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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 To be clear, these requests are for unpublished work.

Second, the unpublished work in question is a reconstruction of regional temperatures from the region of Yamal in Siberia.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. 151
    Hank Roberts says:

    one last digression, to share this wonderful resource:

    paribus
    partibus

  2. 152

    “The weak in courage is strong in cunning.”

    McIntyre should make specific accusations. Not insinuations.

  3. 153

    “Otherwise, the implication would be that institutions could permanently withhold tree ring chronologies as always being ‘work in progress’, leading to an absurd result.”

    It wouldn’t be an absurd result. It would be NO result. Why does McIntyre feel he should have the power to compel the release of unfinished work? Briffa’s not keeping anyone else from the raw data like the Biblical scholars who kept the Dead Sea Scrolls locked from view for 40 years. Whoever wants to can fiddle with the Yamal data till the cows come home.

    I believe it was Gertrude Stein who said, “Remarks aren’t literature.” Unfinished work isn’t Science.

  4. 154
    Donna says:

    Reading McIntyre I get the feeling that his idea of how this should work looks something like – go out and do the measurements I want you to do and then give me that data. Then do the analysis of that data and keep it posted on-line or some place else where I have access so I can see exactly what you are doing and tell you everytime I disagree with something that you did. You should then immediately change to do it just the way that I want. Then you should do the work to get the paper published but you must let me edit as I see fit. If you don’t work this way then you are obviously up to no good. Oh and if you got bored or interested in something else so that you did not immediatly work on what he wants you to work on – that is also not allowed and must be a sign of nefarious intent.
    I’m not sure if having an idea needs to get his review and approval (no idea may be had unless you share them with me and I get to review and tell you why the idea is ok/not okay)- but I suspect that if he could get a FOI request for every idea so he could check to see if you ever thought of something that might prove something or other, he would do it in an instant. Not sharing all idea is also a sign that you have something to hide.

  5. 155
    grypo says:

    Gavin:

    grant-grubbing

    It appears as if this is now changed to ‘grant-seeking’ in the post, a correcting not acknowledged with cross-outs.

    [Response: I don't think this isn't fair comment - I probably mis-rembered what was written. Corrected above. - gavin]

    But let’s look at the quote he uses, as it once again shows the logic of someone convinced of his own fantasies

    In passing, given the usual vehemence with which climate scientists reject suggestions that alarmism is affected or influenced by grant-seeking, it’s ironic that CRU’s primary argument in this case depends on grant-seeking.

    It’s actually not ironic, given the meaning of the word irony. Getting grants because of unpublished results is very different from getting grants for “alarming” results. See the hidden accusation? It’s not the first time he’s suggested this. And it only works logically if his initial accusations were shown to be true, but his own evidence suggests they are not.

  6. 156

    #153 Jeffrey Davis

    As I recall, it was only the cave 4 scrolls that were kept secret. The E’cole Biblique (catholic church/school in Jeruselum) kept them hidden (mostly under the control of Ratzinger), apparently because they wanted to control the message or origin.

    All the other scrolls from all the other caves were translated, published and open for review after publishing for other scholars.

    Funny how it turned out. All the other cave scrolls were dated to the time of Jesus at Qumran using all standard techniques; and only the cave 4 scrolls were dated prior to that time using only orthographic technique.

    Since the text of the scrolls indicated evidence counter to the belief structure it seems they may have had motive to control the message.

    The interest of certain groups to confuse what the science indicates may have similar motives. In either case there is a lot of money involved. Funny that fossil fuel interests making billions are accusing scientists who are on salary of getting rich through disinformation.

  7. 157
    Michael says:

    Gavin @ 136;
    “But I have edited the top post in two places where I made this error – see if you can detect where it impacts the substance. ”

    Ha!

    You think that will matter to Steve ‘The Tiresome Quibbler’ McIntyre!!

    Just the opposite – the less substance it has the more he will go on and on about it.

  8. 158
    Ray Ladbury says:

    McIntyre’s view of the publication process is distorted to say the least–but then given the thinness of his publication record, one would hardly expect him to have a decent understanding of it.

    In most fields of science there are long-term “projects” that require many years to complete. Often, if these efforts are of sufficient interest to the community, it is customary to update the community on progress. Frankly, I think McIntyre’s antipathy toward the climate science community has to do with the need to serve up red meat to his clientele than to any actual substance. He doesn’t understand the science well enough to even see where it fits in the overall scheme of things. How could he possibly have any understanding of norms of publishing.

  9. 159
    Steve Metzler says:

    It’s quite obvious to even a layperson like myself who’s done a lot of reading – on both the climate science-oriented sites and also the contrarian sites – that Steve McIntyre’s raison de’être is to get rid of the ‘hockey stick’ no matter what it takes. He’s been chipping away at it in one form or another for the better part of a decade now, but primarily with the ‘blog science’.

    So why not have a go at it formally, Steve? You seem to have sufficient stats fu. With all that raw tree ring data you’ve accumulated over the years, you must by now be able to produce your own re-analysis that shows the hockey stick to be an artefact of the heretofore faulty statistical methods (or, of course, *cough* ‘biased’ regional selections) that were used by climatologists to produce it? Give us that long-forthcoming *non* hockey stick via publication in a reputable journal. Then the community can at least see if there’s any substance to your claims or whether, to paraphrase your own words, you’re just shooting ‘spitballs’ across the classroom.

    Just remember, though. There are valid reasons, perhaps only understood by scientists who are well versed in dendrochronology, for including or excluding particular regional chronologies.

  10. 160
    Charles says:

    “Unlike McIntyre, most reviewers recognize that the world does not revolve around them.”–eric

    And in one sentence, Eric has, I think, deftly pinpointed a key factor in all this: narcissism. Some of these folks like McIntyre and Watts seem to imagine themselves as renaissance men, leading the world away from the oppression and tyranny of scientists and their governmental overlords. Pathetic, really.

  11. 161
    Brian Dodge says:

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

    And Jack the Ripper had surgical skills.

    [Response:I suppose in your mind this seems funny.--Jim]

    googling around I found -

    “Your search – mcintyre yamal site:cnn.com – did not match any documents.”
    “Your search – mcintyre yamal site:msnbc.com – did not match any documents.”
    “Your search – mcintyre yamal site:fox.com – did not match any documents.”
    “Your search – mcintyre yamal site:foxnews.com – did not match any documents.”
    “mcintyre yamal site:heartland.org” 4 results
    “mcintyre yamal site:thegwpf.org” about 21 results

    “mcintyre yamal site:wattsupwiththat.com” about 750 results

    “It’s rather hard to believe that this data has no import and no impact given the amount of attention it is receiving.”
    Dude – get out much?

    Oh yeah – 8 hits on realclimate

  12. 162
    Steve Metzler says:

    Well, McIntyre got some data from Hantemirov, and it’s only taken him one day to invalidate the entire field of dendroclimatology </sarc>

    New Data from Hantemirov

    But as far as I can determine from that post (and it’s not exactly clear, so I may well be wrong), the data consists of 120 cores, apparently all from the same site #25 in Yamal (70E, 67.5N). So, one would expect them to exhibit roughly common behaviour. And it looks like they might be showing the northern latitudes ‘divergence problem’, because there is an upward trend until about 1960.

    So I’m not sure exactly what value this one particular site’s chronology brings to the debate… but I’m quite sure someone is going to try to tell me :-)

  13. 163
    Phil Clarke says:

    A poster naming himself Rashit Hantemirov comments at CA :- Steve, I’m horrified by your slipshod work. You did not define what you compare, what dataset used in each case, how data were processed, and what was the reason for that, what limitation there are, what kind of additional information you need to know. Why didn’t you ask me for all the details? You even aren’t ashamed of using information from stolen letters.
    Do carelessness, grubbiness, dishonourableness are the
    necessary concomitants of your job?
    With disrespect…

    Of course on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog so these may or may not be the words of the distinguished dendrochronolgist.

    But it is not entirely implausible….

    [Response: Hantemirov is a Russian tree ring expert that has worked in the Yamal region. See e.g. paper here for example.--eric]

  14. 164
    grypo says:

    In his response, McIntyre doesn’t seem to understand what Hantemirov is saying he did wrong. This does not surprise me because he still doesn’t understand why the other series in question isn’t published by the CRU. He also doesn’t seem to understand what the word “stolen” means.

  15. 165
    dhogaza says:

    Conspiracy theory again, on McI’s part:

    He [Hantemirov] has to coexist with Briffa, Schmidt and those guys. I suspect that he’s received criticism for providing me with data.

    It can’t possibly be that Hantemirov’s post expressed his true feelings. He’s gotta “pretend” because he has to coexist with the Corrupt Hierarchy.

    [Response: For the record, I have never met or corresponded with Hantemirov about this or any other topic. - gavin]

  16. 166
    Steve Metzler says:

    @Phil Clarke (#163) and grypo (#164):

    You just have to love McIntyre’s reaction to Hantemirov’s criticisms – which are all very legitimate if you’re trying to do science instead of smear – that is (and he did confirm that it is actually Hantemirov). He just blows right by every one of them and says:

    Steve: all graphics and results in these posts have been supported by turnkey code, showing the precise calculations for an interested reader (other than the calculation from your living data set which I showed the calculation method.) Some of the steps have been shown in recent or linked posts and the present post is not self-contained. But the steps are all shown

    He’s like a delinquent schoolboy who’s left a trail of destruction behind, culminating in burning down the school. And then he’s all defiant, like: “What? What did I do wrong?”.

    He just doesn’t (want to) understand that you can’t do statistics in complete isolation of the supporting dendrochronology work. But even statistics-wise, how can you justify taking one regional chronology in isolation, and comparing it to a mix of other regional chronologies? ‘Blog science’ at its best, I tell ya! And Steve McIntyre is the reigning champion.

  17. 167
    caerbannog says:


    He [Hantemirov] has to coexist with Briffa, Schmidt and those guys. I suspect that he’s received criticism for providing me with data.

    Doesn’t this seem a bit backwards? I mean, Hantemirov is the dude whom Briffa and others depend on for the data — wouldn’t they be inclined to *avoid* criticizing him? Or will something bad happen to Hantemirov if Briffa, Schmidt, et al. refuse to take any more tree-ring data off his hands?

    Of course, I’m not a professional conspiracy theorist — so I probably don’t fully understand the intricacies of the grand AGW conspiracy that Briffa, Schmidt, and Hantemirov (along with the rest of the international cast of evil scientists) have cooked up.

  18. 168
    Phil Clarke says:

    Start Audit Mode

    McIntyre has published (well, posted on his blog) a graphic produced from measurement data for the Yamal region supplied by Rashit Hentemirov, hastily generated in under a day after receiving the data. McIntyre has not archived any details of the justification for the sample selection, error bars, validation, acceptance critria or indeed anything more than the bare source code used to plot the curves. Nor apparently has he performed due diligence and approached the data curator for these background details, which some might argue are key to placing the curve in context. Hey he’s a climate auditor – important things to do, people to see.

    Remarkably the plot has no hockey stick curve, something which those sceptics addicted to these flat plots as if they were crack cocaine have welcomed warmly. On receiving his fix, Heartland expert Anthony Watts felt moved to assert…

    Give it up fellows, your cover’s blown.

    An over-reaction perhaps. Indeed Team scientist Hentemirov is less impressed, categorising the work as ‘slipshod’, charging McIntyre with ‘carelessness, grubbiness, dishonourableness’ and pointing out the lack of data definitions, processing specifications, rationale, limit descriptions and consultation with the data provider. Loyalty to the Team runs deep.

    End Audit Mode

    Sorry, cannot keep it up …

  19. 169
    SecularAnimist says:

    It’s interesting to note the degree to which the denialist propaganda machine depends on cranks.

    Of course the fossil fuel corporations can, and do, pay people to simply lie.

    But for some things, you really need a genuine, paranoid, conspiracy-theorist True Believer. They will say and do things that the plain old liars cannot pull off with a straight face. And you don’t have to pay them. Much.

  20. 170
    Salamano says:

    “…details of the justification for the sample selection, error bars, validation, acceptance critria…”

    This is why the forthcoming paper on Polar Urals/Yamal regional dendro reconstruction is going to (and has been) taking so much time. I suspect the paragraphs on these topics will be of more interest than the data or conclusions themselves.

  21. 171
    guthrie says:

    Secular Animist – you don’t have to pay them in money. Ego stroking is also acceptable. As is the feeling that they are striking back against evil communists/ greens/ liberals etc.

  22. 172
    caerbannog says:


    [Response: For the record, I have never met or corresponded with Hantemirov about this or any other topic. - gavin]

    Ohhh, so you are giving him the silent treatment. Is that one of the ways you enforce discipline amongst your minions?

  23. 173

    #172–Verrrry amusing!

  24. 174
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Me thinks this will be the last time H. sends any data to McI. Color me skeptical…

  25. 175
    Ron Manley says:

    I’ve just had a look at data for the tempertature station closest to Yamal with long term data. Salehard is at 67N 67E (Yamal is at 71N 71E) and has data from 1883 to the 2011. The observed temperature shows no sign of a ‘hockey stick’.
    http://www.climatedata.info/Discussions/Discussions/opinions.php?id=3283134733594426905

  26. 176
    Ryan Otte says:

    I find it sad that people will go out of their way to berate or attempt to refute peer reviewed research (or pre-published work) on a blog while not submitting a peer review paper rebuttal themselves. Someone that uses a blog for influencing the public, while not participating in the peer review process is bypassing the scientific process.

    Keep up your spirits, guys, and keep working on your research. I look up to your skill as scientists, and your integrity.

  27. 177
    grypo says:

    His new post drags Jacoby, D’Arrigo, and Thompson into the fold. He still thinks that the stories he is telling leads to conclusions such as:

    My surmise at the time was that the results were “bad” (i.e. did not have elevated O18 values in the 20th century.)

    By saying this, I am not saying that climate scientists are less honorable than mining promoters. Only that there are great human temptations to delay reporting “bad” results. And, after a while, delay can turn into neglect, without any explicit decision ever having been made not to report the “bad” results.

    and

    Six years later, Bona Churchill results remain not only unarchived, but unpublished. At this point, one cannot say that the Bona Churchill results have been “suppressed” for good; but they have clearly been delayed. A graphic in a workshop shows that my surmise was correct: contrary to Thompson’s expectation, 20th century O18 values were not elevated. They are “inconvenient”.

    You’d think the Hantemirov situation today may have made him think more introspectively on the “dirty laundry” story, but nope. Still insinuating the climate scientists hiding non-hockey-stick data. Still not getting that he is jumping logical steps to get this narrative.

    But in the Jacoby story, you see his final argument.

    The incident also sheds light on the question of when data is “used”. I plan to cite this incident in another forthcoming post. No statistician would accept Jacoby’s argument for a minute. By examining 36 series and picking 10, all 36 series were “used”. I find it hard to believe that Jacoby’s position has any traction whatever, but I was unsuccessful in persuading Schneider.

    He goes on from there. So to a statistician, there is no bad data? This is a really easy but illogical jump to impugn scientists, and the entire field in general. It just brings us back to my original point. He has yet to get to the step where is able prove malice by knowing “why” data isn’t used. The conspiracy tin-foil hat stuff is that he really thinks he knows, and we are supposed to trust his intuition. What more can be said?

  28. 178
    Jbar says:

    TSABS

  29. 179

    #178–

    “Thyroid-Stimulating Antibodies?”

    “The Super Anti-bullying Squad?”

    “True Science Ain’t BS?”

    Wha–?

  30. 180
    Marco says:

    Errr… grypo @177, this argument is coming from the statistician who ran a code which selected the top 1% of hockeystick shapes, without mentioning so?

  31. 181
    Steve Metzler says:

    @Marco (#180):

    Well observed: McIntyre doesn’t just use bad (or out of context) data, he also *manufactures his own* if bad data aren’t readily available:

    Replication and due diligence, Wegman style

    Because you can’t link to that article often enough. Speaking of which, why does no one ever comment on Deep Climate’s analysis of the McIntyre/Wegman stitch-up of MBH98? It’s based on McIntyre’s own archived code that was used in the production of the Wegman Report. Is the analysis flawed in some fundamental way?

  32. 182
    Mike Sigman says:

    Regardless of what McIntyre says and Gavin rebutts, the real problem with the Hockey Stick prediction of Mann’s is that it simply isn’t happening. We can talk about the Aliens coming on such-and-such a date, but when they never show a discussion about how the arrival time was calculated is rather beside the point.

    [Response: Actually the real problem may be that you have no idea what you are talking about. Proxy-reconstructions are trying to assess what happened in the past. They are not predictions for the future. - gavin]

  33. 183
  34. 184
    caerbannog says:


    It’s based on McIntyre’s own archived code that was used in the production of the Wegman Report. Is the analysis flawed in some fundamental way?

    Adding to #183 — Earlier in this thread, I put up a “dummy’s guide” summary of the problems people found with McIntyre’s earlier hockey-stick “work” — see comment #18.

  35. 185
    SecularAnimist says:

    Mike Sigman wrote: “the real problem with the Hockey Stick prediction of Mann’s is that it simply isn’t happening”

    As Gavin points out, the so-called “Hockey Stick” is a reconstruction of the past, not a prediction about the future.

    However, what “IS happening” in the world today, right before our eyes, is entirely consistent with what the “Hockey Stick” portends.

    So are doubly mistaken — first, about what the “Hockey Stick” represents; and second, about the reality of ongoing anthropogenic warming in the world today.

    You might wish to ask yourself, who is giving you the misinformation on which your mistaken claims are based? Why might they be misinforming you? Why do you believe them? Should you perhaps be a little more skeptical of their claims?

  36. 186
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike Sigman,
    Wow! So confident and yet so wrong! It is clear that you don’t even know what the “hockeystick” is, what it is based on or even the difference between a prediction, and observation or a reconstruction. Way to go, dude!

  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    Questions — the same for everyone with an opinion — worth asking:

    Where did you find what you believe?
    What source are you relying on?
    Did that source give you a cite to an original source or is it second or third hand opinion?
    Have you checked any quotations against the original?
    (Be wary of the ellipsis, especially if it was omitted.)
    Why do you trust the source you rely on for what you believe?
    And for the scientists, where is your work published ….

  38. 188
    Steve Metzler says:

    @J Bowers (#183):

    Thanks for the data dump. I’m a fan of both Deep Climate and John Mashey, so I thought I had already read most of the relevant blog posts concerning McIntyre, McKitrick, Wegman, and MBH98. But I haven’t read about a third of those. That’s the way it goes with this stuff: if you’re not in at the beginning, you’re only just scratching the surface. In this case, though, maybe that’s no bad thing :-) Life is too short, and all that.

    @caerbannog (#184):

    I think you misunderstood what I was asking. I *know* that McIntyre’s hockey stick work is seriously flawed. What I was asking is: is Deep Climate’s analysis of what McIntyre did for Wegman in any way itself flawed, or is it iron-clad proof of McIntyre’s machinations/deceptions? For instance, I got into a pissing contest a few months back with a person that insisted the non-centred PCA used in MBH98 generated an up-tick at the end of any random noise series. You know how these things go. They will try to nitpick even the tiniest point. So I want to assure myself that Deep Climate’s analysis is fundamentally sound.

    Funny thing, whenever you point a denier at that ‘Replication and due diligence, Wegman style’ post, you never hear anything back. They most likely don’t even read it. But if they did, would it change the way they perceive ‘Mr. Audit’ in any significant way? I suspect not. The D-K effect/cognitive dissonance is strong in your average AGW denier.

  39. 189
  40. 190
    John Mashey says:

    re: 175
    See pp.207-208 of Fake science and section 3.5.1 of Glaciochemical reconnaissance of a new ice core from
    Severnaya Zemlya, Eurasian Arctic”
    by Weiler, et al in 2005.
    “Assuming that the hypothesis of regional industrial
    sources in Siberia being the dominant influence on sulphate
    deposition on Severnaya Zemlya is correct, the measured
    reduction in sulphate snow concentrations over recent
    decades would also imply a decrease of emissions from
    these sites, possibly related to an economic decline of the
    companies in Norilsk and the Kola peninsula.”

    This is not a claim that heavy industry contributed to the dips seen in the stations near Yamal … but one should never leap to conclusions without understanding the regional effects of heavy sulphate-emitting industries that come and go. I think Yamal is closer to those than the site in the paper.

    [I grew up near Pittsburgh, PA, before collapse of steel industry. Downtown, the Sun was a rare sight and it was usually cooler than where I lived.]

  41. 191

    “…the Hockey Stick prediction of Mann’s…”

    Computer–$1000.

    ISP–$50/mo.

    A clue–priceless.

  42. 192
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Kevin you got those figures wrong…

    Computer at pawn shop – $50
    ISP – $20/mo

    Well, the price of a clue? That was correct.

  43. 193

    #182 Mike Sigman

    I know a really interesting book that you might enjoy:

    Exposing The Climate Hoax: It’s ALL About The Economy

  44. 194
    Mertonian Norm says:

    To the McIntyre-Hantemirov kerfuffle, I’m late to the game here but not quite sure why, if McIntyre has made a pig’s breakfast of the data he requested, Hantemirov (or some scientist here who knows how to do it) does not simply correct McIntyre’s work. I could make a guess, that people here don’t like McIntyre and would prefer the satisfaction of piling on, with justification, but that guess is as beside the point (the science) as the piling on. Like it or not, McIntyre and McKitrick are part of the hockey stick story, and I would think with the stakes being as high as they are that refuting their results is far more important than attacking their characters. Whistleblowers are famously obnoxious, and I believe that by paying so much attention to McIntyre’s personal attributes one gives credence to the notion that he is indeed a whistleblower rather than a poor scientist. In the ideal, everyone would swallow their pride and work under the same tent, taking advantage of whatever statistical expertise McIntyre can bring to bear to further the science. While we are waiting in vain for that ideal to become a reality, though, why not simply stick to the data, the graphs, and the science? I can anticipate at least one response: Yes, but McIntyre has impugned the good names of X, Y and Z. And that he has, but by impugning his in return, are we taking our eye off the ball?

    [Response: Your view on this is appreciated, and I agree with most of what you say. However, while the commenters at RC may get a bit impugnable (I think that is the right use of the word!), and we may join them a bit in the inline comments, the actual article Gavin wrote does not do that at all. It points out where McIntyre is wrong in his methods, and wrong in his character attacks. As for the science, that has been addressed in numerous occasions.--eric]

  45. 195
    dhogaza says:

    Mertonian Norm:

    To the McIntyre-Hantemirov kerfuffle, I’m late to the game here but not quite sure why, if McIntyre has made a pig’s breakfast of the data he requested, Hantemirov (or some scientist here who knows how to do it) does not simply correct McIntyre’s work.

    Maybe Hantemirov already has a job, the description of which doesn’t include “you shall do McIntyre’s homework for him, so he can ignore it and while doing so personally abuse you”.

    Maybe he’s working on the data for publication and doesn’t want to participate in blog science.

  46. 196
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mertonian Norm: “Like it or not, McIntyre and McKitrick are part of the hockey stick story,…”

    Actually, no, he is not. He has not advanced the understanding of proxies or of the paleoclimate one iota, mainly because he does not publish.

    Mertonian Norm: ” I believe that by paying so much attention to McIntyre’s personal attributes one gives credence to the notion that he is indeed a whistleblower rather than a poor scientist.”

    Actually, no. He’s not a scientist at all. Scientists publish.

    And sticking to the data is precisely what the real scientists have done–publishing and advancing when they can, while McI merely continues to “audit”.

  47. 197
    Martin Smith says:

    #194 eric’s response
    “As for the science, that has been addressed in numerous occasions.” But then Steve McIntyre writes another blog claiming the same science is wrong in some other way, and that’s all that is needed to maintain the belief that there is significant doubt. One blog cancels the science again, until someone re-asserts the science. What we need is a website, along the lines of Skeptical Science, that actually keeps score in all these battles. A place where we can go to see the current score for the Yamal complaint: How many times McIntyre was right about Yamal vs how many times he was wrong about it.

  48. 198
    J Bowers says:

    196 Ray Ladbury — “while McI merely continues to “audit”.”

    Here’s the thing: ask for a defintion of a ‘climate audit’, as in how it would read in a dictionary…. tumbleweed or “Unh, dontcha even know what an audit is?”. They can’t even define it, but they’ll defend it to the death.

  49. 199

    #194 Mertonian Norm

    Another few points to consider is that the original M&M work, that ‘proved’ the hockey stick and it’s tree ring analysis was flawed, was actually scientifically inappropriate in the sense that the application weakened the model.

    Statistical methods are wonderful tools, when applied to achieve relevance in context.

    But to make a statistically insignificant correction that weakens a model and then to hold that argument up for the denialosphere to claim science is a sham…

    Well, that is ludicrous.

    Besides. Drop all the dendro hoopla and you can still see the hockey-stick in multiple analyses.

    So what’s all the fuss about. Seems to me M&M made a mountain out of a molehill and then zoomed the camera in to make it look like a mountain.

    Reminds me of the news stations in California in summertime during a slow news day. A small fire crops up somewhere. They show up, zoom in on the flames and speak in apocalyptic terms about how this fire might swallow the state if…

  50. 200
    grypo says:

    The main point being driven in this thread is that McIntyre’s logic regarding scientists integrity is a mess, relying on his intuition – which is basically a conspiracy theory. The “McIntyre-Hantemirov kerfuffle” just reinforces this. It shows he just doesn’t get it or refuses to believe it in the face of reality (it being ‘why do scientists do what they do with THE data and calculations?’) even after having it explained to him in the letter he used for his own evidence. So when Hantemirov told him off, what did mcIntyre do? — He resorted to conspiracy theory — “He has to coexist with Briffa, Schmidt and those guys. I suspect that he’s received criticism for providing me with data.”

    I don’t see much wrong in this thread.

    [Response:Exactly.--eric]


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