O’Donnellgate

The latest attempt by the climate auditors to smear a scientist comes from Ryan O’Donnell who accused Eric Steig of “blatant dishonesty and duplicity”. According to O’Donnell, as an anonymous reviewer Steig forced O’Donnell to use a particular method (‘iridge’) in his analysis and then, as himself, criticized O’Donnell for using that method. But as a fair-minded reading of the review comments reveals, and Steig himself explains this is not true. Steig as reviewer did not force them to use iridge, rather, he said that it seemed reasonable but there were problems with the method that the authors should address. Steig’s criticism of the published paper for not addressing those problems was entirely consistent with his comments as a reviewer.

It is O’Donnell who has been duplicitous, using a promise of confidentiality to get Steig to reveal that he was that reviewer and then breaking his word when it was convenient. Andrew Revkin reports:

O’Donnell has, in e-mail exchanges between the combatants that I’ve been copied on, said he recants the worst of them and plans to post an apology.

So far there has been no apology. Is O’Donnell going to break his word again?

O’Donnell’s false charges were embellished by folks such as James Delingpole and Lucia Liljegren. Delingpole is outraged because

The mystery peer reviewer was none other than Eric Steig. Even in the monstrously corrupt world of “climate science” this was clearly a breach of protocol. Certainly, in no other scientific discipline would a reviewer with such a clear conflict of interest be invited to review a paper whose main purpose was to criticise one he’d written himself.

Oddly enough Delingpole earlier wrote that Geoffrey Lean should:

Try reading AW “Bishop Hill” Montford’s superb, gripping The Hockey Stick Illusion

And on page 205 of that book:

As the CC paper was critical of his work, McIntyre was invited to be one of the peer reviewers

Where was Delingpole’s outrage about this?

Lucia Liljegren called Steig the “Rod Blagojevich of climate science” and posting a mean spirited cartoon and saying that Steig should be red with shame. Steig’s crime, according to Liljegren was this comment where he wrote that he was glad the paper had been published and:

Ryan, if you don’t mind sending me a preprint, and a link to your reconstructed data, I’d appreciate it.

I will presumably have more to say after I get a chance to read the paper, but it’ll be a month or more as I’m simply too busy with current projects.

Now you might think that Steig was asking for a preprint of the published paper (which he didn’t have) and letting people know he wouldn’t be able to comment on it for a month or more, but Liljegren calls it a “deceptive mealy mouth comment”. According to her, Steig was a “two-faced weasel” because by asking for a preprint (which he didn’t have) he was deliberately misleading readers by making them think that he wasn’t a reviewer because, umm, readers would think that reviewers would already have a preprint. Liljegren thanks that Steig should have emailed O’Donnell asking for the preprint to avoid creating the impression that he didn’t have a preprint (which he didn’t). I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Wait, there’s more. Liljegren:

Steig wrote a number of other comments that would suggest he was, well, not reviewer A. Here are two:

At RC December Post

P.S. For those actually interested, yes, I’ll have more to say about O’Donnell et al., but overall, I like it.-eric

No, I don’t see how that suggests he wasn’t reviewer A, either. Liljegren’s second example is:

At RC — February post

At the end of my post last month on the history of Antarctic science I noted that I had an initial, generally favorable opinion of the paper by O’Donnell et al. in the Journal of Climate.

Aha! You see, reviewer A’s initial opinion on the draft paper (not the one published in the journal) was that it was a mess. Of course, if Steig had written that their first draft was a mess but that his initial opinion on the published paper was favourable, Liljegren would have been brimful of outrage at Steig for breaching the confidentiality of the review process. Liljegren knows full well that Steig is not allowed to take advantage of his knowledge of the draft paper.

I’m reminded of Aesop’s fable of The Wolf and the Lamb.

Comments

  1. #1 Neven
    February 16, 2011

    Geoff Beacon, sorry for the late answer (I didn’t check in here). If you want to know where I stand, you can read the introduction to my blog that I wrote last year.

    I think about betting this year, but I still don’t understand the way Intrade works. I will probably write a blog post on it when the time comes.

    I would want to bet on (absolute) minimum sea ice extent being below that of 2009. Perhaps I would eventually bet on it being below those of 2010, 2008 or even 2007, but it depends on what happens. It’s too early to tell, and besides, my motto is ‘nothing is a dead certainty in the Arctic’.

    Sorry again for the off-topic, I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but they were off.

  2. #2 Geoff Beacon
    February 17, 2011

    Hank @93

    That would be a good topic – event better would be the current prices on a ticker. But I’m not offeriing the 249 contracts you mentioned on the Intrade discussion. I hit a limit on trading because I did it by credit card.

    But has anyone seen [Thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming in decades to come, says new study](http://nsidc.org/news/press/20110216_permafrost.html)

  3. #3 Geoff Beacon
    February 17, 2011

    Neven @94

    Thanks. I’ll look.

    The Intrade contract that is being traded is “Minimum Arctic ice extent for 2011 to be greater than 2007″. As I understand it: if you made an offer to sell at 37 (which was accpted by another trader) you would receive 37/100 (times your stake) if the sea ice extent this year is a minimum.

    I think it would have been more understandable if the contract specification had said “less than”.

    So the market thinks minimum ice-extent this year is an odds-on bet.

  4. #4 lord_sidcup
    February 17, 2011

    The denial-o-sphere is really milking this non-story. It is actually (and unbelievably) the lead story in this week’s Spectator (a right-wing UK magazine):

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/buy-this-issue/5324661/buy-the-current-issue.thtml

    I haven’t read the story but it is billed as:

    The ice storm – Nicholas Lewis and Matt Ridley expose the bias and bluster behind the latest set of shaky global warming data

    Nicholas Lewis was one of the co-authors of the O’Donnell paper, and Matt Ridley is a GWPF stooge.

    Of course, it was The Spectator that gave Plimer’s cruddy book so much publicity over here in the UK and have a record for backing losers.

  5. #5 lord_sidcup
    February 17, 2011

    Further to my #97, The Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson, gives a flavour of the Lewis/Ridley article in his blog:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6706648/debunking-the-antarctica-myths.thtml

  6. #6 dhogaza
    February 17, 2011

    Hey, Jeff Harvey, if you got some spare time to talk a bit to one of RyanO’s co-authors, Jeff Condon (“JeffID”), c’mon over here.

    He baldy asserts that global warming, if it happens at all, will be a good thing because …

    It will increase biodiversity

    and that the literature backs him up.

    Fish in a barrel, obviously, but since The Scrubs are propping themselves up to be better scientists than not only The Team, but All Other Teams (i.e. specialists in various fields of science like, oh, population ecology) it might be worth engaging in a takedown …

  7. #7 MapleLeaf
    February 17, 2011

    Thanks lord_sidcup @97,

    And guess who sits on the “Academic advisory council” for GWPF? None other than McKitrick from CalimateFraudit. Plimer and Carter are also, cough, “advisors” for GWPF ;)

  8. #8 dhogaza
    February 17, 2011

    Jeff Harvey, thanks for posting over at the link I gave. It’s not a “lion’s den”, however, the blog host is an atmospheric scientist who’s very much in the mainstream, and most of the posters over there accept mainstream science. It’s Jeff Condon, one of RyanO’s co-authors, who’s very much “into the lion’s den” over there. Thanks for your help.

  9. #9 MapleLeaf
    February 18, 2011

    All,

    With the release of “The Spectator” diatribe, all of the authors in the O’Donnell et al. paper (O’Donnell, McIntyre, Lewis and Condon) have now engaged in unprofessional, unethical and inappropriate behaviour and actions.

    What a stand up crowd. Not.

  10. #10 jakerman
    February 20, 2011

    Shewonk has an [excellent comment](http://shewonk.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/on-diamonds-honour-and-high-school-fairy-tales/#more-983) up:

    >*It seems to me that a science paper proper published in a major science journal should do more than just comment on or correct methods used to study a phenomenon. Science is moved forward by applying improved methods to the issue at hand in order to better understand the world. Steig seems to want O’Donnell to show the relevance of improved methods to the issue of Antarctic temperature trends, not just that the old method was incorrectly used or produced incorrect results.*

    >*This seems to be the core difference between auditors and scientists. Auditors don’t seem to care about the world being studied. They seem preoccupied with proving that those studying that world are wrong. They want to find flaws in methods and conclusions based on those flawed methods. Scientists want to use new and improved methods, not because they’re fun to use or because they like to solve puzzles, but because they want to better understand the world.*

  11. #11 Acacia
    February 21, 2011

    Slightly off topic but with links to O’Donnell is this bizarre opinion piece in yesterday’s Australian. The writer, Mark Hendrickx is highly offended that a blog comment insulting Steve McIntyre was not removed from the ABC website. The opinion editor must have been delighted. Climate groupthink, ABC bias and taxpayer funded blog all in one article.

Current ye@r *