Open Thread # 4

Here’s another open thread for general discussion (I’ll try and open these more frequently from now on, say every month or two). Comments not related to specific posts should be posted here.

Maybe Willard and PolyIsTCO can get the ball rolling …

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273 responses to “Open Thread # 4

  1. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Willard, please explain the blog you have and maybe a little of your winking allusions. (Unless losing that opaquenss will end up getting you banned places and stop your ability to operate accross enemy lines.) I’ve never had any rhetoric, logic, philosophy training. I’m intrigued by your take on the discussion methods and such. Also, wonder why your blog is formatted the way it is.

    I confess to being more tired by the rhetoric tricks than interested in them. Am more intrigued in insights into the content. At the end of the day, a lot of the tricks seem like things like ignoring points one’s opponent made, just repeating one’s self (even if the point was disproven) etc.

  2. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I know that this will enrage my liberal friend’s (i.e. the blog operator, Tammy, most of the readership)…but I think that some of the rhetoric games are done by the AGWers as well as the skeptics. Note, I’m NOT saying that they occur to the same extent OR that one justifies the other (I actually advocate a policy of unilateral honesty!)

    For instance I’ve seen Gavin do things like this (in RC comments):

    skeptic makes points A, B, C (as argument).

    Gavin disproves point A, ignores points B, C.

    ————-or even——————-

    skeptic makes points A, B, C

    Gavin shreds point A (successfully)

    skeptic repeats points B and C

    Gavin says…look “A is shredded”.


    BTW, I think the format of blogging and blog comment control (even the “voice of God” commentary) within posts affects the dialogue as well. Even when bloggers have the intention of allowing open debate. I see abuses of this on both sides. And it’s interesting that in some ways people copy each other.

    This reminds me of a forum community (sports related) that started as a departure of posters from another community. The first communituy was hidden (you have to register to even read it). The second community, which was formed as a method of reacting against the miscontrol of the first one (at least in the minds of the the departers) ALSO was hidden. I pointed out to the admins, that this is pretty unusual, not the best way to have a forum. But in there minds, that was just the norm. So even though they thought they were different and were trying to have a better control policy than the first forum…they unconsiously aped the shape of the first forum.

  3. Poly/TCO,

    It’s hard to know where to draw the line. I’m an admirer of Deltoid (succinct and usually spot on). But for me, the comment free-for-all at Deltoid (where TL just lets everyone go at it and rarely intervenes) is a bit much.

    For myself, I do try to answer reasonable criticism of AGW to the best of my ability.

    There are degrees of rhetorical “sins” – I wouldn’t go so far as to label all of this as dishonesty. But one thing we can all work on (bloggers and commenters alike) is to admit and correct mistakes when they are brought to our attention. Easier said than done, admittedly.

    On your previous topic, maybe this is the only explanation you will get out of willard:

  4. Rest in peace Dr. Stephen Schneider. A great man whose passing leaves enormous shoes to fill. He will be missed.

    [DC: See Ben Santer's moving tribute at RealClimate. It's a sad day indeed.]

  5. Got ANY examples of A,B and C for EITHER scenario?

  6. For instance I’ve seen Gavin do things like this (in RC comments):

    skeptic makes points A, B, C (as argument).

    Gavin disproves point A, ignores points B, C.

    Maybe in such cases he thinks B & C are so obviously wrong to people with basic understanding that he doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble.

    Maybe he has limited patience.

    Maybe they fall out of his area of personal, at-the-fingertips knowledge and he doesn’t feel motivated to go dig out a rebuttal which he knows undoubtably exists elsewhere.

    Many, many possible reasons for what you describe as a hypothetical without actually giving us an example.

  7. I see that John Abraham has revised his Monckton presentation. It’s now about 10 minutes shorter.

    Does anyone know what has changed? The denialosphere is a-hootin’ & a-hollerin’ about “another Mockton victory”. I suspect not, but I haven’t seen a writeup of what was actually changed, and there’s no practical way to compare the two versions.

    • Comments I’ve seen elsewhere suggest the new presentation has less waffle and more directness and thus is shorter.

  8. John Mashey

    How many times must the same talking points be refuted?

    [For those listed, this is why I've long used Skeptical Science, for a list of common wrong memes.]

  9. TCO/DC,

    I’ll try to think about your questions and come up with something tomorrow or wednesday. That will at least help me improve my faq.

    I’ll simply say for now that style do matter, and that keeping note of rhetorics improves style. An immediate application: it’s easier to vanquish trolls with light and love than with flames. (I.e. trolls regenerate.)

  10. PolyisTCOandbanned


    I (think I) understand you. Good enough, meta-man…

  11. Proper Gander!/group.php?gid=135508543148017&v=info&ref=ts

    Facebook group supporting Prof. Abraham against Monckton. You- yes you, the one reading this- should join.

  12. andrew adams

    John Mashey,

    How many times must the same talking points be refuted?

    Well here’s a comment I’ve just come across in another forum.

    Eve, Climate has changed since the world began – if it stopped changing there certainly would be something surprising occuring! Whether it gets hotter or colder has nothing whatsoever to do with the tiny amount of CO2 contributed to the atmosphere by humans to the also tiny amount of CO2 already existent. Millions of years ago there were 12 times as much CO2 in the atmosphere and the Earth was an ice ball! CO2 only increases AFTER a rise in temperature. The correlation between changes in the ratio between the amount of magnetic radiation reaching the Earth from the sun and the amount of cosmic radiation reaching the Earth fron outside the solar system is exact and far and away the most important factor to be considered. How much can we control this correlation? Not at all of course. I may add that the Romans had vineyards as far north as York and Greenland was called Greenland because when the Icelanders first went there it was green. These far warmer periods than our present one occured when there was far less CO2 in the atmosphere than now. Climate obviously changes all the time but it has absolutely nothing to do with the puny effects of human beings living on the globe!

    If we were playing denialist bingo we would have a full house from that comment alone. I think the answer to your question isn’t an encouraging one.

  13. John Mashey

    1) I hope gavin doesn’t spend any time doing that.

    2) the rest of us can help, just link to:

    and give the numbers.
    Sensible onlookers get the point, much better than if you try to counter Gish Gallop with arguments,.

    I.e., “Your arguments are so bad there is a catalog of them. At least invent something new, rather than parroting junk” can be implied without beign explicit.

  14. The same stupid denialist talking-points will have to be refuted until the planet is cooking. Those morons have no comprehension of reality.

  15. Friends of Science employs fly-by-night tactics, turns around to accuse climate scientists of fraud

  16. Try this phrase when confronted with absolute scientific assertions from the denialsphere:

    “The blog science is settled.”

  17. Gavin's Pussycat


    Skeptical-Science numbers is a very good riposte, though it requires a little work from you. John’s advice is good!

  18. Heartland published this price of nonsense: NRDC ‘Study’ Misrepresents Warming’s Effect on Water Supplies”


    Here is my response is case they don’t post it (they usually do).

    The study, according to USA Today, is about the next few decades. Schimdt was talking about 2050-2100.

    “The rising risk results from decreases in precipitation, based on 16 leading climate models, and increases in water demand, based on current growth trends. The report says water
    demand is projected to increase by as much as 12.3% between 2000 and 2050.”

    Of course these growth trends may not continue. Maybe people will start moving back to the Heartland! Anyway here is the study:

    Here also is the link to the CSM article for context:

    As for the 2006 study, it goes on to say: “The main exception is the Southwest and parts of the interior of the West, where, notwithstanding increased precipitation (and in some cases increased soil moisture and runoff), increased temperature has led to trends in drought characteristics that are mostly opposite to those for the rest of the country especially in the case of drought duration and severity, which have increased.”

    Heartland is paid by the oil companies to lie. Do not be fooled. AGW is real. It is not end of the world, but it is serious and we need to be finding solutions.

  19. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. I’m an admirer of Deltoid (succinct and usually spot on). But for me, the comment free-for-all at Deltoid (where TL just lets everyone go at it and rarely intervenes) is a bit much.

    Oh, please! Dulltard is an alarmist propaganda echo chamber. Lamebrain Lambert deletes anything and everything not in line with his agenda, while allowing some of the more extreme elements on his side to post whatever drivel strikes their fancy.

    Not to mention the fact that his master’s degree (in Computer Science) makes him an expert on “climate change”.

    [DC: I'd be interested in the opinion of Willard and others on the best way to respond to this sort of comment. ]

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      In this case, just the word “Really?”, linkified and pointing to Deltoid…

    • You could just link to Tim Curtin’s personal thread, for instance. Blows up his claim nicely.

      Also, Lambert’s the equivalent of an Associate Professor at his University, which makes the claim that he only has a master’s degree quite suspicious.

      If it were true, of course, it would mean he’s quite the overachiever … and his publication list would underscore that fact.

  20. As a courtesy to willard, I’m reposting his comments (and TCO’s) from a highjacjked thread.

    willard // July 21, 2010 at 8:11 am


    Here is a first set of answers to your questions:

    1. Will you please give an explanation of your blog?

    Never Ending Audit is what is call a tumblog. It’s a scrapbook of snippets. Texts, photos, quotes, links, chats, and videos. It has no comment facility, so it’s not really a blog.

    Preferably short and sweet. We know slap shots can be witty and funny. I contend they can also be instructive.

    Tumblr is a great tool for that kind of activity. It provides a very interesting bookmarklet that can make you post in less time than it takes to say “hockey stick”.

    I also use the tumblog to keep track of posts I have written here and there. The more one posts everywhere, the less he can recall where he has written what. This might be the main reason why I have this tumblog.

    So, basically, I roam the climate blogs, spot interesting things, click on my bookmarklet, and either post the snippet right now or put it at the bottom of my stack. Tumblr publishes two snippets by itself each day. Everything is qui automagic, really, which might explain the lack of real content management.

    2. Why is your blog formatted the way it is?

    Tumblr provides pre-defined styles. I’ve chosen Chunky, by Sleepover:

    I’ve only modified colors, some fonts and little perks for now.

    3. I rhetoric or philosophy, so don’t immediately recognize what’s going on. could you maybe explain it a little in simple terms, withut the wink allusions? Honest, please.

    It took me time to discover what was going on in this tumblog. The best way to know what you’re doing is to simply start doing it. I’ve be doing this for a few months now and is getting defined

    The main intention is to study how climate bloggers and commenters talk past each others. An hoi polloi always look silly, but some aspect of it is really important. Framing minds is an important business.

    The main intention is to study how climate bloggers and commenters talk past each others. An hoi polloi always look silly, but some aspect of it is really important. Framing minds is an important business.

    See for example your cross-check at RC editorial practice. We can almost predict that any comments’ thread will sooner or later refer to RC moderation policy. As we can almost predict that any comments’ thread will sooner or later refer to Climategate. I would like readers to ask themselves why.

    (See, asking readers to ask themselves is another important trick. I’ll ask the readers to ask themselves why.)

    4. I’m intrigued by your take on the discussion methods and such?

    I have some training in formal methods and can follow the game. Not that I could correct someone trying to pass an “Alain Sokal” trick on me everywhere. But I don’t believe it’s my role to contribute there.

    If the scientists don’t take the ice time they’ve been given, so much the worse for them. Not that I believe they must. In fact, I believe some of what is being discussed belongs in private discussions. Character assassination, for instance, is not something one should do over the Internet.


    If you want to ask for clarification, or more questions, feel free to do so. You can also contact me at the email on my site.

    PolyisTCOandbanned // July 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

    (continuing threadjack)

    Thanks, man.

    I think it’s not just about left/right politics. I mean it is about that for sure. And the same factors in terms of division of camps, in terms of searching for supporting talking points that one finds on political blogs exists.

    But I think it is also about socializing and social prestige on the Internet. It’s about the social games you see on forums.

    Ever look at the Flame Warrriors cartoons? Those dynamics are simiular on the blogs. You can have a lot of fun in a way. And I fully confess to being a troll and playing a lot of games with rhetorical bonking of noses.

    Then there’s the whole web 2.0 thing going on. You’ve got a lot of people self-publishing and there are some neat aspects to that…but also some places where people get confused about what real work is and lose sight of it. (Wikipedia is a perfect example…it promotes footnotes in a way that gets many to use them who would not have otherwise…but it’s also far from real scholarship, is avoided by real scholars, and for a lot of kids kind of gives them a mistaken impression that they are doing more than what they are.)

    And the blog writers get huge egoboos out of the feedback, etc. Watts was proud of his little Internet award! Steve likes having all his commenters! (Too bad, he won’t realize that there is also an honest, but childish, but more worthwhile thrill in having one’s byline on peer-reivewied literature AND that it would push his game AND that he would then make real contributions versus PR public attitude influencing.) JEG pretty much pegged Steve with the comment about how he now thought he was an expert and should be flown to conferences because he had listened too much to his in house cheering section.

    And then real life meetups as well. I think if you look at wikipedians want to get together for meetups with those who spend a lot of time on that site and are moderators….that it’s a similar impulse to the skeptic bloggers wanting to meet for dinner (look at the picture on Lucia’s site). They chat. They enjoy their Heartland visits. They send emails to each other. There’s a tribal friendship (and it does inhibit calling each other out on science points or blog policy…a Eugene Volokh would be much purer about that, but they don’t.)

    There’s also the “it beats working aspect”. Look at who contributes. McI, older and not settled career and out of work…beats pounding the pavement and is maybe an avoidance. I think he’s mentioned a couple times his wife wanting him to work instead, but I guess he’s getting used to being retired at this stage. You’ve got a lot of people who are sysadminds and have time to mess on the net (Lambert, etc.) Others like me that comment a lot and should be working more instead. Lucia, at home. Not sure what my point is, but there’s a nugget in there…

    willard // July 21, 2010 at 10:39 am

    A modified version appears here:

    That’s where I shall update my answers.


    If you don’t mind, I might have other questions for you, TCO. I’ll think about them later today, or tomorrow.


    Deep Climate // July 21, 2010 at 11:50 am (edit)

    TCO heeded the call to go Open Thread #4, yet you continued to highjack the thread.

    If there were an easy way to move the comments over, I’d do it. But there isn’t.

    So I’ll just delete the comments that go to the wrong place from now on. I let through the ones above before I realized they were on the wrong thread (darn iPhone). I’m going to copy all the above comments and put them in Open Thread #4 and then delete them.


  21. PolyisTCOandbanned


    Think about a two by two matrix of comments (of course there are likely more than two axes and two states, but just consider this simple picture):

    One axis has content**. The other has who it favors. So you might have 4 state choices:

    Attaboy comment favoring AGW: low content, social style remark, usually with some snark or politics mixed in. “RC dross”

    Attaboy comment favoring skeptics: same as above but “CA dross”

    Reasoned point favoring AGW: essentially comments that are similar to headposts, on RC. “RC gem”

    Reasoned point favoring skeptics: same as above, but “CA gem”.

    note that length is correlated with the content axis but not exactly the same as thought content. you could have a very tight, but insightful comment or a loquasious dross (although this is really rare…there’s usually SOME kind of real ideas in even a wordy post).

    Also that posters engage in both behaviours. for instance Bender and Dhog are both capable of making points, but often just have “dross” in the form of hands-on-hip challenges.

    Just pick any long thread on CA or RC and you will see the behavior. Just pick a long thread and label how many are content and how many or gestures. You’ll find a lot of gesture posts! (I think you will agree with me that a “you go girl” or a pure sarcasm analogy is a gesture.) I betcha! I’m not saying it occurs to the same extent. And I don’t know which has more. but it certainly occurs a lot on sites of all political persuasions. and why not…it’s human nature.

    Now, I…eh…assert…that moderators are more tolerant of gesture posts (or even off topic diversions) from their side, than from the opposite side. And that this has an effect of refinforcing polarizing the discussion. And it’s NOT only that they might have a bias. It’s that anti-community gestures are GENUINELY MORE DISRUTPIVE than pro-community gestures. An anti-community gesture will roil the water and mess up a thread much mmore than just have one of the hoi polloi yuckyucks on your side chipping in his comments.

    All of this is kind of a longwinded way of saying I don’t know what you should do. I think the issue, though, is much MORE than just that the fellow is a lamebrain (and even though he is on my side, I assert he is a lamebrain), it’s that he is on the other side. He really would not screw up your comment threads as much if he were just a numnutz on your own side. Lynn Vincenthaven coming over, is not as disruptive as some Wattsoid. Realio trulio.

    I know some sites just explicitly say that they will control the commentary to only be friendlies. for instance Democratic Underground (even respectful righties…it;s just explicit…) Same thing with ExtremeSkins (no Cowboys fans…or really, really strict rules on what a Cowboy fan may say…and they’re just upfront about it…it’s a Redskins club.)

    Maybe as I think about it, what you could do (either explicitly or implicitly…it matters little that you promulgate it, more that you figure it out for yourself) is to have a 3 quadrants blog. Exclude the hoi polloi righties? (It;s a simplification, but you ge the concept.) Or maybe just make it 2 quardants. I mean, who do you have other than me, from my side? Of course occasionally you have to gut one of your own team, but then tha’s for something like drunkposting or physical challenges of violence or Palin-sex remarks or the like (or am I the only commenter that does stuff like that?)

    McIntyre justified banning me because I derailed conversations* with comments that roiled the water too much. I actually AGREED with him that this occurred. But I explained the reason above. (I don’t know if he understood it.)

    *I’m not talking about my drunkposting or toughguy routine (my inner Dhog if you will). That’s a different issue. just about the debates.

    **I’m going to confound snark and content. They are separate in principle, but I think in practice are highly anticorrelated.

  22. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Willard: why did I crosscheck, why did I do that…hmmm…

    I’m not so rhetoric smart as you. And it is hard to be self-aware. I kinda just post things without understandin forms or the like. Never had any study of that (at all). althoug, you’d have to be a numskull not to see some patterns of rhetoric.

    So…I might be self-biaised…but…let me tell you I think I might have crosschecked:

    -I think it was true (I had just seen an example of it, actually in an RC thread a few hours before and it was top of mind…honest…you could polygraph or waterboard, me dhog.) I knew I would get some challenge to prove it or to shift the debate to discusison of RC moderation, which really wasn’t my intent and would be a distraction (a hassle to go find the examples and not what i wanted to talk about: RC=bad). Since I wanted to talk about the concept itself.

    -I did think that for some, it might be helpful to think about the concept ITSELF (of a rhetoric game) in the context of someone on their own side doing it. IOW, that if I only cited CA doing it, they might not consider the concept because they were all hepped up by “that side is bad” anyhow. Of course, the other danger is getting hepped up with defense of own side. I’m not sure what the right answer is. Maybe, I can cite sports blogs in the future to illustrate concepts related to the style of discussion? (but then mahybe people lose interest?)

    -there was probably some elements of “thought I could get away with it, since have been behaved lately and sometimes sympathetic”, “had to keep my street cred as a denialist”, “knew it would piss off Dhog and that’s always fun to stick your finger through the fence and annoy the German shepard in the neighbor’s yard”.

    -I will assert that it was NOT (or at least I don’t WANT it to be) some form of centrism or false symmetry (hated it when the USSR and USA were considered same just because they were opponents…if everything is considered the same, we lose the ability to consider interesting patterns in the world. Or if the middle way is always the right way (centrism) we lose interesting insights from challenging opposing ideas and having to pick a side. that said…there certainly are patterns of discussion and of human interaction that occur on both right and left and even apolitical (sports, video games, dieting) forums. And that should not surprise us either as humans are involved. You could think of political corruption. It occurs on both the left and right. that does not mean left and right are the same or that it is not useful to debate and decide if we should go with left or right (clear different choices in policy), but it does mean that we learn that one’s side is not always angelic and that some sins seem to be common.

  23. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Actually if you think about it, what AGW skeptic did and what Dhog did were similar in content.

    I described a phenomon related to the discussion style (asserting that RC does this) and Dhog wanted not to talk about the concept, but to defend the honor of RC, make me go dig for explict examples, etc. and just hijack my discussion of the phenomona to one of how often it occurs at RC.

    AGW did the same thing to you when you listed Lambert as an example of loose moderation. he wanted to dispute the Lambert example.

    But that wasn’t the POINT! who cares if Lambert is a good example of loose moderation or Gavin of not responding to all of a commenters points?! The main thing was the phenomea themselves. (And they are decent examples. And no I don’t want to debate either of them. Sigh.)

    Maybe one way to handle it is just to address the distractor (AGW or dhog) when what they say is not diverting in the manner above. For instance, if you WANT to make the main subject Lambert’s moderation policy or I WANT to make RC rhetoric style the topic (then engage with them.) But not when you don’t. Just blow them off.

    Of course following such a policy, could allow someone (you or I) to sneakily make assertions that might not be correct but are what we want to drive forward. That’s a danger sure…and is what prompts AGW or dhog to come in and call us on it. But still…I think if you’re self-confident that you made a fair good-faith example and you want to discuss the concept, not whehter Gavin or Tim are evil…just blow off the distraction.

  24. Actually I don’t agree that what AGW Skeptic and Dhog did were similar. And that was at least in part because the assertions they were commenting on (i.e. mine about Deltoid and yours about RC) were quite different.

    I made a very general observation about Deltoid (one that I would think is beyond dispute, frankly), while you made a specific criticism of RC.

    I’m not aware that Schmidt actually does what you said, but if he does it surely is not something we see every time, or is as obvious as what I observed about Deltoid. So it was perfectly natural to challenge the assertion (although that may not have happened on a different site).

    And if the ignored argument is one that has been raised and answered over and over, I don’t really see the problem anyway.

    In general, what to let go and what to respond to (and how) is complex. I don’t feel the need to respond to points I agree with, but if I think a pro-DC (or pro-AGW commenter if you prefer) commenter is unacceptably uncivil or takes an argument too far, I do say so.

  25. A while back a commenter made 8 (!) specific assertions contradicting a certain post.

    That comment struck me as legitimate, good faith criticism, and not the usual off-topic talking points, although it took a while to respond (fortunately I did have some help).

    The kicker was that another reader who exhorted me to answer later thanked me once I did it. (I might dig these out if I have time).

    The point is, it’s not always about rhetoric and scoring points. The object is to ratchet up the signal-to-noise ratio. Or at least it should be.

  26. Of course, the problem is it’s hard to talk rhetorical styles without specific examples.

    In my opinion, almost everyone has difficulty admitting mistakes. That’s something I try to work on – and I actually lost sleep the time that I made my worst mistake and had to get up and fix it.

    But some make more mistakes than others.

    That’s enough from me.

  27. PolyisTCOandbanned (7/19) made a claim about Gavin and points A, B, C not being properly refuted.

    Mark (7/19) asked for specific examples, which was also my first thought (hard to refute something that is claimed without evidence).

    dhogaza (7/19) gave a list of reasonable possibilities, in the absence of specific examples.

    Can PolyisTCOandbanned please provide specific examples?

  28. DC,

    Sorry for the mixup. I simply wrote my post in my editor and clicked on the wrong link in my RSS reader. I thought I was at the right place.

    [DC: No problem. Sorry if I was a little cranky. ]

    As to the moderation of the comment, I think the editorial line one takes depends on traffic and motivation. That is, you should follow your heart and do what makes you stay cheerful. Staying cheerful is an important quality.

    You’re already doing a great job.



    You sure like to write lots of words ;-) I’ll see if I can keep up. I’ll comment here later, perhaps tomorrow.

  29. The kicker was that another reader who exhorted me to answer later thanked me once I did it. (I might dig these out if I have time).

    That would be me, but I can’t remember what it was about either. :-)

    Yamal or something?

  30. Wow. Just wow. Goddard has a new post up at WUWT claiming that “temperature anomalies are plummeting” and “now [the 'warmists'] seem to have lost interest in satellites.”

    How does that guy, and his publisher, sleep at night?

    [DC: You may be ascribing more self-awareness on their part than actually exists. ]

  31. andrew adams

    Gavin’s Pussycat

    Skeptical-Science numbers is a very good riposte, though it requires a little work from you. John’s advice is good!

    Yes I have often linked to Skeptical Science but often the response is “yes, but…” followed by another denialist taling point or they just claim hat SS is a “warmist” site and therefore inherently untrustworthy. It’s like they deny the possibility of any objective truth which an honest and impartial person could appeal to – to them it’s just about the argument.

    I guess we have to hope that others who are reading do follow the link and do make the effort to understand.

  32. Gavin's Pussycat

    Andrew, yes, you’re writing for the reasonable readers. Most of them will jump off the conspiracy theory well before it includes the whole known universe.

  33. John Mashey


    1) Have you ever seen a skeptical person change their mind when provided with new data?

    2) Have you ever seen anyone who repeats one climate anti-science meme after another change their minds?

    I have seen 1). I have yet to see 2), either on web or in person. If, for example, a physics PhD can be convinced to be so anti-AGW as to ignore conservation of energy and quantum mechanics (and about 0.5% demonstrably do so, overweighted towards older/retired), then on can expect others to do so as well.

    When I reference SS, I am aiming for 1), not 2).

  34. TCO sayeth:

    I described a phenomon related to the discussion style (asserting that RC does this) and Dhog wanted not to talk about the concept, but to defend the honor of RC

    Let’s see …

    You claimed a certain behavior on the part of Gavin.

    You claimed to understand why he behaves that way, without a) providing specific examples or b) giving any evidence of having asked him or doing anything else to support your assertion.

    I listed an alternative set of explanations, all innocent, to make it clear that without more information, my explanations are as equally valid as yours.

    And you accuse me of “not wanting to discuss the concept”. After listing out a variety of reasons that might explain the behavior you claim “proves the concept”.

    Note: for some years I was one of three moderators on what at the time was the most popular photography site on the internet. The off-the-top list of innocent explanations for your claimed behavior on Gavin’s part come from my personal experiences spending two or three hours a day trying to moderate an extremely busy site.

    make me go dig for explict examples

    The horror! Being asked to back up your assertions with explicit examples! It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?

  35. PolyisTCOandbanned


    Good distinction in that your example was correct and mine was incorrect and that AGW was wrong in disagreeing with your example and dhog was correct to disagree with mine. (;)) However, the point remains of the similarity in type. Both commenters were calling someone on an example that they felt was incorrect and MUST NOT be allowed to let stand rather than just getting into discussion of the concept. Personally, I just gave ya a pass on the Deltoid example since I was more interested in helping you out with your need, the policy issue than debating the example.

    Sphere: yes I can, no…no I won’t (it wasn’t the point, dear).

  36. TCO,

    I didn’t say your observation was incorrect. Only that it was less self-evident, and more controversial, than mine.

    Of course, much of what I write is also less self-evident. And then I do back it up with evidence.

    And, dhogaza politely points out, his previous comment did “discuss the concept” and gave several plausible reasons for this phenomenon.

    And he didn’t even ask or demand an example, he just pointed out that there wasn’t any. I’d say his explanations make more sense to me than yours, where (I think) you are claiming it is avoidance.

  37. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I am NOT going to back it up. That was not the subject of what I wanted to talk about. If some people disagree with it and my failure to back it up means that more people disagree with it, that does not bother me a lick as I was not trying to spread that view. That was not my objective. If it had been my objective, main topic, I would have backed it up.

  38. PolyisTCOandbanned

    DC: I believe at least some of the time, that arguments. points are avoided on RC. I base this on years of observing the place. I don’t feel like building the argument up as it has been done a million times. And it’s not really my main topic to savage the enemy, per se. But there have been long threads on RC bias in the denialist blogs…so obviously the arguments have been made with content and examples. If you want to debate the substance of those, fine (but not with me, as I have no interest to do so.) But of course they do exist.

    Dhog’s comments on rationales was good content and points and I agree that happens sometimes. I believe points are avoided sometimes as well. It’s my honest informed opinion from a lot of observation.

  39. > But that wasn’t the POINT! who cares if Lambert is a good example of loose moderation or Gavin of not responding to all of a commenters points?! The main thing was the phenomea themselves.

    Indeed. That we can see people not really interested in engaging a conversation might be a huge problem. If you wish to engage someone and he refuses, what can you do?

    It is a huge problem, considering that people come in the comment threads to discuss. To discuss with an open mind. To share ideas. To concede points. To stay humble when you do win points. To let other speak their mind and respect it. To stick to the point. To accept being silenced with magnanimity, even if it always sucks. To stay cheerful, come what may. There might be many, many more rules like that. Rules of good manners, say.

    As for myself, I really like the Rules of a Gentleman:

    That said, do people comment to discuss? Really? Have we ever seen change his or her mind by the power of the discussion threads?

    Then, why are we here?

  40. I’m not sure minds get changed very often, but it does happen.

    But I do think minds get “made up”. Speaking of which, the discussion is not just for those “discussing” – it’s also for those who care to read the various opinions.

  41. Good counsel all. But … The Rules of a Gentleman

    Does that mean these “rules” come more naturally to women, but have to be worked on by men?

    (Mind you, my wife is under the impression there are no women on climate blogs anyway, but I digress …)

  42. Both commenters were calling someone on an example that they felt was incorrect and MUST NOT be allowed to let stand rather than just getting into discussion of the concept

    I never said any such thing. I didn’t say I felt your example was incorrect, only that you failed to provide any evidence whatsoever that your example was correct.

    If you can’t understand the difference, perhaps this is why I, as a technical person, feel equally at ease with lawyers and courtrooms, while it’s clear you haven’t the slightest grasp of the difference between opinion and evidence.

    While of course you’re still – despite being sober – lecturing us on your belief that your opinion is all that’s needed for us to bow down and agree with you.

    I am NOT going to back it up. That was not the subject of what I wanted to talk about.

    Of course you won’t, because the truth or falseness of your claim isn’t the subject of what you wanted to talk about.

    You wanted us to accept your un-backed assertion as fact, because as always, you believe yourself to be superior to everyone (with the possible exception of Feynman, who is conveniently dead, therefore unable to tell you you’re full of it and afterwards be subjected to your insistence of personal superiority).

    This is what got you in trouble at CA, and elsewhere.

    [DC: It's fair game to criticize someone for misrepresenting what you said. But, I'm sorry to say, the very last remark (now removed) goes a little too far in discussing personal failings. ]

  43. Gavin's Pussycat


    it’s called innuendo. There’s a lot of that about, and somehow, mysteriously, some of us have developed an allergy to that.

    I, like you, have been actively reading RC (posts and comments) for many years; and I failed to remember a single example of what you describe abstractly. That’s my baseline.

    You know, TCO, the decent thing to do when you accuse someone of bad (well, not-so-nice) behaviour, and you cannot, or cannot be bothered to, substantiate, is (clear, not half-hearted or implied) retraction. You may continue to believe in private what you want; but you grant that making the statement in public was wrong. Wrong because the innuendo, like a bad smell, persists.

    Consider also the asymmetry in evidence requirements: how many counterexamples should I provide to show you wrong (and what would a counterexample look like anyway)? For you, just one clear example would make the point.

  44. > I believe at least some of the time, that arguments. points are avoided on RC. I base this on years of observing the place. I don’t feel like building the argument up as it has been done a million times.

    There is no need to insist on it, then. Why not simply provide a general framework for what you want to talk about without any specifics? I think we must realize and accept that this mode of communication is not suited for conversations.

    People misinterpret your point? Fine. Don’t make that your new point.


    Some say the “RC moderation sucks” argument is blatantly obvious. Some say it’s a strawman. I would contend it’s a generalized phenomenon, having part of the consequence of having blindspots and being side-line sports commentaries.

    More importantly, I think that to focus on RC distracts us from the fact that it’s very easy to moderate without moderating. Look at TAV. No need to moderate. If a troll shows up, nobody responds. If someone responds, it’s to ridicule him in the less amount of words possible. The commenters are disciplined and impressionating enough that the thread regulates all by itself. Not every questions get answered. Not every questions get asked either.

    Of course, when a technical point shows up, it gets beaten down. But are every technical points always relevant? Going for specifics is not always the right way to understand what is said or what is meant. In fact, it’s a really good trick to create an impression of opening, without never really allowing an open, honest and transparent discussion.

    Asking for specifics is a very important tactical. But it can be abused. Every regular readers should know how, and why.

    PS: Speaking for myself, I would suggest RC to be even stricter in the moderation. Too much piling on. Way too much piling on. It should be reserved to established scientists. I’d like to have a site dedicated to real scientific discussions. RC would be a nice place for that.

    PPS: The Rules of Gentleman was a joke, DC. Just a stylish site. For a more serious reference, I would suggest Paul Grice’s maxim of conversations, no silver bullets, but quite efficient:

  45. I guess the reference to TAV was also a joke. I sure hope so.

    Anyway, I haven’t thought about it for a long time, but I did go there today.

    I think we may have to invent a new word for this sort of thing, a blog that is written by, well, a troll (a role which Jeff ID played very well at RC, OpenMind and even here once or twice). “Trollog”? “Trog”?

    Here’s Jeff ID dealing with criticism (I’ll leave it to you to decide if “sod” is a troll).

    ———————-# 7
    sod said
    July 22, 2010 at 7:34 am

    “They can’t explain the fact that data is contradicting their conclusions, so they delete the data. It’s the case with Kelly discussing the deletion of endpoints for a presentation.”

    a serious misrepresentation of what happened.
    ———————–# 8
    Jeff Id said
    July 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

    #7 bull.

    That makes me cheerful about my own efforts. Not so cheerful in other ways.

    Willard, YMMV, and apparently it does.

  46. DC,

    Simply saying, like sod did, that whatever “is a serious misrepresentation” is a kind of trolling. What does it add to the discussion, except the fact that there exists at least one person who believes that and believes also worthwhile his or her or its time to say it without backing it up.

    It’s looking for flame alright. And he got it, in one word: “bull”. We’ll see how sod responds to that, or not.

    Saying why it’s misrepresentation, stating one’s position clearly, showing relevant references, entering in the cage fight that ensues, i.e. owning what you say, would have been a criticism. And if you can stay cheerful while doing it, the more the better.


    Also, let’s not forget that I don’t believe I need to judge the merits of TAV to use it as an example to what I am trying to say.

    I am not trying to say that TAV has a better moderation policy. On the contrary, for me, it has more or less the same effect, considering TAV’s crowd. You don’t need a policy if the commenters moderate the comments to go where they want.

    So what I am trying to say is that **even** TAV shows moderation. That’s it’s not a stated policy does not make TAV a free-for-all. I wonder what TAV would look like with as much trolls as RC…

    The quality of the threads always depend upon the commenters anyway. That shows, if we needed to, that it’s not the quantity of friends that you have that count, but the quality. A rule every gentleman and every gentlelady and every gentlerobot follow, no doubt.

  47. Jeff ID’s original assertion was also presented without evidence or reference to same. Surely a mere comment should not be held to a higher standard than the original post.

    I have little doubt, based on my past knowledge of Jeff ID and sod, that the facts of the matter would tend to support sod’s position. But if Jeff ID is not even going to present any actual evidence, why should I (or sod) bother?

    That’s not just a rhetorical question. As a matter of explict policy, I only research and document anti-science misrepresentation when that misrepresentation gains traction in the wider discourse (i.e. in the mass media).

    For example, I am patiently waiting for someone at the Guardian to address the serious misrepresentations of Oxburgh and Muir Russell made by Steve McIntyre at last week’s panel discussions in the U.K. (Not to mention McIntyre’s characterization of paleoclimatology as little more than “phrenology” or his inability to answer a simple question about attribution of current warming – and don’t get me started on Fred Pearce).

    If the Guardian won’t (and obviously it will have to be someone other than Fred Pearce), I will have to cover it, because many in the mass media take McIntyre seriously.

    Ultimately, I think we have to recognize that there is an asymmetry in the blogosphere that must provide the context for any discussion of blog and moderation styles. Credibility (not to be confused with authority or credentials) does matter.

  48. Another thought:

    Perhaps sod was not seeking a reaction. Perhaps, for whatever reason, sod felt it important to call Jeff ID on his misrepresentation for the record. The fact that there has been no response from sod mitigates against the idea that a “flame war” was sought. I’d guess he’s given it the time and attention it merits, say, a half minute.

  49. DC,

    I am willing to concede that Jeff was yet again (over-)editorializing. I am not really interested in what he said. He talks enough about himself that he does not need others to maintain his persona.

    I am willing to argue that trolling can sometimes be constructive. When it’s to cheer everyone up, for instance. Ok, I don’t think of other instances right now, but I suspect there are.

    Even if there are not, it’s important not to flame trolls. Sometimes, they even have something interesting to say. For instance, VS started his or her or its commenter’s career as a pure troll. After being asked to back up the claims he, she or it was making, an interesting discussion could take place:

    Fair enough, the discussion did not conclude well – imho it was still an interesting bluff.

    So a troll is a troll is not always a troll. Sod could turn into a non-troll by supporting his claim. If it could be shown that Jeff’s remark was a bit over the top (which is not that difficult to imagine doable), Jeff would be shown to have made a fool of himself.

    This can be an interesting strategy, actually. One starts to troll gently, and when people starts to flame you, you revert to a discussion mode. People who flamed simply looked bad.

    And now comes the conclusion that I wanted to reach in this comment: when engaging a troll, it’s important to act with dignity. If it’s a real troll, it gets no lolz. If it’s not a real troll, it’ll have another chance to start to discuss and backup its claims. So I surmise that it’s easier to look bad than to look good.


    I have not forgotten your question:

    > But if Jeff ID is not even going to present any actual evidence, why should I (or sod) bother?

    I too believe that it’s an important question. Let me think about it.

  50. Sphere: yes I can, no…no I won’t (it wasn’t the point, dear).

    Not an acceptable, nor particularly polite, reply, TCO.

    One cannot make a claim and refuse to support it with evidence, not in science, not in life, not on blogs. Or rather, you can, but your credibility suffers. To me whatever point you were trying to make becomes instantly irrelevant. No foundation, then no substance.

    And I am not your dear (that was the impolite part, unless I am mistaken about the implied tone).

  51. TCO,

    I also need to point out some hypocrisy in what you’ve said. You claim not to need examples, because you want to discuss the concept, but your lead in was:

    I know that this will enrage my liberal friend’s (i.e. the blog operator, Tammy, most of the readership)…but I think that some of the rhetoric games are done by the AGWers as well as the skeptics.

    You think that some rhetoric games are done by AGWers. So the point under discussion is “do AGWers play the same silly games.”

    My answer (purely for the sake of argument, since you feel that evidence on your part is unnecessary) is “no, they don’t.”

    Prove me wrong.

    Without being bothered to dig up examples, of course. I know that would be too much to ask.

  52. Here’s TCO’s relevant assertion:

    Now, I…eh…assert…that moderators are more tolerant of gesture posts (or even off topic diversions) from their side, than from the opposite side. And that this has an effect of refinforcing polarizing the discussion. And it’s NOT only that they might have a bias. It’s that anti-community gestures are GENUINELY MORE DISRUTPIVE than pro-community gestures. An anti-community gesture will roil the water and mess up a thread much mmore than just have one of the hoi polloi yuckyucks on your side chipping in his comments.

    Here’s TCO main argument, spiced up with his inimitable remarks:

    Just pick any long thread on CA or RC and you will see the behavior. Just pick a long thread and label how many are content and how many or gestures. You’ll find a lot of gesture posts! (I think you will agree with me that a “you go girl” or a pure sarcasm analogy is a gesture.) I betcha! I’m not saying it occurs to the same extent. And I don’t know which has more. but it certainly occurs a lot on sites of all political persuasions. and why not…it’s human nature.

    I think this “choice function” is quite obvious. Is that what’s really disputed here?

    • That was *one* of his assertions. But a less controversial one than most.

      I agree that moderator or comment response might change depending on the point of view of the comment. I do lose patience with continued, repeated off-topic anti-AGW comments. On the other hand, I don’t see this behaviour that much with the regular commenters.

      I will hold for moderation, and put inline comments into, certain anti-AGW comments. That’s different treatment of course. But I’m not sure I would chalk it up to lack of tolerance.

      Often I do this to forestall the kind of derailment that TCO describes – if I answer, firmly and politely, then others may feel less need to respond. It also serves as notice that continued “troll-like” behaviour will be dealt with per policy.

      I think I’ve been very “tolerant” of TCO. I even agree with him once in a while. For instance, my take on the Jones WMO graph was very close to his.

  53. willard,

    So a troll is a troll is not always a troll.

    This is actually something that is starting to annoy me. People, particularly deniers on WUWT and Jo Nova’s site, have warped the definition of a troll away from what it is supposed to be. In fact, Mr. Watts himself just personally mis-labelled me a troll, and now apparently refuses to allow any of my comments to get through… because I didn’t agree with him, called him on a mistake, and he didn’t want to admit to the slightest failing on his own part.

    The exchange took all of five posts (his, my response, his response, my response, and his declaration that I was a troll — which he left up for me to see, unapproved, before deleting so that no one else would ever see it).

    A “troll” the way you are using it, and the way they use it, appears to be “anyone that doesn’t agree with the political stance of the site owner and his personal vocal fan club.”

    This is wrong. According to wikipedia:

    a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages … with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion

    Specifically, if they disagree, but keep a viable discussion going, with new evidence and arguments, they are not a troll, no matter how annoyed you may get by their refusal to see your own point of view.

    I have sometimes been termed a troll on denier sites when trying to engage people in a discussion about the subject at hand by sticking to the (inconvenient) facts. I am inevitably accused of being a troll as soon as I raise any points to which no one has a legitimate response.

    Then several different people chime in, having a sort of side discussion among themselves, as if I were a recalcitrant child, listening to the adults discuss my childish ignorance (which can be quite annoying when their level of understanding of the science is, well, childish). They disparage me and label me a troll.

    Let’s use the lingo correctly. If necessary, maybe we need to invent a new term for “a person who’s not part of this particular happy, blog family and everyone wants to fight with.”

    Maybe an “interloper” or an “intruder” or “one of them” or even a “non-believer.” Or “infidel” or “enemy combatant” or whatever.

    But not a troll. Just because you disagree with him, that doesn’t make him a troll.

    • “In fact, Mr. Watts himself just personally mis-labelled me a troll, and now apparently refuses to allow any of my comments to get through… because I didn’t agree with him, called him on a mistake, and he didn’t want to admit to the slightest failing on his own part.”

      That’s Watt’s style – disagree, then point out an error on his part, and you’re automatically labeled and made to look foolish by deletion. The man has no intellectual honesty – he’s a fraud.

  54. Spherica,

    I agree with your comment. Yet your experience on WTFIUWW does not contradict what I said.

    First, I was talking first about the art of trolling. For me, as I see it and I believe how TCO sees it, someone simply stating a claim without backing it up can troll. You’re right when you add that the claim often runs against the majoritary opinion of the site where it is published. It is a kind of trolling, as it can attract flame.

    Second, I maintain that flaming trolls can backfire on the flamer and the overall quality of the site. Incidentally, DC’s moderation solves this problem a bit, as the most inflamatory comments get filtered upfront. This is a good thing, notwithstanding the usual complaint that this filtering is a way to weed off contrarian comments, contrarian being here relative to the overall tendency of a given site.


    If we believe we should (always) move forward a rational discussion, and I think that’s what TCO has in mind, we could contemplate the idea that making an unsustantiated claim can be considered as trolling. Note that I am talking here about trolling, and not trolls. The labeling question is not my concern right now.

    If we believe we should (always) move forward a rational discussion, and I think that’s what TCO has in mind, we could contemplate the idea that, we could also consider **any** comment that adds nothing to the discussion as noise. The chorus of cheering fans can also get annoying, sometimes even more than trolling. Piling on a comment that is considered trolling adds nothing to the discussion, as rehearsing an argument does not add information.

    So my own opinion on TCO’s meta-analysis is that supposing that we’re entertaining rational debates where we should always add constructively to the discussion does not refelct reality and does not help in keeping a cheerful mood. It is thus very, very bad ;-)

    For I believe it’s more complicated than that. Sometimes, repeating an argument can be useful. Sometimes, stating a claim without backing it up can also be useful. Sometimes, thanking and congratulating can help the cheering mood of the poster, and we all know how staying cheerful is an important quality. Even flaming can be sometimes insightful.

    I wonder if anything can be useless, after all. I surmise it’s always a matter of taste, or of moderation. An equivocation, no doubt, but I doubt appealing to temperance will convince anyone except virtue theorists.

  55. I think this would make an excellent T-shirt:

    “I am NOT going to back it up. That was not the subject of what I wanted to talk about. If some people disagree with it and my failure to back it up means that more people disagree with it, that does not bother me a lick as I was not trying to spread that view. That was not my objective. If it had been my objective, main topic, I would have backed it up.”

    I’d be fascinated to see how effective this ploy would be in face-to-face conversation.

  56. PolyisTCOandbanned

    More Willard questions:

    1. Is this the Willard, that provoked your moniker:

    2. And if so, can you explain the concept of what he was into in simpler, guttier words? I honest don’t follow the Wiki explanation.

    3. Have you read this book? Thoughts on it?

    4. Sometimes I get the impression, you are not a native English speaker? What is your native language and how do you self-evaluate your English strengths/weaknesses?

    [DC: I guess you mean first language ("mother tongue") rather than "native English". Many might find this line of questioning offensive; I guess I'll let Willard decide what to make of it. ]

    P.s. Questions are meant friendly like. Honest. Not to get all up your hooha.

    P.s.s. And if answering too much, takes your mojo (like an Indian who is asked his true name), please feel free not to respond. I personally hate it when people get too curious about me irl, since I am such a troll all over the internetz…really this is good behavior (for me) you are seeing.

    [DC: Well, TCO, here's a friendly question for you: Are you a bigot or do you just play one on the internet? I mean, come on. Another one like that, and I'll just delete the whole thing. Cheerfully, as per Willard's Rule. Thanks!]

    P.s.s.s. Do you think that p.s’s should be allowed now that everyone types on a computer and text is editable (no need for addendums for clerical reason related to retyping, rewriting.)? Maybe they will go away? Are a remnant of an earlier form of discussion?

    [DC: Let the controversy begin.

    P.S. Now I guess Willard will never start his own blog.]

  57. I’d be fascinated to see how effective this ploy would be in face-to-face conversation.

    Ex-Portland Trailblazer and current Republican candidate for Oregon governor Chris Dudley is running a campaign pretty much based on this technique. We’ll see how it works out this November.

  58. TCO,

    1. No, it’s not him. An interesting character you’re citing there. Keep searching.

    2. Since I answered no in #1, I guess this questions does not apply. (I can say that his criticism of that appeal to authenticity applies very well to the appeal to purity in conservatism ;-)

    3. No, I have not read it. I don’t believe I will, as management does not help me stay in a cheerful mood. So much fluff to justify making autocratic decisions…

    4. Your impression is right. I’ll leave to you to evaluate my proficiency in english. All I can say is that it’s better than my proficiency in german, spanish and swedish. Usually, when I get this kind of interview questions (how would you assess such and such), I have to fight a bit to stay cheerful.


    For me, a post scriptum is still useful, for remarks that are somewhat unrelated to the topic of my comment. Also, I don’t take that much time to write comments and usually revise once, then press the Submit button.

    PS: I might not be able to participate in the conversation until next monday evening. See? Old tricks used by latin scribes can still be useful!

  59. PolyisTCOandbanned


    here is what I get from googling Willard philosophy. Three different people on first page.

    I admit to not getting an instant aha that you refer to one of them. Of course, my immediate thought was Willard Scott. He’s a weather man so there would be some connection to climate. But that seemed a little too American pop culture.

    Anyhoo…I won’t press it too much. Want to keep you cheerful. And there can be quite a sly joy in being the man of mystery! ;) Gotta keep your Native American (see how non-bigoted*, DC!) true name hidden.

    *I bet you really have a problem with my football team. Hail to the Shanahan’s! (um…and note who the brother** of the current GM is!)

    **network analyze the crap out of this, DC!***

    ***is it too recursive to have footnotes within footnotes? ;)****

    ****don’t get mad, man. Please let my posts through. your cheer of deletion is my sorrow of not getting to play around. :(

  60. The problem with TCO’s football team is there for everyone to see, plain as black-and-white, in its losing record. At this point, aren’t their skins simply red from embarrassment?

    [DC: For those confused by the ever-elliptical TCO:

    Note to TCO: No, I don't want to get into a discussion of sports team names and mascots, as it is a topic that makes me uncheerful. Try to stay on topic. Thanks!]

  61. No, I don’t want to get into a discussion of sports team names and mascots, as it is a topic that makes me uncheerful.

    OK, no more da[m]n snyde[r] remarks from me, then!

  62. Back to climate science.

    Tamino’s RC post entitled “The Montford Delusion” (a discussion of Andrew Montford’s “Hockey Stick Illusion”):

    Judith Curry’s long response, with inline responses:

    • Ian Forrester

      WOW, talk about tipping points. JC has been tipped into a mental and intellectual black hole.

  63. And her unbelievable response to Gavin’s inline comments:

    Must reading. Unreal. Draw-dropping refusal to engage Gavin on any point of rebuttal.

  64. PolyisTCOandbanned


    Lot of goings on, both for technical discussions and drama/tone. I won’t get into it too much as it might make you uncheerful (I would find some issues with both “sides” but I know I will get challenged a lot harder on the ones I bring up for one side versus the other.)

    Moving on to the narrative: Looking quick at that RC thread, the last comment (when I looked) was a perfect example of a “gesture post”:

    186simon abingdon says:
    24 July 2010 at 3:19 PM
    #168 Judith Curry

    Judith 82, gavin 216. Go gavin!

  65. Well, I’m happy with another gesture. I’d give gavin *all* the available points , judith curry can have a red card and a 3 match ban.

    I know the CV and all looks impressive. I can’t believe that JC would let a student get by with such poor work. But this wasn’t work you say. Well, you wouldn’t want your students and faculty in a university going around being actively anti-intellectual.

    I fully understand and accept that academics should get involved in popular press and books. But that should be to *enhance* public perceptions of the value of academia. To think that you’re getting in touch with the world at large by abandoning all standards of thought, rigour and attention to detail is to lose the plot.

    You want the general public to better relate to the intellectual world? Go find yourself a Sagan, Attenborough or other presenter who can connect the dots for non-science readers and viewers without distorting the picture . If you’re not in that class of exceptional individuals yourself, don’t let your frustration take you down the opposite road, denigrating and devaluing scientists for the sake of a few populist dollars.

  66. PolyisTCOandbanned

    When someone fails to respond, don’t take that as “winning”.

  67. Just dropped into CA… My bad.

    McIntyre sure does coddle the loonies. Certainly, he’s plenty vague and doesn’t directly and explicitly claim “fraud” or “conspiracy” or “coverup”, but he does let his minions blabber on and on about how evil and wrong climate scientists are…

    And McI is considered a credible and legitimate skeptic by Curry?

    [DC: -edit- Let's keep it civil please. Thanks!]

  68. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Y’all need to chill with the agitation against JC. She’s either right or wrong, but it’s not like she needs to be kept in line or something. She’s done good work and does good work. And has followed the kerfuffles on both sides. And I’ve seen her trashed by CA hoi polloi also. and her students observing CA and discussing it in class liked me! :)

    [DC: She may be credible in her field of specialization, but she is way out of her depth on all of McIntyre's favourite issues.

    I don't think she's thinking things through very clearly. But she has a fairly high profile as one of McIntyre's few supporters in the science community, so it's inevitable that her pronouncements will be dissected and found wanting. ]

  69. PolyisTCOandbanned

    “And McI is considered a credible and legitimate skeptic by Curry? .”

    He’s probably the best of the citizen skeptics. He’s better than Watts or Id. He can code and knows math and all and better than either of those two. Plenty wrong with him, sure. Just if you had a choice between sticking a fork in your eye or eating really hot pizza and burning your mouth…there are choices.

    Although Mike Mann had a damn good point in his WSJ letter where he said that McI doesn’t write papers (like Christy and lindzen and the like do)…so his arguments really can’t be pinned down. I was on Mike’s side there…

    [DC: That's the real point here. One paper in seven years? None in five? Nothing in fact other than false accusations and misrepresentations? Why should anyone take McIntyre seriously? ]

  70. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I believe you should NOT take him seriously. It’s honestly NOT worth the time to read through his meanders. It’s a 5 year tease. Wait for papers. In the rare even he finds a real flaw (Y2K), it’s actually easy to see and the people involved rapidly recognize it. But that is so so so rare…that you should not bother with his arguments. Wait for papers.

    I have been busy spreading this meme and warning conservatives not to think he is more than he is. His 15 minutes are over. I think I actually have an effect. The needle is moving.

  71. One problem with McI is that he insinuates criminal and/or immoral behavior without all the facts. If he doesn’t understand something, or some numbers look wrong, there’s something evil afoot. It doesn’t matter that his ignorance should preclude his passing judgment – he goes ahead and makes the accusation anyway. When someone does point out the errors because he is lacking facts, he doesn’t apologize or correct the error.

  72. When someone fails to respond, don’t take that as “winning”.

    Gavin wins because anyone with a cursory knowledge of, say, Mann 2008 knows that Curry has repeated two falsehoods in her point #7.

    And we know that Curry herself believes Montford’s correct and has not read the paper herself because of comments she’s made elsewhere.

    So her whining that she’s just reporting, not expressing her own views, is also demonstrably false.

    C’mon, TCO, don’t defend falsehoods, you’re better than that.

  73. Derecho64:

    And McI is considered a credible and legitimate skeptic by Curry?

    Yes. She thinks his points are legitimate and agrees with Montford’s account of the process leading to the “destruction of the hockey stick”. Montford’s book is, from all accounts, primarily an organized presentation of some years worth of CA content.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      I just finished reading the steaming pile which is Montford’s book. Thank god it is over. I was going to write a review, but Tamino beat me to it.

      It should have been titled “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by Steve McIntyre as told to Andrew Montford. All it is is a compendium of McIntyre’s whinges over the years and is thoroughly sourced, albeit the source is mainly CA with some denier op-ed’s thrown in for good effect.

      It does however make clear what an incompetent ass Steve is. Tamino said that Montford portrayed Steve as having the fault of being overly polite. McIntyre is as polite as a mugger holding knife to your throat and saying “your money or your life, please!”

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      RN, I suggest you write up the review anyway… surely there are things in Tamino’s you could add to or elaborate upon, or are missing.

  74. Y’all need to chill with the agitation against JC. She’s either right or wrong, but it’s not like she needs to be kept in line or something

    No, we don’t. She’s being dishonest. She’s committed credibility seppuku and will have to deal with the consequences.

  75. I don’t think she’s thinking things through very clearly.

    Oh, it’s worse than that, DC. It’s clear that she’s taken Montford’s claims about Mann 2008 at face value AND HASN’T BOTHERED TO READ THE PAPER HERSELF TO SEE IF THEY’RE TRUE.

    She’s been told several times, in several venues, that Montford’s flat-out wrong and it has been suggested to her that she should read Mann 2008 herself, but there’s still no evidence she’s done so.

    And yet she runs around telling people, “read the book. it’s an eye-opener.” She believes everything in it, judging by comments she’s made elsewhere – then over at RC has the nerve to claim she’s not stating whether or not she agrees with Montford (then adding “read the book”). She’s refused to address any of the points made by Gavin on the grounds that Gavin addressed them to her, rather than Montford, then says “this strengthens Montford’s case”.

    I think she has thought things through clearly, has made a choice, and is following through on it.

  76. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Jolliffe (a BSD) had some very negative things to say about the hockey stick and about the community going to war to defend it. And he “gave me love”…so he must be a cool guy with good taste! ;)

    [DC: Unfortunately it's difficlut to go back and read the relevant threads, which are now in 404 land. If anyone has a link via, that might be interesting. I wonder what Jolliffe's book has to say about PC retention rules. That too would be interesting to look up. AFAIK, Jolliffe never weighed in on that aspect of the controversy.

    TCO, you now have your homework. Good luck! ]

    • Jolliffe’s comment appeared in Open Thread #5, but the relevant comment does not appear in either the Internet Archive or Google cache (although cached versions of Tamino’s original comment is can be found under PCA Part #4).

      It was cross-posted at CA, however.

  77. PolyisTCOandbanned

    A. I don’t like it when people give me work to do. :( I prefer to be more like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid, mysterious and dosing out tasks which seem silly and onerous but end up paying off when bad guys come after you and you use your car waxing skills to block their punches.

    B. I don’t know what you’re talking about with 404 land or the homework assignment (but see A anyhow.) :)

    [DC: Really? Others do understand. Oh well ... ]

    C. Both Mike AND Steve have some wrong and talk past each other (and no, this is not me trying to one-up by being a maggotty middle person, it’s the truth. I have wasted way to much time coming to understand this stuff. Steve is wrong in confusing (at least by omission and refusal to answer questions) the PC1 and the “hockey stick” (i.e. complete reconstruction), that’s where the retention issue comes in by the way. Mike is wrong in that regardless of Steve being wrong, he had text ABOUT the PC1 itself, for instance talking about hockeystickedness being the “dominant mode of variation”. this is incorrect. It is actually the 4th most dominant mode of variation. REgardless of keeping the PC4 (and if you do, the mathematics will treat either PC the same as you move into the overall recon, the knowledget that hockeystickedness was NOT the dominant mode of variation, was something he got wrong in his discussion.

    [DC: MM 2003 did perform a complete, "corrected" reconstruction, though. ]

    D. Have fun briefly noting and agreeing with what I say wrong about Steve and defending what I say wrong about Mike (or conflating the two and being inable to consider them independantly). Just remember, I told Tamino what to look out for in his use of the Jolliffe powerpoint for justification. And Tamino blew me off. And Jolliffe said I had highlighted the key concerns months before he came in and corrected Tamino (short centering being different than double centering or no centering, as well as the fundamental issue of using a PPT for reference vice and explicative book or paper). Sometimes the troll act can be annoying, but I really have followed this kerfuffle for a long time, Deep. I ask the right questions…even if I like to goof around and throw in **** references and the like.

  78. Jolliffe (a BSD) had some very negative things to say about the hockey stick and about the community going to war to defend it.

    Which hockey stick? There are now enough of them to outfit the Maple Leafs.

    OK, I’m posting this at 4:04, coincidentally …

  79. PolyisTCOandbanned

    It might be the second most dominant mode of variation. But it’s not PC1. I’m kinda reaching back and remembering the Steve tendancy to comingle the standard deviation dividing aspect with the short-centering. (That’s something ya gotta watch him on and call him on. I been hoilding his ass to fire on that for years…he keeps trying to squirm away from the flame.)

  80. Jolliffe sums up his post thusly:

    I am by no means a climate change denier. My strong impressive is that the evidence rests on much much more than the hockey stick. It therefore seems crazy that the MBH hockey stick has been given such prominence and that a group of influential climate scientists have doggedly defended a piece of dubious statistics. Misrepresenting the views of an independent scientist does little for their case either. It gives ammunition to those who wish to discredit climate change research more generally. It is possible that there are good reasons for decentred PCA to be the technique of choice for some types of analyses and that it has some virtues that I have so far failed to grasp, but I remain sceptical.

  81. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Deep: Your remark about 2003 is a perfect example of a gesture post. Little bit of snark. Irrelevant to my points (some sort of tuqoque or whatever…willard can cite the fallacy), and makes no sense saying to me since I’ve already demonstreated that I can find fault with both parties!

    [DC: It is relevant. The point is that MM 2003 was supposed to be a "corrected" reconstruction. But they did not implement the MBH98 criterion for selection/retention of principal components, or use any kind of criterion for this. So their reconstruction is more flawed than Mann's, centred PCA or not. It's not clear to me that you have the same understanding of the situation - so be it.

    I've said many times that criticism of "short-centred" PCA is valid (and Mann himself acknowledged as much in one Climategate email). And Tamino's defence of it was ill-advised, a rare mistake . So I'm with you there. But in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter very much. Not after W&A, Mann et al 2008 etc. etc.

    McIntyre and his promoters have a lot to answer for. A few comments back, I asked "why should anyone take him seriously?" We agree that no one should, as far as I can tell. So the next question is: "Why *does* anyone take him seriously?" ]

  82. Dhogaza,

    McIntyre probably supports a losing team (the Toronto Maple Leafs). And he is supporting a losing team in real life too…the deniers of AGW.

    And to add to his woes he believes teleconnections to be voodoo science. Apparently he has not heard of ENSO etc….well, he has obviously heard of it, but he does not understand how it operates/teleconnects.

    • And sadly Judith Curry is promoting McIntyre’s response to Tamino’s analysis of Notford’s book, failing to realise McIntyre has just criticised several of her own papers. Voodoo science is what she has published (she has published several papers on teleconnections).

      Stockholm syndrome?

  83. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Deep: We are not so far apart.

  84. The Jolliffe quote is about as I remembered. He seems unaware that “the hockey stick” doesn’t really exist as “the” hockey stick, i.e. that there’s a bunch of other reconstructions using uncontroversial statistics, including a reconstruction using exactly the same data as in the original MBH paper.

    I believe he was referring to himself when he spoke of “misrepresenting the views of an independent scientist”, which is a bit unfortunate, because it was clear that it was an honest misunderstanding on the part of Tamino (based, IIRC, on imprecise nomenclature regarding centered, uncentered, short-centered PCA).

    He also seems blissfully unaware of the scale of personal attacks on Mann’s reputation and career (perhaps he is more aware, now?)

  85. Indeed, it is useful to distinguish between the MBH98-99 “hockey stick” and the “Hockey Stick”, as the overall picture has solidified over the years.

    Of course, Hank Roberts has made the point that it is more of a wobbly scythe and less of a straight-handled stick. This reflects an emerging picture of more variability, and generally cooler LIA.

    Meanwhile the MWP-modern relationship has remained pretty well unchanged (and decadal warming has continued at close to 0.2C per decade).

    I’d like to think Jolliffe and other statistical experts would be shocked at the shoddy scholarship and politically motivated bias of the Barton investigation and the Wegman report.

    That’s where the vicious attack on climate science really got going, a pattern that continues to this day with the bogus Climategate accusations.

  86. [DC: This point about the term "climate denier" has already been dealt with. Please avoid repetition. Thanks!]

  87. Back from the wild life, cheerfuller than ever, I have found the Jolliffe thread:

    That might help TCO find an instance showing Steve’s “tendancy to comingle the standard deviation dividing aspect with the short-centering”. Where to look: Juckes, Burger & al, Mannian techniques in general?

    PS: I hope readers know why I insist on staying cheerful.

  88. Yeah, Right

    The planet has been cooling since 1998.

    [DC: That is incorrect. No more on this, please. Thanks!]

  89. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I’m bored, Deep. Just seen the movie too much I guess. Blackboard has a dumb thread with tireless rebutter discusison of RyanO’s FOI. The RC-Tammy-Judy thing got hot fast, but got into too much drama not enough content…and I hear the same stuff on either side that I’ve heard before. Here, you don’t have much going.

    Klimazweibel had a couple interesting things, but they don’t get much drama or content.

    Id and Watts are idiots, don’t want to bother.

    NeverEndling was really cool to find, didn’t realize he was there…but now I’ve seen it.

    I just feel ennui. Tired of the world. Back to trolling the weightlifting boards, you think?

  90. AnnieNomNomNom
  91. Since TCO does not like to answer questions, here is what I could find that seems perfect for what I needed. One can start to read from here, the other stuff having been rehearsed so many times:

    TCO does seem ignored, which seems strange, as any statistician who has published in the field should take time to point out errors (if there are any) and educate readers, instead of reporting brawls he started somewhere else.

    Note also that Rob Wilson’s comment gets ignored.

    Note also that Pat Frank’s question do not seem to get answered. It looks a lot like Tamino’s comment about PC4.

    One might wonder why.


    Jolliffe’s comment here is also worth noting:

    The interesting sentence is “I don’t feel I can comment on whether or not this procedure is appropriate without understanding its properties and interpretation.” If that’s true, we can wonder why we should consider that dendro is 90% statistics, unless we come up with a definition larger than the formal discipline.

    PS: In no way am I willing to let any reader under the impression that I am taking position pro or contra on this debate.

  92. In the following thread, McIntyre highlights Rob Wilson’s comment, and says he will answer some time later. No idea if that ever happened.

    However, Wilson himself *did* answer some of the questions from TCO and others in that thread:

  93. PolyisTCOandbanned


    I’ve had the experience with both Tammy and Ross of asking certain critical questions and then having them NOT address the issue, but instead give me a lecture on the basics of PCA. The weird thing was that BOTH understanding these basics was NOT needed to resolve my question (honest it wasn’t, I realize sometimes you might need that…but I’m technically astute across fields and can usually tell where my gaps are and whether they are impacting the problem under consideration) AND even after the basics lesson, they don’t answer the question.

    Stick with Steve for a second: When I ask for quantifications, that’s just a natural IMPULSE of any kind of scientist, heck of any kind of business analyst to “get his hands around” what is up for discussion. The evasions and such from Steve are a bad sign. He has time to write long, snarky, mudthrowing posts (sometimes repeating them years later), but won’t engage and push the thinking. Take me out of the equation: Steve has blathered a lot about “bad apples” (series which are overly influential in the reconstruction) and Ed Zorita challenged him with ‘how can I respond unless you mathematically define “bad apple”. Here, Steve is getting a real practiced scientist giving him a great critical question…and he BLOWS IT OFF. And Zorita is a prince of a man, both in sweetness and fairness. Along with being a middling good workerbee scientist.

    By the way, note that Steve conflates two issues “appleness” with “badness”. (Essentially series of a shape that will be amplified (apple) and series that are wrong (contaminated by non-climatic driver). It’s certainly possible to think about apple amplification independant of badness and visaversa. And his tests and discussion (paltry as they are) reflect appleness not badness. But he’s so warped, he can’t disaggregate the issues.

    Sorry, if I seem coy or unresponsive to your questions. You are a very engaging, bright fellow and I would like to look you manly in the eye and answer questions (sorry, will be long, I’m too lazy and stupid to be terse.) Someimes, you seem to say something and I don’t really know what you mean from your allusions and all (maybe language as well on your side, and my lack of ANY training in formal methods at all.)

    [DC: IIRC, Willard was asking you for a specific thread example of a general complaint about CA you made elsewhere (I'll let Willard say what it was). Then when you didn't, he just made a guess. But the original question was many comments ago. ]

  94. The science is settled! The science is settled! …

    [DC: etc etc (16x in all). A very determined, if tiresome, troll. ]

  95. TCO,

    Thank you for the compliment, and the pointer regarding Zorita. I could find the discussion in no time:

    Most a the times only a handful of keywords suffice. Here it was “zorita” and “bad apples”.


    Besides, I note a recent comment from Motl on CA:

    which basically says: “let’s algebraize this!”

    I also note this question:

    > I don’t understand why the PCA became a taboo on the Climate Audit.

    If somebody understands it, it would be appreciated.

  96. PolyisTCOandbanned


    1. My reference to Zorita is to a comment he made in a thread even earlier. Ought to go back to that for fullest detail.

    2. I think that Lubos is disagreeing with Steve stifling discussion of a technical detail. This basicall fits into the issue that the “flagship” errors of the PCA have small numerical impact. I disagree with Steve on this for various reasons: he raised a lot of the PCA himself, useful to iron out small details, he has a tendancy to go from one thing to the next (any port in a storm), etc.

    3. amazing how intricate and inefficient it is to try to read back through all these threads. I honestly think that McI should write papers and people should pay little attention until the papers are done. There is a place for salon-like discussion and ways that it can do things that papers don’t. But it needs to be in addition to papers, not instead. As it is now, the whole thing is an incredibly inefficient mess for doing real assessment of the subject, of the competing people’s views.

  97. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Addendum to 2, could also be Steve cutting the discussion off because he thinks Lubos is misguided and doesn’t want people on his “side” advancing dumb arguments. But if so, why not argue the specific maths. Also, when he does this too much, the whole thing becomes overcontrolled. Is free, even on topic discussion allowed? Or is the place just a fancy way of Steve advancing a viewpoint? Certainly, he tends to use the place as a method of replying to other people’s blogs and comments, where he can control the publishing (there are good and bad reasons for doing this btw).

  98. TCO,

    You’re right. It’s this thread, from three days earlier:

    I tried to coax people to search for this:

    My Myagi skills might not be sharp enough.

  99. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Will: Which people and why are you trying to coax them to search for bad apples?

    I hope not me…I feel like I lived the damn thing already. Other than Steve or JohnA (maybe some team members), I feel like I read more of the old posts than anyone. I actually went back and read every one at one time. I don’t keep up with it as much any more. Too long of a tease, too little skin shown.

  100. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I just reread that Zorita comment. Good stuff. This also touches into the issue that Steve used “noise” whiuch actually had some gawdawful number of paramaters (20 or 700 or something, hard for me to tell, but well more than a single paramater) to mimic the data. This means that what he had was not really “noise”, but had a lot of the shapes of the data. This was really uncessesary since the MBH short-centering DOES create artificial hockey stickes from simple red noise. But as usual, Steve exaggerates the impact. Wish he would not do this sort of stuff. He was also very oblique in describing the over-modeled noise and when asked about it, defensive:

  101. I often see the warming trend of the last few decades explained away as “It’s the PDO” or something similar. Climate scientists would say in response that changes in ocean circulation can’t sustain a net change in global temperature over such a long period (ENSO for example might raise or lower global temperature on a timescale of one or two years, but over decades there would be roughly zero net change).

    What kind of arguments and data support the assertion that ocean circulation can’t be responsible for warming on a timescale of decades, and that some sustained forcing (e.g. solar or GHGs) must be causing a long-lived energy imbalance?


  102. I find these arguments about PDO, ENSO and the rest quite frustrating. These are all just circulation mechanisms.

    What gets circulated depends on how much heat has accumulated in various bodies of water at various depths. The circulation events affect heat and precipitation in different places, but none of this affects heat exchange between the top of the atmosphere and space.

    The fact is that the excess CO2 within the atmosphere unbalances the radiative transfer out of the atmosphere. Which leaves a whole lot more hot stuff swirling around in the washing machine of oceans and atmosphere. It’s all got to circulate somewhere somehow.

    • Thanks adelady, guthrie and DC – all helps my understanding of the mechanisms involved. Appreciated.

  103. Oh dear.
    Heat has accumulated **in the atmosphere and in** various bodies of water…..

  104. TCO,

    Thank you for your last link. Really interesting read! I think it fulfills my previous request.

  105. Reading back a bit of CA, I stumbled on this interesting post from Judith Curry (Sep 29, 2006 at 5:18 AM):

    > Steve, for the record I agree absolutely with you that scientistst MUST:
    1. make data publicly available
    2. document upon publication the methods used in the research so that the results are reproducible
    3. answer questions regarding the data/methods from anyone seriously trying to reproduce the results
    4. disclose funding

    > If this is not happening (and it seems not to be), the blame is on the funding agencies, public institutions that employ the scientists, and the scientific journals. Individuals may try to skate around this accountability, but these other groups have the power to insist through not funding, not promoting, not publishing, etc those who fail consistently to provide this accountability. However, government intimidation of scientists (Mann, Lindzen, whoever) is a bad thing.


    Ah, the good old days.

  106. A bit later in the same thread, it gets even better:

    Ah, the good old days.

    • Thanks for that one, Willard. I posted it at RC as a hopeful reminder for Dr Curry (with an H/T to you of course).

  107. As many of you are probably aware, it’s not just Canada, Australia or the US where climate denialism runs rampant. Allow me to share my frustration about my own little corner of the world. In my home country, the Netherlands, general elections were recently held and as a result a new right wing party emerged as one of the biggest political players. It is currently in negotiation for the government coalition. The following text is translated directly from their political manifesto (‘partijprogramma’):

    “The subsidized Green movement has to come up with new issues all the time in order to maintain the flow of subsidies. Everytime they are helped in this by their henchmen at the public broadcasting organisation. Thus we bounce from ‘acid rain’ to ‘hole in the ozon layer’ to the Brent Spar affair. The latest hype is called global warming

    The climate is changing, of course, but it always does. Man cannot set the earth’s temperature any higher or lower. What’s more, the global temperature has been declining since 1998. Meanwhile socialists employ these climate theories to do what they always want: higher taxes, feelings of guilt and a lot of regulation -while only 3 to 4 percent of all CO2 emission is produced by man. The rest is produced by nature itself (vulcano’s, oceans and swamps). We have to stop panicking about the earth warming and we have to stop giving money to an unproven climate hype. Eventually we should get rid of European climate commitments. We are against capturing and storing CO2 underground.”

    I go trough the text line by line over here,
    but I guess most readers on this site can spot a lot of the errors in the text from a mile away.

  108. Uh, oh.

    First I got this “503 Service Temporarily Unavailable” message at

    Service Temporarily Unavailable

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

    Now, about a half hour later, error 500:

    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, [no address given] and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

  109. Hmmm, now it says:

    504 Gateway Time-out

    Anyone, else having problems connecting to RC?

  110. Dhogaza, not really funny.

    Well, whatever, I was just trying to think of a humorous way to say that I’m guessing it’s been hacked.

    I’ve never been in the least bit ambiguous about how I feel about people who hack other people’s servers.

  111. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Willard, that make me a stick thread is a mess:

    -the vast majority of the content does nothing to support the final important point
    -you’re forced to wade through a bunch of stuff, not knowing what the important point will be. Since the material is already intractate, this is double cruelty.
    -some random stuff (other issues with the algorithm) that has nothing to do with the main point, but are still slams…so do you blow of adressing that or what?
    -illogical comments about how proxies are only supposed to be a climate signal plus low level noise.
    -commetns like telling us to look at the proxy graphs and see the noise structure: say wuh?
    -silliness mixed in (the rhyme)
    -stuff that he’s already said before being repeated (the calibration period, series flipping thijng)


    the whole thing is a mess….just even to read it and try to react to it. No one should bother. when he has clear thoughts and points, he can make them. But the blog posts are a buttawful mess. Oh…and most of the comments are just low level hoi polloi with piling on gestures, rather than actually discussing the (complicated) concepts.

  112. PolyisTCOandbanned

    For all that said, McI might even have a good point. It’s just way, way, way too crappy of a discussion to expect anyone to read it. I’ll wait for something more logical. Am blown away that McI touts his business analysis and presentations. He’s a hot juicy mess of stream of conscious mind wandering.

  113. By the way, here’s the post that TCO is talking about:

    McIntyre’s “no-dendro no-tiljander” recon emulation goes down from 1000-1100, whereas the original goes up. There’s no good match anywhere. (This comment has a nice overlay that makes that clear).

    Part of McIntyre’s explanation for the overall difference is that Mann kept the dreaded Luterbacher series (quasi-instrumental) in. But those only go back to the 17th century, IIRC.

    From the description, McIntyre simply took all the proxies that stretch back to 1000 and built the recon from those. So that would appear to be a major difference, as Mann’s method includes increasing number of proxies as one gets closer to 2000, AFAIK (“stepwise” reconstructions).

    But none of that would explain the difference, say, from 1000 to 1200. All of Mann’s CPS variations appear to have some coherence with each other – McIntyre’s not so much.

    He’s got the Matlab code all gift-wrapped, something he screamed about for years. Why doesn’t he just run that instead of rolling his own?

    I would think this exchange would appeal to our inner Willard.

    Hmmm … I also notice in that comment, McIntyre refers to the “stepwise” reconstructions. So why didn’t he do that?

    Maybe he’s trying to show the difference between the “stepwise” method and using only the proxies that go back to 1000 for the whole millennium. But then he should say that’s his point (which is unconvincing to me anyway). This way, he builds the reconstruction according to what he claims are “Mannian” methods, and then announces that they don’t match – because, as it turns out, he didn’t actually use Mann’s method.

    And he still needs to show a better match in the 1000-1200 period.

    Enough guessing games …

  114. Gavin has a more thorough explanation at RC in his in-line to this comment by pjclarke.

  115. Regarding the “stepwise” method of reconstruction, Gavin says:

    First off, after a 7 years you’d think that he [McIntyre] would be aware that the reconstructions are done in a step-wise fashion – i.e. you use as much information as is available as far back as you can. Back to 1500 you use everything that goes back that far, back to 1400 a little less etc. So a proper no-dendro/no-Tijl reconstruction will not just be made with what is available in 1000AD.

    Now let’s look at what McIntyre says about the figure and his reconstruction:

    Here’s where I think the difference lies. Mann’s graphics all show the results of spliced reconstructions rather than what you get with proxies going back to AD1000. The provenance of the network used in Mann’s November 2009 revision of a figure in his SI isn’t described as clearly as it might be. My interpretation of the figure is that the network includes 71 Luterbacher gridded European series which use instrumental temperature data. [Emphasis added]

    In this comment exchange (the same one I referred to above), McIntyre first refuses to explain what he meant, while snidely implying that his exposition is much clearer than Mann’s original article:

    scientist Posted Jul 30, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    * Splicing or mixing?
    ** the whole thing is a reconstruction, no? What do you mean by the term in plural? Do you mean proxies? Some sort of intermediate results (by grid square)?

    Really hard for me to follow your explanation and I’ve followed this thing for a while. It sounds like you’re talking to yourself, not explaining a concept to the readers.

    Steve: If you find my explanations unhelpful, you can always consult the original article.

    Then under further prodding, McIntyre makes clear that he does understand the “stepwise reconstruction” method (and continues to gratuitously insult the questioner, while indulging in self-puffery):

    scientist Posted Jul 30, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    A. Someone else’s writing does not excuse yours.

    B. Editorial demands make papers easier to read than stream of consciousness, same-day-published blog posts.

    C. Clear writing is clear thinking. In science, engineering, business, military, etc.

    D. You don’t even have a citation for the “original article”.

    Steve: there is a link to Mann’s website. Mann does stepwise reconstructions. “Splicing” of reconstructions means splicing of the stepwise reconstructions. In any given blog post, I’m afraid that I don’t necessarily re-define terms and, to that extent, some familiarity with the methods is often presumed on the part of readers. I try to write clearly, but unfortunately I don’t have time to recap things in each blog post. There are other excellent climate blogs if you want articles on a more popular level. Or other posts at this blog may interest you.

    So … did McIntyre really think that the “no dendro” figure was unclear? Or was this just an excuse to show a reconstruction that is less of a “hockey stick”, even though it in no way corresponded to Mann’s methodology?

    Let’s see how unclear figure S8a (revised or otherwise) was. The legend clearly shows that the various sub-networks are compared to the original (i.e. full “stepwise”) CPS reconstruction :

    original NH CPS
    NH CPS minus 7
    NH CPS w/o tree rings
    NH CPS minus 7 w/o tree rings
    Instrumental Record

    So there’s no reason to think any of these networks used anything other than the original stepwise reconstruction method, nor that they would exclude any other proxies than those explicitly stated.

    Not only that, but on “Mann’s website (referred to by McIntyre) we even find:

    The previously posted version of the figure had an error due to incorrect application of the procedure described in the paper for updating the network in each century increment. In the newly corrected figure, we have added the result for NH CPS without both tree-rings *and* the 7 potential “problem series.” [Emphasis added]

    And on top of all that, McIntyre’s reconstruction descends from 1000 while Mann’s rises, so it doesn’t even match in the 1000-1100 step!

    Incompetence, dishonesty, or both? You decide.

  116. PolyisTCOandbanned

    The mixing in of non-related material (90% of that post has nothing to do with the pro/con of stepwise regressions…BUT still contains either snark or unrelated technical issues…that kinda distract the discussion. It’s like encumbent on you to follow all that other stuff, weed through it, just IN CASE it might be related to the point at hand. What a mess.

    The “background” is really poorly done. So scatterbrained that it actually makes it harder to follow what is up for discussion. And he doesn’t use citations to papers (as the entire universe of scientists, college students, heck high school wikipedians does). Nor does he do helpful links to the relevant previous posts (which themselves ought to be clear well-written material but ar not). Instead, he basically says “read the blog”. It has over a thousand posts and over a hunderd thousand comments.

    It’s a NeverEndingAudit. A mess. If you “like his side”, then you excuse it. Well, I like his side…but I don’t like it.

    This stuff is actually not that tricky. But he just jerks around for years and years and never drives any issues through to a real point. The whole thing is just an excuse to get attaboys from hoi polloi or old retired warhorses.

    I’m fully aware that there are interesting issues in play and VERY OPEN to the possibility that Mike may not be doing the analyses most shrewdly. But guys like Von Storch/Zorita, Huybers, Smeardon, Christenson(sp?) are the ones who are clearly labeling the issues and running tests to look at them.

    McI is just a yuckyuck who doesn’t even come to the point of making.,,points. He’s not even wrong.


    And I say all of this, leaving open the possibility that he might be right that judgement of the MWP distinctiveness should only be done in the context of proaxies spanning the entire period (note, this is NOT the same problem as trying to draw the best recon over the entire period). But if so, make the case clearly. Show me some sort of logical hypothesis test style of thinking. Cite the literature or textbooks (it’s really an argument on sampling versus hypothesis tests, can consider it independant of climate context).

  117. I have done a little research into the background of Herr McIntyre. I have not seen this info on the internet before. He has deep connections to the oil and gas industry that is not apparent on the surface. IMHO he is independently wealthy and much of his wealth depends on the price of oil :)

    Steve McIntyre is probably independently wealthy. With many shares/options in a number of mining/oil venture companies.

    Some background history as to why I think this:

    Steve McIntyre worked for Noranda mining company from 1972 to 1988. I have not found what positions he held there.

    In 1998 he founded Timmins Nickel with another Noranda employee to rework a nickel mine in Timmins that Noranda had worked on.
    I would assume he had shares/salary etc while there.

    in 1991 Timmins Nickel went bankrupt, and he somehow he became President and Director of Dumont NIckel.
    He resigned in 2002 to “persue other interests”
    One would assume again a good salary, shares and options being president of the company.

    His “consulting” with the government really was a presentation at a committee meeting where he was complaining about the provisions of Bill 70 and how it would affect company directors (ie himself). It was not like he was invited for consultation.

    Now Steve was also President and whole owner and founder of a holding company “Northwest Explorations Inc” which had a wholely owned subsidiary “Norhwest Exploration Company Limited”

    “Northwest Explorations Inc” was involved in gold mining prospects in Guyana.$1.2+Million…-a019733617

    In 1999 Cgx Energies Inc. did a reverse takeover of Northwest explorations and Steve became an employee:
    maybe someone can explain to me the details here of the transaction.

    Note that in the reverse takeover, Steve probably received cash/cgx shares/cgx options.

    It’s interesting that one of the sitting members of the board of directors of CGX is from Dumont Nickel :)

    Where did CGX get the money to do the reverse takeover? It has in fact a wholey owned subsidiary CGX Resources Inc. incorporated in the Bahamas in 1997, where the money came from.
    Gee, I wonder where the money for *that* company came from?

    So in 2002, having left Dumont Nickel and no longer being employed by CGX, McIntyre took off on his anti AGW spree having been “recruited” by someone… Maybe a friend he plays squash with…

    Note however CGX share value is tied to the price of oil…

    and that the CGX properties just happen to be next to a large Exxon property.

    [DC: I'd always understood that McIntyre was mining stock promoter, who cashed out at some point. It's not clear what he did as a "consultant" for CGX after the takeover.

    I tend to think his motivation is not primarily financial, although I wouldn't necessarily the same for those who promoted him so assiduously behind the scenes, especially back in 2005-2006.

    I think BigCityLiberal had some of this info on McIntyre's background, but I don't have the link handy. ]

  118. To follow up on TCO’s point, I noticed that Gavin wrote in his response, “… given all of the bluster about validation statistics, he never seems to compute any. ” Wouldn’t some kind of validation be useful to decide what proxies to select (besides “I don’t like tree rings”)?

  119. Another important detail lost in McIntyre’s proxy onslaught:

    To illustrate the calculation, I’ve picked the AD1000 Mann 2008 data set as an example since it covers the MWP. I’ve used the late-miss version (calibration 1859-1949) to work through, since it will give a look at any potential “divergence problems” in non-dendro data.

    This appears to mean McIntyre’s reconstruction is based on only those proxies that pass screening for 1859-1949, rather than the whole calibration period up to 1995. No wonder even his 1000-1100 century portion doesn’t match.

    I’m also wondering how the whole calibration period (whether up to 1949 or up to 1995) can end up almost all below 0.

  120. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Those mining companies are pieces of s**t. Read some of the old annual reports. The only thing they made money for was the promoters and employees. They didn’t do squat in terms of shareholder returns. They’re very classic Canadian mining pennystock shell companies.

  121. Gavin's Pussycat

    DC, has to your knowledge McIntyre ever replicated the main reconstruction (CPS, as he doesn’t understand RegEM, an assertion I am willing to take his word for ;-) ) from Mann et al. 2008?

    That would be the first thing to check, to make sure there are no software issues.

    • AFAIK, he relied on his acolytes for that, and I don’t know if they got all the way. I don’t think McIntyre ever did it in R.

      But McIntyre did replicate the screening step in his inimitable fashion. “Pete” and I were both there.

      which followed:

      Picking through those might make Willard cheerful.

      As it happens, “Pete” is back at CA pointing out McIntyre’s annoying habit of quoting statistical arguments out of context, in this case concerning r2.

      There, we also learn that McIntyre takes plagiarism very, very seriously.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      DC, thanks. I’m happy someone is keeping up with that, for I honestly cannot be bothered :-(

      Brings me to an interesting question on your background with this: did you by any chance start out as an ‘auditor’ but got wise?

      Don’t answer if it would give away too much.

      [DC: No, I was never an "auditor". I did perhaps take McIntyre somewhat more seriously in the beginning than I should have, but in general I was always of the opinion that the "skeptic" arguments (or rather lack thereof) were very convincing - for AGW.

      I started out by researching Friends of Science and their funding through a bogus research account at the University of Calgary. ]

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      DC just for fun I went to the “Pete” comment (is this the same as MrPete on some blogs?), and of course he is completely right about RE vs. r^2: the general unsuitability of the latter in verification, but its appropriateness again in calibration. This isn’t anything that you need ‘hard math’ or a textbook reference, or even Wahl and Ammann for to establish, it follows from first principles and understanding what you’re trying to achieve. It really isn’t rocket science.

      On RC “ThinkingScientist” tried to make the same point pushed by McI in his reply to Pete… what is it with these auditors? Why would anyone take them seriously pulling such a rhetorical stunt? I’m lost for words.

    • McIntyre’s penchant for quoting out of context is well known.

      He is particularly fond of this technique in statistical argument.

      Here’s another example from that same post:

      Uh, Gavin and The Team that Can’t Shoot Straight, the idea of testing a “frozen” AD network is discussed in Mann et al 2008:

      Results for all methods were compared by using both a ‘‘frozen’’ network (7–9, 13) consisting only of proxies available back to at least A.D. 1000 and a ‘‘stepwise’’ approach (15, 16) that makes use of the increasing numbers of proxy data that become available as time progresses.

      Maybe Gavin can explain why the frozen AD1000 network was “proper” in Mann et al 2008.

      It won’t surprise anyone to learn that the PNAS quote concerns validation using calibration sub-period (it turns out EIV “validates” a lot farther back than CPS when you take out dendro).

      There is no “frozen” reconstruction presented.

      I may have to do a post on this and get readers to submit other examples. Why should I do all the work?

      P.S. No, Mr. Pete and Pete are polar opposites. Kinda like “Shallow Climate” and Deep Climate (although I appreciate this odd tribute).

    • PolyisTCOandbanned

      GP: I remember Wegman being asked about the r2 and making some comment about ‘that’s not really the right metric’. I’ve been challenged to find it and couldn’t. But I remember it.

  122. TCO,

    Do you know the details of the workinds of a reversal take-over?

    One could surmise that a reversal take-over is an apt metaphor to express what Steve does.

  123. I also like this comment of McI’s on the “Make a stick” thread…

    “My snippy point about Wahl’s background arises only because I get a little tired of the idea that Wahl and Ammann are some sort of statistical authorities. They’re not. I’ve read their work very carefully and I find it very dull and uninteresting – which is the main reason that we haven’t bothered submitting a response.”

    “Dull and uninteresting”? If and only if something is exciting and interesting does McI consider it worthy? That’s just a copout on his part – handwavy subjective dismissal.

  124. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Willard, “no”. I have a little experience in M&A, but more traditional deals.

    Wikipedia has a definition and discussion of reverse takeovers. Evidently, they are the purchase of a shell public corporation by a private company that wants to be a public entitiy (typically to sell stock to the public, later).

  125. PolyisTCOandbanned


    I remember the discussion of subperiods. I pointed out that in extreme, if your view is that a proxy is always a proxy, you could construct subperiods of decades and reject any proxy that did not pass every single decade. It either got censored or was in a different thread. (The blog is huge and hard to search so I’m not sure, plus some of Steve’s moderators are even more censoring than Steve (e.g. RomanM).

    It should be obvious that the harder we make a test, the more false positives we screen out, but also more false negatives we create. This is NOT to take a position of whether Mike’s test was sufficiently tough. Just to say that this is intuitively how stats works. And Steve kind of blows me away with his failure to think this way. It should be obvious that a recon can exist with some bad proxies. A temp average with some bad stations. But he never really seems to step back and think about things…he’s so attack dog mode that he has blinders on to thinking about problems.

    I think it’s actually very interesting to think about what requirements a proxy should have to pass. how we avoid just passing two things with linear trends (Zorita would make the point that this is a single degree of freedom) vice some sort of “wiggle matching). I’m pretty FAR from understanding the intricacies of this. But I know enough to see that Steve does not clearly state and prove a point. The discussion of his is just a mess…

  126. Re: BigCityLib on McIntyre background:
    BCL provided this in 2007 and this in 2009,.

    [DC: Thanks!]

  127. Gavin's Pussycat

    TCO, DC,

    one wonders if the general messiness and rambling nature of CA posts and comment threads is ‘by design’, an obfuscation tactic to intentionally complicate any authoritative take-down.

    I remember how Brian Angliss made a claim on something he thought McIntyre had claimed, but it turned out that, in his convoluted way, McI had actually claimed something slightly different, and Brian ended up retracting.

    Why am I reminded of the back of a certain smokey jazz cafe in Mos Eisley?

  128. I do not think that McI is movitated by money either, tho he probably has lots of it.

    I think it is strictly polictical (Libertarian/Objectivist) motivation.

    I think he was probably recruited due to his skill in helping write very persuasive “prospecti” for the mining companies he fronted. Many (if you have read a few) all try to convince you to part with your money by various sleight of hand verbiages :), a manner of bending the truth without getting into legal trouble.

  129. PolyisTCOandbanned


    I think most of it is not by design, but just a sign of the general amateurness of the whole crew. McI might be the best of the bunch, but the tendancy to do stuff half-assed and not drive to answers and play “let’s put on a show, like some sort of Bing Crosy White Chistmas” is just a sign of the whole thing. I think you all underestimate how social the thing is. People participate on the net to play flame warrior, to have an alternate reality, etc. Emailing amongst Watt, etc. Having dinner. It’s a big part of the draw. And then actually getting interviewed every now and then makes them feel legit.

    I think that when pressed, that McI is evasive. but honestly, I think 90% of internet debaters are. It’s not a denialist flaw, but a human one.

  130. PolyisTCOandbanned

    The solution of course, to the above problem is just to blow off the denialists until they at least capture their thoughts in well written papers.

  131. harvey,

    I don’t see writing as McIntyre’s strong suit. His exposition is confused, reflecting his somewhat disorganized train of thought.

    In fact, I think that’s the reason he needs a co-author to get things fit for publication.

    Speaking of which, it would be great if one could just wait for papers and critique those. Unfortunately, McIntyre has influence well beyond the merits of his work or publication record.

    I do think it is not useful to expend too much energy on specific issues with McIntyre until they get traction in the mainstream media. That’s why I haven’t bothered with posts on “paleo-phrenology” or the 1000AD “frozen” reconstruction.

    And even the “Open Thread” comments only happened because TCO sucked me into it. :)

  132. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Harvey, I will (and have) said that part of what McI does is to try to have it both ways by not exactly making assertions. This means he can sort of get the intent/impact without having to defend himself. (The “tada” style of argument is a part of this pattern. He’ll mention something, imply an inference, but never directly make the statement.)

    Normally, I would try to give an opponent the benefit of the doubt and not require mathematical, legal precision…and just be generous with them. But with McI this pattern happens way too much and needs to be called out.

    I have several times seen him when pressed on something say “but I never said THAT”. Once, I kind of got him on this in reverse. He was trying to take credit for a prediction or a validation or soemthing…and I reminded him that he had not made an explicit assertion. He tried to say “of course” he was talking about the subject, but I just reminded him that he had not made an explicit assertion. That he could not have it both ways.

    A recent example of the stuff was the “not asking scientists to trawl his blog”. If that’s the case, then what the HECK was the point of him blathering about how he wasn’t cited on some bucket (or other) papers and had the xth highest google rating or the like.


    Really…the Neverending Audit does NOT make me cheerful. Zorita makes me cheerful. that and lifting weights. just got back from legs day. Loving my RDLs and Contreras hip thrusts…

  133. TCO,

    I dare you say I am not making you cheerful!

    Looking for “subperiod” made me read two interesting threads:


    The first one provides an interesting read, as it is not very long and shows how CA behaves when receiving a scientist in its arena. By reading this thread, one could see an interesting parallel between the level of agression and the moment Juckes went silent. We might surmise that the lack of cheerfulness got the better of Juckes, in the end.

    The second one is a bit longer, but might have came to existence because Juckes made the same complaint as you often make these days:

    There was a lot of agression in the first couple of days, which might have been influenced by the “Potential academic misconduct” banner Stephen used to start the discussion. I’m glad that the final editorial decisions will be taken by a slightly more impartial group of people. The level of agression appears to have died down a little, which is obviously a good thing. Another problem, from my perspective, is the number of different threads started up on closely related topics, so that people get indignant about questions being unanswered when the answer is just on a different page. I reckon the structured approach of CP is essential if the decision making process is going to be transparent. This site certainly reaches a broader audience, which is a good thing as far as the present topic is concerned.


    In fact, Steve admits your conclusion in the first sentences of the Juckes Omnibus thread :

    Writing a blog is different than writing a referees’ report. I diarize certain points for the blog as I notice them. The function of these notes is to be topical and somewhat interesting.


    I might not have found what you have referred to, but I find that find interesting.

    • Would it be a mistake for me to say that Juckes seems to have gone through a similar experience with McIntyre as McIntyre claims of Mann et al? Eschenbach comes up with a priceless gem:

      “Dear Martin:

      Thank you for continuing to post here. Rather than look for errors in our analysis, however, it would be much more valuable if you concentrated on answering questions about the errors in your analysis…”

      Ummm, what’s good for the goose….?

  134. The “subperiod” threads TCO refers to are the ones I linked, a few comments back (in answer to GP).

    I think your commentary makes TCO cheerful, but not the real NeverEndingAudit at CA. At least that’s how I understood it.

  135. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Willard: I think you’re neat. I just get sad about how much time has been spent by McI and the like and how little learned. I’m really not surprised that all areas are not in agreement by Mann and McI…but there should just be way, way more progress in terms of sorting out methodolgy effects on dataprocessing and the like. Steve just throws stuff up against the wall and never runs anything to ground…even to validate that something is not a concern. It’s just sad.

    I find you kind of fascinating with the philosophy bent and the odd English and all. Make me smile like Spanny Tampson.

  136. TCO,

    Rereading the Juckes Omnibus, I found a question by Juckes that echoes one of your comment earlier, about the stiffness of a statistical test:

    re #29: Using your code, I can show that the sensitivity you describe only exists when you use your own “arbitrary” normalisation for the calculation of the proxy PCs (ranging from a standard deviation of 0.0432 for wy023x to 0.581 for nm025). Why do you use this normalisation? Is the effective elimination of much of the data intentional?

    I could not find an answer to that question.

  137. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Steve had like 14 different threads on Juckes. It was a total mess. And then he didn’t get his review in on time. How can you take someone seriously who not ONLY has controversial opinions but can’t make assertions in clear writing, can’t communicate in normal channels. It’s a mess. What a waste…

  138. TCO,

    Here’s another quote to cheer you up. Replying to #1 from Pete about 20 comments later, Steve admits that:

    [T]he salient point in my inline comment could have been expressed without the extra editorializing. It was very late when I wrote this and there was no need to be Gavinesque. Sorry bout that.


    Notice the tu quoque – but Gavin does it too!

    The formuation of the apology reminds me of this other one, this time to Juckes, in the Omnibus thread:

    As to his two observations: mea culpa. I did in one comment in a thread use the word “extract” – sorry about that.


    The apology is this time entwined with the precise extent of the apology : the number of word, which is one, and the number of time the word got used, which is one. That means that Steve apologies for one word used one time, and nothing else.

    We can conclude an important moral from this analysis: always apologize if someone points you an error. If not, people might believe you are rude.

  139. PolyisTCOandbanned

    It’s a mess and the whole thing is just amazingly childish. The guy needs to do some work.

  140. Gavin's Pussycat

    About r^2 / RE, look what the cat dragged in, anno 1981:

    especially top of PDF page 3.

    So this is old knowledge. At least for Malcolm Hughes at Arizona ;-)

  141. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Bowers: Eschenback [ nicer: DC ] I remember the dude wanting to think that the error of a thermoter would get LOWER, the less times it was read. Like that the error for a day should be 1/30th that for a month! :TY
    He’s continued with a bunch of weird graphs and attempts to write papers that were total abortions.

    It’s OK to be a duffer, but KNOW you’re a duffer.


    Why are the standards so low in deniosphere?

    It’s been fricking 4 years! People get Ph.D.s in that amount of time!

    And if you have high standards, you ought to be able to make real contributions right away. If you push yourself. But instead we have a bunch of old warhorses giving each othe pats on the back and deluding themselves that they are more then they are.

    I mean the 2 years (!) that it took Lucia to test the dependance of her series test on different climate noise representations?

    Jesus wept. :(

  142. Confirmation bias in science: how to avoid it

    The practice of avoiding confirmation bias

    One of my areas of research interest is the development of new microscope imaging techniques. In particular, we want to do an end-run around the laws of physics to be able to see features in cells and other objects that would otherwise be physically impossible to see. Now, our approach to the problem was not to run into the lab and try a bunch of different ideas. Instead, we built a model of the physical process of light emission for the particular class of microscope imaging we were interested in, and then we began to play. In the end, we found not one, but two different ways to attain our goal. One is described here, and the other paper is available here.

    That short paragraph describes about two years of work. But the total amount of time coding the model? Maybe 24 hours, total. OK, call it 36 hours with some debugging. Running the code to get results? Maybe a minute per parameter set, so let’s call it a month.

    So that’s 32 days from around 730 total. What was all the rest of that time devoted to? Trying to anticipate every possible objection to our approach. Checking if those objections were valid. Trying to find examples of physically realistic parameters to test our model with. Seeing if the code was actually modeling what we thought it was. Making sure that our assumptions were valid. In summary, we were trying to prove ourselves wrong.

    This is always the first step in the scientific process. I have an idea, I discuss it with my colleagues, and we try to destroy it. The better the idea sounds, the harder we try. Scientists are very wary of the “too good to be true” syndrome. Moving on from that, when data turns up, we try to destroy that too. Is that noise? Is the numerical routine unstable? Are we seeing the accumulation of rounding errors? Maybe the signal is not signal?

    In the end, we couldn’t destroy our idea or the results, and the work got sent off to be published. This is the first time that a complete stranger gets to see the work, but it’s only a few people, and they may not be all that interested in our particular bit of work. So this is a rather low hurdle that we’ve jumped.
    Risk and its rewards

    Now, we could just stop there and concentrate solely on doing the experiment suggested by our modeling results. But, just a few weeks ago, I was at a conference presenting these results to our peers. We don’t get much in the way of bonus points for doing this: the university barely recognizes conferences as scientific output. And trumpeting your results to the world gives everyone else a chance to beat you—an experimental demonstration beats a theory paper any day of the week. Still, I was there. Why?

    The answer is simple. Our science becomes stronger as more scientists interact with it. Before, we had faced a few objections from a total of four to six people (the referees for the papers). Now, I was facing a room full of experts who had, before the meeting, expressed great interest in our results. If there was a hole in the model, this would be the occasion for me to fall into it. Was there a hole?

    The question session was fast and lively. And, yes, after the session, a senior scientist approached me and told me in no uncertain terms why our idea would not work—that sound you heard was me falling down the hole in our model. He was, and still is, right.

    What was my reaction to that? First, I had to understand his objection. Then, I had to consider if it was a fundamental problem. In short, I discussed it with him and my colleagues. I did not—as creationists, homeopaths, or global warming skeptics do—ignore the objection and continue onwards. Nor did I react as if I had been personally attacked—despite having put my heart and soul into this work, and really, really wanting it to succeed.

    Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Although he was right, it turns out that we can beat his objection as well. However, it certainly changes how we plan to do the experiment. Some of the choices that we had thought were relatively free are rather restricted. If we had not exposed our ideas to more criticism, we would never have known, and it is likely that our planned experiments would never have succeeded.

    The key point is that everyone at the conference wants us to succeed. They want us to find a way to make this particular improvement. But they are also skeptical that we can make their microscopes see smaller objects. Their skepticism is what helps us get to our goal faster. And this is true of every field of science. Every criticism hurts like hell, but after the bruises have healed, we find that our results are more accurate.

    I think the discussions here are fun and interesting. Thanks to DC for moderating an open forum.

  143. I think you guys may be missing the main points CA has focused on:

    –Many of the proxies being used for almost all these reconstructions have serious problems, ranging from the divergence problem to tiljander corruption, to bristlecone bulging, etc

    –There is no real physics behind the argument that the proxies respond to “global temperature” or even solely to “local temperature”. IE – why do we believe these things are thermometers at all?

    –Because of these issues, the particular statistics and meta-decisions made greatly impact the results. This is a good definition of something that is not a useful piece of science.

    –The specifics of each statistical kerfuffle don’t really impact these main points.

    –The continuing use of discredited proxies, upside down proxies, etc raises questions about the honest motivations of Mann et al.

    That’s how I see it as a believer in moderate AGW and a supporter of a stiff energy tax.


  144. Mesa:
    There is some ambiguity in your post.
    1) Do you mean: this is what CA says?
    2) This is what CA says and you accept them and pass them along?

    • I suppose what I mean is that there are so many fundamental issues with paleoclimatogy as enumerated above that those issues manifest themselves in statistical mudslinging further down the road.

      For example, if all the proxies looked similar through time, and there was good cross-proxy evidence of instrumental record correlation with temperature that had a physical basis, there wouldn’t be much arguing about which principal component(s) to use.

  145. > the argument that the proxies respond
    > to “global temperature”

    Citation needed — what’s a proxy someone claims indicates global temperature?

    • In the selection and calibration phases of the reconstructions the proxies are correlated to the global temperature anomaly in my understanding, not the local anomaly.

    • Mann’s The CPS (“composite-plus-scale”) reconstruction screens and calibrates against the local gridcell tempearture.

      EIV (“error-in-variables”) is a simplified RegEM methodology that does combine proxies non-locally.

  146. There is no real physics behind the argument that the proxies respond to “global temperature”

    As Hank implies, no paleoclimatologist says that individual proxies response to “global temperatures”.

    Steve McIntyre of CA seems to believe they must, though, since cherry-picked proxies are the main argument CA gives for a global, synchronous MWP.

    or even solely to “local temperature”. IE – why do we believe these things are thermometers at all?

    Plant physiology. Do you have any idea how important the science of plant physiology is to humankind? It is plant physiology that establishes the principles that allow for the *careful selection* of trees where temperature is the limiting factor.

    If you don’t believe that temperature can’t be the limiting factor of growth of trees, how do you explain the existence of treeline on tall mountains? i.e. the fact that they’re forested up to a certain elevation, gradually become more and more stunted and scarce, and finally disappear altogether?

    Check out Liebig’s law of the minimum.

    Why do you think McIntyre, a mining guy, knows more about plant physiology than plant physiologists?

    • I certainly believe that temperatures influences tree growth, as does almost everyone else I’ve encountered on these blogs. But clearly given the recent divergence issues (and common sense) so do a lot of other confounding factors. The question is what the S/N ratio is for a basket of proxies – I’m not convinced it’s very good given the widely varying behavior of the proxies and other irregularities.

      I have no opinion one way or the other on the MWP – I’m not sure there is data good enough to say much about it. The historical anecdotes are certainly interesting. It’s certainly possible it’s warmer now than it was then (in a global average sense). Given the increased levels of CO2 that would be the obvious prior. I’m not sure how to assign a probability to it without having a better handle on the hot-button issue of “natural variability”.

  147. Rattus Norvegicus

    I find it interesting that given that Mann’s MATLAB code is available that McIntyre has not tried to run it under’s open source MATLAB clone, or just paid for a license.

  148. PolyisTCOandbanned

    scientist is not being moderated at CA. Oh well..may I please give my take here, Deepie? AMAC has been a good muzzled dhog and I wrote him a long perspevtive to try to be responsive to him:


    My impression*:

    The key issue is one of sensitivity testing to the exclusion of questionable proxies. If you think a proxy is absolutely VERBOTEN BAD, then you shouldn’t use it no matter what. And the sensitivity test is irrelevent, because you just exclude. If you think a proxy is questionable, (maybe has some hair on it, but maybe has some info, maybe has people with different opinions of it’s usefullness) then you run the sensitivity test. If the answer is qualitatively inaffected by exclusion, then the issue becomes moot. It the answer DOES change, then you basically know that your state of knowledge is “if-then”. (e.g. if I beleive the market survey report, THEN the target acquisition is a worthwhile investment.) It just illustrates a dependency.

    For instance, Mann is upfront that prior to 1300 years, regardless of method, that tree-rings are required to get an answer. IOW, there is a dependancy. Another dependancy is on methodology, if you beleive CPS is the way to do things, then you don’t have a tree-less answer back to 1300. IOW, there is a dependancy on methodology choice. (He does make an argument for why he thinks EIV functions better than CPS, but again…there’s a dependancy…if you beleive those qualitiative arguments, fine, you’re set. if not, there is an issue.)

    The key question to me is what sort of “questionable” is Tjilander? Is it a complete mess, that all sides agree should NEVER be used, no way no-how? Or is it sorta more like the tree-rings, which mayb have utility, but are in question.

    If they ARE like the tree-rings, then I think the pea-thimble stuff is actually valid. You just have to realize that the recon is sensitive to exclusion of two questionable species, but not one. That means…well you’r dependent. As long as one or both ar valid, you’re ok. In the event both assumptions are off, you’re not. (An M&A analogy might be that as long as EITHER the market research study OR the expected war driving demand for widgets are valid, your NPV will be sufficient.) Of course, intutively, the more restrictions you put on something, the harder it is to pass a test.

    I’m really intrgued what the opinion of Mann et al are on the Tjilander series themselves. Leaving ASIDE sensitivity, just looking at the proxy, do they see it as hopelessly compromised, gold standard good, tcpical amount of hair, or seriously questionable but may have info.

    I’d also like to see the Tjilander paper (haven’t read that yet, time limits).

    In the past, I have NOT been impressed by Mr. McIntyre’s logic or fairness on questioning the bcps. He references an NAS panel that winged it, rather than a “stake in the heart” science review full of statistics and physics and chemistry. The bcps might have some hair on them, but they are at least a plausible proxy. Not like…I donno…dotcom stocks or fraudulently created series from scratch (ala Piltdown man).

    Also note, that the comments of ths study collectors are…useful…in thinking about how to use their data…but don’t rule out other interpretations. After all, Michelson never beleived in relativity, evne though his data helped found the theory. NOte: I’m not saying that I think Tjilander is a “good” proxy. Or even that it’s in the middle “qeustionable ground”. But just describing how I think about this, based on a limited amount of looking and what I would want to see next to know more. and a bit of context on my level of proof and lack of bias (not appreciating theprevious CA “hopeful” interpretaitons of bcps as being cause by opportunistic different non-climate causes: dry lakebed blowing, sheepgrazing, CO2, precip, missampled (Ababneh), damaged bark. IOW any port in a storm, anything that helps our side…and makes bcps “not a proxy”…since well they are so darn hockey stick creating…gotta get rid of them.)

    So if Mann (or you) see Tjilander as equivalent to bcps, I think you are being a little unfair to him. If Tjilander stuff is WELL WORSE than bcps and just something to never, ever use…then Mann would not be answering criticism properly to do the pea-thimble, one at a time sensitivity. Instead of evaluating sensitivity first, the key thing for him is to say are the sediments absolutley awful or just kind of like bcps and have some hair on them. If absolutley awful, then of course, he should pull them and then it does affect his ability to do tree-less recons (after losing the Finn sediments).

    *based on reading the paper and a sampling of the blogposts. Over an hour of time, under a day. (btw: was turned off by the phrenology post, how it started. Not going to spend time on stuff like that…will wait for someone else to write stuff up sans snark (as seemed to be done here, so worth my waiting!))

  149. PolyisTCOandbanned

    “now” being moderated

  150. PolyisTCOandbanned

    now it passed moderation…sorry…can scrub or keep as you chose…

  151. Gavin's Pussycat

    TCO, I have looked a little at Tiljander, and it seems clear to me that the use that Mann et al. 2008 make of it is wrong in the sense of do-not-use wrong*). They should have truncated the series to the uncontaminated part. In CPS that means that they drop out altogether in the absence of other proxies in the same grid box; in EIV the truncated series can still be useful.

    That being said, the sensitivity test for individual errors-at-a-time is meaningful: what you look for is whether removal causes a systematic change, large compared to the known uncertainties, while preserving skill. Removing so many that skill goes out the window just doesn’t tell you anything, only that, well, skill goes out the window. And you don’t seriously believe that all tree rings are duds, do you? OTOH every individual time series may be wrong on its own, as we saw with the lat/lon mixup error — stuff happens. You have to be prepared by showing that “stuff” has no impact on your core sesults.

    *) For the x-ray density proxy this is clear from physical geography first principles: it measures the ratio of mineral and organic deposits in the sediment. The mineral deposits come down with the spring melt, of snow deposited over winter; a colder climate means that more of the annual precipitation comes down as snow, and remains lying on the ground until spring. The organic deposits come from summer plant growth, which will be less if a cold climate makes summers cooler and shorter. The two effects work in the same direction, making this a negative proxy for climatic temperature.

    Mann et al. find from their calibration that it is a positive proxy for temperature, which is wrong. It is evidently produced by the anthro contamination for the calibration period being of opposite sign, and larger than, the climatic effect we are looking for. One is easily fooled by this.

    I believe AMac came to the same conclusion, but then proceeded to over-the-top accusations. Hey, it’s just a dumb mistake. With 1209 proxies Mr Murphy becomes your co-author :-)

    • That sounds convincing for XRD, at least as far as the temperature correlation is concerned. But the situation may be more complicated for the other proxies.

      I’m pretty sure, though, that Mann’s methodology requires screening and calibration based on the instrumental period for each proxy.

      By the way, the Tiljander et al paper is here:

      Tiljander, M., Saarnisto, M., Ojala, A. E. K. & Saarinen, T. 2003 (December): A 3000-year palaeoenvironmental
      record from annually laminated sediment of Lake Korttaja¨rvi, central Finland. Boreas, Vol. 26, pp. 566–577. Oslo. ISSN 0300-9483

      (I assume they have permission to post it).

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      DC, Mann assumed that lake sediment proxies are generally positively oriented, and that may be generally true. Just not for Korttajärvi X-ray densities (and probably one or two others from there). The others should be OK.

      It’s only the CPS methodology that requires screening and calibration to the instrumental period — if there are no other proxies within the same grid box that extend to the instrumental period. For interest, read Kaufman et al. 2009, who treated the whole Arctic area as one single “grid box”.

      … recent years being “less consolidated”. (presumably by compaction?) Seems like this would give bias to recent years being thicker than older ones.

      Hardly relevant if these recent years are useless anyway…

  152. PolyisTCOandbanned


    If the proxy is in the “do not use” category (not just arguable, but verboten), then that undermines a fair amount of the distinctive claims of the Mann08 PNAS paper (not AGW, not other papers, but that one…). Nothing wrong with that…just means you are back to square one and depending on the tree-rings (which I think DO have some information).

    Back to reading Boreas. Lot of handwaving on some things in there (agricultural usage of the nearby land, etc.). But I’m only a couple pages in. Takes me several hours to really read a paper well. And ideally would be pulling all the references cited in that paper on varve technique, etc. (this is how I go after things in my own field…find it completely normal, not overkill to do so.)

  153. > global?

    > I’m not sure how to assign a probability to it
    > without having a better handle on the
    > hot-button issue of “natural variability”.

  154. TCO,
    I agree that varve background is essential to understand this issue. When I went searching for other studies, I found two or three and they each had positive correlation between varve thickness and temperature. So there may be some basis for Mann’s assumption of postive correlation for thickness.

    OTOH, perhaps there are differences between lake and alluvial sediments. Or specific local climatic conditions could change the relationship.

    An accessible online reference on this proxy type would be a propos, if someone has one to propose.

    • > An accessible online reference on this proxy type would be a propos

      I hope you find a good online reference. Meanwhile, at this compilation page, there are links to PDFs of two recent Finnish dissertations. Look near the bottom, under “Analysis of Sediments from Other Scandanavian Lakes.” Louto’s dissertation has some good references, though perhaps nothing that is completely on target for varve analysis.

      [DC: Thanks.]

  155. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Agreed. It would be helpful if there were something equivalent to what the tree ring society has for tree rings. I get the impression from Tjilander’s work that the field is kind of recent. he cites a lot of recent papers and even some of his own work as foundational. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s good stuff, just means it’s more work to parse how physically reasonable the sediments are.

    P.s. from my untrained perspective corals seem like a really good proxy. Look at a local temperature trace and a coral trace and they really wiggle-match “nicely” (and yes, this is just “by eye”.)

  156. PolyisTCOandbanned

    One thing in Tjilander is she [DC:corrected] talks about recent years being “less consolidated”. (presumably by compaction?) Seems like this would give bias to recent years being thicker than older ones. Microtoming and examinig physical density (g/cm3) would be a way to look at this issue. Probably needs to also be looked at wrt minerality (as a confounding factor). Would think this is pretty obvious, but just in case someone only used thickness, would the be at danger for this compaction issue of making recent years look warm, spuriously?

  157. If my memory serves me well, I think Tiljander is a she.

    Some bibliographical conventions are simply sexist. I know I’m OT, but this issue is, in my humble opinion, way more important than old lake mud.

    [DC: Yes, it is she. First name Mia. ]

  158. Hello,would anyone here be patient enough to point me in the direction of regional temp, dew point temps, or wet bulb temps. I remember reading something Eli wrote about not being able to survive if wet bulb temps go above 35 deg C. Makes sense to me so I thought it might be a good science project for my granddaughter since we live in Florida where this summer temps are getting up towards 100 deg F daily and the dew point is around 80 deg F. Using a rule of thumb I figure a temp of 110 deg F and a dew point of 80 deg F would bring the wet bulb to right around 100 deg F. So using warming projections I would like to see if/when this might happen. I think raw data may be more accurate for this. So knowing if this has been done, if its a good idea, if its a juvenile idea, or even if its a stupid idea would be appreiciated.

    [DC: Anyone? (Pointing to Eli's original post would be helpful, too - I think it was fairly recent.) ]

    • Thanks DC. Elis post was Death doom and disaster coming coming to a planet in your neighboorhood. 22 june 10, It discussed a paper by Sherwood and Huber. I learned something by you simply telling me to do more on my own. I will continue to pursue this to see what direction it takes. Being as I made a better weather guesser (years ago) than I ever would have a climate scientist I want to see if it can be brought to a regional/local level. In any case we will have fun trying.

    • Some weather data here, wet-bulb calculator here, regional
      projections here.

      Amateurish back-of-the-envelope, it appears that on very hot days, the more humid areas in
      Florida could go over 35C wet-bulb temperature under the higher emission scenarios.

  159. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Anyone got much to say about McKit’s paper on temperature data? It’s pretty long and I just skimmed it. Mea culpa and honest admission (have some pity on me, since as I dug, was not impressed). Impressions.

    1. Place of publication is a warning sign. Seems like Ross is stooping more and more to playing footsie with friendly crowds. Sorta like Anthony publishing his chapbook of airconditioner photos via Heartland. If Ross really does additive work, there are outlets for him (there are soooooo butt-many journals around).

    2. I noticed him kind of mixing in at least one nonsequiter aside (unproven). Like the growing amount of airports, section, where he says (bascially in passing) that airports are especially bad locations for temp measurement. MAYBE they are…but also maybe they aren’t. It’s not such a no brainer to me. Plus, the dude says he is not trhying to say how changing sensor type is affecting the trend…just present the data on changing sensor type. But then he has this unproven aside about airports being bad. And he can’t even keep it out of the same paragraph as where he explains the mix change. Can’t even keep it out of the same sentence. Bad sign of sloppy thinking and hoi polloi foaming (let it through, Lucia, trying to expresss a concept of lack of detachment and disaggregation, than comes in overly tied arguments.)

    3. Little nit on graphsmanship, but his curve of lattitude versus time is clipped on scale (zero and 90 not included). Makes the change look bigger than what it is the average lattitude of globe?

    4. (Science aside.) BTW, what is the average lattitude of a hemisphere? It’s not exactly 45 degrees, since there’s less land as you go towards the poles. Someone figure out the 3-d trig problem please. :)

    5. It seems like only since the 70s is the change significant (in terms of losing high lattitude). Before that, the change was adding stations in the tropics. He does note this in the text, but then at other places, he makes comments about the long term trend. Also, he makes statements about losing high lattitude, but the mix could be happening because of losing mid (35-55) lattitude stations as well. Seems like some sort of higher partition (maybe into each 10 degrees, or equal area sections) would be more revealing.

    6. I noticed, he is repeating emails and such. Not a good sign. Pretty recursive and meta-debate.

    7. Seems like he doesn’t really cut the data enough ways. He’s really, really, really interested in skeptic hobbyhorses. But this is really a market research problem, or political polling problem (in analogy). He ought to cut the data Southern and Northern hemisphere. maybe also a cut to show “unsampled grid squares” and how they vary over time. I realize this might not fit his little skeptic views, might go the other way, might even be useful science independent of the skeptic versus alarmist kerfuffle. but someone hands into the data ought to want to cut it a few different ways and show them all, so we see the market segmentation variables.

  160. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Am I the only author who’s trying to get into the Neverending Audit blog?

  161. .TCO<>

    If you mean which line of latitude divides a hemisphere into two equal areas, it not obviously 60 degrees?

  162. Sorry, I messed up the quote and the answer:
    TCO 4:* BTW, what is the average latitude of a hemisphere? It’s not exactly 45 degrees, since there’s less land as you go towards the poles. Someone figure out the 3-d trig problem please.*

    I should have said that a latitude of 30 degrees divides the northern hemisphere into two equal areas, (60 was the angle in the triangle I drew, but I forgot the direction that the angle of latitude increases as it goes away from the equator – my bad).

  163. H/T and kudos to Chek for coining Portcullisgate.

  164. TCO

    That’s an interesting thread… Perhaps Amac or McIntyre will take the hint from ‘Scientist’ (whomever that is? :) ) and actually do some work… Maybe even try their own reconstruction? Maybe show Mann how they think it should be done… Perhaps… Perhaps…. Perhaps.

    But it would be good, wouldn’t it. Science would benefit and we wouldn’t have to listen to the ‘Neverending Audit’ we could just read ‘Amac and McIntyre, 2010′!

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps….

      But he just can’t get started :)

    • Wish the Dockers would get ‘started’…

      Sorry Rattus, that’s an inside joke. ;)

    • >Perhaps Amac or McIntyre will take the hint from ‘Scientist’ (whomever that is? ) and actually do some work…

      Nathan, your logic is that a boy shouldn’t point out characteristics of the Emperor’s clothes. Unless, perhaps… perhaps… perhaps… he can first show what a darn fine Emperor he’d make.

      That’s a terrific policy, if you happen to be an Emperor, already.

      My basic point is simple. It doesn’t need to be in the peer-reviewed literature to be clearly understood, then evaluated as to its truth or falsity.

      Because the Tiljander data series cannot be meaningfully calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record 1850-1995, they are completely unsuited for use in Mann08.

      Besides Gavin Schmidt at C-a-s, I’ve discussed this with Boris, carrot eater, sod, and Michael Tobis at “Lucia’s Blackboard”, and with Martin Vermeer and Steve Bloom at “Not Spaghetti.” All are welcome to pen a guest editorial arguing against my position at my blog. You’re invited too, Nathan, and Rattus. Just drop me a line.

      I’d extend the offer to scientist, too, except… the way “The No-Dendro Illusion” thread at CA concluded… he ended up pretty much agreeing with me.

      There are some fascinating Tiljander-related questions, both scientific and social. “Why AMac hasn’t produced his own peer-reviewed paleoclimate reconstruction” isn’t one of them, as far as I can see.

    • No Amac

      That’s not my logic at all.

      CA is a dog’s breakfast. It’s too hard to find anything, and it’s mostly just irrelevant rants. How could any real scientist use that blog as tool? How would they be able to quickly discern what’s relevant and what isn’t?

      the point to publishing in journals is that it’s a neutral venue, it forces people to be succinct, and it is a permanent record.

      It’s just plain laziness to not publish. It’s fine to complain amongst buddies that what was done was wrong, or whatever, but that’s insufficient for science. Don’t just tell us that it’s wrong, show us why, show us what that means for the reconstruction, show us quantitatively what it means.

    • > It’s just plain laziness to not publish.

      Your perjorative leaves me at something of a loss. I’m lazy for not publishing in an area that’s not my professional field of specialization? If I’m also interested in the causes of the residential real estate price declines–I am–does that make me equally dissolute for not publishing in econometrics journals?

      But enough about my laziness. Could you now talk about your own, if any?

      > CA is a dog’s breakfast. It’s too hard to find anything, and it’s mostly just irrelevant rants. How could any real scientist use that blog as tool?…

      If I understand you correctly, it’s too confusing for Prof. Mann and coauthors to figure out if what I’m saying about Tiljander is correct or not.

      Perhaps you could get DC regular ‘scientist’ to weigh in on that. Or, I could provide you with links to our exchanges in the recent CA thread, if that would help.

      > show us… show us… show us…
      I gather that “us” can only be shown something by having it appear in a peer-reviewed publication. That’s an interesting comment to read on a science blog… rather than in the peer-reviewed literature.

      If you believe that the Tiljander proxies are or might be suitable for use in Mann08, please write up your explanation and email me. I’ll be glad to post it.

    • Amac

      “My basic point is simple. It doesn’t need to be in the peer-reviewed literature to be clearly understood, then evaluated as to its truth or falsity.

      Because the Tiljander data series cannot be meaningfully calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record 1850-1995, they are completely unsuited for use in Mann08.”

      Ok, I’ll help you here:

      What does it mean to Mann08 that Tiljander is unsuitable?
      What is the quantitative effect on any reconstruction?
      Can you demonstrate the effect, by actually doing a reconstruction?

      Why is it that the auditors need to be dragged into thinking things through scientifically?
      This is not about people trying to make you do something unnecessary, this is bout you getting this (apparently critically important) information out into the wider community. Just sitting on a blog complaining that people won’t take you seriously is lame and lazy. If you want people to accept your case, you actually need to MAKE THE CASE.

    • Amac

      That’s just weak.

      You can’t go around on blogs saying that Mann is the ‘Emperor with no clothes’ and expect people to take you seriously when you won’t outline you case in a publication.

      “If I understand you correctly, it’s too confusing for Prof. Mann and coauthors to figure out if what I’m saying about Tiljander is correct or not.”

      No, I am saying it’s not worthwhile for Mann to go threre and read through all the extraneous garbage. It’s poor signal to noise.

      Why can’t you write up your complaint properly? Why won’t you do it? It’s not hard! People do it all the time, people will help you too.

      “If you believe that the Tiljander proxies are or might be suitable for use in Mann08, please write up your explanation and email me. I’ll be glad to post it.”
      I have no idea either way. But I don’t think your ‘analysis’ is particularly robust becuase you haven’t actually detailedwhat the impact of the series is. You haven’t outlined what it actually means. All you have done is said ‘it’s bad’.

    • Amac

      “I’m lazy for not publishing in an area that’s not my professional field of specialization?”

      no, you’re lazy for actually making your case. You have simply outlined some problems, but not actually made a case for why this is important, or interesting.

    • Oops, I meant

      no you’re lazy for NOT actually making your case.

    • Nathan,

      In 2004, Tim Lambert discovered a mistake in the by McKitrick and Michaels in their peer-reviewed paper in Climate Research: the code they used called for latitude to be entered in radians, but they input the information as degrees. Deltoid.

      As a direct result of that post, McKitrick and Michaels issued an extensive correction of their paper, notwithstanding that Lambert never wrote up his findings as a peer-reviewed article.

      My interpretation is simple. Lambert did Science a service by spotting this mistake, which turned out to diminish McKitrick’s and Michaels’ findings (claimed Lambert), or to leave them substantially unaffected (claimed the authors). Since the corrigendum contains recalculations of all the statistics, interested readers can judge for themselves (Lambert was correct, in my opinion).

      I am not aware of any climate warrior of any persuasion who criticized Lambert for discovering the mistake and broadcasting it on his blog. That would be a tough position to justify, I think.

      > What does it mean to Mann08 that Tiljander is unsuitable?

      There’s no agreement that the Tiljander proxies are unsuitable. The last word from Mann08′s authors (in February 2009) was that this assertion is bizarre. On this subject, Gavin Schmidt says…. well, you’ll have to read his lawyerly and sometimes-cryptic remarks at Collide-a-scape, and parse them for yourself.

      As to the effects: at RealClimate and C-a-s, Gavin has recently said–using gramatically-complex sentences with conditional clauses–that inclusion of the Tiljander proxies greatly strengthens and lengthens the validation period of a number of the paleotemperature reconstructions that form the heart of Mann08. As with McKitrick and Michaels, we would have to see the corrected calculations to appreciate where the differences actually lie.

      > Can you demonstrate the effect, by actually doing a reconstruction?

      No. I don’t have the skill set to run either MatLab or R. At this point, I also lack the time and energy that the project would require. I’m not wealthy (alas), and have to prioritize my day job and family responsibilities.

      That said, it’s a good suggestion. I have some ideas for a straightforward approach to the issue, and have proposed it to Brian Angliss and a few other people (they’ve had to turn it down, also due to other committments). If you have the skills, time, and interest to follow up, please drop me a line.

      > Why is it that the auditors need to be dragged into thinking things through scientifically?

      I think there are two contrasting concepts of “scientist.” One (that everyone pays lip service to) is sketched out by Richard Feynman in “Cargo Cult”. Such a person would dismiss worries about dog’s breakfasts, it being hard to find anything, interspersed irrelevant rants, and having others customize tools so they could quickly discern what’s relevant. (Re-read his address; it’s short.)

      Opposed to this is the notion of the scientist as a midlevel bureaucrat in an administrative hearing. Has the complainant proved by the prevailing clear-and-convincing evidentiary standards that the scientist/bureaucrat has made an error? That the error is actionable? Have the proper forms been filed, according to schedule? Are all the scientist/employee’s appropriate due-process protections being fully observed?

      McKitrick and Michaels had to take their lumps, in public. They didn’t get such a kid-gloves treatment. Imagine how appalled Feynman would have been, if they had.

      Let me repeat myself.

      “Because the Tiljander data series cannot be meaningfully calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record 1850-1995, they are completely unsuited for use in Mann08.”

      This is a simple claim, both in sentence structure and in meaning. No if/then grammar; no waffles.

      It is important: who would want important articles in the highest-impact peer-reviewed journals to be based on flawed methods?

      It is clearly outlined. See my blog, devoted to the subject.

      It is unrebutted.

      Lastly, it is a strong statement. It could be readily falsified, simply by showing that the Tiljander proxies might, plausibly have been correctly calibrated to the instrumental temperature record by the methods of Mann08.

      Nathan, you’re actively engaging on this subject. I respect that: it seems that many people wish Tiljander would fade away on its own. So, I again invite you to organize your main points into an essay. I will be pleased to post it.

      I closing, I note that DC regular-commenter ‘scientist’ recently trod this path with me, over at Climate Audit. His perspective might be helpful, if he cares to offer it.

  165. TCO,

    I’m not sure I get your comment about “trying to get into” my blog. Nevertheless, that deserves a quote.

    Your last link was a good reply, though. It was tempting. It still is tempting.

    Note also that I was tempted to quote Steve when he almost patted you on the back. Good work!

  166. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I just meant it exactly like I said it.

  167. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Woohoo! I’m in the NEA!

    Willard, this whole thing is not just about politics. It’s about Internet social dynamics. It’s a frigging role-playing game like Wikipedia.

    Look at the Flame Warriors. They are soooo apt.

  168. I agree, TCO. For me, this political dynamics is of political nature. We are political animals, as the wonderful **Flame Warriors** show, among which my favorite is Troglodyte:

  169. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I find myself guilty of most of the more evil and aggressive flame warrior tactics. I’m pretty much a Godzilla since…I’ve spent so much time on the net. I don’t try to lurk or ramp the posting up gradually and build up social prescense. I’d rather be like Mike Munz in Under and Alone. Just walk into the cellblock as the new inmate and ask who the shot caller is…and then beat him down. (In the Internet of course. I’m a little guy irl. But I’m lifting legs and growing.) I remember right before the 2008 Olympics, I wandered into gymnastics forums and just brought the Shawn versus Nastia disputes to a blazing roar. People got even more angry when I had in depth technical discussions where I sorta seemed to know what I was talking about and then showed total ignorance of basic rules and history of the sport, far deeper into the discussion. Ahh…glory days.

  170. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Amac: It was a lot of fun chatting through things with you and I appreciate the time spent. That said, I basically agree with Nathan.

    I don’t care if you write papers, but McI needs to. It’s just to hard to weed through his stuff. he puts stuff up, creates an impression of all kinds of issues and never finishes off the work. Look at the recent M08 recons, that’s picking up stuff from December08!

    And his blogs are really hard to read. If the issues were simple fine. Or if he could organize his thoughts well, fine. But it’s a mess. He needs the discipline of writing for publication more than most.

    And he needs to quantify, to do full factorials, to disaggregate, to define terms, etc. That’s how you get your arms around any kind of problem.

    I have all kinds of synpathy for the intrepid amateur detective who is a true scientist at heart. But he needs to bring it. To get it done. To be all over things. And he’s not.

    The guy has been fluttering around for 5 years now. I’ve lived this.

    And the whole thing could disappear tomorrow. And his opponenents shouldn’t have to engage with his formless, half finished criticisms.

    I also caution you to watch out for him and pressure test him. I have seen him take it extra easy on himself and be unfair to opponents. Have seen him evasive when pressed on some things.

    P.s. Just say not to threading!!

    • PolyisTCOandbanned:

      > That said, I basically agree with Nathan.

      You agree with Nathan and MarkS about how I should spend my time, I guess. Thanks. I get plenty of suggestions on that point in my offline life, FWIW.

      You elide the issue that we covered over at CA. That is: what do you think about my statement that the Tiljander proxies cannot be calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record, 1950-1995?

      Do you agree with me that this is an interesting question?

      Nathan and MarkS haven’t offered an opinion on this subject. Perhaps it’s boring to them. Or maybe Nathan will write up his thoughts for a guest-post at my blog. The offer’s open to MarkS, too.

      [DC: I think you mean 1850-1995, right?]

  171. “Your perjorative leaves me at something of a loss. I’m lazy for not publishing in an area that’s not my professional field of specialization?”

    Yet you post here with “new” ideas and propose to overturn those whose professional field of speculation is.

    Yet when it comes to putting your reputation where your mouth is in full print, you are no longer proficient.

    Can you make your mind up, please.

    Either you know enough to prove professionals wrong, in which case print, or you don’t know enough, therefore consider that your idea is either wrong or already accounted.

    Doing neither means either

    1) you’re lazy as charged
    2) you’re gutless

  172. > (T)he Tiljander data series cannot be meaningfully calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record 1850-1995, they are completely unsuited for use in Mann08.

    I disagree that this is a “simple claim”. Here are some parts, with some comments:

    > The Tiljander data series cannot be meaningfully calibrated to the CRUTEM3v record 1850-1995.

    “Cannot” is a strong modality: it means that it is impossible to do so. To proove impossibility, one has to work more than say (as Steve does incidentally) that the onus lies on the side of Mann.

    The concept of calibration is a complex process. The concept of “meaningful calibration” is even more complex. In fact, the first one is a pure statistical concept, the other one has a physical interpretation.

    And this is without mentioning that readers have no idea why this meaningful calibration matters. Both in the issue at hand and the grand scheme of things.

    Concluding to inerrancy and cargo cult is a big leap from what we’re discussing right now.

    > (The Tiljander series) are completely unsuited for use in Mann08.

    Again, we see “unsuited”, a concept that is not really simple. Either it has a formal meaning, or it refers to one. If it does, it must be backed up by an authority. This authority belongs to a tradition, a tradition that helps maintain a set of theories. Theories that are not really simple.

    Even the notion of “use” in this sentence is loaded with theorical constructs that are neither simple, neither spelled out.

    > Because (…)

    This looks a lot like an if/then connector. Which kind of reason are implied here exactly? Are we in the material mode, or the formal one? If we’re in a material mode, which kind of cause is this?

    > This is a simple claim, both in sentence structure and in meaning. No if/then grammar; no waffles.

    I believe my analysis proved this claim is false. On the face of it, this is an appeal to common sense.

    Appealing to common sense is an important thing to do in a debate that has lost any bearings with common sense.

    I don’t think I have to work very hard to show that this debate is more complex than how AMac is trying to portray it. It’s at least complex enough to sweep under scientific questions social ones. Inerrancy and cargo cult are not the same kind of questions as proxies, after all.

    If I had the choice to persuade an audience about inerrancy and cargo cult by taking the bull by the horns or talk about proxies, I’d stick to the proxies.

    • Willard, nice comment–though unsurprisingly I disagree with your perspective. I’d be delighted if you wanted a version of it to go on my blog as a guest post.

      I don’t have time for a complete answer, today. Much of the relevant information is contained in the back and forth between me and scientist at Climate Audit. I recognize that many in this audience have a vehement dislike of that site. What I will try to do is distill those arguments and cites into a narrative that I can post on my own blog.

      Here is one such passage (edited).

      - – - begin excerpt – - -

      Either the Tiljander proxies are “sufficiently uncontaminated to enable a calibration to the temperature signal to be performed, 1850-1995,” or they are “too contaminated to be calibratable.” Let’s look at Lightsum, the series that more or less means “accumulation of mineral.” The 1850-1995 signal might have temperature information in it? Really? OK, for the past few centuries, here’s the mean and standard deviation; forget red noise and all that–very simple first-order approximation.

      Century, mean +- SD
      15th C, 2.2 +- 0.6
      16th C, 1.9 +- 0.7
      17th C, 2.2 +- 0.7
      18th C, 2.4 +- 0.9
      19th C, 4.8 +- 2.0
      20th C, 9.4 +- 8.0 (thru 1985)

      So ‘scientist’, Gavin, Mia [Tiljander], and I agree that from prior to the 15th Century through ~1720, Lightsum might contain a temperature signal.

      Mia and I look at those 19th and 20th Century numbers and say, “Yikes! Those numbers are huge and variable! And they are huge and variable in a way that they just weren’t, in the 15th, 16th, 17th, even the 18th Centuries! Whatever temperature signal is in there, it’s overwhelmed by a deluge of contamination!”

      Gavin looks at those numbers and says, “Hmmm, ‘possible anthropogenic contamination’ in more recent centuries, so ‘potentially useful, but also potentially dubious’. Let’s use ‘em and see what happens!”

      ‘Scientist’ seems to agree with Gavin on this, because, despite these ugly numbers, despite the graph that’s level for centuries before going hyperbolic in the 20th Century, despite the obvious impossibility of meaningful calibration 1850-1995, despite the chapter-and-verse description in Tiljander03 of roadbuilding, peat cutting, farming, bridge reconstruction, and eutrophication — I used the word “absolutely.” Without being able to specify a clear-cut chemical signature for this hypothesized, so-called “contamination.”

      - – - end excerpt – - -

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      willard, I have to agree with AMac here… it is clear what he means by “cannot be meaningfully calibrated”. He simply means you shouldn’t do it, and if you do it anyway you’ll get nonsense. I agree, for a reason that he leaves out from his comment: the orientation is wrong, for clear physical reasons. Warmer climate means shorter winters, less snow on the ground, smaller spring melt. Less light sum deposit. What you see in the time series, is more. It can only be contamination, and it overwhelms the warming signal.

      This is for Lightsum and X-ray density. We don’t know about the other ones, but… even if the orientation is right, in the light of the above can you trust the magnitude?

    • Gavin’s Pussycat,

      I’m not sayin that AMac is wrong. I am not saying it does not look clear. I am saying the matter of fact is not simple.

      It might even be obvious, if you care to take a good look. To look at it, you need a theory. So it’s not that simple. It never is.

      Why should I be saying something regarding lake sediments, exactly?

  173. McIntyre has published no peer-reviewed science since GRL in 2005. That’s five long years.

    As TCO says, publishing would force McIntyre to organize his thoughts and make them coherent and succinct.

    There is another benefit, too. It forces the author to explore the implications of the analysis and place it in some reasonable perspective (if the editor and reviewers are doing their job).

    I see a lot of comments above that go way beyond what can possibly be supported even if the Tiljander proxies were completely removed from Mann et al 2008.

    Do I think the proxies can be usefully calibrated to the instrumental record? No.

    But does that mean that the AGW edifice is crumbling? Of course not – removing Tiljander would barely affect the central reconstructions of Mann et al 2008. Which is only one paper among many in paleoclimatology (albeit a very important one). Which itself is only one line of evidence (and not even the most important one).

    When I looked through Google scholar and IDTRB database the other day, I saw reference to a lot of recently published varve studies (over the last couple of years). Presumably future multi-proxy studies will have a lot more to go on. So be it – that’s how science works.

    Finally, I certainly don’t accept that the “skeptics” have corrected their mistakes forthrightly (McIntyre on “hide the decline”, for instance – or Yamal, or any number of topics. But I digress).

    Sure, Michaels and McKitrick corrected one undeniable error. But the paper itself is deeply flawed and probably would not have gotten published without the help of a complaisant editor, Chris de Freitas.

    Or take Klotzbach et al 2009, which rested on the assumption that tropospheric amplification is identical over land and ocean. Their corrigendum assumes unrealistically high land and ocean amplification factors that are incompatible with the global factor. If anything, they’ve made things worse in an attempt to somehow hold on to their main conclusions. But you don’t see the auditors complaining about that, do you?

    • > [DC: I think you mean 1850-1995, right?]

      Whoops. Thanks!

      > McIntyre publish… comments go way beyond.

      I agree that people make lots of broad claims about lots of things. In the climate wars, many of these claims are wrong (e.g. I’ve weighed in on the (lack of) merit of ChiefIO’s critique of the instrumental temp. record, at Lucia’s Blackboard). Be that as it may. I’m making narrow claims.

      > Do I think the proxies can be usefully calibrated to the instrumental record? No.

      Agree. Also, DeepClimate, FWIW, you seem to be the first pro-AGW consensus blogger to make that simple statement. Ari Jokkimatti almost got there, then shied away. PolyisTCOandbanned, I’m unsure where he stands, now.

      > AGW edifice crumbling… [Mann08] only one paper among many… only one line of evidence…


      > removing Tiljander would barely affect the central reconstructions of Mann et al 2008.

      My sense is that you’re incorrect, based on what Gavin has indicated (has seemed to indicate) in the comments to Tamino’s review of HSI. As with McKitrick and Michaels, we’d have to see the re-analysis to know for sure.

      > [Additional varve studies important]


      > I certainly don’t accept that the “skeptics” have corrected their mistakes forthrightly

      A sensible stance. I don’t know enough to contribute insightfully to the debate.

      > Michaels and McKitrick corrected one undeniable error…

      My point was that Tim Lambert should be praised for spotting the degrees/radians error and writing about it on his blog–peer reviewed publication not required. Also that McKitrick and Michaels did the right thing by acknowledging the goof and correcting their calculations accordingly.

      > …you don’t see the auditors complaining about that, do you?

      When Tiljander is put to bed, maybe I’ll pick another small topic. Plenty of them to choose from.

    • AMac: McKitrick and Michaels HAD to send in a correction, in order to maintain their narrative (like Klotzbach et al). A comment that would have destroyed their analysis and argued it DID matter would not be nice, as they’d get into a “yes it matters, no it doesn’t” opinion fight. Something similar with Klotzbach et al. One can discuss whether they did “the right thing” by maintaining their original claim…

      In contrast, there’s no evidence that a different use of the Tiljander proxies has a significant effect on the reconstruction. In fact, the supplementary figure which removes those proxies (and some others) suggests it does little to the reconstruction. You also have to remove the treerings before something substantial occurs. And it happens that just about all paleoclimatologists DO consider treerings useful temperature-proxies.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Looks like M&M have gotten an extended comment on Douglass, et. al. (2007) accepted. We’ll see, I’m pretty suspicious of any of their results.

  174. DC: McIntyre publish… comments go way beyond.

    Amac: I agree that people make lots of broad claims about lots of things … Be that as it may. I’m making narrow claims.

    I should have been clearer – I was referring to your comments, such as “emperor has no clothes” and so on. If I recall correctly you also referred to other, possibly worse, problems in Mann et al 2008. (No I’m not going to dig through CA or wherever it was to find that, but I presume willard and TCO know what I’m talking about).

    DC: … removing Tiljander would barely affect the central reconstructions of Mann et al 2008.

    Amac: My sense is that you’re incorrect, based on what Gavin has indicated (has seemed to indicate) in the comments to Tamino’s review of HSI. As with McKitrick and Michaels, we’d have to see the re-analysis to know for sure.

    As I understand it Gavin Schmidt was referring to Mann 2009. I haven’t checked but apparently the non-dendro non-Tiljander network validates back to 1500 only, whether EIV or CPS is used. (Yes, Mann has already done the analysis).

    But the central, headline CPS and EIV reconstructions (the ones that will be in AR5, say) do use tree-rings and they are relatively unchanged by the removal of Tiljander. (And, yes, Mann already did that analysis in the original paper).

    So we are not talking about a fundamental flaw, unlike, say, Klotzbach et al (or Lindzen and Choi, or McLean et al).

    • Well see here is an issue of where Mann and McIntyre disagree on a technical detail. Mann says the results don’t matter with or without Tiljander, Steve says they do. Particularly, the no-Tiljander case makes the results sensitive to bristlecone pines. This should be a point that is easy to resolve. Also easy to resolve is whether data was used upside-down, as McIntyre sais, or as Mann responded in PNAS, that accusation of upside-down usage is bizarre.

      Calibration issue is perhaps debatable, though at this point only one side is heard, AMac’s, which is McIntyre’s, which inherits from Tiljander’s, which is by silence in the paper, also Mann’s position.

      However, the points of whether data were used upside-down, has a correct answer. You could make a definite statement on this.

      Whether Tiljander matters to the results is also something you could weigh in on.

    • I have decided that McIntyre is correct, with regard to upside-down use. I am not yet 100% confident or close to it, but I have yet to see anything that contradicts that position.

    • DC, quick notes –

      > “emperor has no clothes” and so on

      My “emperor has no clothes” remark on Aug. 8 at 8:19 PM was a response to Nathan, specifically concerning Tiljander in Mann08. It isn’t a global musing about all real and imagined emporers, everywhere. Its focus seems clear in context and seemed clear to Nathan (even if it annoyed him). I wasn’t referring to other worse problems in Mann08. I suspect that other problems do exist but will save that for another day (which may, or may not, ever come).

      > As I understand it Gavin Schmidt was referring to Mann 2009.

      Gavin Schmidt was referring to the SI of Mann09. He said that this was the way that Mann and coauthors had chosen to address issues in Mann08, particularly with respect to Tiljander.

      > apparently the non-dendro non-Tiljander network validates back to 1500 only, whether EIV or CPS is used.

      Yes, that’s right, I think. The central point of Mann08 was the concordance and validity of reconstructions based on non-dendro proxies and those based on dendro proxies, going far past 1500. So the Mann09 SI has, at best, greatly walked back the extent of the paper’s claims. That “matters.”

  175. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Amac (0921, working my way back up to date):

    1. Reread my comment and the recent posts with Nathan which I was replying to (I just posted to the bottom though…hate threading). I wasn’t saying how you should spend your time, but McIntyre. I was saying what is a reasonable expectation for McIntyre to argue his case. Somehow, every other field of science and engineering and law and military and business can write things up clearly. But not contrarian climate science skeptics?

    This isn’t even a point of denialist versus alarmist. And I am a manly denialist. But Nathan is right on the “how to state your case fairly” issue. Just as technical papers have a buttzillion advantages over blogposts (and don’t EXCLUDE blogposting either!), so do technical reports at NASA have an advantage over PowerPoint presentations. Read what Tufte wrote about the confusing nature of the “deck” that managers reviewed before killing all those astronauts!

    It’s not really fair or effective to ask someone to “read the entire blog”. And ya know, I actually DID at one time. Look back and my footprints are all over 2005 and 2006. I’m not just saying this as someone who won’t even try. I been done it, man!

    2. Again, I wasn’t eliding (or avoiding or whatever that means) discussion of Tiljander as a proxy. I was honestly jumping into the Nathan/Amac debate on whether papers should be written.

    3. And (Willard will hate this, but I can’t help myself) why not trust me that this is not a sophomoric debater throwing up roadblocks to avoid debate, but the honest counsel of someone that has seen both formal and informal communications. Also, that IF McI was capable of easy-to-read convincing, accurate communications, I would not push the form so much. But he REALLY isn’t. I’ve waded in before. It is laborious and painful how much his valid points are confused by the blog posts. If he wrote very clear and accurately like a Volokh, I would not be so picky. Yes, there would be other issues like archivability and searchability. But at least the communications would be clear. But right now it’s not.

    4. [I don't know why I have to repeat this.] Based on my review of Tiljander, I think it is an extremely questionable set of proxies. The author gives a different orientation for what Mike used. The XRD, lightsum and darksum seem confounded. The author also cites possible contamination from landuse, road building, bridgebuilding and whatever it was the farmer saw in 1930 and described in 1999 (can’t recall). I also have a lot of concern about the scale of the rampup in average value, especially average value versus variability, from 1700-recent. If I had to guess, I think the sediments have either lack of consildiation OR land use as the driving factors from 1700 to recent.

    I think Mike should have probably not used those sediments or been more clear about the issues with them. Put the concerns front and center in the paper, not the SI. Essentially what he did was extend MBH further back and make it more dendro-independent by mixing in some sediments and cavesicles. Fine. But those proxies have some big issues. Fine. Just put it front and center. He should have also had a varveologist (and probably given what we found as issues on Tiljander) a cavesickleologist on his team and some sort of screening mechanism by paper reading (although the comments in the SI show papers were read…just formalize it.)

    Furthermore, perhaps if Tiljander is typical of proxy quality, then there are other problems elsewhere. In a sense, Mike might be just treating it like all the others, since he’s just used to feeding hundreds of series into the proxyhopper. I donno though. And of course that implicates (maybe not fatally, just makes one ponder) his general method of feeding huge amounts of series into complicated algorithms (a sort of aphysical approach).

    5. You make me cringe all the time, when you say that the contamination makes it impossible to calibrate. Maybe I’m being overly precise on language. I get what you are saying, but I wouldn’t say that it’s impossile to calibrate, but that it’s WRONG to calibrate. IOW, there’s an algorithm, it even has some sorts of safeguards (perhaps given the result, not strong ones) and Tiljander if you just feed it into the machine DOES calibrate. I think your issue is that it was wrong to run a calibration since the concerns of Tiljander (and perhaps the big runup, but if so we need to quantify and make it a hurdle for everything) put the period of instrumental coverage in question physically. Therefore, it;s impossible to know what is going on back in the old days also. I think that’s your point. (I would also add, that if we had contamination concerns even in the period of the old days, that we still couldn’t use the calibration, either.)

    • Thanks for the clarification/restatement, PolyisTCOandbanned. We don’t agree on all points, but we are within shouting distance on the issues that count.

      Re: publication, per my response to you at CA, any one person’s comment/blog/op-ed/letter to the editor/rant/article — it is what it is. You say to McIntyre, “You should do X!” OK, good point, maybe he will and maybe he won’t. As for me, I’ve explained my view on my obligation to either shut up or write a peer-reviewed article (I am under no such compulsion). ClimateBlogCommenters demanding that other ClimateBlogCommenters must do other than ClimateBlogComment to deserve to be heard: seems a bit meta.

      Impossible to calibrate vs. wrong to calibrate: I don’t get your objection.

      It is impossible to calibrate any temperature signal contained in Lightsum to the CRUTEM3v record because any such temperature signal is overwhelmed by contaminating signal in the 19th and 20th Centuries (see list of means and SDs supra).

      It is wrong to calibrate the Lightsum data series to the CRUTEM3v record because any temperature signal in this data series is overwhelmed by contaminating signal in the 19th and 20th Centuries (see list of means and SDs supra).

      Seems to me like the same thing.

      If I had my way, people would look at the graphs of the Tiljander data series (here, files downloadable from and at the CRUTEM3v gridcell temperature anomaly synthesis for 1850-1995 (here). Think of Lightsum as a measurement of some physically-real aspect of a varved sediment series. Now try and imagine how you could possibly perform a direct calibration of the 1850-1995 segment of Lightsum to temperature, in a way that might — might! — be meaningful to the pre-1720 portion of the series.

      I can’t imagine a plausible approach. Neither could you, when I asked this question over at CA. Neither could Kaufman, who tossed the 19th and 20th century parts of Tiljander and performed an indirect calibration for his corrected Science 2009 paper, when he learned from McIntyre of this issue.

  176. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Rest of the Willard/Amac comments:

    I looked at the McI comments that Mann08 made the treeless recon a prominent issue (as I was worried he was being unfair). But it really is a big part of that paper, and a big part of what made that paper note-worthy versus earlier work. It was very prominent. So remove tiljander and M08 is reduced in importance and you’re more back towards square one. No, the tree-less recon wasn’t the only think in M08 (but it was a big claim of notability, not some tiny detail).

    It sounds like Mike conceded the issue with the SI comments of Mann09. I personally dislike that way of conceding it (should be front and center). But what’s done is done. Mike is an ego scientist who loves his PNAS/Nature/Science publications. So be it. Have seen his sort in completely non-political sciences (nano-electronics and the like).

  177. PolyisTCOandbanned

    —cross-posted from CA—

    Steve: good job getting something written up. Makes it much easier to sink teeth into.

    All: Before indicting peer review, I would remind you that it is incredibly common for writers to complain about peer review and unfairness and while it’s not ALWAYS the writers at fault, my experience is it’s more often than not. Also, you really can’t judge the sitation without seeing the previous drafts, the reviews themselves, etc. You’re just getting a limited amount of info and from only one side. Many scientists will show pre-prints of papers that are in review, but (despite the very frequent communications inherent in a blog), the 3 Ms don’t seem to do so. (Ross does some and to his credit, and the drafts aren’t that strong at early stages, see WUWT for recent example.)

    P.s. Cross-posted at Deep Climate in case Steve snips this (while leaving the other “peer review complainers” up.)

  178. A few have noted the appearance in press of McKitrick, Mcintyre and Herman:
    “Panel and Multivariate Methods for Tests of Trend Equivalence in Climate Data Series”

    We explain panel and multivariate regressions for comparing trends in climate data sets. They impose minimal restrictions on the covariance matrix and can embed multiple linear comparisons, which is a convenience in applied work. We present applications comparing post-1979 modeled and observed temperature trends in the tropical lower- and midtroposphere. Results are sensitive to the sample length. In data spanning 1979 to 1999, observed trends are not significantly different from zero or from model projections. In data spanning 1979 to 2009 the observed trends are significant in some cases but tend to differ significantly from modeled trends.

    A few quick reactions:
    a) The tropical LT and MT model trends have gone up a lot compared to Santer et al (about 0.07 0.05C per decade it appears). Can all this be attributed to 10 more runs and 10 additional years of model data?

    b) The “models” confidence interval of about +/-0.03C appears way too small (I think I’ve seen that movie before).

    c) A more apt metric to test would be the amplification factor (ratio of LT or MT to surface). Certainly omission of surface trends renders the analysis incomplete.

  179. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Thanks, Deep. It will be interesting to see people get into it. I usually take a logical issue analysis method of trying to pick stuff apart. But when I saw all the linear algebra at the beggining, my brain turned off. Will be good to hear people take this apart. Would be interested in Annan’s take since he is good at thinking through logic issues of hypothesis tests and the like.

    • Gavin's Pussycat


      [DC: Rescued from the spam filter, which apparently doesn't like terse comments with links. I guess Annan won't mind two links to his post. ]

  180. One more item on MMH 2010:

    The “panel” trend comparison was only done for 1979-2009, not 1979-1999, That means we can’t see if the higher calculated model trend values are from the extra runs, the extra years or both.

    • PolyisTCOandbanned

      Why don’t they do full factorials? Why do they change two (or more) things at once and then we can’t tell which factor drove the change? There is a pattern of this happening several times before!? GRRRRR.

  181. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Well Steve is actively suppressing my posts now. Had an ontopic, several paragraphs long, that Steve (or Roman, PEte, etc. but they worksfor Steve) supressed. It might have even been wrong, but it was substantive. Really better than most of the previous posts. Also a bunch of my previous posts are going into moderation. But all the pretty contentless “congrats” and “peer review sucks” posts are allowed to stand.

    The censored post discussed a view of Douglas, Santer, McItrick (probably the most substantive part and would have been good to let that stand and rebut if needed). Also had an observation that most of us prefer to discuss peer review than the substance, since the area is tricky and difficult (and that I inlcude myself in the hoi here).

    Well, Amac, it was fun, but I can’t spend time writing several paragraphs out and get them snipped. Have fun over there. I guess it may still have use to you. Just realize the discussion is limited to being more one of people on a certain side….

    • Sorry to hear that, Poly. McIntyre has seemed to have been good about generally not moderating aggressively, from what I’ve seen. All one can do is save locally with the intention of cross-posting, per what you did supra. That’s a deterrent to the free flow of ideas, I find. Aggressive moderation is an excellent tactic for shaping a consensus, the window dressing of contrary posts that get though add authenticity and spice. If that’s the goal .

      Of course you can always post on low-traffic blogs… or start your own…

      Talking/arguing through Tiljander with you has been really helpful.; made me look again at some things I’d glided over. Also jointly coined “proxyhopper,” a catchy description. I hope my two cents in this regard were made clear over at CA. Regards, AMac

  182. Santer et al 2008 Trends deg C/dec. and S.E. (1-sig) from Table 1:
    Multi-model mean LT: 0.215 0.198
    Multi-model mean MT: 0.199 0.181

    MMH 2010 trends and S.E. from table 2:
    Models LT: 0.272 0.013
    Models MT: 0.253 0.012

    Yes, that’s right, the S.E. in MMH 2010 is an order of magnitude smaller!

  183. PolyisTCOandbanned

    No sweat, Amac. Your blog is a good location. As is making my own. I really worry about the interference with work and getting ahead commercially though. (Not just the time, but the presence.) I’m already basically outable on the internet and I’ve done a lot of silly things (much worse than you saw.)

    I can sorta understand McI wanting to stop me from taking on the whole crew. But then he really ends up spending time trying to keep the tone of his place and on fostering the community. And I judge the man more by completed analyses than by page views. And I really think the blogging has distracted him from making contributions.

    Anyhow…c’est la vie. Done with my EPO-less bike ride. Off for a natural arms lift (shoulder rehab). first time trying it…bunch of different stuff. Will be interesting…

  184. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I’m concerned that there is some definitional disconnect giving you such AMAZINGLY tight error bars. Some difference versus Santer. that this is the operative issue, not the 10 years extra data or the new method. (Of course had you done the full factorial of all the changes, we could see what was causing what. We can’t tell when you are changing more than one thing at a time.

    I suspect you are wrong if you are using a different defintion than Santer, but even if not wrong, or arguably not wrong, I think it encumbent to you to discuss the difference if there was one (as was the case with Douglas versus Santer dispute).

    Or perhaps there are just many fewer models with the long runs? So you show a signifacnt difference for “these models” but others would not have one?

    In any case, I’ve asked James Annan to comment. He’s a sharp dude on this sort of thing.

    P.s. I think this is pretty content-filled post (even if I’m wrong) compared to all the peer review whining. But in any case cross posted at DC, to prevent/show your censoring…

  185. IIRC, Santer et al took into account the spread and variability of models. The model mean as such is quite smoothed out and if MMH just took a straight linear regression of the model mean series, presumably the standard error would be much lower. Especially if there is no auto correlation correction.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      DC, a very pertinent observation. I just re-read both papers and indeed, Santer did consider (in the second comparison) the inter-model spread. (His auto-correlation correction only applied to the pairwise comparison of data and individual models, his first comparison.)

      MMH on the other hand consider inter-model spread nowhere. The just fill in the panel variance-covariance matrix from the individual models’ time series wiggles (but their method does consider temporal auto-correlation, even better than the simple correction Santer used). I expect this explains a lot of the significant trend discrepancies they find.

      …and of course radio sonde data has instrumental issues. As has probably the UAH satellite data (at least).

  186. I think they changed methods to get it accepted by the other journal. The original journal of Santer 08 rejected them when they compared with the same method. That may still be available somewhere.

  187. PolyisTCOandbanned

    —crossposting to document censoring——

    So on the order of a century, our +/-, per IPCC for modeled surface temperature is on the order of 50% of the average. But here, at an earlier time (so less forcing from C02) and with less total time (so chance should have a larger role), your +/- is less than 10%? Something’s strange here…

    p.s. Amac, you know how you did your little analysis of the Tiljander numbers? Do these model error bars make sense to you, intuitively?

    [DC: I think the comments are going through at CA. ]

  188. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Yes. I think showing the the censoring improves the odds of posts not getting scrubbed. But if you want me to stop, I can. You do have your own blog to run. :)

    • TCO,
      I suspect part of the problem with your interaction w/ Mc is a technology-relationship interaction issue.

      To wit: the new blog host does not offer the ability to move OT posts into a different thread, as was done before. If your post is considered OT, the moderator has two choices: leave it or snip it. He can’t move what you say into Unthreaded. Not a choice.

      Combine that with the fact that you and SM tend to get into… “vigorous discussions” (high temp :) ) … it’s clear you are pushing his buttons, and he yours.

      I don’t have a solution, unfortunately. Your style and his obviously grate on each other. :(

  189. PolyisTCOandbanned

    He cut the post. I left this post up, but now he’s pre-screening everything I put up (amd in moderation queue):

    I’m talking about your TIGHT ERROR BARS for “the models”. That’s the key thing driving the inconsistency, the result in MMH. I’m talking about the figure you put up in this post. I am DEAD ON TOPIC. Go futz with the peer review whiners (clean up Loehle perhaps). But I am criticizing the main result!

    P.s. I’ve had it for the night. What a coward. GRRR.

    [DC: Reading the details of the MMH paper, there appear to be greatly differing assumptions about the model ensemble. ]

  190. Amac

    I’m not trying to tell you how to spend your time, I’m just suggesting the best way for you to get your message across.

    I think your Lambert example is different, as that is a very simple mistake, and the result was much more straight forward. With Tiljander it’s far more nuanced and it needs the rigour of publication to sort out the actual effect it has on reconstructions. For example my understanding is that without Tiljander and tree rings you can still do a reconstruction, it just ends in about 1500 AD – but it looks much the same. So is your case that any reconstructed temp prior to 1500AD is ‘useless’? Because although that’s kind of interesting, it doesn’t really change anything does it?

    [DC: I don't think that's quite right. The non-dendro, non-Tiljander reconstruction still covers the same period. And, yes, it "looks" much the same. But it only passes *validation* back to 1500 (i.e. only 1500 to present is "skillful").

    The way validation works is that one attempts to "reconstruct" part of the instrumental period by calibrating against the other part, using a given set of proxies. As one goes further back in time, the number of candidate and passing proxies is progressively lower and eventually there is a threshold beyond which the reconstruction is no longer "validated". If one remove proxies for whatever reason, this threshold is more likely closer to the present.

    Actually, I think Mann has shown the various effects of removing Tiljander proxies. But reframing the issue in a more general way, would it be possible to detect proxy suitability through some kind of consistency test? And perhaps different varve proxy types have differering a priori expected correlation with temperature? It would defeat the purpose of Mann's methodology to require proxy-by-proxy determination. But perhaps there is a refinement possible - e.g. thickness a priori positive with temperature, XRD negative.

    I tend to think other proxy types could also use refinement in screening, e.g. spelothems might be dependent on location. ]

    • Thanks DC.

      This whole issue confounds me. I don’t understand why it is the focus of so much attention. Surely the real issue with AGW is climate sensitivity.
      I’m not complaining or suggesting people shouldn’t analyse Mann’s work, but the focus on his work seems a little excessive… And, well, pointless.

      It’s also interesting to watch the progression of Mann’s work. It seems as people make claims about his work, his next work seems to counter that claim (and more). Not suggesting it’s his motivation but he certainly uses the literature to voice his opinion, this is a good example of how to debate a point in science. A pity that his ‘opponents’ don’t take him up on the challenge and prefer to snipe from the bushes so to speak.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Yes, if you remove all the questionable proxies plus all tree rings, you lose the period before 1500. But hey, does anyone seriously suggest that all tree rings are junk? Surely not. The comparison back to 1500 shows that removing them all (even in the absence of Tiljander) changes little, showing that the tree-ring and non-tree ring data tell the same story. Why would they suddenly stop doing so before 1500, even if we aren’t able any more to check it?

  191. Nathan | August 10, 2010 at 12:28 am –

    > I don’t understand why it is the focus of so much attention.
    > It seems as people make claims about his work, his next work seems to counter that claim (and more).
    > this is a good example of how to debate a point in science.

    In my opinion Prof. Mann’s approach is remarkably poor, if one takes Feynman’s “Cargo Cult” admonitions to heart. Tiljander-n-Mann08 offers a case study of how not to go about debating a point in science.

    In my experience, scientists are on the whole very smart and very conscientious (i.e. hard-working and diligent). Beyond that, I couldn’t generalize–it takes all kinds. Thus, their responses to adversity (e.g. embarassment) will be all over the map. To me, what is revealing about Tiljander isn’t that Mann08′s authors made some mistakes due to carelessness and expectation bias — so what, this happens all the time. Nor are Prof. Mann’s defensive and aggressive reactions to the discovery of his errors particularly noteworthy. Instead, it is the performance of the broader scientific community that merits attention. This means AGW Consensus science-advocacy bloggers, and–more importantly–scientific journals (PNAS) and AGW Consensus climate scientists.

    That is why Tim Lambert’s degrees/radians example is such an illuminating discussion point.

    I appreciate your Aug. 6 @ 7:50 PM suggestion that I establish contact with McIntyre and jointly write a peer-reviewed paper with him. It has come up before, as an explanation of “why I will dismiss what you’re saying, at this point.” I decline, partly for the reasons given upthread, and also because the topic at hand isn’t a fit subject for a technical paper. Mann08′s authors’ errors are in the same mold as degrees/radians: trivial.

    If there’s academic hay to be made from this affair, it is as the nucleus for a sociology of science investigation.

    It’s too bad that Judith Curry made numerous misstatements of technical facts, as she started speaking out in the climate wars. That a shower of bricks came sailing her way was predictable and in some respects justifiable. That aside: I thought her general observations about “tribalism” and its effects on climate science have been spot-on. In my opinion, they provide the most useful lens through which to view Tiljander-in-Mann08, even though she’s never addressed the subject directly, to my knowledge.

    • Amac

      As interesting as the psychology and sociology that surrounds is, it in itself, is not ‘science’. If this is your interest, if you are worried about ‘tribes’ and ‘cargo-cult’ science etc. Then good luck to you, as this is where our conversation ends. I can’t think of much less interesting.

      “It’s too bad that Judith Curry made numerous misstatements of technical facts…”
      yes, it is too bad, and she has done a great disservice. Strangely I would’ve thought this, in itself, was EXACTLY being ‘tribal’.

      The ‘trivial’ error of how Tiljander was used is not the same as what effect Tiljander has on the reconstruction. do you see the difference?

      If you don’t want to publish, or you think it’s not interesting enough to publish (which is weird, lots of uninteresting stuff gets published, and I would’ve thought that if this was really serious it would be interesting to someone). then don’t do it. However, I don’t think you can expect any scientists outside the blog-o-sphere to listen. And if Mann makes a new reconstruction, let’s call it Mann et al., 2012, and if he demonstrates a new method that somehow meets your approval, you’ll have missed the opportunity to get your name in lights.

  192. > Instead, it is the performance of the broader scientific community that merits attention. This means AGW Consensus science-advocacy bloggers, and–more importantly–scientific journals (PNAS) and AGW Consensus climate scientists.

    This list is not explicit enough to provide an appropriate “induction step.”

    > If there’s academic hay to be made from this affair, it is as the nucleus for a sociology of science investigation.

    Indeed, that’s an important aspect. From the sociology of science, insisting on Feynman is not only jejune, it conflates sociology with deontology. What is being done is never really what should be done.

    The sociology of science is an important hay, but there are others. From the top of my hat: law, communication, public relation, policy analysis, etc.

    Insisting that “AGW Consensus science-advocacy bloggers”, “scientific journals” and “AGW Consensus climate scientists” publicly condemn Mann is not realist. (Arguing that “we should admit mistakes” is unclear and moot at best.)

    More than that, it is morally appalling. No one should stand between the neverending showdown between Steve and Mike. If we should, the only choice we have is to condemn that kind of public character assassination.

    • willard | August 10, 2010 at 10:47 am –

      > More than that, it is morally appalling.

      Your antecedent (bolded) is unclear.

      As best I can tell, you are accusing me of engaging in morally appalling behavior.

      If not: please withdraw the charge or clarify your meaning.

      If so: please don’t paraphrase (I find many people aren’t as good at it as they believe themselves to be). Instead, please quote my words directly, so I can better understand the merits of your assertion.

    • AMac,

      The “it” refers to the subject of the previous sentence:

      > Insisting that “AGW Consensus science-advocacy bloggers”, “scientific journals” and “AGW Consensus climate scientists” publicly condemn Mann (…)

      Not only I don’t find it realist, I find it morally appalling. (I could even argue it’s ethically dubious, but not now.) The two important expressions to know what I am talking about are “insisting” and “publicly condemn Mann”.

      It would be tough to quote an insistence. It can only describe a recurrent behaviour. After insistence comes harassment.

      To “publicly condemn Mann” is a request that is more easily quotable. I don’t recall you saying it. This is easily recognizable, even if it is always a judgement call.

      But here are reasons why I talk about this now.

      First, this is an general point, a point that I rarely see discussed in climate blogs. We are in a blogland: this is not a trial and we are not part of a jury. Second, this general point is important here, as what we do here has an impact in the public lives of people. I don’t know what is the exact legal tenor of what every commenter does in blogland, but there sure are tangible consequences. Third, these consequences should fit the aim of the objective of communication: it’s a very basic point of ethics.

      So my main point is general. Recalling it is not unimportant to me. I don’t see the need to defend Mann. I see the need to oppose to what I find appalling.


      To see if that fits what you’re seeking in your Tiljander quest, we would need to make clear what you mean by:

      > (I)t is the performance of the broader scientific community that merits attention. This means AGW Consensus science-advocacy bloggers, and–more importantly–scientific journals (PNAS) and AGW Consensus climate scientists.

      I take it this is supposed to generalize this previous remark:

      > Also, DeepClimate, FWIW, you seem to be the first pro-AGW consensus blogger to make that simple statement. Ari Jokkimatti almost got there, then shied away. PolyisTCOandbanned, I’m unsure where he stands, now.

      (Please note that Andy Russell was convinced by your argumentation. You should count him too.)

      It would be interesting to know what you’re implying by “making” statements or “shying away” from statements, statements you characterize as “simple”.

      As I see it, what you are doing right now is ok. But it does not take that much not to be ok anymore. All depends on what is induced from the analysis of pro-AGW consensus bloggers, I guess.

      By the way, as a matter of precising what I meant earlier, **any** kind of character assassination is reprehensible. So that goes for anyone.

    • > Please note that Andy Russell was convinced by your argumentation.

      To my knowledge, Andy Russell’s only remark on Tiljander has been a comment in a thread on his blog that went,

      > Ok, that sounds pretty convincing.

  193. Gavin's Pussycat

    Mann08′s authors’ errors are in the same mold as degrees/radians: trivial.

    Yep. But with the interesting difference that they are demonstratedly without consequence for the reported results of Mann08. Perhaps that explains why no corrigendum has been forthcoming… it works both ways, AMac.

  194. I’m breaking free of threading, because I want to highlight the discussion and because it’s getting hard to find the beginning of the thread (yes, yes, I know should do a blog post on Tiljander; unfortunately, it’s well down on my to list).

    Nested above Gavin’s Pussycat says:

    willard, I have to agree with AMac here… it is clear what he means by “cannot be meaningfully calibrated”. He simply means you shouldn’t do it, and if you do it anyway you’ll get nonsense. I agree, for a reason that he leaves out from his comment: the orientation is wrong, for clear physical reasons. Warmer climate means shorter winters, less snow on the ground, smaller spring melt. Less light sum deposit. What you see in the time series, is more. It can only be contamination, and it overwhelms the warming signal.

    This is for Lightsum and X-ray density. We don’t know about the other ones, but… even if the orientation is right, in the light of the above can you trust the magnitude?

    Actually we do know that Darksum is expected by Tiljander to have positive correlation with temperature. So, in that case, we have to rely on detecting the contamination that overwhelms the signal. Above, I’ve pointed to one way to do this (a test for sharp magnitude/variance change in the instrumental period relative to the previous record) that would still respect the “automatic” nature of Mann’s algorithm.

    In a similar vein, the a priori classification of lake sediment proxies should be re-examined. Are LightSum and XRD always a priori in negative correlation with temperature? And in this regard, thickness may turn out to be problematic. If one considers thickness as simply the sum of annual dark and light layers in lake sediment, then it may be difficult to assign the sign of correlation a priori. Further progress along these lines would probably require examination of other lake sediment proxies (I’m not even sure how many of these passed screening, but there are some lake sediment proxies in the initial set of 1209 candidate proxies).

    Note also, that as far as I know, McIntyre has never clearly discussed these issues. But perhaps Amac can point us to a discussion where he does.

    • > But perhaps Amac can point us to a discussion where he does [clearly discuss these issues].

      I’m not sure which issues you are referring to. Mostly, I’ve just written on my blog to amuse myself, as until recently there has been no movement I could sense: “skeptics” could see the “obvious” problems with Tiljander and thus didn’t need convincing, while “proponents of the AGW Consensus position” didn’t see any questions worth serious discussion, and thus couldn’t be convinced.

      I have had long back-and-forths in the comments at Lucia’s Blackboard with Boris, Michael Tobis, and carrot eater that discussed most of the points raised, and then scientist and I recently hashed things out at ClimateAudit.

      On the one hand, it’s a pain in the neck to scrounge in the comments (so, I’ll compile a post on the subject, but this is Hell Week at work and it won’t be right away). On the other hand, this stuff is not an intellectual challenge. Once one starts looking critically at the Tiljander proxies, one realizes that they scream “uncalibratable!” in half a dozen ways.

      Meanwhile, here is a walk-through of the upside-down XRD proxy, Jarvykortta River. TCO didn’t like it–too cute–I guess you can’t please everyone.

      For CPS, you need the CRUTEM3v 5×5 gridcell that covers Lake Korttajarvi, to see what Mann08 screens and validates (calibrates) against. I pulled that (by hand, shows my dedication if not my skillz), it’s here.

      … Some time later … OK, I started to review the relevant comments in the recent Climate Audit thread, and assembled some into a fairly coherent narrative that addresses many of the issues that DeepClimate may be interested in. Or not. Anyway, here is the link.

    • Amac,
      The issues I have in mind have to do with the proxy orientation (i.e. a priori sign of correlation with temperature), rather than with contamination.

      Specifically, I’m wondering if McIntyre ever discussed:
      a) The fact that one of the proxies (DarkSum) was treated by Tiljander as having a positive correlation with temperature.
      b) Implications of Tiljander’s orientations for a priori sign of correlation of other lake sediment proxies used in Mann et al 2008.
      c) Varve thickness as a proxy in Tiljander or other lake sediment studies, including the a priori “orientation” of varve thickness proxies.

      I do see that the orientation of DarkSum came up in your discussion with “scientist”, but above I’m asking about McIntyre’s original posts.

    • > I’m asking about McIntyre’s original posts.

      One would have to go back through his original posts to get that answer. I couldn’t say without doing the search.

      I can say that I am neither a genius nor a climate scientist, and that I first heard the name “Tiljander” while browsing Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog in late October 2009. Looking back to that Pielke thread and to the immediately following Stoat thread, I had grasped the fundamentals within a day or two. So it seems to me that it should not have been too difficult for Mann08′s coauthors to have figured them out promptly, as well.

  195. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Steve has got a new excuse for his bad model spread graphic: He blames it on the reviewers! I guess he does not understand the responsibility of having your byline on a paper…

    He’s also got some complaints to look at another rejected paper, but then he did not show the correct method in either his SI or as a full factorial within his paper.

  196. PolyisTCOandbanned

    (CA crosspost)

    Last night you censored me and I said nothing about “balls”. I made an apt point about what “the models” predict and how just having some physical/mathematical intution should make you realize that those tight error bars in your figures are not meaningful. You said it had nothing to do with the topic! Heck even if I’m WRONG, it was way more on topic (getting into your figures) than all the peer review whining.

    You just don’t want your ideas technically criticized, McIntyre.

    Oh…and if you group RSS and UAH together, the error bars of “the sattelites” are pretty big too and overlap “the models”, too…

    (cross posted for censorship prevention)

    [DC: OK, we get it. We all agree there is a problem with the C.I. on the model "panel" in MMH 2010, and that McIntyre is not dealing with it (and neither is McKitrick, really). I am hoping to do a post on the problem soon. Meanwhile folks can check out James Annan on this. ]

  197. I need a quick break, so…
    this Ross McKitrick fellow people mention…
    is he the same one who gave a talk to economists in Australia and quoted David Deming’s (then forthcoming) article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration?

    JSE sounds impressive. Anyone know that one?
    Although the Hollander article on
    suffocating sheep is hard to beat, “An Empirical Study of Some Astrological Factors in
    Relation to Dog Behaviour Differences by Statistical
    Analysis and Compared with Human Characteristics”
    is a contender, as they studied 500 puppies around Paris. Maybe some of those statistically inclined can explain that for me.
    back to work.

  198. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I’ts fine, Mr. Pete. You are a nice guy.

    BTW: I dispute the OT issue. McIntyre let a lot of peer review whining get in (which was OT), but prevented me from rebutting. OK…I can live with that. Not fair,ut fine. Just like letting someone slag me and have the ladt word, fine too. The real problem was last night (well before I got heated) when I pointed out the key comparable for the models uncertainty figure. Made comparisons to century trend predictions and the like. And McIntyre cut it. BTW, he’s wrong and all kinds of eitther peoploe think so too.

    He’s just a dishonest debator on the Internet though, so no biggie. Wash my hands of him.

  199. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Have fun at CA and thanks for reaching out, Pet. Very manly of you. Serious. Enjoy the discussions. It will be a little more peacuful without the challenges and a little more wrong. No biggie. Just take care of yourself…

  200. Gavin's Pussycat

    Off topic (to the extent possible for an open thread):

    Anybody heard anything more than rumors about a thing called “Judithgate”?

    …no, not that Judith… Judith Lean. The Solar physicist.

    It started on a Chech website back in June. The accusation was that Lean was the only Solar expert on the IPCC team, and she had been referring only to her own paper with Frohlich. There was also something about faking a graph.

    The thing seems to have “gone viral”, but only on the more extreme conspirational sites, including of course The Motl. Bishop Hill mentions it shortly, with a question mark (interesting! Thinking of his “reputation”?). And that’s where Judithgate stands today. I learned about it by accident through a letter in a local paper.

    Reading up on what the IPCC actually wrote about solar makes the story look very improbable. Is that why it has died a quiet death? What happened to good old denialist gullibility?

    Enlightenment welcome.