It is puzzling to hear people declare that they can’t tell the difference between one side and the other. The level of abuse,ignoratio, wild accusations and general nonsense on the climate-change denial side startles me still– and I’ve been following the creationist/ ID movement for years.
I tell students to follow the argument just a few steps along– look at a claim from one side, look for responses to that claim on the other side, and so on. One side always gives up the argument first, stops responding to the evidence and arguments and begins to deny plain facts (‘there are no intermediate fossils’), repeat points already answered, and (finally) accuse their opponents of conspiracy, dishonesty and outright evil (of course without any documentation or evidence at all (think social networks…)).
In the world of politics, apparently deliberate personal insults casually interjected into policy debates are the norm. I used to think it was childish, but I now believe it is a deliberate strategy. It often has the effect of unsettling the object of the insult, and this colours their judgment in the debate. Not only that, it sways weak-minded listeners against them. Sadly, too many people applaud the bully.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Feb 2011 @ 4:49 PM
Verry interesting…Thanks for setting the record straight Eric. (BTW, small typo in first line: “…a serious of allegations…”)
On the whole, I think Eric has acted quite well considering the accusations that were flying around. While from an ouside view I have the impression it is more of a missunderstanding by both sides, I can certainly see why he is frustrated.
I do have one point that I would like to raise, although I don’t know the whole story (personal emails …etc). I don’t mean it to be accusatory in any way so please don’t read anything into what I suggest.
This all started with the article here describing their paper, where a minor technical disagreement and (IMHO) a misunderstanding of what Eric had written and meant. This could largely have been avoided if O’Donnell et al had been contacted about this article and been given a chance to reply with a post of their own or within said article. Their grievances would have been dealt with privately before anything was published and it wouldn’t have gotten out of hand.
Let me try to rephrase this. If this was a paper published by someone else (Susan Solomon for example) and you had serious misgivings about it, would you invite her to reply to these objections? I think this is the lens that O’Donnell et al view this through and why they feel they are being treated so differently (and why they are quick with insults and accusations).
As I said this is not an accussation, I just wanted to stimulate some discussion.
[Response: I think if I had problems with a paper of Susan’s, I’d write a serious of blog posts criticizing her integrity. That seems to work pretty well. Do you think I’ve learned nothing from O’Donnell? …
… yes I am kidding.–eric]
For decades, creationists have been misquoting scientists in their dishonest effort to fight evolution. I think it would be useful for climate scientists to review that record. The National Center for Science Education is a great resource for learning about how to fight back.
As a published scientist in another field, I am discouraged by what I see here.
Why is there being given any attention to personal attacks? This should be ignored as irrelevant! The only thing that should be talked about here is the actual science.
O’Donnall gave a scientific rebuttle to your previous post in his, which has not been addressed here, and which -should be- above all the primary focus of any forward discourse.
For, you see, science is based only on data and evidence, not personal reputations. The data will stand for itself, and any who attack you personally will have their own words heaped on their heads if you simply ignore it and deal only with the scientific matters at hand. The science is the only proof you need!
And yet, I see no science here. Their most serious allegations are those showing the Steig et al (09) model’s algorithm/methods to be seriously flawed in its infilling response to data changes in the stations used. A very serious matter indeed for all reconstruction and modeling.
We scientists should be swayed only by data and results, and I would like to see the truth of the matter, scientifically, illuminated by yourself so we can produce the most accurate representation of what is occurring on our planet. The personal allegations against yourself, which as a reader on this from the start I believe have been overly hyped and given too much importance by both sides, will burn themselves out before actual information. Otherwise, this will devolve into high school “He said she saids”. You must rise above it, and set an example in so doing so.
In the end, all choices are yours, if you heed or care about my words or not. I, and other people and scientists interested in the actual information and data, long greatly for a scientific, not personal, rebuttle by yourself to O’Donnall’s points.
[Response: I don’t disagree. I wrote a scientific commentary already, in which I pointed out some problems with their arguments, and also acknowledged that they had some good scientific points. This is the way it ought to work, and indeed many people wrote in to thank me for the substance and style. Unfortunately, O’Donnell’s reponse was to call me ‘duplicitous’. I could have ignored it, but since many people — who ought to know better — were not ignoring it, but seemed to be believing it, I felt the need to correct the misconceptions. Get it? –eric]
It appears that O’Donnell had an incomplete and noisy dataset, filtered out what he assumed to be noise, made some interpolations to fill in the gaps, found that the result agreed with his working hypothesis (neglecting to test it against the null, that Steig is honest), then went to press without even bothering to get it peer-reviewed by McIntyre. Confirmation bias duly revealed to all. Pot, meet kettle.
“As a reporter wrote to me today “it’s simply impossible for a lay observer to make a judgement on his/her own.” Really?!”
I think this is a different issue to the point raised in the previous sentence i.e.
“The fact that a number of my colleagues and many otherwise intelligent-seeming people still seem to treat these guys as legitimate, honest commenters, whose words have equal weight with, say…”
Firstly I think you’d likely find it hard to step outside your own knowledge of this issue and have a clear view of it from the outside. I’m a lot more interested in science than the average person and spend a lot more time looking at the specifics on a few topics including climate science. Even then I’m completely lacking when it comes to forming a rational judgement on this topic for the following reasons:
-I don’t have the statistical knowledge to say what’s a good approach from a bad one. I don’t know the minutia of how the data is being combined, what problems are being overcome or anything about the problem domain (the Antarctic). As a completely made up analogy, imagine two physicists arguing over whether a proton accelerator or a neutron accelerator is the best way to locate a higgs boson. You’d have all sorts of questions like “What are you guys trying to do? Why is it a difficult problem? Why can’t you just do both? What’s a higgs boson and why are you looking for it?”. You might also wonder why the rhetoric was getting hotter and hotter despite the fact they both agree finding a higgs boson is a good idea and that an accelerator of some sort is the best way to go looking for it.
-I don’t have the knowledge of peer review practises to say whether the author of a paper being critiqued being an anonymous reviewer is inappropriate or not. It doesn’t sound bad to me if managed correctly but I’m always careful not to project my own values into domains I’m not familiar with. If someone is saying it is inappropriate then I have no idea if they’re right or not.
-The various drafts of the paper, the comments and the online critiques all represent a large body of work to digest. Evaluating “he said/she said” is never easy and building timelines from that kind of material to evaluate it is extremely difficult.
-I don’t have access to all the information needed. If someone says Eric Steig was “Reviewer A” and this was revealed in confidence privately I have no way to evaluate that.
So in short this whole thing is very complex and confusing even to people whose bread and butter is the complex and confusing.
I’m not prepared to make snap judgements on the matter or reflexively form an opinion based on an opinion of the participants. One reason is you only have to look at the wasteland of the blogosphere to see how useless people trading their prejudices without any knowledge of the topic is.
Another reason goes back to your other point – treating a non-equivalent group as if they were equivalent. It’s my opinion that different people play the game of shaping public opinion (and possibly of enriching themselves) in different ways.
You have purely partisan operatives who are quite comfortable being so and mainly deal with others about as partisan as they are. You have the good orators who are effectively the snake oil salesmen of their day and manage to convince the easily convinced with soothing words and rousing rhetoric. You have the more professional and financed people who run think tanks and work the business/lobbyist circuit. There are others of course such as those who’ll happily deal in any crackpot theory.
Outside of these you also have those who trade on a small amount of credibility but manage to do it very well. They have some vestige of a contribution, possibly well in the past but nevertheless it’s still there and they’ve been careful not to tarnish it in a way that’s obvious to the casual observer.
The casual observer is the key and that’s my second reason for not forming opinions reflexively. If the casual observer has the impression that someone has credibility and they also observe that someone’s criticisms being dismissed apparently without merit then it starts to fit quite neatly into a narrative that’s being sold concerning corruption and collusion.
Of course some people should know better but then public image management is a refined art at this point and we’re all well aware of the way people can use the internet to say things without saying them – they simply create an environment which lets their commenters say them. They might “Tut tut” the most egregious postings and unless you’re familiar with the overall pattern it makes them appear even more of a class act.
This ended up awfully long and I’m not sure if I should even submit it as a comment but I think the short answer is this: Climate scientists are being attacked on multiple fronts using multiple weapons. The reaction to some of those attacks runs the risk of making other attacks even more effective so the only solution is a response which defends against as many attacks as possible: That means a response which is open, transparent and deals with the facts. Nothing to do with the personalities, nothing (much) to do with the policies and nothing much to do the wider climate debate or its participants.
The great strength of science is in the facts and the data. Disputes like this allow the facts and data to be ignored in place of rhetoric and recrimination.
I agree, at least in principle. You seem to be ignoring the vitriol and rhetoric from O’Donnell et al.? How come you do not mention that, how come that gets a free pass? Eric has spoken to the science here and when he reviewed the paper. And actually, it appears that it is O’Donnell et al. who have failed to address some of the science issues as pointed out to them by at least one of the reviewers.
I think someone ought to contact J. Climate– I do not think that O’Donnell et al. are permitted to post the reviews. That to my knowledge, that has not been done before at J. Climate and may be actionable. At the very least the journal should be aware that O’Donnell et al. have been posting (confidential?) reviews in public forums and we do not know whether or not they have been reproduced in full or whether or not they have been tampered with. O’Donnell et al. seem to be trying to subvert the peer-review process at J. Climate. There may also be copyright issues involved with their actions…
I suspect by posting those reviews, they will likely not be permitted to publish in J. Climate again, or perhaps even any AMS journal. In his zeal, and with the help of Condon and McIntyre, O’Donnell has seriously tarnished his reputation. They have also once again demonstrated their contempt and ignorance of the scientific process.
As someone at RC pointed out, peer-review is not meant to be a cheerleading exercise, it is meant to be tough and humbling and rigorous– do these guys expect exams to be easy, or not to have to even write them? If McIntyre et al. are not mature and professional enough to deal with criticism (often tough criticism), and being wrong from time-to-time, then they should stay out of science.
All this fuss, and at the end of the day their paper was published, and was even complemented by Eric and others. There is one thing worse than a sore loser, and that is a sore winner.
And of course none of this changes the fact that western Antarctica is warming…..
I think the word to describe O’Donnell is “plausible”. When I looked at what he had written, I had that sinking feeling that you get when you realise something can’t be trivially dismissed, and that it will need careful sifting to find out whether it is true, and if not, how the deception was achieved.
I imagine this is why many people are saying the things they are, and finding it hard to make judgements.
“-I don’t have the knowledge of peer review practises to say whether the author of a paper being critiqued being an anonymous reviewer is inappropriate or not. It doesn’t sound bad to me if managed correctly but I’m always careful not to project my own values into domains I’m not familiar with. If someone is saying it is inappropriate then I have no idea if they’re right or not.”
According to contrarian types, it’s inappropriate to include them and inappropriate to exclude them, depending on who’s being included/excluded.
While I believe there are arguments for and against it, it’s inappropriate to be implying some sort of personal journal editor bias with their choice or policy on the matter, although this seems to be standard practice among certain crowds.
As to sharper00’s generaly conclusion, I tend to agree. I hope the emails directed towards Eric don’t get revealed. I understand it’s a fine line. Attacks like these need to be addressed forcefully. But there’s that saying about wrestling a pig – you both get dirty and the pig likes it. I think a lot of them are just daring scientists to take it to that level.
I think Ryan O may have some valid points buried in all that invective. And he has a right to respond to a blog post with his own.
But his false accusations and contemptuous tone are simply unacceptable.
So if there were reviews and O’Donnell didn’t post them, he was probably aware that you were no longer a reviewer at that point. Normally, then, you wouldn’t have access to the final draft nor the replies to round 3 reviews. How could he miss that?
sharper00, perhaps I can help. You can tell the quality of a person’s intellectual life by the company they keep. That the folks over at climate audit have no criticism for, and are prepared to share platforms with conspiracy theorists like Lord Monckton means you should check twice before believing them when they say, “The sky is blue.”
Dr. Steig. I believe the best answer to the dispute is to re-do the earlier paper (Steig et al.) using O’Donnell et al.’s improved methods, such as they are, and make no further comment. ‘When you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.’ There is little profit for you in denying silly accusations of this or that. Let your work stand for itself. These attacks on you are not credible, as evidenced by their almost immediate retraction. The fact that they were made in the first place says nothing whatsoever about you.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Feb 2011 @ 6:56 PM
These attacks on you are not credible, as evidenced by their almost immediate retraction.
Where’s the retraction? Thus far all we’ve seen is some editing of RyanO’s post at CA by McI, not because they were wrong, but because they “violated blog policy”. That’s not a retraction of the accusations by RyanO, it’s more akin to TV stations bleeping out “the seven words you can’t say on television” due to policy.
If there’s a *real* retraction … how about a link?
For Ged, who says he publishes in another field. You may be new to climate science. There is more at stake in this situation than the personal reputation of either the climate scientist or the statistician (I presume O’Donnell is a statistician?). The allegations made on various denier blogs have already made their way into the semi-mainstream press (a blog on the Telegraph written by the man who says he doesn’t understand scientific papers but ‘interprets the interpreters’). So the issue needed to be brought to a stop as quickly as possible because of the general impact on public opinion of climate science and therefore the urgency with which CO2 emissions must be addressed.
Prof Steig is to be congratulated for maintaining his decorum throughout while clarifying the issues and putting a stop to the madness (hopefully).
‘”it’s simply impossible for a lay observer to make a judgement on his/her own.”‘
Whether it was him or someone else, I’ve become convinced of late that a major problem with many long-time science reporters is that they formed a mental picture of the state of the science some years back and don’t want to put the work into modifying it. As a consequence, they go to a lot of trouble to shoehorn new results into their old paradigm, or failing that just throw up their hands and fall back on “tell both sides” stenography.
This is of course not too different from the well-known “going emeritus” syndrome (tm Stoat) that some senior scientists fall into, but the reporter-victims on the one hand tend to be a fair amount younger and unfortunately lack the option of just shutting up and letting someone without the blinders do the work.
Returning to Revkin, on his blog a couple of years ago I asked him why he continued to resort to the oft-refuted John Christy for “the other side” of climate science stories, and he replied that it would be legitmate to do so for as long as Christy continued to be published and otherwise continued to be treated as a respectable scientist by colleagues. This is of course a completely indefensible approach, but it does make writing the articles a lot easier.
Possibly such reporters also resist changing paradigms due to a “fair world” POV or some such. That’s probably also true for Revkin. His stated view that nothing too terrible can happen as a consequence of climate change for another generation or so was a lot more reasonable based on the state of the science ~10 years ago, but times have changed. He hasn’t, and shows no sign of doing so.
(I should note for the record that there are plenty of science reporters who don’t have this problem.)
Speaking of new paradigms, it’s interesting to contrast the fact that a number of papers released in the last year or so point to a strong possibility that the ice sheets are more or less teetering on a precipice, noting in particular Hansen and Sato (2011), with the near-complete lack of media coverage.
In your post, you state “First, I never suggested to the authors that they use ‘iridge’.”
Ryan quotes from one of your reviews of the article as follows:
My recommendation is that the editor insist that results showing the ‘mostly [sic] likely’ West Antarctic trends be shown in place of Figure 3. [the ‘most likely’ results were the ridge regression results] While the written text does acknowledge that the rate of warming in West Antarctica is probably greater than shown, it is the figures that provide the main visual ‘take home message’ that most readers will come away with. 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 ‘iridge’ infilling should be used instead. . . . I recognize that these results are relatively new – since they evidently result from suggestions made in my previous review [uh, no, not really, bud . . . we’d done those months previously . . . but thanks for the vanity check] – but this is not a compelling reason to leave this ‘future work’.
(emphasis and bracketed comments added by me[me here is Ryan])
Could you just clarify for all of us on this thread? Did you recommend to the editor that the editor “insist” on the use of the ridge results?
[Response: I imagine that Eric is tired of saying the same thing to everyone, so I’ll step in. O’Donnell et al did the calculations with ridge regression before that review was done. They are in agreement that the ridge regression results are ‘most likely’ for these results. Eric stated that the ‘most likely’ results should be highlighted – a point I think that should be widely understood as correct. But, nonetheless, no method is perfect, and poor results relating to ridge regression had been reported in the literature already. Thus asking the authors to justify what ‘seemed’ better with an actual analysis that refutes the earlier critique of the method is still a valid point – which is basically what was asked for in the subsequent reviews (and commented on in an earlier post here). If O’Donnell et al did not think this method was any good, they would not have highlighted it in subsequent versions (reviews can’t actually make the authors do anything). But presumably they do not think the method was perfect either, so thinking that because the reviewer wanted the ‘most likely’ case to be highlighted meant that this method was then impervious to criticism is very strange. – gavin]
Paging “BPW”…BPW, presumably you’re now directing your probing, deeply intellectually honest questions toward O’Donnell over at CA, yes? The behavior Eric Steig describes is deeply troubling, don’t you agree, and O’Donnell needs to answer or we’re going to have to assume the worst.
Please report back and let us know what you found out.
Authors always play the game that they are convinced they know who the reviewers are, but O’Donnell has taken his assumptions and extrapolated them into fantasy. This is just sad.
On the point of posting reviews, I think if it is not journal policy, it can be a teaching moment. EMBO Journal posts review process files for their papers and you are able to see reviews, authors’ responses, and editors’ letters to authors. It is extremely valuable to understanding what the peer review process really is like.
Can we please go back to science? I am extremely interested in reading here a statistics, not psychology, -based response by Eric to Ryan O’Donnell’s latest post on CA which discusses in suggestive graphics the way Eric’s reconstruction responds to changes in the Peninsula… Please provide your technical rebuttal of O’Donnell’s criticism; that’s the only way this matter should be argued.
[Response: One of the things that those plots show is that there is still warming in West Antarctica even if the trends on the Peninsula were zero. So one of O’Donnell’s main claims is shown by O’Donnell to be wrong. Of course, it is certainly true that the Peninsula warming — to the extent it is correlated with the West Antarctic warming — has an influence, as indeed it should. The stronger effect of our having using just 3 PCs is that Peninsula cooling is damped, which is the opposite effect. Of course, some of both happens, but in all the tests I’ve done, the latter is a large effect.–eric]
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.
If the editor and Eric did not view it as a conflict, there may be no better person to review the paper, which was published, in an extensively revised and improved form. The editor has the prerogative to take into account that Eric is very close to the work and also has a range of opinions. Eric was one of x reviewers, and not the ultimate decider on the paper. The fact that O’Donnell asked Eric if he reviewed the paper and Eric felt comfortable enough to reveal this (against his better judgement, but likely attempting to build a bridge for the betterment of the science) indicates to me that the review process was not the clusterf*** some are claiming.
Dr Steig, is this summary correct or incorrect in its main points at least?
[Response: Sorry, it was hard to find the scientific criticism amidst all the ad hominem. If suggested to O’Donnell he delete the entire post and start over, sticking to the science but he declined. But in any case all these criticisms are already in the paper, some are right, some are wrong. A response will be forthcoming in the peer reviewed literature. So you can stop asking this question. You’ll get an answer in due course. –eric]
Comment by Geoff Sherrington — 9 Feb 2011 @ 10:17 PM
b) Here is a comparison (created by Acrobat Pro) of revs 3 and 4 of the paper. The reader can determine for themselves the extent of revisions made. (CAUTION: the compare tool marked absolutely everything, including text changes invisible to the human eye. I recommend relying on this mostly as a pointer to the changes.)
I totally agree that Eric should have been allowed to review a critic of his paper and make comments. Maintain anonymity by one intimately knowledgeable of the paper would be close to impossible. So why bother, when it can lead to a gross misunderstanding?
[Response: Certainly a good question. I probably won’t bother next time. Actually, I’ll refuse to review anything by these jokers very fine fellows in the future.–eric]
MrPete @41 is correct. Unlike the AGU, the AMS does not appear to have a formal policy. With that said, this has just come to light:
“From: John Nielsen-Gammon
Subject: reviews and reviewers
Date: December 8, 2010 10:59:20 AM CST
To: Jeff Id, Steve McIntyre
Jeff & Steve (with copies to AMS publications leadership) –
What I told you about making reviews publicly available is correct. There’s no AMS policy against, nor any formal objection to, an author making the contents of anonymous reviews and responses public. If a reviewer provides his or her name, or if there is other information that makes it possible to discern the identity of the reviewer, such information should be redacted unless the reviewer grants permission.
In the context of this, I would think that publishing an anonymous review and speculating as to the identity of the reviewer would be unethical. The author, if making the review public, has a duty to preserve the anonymity of the reviewer.” [H/T to Eli Rabett]
O’Donnell et al. have now failed to comply with the duty highlighted in bolded text and ignored Nielsen-Gammon’s sage advice. And look at the date, December 8, 2010…..
The unprofessional behaviour of McIntyre, Condon and O’Donnell really does beggar belief.
Eric, I know you are rightly peeved, but you referring to them as ‘jokers’ (while mostly true) is really not helpful. As difficult as it, is I urge you to tone down the rhetoric– they will try and use what you say against you and climate scientists.
[Response: Yes, of course you are right. Perhaps I was moved by the fact that O’Donnell not only ignored Nielsen-Gammon’s advice, he also broke a promise to me. I guess when he said he would respect my wishes in this matter he was only ‘joking’.–eric]
“…But in any case all these criticisms are already in the paper, some are right, some are wrong. A response will be forthcoming in the peer reviewed literature. So you can stop asking this question. You’ll get an answer in due coure.–eric]”
I’m wondering how is it that some authors can ‘guarantee’ that new works will automatically achieve publication within peer-reviewed literature, and others can never be so bold, or have to fight so hard for their words to achieve that result..? It doesn’t seem to me that all manuscripts and authors approach the peer-review process on equal neutral ground.
;) I wonder if this future editor will also find it important that O’Donnell be a reviewer of this forthcoming response.
[Response: Of course O’Donnell should be a reviewer of any direct response we make. For one thing, they would normally be given a forum to respond, and in fact would probably get the last word. At any rate, give me one person who feels that they have any ‘guarantee’ of publication, and who has not been really peeved at reviewers on more than one occasion, and I’ll give you a person that has not submitted very many papers.–eric]
#42 re Prof. Steig’s response. Damn straight. Let them find someone who’s willing to touch them after this. Or, to put it another way, why have a dog and bark yourself? “The Byrd offset numbers, please…”
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Feb 2011 @ 11:05 PM
Yeah I didnt think that you would publish my comments. So much for allowing all sides to voice their opinion. Who are the real deniers?
[Response: This isn’t about ‘sides’. You are welcome to try again, perhaps more politely?]
Does the GRACE satellite data shed any light on the question of which areas are warming faster?
I would guess that more warming corresponds directly to more mass loss as measured by GRACE. Has the GRACE team provided enough resolution in the data analysis to shed any light here?
Not that we really need any more data to decide that the right thing to do is to decarbonize our energy economy ASAP . . . We are well into “no-brainer” territory on that decision.
[Response: GRACE is a) too short in length to help and b) as you know GRACE is measuring altitude. Temperature has no influence on this other than indirectly through the fact that warmer temperatures generally will be going along with more snowfall, and hence elevation gain. Except that the elevation *loss* is due to ice flow, which speeds up (over long timescales anyway) in response to elevation gain. In short, this the relationships among these variables is really complicated.
Hey, thanks for moving this back to a scientific discussion! –eric]
Funny enough Walter, I have a life outside the blog world. And your less than veiled snark is not unnoticed. I have my thoughts, and I have no doubt you will find them riveting. But I also have a family and other responsibilities, so forgive me if I don’t jump at your request that I probe with my “deeply intellectual questions” until tomorrow.
FWIW, having read Eric’s response, I think he has a valid argument that he was misrepresented. And as I said initially, I was just asking questions which he has answered. Not that he was obligated to do so. I still have questions, on both sides, and will ask when I get an opportunity. Until then, your opinions will go into my “borehole” file where they belong.
If you care to explain to me why you think you stand on higher moral or intellectual ground than I do, please feel free to share. Or continue with your condescending attitude. I am good with it either way though I suspect you will choose plan B.
[Response: FWIW, O’Donnell thinks I have a ‘valid argument’ too. –eric]
Two references that may be helpful for informing this discussion:
1) Here are the
guidelines for authors, editors and reviewers. (I cannot find anywhere that review confidentiality is even mentioned; thus any discussion in terms of journal policy seems off base.)
it’s kinda assumed when you’re working in a professional environment, that you understand the proper rules of etiquette and ethics.
One of the “benefits” of all this crap that’s flowing forth from the likes of MrPete, McI, RyanO, and Mosher is that future generations of scientists, journal editors, etc etc will probably be operating under 30-page NDAs, acceptance contracts, and all the like, destroying much of the atmosphere of collegiality under which science has traditionally operated.
All to make sure that people like MrPete can’t attempt to claim the moral high ground by pointing out that unprofessional behavior isn’t prevented by existing contracts.
25 Steve Bloom: Revkin: Did you not see the Shell Oil advertisement beside Revkin’s blog in the recent past? Fossil fuel influence is rather pervasive in journalism. Couple that with the fact that science and math courses are not required in journalism school. I doubt that Revkin has a choice.
Gavin: What is \ridge regression\? What is \iridge\?
Eric Steig: Your response in 42 is correct, but I thought you already knew who McIntyre is.
Why am I commenting on this subject? Oh, because the denialists make hay out of nonsense. I hope to not have soap operas to comment on in the future. Woops, not RC’s fault. You had to do it. It will probably get worse.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Feb 2011 @ 12:28 AM
I hope Eric isn’t serious about refusing to review a paper submitted by this crew (#42). I think one of their goals with their sort of public behavior is to scare off legitimate reviewers, which isn’t good for the peer review process.
[Response: True, but of course if it gets around that no one legitimate will review their work, then it won’t get taken seriously at all. But that’s not my goal. I simply don’t want anything to do with these people. In fact, I may not bother with a rebuttal to Journal of Climate, because in a couple years temperatures in West Antarctica will probably have reached such an extreme that none of our ‘reconstructions’ will matter. In fact that may have already happened — see e.g. Record warming in the South Pacific and western Antarctica associated with the strong central‐Pacific El Niño in 2009–10. –eric]
Notice: I’m done with this conversation. You can ask all you want about what I ‘really’ meant when I said that O’Donnell’s idea of using ‘iridge’ was a good idea or not, or whether I agree with O’Donnell’s latest commentaries, or whether I’m embarrassed that O’Donnell et al. discovered significant warming in West Antarctica before (oh, wait, after we did), or what I think about Steve McIntyre defining West Antarctica as ‘any place not warming’ and the West Antarctic Ice Divide ice core site is on the Antarctica Peninsula, or whether I think Steve McIntyre actually read the paper he is a co-author on, but I don’t intend to waste my time answering.
Back to science.
None of this to imply that further reasonable discussion of peer review or Antarctic climate isn’t welcome. It very much is. I just won’t be participating much for the forseeable future.
Prof. Steig #54 I don’t really have anything to add to the science, and I don’t really know much about peer-review. I do know something about public vilification. You are under no obligation to expose yourself to it. The work you do is already enough; if you decide to cease or curtail your participation in the wider debate I can hardly blame you. However, your contributions will be missed.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 10 Feb 2011 @ 1:56 AM
leaving apart the unpleasant aspect of personal attacks (on both sides), I suggest everybody to do an interesting thought experiment : imagine that this debate (the scientific one I mean) would not deal with Antarctica , but for instance the Martian polar caps- just about correct mathematical procedure to reconstruct the map of temperatures from the satellite and some landers data for instance. Obviously the debate would then have been confined among a very small set of scientists, but it may have happened that some of them complain about the behavior of some other ones, may be in the unrefereed letter “News from mars” , with a harsh answer from the other scientist in ” Martian express” (“News from mars” is published by a former PhD student of the first one, and “Martian express by a coauthor of many papers from the second one). Well, things like that happen even in science.
The question is : would anybody here have a clear idea of who is right and who is wrong, both concerning the scientific method of reconstruction, and the personal attitude ? would have it not concerned climate science, would it be that clear ?
[Response: This is a nice thought experiment. I can in all honesty tell you that I think it would be clear that O’Donnell made several real improvements. I said as much in my reviews, and I’ll say it again here: globally, for the satellite era, O’Donnell’s solution may be more accurate. However, the issue here is that his does not appear to be the better solution in the particular area of Mars that we all think is important, nor in extrapolating into the data-poor past. That was the point of my previous post: O’Donnell is demonstrably less correct where it matters, and the question is why. (How O’Donnell turned this from a purely scientific question to an attack on my integrity is completely baffling.)–eric]
In the previous thread, I asked Eric to show his reviewer comments, but O’Donnell made that an unnecessary request. After reading those comments, I already determined that O’Donnell’s claims of duplicity on the iridge issue was absolutely not present in the reviewer comments versus the RC piece. It’s fun to see Eric making the same point (makes me feel a bit sane). However, I am also a seasoned reviewer (and author), and thus likely better capable of judging this author-reviewer play. Many here probably have the same experience (or more).
We should therefore not blame the journalists too easily for not understanding some of the discussion, and unfortunately several of those parts of the discussion that go to the heart of the matter. For them this whole affair has probably become “he said – she said”, in which both are right…and both are wrong. It will then depend on who they trust most. And let’s be honest, for quite some people here and at CA, the same will be true.
[Response: This is a thoughtful comment, and I agree. The problem with the journalists is that they really ought to learn from O’Donnellgate that it’s possible to discern who can be trusted and who cannot. They don’t seem to have any trouble distinguishing, say, Barak Obama and Osama bin Laden; or EarthFirst! vs. the Sierra Club; note that in these examples, most people have issues with both sides, but have no trouble making a clear distinction about who’s view to trust more.
Oop, there I go back to responding! Hard to resist when the comments are thoughtful.–eric]
Thank you for clearing the air, Eric. Those of us who have been in the scientific trenches know that peer review is not a dinner party. You put a lot of effort into encouraging RyanO and crew to publish and to make their submission better. Too bad they had they soil the sandbox.
@48 BPW. When I see “BPW” asking the same kinds of questions of O’Donnell that BPW is asking here — questions not present in the first 250 comments on the relevant thread at CA — I’ll stop questioning your intellectual honesty.
Eric, have yourself and Ryan O’Donnell ever met face to face? I hate to seem impertinent, and apologies if you see it that way as it’s not my intention, but I saw a possible positive outcome from the initial discussions between the two of you here at RC. I can’t help but feel that just the two of you meeting up (and **ONLY** the two of you) would be a positive step, rather than everything happening via blogs and emails which are notorious for being easily misinterpreted without the ability to quickly refine or clarify a point face to face.
@ Ryan O’Donnell, in case you’re reading this, same goes to you.
The way it’s turned is too bizarre. It doesn’t add up at all.
(You guys don’t have to post this here at RC if you don’t want to, it’s just a suggestion. Don’t take it the wrong way.)
dhogaza and others,
a) Please don’t infer anything further than what I said, which is that discussion in terms of the journal’s policy seems off base. I have no time to get into the actual issue, which is why I said nothing about what I really think. I’ve not fully read/understood the details on this; I would love to. (Hint: even friends who agree often find it hard to communicate well about complex topics; here we have “opponents.” Looks like plenty of room for more humility on all sides.)
I’ll add the following, made as brief as I could, to share a bit of the real-world story behind the story. This is as good a platform as any, if our august host is willing (smile)…
b) I only took the time to post those links because I have the (very small) responsibility of maintaining the *.info site, which as you might guess has been getting quite a bit of traffic. I was distracted enough by the hullabaloo that I noticed the need for a “diff” of revs 3 and 4 which is something useful I can easily contribute. Beyond that (and even for that) I don’t have time to engage…
c) I don’t know how serious you are about wanting to see something published beyond the coring data itself (which of course has been fully placed online for quite some time.) I would love to have time to prepare and publish an article covering the coring data and more (I also stopped by LTRR a couple of times while in the area, took photos and would love to promote the need for funding to address other behind the scenes aspects of dendro science.) Something tells me nobody’s going to cover the cost of my time, which means this all has to fit around other realities…
Only problem is, my real world life has been affected a bitby my own medical challenges, and my (only) coworker who has complications of kidney failure and an (associated) quad-bypass heart surgery. That’s why I’m not posting much lately, anywhere. BTW I’ve not had time to ask but Steve McI has been quiet lately too; I suspect his RW life is a bit distracting as well.
Bottom line: I’m not asking for sympathy, just urging even more patience with the “citizen science” world. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to have incomplete self-funded work, particularly when I’m intimately aware that several dendro researchers all died in their 50’s with incomplete work!
Having completed a few groundbreaking volunteer projects (there’s a reason I’m an expert in GIS, group e-communication, etc) with little or no outside funding, I’ve learned it can take 10x as long (literally!) to get it done as a dedicated volunteer, and many people burn out along the way. I’ve had the gift of not burning out so far… we still get there, just takes a lot longer.
I apologize in advance for my likely unseemly lack of further immediate responsiveness.
While not wanting to dismiss the emotional impact of being accused in this way, I do wonder how much notice the rest of the world take of these disputes? In continuing the debate through further rebuttals, I think you risk allowing the deniers to control the scientific agenda. My own feeling (for what little it is worth as one who thankfully doesn’t have to bear the emotional burden) is to let time, the community and the data decide, and move on to something more worthwhile.
One thought: Has O’Donnel ever published before? I remember for my early publications I took referees comments and feedback from other scientists very personally. It’s taken years to grasp at an emotional level that critique is not attack.
It’s quite clear that there is some confusion amongst the skeptics about publication. From their slightly paranod comments, they seem to think that journals are obliged to publish whatever is submitted.
And many thanks to Eric for taking the time to ‘engage’ in a meaningful way, and given the extreme level of provocation employed, for keeping his cool in response to what was very much a biting-the-hand-that-fed-you situation.
from all this, it seems that it would be good to have many more ground stations in Antarctica. Any chance that this might happen?
[Response: Well, since O’Donnell have shown it makes no difference or not what is happening on the ground at Byrd, I would say, no, no need!
Seriously though, the problem is maintenance. I think more grounds stations would be fantastic, and in fact I’m working on a project figuring out where they should go, as is a group at Madison (I think). The idea here is if we can demonstrate (or not) that a new station in a particular location would contribution to *weather* forecasting (for Antarctic logistics – airplane flights), then it might happen. I won’t hold my breath however!
What actually would be more useful for climate, is a lot of borehole temperature records. There’s a perfect PHD proposal project.–eric]
Indeed. From climategate to this, the dirty tricks campaign has been gaining momentum. Simply spreading doubt is no longer enough for McI, et al. Attacks on the scientific process itself are now in play.
…and these are the same jokers people whining about “civility” and demanding respect. Feh.
Eric, thank you for the enormous amount of work you put in to your original study and to reviewing O’Donnell et al’s paper. Your frustration is patent in this post and your comments but I am sure a lot of people recognise your courage and commitment to excellence through all of this. Don’t let the vitriol thrown at you stop you from working in this area further.
Question: At what point do physical and biological changes in the region render this sort of debate moot? Having just finished “Fraser’s Penguins,” I’m struck by what these indicators seem to be telling us not only about the past five centuries or so, but also the seemingly accelerating warmup.
Is there a year-round station operating at Patriot Hills? Not sure if they ares till flying int there…but that is a site that is visited frequently during the summer and it would be relatively easy to stay on top of maintenance. The problem though really obtaining long term records….that is why using the satellite data was such a novel and cool approach…but apparently a bit of a you-know-what to implement.
Anyone got ideas for an AWS that can somehow keep itself above the snow pack? ;)
I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed at the credibility I’d initially lent the O’Donnell allegations. Just another day in the age of the internet, the meme, the memory hole and their contributions to the ignominious demise of objective truth I guess. Science (not to mention scientists tethered to dogged consciences and quaint notions of sincerity) may profit less here than gluttonous buffoons like the Koch’s. Perhaps natural selection is not intelligent.
Some aspects of what happened seem to be a combination of not having experience in nor understanding the peer review process, pretty thin skins and then the poisonous atmosphere that has developed. I doubt that O’Donnell’s et al paper failing to disprove the Antartic warming helped either.
If you don’t know the process and have little experience with it and you combine that with a thin skin, then the critique process is likely to feel like an attack on you versus a hard examination of the science and a push to improve it.
Throw in that all around you are claiming that the “other side” is evil, lying blah blah blah then you may well rush to judgement and claim it is happening to you too (never mind if it really ever happened at all to the others claiming that it did). then in your put upon state you could easily post on a blog stuff that you never should have said. And in your ire violate promises that you made.
So what was an interesting, promising development where some good science was actually done becomes another casuality of the poison. I have to admit how much of what happened is due to the fact that the study did not disprove, but instead reinforced something that went against the claims of the camp contributed.
Is there no chance to sort matters out with Ryan O’Donnell? What I had seen of him so far, made him come across as a pretty sensible and honest fellow. I cannot help but think that his mind got poisoned in the toxic atmosphere of the auditors.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw people suggest that Eric Steig and Ryan O’Donnell should work together on a paper, synthesizing their strong points. Finally a breakthrough in the stalemate between climate scientists and knowledgeable skeptics, or so I thought.
Condon is too extreme for open communication, and McIntyre doesn’t want the feud to ever end (it’s his personal Sildenafil citrate), but I hope there is still or will be some form of communication with O’Donnell behind the scenes. It would be a shame for something that looked promising to end like this.
But that’s just my personal opinion, I don’t know all the ins and outs.
“What actually would be more useful for climate, is a lot of borehole temperature records.”
Are you suggesting looking at firn over a wide area? That could be incredibly useful, if it’s sensitive enough as a temperature proxy. Is it? Everything I read about firn related to CO2, and I know nothing about its other useful properties and problems.
In response to Steve Bloom (25) and others, I’m not sure why you’re astonished that science reporters can’t always judge between competing scientific arguments. Without some pretty advanced training in the relevant science, the back-and-forth claims and counter–claims can get very technical very fast. To cite just one example:
“Eric recommends that we replace our TTLS results with the ridge regression ones (which required a major rewrite of both the paper and the SI) and then agrees with us that the iRidge results are likely to be better.”
I hope you aren’t seriously expecting that science journalists can generally judge the relative merits of two different regression methods, which are just a small selection (I presume) of the analytical tools used to process data. Remember that almost no science journalist has the luxury of covering just one field–or, more appropriately, one subfield, since “climate science” covers oceanography, atmospheric chemistry, glaciology, atmospheric physics and a whole lot of other areas.
Science journalists have to rely instead on other factors, including the track records, training and reputations of the scientists involved, and with gut feelings about who’s making sense and who isn’t. Those of us who have been doing it for a long time tend to develop a sense of who’s reliable and who isn’t–but it’s not infallible. And it’s never going to be.
I’m still reading through this mass of comments, but just a few quick words.
In my own profession (computer systems), I’ve suffered from totally unfounded attacks (and flat out lies) from people in politically (within corporations) well positioned spots to make me out to be the liar, in spite of all of evidence to the contrary, or my long history with my clients of both competence and integrity. My situation is very analogous to yours. I’m in computers, so the arguments often turn very technical and confusing, so even other computer people can get lost (everyone has their area of specialty, no matter how experienced or educated), while the decision makers (corporate presidents and vice presidents) have their eyes completely glaze over in total confusing, and they understand nothing of what is being said. In the end it often boils down to trust, not facts, and that trust is very often misplaced.
In the end, sometimes I’ve won, and sometimes I’ve lost, but even when I’ve lost, eventually, the truth is realized. Years later I get calls from clients saying “so and so was just let go, oh my goodness, you were right, we’re so sorry, what were we thinking?… and can you please come back and fix things?”
In climate issues, whenever I get frustrated with the shear audacity and evil of the denial camp, I have the sadly satisfying thought that, of all things, on this one time will tell. 99% of the denial obfuscation is going to be revealed to be exactly what it is as the planet warms and changes beyond any refutation or doubt. And the people on “that” side are going to have to live with the long history of what they’ve said and done, and, in the end, are going to have to defend themselves when no defense is possible.
30 years from today, you may well find yourself being interviewed by someone writing the next version of Merchants of Doubt, but by then it will be titled What Were We Thinking? — The story of how we trusted the wrong people at the worst possible time in human history. People will look at things and say “wow, science, real science got a whole lot of this right, so what the heck were we doing listening to hordes of weathermen and retired engineers and retired physicists and and retired astronauts and wannabe-Lords and random, enthusiastic bloggers?”
Take heart. Breathe deeply, and let the frustration escape.
Time will tell.
[In the meantime, get used to being a guest contestant the Internet’s 21st century specialty version of “reality television”… i.e. “reality science for mass consumption and entertainment.”]
Maybe this whole episode shows that a reviewer shouldn’t be selected, who has a profound conflict of interest with the material they’ve been asked to revue?
The O’Donnell et al paper, is statistically based, so wouldn’t it have been better for a statistician to be the reviewer.
The fact that Dr Steig’s review comments, appear to exceed the length of the paper, does suggest that it was rather more than a review to pick up grammar, spelling & mathematical errors.
[Response: Eric has answered this point so many times before that he’s probably tired of it, so I’ll jump in. Scientists submit papers dealing with other peoples’ work all the time. It’s as it should be, since science is cumulative. Some of that is critical, but that does not generally create a “conflict of interest” since most scientists respond well to constructive and correct criticism. But nonetheless, it is absolutely standard and correct practice to send a paper commenting on some work to the author of that work, since (in my experience as an editor of JAS) the author of the criticized work is often in the best position to understand what is going on. But a journal article in almost all fields (astrophysics being an exception) gets several reviews — generally three, sometimes more — and that protects against any possible bias by any one reviewer. It is the editor’s job to weigh the merits of the arguments given by the various reviewers. I also think you misunderstand the point of reviews. It is not to find grammar and spelling errors and routine algebra errors. That’s the job of the authors. The point of the review is to explore broader methodological issues. I have gotten reviews as long as the one Eric wrote on some of my papers, just because the reviewer was interested, even though the paper in question did not involve any hot-button climate issues. Eric went to a lot of trouble to help make O’Donnel’s paper into a credible scientific contribution but as you can see, no good deed goes unpunished. –raypierre]
To verify that Climate Audit was specifically blocked, as opposed to blogs, I visited realclimate, which loaded without event.
It turned out that someone had downloaded parental control software onto the local network. And it was blocking anything that contained a certain preset list of words (some of which were quite innocuous). But the software also works from a centralized list of banned websites, and McIntyre was convinced there was a real possibility that ClimateAudit was on that list. Lots of fingerpointing about who might have been behind this ensued.
I downloaded the same software and demonstrated the blocking via an innocuous use of the “wrong” word on the actual “Sudbury” post. McIntyre still claimed there was evidence that he might have been blacklisted, although most of the regulars were jumping off ship at that point. (Yeah, I might write this whole incident up).
Anyway, the very first comment was:
Posted Jun 7, 2009 at 8:51 PM
1984 was such a good book. Good thing it was fiction.
Getting back to the current case …
As far as I can see, the first O’Donnell post hasn’t changed much, except that the words “duplicity” and “dishonesty” have been snipped. But it’s still all high dudgeon and “disgust” at Eric’s criticism of a change he supposedly forced on them. What retraction?
With you approach, is it true that if the temperatures on the peninsula are decreased, then the temperatures in West Antarctica will increase? This seems counter intuitive. Can you help explain this relationship?
Comment by Paul Fischbeck — 10 Feb 2011 @ 12:43 PM
Adam Gallon, That is absolute horse puckey. Where did you get the idea that peer review was supposed to be easy. The whole point is to subject one’s thesis to critical review prior to publication–and who better to do that than one’s peers–meaning rivals.
ODonnell’s behavior in this incident has been reprehensible–enough so to make me question his stability, and certainly his judgment.
As one of those lay persons having trouble following the techie details, but really doing their best to make sense of the on going disputes surrounding climate science in general, I found this post very helpful. Sadly, however, the final few paragraphs did seem to descend into the sort of name calling and making of accusations (without reference or back up details) that Mr Steig claims that the other side of the dispute is prone to indulge in. Maybe they are, but responding in kind really does not help. Can we please try to stick to the science and the data here guys?
Professor Steig – Just adding to the chorus of sympathy about your mistreatment. This is really an abuse of your collegiality and the peer review process. I work in a very different field but have considerable experience as a reviewer. Perhaps the Journal of Climate doesn’t have explicit policies about public airing of reviews or attempts to breach reviewer anonymity but so what? With the exception of experiments like the EMBO Journal, reviewer anonymity and review confidentiality are generally assumed norms of scientific practice. There really should be some sanctions for this kind of misbehavior. If something like this occurred with one of the journals for which I serve on the Editorial Board, I’d be in favor of banning the violaters from submitting to that journal.
So why was eric not a reviewer of the last draft? I may have missed it amongst the car crash, but I really would like to know.
I expect there isn’t anything mysterious about that. It’s quite likely that the editor considered that the last draft had addressed sufficient of the reviewers concerns that the paper didn’t need to be sent back to any or all of the reviewers. Four submission drafts is a lot of drafts! (Very,very occasionally I’ve had to submit 3 drafts before acceptance, but the vast majority of accepted papers go through the submission-review-resubmission-acceptance route, at least in my field).
Ultimately it’s up to the editor…
[Response: I agree. I in no way am suggesting the editor behaved unprofessionally. Editors are busy, and they have to balance things as best they can.–eric]
So Erik, can you honestly, and I can’t emphasize “honestly” enough, say that you were not stonewalling O’Donnell’s paper?
[Response: First off, spell my name right. Second: yes. I spent many many many hours on those reviews, specifically to be as thorough and fair as possible. I was reminded at least once by the editor that if I thought it should be rejected, I should say so. I did not say that, ever. What I said in my first comment to the editor was that although I thought the first draft read like a series of poorly thought out blog posts (which is of course what it was), the authors should “not be discouraged from submitting a revised version.”
Do you honestly — and I cannot emphasize “honestly” enough — believe O’Donnell is an ethical player here, given his fabricated rant against me, based on (what he now admits to be) hearsay evidence? Believe it not, I still do (mostly because he said he would apologize to me publicly, though I don’t think he really has, but there is always hope) because one of my weak points is believing the best of people in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary.–eric]
Adam Gallon – it is easy to fool yourself and since science is about getting the best model of reality, it is often the best to suggest the person who will hate the paper most as a reviewer when submitting. It slows publication but its better to get hard critical review early rather than embarrassing errors being pointed out later.
And when a paper is a critique or extension of another work, it should absolutely go to the original author.
It seems that providing fodder for the denizens of Climate Audit, WUWT, and beyond has become more important for some than contributing anything to science. These people claim to want a ‘debate’ whilst doing their damnedest to poison any debate. Shame on them.
Reiterating a point made by JBowers #64 earlier, and I think, to a certain extent by Ged also. This is not entertaining, I don’t know either of personally and you may both be difficult characters to get along with, I don’t know ;)
But is there really no possibility of a behind the scenes reconciliation? The earlier exchanges here appeared to be quite amicable, but have degenerated somewhat into a …he did, he said, he responded, then this happened …. not pretty to watch.
Is it possible to get back to the science? (Ged’s point) To the extent that there were flaws in both papers, I don’t believe either were disingenuous.
I imagine a joint ‘definitive’ paper would be welcomed by all here (and elsewhere). This may be just naivety on my part, but it would prove better men for both of you.
In my experience, both you and Dr. O’Donnell bear responsibility for where this matter has gotten to. If I assessed responsibility, I’d say Dr. O’Donnell is 60-70% at fault, and you are 40-30% at fault. But the percentages are immaterial.
What’s true is this (as far as the rules of peer-review go):
1) you never ask someone if they reviewed your own work
2) you never ask someone else to ask that someone if they reviewed your own work
3) you never tell anyone if you reviewed their work
4) reviews must be at least single blind; at best, they are double-blind (neither author nor reviewer knows the other’s name or affiliation)
5) authors get to see the reviews
6) authors get to respond to the reviews
7) reviewers get to respond to the response
8) editors decide how many times around the loop you go
9) reviews are not published; only the final, accepted work gets published
The only truth lies in what gets published in a peer-reviewed journal; not what gets tossed around like a rag doll on a blog.
[Response: You know what? I appreciate your points 1-9 — they are correct, except that my telling O’Donnell privately, in full confidence, the answer to something that he had made clear he already pretty much knew was completely and utterly a reasonable thing to do — but I do not appreciate your having the audacity to decide what percentage of ‘blame’ I get for someone making up stuff about me and broadcasting it over the internet.–eric ]
Seems like there is too much distrust on both sides of this debate. Having read both your comments here, and the ones from O’Donnell, I can’t see that you are guilty of the most serious allegations, Eric. Some seem to think the duplicity charge stands as they interpret you as having recommended a statistical method you later turned around and criticized.
However, I do find it strange that you were reviewing his paper in the first place. It just seems like a bad idea since the paper could be critical of your own findings. Anyway, I think the dialogue would be better if more open discussion was permitted, and that the borehole was a place for ad hominems and other destructive posts.
quoteIn my experience, both you and Dr. O’Donnell bear responsibility for where this matter has gotten to. If I assessed responsibility, I’d say Dr. O’Donnell is 60-70% at fault, and you are 40-30% at fault. But the percentages are immaterial.
Interpreting the interpreters: my guy lost badly and took down his garbage, so I’m trying to salvage something, anything, so I’ll try to claim 30 to 40%. Sorry, no way.
I see two really true things: one, Antarctica is warming; two, one of these two had the scientific curiosity to find that out and the other one never ever would have.
Putting aside your silly attribution of percentage naughtiness (the naughtiness is all on the side of O’Donnell pretty obviously), I disagree with your “what’s true”, both in terms of common reasonableness and reality (in my experience):
1. You generally don’t do this. But there might be instances where you might ask that question. Not a big deal and hardly a hanging offence!
2. Yeah, O.K…
3. Like “1” that’s generally true, but there are instances where you might. I’ve done this on a few occasions.
4. I’ve published around ~80 papers are reviewed many more than that. I’ve never been involved in a double blind review process. I don’t see any problem whatsoever with knowing who’s paper you are reviewing. The point of the editorial process and multiple reviews is to ensure that the review process is fair and thorough.
5. of course…what’s your problem there? That’s not an issue in this little broughah
6. Like “5”…of course…what’s the problem?
7. Not always necessary. The editor can decide whether or not the authors response goes back to the reviewer. In fact for the journals I review for, it’s about 50-60% likely that I won’t see the authors response to my review.
8. yeah..of course
9. That’s up to the journal. Some open access journals are exploring publishing the reviews. Don’t see any real problem with that..
Double-blind review has been proven (in the peer-reviewed literature) to remove review bias. Mostly applies to gender-based bias. Google it.
If I have a ‘guy’ in this matter, it’s Dr. Steig. From the science perspective, at least. However, in future, if I were he, I would recuse myself from any review of O’Donnell’s work.
That doesn’t change this fact: failing to follow rigorous peer-review policies and procedures — and instead engaging in endless, ad hominem, unethical rantings about these matters in blogs, including publishing details of reviews and reviewers in public — has resulted in a majority of the population believing a) climate scientists are all liars, b) global warming is a hoax, and c) AGW is worse than a hoax. Which means, all the ‘summaries for policy makers’ in the world, which IPCC may wish to construct, are worth nothing. And that outcome is a disaster.
Climate scientists have lost virtually all public credibility. And, that scientists spend their time trying to re-establish that credibility — instead of answering the hard science questions, and making fact-based statements on what, if anything, ought to be done about climate change and AGW — is an enormous tragedy.
As for my bona fides: you can find me on Google Scholar. Or SCI. FWIW.
[Response: Actually, research on public opinion shows that’s not true (about credibility). Perhaps you should read something other than blogs?]
My experienced doing peer-review has been here are three cases:
(1) Very bad. Easy to explain a reject recommendation;
(2) Very good. Also easy.
(3) In the middle. For these, reviewing was hard and time-consuming.
Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Feb 2011 @ 6:43 PM
GSW asks: “But is there really no possibility of a behind the scenes reconciliation?”
I’m sorry, but what possible benefit could Eric reap from such a reconciliation? Both Steig et al. and O’Donnell et al. are attempting a very difficult reconstruction. The truth will probably not be definitively known for years. To think that these two teams will be the only players over than interval is naive.
Second, I would never author a paper with O’Donnell for the simple reason that I would never want to be associated with a person who bahaved that deplorably! O’Donnell and the denialists have revealed their true colors. I hope everybody got an eyefull. O’Donnell has exhibited the kind of behavior that could end an academic career.
I’m not sure where you come up with any “blame” for Eric, let alone 30%-40%.
From your list of 9 points, at best Eric was “guilty” of #3 (but not volunteering it, simply answering the question when asked — hardly a hanging offense — and in fact I suspect he would have been brutally attacked if he’d failed to respond).
And I believe Eric when he says that his reviews were critical with the intent of getting the paper published in a truly viable form. The most evil thing he could have done was not to say to the editor “don’t publish this” (since that wasn’t ever in his control anyway), but rather to let any errors he found stand, and let the published result be such a travesty that anyone could refute and demean it as quickly as possible.
Most of your points fall to the journal or editor to enforce, some to the person who submitted the paper… not to the reviewer.
I think it’s probably pretty easy to sit back and apportion blame when you’re not the one who’s been venomously attacked on the Internet by multiple bloggers over a fair period of time, and had your reputation smeared… for no good reason. Has anyone ever created an unflattering cartoon of you just for doing your job and coming to a conclusion that they don’t like?
Personally, I don’t know where Eric (and Gavin and Jim and Ray and Mike and the rest of them) get the patience.
What is the expertise of Mr O’Donnel? Is he  Haven’t found any other [except the web editor for the Heritage Foundation!!]. Did he get sucked into being a surrogate citizen auditor by the McI branch of the contrarian party?
…. one of my weak points is believing the best of people in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary.–eric
Not weak, just a Canadian thing, too bad a couple contrary Canadians demonstrate the exact opposite inclination, eh?
[Response: No he isn’t that one. I deleted the link. The last guy some poor professor of physics needs is to be accused of being that Ryan O’Donnell. –eric]
Based on what I have read I would agree with Eric that O’Donnell is an ethical player but one that has gotten poked with a sharp stick and so has violated what he knows to be what he should have done. The sharp stick was not sharpened or used by Eric, I suspect at most Eric’s contribution to the sharp stick was to point out in a article here that the O’Donnell paper showed that the Antartic is warming and to continue to take what was studied in that paper seriously enough to really think about what would make the science in it better. I can only imagine the amount of nonsense that got spewed and that then made for the rest of the unfortunate circumstance.
Now all this junk has gotten blown into the public eye and its going to take a whole lot more personal strength to be able to offer the apology that is called for. In particular because the same folks that jabbed the stick are going to keep doing it and to keep trying to claim that the errors in behavior weren’t from their side.
I think a lot of people are missing the point. In my profession, peer review is used to pick up flaws and improve a report. If a reviewer makes only a few random comments about typos and grammar on an early draft, I suspect they haven’t made much effort to digest or critique the report. (The only time I objected to comments, as opposed to accepting/rejecting what was suggested, including those from arch-competitors, was an objection to the way in which an individual expressed his point – using extremely foul language. And I’m not easily shocked by strong verbiage. That’s in more than thirty years of report writing.)
In scientific journals there are two purposes. Firstly to advise editors on the merits of a paper for publication (ie signal a go/no-go to publication). If the reviewer believes the paper is worthy, then they make suggestions for how to improve the paper. I don’t know whether reviewers get paid or not. My impression is that they aren’t, but do it for the good of the science to help add to knowledge. Therefore publishing scientists would see the review process as an important opportunity for a final check before their work is laid bare before the entire body of their peers. (Not that it should be relied upon by sloppy writers.)
I very much doubt that the paper in question would have got to the required standards for publication if not for the efforts of reviewers. This must seem like a real kick in the teeth to Prof Steig. If not for his encouragement I doubt this paper would have been prepared. If not for his comments and support as a reviewer and similar efforts of other reviewers, the authors would not have got it to the standard necessary for it to have been accepted.
I do not understand any suggestion to Prof Steig that there be a ‘reconciliation’. I do understand calls to O’Donnell and co for a heartfelt apology.
As others have pointed out, the peer review process does not end with publication. After publication, if the paper is of any interest or relevance, it gets subjected to further review by the broader readership of peers.
The paper is not a seminal work. It’s derived from work already conducted by Prof Steig. I don’t imagine there will be any more contributions from the authors on the topic. I don’t think they were very interested in the topic to begin with. From their subsequent behaviour one can only conclude that they were only interested in the never-ending audit and proving the scientists (not science, but scientists/personal) wrong.
This is another example of why it does not pay to engage with committed deniers/delayers, and to distinguish between such people and ordinary people with no axe to grind.
If Dr. Steig had not responded to Dr. O’Donnell’s question, we wouldn’t be here. In my field, in my professional experience as an author and reviewer of technical manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, the policies I laid out are the norm. Seeing what has transpired with ‘ODonnellgate’, and given the cavalier attitude toward the confidentiality of the peer-review process, as manifested by the comment by @chris, and by other posters, I understand pretty well the cause.
Regarding: [Response: Actually, research on public opinion shows that’s not true (about credibility). Perhaps you should read something other than blogs?]
I rarely read blogs. I do have conversations with doubters; one of them led me to ODonnellgate. If you don’t understand the assertion about public incredulity over climate science to be true, then your problem is even bigger than you know. The vehemence and disrespect shown toward climate scientists in general, and Al Gore and IPCC in particular, is unbelievable.
What I find interesting is that people on all sides of the climate change debate are unwilling to admit their research findings are invalid. Given the findings of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/) and the statistical nature of climate change research (eg paleclimatology) it would not surprise me that 50%+ of climate change studies are invalid. Perhaps climate change scientist feel the figure is closer to 0% but I’m sure scientists in every field feel this way about their own field.
I do get the strong impression that you passed around his paper to your colleagues at Real Climate and used their criticisms in your own comments – is that impression fundamentally in error?
[Response: I deleted the rest of your offensive ‘suggestions’, but I will answer the one coherent (but stupid) thing you asked me: You get that impression because that is the impression that O’Donnell & Co want you to have. But the facts remain that no one saw the paper except me and whatever other formal reviewers it was sent to. Stop making stuff up — it’s unethical and makes you look like an idiot –eric]
Al Henning said: “That doesn’t change this fact: failing to follow rigorous peer-review policies and procedures — and instead engaging in endless, ad hominem, unethical rantings about these matters in blogs, including publishing details of reviews and reviewers in public — has resulted in a majority of the population believing a) climate scientists are all liars, b) global warming is a hoax, and c) AGW is worse than a hoax.”
Isn’t that the goal of the deniers? Why, then, are you surprised to see O’Donnell and friends engaging in these things? And why are you trying to assign blame to Eric?
Why do people keep bringing this up? It is standard practice in these cases for the author whose work is the main focus of a paper to be asked to be a reviewer.
In fact, if you want to see an abusive reviewer in action, check out McIntyre when he reviewed Wahl and Ammann (Climatic Change). He even brought misconduct charges against one of them (Ammann, I think) for withholding some material McIntyre wanted to get his hands on.
That doesn’t change this fact: failing to follow rigorous peer-review policies and procedures — and instead engaging in endless, ad hominem, unethical rantings about these matters in blogs, including publishing details of reviews and reviewers in public
This sounds like a perfect description of those good people at Climate Audit. Not the climate science community.
I mean it’s hilarious. Who published the details of reviews and reviewers in public? RyanO.
Who engages in endless, ad hominem, unethical rantings about climate science in blogs, including endless assertions of scientific fraud, duplicitous behavior, incompetence, etc etc? Go read Climate Audit and WUWT.
Brief note about #47… Eric, your response suggests you were thinking of altimetry. GRACE, of course, is not an altimeter. It measures mass changes, not elevation changes. But you’re right about the time series length — a bit too short to address the issues discussed here.
[Response: You are right of course, but the point is the same — you are not going to be able to get at temperature by looking at mass changes! The satellite I was thinking of is IceSat.–eric]
Whether or not you have a point, you’re missing the point. If you really want to find out why ‘tragedies’ such as deteriorating public trust in climate scientists and climate science happen, there’s a very simple formula to get you there: make a research finding that imperils the profits of a trillion some odd dollar global industry. That is all. You will find if you do that uptight adherence to the most obsessively compulsive right thinking northern european procedures afford you… 0.0 protection against a smear campaign the ferocity of which you are quite evidently unable to fathom (happy to put that out to a few more sig figs if you like).
Need more color? Picture this: some of the best hackers money can by in some locale somewhere on the planet illegally stealing years of your personal and professional correspondence and pilferiing through its entirety for the single cherry that fits the smear: the inartfully phrased reply to Halvard written between 7:06 and 7:07 on the morning of November 8th before you got that coffee down. Then picture that cherry being shorn of context, distorted beyond all recognition and then beamed around the planet at the speed of light to millions of eager ideologues across the globe via every media medium imaginable, in many cases before you had a chance to even register a response.
And how would you like to be bombarded incessantly with FOI requests compelling you to release every last bit of code you ever wrote or data you ever worked with to amateurs whose only goal was to crucify you with it? And for cries of fraud to come if you only were able to reach 99% disclosure of said for whatever practical reason. And how would you like to be virtually stalked by these same characters at you day in day out for quite literally years, your every sentence of your every paper and every calculation held up, charted, distorted and accused- with every, ‘mistake’ (and mostly amateurish or willful misunderstanding) attributed to fraudulent deception for the purpose of personal enrichment or some other nefarious scheme? How would you like to be threatened with criminal law suits for all and sundry? Ever had a death threat before?
Seriously, just how cavalier can a person be? In fact, given your apparent babe in the woods ignorance of the forces at play here, I’d be surprised if you wouldn’t be in serious trouble with a finding that threatened the high top basketball shoe market. And you want to, what, claim that it’s the peer review process and the occasional instance where climate scientist’s emotions get the better of them which has led to this whole high profile high tech lynching that’s been unleashed on them? Really? All I can tell you is that you should really rent ‘The Insider’ read this and then come back with your thoughts. If you’ve by then you’ve managed to descend that high horse, you might find yourself one helluva lot more empathetic to the abuse they’re forced to endure simply for doing their jobs.
O’Donnell has a retractionapology “response” up on CA. More tedious recriminations about how Eric forced them at gunpoint to use “specifically proposed” iridge, etc. ‘Scuse the noise if someone already mentioned it.