses of MM or MBH?

    BTW, you never gave a satisfactory response in the heat capacity discussion. You are pretty smart and scary at times, but I’ve learned to see through the bluster.

  14. #14 TCO
    July 15, 2006

    BTW, I think Yasmin was over at our blog (CA) and I didn’t even know that she was an author. I was deep, deep into the tau turbulence of Tanqueray and made my usual remarks. I think it was a bit too much for her. Too bad. Especially if she is cute or unmarried.

  15. #15 Robert McClelland
    July 16, 2006

    I have disturbing news for some people in this argument. The inhabitants of this planet are no longer debating whether or not global warming is happening or man made. Both have been accepted as fact and we’ve moved on to finding solutions and beating our governments over the head till they take action.

    So it’s time for the global warming deniers to stop wasting everyone’s time and go get real jobs.

  16. #16 Hans
    July 16, 2006

    The Netherlands have a solution:
    It announced a plans for new nuclear power plant by 2013. Ironic for Greenpeace, fight global warming and get a nuclear power plant.

  17. #17 Tim Curtin
    July 16, 2006

    re John Quiggin being “underwhelmed” – he appears to have missed the point that most likely the referees of all papers by the Mann clique and their close associates were members of the clique and their assoociates, or are we expected to believe that the various editors went out of their way to recruit M&M or Lindzen,Singer, Spencer etc as peer reviewers? If there was any honesty in academe, which is problematic, peer reviewers would not be anonymous. Only then could we be sure that Briffa Jones & co were not the peers for Mann & co, or Mann & co refs for Briffa Jones & co. Anyone care to challenge any of the publishers of works of Mann as Lord of the Rings to claim that NONE of said Ringers were refs of the Lord?

  18. #18 Jack Lacton
    July 16, 2006


    You are being completely disingenuous regarding your banning at CA. You were aware that a standard for behaviour had been introduced. You were warned that a continuation of ad homs etc would get you banned and yet you pushed until you were – simply so you could be a martyr, in my view, and shout it from the rooftops that CA silences dissenters, which, when the discussion is about the science, it doesn’t. Not that I would have banned you, though.

    And Robert – I’d be really interested to see what jobs the pro-AGW crowd hold down. I’ll bet that they’re 90% government, academic or other positions where the creation of value is not required. Is that a ‘real job’?

  19. #19 TCO
    July 16, 2006

    Lee, was temperate and had very few ad homs. I think he was jumped on for a very minor one. Several people who disagree with Lee on his opinions back him up on the banning being unjustified.

  20. #20 Hank Roberts
    July 16, 2006

    This is why sociograms properly done use arrows, not lines, between parties.

    An arrow pointing in would mean B has input to A.
    An arrow with two heads means interaction, both directions.

    An arrow pointing out means, e.g., they’re talking about you from that blog but you’ve been banned so can’t respond.

  21. #21 Robert McClelland
    July 16, 2006

    Jack Lacton says…academic…where the creation of value is not required.

    That’s too funny. This rube thinks knowledge has no value.

    Anyway, that foolishness aside, Jack, even the Alberta oil and gas industry is beginning to call for the Canadian government to regulate ghg emissions. When the worst offenders begin throwing in the towel it’s obvious the fight is over. So get over it and move on. I’m sure there are lots of other fights that require the services of a good denial shill.

  22. #22 Lee
    July 16, 2006


    “I’ll bet that they’re 90% government, academic… ”
    In my case, you would be dead wrong. I find it amusing that right after you berate me for engaging in ad homs, that you drop a major ad hom of this sort.

    I wil also point out that JohnA does not ban people because they use an ad hom or insult – that is his excuse. He bans people who are arguing with him, when he finds an excuse. In the case of my being banned from CA, Steve explicitly approved it whle remaining silent on the ad hom that JohnA used to initiate the exchange. TCO is still there, and he frequently (daily?) engages is far worse than I do. JohnA engages in worse – he seems to be incapable of engaging an opponent without insult – and Steve tolerates it. The people who use ad homs and insults to attack me or other chalenging voices are not banned or even admonished.

    JohnA abuses his power at CA in a way that silences opposition – and one result is the mutual back-slapping party going on over there this week, with participants congratulating themselves for having destroyed the “A” in AGW, and with most of the dissenting voices silenced as the party goes on. And in at least my case, Steve explicitly approved it.

  23. #23 Mark Shapiro
    July 16, 2006

    Thanks to Tim Curtin for bringing in the Lord of the Rings analogy. He calls Prof. Mann, an academic in paleoclimatology, a mere measurer of tree ring widths, a Lord!

    Who is Mann up against? Merely US Congressman Barton and his committee, WSJ, CA etc, and now add Wegman and Scott, who have worked for the Office of Naval Research, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the National Security Agency among others. They work on massive computer systems with huge budgets, for extremely powerful (and secretive) people.

    And which clique is Barton Lord of? Does the oil patch count as a clique?

    Mann and his fellow paleoclimatologists have shortcomings, but power? No.

    Somewhere, some group is discussing climate and statistics rationally. Once in a while, it happens here.

  24. #24 Mark Shapiro
    July 16, 2006

    “The ring works hard to get back in the hands of men, who, above all else, desire power.” – JRR Tolkien, “Lord of the Rings”

    “Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and
    review.” – The Wegman report, recommendation 1.

    If Wegman were merely offering to lend a helping statistical hand to beleaguered climatologists that would be one thing. But he makes it sound as though our entire energy policy (and subsidies to the oil companies) hinges on MBH98 and whether he decentered properly. So let’s watch what Barton makes of this. Is he going to offer some helpful, high-powered critiques and more resources to climatology, paleos especially, or will he just rhetorically tie all of AGW to Mann and the shortcomings of MBH98? Does Barton desire power, and is oil money a large source?

  25. #25 Harald Korneliussen
    July 17, 2006

    What this graph really shows is that there are a lot of people who view Mann as a good, reliable scientist, and they all had to be in on the conspiracy of overlooking them if there are obvious errors in Mann’s work.

    Why stop here? Go another two or three levels, and you will probably have included most of contemporary science. And what that means, is that these are not just attacks on Mann, they are attacks on science.

    Perhaps we should turn it into a game. Forget Erdos and Kevin Bacon, what’s your Mann number?

  26. #26 Jasmine
    July 17, 2006

    The Mann number? That’s brilliant!

  27. #27 Kelly
    July 19, 2006

    With those errors he can hardly be considered as a noble scientists.

  28. #28 Tim Lambert
    July 19, 2006

    [We already did the Mann number thing.]( The Social Network Stuff wasn’t original to Wegman — it was clearly inspired by McIntyre’s rants about the “hockey team” (a term he coined to describe Mann and his co-authors).

  29. #29 Timothy Curtin
    July 19, 2006

    Lambert: it is relevant to the peer review debate. Real Climate takes refuge in the anonymity of peer review, thereby deeming that NONE of the Mann ring ever peer reviewed a paper by any other member of the Ring. It would not breach anonymity for Barton to demand that each of the Ring deny ever peer reviewing any other member. That way anonymity would be preserved and honesty might make a come back. But I have had enough experience of peer reviewing, from both ends, to know that editors select their reviewer according to whether they wish to publish anyway or not.
    Perish the thought that any selected reviewer would ever decline on the basis of conflict of interest, having collaborated/used the same data as the referred. Many academics have never heard of the term “conflict of interest” – and I could name a few to prove my point (send SAE and I will name them, whilst preserving their precious anonymity).

  30. #30 Hank Roberts
    July 22, 2006

    Data mining and a Federal certification in statistics — powerful.

  31. #31 Eli Rabett
    July 23, 2006

    From very far on the road…Mann is not a specialist in dendrology. Biffra and Hughes (to name two of his collaborators) are. Biffra was not his collaborator in 1998. If you are going to go after the choice of tree ring series, go after Hughes, not Mann. (BTW, I have located over twenty sets of well dated trees that were cut in 1100 and are about 40 cm in diameter. More when I return Aug 1.)

    Second, science, especially physics, is full of bad math, which still works, mostly because the data sets are not pathological. That certainly appears to be the case here.

    Third, Scott is a member of the National Academy, so he, at least is real.

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