Are the wackos wacko enough?

Harvey Korman and Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles A while ago I reported Watching the Deniers say that "There will be no US Congressional investigation into "Climategate": or how global warming sceptics got duped" and commented that Even the wackos aren't really wacko enough to take on the science. But! Maybe I'm wrong. Science says:

The House of Representatives science committee's panel on basic research and education plans to hold hearings on climate change to present more views on the topic, says its new chair, freshman Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL).

Mel Brooks is very clearly a wacko, because he is dumb enough to try and take on The myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus, and it is fairly clear from the Science piece that he has spent too long talking to S+C in Huntsville.

Anyway, we can hope that Popcorn Time isn't too far away.

Incidentally, while we're on wackos there is some Ryan O'Donnell fun that I'm late to. It seems a bit reminiscent of Porky Pearce whereby you lie about people, get lots of attention, then back off later. Though whether RO has backed off much isn't clear.

You probably want to start off by reading O'Donnellgate at RC.

Note that post starts by noting that Ryan has offered to retract these allegations but as far as I'm aware has not actually done so at time-of-writing.

This was in response to a post called "Eric Steig's Duplicity" (Feb 7, 2011 - 11:53 AM) at CA (subsequently edited to Steig's Trick, note that they also carefully edited the basename too). As far as I can tell, the new post title is rather clumsy, because there is no "trick" mentioned: presumably whilst they realised the first title had gone too far they couldn't back away from insults entirely.

There has had to be heavy redaction of the text, too. For example currently we have:

While there is not much untrue about this statement, there is certainly a [material] [snip] omission. To see this [material omission], we only need look at the raw data from Byrd over this period:

but the original was far spicier:

While there is not much untrue about this statement, there is certainly a lie of omission. To see this lie, we only need look at the raw data from Byrd over this period:

And indeed, RO continued There are not enough vulgar words in the English language to properly articulate my disgust at his blatant dishonesty and duplicity. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

There is an interesting bit towards the end:

I have known that Eric was, indeed, Reviewer A since early December. I knew this because I asked him. When I asked, I promised that I would keep the information in confidence... However, when someone makes a suggestion during review that we take and then later attempts to use that very same suggestion to disparage our paper, my obligation to keep my mouth shut ends.

Which appears to amount to, RO will keep something he promised to keep confidential, only for so long as is convenient to him. I doubt anyone will be trusting him with confidential information in the future. and this is all the more mendacious as it is clear from Eric's post at RC that RO has nothing to complain about here.

More: DC raises an interesting point in the comments at RC: RO claims to have put all the papers relevant to submission at for all to see (not troubling himself that he has thereby breached confidentiality, but never mind, remember: he has absolved himself of all responsibility to keep his promises).

But... where is the 4th review round? Could it be, perhaps, that there isn't one? This is the index as of now:

Index of /data/odonnell

      Name                                               Last modified      Size  Description
      Parent Directory                                                        -   
      .ftpquota                                          07-Feb-2011 02:10   13   
      1 20100209 Submission.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  746K  
      1 20100325 SI Revised.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  2.3M  
      1 20100412 decision.pdf                            08-Feb-2011 12:05   13K  
      1A 20100305 Review A.pdf                           07-Feb-2011 13:28  209K  
      1A 20100426 Response to Review A.pdf               07-Feb-2011 13:28  877K  
      1B 20100407 Review B.pdf                           07-Feb-2011 13:28   24K  
      1B 20100426 Response to Review B.pdf               07-Feb-2011 13:28   54K  
      1C 20100407 Review C.pdf                           07-Feb-2011 13:28   31K  
      1C 20100426 Response to Review C.pdf               07-Feb-2011 13:28   78K  
      2 20100419 Submission.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  1.1M  
      2 20100422 SI Revised.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  2.3M  
      2 20100425 Submission.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  1.1M  
      2 20100426 Cover Letter.pdf                        07-Feb-2011 13:28   62K  
      2 20100429 Submission.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  1.1M  
      2 20100522 correspondence re first review.pdf      08-Feb-2011 12:13   23K  
      2 20100610 Submission Rev.pdf                      07-Feb-2011 13:25  1.4M  
      2 20100722 decision.pdf                            08-Feb-2011 12:15   18K  
      2 20100826 General Note to All Reviewers.pdf       07-Feb-2011 13:28   82K  
      2A 20100721 Second Review A.pdf                    07-Feb-2011 13:28  167K  
      2A 20100816 Response to Second Review A.pdf        07-Feb-2011 13:28  117K  
      2B 20100705 Second Review B.pdf                    07-Feb-2011 13:28  132K  
      2B 20100816 Response to Second Review B.pdf        07-Feb-2011 13:28   93K  
      2D 20100710 Review D.pdf                           07-Feb-2011 13:28   29K  
      2D 20100816 Response to Review D.pdf               07-Feb-2011 13:28   99K  
      3 20100810 Submission.pdf                          08-Feb-2011 11:54  1.4M  
      3 20100812 SI.pdf                                  08-Feb-2011 11:59  1.1M  
      3 20101101 correspondence.pdf                      08-Feb-2011 12:19   14K  
      3 20101124 decision.pdf                            08-Feb-2011 12:21   30K  
      3A 20101025 Review A.pdf                           07-Feb-2011 13:28   93K  
      3A 20101103 Response to Third Review A.pdf         07-Feb-2011 13:28  117K  
      4 20101126 Submission.pdf                          07-Feb-2011 13:25  1.5M  
      4 20101208 SI Revised.pdf                          11-Dec-2010 22:23  1.1M  
      RO10 Code.txt                                      11-Dec-2010 22:21  212K  
      RO10 Script.R                                      08-Feb-2011 14:46  201K  
      Tir_lats.txt                                       07-Dec-2010 14:38   91K  
      Tir_lons.txt                                       07-Dec-2010 14:38   91K  
      aws.Rdata                                          03-Jan-2011 09:18   20K  
      aws.txt                                            03-Jan-2011 10:44  142K  
      e_w.recon.txt                                      03-Jan-2011 10:46   57M  
      manned.Rdata                                       03-Jan-2011 09:19   35K  
      manned.txt                                         03-Jan-2011 10:44  118K  
      readme.txt                                         03-Jan-2011 09:30  2.5K  
      rls.recon.txt                                      03-Jan-2011 10:52   57M  
Apache mod_fcgid/2.3.5 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ Server at Port 80

I put in a comment at CA, thus:

Well, this is all jolly fun.

I have a question: you say: Rather than go into detail here, I will shortly make all of the versions of our paper, the reviews, and the responses available at But I don't see the reviews from round 4 there. Could you point them out, please? While you're at it, could you clearly indicate how you obtained permission to publish this confidential material.

And Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy on Harrison Schmitt "Moon walker, climate change denier" is worth a read too. Its about Articgate [sic].

[Update: PP reports that "Schmitt withdraws from NM Energy appointment".]


* What Steve and Ryan Knew and When They Knew It
* O'Donnellgate at Deltoid.
* Bart

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By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

Mel Brooks is not a whacko. He is a genius. On the other hand, Mo Brooks may be a whacko.

It seems majority of the people are catching up to the global warming wackos and exposing their global warming scam and putting out the truth.

Just remember, no wacko can hide the truth forever.


Why are you assuming there was a fourth round? What confidentiality agreement would have been broken? I certainly never signed or agreed to anything like that although the journal warned me that publishing the reviewers comments could prevent publication (certainly their right).

[Because there was a 4th version of the paper, substantially different from the earlier ones. It would be unusual in that case for it to go through without review, sufficiently so for it to have been remarked. This is obvious - are you paying attention?

As for the confidentiality of peer review - this is implicit, certainly. I don't know whether it is also explicit -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

"... the editor at Journal of Climate â Dr. Anthony Broccoli â added a fourth reviewer ...."
-- "Guest post by lead author Ryan OâDonnel." [sic]
at Wattsup 2010/12/01/

Why are you assuming there was a fourth round? What confidentiality agreement would have been broken? I certainly never signed or agreed to anything like that...

He said "confidentiality", not a "confedentiality agreement".

I certainly never signed or agreed to anything like that although the journal warned me that publishing the reviewers comments could prevent publication

In other words, if you break confidentiality, you might get punished - not legally, but rather by not having your paper published.

While we are at it. I really don't see how Steig can get away with criticizing a method that he "insisted on" without at least revealing that he did that.

[You've fallen for the spin. Who says Steig "Insisted on" a method? -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink


You asked me about political leanings of Gavin et al. This post says it all.

Sorry, but if Eric had simply acknowledged he was making the review comments on a paper critical of his, none of this would have happened.

[Response: And if the U.S. had admitted it had a flawed middle east policy, 911 wouldn't have happened?--GW Bush.]

[I think what you've just quoted shows rather more clearly your own leanings. I hope you don't really believe that tiny snippet "says it all". and please - when quoting stuff like that, include a link so I can see context. Without context, it is simply meaningless. I don't even understand it: who has signed the reply "G W Bush" - are you saying, Gavin did? If so, why do you think that? -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

I really don't see how Steig can get away with criticizing a method that he "insisted on" without at least revealing that he did that.

Uh, it was RyanO et al that put the iridge analysis forward as being better. Steig says ... if they think it's better, insist on them putting it into the paper.

Meanwhile, he warns against reported problems with the methodology, and suggests they investigate it, making clear he thinks they're qualified to do so.

They chose not to follow up and investigate possible problems (probably because they were put some time previously in a general way by noted Climate Fraudist Michael Mann, who we all know as Piltdown Mann, therefore not worth paying attention to).

Paper comes out, they didn't follow Steig's suggestion they investigate possible problems with the apparently "best" methodology, Steig was removed as reviewer, and did not review the final version, it is accepted.

And now you say Steig can't criticize them for not chasing down whether or not the iridge analysis actually *might have* the problems he warned against?


And NN isn't a closet denialist? Feh^2.

And further more, NN, given the convoluted history here, you're buying into the RyanO et al claim that this was just a *trick* to get them to publish a flawed paper so he could point out it's flawed?

That's only credible if you accept the notion that their goal was only to get published, not to publish something credible ...

Yet, through all this ... Steig repeatedly has in the past and still now pointed out that RyanO et al has contributed to how to do such reconstructions, and continues to take the high ground, while the denialsphere - and you, who William insists is not part of that - insists he was evil in all this.

[As far as I can tell, NN is coming to this through a RO mindset, of believing what RO has said. That isn't a supportable worldview, and hopefully NN will realise that before he digs himself in too far to back out -W]

Sorry, but if Eric had simply acknowledged he was making the review comments on a paper critical of his, none of this would have happened.

He didn't need to do so in the review process, that's why he was chosen to review the paper.

Or are you suggesting he should've done so on Fox News or somesuch?

Clarify, please.

Now, if you're playing the morality game, how do you justify RyanO breaking the anonymous peer review process by e-mailing Eric and asking him if he were the reviewer, and after Eric, in good faith, said yes - with RyanO promising he'd keep it confidential (as is proper, and Eric, when asked, could've very properly said "fuck you" and notified the editor that RyanO was trying to find out who the anon reviewers were) - then publicly identified Eric as the reviewer (with all sorts of attacks by him and McI and The Scrubs who are so desperate to become promoted to The Team)?

And publishing the full review-response chain?

Are you morally challenged, or what?


I simply said that if he was going to criticize this approach he needed to acknowledge that he had insisted on it. He could have gone on to say whatever he wanted about it. You lose all credibility if you don't see the issue here. I would be totally annoyed if someone reviewing my paper had insisted I change something and then picked at it without acknowledging their role

[We're going round in circles. How do you know that "he had insisted on it"? Who has said that, and why are you believing them rather than ES? -W]

I am not at all saying that he wanted the paper published so he could criticize it and I actually haven't seen anyone else claim that either.

Finally once again you can't seem to see that this has nothing to do with the big picture. If I criticize someone in the "church" then I am criticizing the church? Have we really sunk to that level.

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink


A fourth reviewer isn't the same as a fourth review.

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

A fourth reviewer isn't the same as a fourth review.

Now that's a reach ...

So a fourth reviewer's asked to review and simply doesn't answer e-mail, etc, and no one knows?

I'd think an editor in this situation might probe a bit, ya know...

A fourth reviewer isn't the same as a fourth review.

That is an energy-efficient way to gather reviews and reviewers, better than telecommuting, really, much less the Volt ...

Eric Steig has announced, on RC, that his efforts to cooperate with these people, or to talk about the crap, has come to an end.

So, the "gatekeeping" denialists claim exists is now reinforced by their trying to discredit a scientist who tried to work with them, only to be stabbed in the back by them.

Clarify, please.

Some clarity can be had by realizing that NN is quote-challenged. By which I mean he is actually quoting this comment at RC, but you can't tell because there are no visual indicators. I think he was only commenting on Eric's response (in square brackets) and how that makes him a librul.

NN should also note that Eric comes out as a Canadian and that may cloud the issue a little; Canadians don't understand just how polarized politics are meant to be, nor do they comprehend just how far to the right a conservative must be to avoid being a Stalin-blowing commie.

I have to agree with D. C. Sessions that you may be a bit too optimistic. Politicians play by their own rules, and may very well win on those terms, even it is wacko from the veiwpoint of a scientist.

The dots begin to appear. It is pretty clear that Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id were planning to publish the reviews and accuse Eric Steig as soon as they learned that he was a reviewer. That they wound up O'Donnell, is as they say, well that's what they do for a living.

Nicolas, you say "I am not at all saying that he wanted the paper published so he could criticize it and I actually haven't seen anyone else claim that either."

Well, that's what O'Donnell said, almost literally. According to O'Donnell Eric Steig proposed the iridge method, so that failing to include it would give him a reason to reject the paper, or so that he could criticise using it when the paper would get published.

We now know several of these claims were false, starting with Steig supposedly proposing the method. He didn't. He indicated that this method should be in the manuscript if the authors were right that it gave better results (apparently it was only in the SI), that he also suspected it would give better results, but would the authors please take into account the potential issues and write some sentences about that? O'Donnell et al dismissed there were any issues with iridge, and thus, on RC, Eric Steig criticised the use of iridge, since he felt the paper did not take into account the potential issues with this routine.

End result? A scientific controversy ("iridge does have potential issues" versus "iridge is just fine, no need to discuss further") was turned into a catfight by O'Donnell et al. That puts to the grave the idea "the Auditors" are such nice people who are being unjustly treated by "the Team".

> A fourth reviewer isn't the same as a fourth review.

You need to argue that fine point with O'Donnell, if you think he's weasel-wording by saying 'review' not 'reviewer' -- do you?

> A fourth reviewer isn't the same as a fourth review.

You need to argue that fine point with O'Donnell.
Do you think it's weasel-wording to say'review' not 'reviewer'?
You can find the words I quoted from WTF. Google.

Aside to William -- typo above as someone noted.

PS, Mo Brooks has a campaign web page that opens directly to the setup page. Don't mess with it, there's probably a law.

[It wasn't a typo. As I understand it, MB is a comedian, no? I've added a pic to clarify things -W]


Here is the quote from the second review by "A."
"My recommendation is that the editor insist that results showing the âmostly likelyâ West
Antarctic trends be shown in place of Figure 3." It seems clear from context that these were in fact the ridge results.

In comments RC/Eric have effectively acknowledged that this was a reference to the ridge results. They carefully avoid the fact that the words "insisted" and "in place" were used.

[NN, you have (as I said) fallen for the RO spin. Insisting on the 'most likely' results being used is very different from what RO said, which is that Steig forced him to use this particular method. Please don't blow your credibility on this -W]

It is not at all clear that there was an actual fourth review. Frequently papers are completed with back and forth with the editor. By that time Steig had essentially been removed as a reviewer (again by his admission) so he doesn't actually know.

[There may have indeed been no fourth review. But to not have a review of a draft differing substantially from the previous one would be very odd -W]

Admittedly late at night when I made the "says it all comment", but it is in green in the comment stream on RC as a response so obviously done by one of the RC folks. Since it is unsigned, and unlikely to have actually been George Bush, I'm guessing likely Gavin. An irrelevant shot at George Bush about the Iraq war seems much more likely than not to come from a Democrat. Republicans tend to take shots at other Presidents for other reasons, but I think the whole reference was poorly chosen.

[You're welcome to think it poorly chosen; had you just said that, I wouldn't have cared much. But to assert that a comment made by you-don't-know-who entirely summarises Gavin's political views is poor form -W]

I suppose I am seeing this from the RO perspective as someone who recently published a paper as an outsider. I think it was unseemly for Steig to write the blog post trashing the paper in the way that he did. As he acknowledges many of his criticisms were the same ones he made during review, and he was removed from that role before the end presumably because the other reviewers and the editor weren't agreeing with him. He therefore needed to acknowledge that not everyone would agree with his views, and in fact didn't. Instead his post made it sound like these were simple obvious mistakes with the paper. And he certainly shouldn't gone after an area where he pushed to authors towards.

[I don't think you're reading Eric's post. It is here for peoples reference. I don't think you can read it, because you're still seeing this all from RO-tinted glasses. To say that Eric has "trashed" RO's paper is ridiculous. He raises objections to it, but politely. To say, as you appear to, that because he reviewed it he is no longer allowed to comment on it is silly. And "pushed" just repeats RO's lies as your own -W]

If Steig wanted to write this post, he should have acknowledged being a reviewer on the paper. (By the way I think having Steig as a reviewer was a good idea and should always be done in this type of situation.) Stated his objections to the paper acknowledging that he wasn't in the majority, and then said where he would likely go from here.

[I think you are entirely wrong -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 10 Feb 2011 #permalink

NN @8

While we are at it. I really don't see how Steig can get away with criticizing a method that he "insisted on" without at least revealing that he did that.

If you have ever been involved in reviewing a paper, you will know that no reviewer is in a position to insist on anything. Presumably you put the "insisted on" in quotes so that you could mislead about Steig without actually being accused of lying (my understanding is that he recommended the editor to insist upon certain changes).

NN @25

If Steig wanted to write this post, he should have acknowledged being a reviewer on the paper.

It is supposed to be a confidential review. If he revealed that he was a reviewer, he would run the risk of being black-listed by the journal.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 10 Feb 2011 #permalink


Specifically Steig asked the editor to "insist" on this approach. Seems like a subtle difference to focus on.

I sincerely doubt that with everyone's permission Steig couldn't have acknowledged being one of the reviewers. The purpose of confidentiality is to protect Steig from the one being reviewed, and he had already revealed that information. The publication has little interest in it on their own.


RO didn't say he was forced, I didn't say he was forced. He said that Steig "recommended it" and then burned them when they followed the recommendation. I emphasized the word "insist", because it was certainly more than a casual suggestion in the review.

Steig knew that asking the editor to insist on the "most likely" meant using Ridge, or is your argument that he was just making a general statement and didn't know this meant using the Ridge approach? It seems clear to me from the record. If you agree that he knew that, then is just arguing over semantics. I'm not questioning his motivation for insisting on the Ridge approach at the time he probably thought it was a good idea. But it certainly isn't nice to then criticize it without acknowledging it was done based on his feedback. The implication was that the authors had made a poor choice.

"Second, in their main reconstruction, OâDonnell et al. choose to use a routine from Tapio Schneiderâs âRegEMâ code known as âiridgeâ (individual ridge regression). This implementation of RegEM has the advantage of having a built-in cross validation function, which is supposed to provide a datapoint-by-datapoint optimization of the truncation parameters used in the least-squares calibrations. Yet at least two independent groups who have tested the performance of RegEM with iridge have found that it is prone to the underestimation of trends, given sparse and noisy data (e.g. Mann et al, 2007a, Mann et al., 2007b, Smerdon and Kaplan, 2007) and this is precisely why more recent work has favored the use of TTLS, rather than iridge, as the regularization method in RegEM in such situations. It is not surprising that OâDonnell et al (2010), by using iridge, do indeed appear to have dramatically underestimated long-term trendsâthe Byrd comparison leaves no other possible conclusion."

They had in fact originally chosen TTLS and changed as a result of, it turns out, Steig's review comment.

As to politeness, I hardly think this qualifies.

"Iâll then try to make sense of how OâDonnell et al. have apparently wound up with an erroneous result." This statement effectively trashes the whole paper in a sentence.

[This is just going round in circles, which is dull -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 10 Feb 2011 #permalink

William Nierenberg, are you reading the same blogs that everybody else is reading? Is English your first language?

[You have the wrong Nierenberg. NN is the son of WN -W]

My bad. Should have been "Nicholas Nierenberg". Apologies.

I feel like I'm starting to tease out a bit of a history of what happened and why, but it's damn difficult. It would be far nicer if someone who actually understands all the gibberish were to do it.

Round 1:

Reviewer A criticizes something I don't understand (kgnd) and the authors reply by talking about another thingy called ridge regression which yields results closer to what they have ended up thinking is most accurate. Even though they had planned on only using the better results in the future, they're now including them in the text.

See: "1A 20100426 Response to Review A.pdf" (Problem 4)

Round 2:

Reviewer A suggests that the editor "insist" that the results the authors consider better be put in place of the ones they think are not.

If that is the case, why not show it? I recognize that these results are relatively new â since
they evidently result from suggestions made in my previous review â but this is not a compelling reason to leave this âfuture work'

See: "2A 20100721 Second Review A.pdf"

Round 3:

Reviewer A claims the "iridge" stuff is likely better than the previous stuff, but warns them to at least talk about the issues other people have found with it.

See: "3A 20101025 Review A.pdf" - In particular, two of the last three paragraphs.


So why do we get the impression that the use of iridge was all Eric's idea? He started off just by saying that he didn't think something was correct. When the authors came back with what they described as a better thing, he wondered why they weren't using it. Later on, I'm guessing after he had looked into the process more, he points out caveats with the iridge stuff.

A lot is hidden in the back and forth, but in terms of iridge, the impression I get is that Eric's recommendations are:

1. Use your best work and
2. Justify your decision

They only did the first part. Meanwhile, Eric looked into it further (and also had to wait to get the final edition of the paper) and now is saying that it's a good way to process some data, but probably not the data they used.

At least, that's the impression that I get.

[Looks about right to me -W]

pough @30. I've been reading around the blogs and this seems the best "praisee" yet.

How does the Nielsen-Gammon email of early December tie into this though?

"[You have the wrong Nierenberg. NN is the son of WN -W]"

Thanks, Wm. And I added an 'h' to Nicolas, so apologies for that, too.

Pough, thanks.

Hmmm ... I raised the same issue about the missing fourth round reviews at RC.

Reviewer A (Steig) was gone on the fourth round. And therefore Steig had never seen the fourth (final) version, and probably not the responses to the third review (which turns out to be the case). But of course, Ryan O couldn't figure that out and accused Steig of lifting his correction of a reference to Mann et al (2007).

Not showing the other reviewers (B, C, D?) on the fourth round seems an attempt to distract from those facts. Unless there were no fourth round reviews sent, which no one thinks is likely.

Still no answer to your question at CA as far as I can tell.

But I did find this in the "you-can't-make-this-stuff-up" bin, so all is not wasted:

Bad Hominim
Posted Feb 9, 2011 at 5:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

Kudos to SM to see that the blog policy violations have been corrected⦠and so speedily! (2 days to spot them is not bad at all, especially when hidden in the title.)

Posted Feb 10, 2011 at 2:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

Bad Hominim, your sarcasm would be better directed at the stream of incivility and hypocrisy at Real Climate.


grypoS put it all together on another blog and after reading it I came to the same basic conclusion as pough.

They ignored ES and now they want to blame him for the fact they ignored him. Weird. Beyond weird. I see this as what it boils down to:

ES, we failed to follow your excellent advice you tricky duplicitous bad scientist!

In a confidential system, no reviewer should reveal his identity as it chips away at the basic right of all reviewers to be confidential. "Reviewers commonly reveal themselves; therefore, we demand you do the same. If you don;t, then it's proof something nefarious has happened."

[On that last point: if you go into a system (as reviewer) expecting anonymity, then everyone else has a duty to maintain that. that includes your identity, but of course also the review comments themselves. However, there is a good deal to be said for open peer review, and James has been (a) saying it and (b) pushing some of the EGU journals which do that. Also, when I left science it was commonplace for journals to ask you if you wanted your identity revealed to the authors, and I (almost?) always said Yes. On the familiar reasoning that there shouldn't really be anything you said that you wouldn't say to their face anyway. Of course, I never had to deal with wazzocks like RO (i had to deal with wazzocks, but differently so) -W]

Oops I see *I* was the one who raised it first, and WC picked up on it!

But I gotta hand it to you for going over and asking the question.

[Yes it was you, I shamelessly stole the idea. I was hoping this was the sort of thing you might dig deeper into -W]

Additional info from round 2:

I am not suggesting here that kgnd = 5 will necessarily provide the best estimate, as I had thought was implied in the earlier version of the text. Perhaps, as the authors suggest, kgnd should not be used at all, but the results from the âiridgeâ infilling should be used instead.

So it's clear that Steig isn't recommending *which* method be used, but only that the method the authors themselves believe to be best should be used. RyanO et al have stated (complained?) that this required a rather large rewrite, but from what Steig says above I think it's clear he's trying to get them to improve their paper by presenting the results they feel are most robust.

Now, that paragraph clear keeps the door open to RyanO et al to say "well, actually, it appears our first thoughts were correct and we'll stick to kgnd".

Round 3:


Reviewer A claims the "iridge" stuff is likely better than the previous stuff

The actual statement isn't quite that strong, and makes it clear he's basing his assessment on what the authors have been saying, not any analysis of his own:

The use of the âiridgeâ procedure makes sense to me, and I suspect it really does give the best results


but warns them to at least talk about the issues other people have found with it.

Yes, somewhat strongly, actually.

But also Steig is looking for something that he thinks would be useful on general grounds:

The main thing is that the âiridgeâ procedure is a bit of a black box, and yet this is now what is emphasized in the manuscript. Thatâs too bad because it is probably less useful as a âteachingâ manuscript than earlier versions. I would love to see OâDonnell et al. discuss in a bit more details (perhaps just a few sentences) how the iridget caclculations actually work, since this is not very well described in the original work of Schneider.

In other words, he'd love to have the authors tell the world how this method actually works, because Schneider didn't do a very good job of it.


This is just a suggestion to the authors, and I do not feel strongly that they should be held to it.

What I see here is someone trying to push the authors to make their paper as strong as they can, in part by strongly suggesting some things be done he thinks are very important (i.e. use their best results rather than save them for follow-on work), and saying it would be cool if they could tell the world how this particular iridge methodology works but also making it clear it has no bearing on whether or not the paper should be accepted, in his view.

Now the duplicitous bit ... reading the full exchange it seems that RyanO et al were talking about following up their first paper with another using the iridge analysis.

So in terms of them being "set up", Steig would've very likely taken a close look at the follow-on paper if it had been accepted and published, and on close examination have found the same problems, no???

One subtext here seems to be that O'D really wanted to write a refutation paper attacking S09 and point out its flaws, and then do their own reconstruction using their preferred methods later.

Two different agendas at play here: Scoring points vs getting the science as right as possible.

Where have I seen that movie before?

Deep 33, after a paper has been through the mill the editor will sometimes just show the whole bundle to a buddy and say, this is enough, should we publish now. There may have only been a single referee for the fourth round. It avoids the oh crap do I have to look at this thing again from ABC

#31 (Chris S.) My preyzie of the relevance of my email:

1. Having Steig as a reviewer was not wrong.

2. Posting the anonymous reviews publicly was not wrong.

3. Publicly announcing the identity of an anonymous reviewer was wrong, and the hosts of the two sites where this happened had been so advised.

[I'm surprised to see you assert 2. Would you really find that acceptable in general? I think most scientists would regard reviews as confidential: you can show them to your immeadiate colleagues at need, but not post them on the web -W]

One subtext here seems to be that O'D really wanted to write a refutation paper attacking S09 and point out its flaw

Well, they were expecting to refute Steig's finding that western antarctica is warming (slightly).

I'm sure the fact that their results didn't dispute that basic finding annnoyed the hell out of them.

Two different agendas at play here: Scoring points vs getting the science as right as possible.

Where have I seen that movie before?

In all the blogscience that led to their first write-up (which, Steig said in his review, read as though it was cobbled together from a bunch of blog posts, which is where it did come from).

Eli is with John N-G on 1-3, but thinks it would fair game for Steig to now publish versions 1-3 of the paper, or maybe OD and Steve will do it for us.

O'Donnell has already put versions 1-3 online, if anyone can be bothered wading through them. He's also said that the version accepted was virtually identical to version 3, after the authors declined to make any changes in response to Steig's 3rd review, so not sure where the concept of a significantly different 4th version came from.

[I'm surprised to see you assert 2. Would you really find that acceptable in general? I think most scientists would regard reviews as confidential: you can show them to your immediate colleagues at need, but not post them on the web -W]

If the reviews are anonymous and anonymity is preserved, there's no harm to the anonymous reviewers. If an author wishes to announce to the world, "somebody thought my paper needed to be improved in this and this way and here's how I responded, while another one thought it was ****", that's their prerogative. The only people whose name might be sullied by publicization of the anonymous reviews are the authors themselves, so only they have the right to do this; reviewers and editors must keep reviews confidential.

Old reviews serve as good educational material for budding scholars who need to learn how to write a review and how careful they need to be in their manuscripts to discuss everything fairly, openly, and accurately.

The publishers of the AMS journals agree with me on this, but I can't speak for all journals. Some may have a policy that reviews and responses must be kept private by everyone; I haven't looked elsewhere. Meanwhile, I'm submitting a review later this afternoon (anonymously) to the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics which will immediately appear online for the world to see.

Meanwhile, this is why items 2 and 3 of my preyzie are inextricably linked. Announcing the identity of the anonymous reviewer was wrong in and of itself. The seriousness of the offense deepens to the extent that the author also reveals some of the content of the review. Revealing the identity of the reviewer while simultaneously publishing the complete content of the reviews makes this particular ethical violation as bad as possible.

Andrew, where did you find a claim of a 'significantly different' 4th version? The "fourth reviewer" was identified by "lead author Ryan OâDonnel." [sic] at Wattsup 2010/12/01/

Let's not confuse fourth round with fourth reviewer. Reviewer D makes an appearance in round 2, according to the archive WC provides. I think Steig himself said the 4th version was different - not sure though. Apparently it's not that different, but maybe there are certain small but significant changes. Also the SI may have changed. The amount of change is not really the issue I was raising though.

I agree - probably a light review. The point here is O'Donnell knew that Steig was not a reviewer of round 4. So O'Donnell knew that Steig didn't see the last version and likely didn't see the round 3 review reply either. (In fact, Steig didn't).

Yet O'Donnell criticized Steig (yes, he's this petty) for getting a reference wrong in the 3rd review and then correcting it in the RC piece based on O'Donnell's reply without acknowledgment. Which Steig had never seen.

What else did O'Donnell misunderstand? (And no I'm not interested in going through with a fine tooth comb - I think those who have done that have got it right above e.g. #36 dhogaza).

It is irrelevant (as part of O'Donnellgate) how much the fourth version differed from the third. Eric publicly asked O'Donnell to send him a copy of the paper, and some deniers (at the Blackboard?) argued that Eric was dishonestly implying that he was not a reviewer by asking for a copy. But he did not have a copy of the fourth and final version when he asked for it.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

The idea of the fourth version of the O'Donnell et al paper being significantly different comes from Eric Steig's real climate post "O'Donnellgate".

"However, I did not the review draft four, which was the published one, and which is markedly different from draft 3."

By t_p_hamilton (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

and to which Steig also added later:
"Mysteriously, this table is now absent in the final paper (which I was not given a chance to review)."

This is about a table in the Supplemental Information, not sure how different that is from version 3. Not interested anymore, either.

I am unfamiliar with this.

Is it possible for a 4th rendition of a paper, significantly different than the 3rd rendition, to be accepted for publication without a 4th review? Do editors commonly make the last "review" on their own?

Steig indicated he would be stunned if that is what happened.

[It seems odd to me (but it would appear that Eli disagrees). It might happen if the editor got sick of the whole process but I have no experience of that. More likely, there was a 4th review that isn't being revealed -W]

@ 44 John-N-G
I hope to hell that you first got permission from your reviewers before you gave that response ("2. Posting the anonymous reviews publicly was not wrong.") because you are very, very much wrong about that if you didn't:

Firstly, the reviewers own the copyright to their comments, (unless it is otherwise explicitly stated that they revoke it or pass that copyright to the journal upon submission) and you have just encouraged someone to unwittingly violate those copyrights leaving them open to legal action should any of the reviewers be incensed enough to take it.

Secondly, a major part of the anonymity process in peer review is that the only people who know about any one review is the authors, that particular reviewer and the editor of the article. Even the other reviewers should not see other's reports if their explicit permission for that to happen has not already been given.

I'm sorry to say it but letting someone's anonymous review be publicly published without getting their permission first - if that is what happened - would be as gross a violation of anonymous peer review protocol as O'Donnell and McIntyre have perpetrated here by exposing a reviewer's name without their or your permission.

If that is indeed what has happened here, I strongly recommend you apologise to all your reviewers post-haste, apologise to O'Donnell and McIntyre for giving them incorrect information, and that you draw up some strong guidelines for your Editorial team that explains what is and is not permissible when it comes to reproduction of a reviewer's comments in a public forum. (Likewise, my apologies to you if you did in fact receive permission from your reviewers first, but that isn't clear from any of the public information I've seen so far, and it seems highly unlikely from Eric Steig's writings and comments on it so far).

For context, I am a former editor of a leading biochem journal so I believe I know what I am talking about.

The diffs between the 3rd and 4th editions are available here:…

I wouldn't call them significantly different, nor see any reason to speculate on a secret 4th review. YMMV. AFAICT, the editor just asked them to change some wording slightly, they fixed a typo, and tidied up the formatting of the equations.

Bored now.

By Andrew Simmons (not verified) on 13 Feb 2011 #permalink

I wouldn't call them significantly different, nor see any reason to speculate on a secret 4th review.

It's not speculation, that came from their camp.

"It's not speculation, that came from their camp."

Oh dear oh dear. I was alluding to our host's speculation that "More likely, there was a 4th review that isn't being revealed". If The Evil Ones have posted a link claiming that there was a secret 4th review, please do share.

Your reference to "their camp" is deeply depressing. It sounds as if, in your opinion, this is all on the level of Arsenal versus Spurs - "Spurs are magic, whereas Arsenal are boring and defensive." Mind you, that's true about Arsenal and Spurs.

By Andrew Simmons (not verified) on 14 Feb 2011 #permalink

Jonathan (#52): You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I was the editor in charge of the submission. I was not. I was a casual observer who thought that the question of whether posting anonymous reviews was okay or not deserved an authoritative answer. So I sought one out and provided it.

[Ah, I too was a bit confused by your role. You mean:… ? But it isn't clear from that what authority you are quoting -W]

John N-G: and it is now abundantly clear from comments by both Jeff Condon and Steve McIntyre that they don't care at all about your opinion (or of AMS leadership for that matter). There is, apparently, no written rule that says so, so your mail was just expressing an opinion that could be ignored. And I don't think I'm interpreting what they have said in a negative way, I really can't see any other way of interpreting what they write.

@56, John N-G

My mistake and my apologies to you for the assumption made but, for the reasons I stated, you (and the AMS leadership) were still in error to suggest to the authors that it is perfectly fine to publish anonymous reviews. I recommend that you have a further discussion with AMS leadership to clarify the position that should be taken in the future should such an issue come up again.

#44, John N-G ",em>Revealing the identity of the reviewer while simultaneously publishing the complete content of the reviews makes this particular ethical violation as bad as possible."

John, the reviewer freely revealed himself to the author.

[I don't think you have been paying attention. The reviewer did not "freely" reveal himself. He revealed himself under condition that the information not be passed on, a condition RO clearly breached, and then tried to find some weaselly excuses for doing so." -W]

Professional confidentiality is required by journal policy but belongs only to the reviewer. One that is given away, the reviewer has surrendered all ownership. Professional ethics were irretrievably breached by that admission alone.

[You're suggesting that reviewers are not allowed to identify themselves? That is nonsense -W]

[Snip repetition of nonsense -W]

By Pat Frank (not verified) on 19 Feb 2011 #permalink

Pat Frank, IMHO you are wrong on all accounts. Reviewer confidentiality ALSO applies to the authors, even if the reviewer makes himself known to the author. That's the general understanding of the ethical rule on reviewer confidentiality in the natural sciences.

Moreover, reviewers have the right(!) to make themselves public to the author, so another one of your claims goes out of the window.

Then there's the claim that reviewers have the power to require methodological changes AND that Steig abused those powers. The first issue is nonsense. Reviewers do NOT have the power to require methodological changes. Only the Editor has that power. Reviewers can only *suggest* methodological changes, upon which the authors can argue their way out of making such changes. It is clear that this is what ultimately happened. The issue of whether Steig abused his 'powers' will forever be a matter of "which side are you on?". Steig believes the authors did not respond to one of his criticisms, one he repeated in two of his reviews, and one he considers a major issue.

But let me guess, you have hardly published any papers in the peer reviewed literature, right?

#60, "Freely" means 'not coerced,' Bill. It doesn't mean 'unconditionally.' Eric violated the ethical grounds of his contract of privacy when he abused them.

[You don't know me, and I don't know you. So please don't presume to use a contraction of my name.

Freely means many things. In this instance, it is clear that Steig revealed the information conditionally: the condition was, that it not be passed on. RO broke that condition, which was shameful, but you don't care. Your assertion that Steig revealing his identity broke any rules is just weird. If you have a basis for it (other than your own assertions) please share it -W]

The rest of my snipped post was not repetitious. For those interested, William's editorial acumen can be judged by reference to the original content.

[If you have stuff you want to say that I've deleted, this is the way I approve of including it, via link elsewhere -W]

Marco, I'm supposing you've responded to William's truncation of my post, rather than to the original content, in which the full reasoning was laid out.

Reviewers have the power to require methodological changes on the consequence of withholding their approval. Editors have the power to ignore the reasoned views of the reviewers they, themselves, have recruited. An editor who ignores his reviewers' disapproval effectively repudiates his earlier self and his own expert judgment in choice of reviewers.

[No, this is false. Peer review is more complex than you naively suppose. An editor may have many reasons for disagreeing with a reviewer, most of which do not amount to repudiation -W]

So, either reviewers have the power of requiring changes, transferred to them by the editor on their choice, or editors have the power to disparage their own choices and violate their editorial ethics.

[No idea what you think you are saying there. The truth is "The reality is that editors, not reviewers, make decisions about what is acceptable and what is not. ", so I suggest that if you're confused about this you trying reading RealClimate. Reviewers have the power to ask for changes; authors have the option to resist, and then editors get to decide -W]

60+ peer-reviewed publications and counting, Marco; most of them in the use of x-ray absorption spectroscopy for in situ study of elements of biological relevance.

[I find that hard to believe, given the ignorance of peer-review that you display. Are you this (…) PF? -W]

By Pat Frank (not verified) on 20 Feb 2011 #permalink

"... the only way to know that climate has warmed is through observational information" ... "the timing of Spring migrations, the advance of the northern tree line, etc."

Editors ALWAYS have the right to ignore or accept the advice of referees and trying to say they cannot is arrogant idiocy. Referees ADVISE the editors. Capice? Having been on the author and the referee side of the fence both 100+ times Eli will tell you it all happens a lot(you show me yours and Eli will show you his). If you disagree with a referee you write the editor carefully and in detail explaining why the referee is a fool. If something gets published you refereed that you think is crap you shrug your shoulders. It was NEVER your call. What part of that does Pat not get?

[PF's version of peer review is indeed rather weird, and I can't even guess where he gets it from. If he is the PF he claims to be then his last first-author paper was from 2007, so he isn't exactly prolific; perhaps he has forgotten -W]

(I'm guessing the PF here is this guy:…

Someone by the same name has recently published in Energy and Environment, this one:

'We do not have any scientific proof .. - Environmental Issues ... Feb 3, 2011 ... Patrick Frank, Palo Alto, CA 94301-2436, USA, Energy and Environment, Volume 21, Number 8 / December 2010 DOI: 10.1260/0958-305X.21.8.969 ...

[Ah, excellent, thank you. That makes everything clear: PF is one of the wackos (so it is entirely appropriate he should be on this thread). Presumably that means he is deliberately misrepresenting peer review rather than just ignorant of it -W]

I was led to this site by a link. Though I appreciate many of the comments here for their information, the nasty tone of many of your commenters ensures I won't be back. I hold you responsible. Much of this, seems like immature, tribal, mental masturbation,(though, not necessarily worthless) and a poor use of my time. This comment is not meant for posting.

[Errr... if it wasn't meant for posting, it would have been better not written -W]

By John Vonderlin (not verified) on 20 Feb 2011 #permalink


I'm guessing the PF here is this guy

That's consistent with William's guy - Stanford's in Palo Alto (as Hank knows for sure, but William might not).


In #62, William ignores the meaning of "reasoned" in the "reasoned views" of a reviewer, in order to suppose that an editor can reject a reviewer's cogent criticism without repudiating his own choice of reviewer.

Reviewers have the power and right to demand changes, William, on the consequence of recommending rejection. An editor can accept or reject that judgment. However, given that the reviewer validly supported that judgment, then an editor who dismisses the judgment is professionally remiss.

[I agree with you that the editor who dismissed Steig's judgement was remiss. But your logic is faulty and your word-twisting won't work -W]

Your judgment of my experience of peer review, on the other hand, is of no consequence, especially considering that your reply ranges from tendentious to facile.

I am indeed the guy you found exemplified at

#63, Eli, you wrote: "Editors ALWAYS have the right to ignore or accept the advice of referees and trying to say they cannot is arrogant idiocy."

Except that I wrote, "Editors have the power to ignore the reasoned views of the reviewers they, themselves, have recruited.."

So, on the one hand I'm not guilty of "arrogant idiocy," and on the other your statement leaves us wondering what one may label a misrepresentation of the obvious.

If I, as an author, disagree with a referee, I never explain why a s/he's "a fool." I carefully explain why I think s/he's wrong. Your disrespect trivializes the process.

In peer review, it is always the reviewer's call to label error, but the call must be demonstrated analytically or by reference to published science. If the reviewer's argument is correct, it's the editor's professional obligation to support that call. To do otherwise is to violate the obligation.

And to suppose that editors may be whimsical in their decision (Wlliam: "editors, not reviewers, make decisions about what is acceptable and what is not...", and Eli: "Editors ALWAYS have the right to ignore or accept...") is to completely misconstrue the review process.

Here is what may be a 100+ revelation for you, Eli: being thoughtfully wrong on occasion is an honorable estate in science.

[Agreed. But blindly pushing tripe, as you've been doing, is dishonourable -W]

William, regarding your response to #64, I think it's weird that Eli refers to himself in the third person.

You'll be relieved to know, in any case, that my last first-author paper was in 2009, two in 2008, and more to come.

Given the nature of the conversation here, William, I'd appreciate it if you'd not snip my posts for the duration. I promise to be civil and on topic.

[I'm afraid you failed, so just to be pointy I did snip a little. You'll have to also avoid repetition. In this one, other than pointing out your last first-author post, you've said nothing new -]

By Pat Frank (not verified) on 20 Feb 2011 #permalink

#66, William in response: "[Ah, excellent, thank you. That makes everything clear: PF is one of the wackos..."

Let's see you refute the E&E paper on analytical grounds, William.

... "(so it is entirely appropriate he should be on this thread)."

I came onto this thread because I was alerted to the poor thinking that was already on display here.

"Presumably that means he is deliberately misrepresenting peer review rather than just ignorant of it -W]"

Good job, William. There's nothing like character assassination to win a substantive debate.

Down below, in #67, Hank referenced my earlier conversation with Michael Tobis. In a nice parallel with your tactics, William, Michael enriched his position with an unpleasant innuendo, but then went on to close comments. Presumably, you have more courage than that.

[I think you're doing a fine job of assassinating yourself, I don't need to help -W]

By Pat Frank (not verified) on 20 Feb 2011 #permalink

Re #56: I was specific about the source of my authority to Steve and Jeff. I did not publicly post that part of my email to them because I didn't want to drag anybody else into this.

Call me confused. Pat Frank claims significant experience in the field of scientific publishing, and yet he managed to get several aspects desperately wrong.

It appears to me that Pat Frank has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the narrative of "the Auditors". Not a surprise for a WUWT regular, though...

I can sneak in two urls by leaving off one http:

"Errors in IPCC climate science"
-- Guest article by some guy named Pat Frank
Jan 14, 2011 "... IMO, the only way to know that climate has warmed is through observational information, such as you cited, along with the timing of Spring ..."

"We show the first large-scale evidence of the poleward range expansion of modern corals, based on 80 years of national records from the temperate areas of Japan, where century-long measurements of in situ sea-surface temperatures have shown statistically significant rises. Four major coral species categories, including two key species for reef formation in tropical areas, showed poleward range expansions since the 1930s, whereas no species demonstrated southward range shrinkage or local extinction. The speed of these expansions reached up to 14 km/year, which is far greater than that for other species. Our results, in combination with recent findings suggesting range expansions of tropical coral-reef associated organisms, strongly suggest that rapid, fundamental modifications of temperate coastal ecosystems could be in progress.â Yamano, H., K. Sugihara, and K. Nomura (2011), Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04601, doi:10.1029/2010GL046474.
hat tip to:…

[Weeell, that demonstrates that PF is a waste of time, but we knew that once we knew he was a E+E man -W]

Odd, doesn't list 'Energy and Environment' as a publication.

Oh, dear:"patrick+frank"+"energy+and+environment" finds a lot of PR being done, e.g.
"Jan 26, 2011 ... Scientist Patrick Frank, in a just published article in the respected Energy and Environment journal , also questions the land-based climate ..." from a "green supply" blog.

Condemnation for the message, and conclusion by oracular pronouncement. Great analytical job, guys, and have at it.

[I see you've given up any attempt at content :-( -W]

By Pat Frank (not verified) on 21 Feb 2011 #permalink

SCM = Supply Chain Management, and it is a long-established acronym... so I don't think it means something else devoweled. :-) The articles are a somewhat weird mix.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 21 Feb 2011 #permalink…


"Sensor measurement uncertainty has never been fully considered in prior appraisals of global average surface air temperature. The estimated average ±0.2 C station error has been incorrectly assessed as random, and the systematic error from uncontrolled variables has been invariably neglected. The systematic errors in measurements from three ideally sited and maintained temperature sensors are calculated herein. Combined with the ±0.2 C average station error, a representative lower-limit uncertainty of ±0.46 C was found for any global annual surface air temperature anomaly. This ±0.46 C reveals that the global surface air temperature anomaly trend from 1880 through 2000 is statistically indistinguishable from 0 C, and represents a lower limit of calibration uncertainty for climate models and for any prospective physically justifiable proxy reconstruction of paleo-temperature. The rate and magnitude of 20th century warming are thus unknowable, and suggestions of an unprecedented trend in 20th century global air temperature are unsustainable."

But if you read the text, you'll find

"although Earth climate has unambiguously warmed during the 20th century, as evidenced by, e.g., the poleward migration of the northern tree line [60-62], the rate and magnitude of the average centennial warming are not knowable."

In other words, we have reliable proxies for temperature, but can't use them, eh? Strange.…

Will the E'n'E article be added to Pat Frank's
list of publications at Stanford?

Will it be cited by any science journal article?

Will E'n'E ever show up in the ISI list of peer-reviewed journals?

"... E&E is not a science journal and has published IPCC critiques to give a platform critical voices and âparadigmsâ because of the enormous implications for energy policy, the energy industries and their employees and investors, and for research.

We do not claim to be right, but the editor â having researched the subject since the 1980s - believes that climate is too complex to be predicted for policy purposes ...."
-- Sonja A Boehmer-Christiansen [the editor] 3 September, 2009

Hat tip to Pete D. at RC

[Yep, the RC article is fun. Over to E+E, ha ha -W]