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Yamalian yawns

Filed under: — gavin @ 11 May 2012

Steve McIntyre is free to do any analysis he wants on any data he can find. But when he ladles his work with unjustified and false accusations of misconduct and deception, he demeans both himself and his contributions. The idea that scientists should be bullied into doing analyses McIntyre wants and delivering the results to him prior to publication out of fear of very public attacks on their integrity is ludicrous.

By rights we should be outraged and appalled that (yet again) unfounded claims of scientific misconduct and dishonesty are buzzing around the blogosphere, once again initiated by Steve McIntyre, and unfailingly and uncritically promoted by the usual supporters. However this has become such a common occurrence that we are no longer shocked nor surprised that misinformation based on nothing but prior assumptions gains an easy toehold on the contrarian blogs (especially at times when they are keen to ‘move on’ from more discomforting events).

So instead of outrage, we’ll settle for simply making a few observations that undermine the narrative that McIntyre and company are trying to put out.

First of all, it should be made clear that McIntyre’s FOI EIR requests on the subject of Yamal are not for raw data, nor for the code or analysis methodology behind a published result, but for an analysis of publicly available data that has not been completed and has not yet been published. To be clear, these requests are for unpublished work.

Second, the unpublished work in question is a reconstruction of regional temperatures from the region of Yamal in Siberia. Regional reconstructions are generally more worthwhile than reconstructions from a single site because, if there is shared variance, the regional result is likely to be more robust and be more representative – and that makes it more valuable for continental and hemispheric comparisons. The key issues are whether all the trees (or some subset of them) share a common signal (are they mostly temperature sensitive? are some localities anomalous? etc.). It isn’t as simple as just averaging all the trees in a grid box or two. The history of such efforts follows a mostly standard path – local chronologies are put together, different ‘standardisation’ techniques are applied, more data is collected, wider collations are put together, and then regional reconstructions start to appear. Places that are remote (like Yamal) have the advantage of a lack of local human interference, and plenty of fossil material, but they are tricky to get to and data collection can be slow (not least because of the political situation in recent decades).

UK FOI (and EIR) legislation (quite sensibly) specifically exempts unpublished work from release provided the results are being prepared for publication (or are incomplete). So McIntyre’s appeals have tried to insinuate that no such publication is in progress (which is false) or that the public interest in knowing about a regional tree ring reconstruction from an obscure part of Siberia trumps the obvious interest that academics have in being able to work on projects exclusively prior to publication. This is a hard sell, unless of course one greatly exaggerates the importance of a single proxy record – but who would do that? (Oh yes: YAD06 – the most important tree in the world, The global warming industry is based on one MASSIVE lie etc.). Note that premature public access to unpublished work is something that many people (including Anthony Watts) feel quite strongly about.

Worse, McIntyre has claimed in his appeal that the length of time since the Briffa et al (2008) paper implies that the regional Yamal reconstruction has been suppressed for nefarious motives. But I find it a little rich that the instigator of a multitude of FOI requests, appeals, inquiries, appeals about inquires, FOIs about appeals, inquiries into FOI appeals etc. is now using the CRU’s lack of productivity as a reason to support more FOI releases. This is actually quite funny.

Furthermore, McIntyre is using the fact that Briffa and colleagues responded online to his last deceptive claims about Yamal, to claim that all Yamal-related info must now be placed in the public domain (including, as mentioned above, unpublished reconstructions being prepared for a paper). How this will encourage scientists to be open to real-time discussions with critics is a little puzzling. Mention some partial analysis online, and be hit immediately with a FOI for the rest…?

The history of this oddity (and it is odd) dates back to McIntyre’s early obsession with a reconstruction called the “Polar Urals” Briffa et al. (1995). This was a very early attempt at a local multi-proxy reconstruction, using a regression of both tree-ring widths and densities. McIntyre has previously objected to observations that 1032 was a particularly cold year in this reconstruction (though it was), that the dating of the trees was suspect (though it wasn’t), and that no-one revisited this reconstruction when reprocessed chronologies became available. [Little-known fact: McIntyre and McKitrick submitted a comment to Nature complaining about the dating issues in 1995 paper around Dec 2005/Jan 2006, which was rejected upon receipt of Briffa's response (which was an attachment in the second tranche of CRU emails). Neither this submission, the rejection (for good cause), nor the Polar Urals dating issue have been mentioned on Climate Audit subsequently.]

Around this point, McIntyre got the erroneous idea that studies were being done, but were being suppressed if they showed something ‘inconvenient’. This is of course a classic conspiracy theory and one that can’t be easily disproved. Accusation: you did something and then hid it. Response: No I didn’t, take a look. Accusation: You just hid it somewhere else. Etc. However, this is Keith Briffa we are talking about: the lead author of Briffa et al, (1998)(pdf) describing the “inconvenient” divergence problem in some tree ring density records, a subject that has been described and taken up by multiple authors – Jacoby, D’Arrigo, Esper, Wilson etc. Why McIntyre thought (thinks?) that one single reconstruction was so special that people would go to any lengths to protect it, while at the same time the same people were openly discussing problems in reconstructions across the whole northern hemisphere, remains mysterious.

Similarly, McIntyre recently accused Eric Steig of suppressing ‘inconvenient’ results from an ice core record from Siple Dome (Antarctica). Examination of the record in question actually demonstrates that it has exceptionally high values in the late 20th Century (reflecting the highest temperatures in at least the last 700 years, Mayewski et al.), exactly counter to McIntyre’s theory. McIntyre made these accusations public “a couple of days” – his words – after requesting the data, since apparently university professors have nothing more pressing to do than than respond instantly to McIntyre’s requests. In short, you have to give McIntyre what he wants within 48 hours or he will publicly attack your integrity. Unsurprisingly, no apology for that unjustified smear has been forthcoming.

So on to Yamal. The original data for the Yamal series came from two Russian researchers (Rashit Hantemirov and Stepan Shiyatov), and was given to CRU for collation with other tree-ring reconstructions (Briffa, 2000). As a small part of that paper, Briffa reprocessed the raw Yamal data with the regional curve standardisation (RCS) technique. The Russians published their version of the chronology with a different standardization a little later (Hantemirov and Shiyatov, 2002). McIntyre is accusing Briffa of ‘deception’ in stating that he did not ‘consider’ doing a larger more regional reconstruction at that time. However, it is clear from the 2000 paper that the point was to show hemispheric coherence across multiple tree ring records, not to create regional chronologies. Nothing was being ‘deceptively’ hidden and the Yamal curve is only a small part of the paper in any case.

Another little appreciated fact: When McIntyre started to get interested in this, he asked Briffa for the underlying measurement data from Yamal and two other locations whose reconstructions were used in Osborn and Briffa (2006). In May 2006, Briffa politely replied:

Steve these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them
cheers, Keith

Briffa was conforming to the standard protocol that directs people to the originators of data series for access to the underlying data, as opposed to the reconstructions which had been archived with the paper. McIntyre expressed great exasperation at this point, which is odd because in email 1548, McIntyre is quoted (from Sep 26, 2009 (and note the divergence in post URL and actual title)):

A few days ago, I became aware that the long-sought Yamal measurement data url had materialized at Briffa’s website – after many years of effort on my part and nearly 10 years after its original use in Briffa (2000).

To which Rashit Hantemirov responds:

Steve has an amnesia. I had sent him these data at February 2, 2004 on his demand.

Thus at the time McIntyre was haranguing Briffa and Osborn, McIntyre had actually had the raw Yamal data for over 2 years (again, unmentioned on Climate Audit), and he had had them for over 5 years when he declared that he had finally got them in 2009 (immediately prior to his accusations (again false) against Briffa of inappropriate selection of trees in his Yamal chronology).

Back to the main story. Of course, regional reconstructions are a definite goal of the dendro-climatology community and Briffa and colleagues have been working on these for years. Some of those results were published in Briffa et al (2008) as part of a special issue on the boreal forest and global change. Special issues come with deadlines, and as explained in a submission to the Muir Russell inquiry, a regional Yamal reconstruction putting together multiple sources of tree ring data was indeed ‘considered’ but wasn’t finished in time. McIntyre’s claim of deception comes from a strained reading of the MR submission (it is actually quite good reading). In response to extended (and yet again false) accusations from Ross McKitrick in the Financial Post:

Between these [two other reconstructions] we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time and Briffa made the decision to reprocess the Yamal ring-width data to hand, using improved standardization techniques, and include this series in the submitted paper [Briffa et al., 2008].

Subsequently, in response to the issues raised by McIntyre, we explored the use of additional ring-width data local to the Yamal sub-fossil data. This work established the general validity of the published Yamal chronology information, albeit with significant statistical uncertainty, including during the medieval time and the late 20th century. [Refers to the online Oct 2009 response]

We still intend to publish an extended review paper that will compare and contrast features of the different published (and unpublished) versions of various regional composite chronologies in northern Eurasia and the effect on the character of climate reconstructions of calibrating them using different regression techniques.

So, Briffa et al did consider a regional reconstruction and are indeed working on it for publication, and it didn’t get into the 2008 paper due to time constraints. Clear, no?

However, a little later on in the submission, there is this paragraph:

(From McKitrick):

Thus the key ingredient in most of the studies that have been invoked to support the Hockey Stick, namely the Briffa Yamal series, depends on the influence of a woefully thin subsample of trees and the exclusion of readily-available data for the same area.

McKitrick is implying that we considered and deliberately excluded data from our Yamal chronology. The data that he is referring to were never considered at the time because the purpose of the work reported in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) was to reprocess the existing dataset of Hantemirov and Shiyatov (2002).

(my highlights).

This is clearly a response to McKitrick’s unjustified accusations, and in using the reference to the 2008 paper is a little contradictory to the paragraphs above which were much more explicit about the background and purpose of the 2008 paper. However, to take a slight mis-statement in a single sentence, when copious other information was being provided in the same submission, and accusing people of deliberate deception is a huge overreach. Were they trying to deceive only the people who hadn’t read the previous page? It makes no sense at all. Instead, McIntyre conflates the situation at the time of the 2000 paper with the very different situation around 2008 in order to paint a imaginary picture of perfidy.

The one new element this week is the UK ICO partial ruling on McIntyre’s appeal for access to the (still unpublished) regional Yamal reconstruction. For reasons that are as yet unclear (since the full ICO ruling has not yet been issued), the list of components from which the regional reconstruction might be built were released by UEA. All of this data is already public domain. And of course, since Briffa et al have been working on regional reconstructions since prior to the 2008 paper it is unsurprising that they have such a list. McIntyre then quotes an email from Osborn sent in 2006 in support of his claim that the reconstructions were finished at that point, but that is again a very strained reading. Osborn only lists the areas (and grid boxes) in which regional reconstructions might be attempted since “most of the trees lie within those boxes”. It makes no statement whatsoever about the work having already been done.

McIntyre’s subsequent insta-reconstruction from the list is apparently the ‘smoking gun’ that the results are being withheld because they are inconvenient, but if any actual scientist had produced such a poorly explained, unvalidated, uncalibrated, reconstruction with no error bars or bootstrapping or demonstrations of common signals etc., McIntyre would have been (rightly) scornful. Though apparently, scientists are supposed to accept his reconstruction at face value. The irony is of course that the demonstration that a regional reconstruction is valid takes effort, and needs to be properly documented. That requires a paper in the technical literature and the only way for Briffa et al to now defend themselves against McIntyre’s accusations is to publish that paper (which one can guarantee will have different results to what McIntyre has thrown together). In the meantime, they can’t discuss it online or defend themselves because the issue with the FOI appeal is precisely their ability to work on projects prior to publication without being forced to go public before they are finished.

Finally, a couple of observations regarding the follow-through from Andrew Montford and Anthony Watts. Montford’s summary is an easier read than anything McIntyre writes, but it is clear Montford’s talents lie in the direction of fiction, not documentary work. All of his claims of “why paleoclimatologists found the series so alluring”, or that the publication “must have been a severe blow”, or “another hockey stick” was “made almost to order to meet the requirements of the paleoclimate community” and other accusations are simply products of his imagination. He also makes up claims, that for instance, McIntyre asking Briffa for the Yamal data “was, as expected, turned down flat” (not true – the actual response was given above) and he imagines even more ‘deceptions’ than McIntyre. Since he assumes the worst of the people involved, everything he sees is twisted to conform to his prior assumptions – if there is an innocent explanation, he expends no time considering it. As for Watts, the funny thing is that he immediately thinks that Michael Mann needs to answer these accusations, and attempts a twitter campaign of harassment when Mike, rightly, points out that Yamal doesn’t actually impact that much and, in any case, it has nothing to do with him at all. Watts is clearly a cheerleader for the ‘Blame Mike First’ campaign, so maybe his next post will be on why Mike is responsible for the Greek bank default (have you seen those bond yield curves?!?).

It should also go without saying that sometimes life gets in the way of work, and suggestions that academics have to work on issues according to a timetable dictated by hostile and abusive commentators is completely antithetical to the notion of free inquiry or the inevitable constraints of real life. McIntyre is of course free to do any analysis he wants, but he has no right to demand that other people do work for him under fear of highly public false accusations of dishonesty. We can nonetheless look forward to more of these episodes, mainly because they serve their purpose so well.


References

  1. K.R. Briffa, V.V. Shishov, T.M. Melvin, E.A. Vaganov, H. Grudd, R.M. Hantemirov, M. Eronen, and M.M. Naurzbaev, "Trends in recent temperature and radial tree growth spanning 2000 years across northwest Eurasia", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 363, pp. 2269-2282, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2007.2199
  2. K.R. Briffa, P.D. Jones, F.H. Schweingruber, S.G. Shiyatov, and E.R. Cook, "Unusual twentieth-century summer warmth in a 1,000-year temperature record from Siberia", Nature, vol. 376, pp. 156-159, 1995. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/376156a0
  3. K.R. Briffa, F.H. Schweingruber, P.D. Jones, T.J. Osborn, I.C. Harris, S.G. Shiyatov, E.A. Vaganov, and H. Grudd, "Trees tell of past climates: but are they speaking less clearly today?", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 353, pp. 65-73, 1998. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.1998.0191
  4. P.A. Mayewski, K.A. Maasch, J.W.C. White, E.J. Steig, E. Meyerson, I. Goodwin, V.I. Morgan, T. van Ommen, M.A.J. Curran, J. Souney, and K. Kreutz, "A 700 year record of Southern Hemisphere extratropical climate variability", Annals of Glaciology, vol. 39, pp. 127-132, 2004. http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756404781814249
  5. K.R. Briffa, "Annual climate variability in the Holocene: interpreting the message of ancient trees", Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 19, pp. 87-105, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-3791(99)00056-6
  6. R.M. Hantemirov, and S.G. Shiyatov, "A continuous multimillennial ring-width chronology in Yamal, northwestern Siberia", The Holocene, vol. 12, pp. 717-726, 2002. http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/0959683602hl585rp
  7. T.J. Osborn, "The Spatial Extent of 20th-Century Warmth in the Context of the Past 1200 Years", Science, vol. 311, pp. 841-844, 2006. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1120514

228 Responses to “Yamalian yawns”

  1. 51
    Edward Greisch says:

    The only thing wrong with RealClimate data is that there is too much of it. It is impossible to handle without a huge amount of computing power and mass storage. Computer programming skill is required, along with a lot of time to devote to the process. The user may have to learn a new computer language once in a while.

    [Response:There's no such thing as RealClimate data. There is real climate data, which is presumably what you mean. ;) --eric]

  2. 52

    And the end result of the concerted global efforts of the deniers is:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

    CO2 April 2011: 393.28 ppm
    CO2 April 2012: 396.18 ppm

    Thanks.

  3. 53
    Frank says:

    Are Steve McIntyre’s accusations false and unjustified? Thanks to Steve’s persistence, a journal editor required Briffa to release information showing that his Yamal reconstruction used an unreasonably small number of cores to reconstruct recent temperature. Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction (not that of his Russian colleagues) has been a key component of numerous global climate reconstructions and McIntyre believes that its unusually warm current temperatures have often been essential to concluding that current global temperatures are unprecedented. From Osborn’s email (which you don’t link or quote; 1146252894.txt), we know that CRU has been working on a regional chronology that includes Yamal since at least 2006, but still has not been published. FOIA has pried lose a list of 17 sites used in this regional reconstruction; perhaps some version of that study will be next. The key dilemma is this: Scientists have an undoubted right to complete their work without being forced to release an incomplete and possibly misleading draft of their work. The public has a right to know if the CRU scientists they support have suppressed a study which contradicts the hypothesis that current temperatures are unprecedented in the past millennium and misled the Muir/Oxburgh investigation. One of those scientists is a Lead Author for the Paleo section of AR5 and another was the Coordinating Lead Author for AR4. However, these CRU scientists could have delayed publication because they don’t trust their regional reconstruction and are searching for solutions to the divergence problem before releasing it. On the other hand, would they have held back if their older, limited study showed a warmer MWP and the new one a colder MWP?

    You should have said that McIntyre is perfectly capable of performing and publishing his own reconstruction of temperature in the vicinity of Yamal and that CRU deserves to be scooped by him if they have been holding back their work. There are scientific answers to the questions that both sides are attempting to settle by personal attacks. (You could even offer to help.)

    As for me, I’ve read that Briffa’s Russian co-workers collected fossil wood from the MWP from NORTH of the current tree line. This information is not quantitative; it doesn’t offer annual or even decadal resolution of time. Was today’s tree line determined by temperatures 20 years ago, 40 years ago, or more? The MWP was certainly warmer than it was then, whenever then was. Unprecedented today? Unlikely.

    [Response: You are guilty of the same pre-conceived notions and false certainty as McIntyre. You posit hypotheticals and use your imagination to prove to yourself that Briffa et al would have acted unethically, and then you conclude something is 'certainly' the case. This is just rhetoric. Additionally you appear to think that a single location at a single time is determinative of the whole hemisphere or globe over a much greater time period. It is not. Neither does the level of warmth in medieval times (which was assessed to have been likely cooler than the late 20 th C in AR4) have much bearing on anything. As we have discussed at numerous times, given the uncertainties in the forcings (particularly solar) and the temperature reconstructions, it just isn't that much of a constraint on sensitivity. If you want time periods warmer than today, there are plenty to choose from. Your comment is a textbook case of confirmation bias. - gavin]

  4. 54
    Jason says:

    “UK FOI legislation (quite sensibly) specifically exempts unpublished work from release provided the results are being prepared for publication.”

    Gavin, this is simply untrue.

    [Response: You are incorrect, see Section 22. It is not an absolute exemption (it can be overridden by a great enough public interest), but the text is quite clear that: "Information is exempt information if— (a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)". Please look stuff up before accusing people of lying (that would be the lesson all around actually). - gavin]

    [After-thought: The deleted text was not called for - apologies. - gavin]

  5. 55
    Salamano says:

    [Response: The raw data is and was available, and if anyone wants to put a group of them together they can. FOI exempts 'work in progress' and so scientists don't have to tell people exactly what they are working on and what the results are before they have finished. Remember this is unpublished work, and I can't think of anything more likely to turn academics off the whole idea of FOI than if competitors were able to get their latest data or measurements before the originators were able to publish them. - gavin]

    It would seem the ICO disagrees with you on this point (or at least with something).

    [Response: I have not seen the ICO ruling, but Section 22 of FOI is clear. If the ICO overrules that on the basis of 'public interest', that will set an extremely low bar for subsequent requests to any researchers working on anything where there is any public discussion and controversy. - gavin]

    There obviously must be some sort of ground where the non-inclusion of a accumulated larger set of data while publishing about a subset forces a scientist to specifically identify which is which so that the work can be appropriately replicatable.

    [Response: There is no such rule, nor is it remotely enforceable (since the scientists would be forced to prove a negative, and of course the amount of data one could use in any study is unlimited). Whether a study is reproducible (i.e. that the calculations were done correctly), and whether the conclusions are replicable (using different methods, different data, different analysis, etc) are completely different issues. The latter is far more important, but is not within the purview of a single paper (or researcher or group), rather it emerges from independent studies (who can use whatever data, or judgements they like). Assessments of those studies then takes issues like data selection, appropriateness of methods etc. into account in weighting them. You cannot ask that every paper include every conceivable variation. Science is a work in progress, and intermediate progress has to be reportable, because if all researchers had to wait until they were 'done', we'd never be able to publish anything. - gavin]

    Hopefully there will be room in the literature for works that make diverse ‘judgment calls’ about what constitutes a robust regional dendro-reconstruction of the greater Yamal/Ural area, instead of just one, as it would appear the data selection process becomes the most important variable to the conclusions (is this why the ICO ruled in appeal that perhaps simply making the data available without the selection elements is not enough?). Even though that would put uncertainty into the literature, it would still better characterize the available impressions of the data for scientists to cite.

    [Response: Of course - that is precisely the point. Instead we have McIntyre short-circuiting the system and using differences to impute dishonesty. If he wants to show that his reconstruction is better, he needs to write a paper documenting it and demonstrating to more than just the blog commenters that he is justified in claiming it. As Phil Jones once said "I wish they'd just write a paper". - gavin]

    [Response: Though of course when McI does involve himself in the process of writing an actual paper, it doesn’t stop him from continuing to make things up about its contents, nor to use it to continue to defame people. Publishing alone won’t save him (though it would be a very good start). -eric

  6. 56
    Jason says:

    Surely a “judgement call”, such as, for example, selecting a very small sample from more than 400 available cores, should be explained in the paper? Did I miss it?

    [Response: Obviously. The Yamal cores were selected by the Russians to include only the long ones (see Hantimernov's comments in email 1548). As for the selection of cores that will make it into a regional reconstruction, I suggest you wait for that to be published. - gavin]

  7. 57
    Sceptical Wombat says:

    Small typo. Should ladles be lards

  8. 58
    tamino says:

    The level of unfounded accusation, the ridiculous demands for data and methods and selections to be released even before publication, shows the true colors of the fake skeptics. It’s sickening.

    Their efforts are not an inquiry — it’s an inquisition.

  9. 59
    Salamano says:

    [Response: Of course - that is precisely the point. Instead we have McIntyre short-circuiting the system and using differences to impute dishonesty. If he wants to show that his reconstruction is better, he needs to write a paper documenting it and demonstrating to more than just the blog commenters that he is justified in claiming it. As Phil Jones once said "I wish they'd just write a paper". - gavin]

    So then the question becomes… If such a publication attempt is made, will it survive peer-review? Presumably the people who would be looking at it will be precisely the ones with the difference in judgment calls that we’re discussing. Could this lead to rejection?

    [Response: It's possible of course, but just assuming that it would is just speculation. There are huge numbers of people who could review such a submission, and constructive papers that spend their time discussing why a methodology is appropriate, have a much easier time of it than papers that criticise other people's work without showing something better. - gavin]

    Is it possible that a reconstruction with ‘all the data’ would pass muster? (particularly with the methodological assumption that the anomalies, sensitivities, etc. would all essentially balance themselves out, much like other areas of climate science have variables that even out in the wash) … I’m just talking about making it to publication in the first place, not being accepted as ‘I agree with this’ by peer-reviewers.

    [Response: 'all the data' is meaningless. There are *always* filters - distance, coherence, replicability, species, record length etc. So the idea that you can do something useful that is without any judgement calls is a fantasy. I have been a reviewer on many papers that I didn't particularly agree with but accepted as long the argument was made coherently, likewise I have rejected many papers whose conclusions were in line with my on thinking but whose arguments or analyses were inappropriate or misleading. This is pretty much standard operating procedure. - gavin]

    We already have the makings of a rough-draft of such a publication that has been discussed here– I’m sensing some pushback already ;)

    [Response: Not even close. But the push back you are sensing has nothing to do with the McIntyre reconstruction, and everything to do with his unjustified and false allegations. Why people are unable to think about results independently of what they think of the authors baffles me. - gavin]

  10. 60
    Salamano says:

    @58.

    Clearly someone in a position to arbitrate FOI claims disagrees with you, and that there is at least some level of legitimacy there. Perhaps the bar is low.

    In a world where some scientists are struggling to get published at all, it can’t be all bad that there is now an ‘insta-demand’ for a specific publication from specific researchers. “I’ve got better things to do than publish a more-robust dendro-rendering that arrives at the exact same conclusions as the original paper” … maybe so, but maybe not (in the eyes of the policy-making world, or a few skeptics)

    [Response: Having discussed climate change with many policy makers at all levels over many years, I can assure you that tree ring reconstructions from Siberia are not high on their agenda. I think I could safely say they have never been raised as an issue of interest. - gavin]

  11. 61
    Utahn says:

    Three/Bob C in response to your boreholed statements.

    You can be an “honest man with honest questions” and still delude yourself into doing a hell of a lot of damage to other honest folks. IMO Steve Mc is doing damage for a delusion.

  12. 62
    grypo says:

    So still awaiting the evidence that the reconstruction was ready for publication in 2008 (or anytime for that matter), and therefore substantiating McIntyre’s serious allegations. Anyone? Has anyone actually challenged this very important premise besides Gavin? Everything else is a side issue until this is resolved.

  13. 63
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by grypo — 12 May 2012 @ 10:11 AM currently at #62:

    Please explain what you think is so important about the Yamal reconstruction that you think McIntyre’s very inappropriate behavior is OK?

    Let’s suppose that Briffa et.al. decide that the analysis is not important enough to trump more interesting work, or they think the data are inadequate, or they do the analysis and it turns out to be different than all the other reconstructions, what would be the impact on anything of significance? If you and McIntyre think these data are so important then just do the analysis yourselves. On the basis of his behavior I suspect that McIntyre is not capable of doing the analysis.

    Please answer the questions. Steve

  14. 64
    MapleLeaf says:

    Grypo@62,

    “So still awaiting the evidence that the reconstruction was ready for publication in 2008

    They don’t have the evidence Grypo, but they do have innuendo and paranoia, sadly that seems to be all that Steve McIntyre and his uncritical followers need. Alas, feeding fodder to the rabid “skeptics” is far, far too easy.

    This CA vendetta and their attempt to create the illusion of debate/uncertainty/fraud became passé and a (bad) circus a long time ago– that is supported by the fact that CA’s web traffic has been on a steady decline since mid 2020, people have been rightly losing interest and that is perhaps why we have this latest ridiculous “attack” from Steve.

    There was I time that such BS that is currently going on would make me mad as hell. But with time I have come to learn that McIntyre and his pals in his small echo chamber are just in constant search of validation and engaging in a very nasty witch hunt. Steve has dug himself in so deep and now he can’t turn back, so ever deeper down he goes; eventually into obscurity one hopes.

    One almost feels pity for them, McIntyre et al. are angry and obsessed, while also continually to failing to publish anything of substance or compelling with regards to an independent chronology. All that energy and angst wasted…

    Gavin and Mike, thanks for showing yet again that McIntyre and his echo chamber are no more than mean-spirited bullies. I have nothing but admiration and respect for you guys. Thanks for all that you do– your science, your courage.

  15. 65
    JvdLaan says:

    @62 (Steve Fish)
    One of the reasons they are so after Briffa et al is that ‘they’ think the current world energy poltics is based on this publication and on Mann et al 1998 alone.

  16. 66
    Susan Anderson says:

    Steve Fish,

    I think you misread Grypo’s comment. There is nothing sympathetic to McIntyre in his comment. He is working on a different problem, a tentacle about a date being exploited. Grypo talks a lot of sense here and elsewhere.

    The mud disguised as questions being hurled from all corners from the notskeptics tends to allow these little chinks room to those who might be addled by the avalanche and think there is something there. If I’m wrong, Grypo, please correct me.

    Change of subject: I continue to be in awe of Gavin’s responses; this demonstrates true scientific procedure and holds “skepticism” to the light:

    There are *always* filters – distance, coherence, replicability, species, record length etc. So the idea that you can do something useful that is without any judgement calls is a fantasy. I have been a reviewer on many papers that I didn’t particularly agree with but accepted as long the argument was made coherently, likewise I have rejected many papers whose conclusions were in line with my on thinking but whose arguments or analyses were inappropriate or misleading. This is pretty much standard operating procedure. – gavin]

    Why people are unable to think about results independently of what they think of the authors baffles me. – gavin]

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    > evidence that the reconstruction was ready for publication

    “ready” would be evidence that an editor of a journal was satisfied that the paper had satisfied several peer reviews.

    A real journal. Real peers. Real reviews.

    Not Energy and Environment, mind you, nor the rapidly growing flock of crap journals — which may publish some good work but aren’t reliably edited.

    Cautionary, mentioned earlier:

    “… There is another citation gaming tactic that is much more pernicious and difficult to detect. It is the citation cartel.
    In a 1999 essay published in Science titled, “Scientific Communication — A Vanity Fair?” George Franck warned us on the possibility of citation cartels — groups of editors and journals working together for mutual benefit…. this behavior has not been widely documented; however, when you first view it, it is astonishing.”
    http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/04/10/emergence-of-a-citation-cartel/

    And you thought it was only financiers who could package and sell toxic waste? Nope, publishing companies are creating new ways to do the same thing.

    Why would anyone publish unreliable crap as “science” you ask?
    Because people will buy it, of course.

    People who believe, politically, that “science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like” ….
    The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank

    It’s easy to publish bad work these days.
    Almost as easy as blogging your opinions.

  18. 68
    grypo says:

    Steve, I don’t think McI’s behavior is ‘Okay’. He’s using distrust of his opposite to make a point, but his premise that he uses to show his opponent distrustful has no evidence to back it up. We can disagree about what should be freely available to the public and it’s importance, we can disagree over the science used in creating tree thermometers, but we cannot get to either of those things if there is a questioning of the credibility of one of the actors. So until this assertion is backed up, getting to the other points is futile.

    We should be getting evidence or a correction forthcoming.

  19. 69
    Jim Larsen says:

    54 “Please look stuff up before accusing people of lying (that would be the lesson all around actually). – gavin]”

    Um, he didn’t do that. He said it was untrue, but gave no moral judgement. Perhaps your admirable attempt to suppress/prevent anger isn’t quite completely successful.

    This is a strange and dark thread. The core issue is the danger presented by a scientist finding information critical to public understanding and then not sharing her insight and hurting her own career by not publishing. The data is not involved, but only the scientist’s personal take on the issue.

    It boils down to whether we treat scientists as hostile witnesses or helpful searchers. The McIntyres of the world will always be able to provide an anecdotal example where “hostile witness” hypothetically could have provided the best result. The mere ~99.9999% of the time “helpful searcher” works best, well, that’s a bit harder to defend.

    Do people really forget high school so quickly? The guys who were going into science and related fields were soooooo easily stereotyped. Did they lie, or did they ramble on with caveats and such inanities to ensure a complete rendition of the truth? Did they shoplift, or were they the goody-goody-two-shoes? If I had to pick a set of people who were least likely to engage in the types of activity McIntyre is accusing to be widespread, I’d say scientists would be right up there with nuns.

    [Response:Hmm. The science-oriented kids I hung out with were driving at night with the lights off, stoned, to get to the local rock climbing area. They were bored with school because it was too easy, but goody two shoes they were not (not most of them, anyway). Not sure I see how your repeating of stereotypes is helpful here. --eric]

  20. 70
    Russell says:

    Lacking a scientific case of their own, astute PR lawyers like Horner and Taylor naturally look for the weakest link in the case of those they are retained to oppose.

    They arguably found it a decade ago in the unenviable necessity of splicing proxy data gathered from a diversity of natural sources , an enterprise clearly more hazardous than recourse to the instrumental record. Having turned a single chink in a single paper into a faux synechdoche for the whole of palaeoclimatology McIntyre has provided Horner and his K-Street pals with all they need to conduct an intellectually downmarket ad campaign masquerading as a legal inquiry.

    Note that for all the FOI barratry, they are not anxious to get into court with the scientists themselves- the Heartland billboard testifies to levels of misrepresentation that might risk disbarment.

    That leaves them with McIntyre , who is not about to let go of the handle of the wedge whose thin edge he inserted over a decade ago- one advertising point is all he needs to ride the yack TV lecture circuit indefinitely.

    Contemporary science affords vistas far more interesting and attractive. Gore and his cohort have their Speech, and Horner and Watts their Tree, and woe to anyone left or right who observes that declining interest in the climate wars reflects the tedium of polemic repetition that is their common denominator of their obsessions.

  21. 71
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 May 2012 @ 11:47 AM, currently at #66:

    So Susan (quoting from Grypo (~#62), I ask you- What are “Mcintyre’s serious allegations” and the “very important premise” such that “[e]verything else is a side issue until this is resolved”? If you think this is a fair and important question, as does Grypo, then you tell me what is so important.

    I assert that this issue was artificially created just for the purpose of badgering real scientists. I want to know why anybody thinks that it is important and if they do, why they don’t just do their own analysis.

    Steve

  22. 72
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Hank,

    Egads, I found this quote interesting…

    … [as] David Michaels puts it, they learned that debating the science turned out to be
    easier, cheaper and more politically effective than directly debating the policies
    themselves. We might rephrase it that they came round to accept that scientific
    debate was engagement in politics by other means

    But this is a pretty frightening little article.

  23. 73
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Gavin:

    [Response: I have not seen the ICO ruling, but Section 22 of FOI is clear. If the ICO overrules that on the basis of 'public interest', that will set an extremely low bar for subsequent requests to any researchers working on anything where there is any public discussion and controversy. - gavin]

    But remember this is the same ICO that applied the Sir Francis Drake Doctrine to Polish meteo data…

  24. 74
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by grypo — 12 May 2012 @ 1:00 PM, currently at #68:

    My disagreement with what you are saying is that you think that anyone who questions the integrity of a scientist before actually publishing should be accommodated. This is just dumb. Scientists are judged on the basis of their published output and it doesn’t matter at all what their motives for doing the research are or if they do it at all. This is especially true when the raw data are available so competing experts can do their own analysis. This issue would only arise to to the level of FOI requests and accusations of dishonesty if the analysis was of immediate important to a research area, public policy, or the public. I don’t think so. For the second time- Please tell me why you think that this issue is so important.

    Steve

  25. 75
    dhogaza says:

    Steve Fish:

    My disagreement with what you are saying is that you think that anyone who questions the integrity of a scientist before actually publishing should be accommodated.

    Well, I read it as being a slightly long-winded version of saying that McIntrye should put up or shut up.

    Let’s not repeat the Democratic party’s perpetual failure to fight one’s enemies because we’re too busy devouring our friends.

  26. 76
    Killian says:

    Gavin,

    Thank you for a rebuttal that is probably as close to an outright calling out as a legitimate, polite scientist can get without using at least somewhat pejorative, if truthful and honest, language.

    As you know, I am convinced that direct, no-nonsense calling out is necessary. Either that, or ignored outright.

    I deeply appreciate this response as a human being, a father, an activist and designer of sustainable systems.

    Cheers

  27. 77
    björn says:

    Similarly, McIntyre recently accused Eric Steig of suppressing ‘inconvenient’ results from an ice core record from Siple Dome (Antarctica). Examination of the record in question actually demonstrates that it has exceptionally high values in the late 20th Century

    That was a quote from GS. Can we see the examination?
    Show us the plot and let everyone decide for themselves if it looks like a hockey stick or not.
    That would help greatly.

    [Response: The data from the archived file are plotted below, annual data and loess smooth (span ~ 30 years). The 20th Century is warmer than the long term mean in both dD and d18O (as with the figure in Mayewski et al), and the late 20th century appears somewhat exceptional in the d18O record. It's worth pointing out that this data got McIntyre's attention because they were used in a reconstruction by Neukom, not really something one would expect if people were suppressing the data.

    - gavin]

  28. 78
    Susan Anderson says:

    Steve Fish. You are still reading Grypo as supporting McIntyre. As long as you do that, you are not reading what he said correctly. Please stop with the circular firing squad; neither he nor I is attacking you or real climate science. Grypo was just addressing a different aspect of the dishonesty. We all need to broaden our understanding, not narrow it. You’ve become wedded to your version of what he read. Please try again, and remember the word “irony” which may or may not be applicable.

    dhogaza is correct.

  29. 79

    The McIntyre/Denialosphere red herring or Yamal/Briffa is a wonderfully misguided distraction for those that choose not to see past their own bias confirmation to avoid looking at the reams of analysis and peta bytes of information from elsewhere than the Urals (such as the rest of the world) including physics, maths and models that solidly confirm that human influence on the climate is occurring.

    A couple of things come to mind. A paraphrase from the movie 2001

    “My god, it’s full of BS”

    and of course

    Let me remove the reality from your eyes, since I can’t see past my own lack of understanding.

    Anyone care for another pitcher of Dunning/Kruger? It’s one of the finest ales to sooth that nagging feeling that you’re narrow-minded view is right. And after a few pitchers with friends, who cares about truth anyway.

  30. 80
    ZT says:

    In Gavin’s plot, for dD/8 the highest value apparently occurred in 1620, and for d180 the highest value occurred in 1870. So ‘exceptionally high values in the late 20th century’ could be viewed as not an accurate description. (Depending on the interpretation of ‘exceptionally high’). Perhaps ‘high values in the late 20th century, but not beyond typical historical fluctuation’ could be substituted?

  31. 81
    David says:

    Hi everyone !

    A friend of mine invited me to comment the graph of #77. As he says, i know nothing of the climate science debate so i may not have a bias opinion.

    Here is what is see / understand :

    The 1950-1980 years seem a little warmer than the rest of the graph. The very end of the 20th century seems quite normal. The very final uptick is similar to the one in 1870. Nothing “exceptional”, i would say.

    To me, what seems the “less normal” of the entire graph is the coldness of 1780-1810. What happened then ?

    Am i seeing the same thing as everyone ?

    Cheers.

    [Response: Good Lord. Don't you have something better to do? The issue at hand is not whether Gavin was strictly correct in saying that the late 20th century in one particular record was exceptional. (Of course, he *was* strictly correct, as usual, because the highest single annual value is in fact around 1980.) The issue at hand is whether it is appropriate for Steve McIntyre to be accusing people of intentionally hiding data for some nefarious purpose, and whether his paranoid fantasites about the reasons they might do so stand up to scrutiny. The point is that they don't. Why the heck would I have hidden these data when the are actually identical to those on line (check out the low resolution Siple Dome A core data, easily found on line and available for at least the last decade, and compare them with the data McI is complaining about), and when in fact they do show that the 20th century was more elevated than most other decades in the last 1000 years, if 'suppressing non-hockey stick graphs' were the goal? And why would Raphael Neukom, who McIntyre also accuses of suppressing data for nefarious purposes then have used these data in the first place, if they *don't* show a hockey stick shape. None of this makes any sense.--eric]

  32. 82

    #81 David

    Care for another pitcher of Dunning/Kruger?

    Wow! Could anyone have given us a better example?

  33. 83
    Merve says:

    A shame you have to waste your time on tedious rubbish like this. The McIntyre obsession with topics such as Yamal could indicate an underlying OCD disorder. It adds nothing to the science, and just creates more noise to drown out the signal.

  34. 84
    Merve says:

    Gavin said.

    [Response: Let him in where? From the first post he ever made mentioning me he has implied I am dishonest and he insinuates that on a regular basis. I'm not sure about you, but my (limited) time is better spent talking to people who don't think that everything I say is a lie. Mcintyre has convinced himself of this and many other things that aren't actually true, but I see no evidence that he is willing to re-consider any of them. Instead, they become entwined into an ever more elaborate construction involving a wider and wider circle. Like I've said many times, if he took the effort to do something constructive that might be worthwhile and it would be a basis to have a shared discussion about what the climate history actually was (which, he might be surprised to learn, is the point). - gavin]

    You couldn’t put it any better than that. He demands respect, yet he gives none, unless it is to people who agree with him, no matter how nonsensical their ideas are.

  35. 85
    Phil Scadden says:

    “In a world where some scientists are struggling to get published at all”.

    Hmm, perhaps these “scientists” that are having trouble getting published and think they are unfairly treated would like to share reviewers comments on the blogs as well? Or is it a case of trying to get a footnote of obscure relevance published in Nature?

    Paper rejection is normal. You look at the reviewers comments, fix it, and try again, or try a more appropriate journal.

    On the other hand, pseudo-skeptic sites (eg icecap) are full of unpublishable rubbish because it IS rubbish. Tinfoil hat country rubbish in some cases.

  36. 86
    Menth says:

    From 7. “[Response: Yes, of course. That's the way science progresses. What's at issue here is whether McIntyre is actually interested in science progressing, or merely in stopping it from progressing. Surely you would agree that there is some level of antagonism (not to mention jerkiness) that goes beyond the pale?--eric]”

    Thanks for taking the time to engage. From what I have observed, I suspect there is much mutual misunderstanding of underlying motives. I don’t know Steve McIntyre but from my impression he is not interested in “stopping science from progressing” if by that you mean hindering a more complete understanding of the earth’s climate and its history. It seems to me that the assumption that Steve is politically motivated -while understandable, given many critics are- is ultimately unfounded. He was not well received at Heartland, has stated he is a Liberal and said that he believes the government has a role in mitigating environmental risk to the public. Now, is he being swayed by personal vendetta after a long and antagonistic history with you guys? That seems more likely. As much as the peanut gallery wishes to see a simplistic “good guys v. bad guys” version of things, reality -as it often is- is more complicated than that.

    [Response:Yes, I agree with that last statement. There is a certain unfortunate tendency in some people to always want to portray things as good versus evil when the reality is much more complex and subtle. This often leads to more problems than the intitially perceived problem itself. And it's not just confined to the "peanut gallery"--Jim]

    You are all gifted researchers, you wouldn’t be in the places you are now if you weren’t. It’s easy to understand the frustration and suspicion that would come with some random a&^hole off the street critiquing your work. That said, and to reiterate what I’ve said previously; we must be willing to destroy our own work and because we cannot do this on our own, we need others to do it for us. This for obvious reasons leads to strained relationships and even the making of enemies. I know you don’t think Steve has the requisite skills or earned the right to do this but I think you know he’s not an idiot and frustrating as it may be he’s within his rights to use the FOI process.

    [Response:He has the quantitative skills. That's not the issue.--Jim]

    [Response: Hold up a second. Every scientist is well used to people criticising their work - your model doesn't have the right physics, your resolution is too low, you didn't take X, Y, Z into account, etc. This is part and parcel of ever piece of work we put forward. It is a little discomfiting at times, but it also provides the impetus to make progress next time - and make progress we do. However, it is completely different for people to start saying I disagree with what you did in that paper, and so you must have been deceitful, or you are fraud, or you suppressed data, or you are dishonest - and for good measure I'm going to report you to the FBI, the attorney general of Virginia, etc. etc. Especially when those claims are based on biased readings of old emails, overinterpretations of casual comments, and, quite frankly, ridiculous caricatures of what the scientists involved are like. The problem isn't criticism - the problem is the axiomatic assumption of bad faith. - gavin]

    My question to you is: when reviewing a paper, can you honestly say you try to destroy it if it’s inline with your own research or by a friend? I’m not saying you don’t, but it seems apparent in many of the sciences that this is not the case as often as we’d like it to be.

    [Response: Nobody should ever have the intent of "destroying" a research paper--that's not a good word choice at all. The anonymity of the peer reviewers is designed at least in part so that one doesn't have to be worried about making honest comments on a paper submitted by a friend. Also, as in many things in life, you have to try to separate your job from your personal relationships. And everybody involved in the process needs to acknowledge that this is the way it is.--Jim]

    This is why we need enemies. I think it’s possible (and of course preferable)to do it in an amicable way but when you’ve drawn a line in the sand with somebody, the mind is incredibly vigilant at scrutiny. The key is not letting it devolve into nitpickery which I don’t think it has but think and could understand why you may.

    [Response: This does not accord with my experience. One of the main reasons I maintain anonymity in reviewing is precisely because one can distinguish criticisms of the science and method and argument from personal relationships. Everyone occasionally writes a duff paper, and it's much better for this to be picked up by reviewers than later on. The anonymity allows the social aspect of science (which is crucial for many reasons) be divorced from scientific critique. What we have seen here is a huge shift towards the inappropriate personalisation of scientific disagreements and that's a disaster. - gavin]

    “Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty, Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow, even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.” -Lisa Simpson

    [Response: Only in fiction. - gavin]

    [Response: To answer your question to me, yes, I am extremely non-partisan when it comes to reviews. You only need to look up my name and "IPCC" to find solid evidence of this (my reviews of the IPCC 2007 paleoclimate chapter are ironically touted in the denialosphere as evidence that 'even mainstream scientists are negative about the IPCC!'). And I have personally had reviews that I (initially) thought were completely over the top in their negativity. At least some of these have been from people that I consider friends. It can be a frustrating process, but in the end the papers that result from it are invariably better. It happens that on one occasion when I wrote a very negative review, and I signed that review, several years later the author (whom I didn't know) came up to me at a meeting and thanked me (he said that the new version of the paper was much better, and he was in retrospect glad the original wasn't published. Just compare that with McIntyre's claims about me as a reviewer.--eric]

  37. 87
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 May 2012 @ 8:54 PM, currently at #78:

    I will take your and Dhogaza’s word for what Grypo said but you guys all need to work on your communication skills. I am just an interested reader here and not a member of some inner group of understanding, but I am no dummy.

    As you may have noticed, I am very pissed over someone, especially one who claims to be a scientist, who demands and badgers a real scientist for unpublished analysis for no good reason whatsoever. This is just outrageous. Steve

  38. 88
    caerbannog says:

    Menth@13 May 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to engage. From what I have observed, I suspect there is much mutual misunderstanding of underlying motives. I don’t know Steve McIntyre but from my impression he is not interested in “stopping science from progressing” if by that you mean hindering a more complete understanding of the earth’s climate and its history.

    Here’s a document that contains the paper-trail left by an FOI “storm” unleashed by McIntyre: http://www.cce-review.org/evidence/FOI%20requests_CRU_revised_DP.pdf

    Take some time and read through it.

    Let me emphasize — anyone who has spent time analyzing the public-domain GHCN raw temperature data knows full well that the CRU’s global-average temperature work can be independently confirmed with data, documentation, and computer code already freely available to the public. None of the material demanded in those FOI requests is necessary for an outside party with the requisite programming/analysis skills to conduct his/her own independent verification of the CRU’s work.

    In light of this, can you can posit an honorable motive for McIntyre’s behavior?

  39. 89
    caerbannog says:

    Typo correction — “Take some *time* and read through it”

  40. 90
    Menth says:

    “Nobody should ever have the intent of “destroying” a research paper–that’s not a good word choice at all.” -Jim

    “What we have seen here is a huge shift towards the inappropriate personalisation of scientific disagreements and that’s a disaster.”-GS

    I agree with both of these statements and regret having overstated my position with stronger than necessary language. When I say “destroy” I merely mean subject it to the same scrutiny you would if it were an outlier paper or one counter to the “consensus”. One of the oft trotted out quotes from the e-mails is a scientist saying they were “going to go to town” on a paper, meaning really tear it up and find its faults; I think that’s great! That’s what’s supposed to happen ALL the time. Again, I am not saying that this is not done in climatology just that it happens in other fields.

    I have merely been a bystander and only in the recent few years so I wont pretend to have been privy to all the history and behind the scenes goings on. That said, the following statement is to my eyes extremely well put and likely applies to both parties:

    “The problem isn’t criticism – the problem is the axiomatic assumption of bad faith” -GS

    [Response: Your perspective is appreciated. However, I find your sense that there is somehow an equivalent "assumption of bad faith" on "both sides" a little, um.. charmingly. Gavin's post starts out this way:

    By rights we should be outraged and appalled that (yet again) unfounded claims of scientific misconduct and dishonesty are buzzing around the blogosphere, once again initiated by Steve McIntyre, and unfailingly and uncritically promoted by the usual supporters.

    There is simply no equivalent behavior from the scientists' side.--eric]

  41. 91

    ZT wrote:

    “In Gavin’s plot, for dD/8 the highest value apparently occurred in 1620, and for d180 the highest value occurred in 1870. So ‘exceptionally high values in the late 20th century’ could be viewed as not an accurate description.”

    Let me suggest that spotting the two highest values is not necessarily a good way of deciding trends.

  42. 92
    BillS says:

    Re: Salamano at #59

    “So then the question becomes… If such a publication attempt is made, will it survive peer-review? Presumably the people who would be looking at it will be precisely the ones with the difference in judgment calls that we’re discussing. Could this lead to rejection?”

    In my very limited experience some journals upon submission of a paper will actually ask you to suggest names of people you do and do not want to review the paper. Don’t know whether the assistant editors pay any attention to such requests but the offer is made.

    If you are submitting a paper with multiple authors long before you get to the formal review process you must suffer the slings and arrows of your fellows authors — that can be a very chastening experience!

    Bottom line: You’ve got to write and submit something in order to get it accepted or rejected. Just running your mouth like McIntyre simply gets you rejected.

    [Response: And submitting it to a leading journal and having it reviewed by (gasp) someone who is affiliated with RealClimate gets it accepted! --eric]

  43. 93
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Menth@86,
    I do not recognize your portrayal of the review process. First, when I review a paper, I start with the assumption that there is at least a grain of something worthwhile in it and try to find it. I try to make constructive comments. I try to ask questions that the authors might not have thought about.

    If I cannot find anything worthwhile, I look through the literature some more to see if I am missing something. I may discuss issues raised in the paper with colleagues (while maintaining confidentiality as to the paper and its authors). I have had colleagues go so far as to identify themselves as reviewers and offer advice on problematic areas in papers I have written.

    If I still find a paper to be fatally flawed, I will try to point out the flaws in a constructive manner. I may suggest resolutions. Or I may simply say that I find the research so flawed that it doesn’t belong in the literature. It doesn’t matter whether the research agrees with what I have published previously, with my opinions or with my pet theories. It doesn’t even really matter whether the research is 100% correct (a famous example would be the alpha-beta-gamma paper, so-called because the authors included alfven, Bethe and Gamov). What matters is whether it provides enough that is interesting, perhaps a glimpse of a way forward.

    I extend these courtesies and this hard work to my colleagues because they are taking part in a difficult game–publishing one’s own work in a way that one’s colleagues can evaluate it. Publishing is an absolute prerequisite to being a scientist. If you don’t publish and choose instead to pontificate on blogs or in Opinion pieces, you are a bullshit artist masquerading as a scientist.

    Science is ultimately a curiosity-driven enterprise. We do it because we want to understand. It’s nice if we, ourselves, prove to be right, but that is secondary, and any satisfaction such a pat on the back provides is a poor motivator indeed compared to the pleasure of finally understanding something we have worked long and hard to understand.

    Bottom line: To be taken seriously, a scientist must publish his or her work.

  44. 94

    #86 re. Gavin’s response:

    However, it is completely different for people to start saying I disagree with what you did in that paper, and so you must have been deceitful, or you are fraud, or you suppressed data, or you are dishonest – and for good measure I’m going to report you to the FBI, the attorney general of Virginia, etc. etc. Especially when those claims are based on biased readings of old emails, overinterpretations of casual comments, and, quite frankly, ridiculous caricatures of what the scientists involved are like. The problem isn’t criticism – the problem is the axiomatic assumption of bad faith. – gavin

    This is an excellent summary of the problem. It is not about good vs. evil in my opinion. I honestly believe that Steve McIntyre (and many others), for various reasons, believes he/they is/are on the right track. And McIntyre is a good statistician. But that’s not the point. The point is that improving statistical analytic’s is generally a good thing, as long as it is not used to degrade inappropriately the relevance of the bigger picture that is built on ‘much more’ than Yamal tree rings.

    In other words uncertainty out of context distracts from the relevant certainties in other areas that he/they are not shining the spotlight on.

  45. 95
    ralbin says:

    The authors of the famous alpha-beta-gamma paper were Robert Alpher (not Alfven, another famous physicist), Hans Bethe (didn’t contribute to the work; Gamow put him on the paper as a joke) and George Gamow (though Gamov would be an acceptable transliteration). I’m bringing this up because Alpher felt aggrieved that he (and Robert Herman, who later worked on Big Bang theory) never got the credit they deserved, though he did get the National Medal of Science.

  46. 96
    Dave123 says:

    Noticing Menth’s hoped for good faith on the part of McIntyre- let me observe the following- not having had to review a paper in 35 years, but having had a paper recently reviewed.

    1) McIntyre is asking, nay demanding to be inserted in the peer review process on his say so, prior to publication at this point and apparently at points in the past. What can justify this sense of privilege? Can anyone imagine a system of scientific publication working on this basis? What’s to stop 1000 McIntyre’s from totally gumming up the works, never mind the obvious competitive threats.
    2) I don’t work in reconstructing paleoclimate data…but it is obvious that that assembling such data into a coherent record will require judgment calls. In the laboratory, when we were running certain experiments we somewhat arbitrarily chose to reject any experiment’s data for inclusion in the results pool leading to critical kinetic expressions if the mass balance was less the 95%. (3 different methods were used to assemble components of the total, and proportional error could not be assumed. Even if the run was a replicate and the proporionality was identical to prior runs, if the mass balance wasn’t good enough that data was ‘discarded’. But 95% was an arbitrary criteria. Yes, you can do signficance testing, error analysis, impact analysis etc. but at the end it comes down to making a judgement about the largest tolerable error that won’t impact the data. (I’m assuming that Tamino would have done a far better job….but he wasn’t available to consult on this back then)

    And then there’s this: You are known by the company you keep. McIntyre keeps company with WUWT…and his co-author McKitrick. McKitrick is a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance declaration on Climate Change…that basically says “anthropogenic climate change can’t happen because our reading of the Bible says so”. Motive enough in my view for a politicized version of things. If it’s fair game to assume a cabal of self-interested people here at RC…then what is the yardstick for evaluating McIntyre?

  47. 97

    Steve Fish tells Grype, Dhogaza and Susan to work on their communication skills. From where I’m sitting I see Steve Fish being very judgmental, even remaining so after it’s been pointed out to him how a comment was meant. A case of the pot and the kettle.

  48. 98
    gavin says:

    McIntyre responds, describing this post as a ‘rant’ and ‘fulmination’ (I think he needs to get out more, this would have been a very different post if I was in full rant mode ;-) ).

    In his response he insists, again with no evidence that CRU finished the Yamal regional reconstruction in 2006 (and note that all his claims of ‘deception’ revolve around this). They did not, and his quotes on the topic are not in the least bit conclusive – though McIntyre claims that this is the ‘End of story’. Umm… Not really.

    Curiously, to support his claim that the Osborn email in 2006 was proof of the existence *in 2006* of an already completed reconstruction, he points to a further reply from UEA, which contains an very explicit statement from Osborn making it clear:

    Thus [the email] was not referring to chronologies but to groups of trees.

    It is only an inference that a regional chronology was later produced for the URALS group of trees. Our initial search for information relevant to this request suggested that this inference was false.

    (I should have linked that in the top post). How this is proof that the reconstruction existed in 2006 is unclear. The statement from Osborn goes on to clearly describe the subsequent work that was ongoing over 2006/2007/2008 and later: “This research project is due for completion in October 2012 and the requested information will be made available in finished form at the time of publication of the results which is expected to be no later than October 2012.”.

    Also of interest is that McIntyre doesn’t even mention the main point I brought up. That this is ongoing and *unpublished work*, and there is a clear FOI exemption for this (for obvious reasons), that can only be trumped by a clear public interest – and despite the endless exaggerations by McIntyre about the importance of these reconstructions, that bar is nowhere close to being met. And neither are they for his accusations of ‘deception’.

  49. 99
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Bart Verheggen — 13 May 2012 @ 3:13 PM, at currently #97:

    Bart, the communication problem is that exaggeration for effect, irony and sarcasm don’t work well in an online comment context. In this instance this problem is greatly exaggerated by the fact that the better one is at this type of humor the more it mimics comments by the science denialist conspiracy nuts. Don’t worry, you too can be a member of the black pot and kettle club. Steve

  50. 100
    grypo says:

    I’m getting the feeling that Mr. McIntyre doesn’t understand how the whole premise-logic-argument thing works, or he is too invested into this to comment fairly. In order for his conclusion (CRU scientists hiding data) to work, the premises must 1) be in-line with the conclusion and 2) have evidence to support them. He needs to understand that he must have evidence that there was a publishable piece that wasn’t used for publications after 2006. His letter suggests the exact opposite, to me. I would say it would be worth it for him to seek out other opinions on this letter. He therefore has to drop his conclusion, or merely continue to believe it in the face of counter evidence.


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