Steve McIntyre, quote mining executive

The discussion involving Judith Curry and The Hockey Stick Illusion has continued at Collide-a-Scape, with posts on the views of Judith Curry (Curry did admit to getting one of her ten points wrong, but not the other nine) and those of Gavin Schmidt.

Steve McIntyre's comments in the second thread provides another case where readers can judge the reliability of his claims without having to delve into the mathematics. He wrote:

The non-Stickness of Mann-style reconstructions without bristlecones+Gaspe or with reduced bristlecone+Gaspe weight - a point conceded by Wahl and Ammann - was inconsistent with MBH98 claims that their results were "robust" to the presence/absence of dendroclimatic indicators. MBH98 stated that "the long-term trend in NH is relatively robust to the inclusion of dendroclimatic indicators in the network",

But if you look at the paper you'll see what they actually said:

"But certain sub-components of the proxy dataset (for example, the dendroclimatic indicators) appear to be especially important in resolving the large-scale temperature patterns, with notable decreases in the scores reported for the proxy data set if all dendroclimatic indicators are withheld from the multiproxy network. On the other hand, the long-term trend in NH is relatively robust to the inclusion of dendroclimatic indicators in the network,suggesting that potential tree growth trend biases are not influential in the multiproxy climate reconstructions."

So in fact they said that dendro was "particularly important" for large-scale temperature patterns. What they said was "robust" was just the "long-term trend".

It gets worse. McIntyre continued:

a point made even more forcefully in a note to Mann et al 2000, which stated:"Whether we use all data, exclude tree rings, or base a reconstruction only on tree rings, has no significant effect on the form of the reconstruction for the period in question.

What do you think "the period in question" refers to? McIntyre has artfully removed that sentence from its context to make it look like Mann is making a claim about the period from 1400 to the present. But look at the sentence in context.

i-a2890c48f72425953457afd8cd85e3f8-nhem-dendrocompare.png

NH temperature reconstructions based on all records, and on subsets excluding or comprising exclusively of, tree-ring data.

Note that the NH reconstruction based on the sparse "non-dendro" multiproxy network (19 non-dendro indicators available back to 1760) is remarkably similar to that based on the full (more than 100 indicators) multiproxy network of MBH98. Because the sampling of the "no-dendro" dataset is much sparser, we expect that it will be more influenced by regional variations, and less representative of the true NH mean temperature. Accordingly, it calibrates significantly less (47% vs. 74%) of the instrumental NH variance, and the variability and uncertainty in the reconstruction is larger. Nonetheless, the overall variation--and the long term trends in particularly--are remarkably similar. Also shown is the reconstruction based ONLY on dendroclimatic indicators (ie, no coral, ice core, or historical or instrumental indicators). Again, the primary features of the reconstruction are very similar. Whether we use all data, exclude tree rings, or base a reconstruction only on tree rings, has no significant effect on the form of the reconstruction for the period in question.

The "period in question" is from 1760 to the present, not 1400 to the present as McIntyre pretends.

You don't have to take my word for any of this -- check it out for yourself and ask yourself if you can trust the claims McIntyre makes about things that aren't so easy to check.

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Well, the new graph still looks like a hockey stick!

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

What do you think "the period in question" refers to? McIntyre has artfully removed that sentence from its context to make it look like Mann is making a claim about the period from 1400 to the present. But look at the sentence in context.

McIntyre has been persisting with this lie for years. But this is how denialism works. If your lie is a success then you keep using it.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

Tim - "Well, the new graph still looks like a hockey stick!"

Yep it does not take much to get these people excited. Wonder if SteveM is going to audit this paper to make sure the stats are OK?

By Stephen Gloor … (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

[SGE said:](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/steve_mcintyre_quote_mining_ex…) "Wonder if SteveM is going to audit this paper to make sure the stats are OK"?

Now that's funny!

Not quite as funny as someone whose background is a BSc and whose working history allegedly resolves into what have been called 'classic pennystock shell companies' holding the field of climate science at a political standstill with a paper in E&E five years ago, but funny nevertheless.

Note the paper says "submitted to..."

At least the version provided has not undergone peer review.

Might Tim open another thread for McShane & Wyner, or keep that discussion in this one, even though it is really a different topic. In either case, I have facts to relate taht may offer amusement.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

I think it would be useful if Real Climate addresses the McShane & Wyner paper.

The entertaining thing I found about the "as submitted" paper was the opening to the second paragraph: "without the consent of the governed". That one got my hackles up.

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

a point made even more forcefully in a note to Mann et al 2000, which stated:"Whether we use all data, exclude tree rings, or base a reconstruction only on tree rings, has no significant effect on the form of the reconstruction for the period in question.

Just a note about this point for those who may be unaware. Mann was showing that the non-climatic bias (effect of rising CO2 on dendro proxies) for the "period in question" did not affect the reconstruction. This was the only substantial criticism of Bristlecone proxies and the graph in showed the criticism was unfounded.

Of course, by the intellectual standard of denialists, this is way over their heads.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 15 Aug 2010 #permalink

I for one am really, really pleased that AGW has finally been disproved, again.

I'd just like the ocean and the atmosphere to fall into line with these wonderful people's conclusions. Then I'd not only be pleased, I'd be ecstatic.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition said it had lodged papers with the High Court asking it to invalidate Niwa's official temperature records, which it claims are inaccurate and being used to paint a misleading picture of global warming.

http://www.tinyurl.com.au/g3u

hahaha more dodgy temp data !

What annoys me most about McIntyre is he's frequently touted by the mainstream media as the poster boy for the bloggosphere-led lay 'scepticism' movement. The bit they never seem to reflect is the fact that rather than innocently questioning the science, he is just yet another denier who puts his beliefs and opinions ahead of sound intellectual practice. As a result, his bilge tends to be misguided most of the time and flat out wrong the rest.

A lot of the fence sitters seem to genuinely think that having the discussions dragged kicking and screaming out of scientific circles and into a more public forum has benefited the science overall, but I would beg to differ. All this has achieved is dumbing it down and allowed the dishonest cynics to get a foothold in the public imagination.

2 Tim,

That's what I thought. In fact, the "stick" is merely tilted and the "shaft" is actually straighter than MBH's. Amusingly, the MWP and LIA have pretty much disappeared, having been replaced by a steady downward trend from 1000 to the early 1800s, with a slight dip (LIA?) centred on around 1500. So, when the authors say

On the one hand, we conclude unequivocally that the evidence for a
âlong-handledâ hockey stick (where the shaft of the hockey stick extends
to the year 1000 AD) is lacking in the data.

I have to ask: "What, are you blind!?".

They also say

M&M observed that the original Mann et al. (1998)
study (i) used only one principal component of the proxy record and (ii)
calculated the principal components in a âskewâ-centered fashion such that
they were centered by the mean of the proxy data over the instrumental pe-
riod (instead of the more standard technique of centering by the mean of
the entire data record). Given that the proxy series is itself auto-correlated,
this scaling has the effect of producing a ï¬rst principal component which
is hockey-stick shaped (McIntyre and McKitrick, 2003) and, thus, hockey-
stick shaped temperature reconstructions. That is, the very method used in
Mann et al. (1998) guarantees the shape of Figure 1.

Oh, really?

By TrueSceptic (not verified) on 16 Aug 2010 #permalink

> Given that the proxy series is itself auto-correlated, this scaling has the effect of producing a ï¬rst principal component which is hockey-stick shaped...

Those who say this tend to conveniently forget that the "hockey sticks" produced in this fashion have much *smaller* blades than the MBH98...and are equally likely to be **pointing downwards** as upwards.

Surprising omission, that...

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 16 Aug 2010 #permalink

@20

Don't laugh, TrueSceptic. Steve McIntyre once held onto some very important climate data for 4 whole years! He is a very important suppository of scientific information.

Note the paper says "submitted to..."

That's really quite dodgy. If the paper's good enough, why not wait until it's corrected and published before bragging about it? It's as if they're making a preemptive strike in case it gets shot-down, which will of course be proof of a conspiracy against them.

23 pough,

Yes, I know. ;-)

By TrueSceptic (not verified) on 16 Aug 2010 #permalink

It doesn't change much, but Tim's 7th cavalry roughshod overrun of Stevie M on that comment thread was masterful. A friggin saint's version of beatitude.

Having been soundly routed, the fraudulent auditor appeared to lose his mojo, wherein his comments became a series of tersely worded web links. And of course never responded to the devastating indictment of the unholy detritus of his long-ago forgone integrity.

I am a big fan of justice, which is why I don't walk around happy too often. But that whole exchange had me grinning ear to ear.

By Majorajam (not verified) on 17 Aug 2010 #permalink

I'm a fence sitter and I must say the harsh tone of this article and the comments especially in comparison to McIntyre's posts are not very appealing. Appeal is certainly much less important than the actual scientific facts but it still hurts credibility (because it could be interpreted as lacking arguments).

One poster mentioned that he didn't like the science being dragged into the public because it was hurtful. As someone who has also worked in academia I must say that I absolutely disagree. Fraud and worthless science exist in academia, some of it because control is sometimes de-facto nonexistent or because of old-boy-networks.

Right now the German minister of defense's career is in peril because his dissertation is essentially plagiarism. He still received a "summa cum laude" from a respected state university. This very moment the public is still working on finding more examples of his plagiarism. His fellow "science" community didn't do it.

Science must be as public even though some frauds abuse it because it can help uncover some frauds in science.

By RandomGermanDude (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

Can you explain to me, somebody who has spent as little time as possible in academia, what the precise meaning of "...de-facto nonexistent..." is, please?

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

Shorter RandomGermanDude:

_Tone is certainly much less important than the actual scientific facts but I'm not going to mention the actual scientific facts. Instead I'm just going to whine about the tone of the article, although I have no complaints about the dishonesty of the deniers exposed in the article. Did I mention I'm a fence sitter?_

And BTW:
>His fellow "science" community didn't do it.

He doesn't have a fellow science community. His degree was in Law. Apparently the basic facts are much less important than tone trolling opportunities, too.

So, according to RandomGermanDude, the best way to remove fraud from science is to learn how to talk suave? Yeah right...

If he takes a fraction of the time he used to compose that content-free tripe to ask about the facts of the Mann-McIntyre brouhaha, he'd learn that there's indeed one person in this whole ruckus who's being investigated for, well, outright plagiarism.

And it's not Michael Mann.

Was my posting so offending that I deserve personal attacks and misrepresentations of what I wrote?

@Vince:
What I wanted to express is that while there are rules and processes exist to make sure that fraud and "unscientific" conduct don't make it, they're effectiveness is limited. I don't know a better solution but there are problems. Nonexistent was a bit too strong of a word, I admit. It also depends on the field and the chair.

@Dave R:
I am not sure if being a fence sitter is some kind of standard phrase. Apparently it is. I used it because the author had something to say about them and it seems that I pretty much find myself in that category. From my perspective it seems way more probable than not that form of AGW is happening and that there is reason we should act on it.

The theory of law is a science. A dissertation is pretty much always an inquiry into a scientific topic. Guttenberg's dissertation was about constitutional law which is certainly one of the most theoretical and abstract parts of law. So what was your point again and where did I misrepresent basic facts? Or did you just need an opportunity to call me a troll?

@Frank
No that's not what I said. What I want to express is that tone does matter. A calm, rational tone is IMHO a much better way to send your message than snide comments. That does not change the value of what is being said. But apparently you wanted to misunderstand me deliberately.

By RandomGermanDude (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

RandomGermanDude is so very concerned about how some German minister plagiarized his dissertation...

...but when I point out that McIntyre's chum Wegman is being investigated for, um, outright plagiarism, he simply ignores that.

"Fence-sitter" my foot.

-- frank

>I pretty much find myself in that [fence sitter] category.

Based on your comments so far, I don't believe you.

>The theory of law is a science.

No it isn't.

>A calm, rational tone is IMHO a much better way to send your message than snide comments.

This article is written in a calm, rational tone, yet you claimed that it was "harsh [...] especially in comparison to McIntyre's posts" and that "hurts credibility (because it could be interpreted as lacking arguments)"

It's quite clear that your intention was precisely to try to hurt the credibility of this article, by making claims about it that you know are false.

@frank
The larger part of my original post was about why I don't think that taking science to public is hurtful to science or vice versa keeping it "elite" is benedictory and that's why I had to defend my example. I used the Guttenberg plagiarism because it was the first I came up with because it's a highly publicized topic over here right now and because it supports my point. So I consider you bringing up the topic of Wegman-plagiarism (which I need to look into) a failed analogy.

@Dave R.
Great you say it isn't I say it is. I say it is because comparable/intersecting fields (political sciences, political philosophy for example) are widely recognized as science. If you don't agree with that, fine. But I don't think that's an argument that is easily defendable. Also I think my original point still stands.

If you read my original post again it also especially made reference to the comments. The article contains just a few sentences and almost all of them are calm and rational. But I found the title and the "artfully" to be a bit derogatory. Reading through the article and the comments again I must admit that I overreacted regarding the article and I must apologize to you and the author regarding that aspect.

Still, I don't appreciate you condescendingly telling me what my "real" motivation for the post was.

By RandomGermanDude (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

RandomGermanDude, for someone who claims to be a "fence sitter" a

> So I consider you bringing up the topic of Wegman-plagiarism (which I need to look into) a failed analogy.

The very fact that you consider Wegman's plagiarism an "analogy" -- when it is infinitely more relevant to the subject of the blog post than your 'wah wah wah German minister wah wah wah' talking point -- speaks volumes about your actual intention to "look into" it -- i.e. no intention at all.

Go away, sock.

(Seriously, folks, were sockpuppets always this bad? Or has the implosion of HBGary caused a massive upsurge in cheap imitation socks?)

-- frank

>I used the Guttenberg plagiarism because [...] it supports my point.

It doesn't support your point. It's irrelevant to your point, since your point was supposed to be about "taking science to public", and the case you brought up is about alleged plagiarism in a Law dissertation.

>political sciences, political philosophy for example) are widely recognized as science.

No they are not.

>I don't think that's an argument that is easily defendable.

Evidently, otherwise you might have attempted to defend it.

>But I found the title and the "artfully" to be a bit derogatory.

Really lame attempt to restate the same claims as before.

>I must admit that I overreacted regarding the article and I must apologize to you and the author regarding that aspect.

Thanks, but given the above I'm not convinced of your sincerity.

>Still, I [...] appreciate you condescendingly telling me what my "real" motivation for the post was.

You're welcome.

(fixing first sentence...)

RandomGermanDude... for someone who claims to be a "fence sitter" who "worked in academia", you surely exhibit none of the behaviours of such people.

-- frank

@frank
You avoid my point you attack me personally and call me a sockpuppet. I don't even know what or who HBGary is. Luckily you don't define what people should behave like.

@David
Further arguing why I don't agree with you on the definition of science and would probably fruitless I think. I graduated in a "hard" science myself but I consider those examples I gave "soft" science and many universities/institutions around the world seem to agree with me since they handle them like that, with faculties, courses, journals, etc. (or maybe something is lost in translation because "Wissenschaft" != science in this context).
Same for the case of the question if the example furthers my point or not. But I am glad you present actual counterarguments, not bile like the other commenter.

Since I can't really do anything to "proof" my sincerity and the benefit of doubt I receive seems be exhausted (which I can actually understand if there have been some trolls on this blog in the past - that's how I interpret frank's accusation of sockpuppetry at least - because they make one less patient) I will be off and I probably not return again as a commenter. I think we are all better off with that arrangement. :)

By RandomGermanDude (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

Just one last thing because I didn't see frank's post when I wrote mine:

I read the article you linked and it seems to be certain that the accusations against Wegman are right. Still tangential to what I wrote but there you go. May it satisfy you.

By RandomGermanDude (not verified) on 22 Feb 2011 #permalink

The scorn that you have tried to pour on 'RandomGermanDude" for his reasonable (IMHO) comments, makes me doubt your ability to analyse situations and data rationally.
The default position of ALL scientists should be scepticism. In other words we should always keep an open mind.
The tone of this exchange of comments is hardly supportive of rational scepticism. Please try harder! :)

By Sandy McClintock (not verified) on 29 May 2011 #permalink

The default position of ALL scientists should be scepticism. In other words we should always keep an open mind.

In other words we should never accept anything unless it can be measured to, say, 6 decimal places.

Please try harder! :)

Yes, the joke's on you too.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 29 May 2011 #permalink

Interesting, Sandy, we scientist (I am one) are to be skeptic? Sure, I am very skeptic about McIntyre's rather large claims, and my own evaluation is such that I can only support Tim's comments. There's absolutely no doubt to me either than McIntyre's supposedly "reasonable" tone is nothing but a dog whistle to those who DO translate that 'reasonable' tone into a cry of "FRAUD!"

Which puts me in an opposite position to RandomGermanDude's evaluation.

Of course, it also puts me in an opposite position to you. I've learned that you can be skeptic about anything, but some things one is supposed to be more skeptic about than others. For example, when somebody claims methane is not a greenhouse gas, contrary to all available scientific information, one is to be skeptic. Not so Sandy McClintock...