O’Donnell Responds to Steig

From Climate Audit, more on the ongoing Antarctic kerfluffle.

By Ryan O’Donnell

Subsequent to my post on Feb 7, 2010 here, Eric Steig informed me by email that he had not seen our Response to his Third Review, as I had previously assumed. I apologize for my misunderstanding on this point, which was, however, incidental to the major concerns expressed in my post. A more detailed response on matters raised in Steig’s most recent RC post and other issues will be forthcoming.

My misunderstanding over whether Steig received the Response to the Third Review does not alter the fact that Steig acting as Reviewer A, in his Second Review, had asked the editor to “insist” that we present the “most likely” West Antarctica trends, specifically proposing iridge, although, in an email yesterday, Steig expressed “total surprise” that we had complied with his iridge proposal and, in his Feb 1 RC post, even criticized us for complying with his proposal. We will have more to say on this near the future, as his explanations remain insufficient.

Nor do I agree that the criticisms in his RC posts of the methodology have any merit. In his Third Review, Steig had raised similar points against iridge, notwithstanding his Second Review proposal of the approach and his Third Review comment that “use of the ‘iridge’ procedure makes sense to me, and I suspect it really does give the best results”. We responded fully to these concerns in our Response to his Third Review, although we were unaware until Feb 8, 2011 that Steig had not received a copy of our Response.

In any event, Steig knew or ought to have known that our response must have satisfied the editor of Journal of Climate and should have familiarized himself with our response before condemning the method that he had previously encouraged. Had Steig informed me that he had not seen a copy of our Response to his Third Review, I would have been delighted to send it to him. Instead, he chose to publicly disparage our paper using arguments that were both irrelevant and satisfactorily addressed – which was, unfortunately, no different than the tactic he used during review.

Steig’s recent outbursts are merely his most recent effort to obfuscate the underlying point of our critique: that whatever was original in Steig et al 2009 was based on faulty mathematics; and that whatever was correct in Steig et al 2009 was already known.

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98 thoughts on “O’Donnell Responds to Steig

  1. So, for all his vaunted fairness, it seems that Andrew Revkin exaggerated greatly when he said O’Donnell was planning to issue an apology on the “worst of his accusations.” I don’t want to make too much of this as I obviously know no details, but he did say he was copied in on relevant emails and thus implied first hand knowledge…

  2. “bushy says:
    February 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Gutless indeed. I note that he made no attempt to defend his (science).”

    No, not science, math. Math is what keeps tripping people up on RC. It isn’t the science of statistics that seems to be the problem for team members. They seem to understand the concept, it’s the faulty mathematics used. In many cases you can say people “torture the data” to get what they want in statistics, this isn’t a case like this. This is a case of they screwed up the math to get their results.

  3. This is the best from RyanO’s response:

    “Steig’s recent outbursts are merely his most recent effort to obfuscate the underlying point of our critique: that whatever was original in Steig et al 2009 was based on faulty mathematics; and that whatever was correct in Steig et al 2009 was already known.”

    Any further comment can’t better that statement!

  4. Never ceases to amaze, does it? My mathematics teacher once told me that you cannot argue over mathematics, as it’s pure, unlike science, politics, history etc. I bet he’s turning in his grave now. But I never thought I’d see science tortured, and now mathematics!

  5. Whilst I have no doubt that some of the criticism of Steig’s original work is well founded, I would like to remind all that open/public criticism is generally not considered to be good form amongst actual scientists. With this in mind, I don’t feel that scientists should stay behind the parapet (so to speak) but also I don’t feel that bloggers (of either/any AGW stance) should be actively derogatory or trying to encourage hasty discussion – this simply introduces more errors and misunderstandings.
    The peer review process should be able to take its course (albeit rather slowly!) and I am not in favour of such open ‘review’ as in this case, whereby ‘he said this’ and ‘he did that’ type of discussion/response takes place. Again, in my view, this tends to introduce unnecessary malice/distrust/resentment, etc – partly due to the hurried nature that responses are, or have to be made, to the ‘baying public’. I think it is fairly obvious various comments and replies to such comments have been made slightly in haste and this is not typical between scientists IMO. I am reminded of sounds of ‘fight, fight, fight’ in the school playground – but you get the gist.
    That said, any scientist willing to peep over the wall or stand his ground (or explain himself) should be encouraged and not hounded – even if they are in error.
    Just my twopenneth as this ‘event’ seems to be hellish dragging on!

  6. Steig got the answer he wanted even though the statistics were beyond his competence.

    Is that how climate science is done these days.

  7. “whatever was original in Steig et al 2009 was based on faulty mathematics; and that whatever was correct in Steig et al 2009 was already known.”

    Samuel Johnson is alleged to have said:

    “Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”

  8. “that whatever was original in Steig et al 2009 was based on faulty mathematics; and that whatever was correct in Steig et al 2009 was already known.”

    OUCH! . . . that is going to leave mark.

  9. Steig at al have tried to deflect the fact that their paper was flawed (fraud) by bringing in all this slanging match. Ignore the slanging match and remember Steig has admitted he is no statistician:

    whatever was original in Steig et al 2009 was based on faulty mathematics; and that whatever was correct in Steig et al 2009 was already known.

  10. @Roger “Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”

    Brilliant. When it comes to the complex system of climate and the simple Hansenisan CO2-explanation I always think of the following H.L. Mencken quote: “for every complex problem there is a simple solution – and it’s wrong”.

    Have a good weekend.

  11. Even if Steig was a part of the group that became reviewer A it is more likely that he was not aware of all the comments made by reviewer A! The responses from him show that reviewer A was a “Team Effort” with no one individual actually knowing what all was said in the process! Sort of like all the rest of the Team Works that have been produced!

  12. Why bother with a climate journal. I agree with Delingpole that you should stick to WUWT or SPPI. You won’t get any stupid scientists criticising you, and you get really good peer-by-peer review here.

    I think your article is brilliant and you explain things really clearly. You wouldn’t expect scientists to understand, they know nothing. They’d even probably try to say the ice is melting in Antarctica when everyone knows it’s cooling.

    Regards, Denny.

  13. The exact wording of Mencken’s quote makes it better:

    “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

  14. Let’s not forget that, in addition to the incompetent and (strangely?) tendentious use of statistics, there are major problems with much of the data used.

    See several WUWT and CA postings soon after Steig’s paper first appeared.

    So far as I am aware, these dodgy, spliced, abused station data sets have never been corrected by Steig.

  15. Kev-in-Uk

    I am a layman trying to have a better understanding of Climate Science. That said I have also spent 71 years of my life separating the “Wheat from the Chaff” on my own reading as much as I can on both sides..
    So my understanding of this dust up is That O is the Wheat since he has a Math back ground. Steig is the Chaff since he has said ” I am not a Statistician ” when the dustup is about a statistical outcome.
    I may be wrong but that makes Steig wrong and his Science questionable.

  16. Kev-in-Uk,
    So who are you lecturing? Steig? Because he was the one who recommended a particular method (iridge) and then publicly criticized O’Donnell for using the method he recommended. Can you not see how that would get an author particularly hacked off?

    O’Donnell was not the one who made this personal. O’Donnell did the right thing and showed in the peer-reviewed literature that Steig was wrong. There was nothing personal about it. It was Steig who made false claims about O’Donnell’s results and who publicly criticized O’Donnell for following his recommendations. Don’t you think the public has a right to know that Steig would stoop to such actions? I certainly do.

    My conclusion is that Eric Steig has been hanging around Michael Mann too much.

  17. I have four relevant questions that have probably been already covered in previous articles (forgive me). I tried to post them at RealClimate before the thread was closed, but my attempts were denied. Ryan, would you mind recapping by giving concise straightforward answers to these questions?

    1) Were Steig’s data and methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.) freely available so others could replicate his results?

    2) After all was said and done, did you and Steig end up processing the same data using the same methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.)?

    3) If not, why not? (rhetorical question). As ‘Reviewer A’, Stieg made 88 pages of comments about O’Donnell’s paper. There’s no excuse whatsoever for mis-communication between the author and peer ‘Reviewer A’.

    4) Is it possible (legal) to post Steig’s data and methods on WUWT so anyone who wishes could reprocess the same data, using the same methods?

    Thanks

  18. I bet Eric Steig wishes he had a time machine and could go back and remove the RC thread about Ryan’s paper.

    That has to be one of the biggest own goals the ‘Team’ has ever made.

    Just consider, Ryan et al paper comes out and RC and the ‘Team’ spin it as further confirmation of Steig et al. This new paper had just made some further improvements to the statistical analysis that’s all!!

    Now some people on here and other blogs realised that this interpretation was completely wrong. The paper made no great claims as to what the actual trend in Antarctica was, just that it showed that Steig et al was absolutely flawed and in effect should be disregarded in the scientific literature.

    However, this view had no great traction with the public and the media and the ‘Team’ could chalk up another win for their RC censorship and PR.

    Unfortunately, due to their arrogance and ego, they could not leave it there. Nooo, they had to have the last word, not even the slightest blemish, inflicted by a non-believer, could be allowed to remain. Oh the hubris!

    So we can see what has happened now.

    It is now all over the internet about the dodgy dealing by Eric.

    His paper can now be clearly be seen by everyone to be virtually worthless.

    He has been forced to admit that he is ‘no statistician’. I think he has done this to ward the Indians off at the pass! Because if he tried to claim competence in the subject, with such obvious flaws in the analysis, then he would open himself up to the charge that he knew this all along and went with it, deliberately, because it could be made to back up his claims in other areas. This would be scientific misconduct and perhaps Eric would rather be known as incompetent rather than something altogether more nasty!

    It also reopens the issue of misconduct in the peer review process by the ‘Team’ that was highlighted in the ‘Climategate’ scandal. Here it is again in full view of the world.

    It begs the question of who were the Reviewers of Steig’s original paper? How could it have passed through this process if it had been reviewed by an objective expert statistician? Was it ‘Pal’ review rather than Peer review? Will we ever know?

    Well done Ryan, for your dogged determination in the face of such obstruction by the ‘Team’ and now your efforts have born fruit in spectacular fashion!

    Alan

  19. Kev-in-Uk says:
    February 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    “….I would like to remind all that open/public criticism is generally not considered to be good form amongst actual scientists. With this in mind, I don’t feel that scientists should stay behind the parapet (so to speak) but also I don’t feel that bloggers (of either/any AGW stance) should be actively derogatory or trying to encourage hasty discussion – this simply introduces more errors and misunderstandings….”
    ========================================================
    Well, I don’t disagree with the thoughts expressed, but perhaps this would be a good time to remind people of the events relative to this affair.

    ES was a reviewer(supposedly anonymous) for the O’Donnell paper. He insisted, requested, or suggested (depending on how one wants to characterize the exchanges) a change in the study. The change was made. ES then goes to RC and posts a critique of the paper specifically criticizing the change he insisted, requested or suggested. Further, he mischaracterizes the process of which the change to paper occurred. O’Donnell, rightly, calls ES on the bs, and correctly characterizes ES’ actions as duplicitous. ES then goes on RC and blathers about “Personal Responsibility”.

  20. By the way, the scientists should know that once a paper has been published, as you say it is no longer questionable. So why it is being questioned I have no idea. I think you are right to be miffed that anyone would question your excellent work even after it was accepted. I bet they never question the work of a real scientist. They should have stopped the review as soon as they said: ” …are a substantive contribution to the literature and represent real improvements to the methods used in earlier work.”

    That was all that was needed and proves that the paper is good and all earlier work is rubbish. I hope you didn’t take any notice of any questions about your paper or any comments made by reviewers. That would have been just pandering to the ignorant scientists.

    When will you go back to Antarctica? Your research is really valuable.

  21. Mike Davis says:
    February 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Well, then. If it turns out that someone other than Steig (Mann, Schmidt?) suggested/demanded that iridge be used, it would add an interesting turn to this scandal.

  22. Alan Millar says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:14 am
    “……It begs the question of who were the Reviewers of Steig’s original paper? How could it have passed through this process if it had been reviewed by an objective expert statistician? Was it ‘Pal’ review rather than Peer review? Will we ever know?”
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    This is a point that has been going through my head for sometime but which does not seemed to have been suffieiciently emphasised. It is a fundamental point and should be stressed.
    The fact that Steig’s original paper got through the peer review system despite its obvious flaws demonstrates how unsatisfactory the peer review system is.
    The fact that reviewer A submitted an 88 page response, shows the other problem with peer review namely attempts to stiffle oposing views.

  23. Writers from earlier eras seem to have forseen this or similar situations – I guess there is nothing new in human conflict.
    HL Mencken’s quip takes the prize for me – “For every problem there is a solution, simple, neat…and wrong!”!
    The Team have certainly lost their way, along with their sense of humour.

  24. Steig did not write all of the 88 pages… it was a total of 88 pages that resulted, which includes, as I recall, 24 pages from Steig.

    Just to be clear since this keeps getting claimed.

    Mark

  25. richard verney says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:42 am
    The fact that reviewer A submitted an 88 page response, shows the other problem with peer review namely attempts to stiffle oposing views.

    Reviewer A did not submit 88 pages in response, even when all three reviews are added together. The original submission was however 95 pages long.

  26. Mike Davis says: “Even if Steig was a part of the group that became reviewer A it is more likely that he was not aware of all the comments made by reviewer A! The responses from him show that reviewer A was a “Team Effort” with no one individual actually knowing what all was said in the process…!”

    The comments went to the editor over Steig’s name. He bears full responsibility for them.

    Alan Millar says: “That has to be one of the biggest own goals the ‘Team’ has ever made.”

    The disconnect between AGW “science” and reality necessitates that Team activity will increasingly result in them “scoring” on themselves.

    Ron Cram says: “My conclusion is that Eric Steig has been hanging around Michael Mann too much.”

    Looks like Sister Michael Joseph was right when she used to lecture us about “avoiding bad companions.”

  27. It begs the question of who were the Reviewers of Steig’s original paper? How could it have passed through this process if it had been reviewed by an objective expert statistician? Was it ‘Pal’ review rather than Peer review? Will we ever know?

    The reply to McLean et al. provides a clue. Same cast of characters.

  28. One more thing. If Steig does try to sue you for defamation, you should just point here for proof and he will not persue it. It is obvious that you are being calm and rational about the whole thing and that it is the ignorant scientists who are doing obfuscating outbursts.

    One thing I don’t understand though is why he wrote to the editor of the journal that your paper is a worthwhile contribution when he obviously wanted to stifle publication. I suppose it was just so he could criticise you on RC for not doing what he suggested where people who don’t agree are not allowed to post. I don’t see him being game to post on here. Just shows the scientists are so ignorant of the peer-by-peer review process.

    I look forward to your next post rebutting the science.

    Regards, Denny.

  29. ” I would like to remind all that open/public criticism is generally not considered to be good form amongst actual scientists.”

    This is the heart of the problem. The wall of secrecy, hidden behind authority. The unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” that allows scientific errors and mistakes to persist, unknown to the public that largely foots the bill.

    The Internet has changed this as both scientists and governments are discovering.

  30. Unfortunately the demonstration that Stiegs original claims were rubbish will not get anywhere near the exposure afforded to the original claims themselves.
    What are the chances of this matter making it to the cover page of a glossy science magazine?

  31. The flawed methodology of Steig et al 2009 is now well understood by all – thanks to Ryan’s graphs and Bishop Hill’s eloquent annotation – http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/2/8/steigs-method-massacred.html

    Equally damning is Eric’s admission that statistical analysis is not his area of expertise. (So why was he lead author of S09 and why was he asked to review Ryan’s paper? )

    I am also very intrigued by what Phil wrote last night on http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/10/reviewer-a-responds/ – where he suggests that the satellite data available to Steig (with potential error of 3C due to cloud cover data uncertainties) could not have permitted the claimed the resultant temperature reconstruction accuracy to 1/10th of a degree. I repost Phil’s comment below in the hope that its significance is recognised:

    Phil says:
    February 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    From Response to Third Review A, page 8:

    …the reviewer seems to misunderstand the difference between spatial and serial [auto]correlation.

    From http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/07/eric-steigs-trick/#comment-254159:

    Steig stated by email today that he did not see the Response to Reviewer A’s Third Review…

    It seems to me that Dr. Steig should not have launched into a public criticism of O’Donnell et al., when he, admittedly, was not a statistician and apparently did not understand a subtle, but key, statistical distinction.

    Futhermore, it should be emphasized that Steig, et al. have not been completely transparent with regard to Steig 2009. They initially promised to electronically publish “all” of their data, but, subsequently, they have withheld and are continuing to withhold the raw satellite data as well as the details of the cloud masking. I don’t think that this data will ever be disclosed, because, if they do disclose it, IMO any remaining credibility would vanish. However, I could be wrong. Here is why I think that Steig et al. may need to be withdrawn:

    1. Steig et al. claim that their study is based on the satellite data (NATURE| Vol 457|22 January 2009, pg 462):

    We use passive infrared brightness measurements (TIR) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), which are continuous beginning January 1982 and constitute the most spatially complete Antarctic temperature data set. (emphasis and acronym added)

    They reference: Comiso, J. C. Variability and trends in Antarctic surface temperatures from in situ and satellite infrared measurements. J. Clim. 13, 1674–1696 (2000) (Comiso 2000) and state as the only explicit change to Comiso 2000:

    We have updated the data throughout 2006, using an enhanced cloud-masking technique to give better fidelity with existing occupied and automatic weather station data. We make use of the cloud masking in (Comiso 2000) but impose an additional restriction that requires that daily anomalies be within a threshold of ±10 °C of climatology, a conservative technique that will tend to damp extreme values and, hence, minimize trends. (parenthetical comment added)

    2. Comiso 2000 states:

    Except for 1979 and 1992, when infrared data for the entire year were processed, the derived temperature data that are currently available are only for a winter (July) and a summer (January) month during (1978-1997). (parenthetical comment added)

    References to seasonal trends are made in O’Donnell 2010, Steig’s first review (Review A) and its response, in Review C and its response and in Review D. In no way should this comment be taken as a criticism of O’Donnell 2010 as the processed AVHRR data was provided by Dr. Steig without further clarification and without any gaps (Steig et al Antarctica ant_recon.txt is what I had downloaded – it may have a different name now). The reader should be cautioned that Steig et al may have processed the infrared data for all months of the year and for each year, instead of what Comiso 2000 states, but, given the reference to Comiso 2000 and the refusal to disclose the raw satellite data, this question is not frivolous.

    3. Steig 2009 makes no mention of how much AVHRR data is lost due to cloud masking. Kato et al. 2006 (S. Kato, N. G. Loeb, P. Minnis, J. A. Francis, T. P. Charlock, D. A. Rutan, E. E. Clothiaux, and S. Sun-Mack, Seasonal and interannual variations of top-of-atmosphere irradiance and cloud cover over polar regions derived from the CERES data set, GRL, VOL. 33, L19804, doi:10.1029/2006GL026685, 2006) states (pg 3):

    The mean cloud cover over Antarctica is relatively constant, ranging between 0.62 and 0.75 during all seasons.

    Thus, it can be assumed that only 25% to 38% of the AVHRR data is retained after cloud masking. Furthermore, Comiso 2000 states as one of their conclusions:

    Among the key results of this study are the following: (a) satellite infrared data provide spatially detailed maps of surface temperature in the Antarctic region with an accuracy of 3°C…

    Thus, each datum of the satellite data matrix provided by Dr. Steig should have an individual uncertainty probably greater than 3°C, but certainly in whole degrees C, yet Steig 2009 asserts that there is statistically significant warming by calculating trends in tenths of degrees C with confidence intervals expressed in hundredths of degrees C. I would submit that such an assertion is highly questionable and should be believed only upon rigorous demonstration. (Once again, this is no reflection on O’Donnell 2010 as they specifically state in the response to Reviewer D that:

    Because our expertise is with the mathematics, we prefer to limit our paper to the mathematics.

    )

    Given all of the above, I respectfully submit that Steig 2009 should be withdrawn in its totality as the claimed warming trends appear to be a fantasy, given the cloud masking data losses of about two thirds and the uncertainty for each remaining datum of at least 3°C according to Comiso 2000 (Dr. Comiso is a co-author of Steig 2009). I remain open to withdrawing this comment if Steig et al. can rigorously demonstrate that the total uncertainty of the satellite data doesn’t swamp the small warming trends that they claim (I would likewise say that any claim that there is a small cooling trend would also be a fantasy on the same grounds). Withdrawal of Steig 2009, however, IMO should not impact O’Donnell 2010 as they have conclusively demonstrated that the statistical methodology employed in Steig 2009 is erroneous and that result would survive in any event. In closing, I would like to congratulate the O’Donnell 2010 authors for their fine scholarship.

    My only comment on O’Donnell 2010 is that they should have included somewhere the response to Reviewer D’s comment on pages 1-3 of said response that the O’Donnell trend was not statistically different than the Steig 2009 trend, as this may be a common misunderstanding when comparing two different trends. I thought the explanation by O’Donnell et al. was very instructive and it shouldn’t be buried in a review response.

  32. D. Nyall says: “…One thing I don’t understand though is why he wrote to the editor of the journal that your paper is a worthwhile contribution when he obviously wanted to stifle publication.”

    It appears inconsistent, but makes sense if you assume that Steig, himself, wrote it, whereas the bulk of the review was forced upon him by meddlers. Still, it went out over his name, so he gets the full blame while the others (if there were any) can just slink away.

  33. “Unfortunately the demonstration that Stiegs original claims were rubbish will not get anywhere near the exposure afforded to the original claims themselves.
    What are the chances of this matter making it to the cover page of a glossy science magazine?”

    I agree of course. And yet, you’d think one wise and savvy mainstream editor somewhere would see where this is headed and try to get out in front of it as much as possible. Because otherwise one would have to assume they are truly as benighted as they appear..

    It’s a scary and depressing thought…

  34. lapogus says: “…I am also very intrigued by what Phil wrote last night on http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/10/reviewer-a-responds/ – where he suggests that the satellite data available to Steig (with potential error of 3C due to cloud cover data uncertainties) could not have permitted the claimed the resultant temperature reconstruction accuracy to 1/10th of a degree. I repost Phil’s comment below in the hope that its significance is recognised….”

    Mindblowing! If correct, Steig et al 2009 should be withdrawn immediately. In fact, if only the part about Steig refusing to post his input data is right, the paper should be withdrawn. No data, no methods, no science.

  35. I think Ryan’s outburst was more than warranted, but still:

    If you muddy the waters by getting personal, you let others escape through the same muddy waters by getting equally personal.

    Stick to the science.

    That’s what we are here for.

  36. @Alan Millar
    good comment. and I do think that there has been some kind of ‘peer’ pressure or influence on Steig – probably by the ‘Team’ ?
    I guess it’s the same with the majority of any AGW ‘denouncing’ work – any authors of such work will tend to have to face the ‘Team’ response?

    ES deserves his criticism for his duplicitous behaviour IMO – but if the peer review process wasn’t so corrupt it may not have arisen.

    @Ron Cram – I wasn’t specifically trying to lecturing anyone – and I agree with you. But I suppose I just don’t want to see ‘us’ stoop to the level of the other side! But I do agree that ES comments warranted strong response and O’Donnell has seemed pretty cool with his actions – I just don’t think it should have been quite so public. But then again, I guess that was the intentional purpose of the ‘Teams’ tactics?

  37. ge0050 says:
    February 11, 2011 at 11:15 am
    Yes – we know errors in climate science are ‘persistent’ beggers! – and we know this is due entirely to the Team efforts.
    My meaning/point is that normally such discussion is mostly sorted before publication. It’s not fair to tar all science with the same brush. Usually, work would be forwarded to others for proper CRITICAL review and discussed between reviewer(s) and authors appropriately. Clearly in ES’ case the original publication was not correctly peer reviewed (if at all? – one can imagine the warmists gleefully sending it to print!). As others have commented, the outcome of all this is yet more egg on the faces of the Team for their biased ‘peer’ review system.

  38. jorgekafkazar says:
    February 11, 2011 at 11:26 am
    Phil. says: “…Reviewer A did not submit 88 pages in response, even when all three reviews are added together. The original submission was however 95 pages long.”

    “The total number of pages dedicated by that reviewer alone – and our subsequent responses – was 88 single-spaced pages, or more than 10 times the length of the paper. ”

    Indeed, they did say that on WUWT, however it is rather misleading. Reviewer A over three reviews contributed 24 pages, not 88.
    Also the original submission was 45 pages with 51 pages of supplementary information.

    http://www.climateaudit.info/data/odonnell/

  39. Richard:
    The fact that Steig’s original paper got through the peer review system despite its obvious flaws demonstrates how unsatisfactory the peer review system is.

    I don’t see it that way at all. It was almost guaranteed to pass review.
    * It had cool looking graphics,
    * it verified some things that were already known (peninsula warming)
    * and also showed something new (other areas warming)
    * Even a good statistician would need to be suspicious that an erroneous conclusion was reached before he attempted to unravel the statistics.
    * Since the procedures / codes used were not available, it’s an overwhelming task for a disinterested party or casual reviewer to try to review the statistics in detail, (but the study COULD be replicated by someone who WAS curious and interested and willing to invest hundreds of hours on replication).
    * Only the level of analysis that Jeff, Ryan, Steve committed can reveal the underlying procedure, which is when the problems can be noticed.
    * Withholding methods and code is the norm in “Mainstream” Climate Science, and probably other areas as well. Had methods been provided instead of having to be reverse engineered over weeks and months, these issues would have surfaced much earlier, and a real statistician probably would have seen the issues fairly quickly by doing just what Ryan demonstrated yesterday, namely, showing what happens when other data is used… Is the result sensitive to the change? Does this behavior make sense? Answer in this case, NO.
    * There are two possible reasons researchers make review difficult by leaving out key information, either
    a) They are not confident in their work, and don’t want it subject to scrutiny, or,
    b) They are hiding something and don’t want to be discovered.

    They know that no reviewer is expected to take so much time that they could write their own paper on the subject, so the paper is only given a cursory examination for glaring errors. I think the notion that most papers are subject to intense scrutiny is wrong.

    The worrisome aspect of withholding key procedural information is that the paper becomes essentially useless, even if it is correct in all of its analysis. If replication is difficult, the lessons learned cannot be applied to a new situation, because the method is not understood well enough to even be evaluated, much less re-used.

    Failure of transparency is the same outcome as no science at all. It inhibits replication and understanding by others, and can mask issues that become obvious when a fair and thorough review is conducted.

    Contrast Steig’s paper with Jeff and Ryan’s replication instructions:

    Download R
    Copy / Paste
    Press Start
    Wait 17 minutes

    Obviously, one technique is preferred over the other – by real scientists, that is.

    Can you imagine if the preferred method were used in mainstream Climate Science? POOF. As it is, it can take some time to unravel and refute these papers, which is by design, I suspect.

    Many are impossible to unravel. That’s how you know they are correct. :)

  40. @Kev-in-UK

    There is a phenomenon of “group think”. This isn’t the same as peer pressure, which is an active process of influence, but more of a subconscious want to appear pleasing and in agreement before ones immediate associates and people held in high regard.

    As Ryan O’Donnell said, Dr. Steig acts completely different when he puts his “RealClimate” hat on.

    Put another way, we become like those we associate with, especially while in their presence. Put yet another way, bad company corrupts good character.

  41. @Phil

    No, it isn’t misleading. They said the sum total of the reviewer’s pages and their pages in response to the reviewer came out to 88 single spaced, dense pages. If you want to put it in math sum(reviewer A, O’Donnall Response) = 88.

    You are also forgetting formatting differences (line spacing, font size, margin size) and space taken up by figures when counting the page number of the paper itself compared to the reviewer and responses.

    Scientific papers are way shorter than they seem text wise when you distill out all the fluff.

  42. I have an idea from the real world.

    These who support this hockey stick construction method should invest in said facts.

    All 3,000 who signed the letter of approval should each get treasury stock in the AGW, Inc. inital offering on the NY Stock Exchange. If in fact this science is real and investment in CO2 trading is a good investment these 3,000 should make a load of cash and they will then be able to point long boney fingers at us others and laugh all the way to the bank.

    If its not so, they can ask U.S. for more tax money hand outs and get a firm no.

  43. @ Phil, so that means that O’D wrote 64 pages in their ‘subsequent responses’. They must have been really p*d off at having to write all that plus the 96 pages to start with plus four revisions. No wonder they are so mad at the scientists. I bet they don’t make the climate scientists jump through hoops like that.

    It’s probably better to not try to write in those journals when even after all that you still get criticized for not properly explaining one tiny little thing that doesn’t even matter much compared to all the right things in the paper. I still think SPPI is much higher standard.

  44. This cross-posted from BishopHill, but its my take on what went on with SO9:

    Although somewhat overlooked, RyanO makes a very important point very clearly at the start of his rebuttal to Steig. I put that point like this: Steig in S09 claims to be making a “reconstruction” of Antarctic temperatures and of course this makes the cover of Time and everyone shouts “OMG – Its worse than we thought”. O’Donnell et al does not make this claim and RyanO is very clear about it: they are not proposing their result is a “reconstruction” of temperatures they are testing the validity of the method used in S09. Steig makes the mistake on RC of trying to assert that his reconstruction is better by comparing to some measurements.

    Note that philosophically there are very strong parallels here between Mann et al (MBH98), McKintyre/McKitrick (MM) and the Hockey Stick. Mann claimed a “skillful reconstruction” of past temperatures. MM showed the method was statistically flawed. MM made no attempt at reconstruction, they simply criticised the method/algorithm, showed how the result changed if their method was followed and that little or no confidence could be placed on the MBH98 “Hockey Stick” result.

    In both cases Steig and Mann miss the point of the papers (probably willfully). Steig and Mann claim their “reconstructions” are “skillful”. What MM and now O’Donnell et al are asking is whether given this data, method and uncertainties is any reconstruction likely to be reliable?

    The more critical point from RyanO, and very well illustrated by the maps showing the response to sensitivity tests, are that the S09 model is sensitive to data changes (tests if you like) and the consequence of these sensitivity tests is to produce absurd results. Eg introduce slight simulated cooling on the top left of the plot on the peninsula actually results in the “reconstruction” showing substantial cooling at the South Pole. The model of O’Donnell et al is more robust to these simple tests and yet even then they do not claim to be able to “reconstruct” temperature trend maps for Antarctica.

    To me the message that I take away from all this is that Steig S09 is like the Hockey Stick: it is a piece of propaganda, unsupported by the data, made to look like science by dressing it up in a highly complex statistical model. It has made the cover of Time magazine, so its purpose is served. No matter how useless the reconstruction is, like the hockey stick it will become the image that is remembered. Even now, on Horizon, years after it has been dropped by the IPCC, the Hockey Stick still gets shown.

    All of these are Poster Children. Although I have neither the statistical skill or knowledge of O’Donnell, McKintyre etc (or possibly even Mann or Steig), I do have enough related scientific training and experience to see very clearly when experts like the former dissect the problem for me, that really all the Team is doing is cherry picking the parameters that make a “reconstruction” look as dramatic as possible. And by making it very complex and hiding the data, algorithms etc it takes so long to unpick it all that the propaganda damage is already done. Ignoring stuff in blogs and then shouting it must be peer reviewed in Journals is another delaying tactic. And then of course voluminuous review comments also delays publication. By all these means the dramatic image is left unchallenged for longer. That cover for Time magazine was probably primed and ready to go months before S09 was published.

    And then when the result is challenged by the likes of O’Donnell et al and MM, enquiring minds, whether with or without science training, can see a result like MBH98 and now S09 are not valid as reconstructions. But the Team quickly moves on and the MSM blithely ignore it all.

  45. Phil:
    You have raised some very interesting points. Have you written to Dr Comiso to seek clarification? His listing as an author may simply reflect that they used his data.

  46. Macaulay remarked that in the English Navy in the time of Charles II there were gentlemen and there were seamen. But the seamen were not gentlemen, and the gentlemen were not seamen.

    Once the form of insult is mastered, ingenuity can make up further examples…..

  47. Roger Knights says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:01 am
    The exact wording of Mencken’s quote makes it better:

    “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

    That quote could apply to the entire warmist campaign. And probably does.

  48. Bernie,

    I have not tried to contact Dr. Comiso directly. Based on all the back and forth at the time and since then, it is my impression that Dr. Steig is the gatekeeper of the data and methods used in Steig 2009. You may be right about Dr. Comiso being listed as a co-author based on his providing data.

  49. Ah well RC says it’s “case closed” and they are the “Real Climate Scientists” so I guess they know… (is sarc even needed? I mean seriously…)

    Methinks they have been weighed, measured and found wanting.

  50. Can anyone point to any ‘peer reviewed, Climate Science paper published anywhere which was subsequently shown to UNDERestimate warming?

    Just thought I’d ask….

  51. Phil:
    My experience has been that writing polite non-confrontational emails directly to authors of papers or books generally elicits an equally polite response. Your post suggests that you could readily ask an interesting question that deserves a substantive response.

  52. Louis Hooffstetter says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:10 am
    “I have four relevant questions that have probably been already covered in previous articles (forgive me). I tried to post them at RealClimate before the thread was closed, but my attempts were denied. Ryan, would you mind recapping by giving concise straightforward answers to these questions?”

    1) Were Steig’s data and methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.) freely available so others could replicate his results?

    2) After all was said and done, did you and Steig end up processing the same data using the same methods (algorithms, statistical methods, code, etc.)?

    3) If not, why not? (rhetorical question). As ‘Reviewer A’, Stieg made 88 pages of comments about O’Donnell’s paper. There’s no excuse whatsoever for mis-communication between the author and peer ‘Reviewer A’.

    4) Is it possible (legal) to post Steig’s data and methods on WUWT so anyone who wishes could reprocess the same data, using the same methods?”

    Louis, I can try to answer your questions, using the same numbering:

    1) Steig made his cloudmasked satellite data available, and gave information about how to obtain the other data and the main RegEM computer code he used, at http://faculty.washington.edu/steig/nature09data/data/ . But it is not trivial to replicate his main results using this data and information (even assuming you have access to the Matlab software package); little information is given about how to actually replicate the main reconstruction from the Steig et al. paper.
    For a considerable time Ryan, Jeff, myself and the others involved were unable to achieve more than a close approximation to Steig’s reconstruction results (also available at his data page). It turned out that there was a step involved in preparing the satellite data for use in RegEM that had not been mentioned in Steig’s description of the methods used. I don’t blame Steig for this – he responded helpfully to Ryan’s enquiries, insofar as he was able. It seems that Steig was unaware of this step; his co-authors Michael Mann, Scott Rutherford and David Schneider are listed (alongside Eric Steig) as being responsible for their paper’s reconstruction and statistical calculations. Mann and Rutherford, in particular, had used RegEM extensively for paleoclimate reconstructions.

    2) Yes, essentially. We accurately replicated Steig’s method, porting the RegEM algorithm to the open source R programming language rather than running it in Matlab (but the results were benchmarked against the Matlab version). We couldn’t use exactly the same weather station data, since Steig didn’t archive the data he had used, and some minor subsequent revisions had been made to the source dataset by the time it was archived (at Climate Audit, if I recall correctly).

    4) The well documented, turnkey R-code that Ryan wrote, which is available at http://www.climateaudit.info/data/odonnell/, along with archived weather station data, can freely be used to replicate Steig’s reconstruction.

  53. Bernie,

    Under other circumstances, I would agree with you. In this case, however, things have become very charged and the stakes have become very high. I have tried to limit myself to posting as factual and well-documented a comment as I could, so as to not raise the temperature any further while raising some, I think, substantial issues. I think that I have found enough documentation that some sort of reply to at least some of the issues that I have raised should be forthcoming, if there is no merit to them or if they can be easily explained, especially given the wide reach of this august forum.

  54. ThinkingScientist says:
    February 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm
    Absolutely magnificent. Think you should team up with the Bishop else you’ll be rival authors for future books.

  55. Michael D Smith says:
    February 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I don’t see it that way at all. It was almost guaranteed to pass review.
    * It had cool looking graphics,…

    Perhaps you could call your list the ‘Mann formula’. We should be on the lookout for the next ‘Mann formula’ paper.

  56. NicL_ UK said…
    “his co-authors Michael Mann, Scott Rutherford and David Schneider are listed (alongside Eric Steig) as being responsible for their paper’s reconstruction and statistical calculations.
    How did i know that was going to pop up, Mann’s sticky fingers all over it….. again.
    This guy doe’s not learn. He had his fingers burnt over the Hockey Stick fiasco and now he’s tried it again..please some one take this guy to court,or give him a proffesional statistician who knows what he’s doing!

  57. Ged says:
    February 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm
    @Phil

    No, it isn’t misleading. They said the sum total of the reviewer’s pages and their pages in response to the reviewer came out to 88 single spaced, dense pages. If you want to put it in math sum(reviewer A, O’Donnall Response) = 88.

    Clearly it is misleading otherwise we wouldn’t have so many posts claiming that Reviewer A wrote ’88 pages’ both here and elsewhere!

    You are also forgetting formatting differences (line spacing, font size, margin size) and space taken up by figures when counting the page number of the paper itself compared to the reviewer and responses.

    No I’m not but clearly the originator of the “was 88 single-spaced pages, or more than 10 times the length of the paper” certainly did.

  58. The troll, D Nyall (sic), has had a fun time on this thread with four childish posts dripping with sarcasm. I see that he has appropriately been ignored by all but one commentator.

    Real Climate closes down its thread but a minion “In Denial” makes use of the more open moderation policies here to keep up RC’s “good work”.
    “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

  59. D. Nyall: “It’s probably better to not try to write in those journals when even after all that you still get criticized for not properly explaining one tiny little thing that doesn’t even matter much compared to all the right things in the paper. I still think SPPI is much higher standard.”

    Do you know Denny you may be right, certainly your contribution to the debate is intriguing, so let us go over the facts. Steig et al produced a paper in a scientific paper, that had, we must believe, been peer reviewed. At the time of its publication many people, myself included, observed that he had “interpolated” the temperatures for a vast part of the Antarctic. (For the non-cognescenti, that means he “made up” the temperatures using some pseudo-scientific method). O’Donnel et al read the paper and found the maths wrong, which isn’t a “little tiny thing” outside of climate science at least, but a FGBT. They told Steig, who invited them to publish their findings, which they duly did, but only after the editor of the journal they were publishing in removed Reviewer A, who, contrary to all practice, was the author of the paper being critiqued. With me so far?

    Notice, neither WUWT or SPPI or any other blog site has yet been involved. Now Eric Steig had a number of choices, he could have acknowledged the error, you know like other scientists do when errors in published papers are pointed out, and re-submitted the paper with the error corrected. It seems that doing this would have thrown into doubt the main assertion of Steig et al 2009 that the Antarctic is warming. Eric could have rebutted the O’Donnel et al 2010 paper, but couldn’t because the paper had focussed on the mathematics he’d used and he’s no statistician, so he had nowhere to go, except to withdraw the paper. Quite common in scientific circles where mistakes are taken as part and parcel of the path to truth, but unheard of in climate science circles, at least those of the Team, where the papers are part of an ongoing propoganda campaign.

    So what does Eric do, he goes to a blog, RC, to critique the O’Donnel 2010 paper, and on that blog castigates the authors for using a mathematical method he himself had suggested in the review process. You see the scientific journals had done their job, two peer reviewed papers were published and discussed in private when one party, with nowhere else to go, decided to open the debate on the blogosphere. Nothing to do with denialist websites, everything to do with climate science propoganda websites.

    Nice monicker by the way Denny, but I don’t know if you read your own posts, they come over as very sinister, full of hidden malice. Bit Norman Batesy for me, don’t know what others think.

  60. Not satisfied with repealing the Null hypothesis, it appears these guys wish to suspend the Commutative Law of Multiplication as well. 2+2=42? Quantum climate mathematics (Quazy Math for short) Where everything adds up to the same thing; global warming.

  61. Ryan,
    Give it a rest. It doesn’t make you look good to keep harping on this misunderstanding, which resulted in inappropriate personal accusations. The way you handled this made you look very poor.

    Stick to the science and you may get some prestige out of this yet.
    Let the scientists in the field chew on the scientific aspects of this. That should be what people focus on. That is the way to scientific progress.

    REPLY: You should “give it a rest” too, take a few days off from having an opinion on everything posted at WUWT – Anthony

  62. Anthony:
    Quote from Ryan’s rebuttal;
    ” disparage our paper using arguments that were both irrelevant and satisfactorily addressed ”

    Satisfactory? Was the word unsatisfactory intended instead?

  63. Bernie:
    Thanks for the response.

    If that is what Ryan intended by that sentence, then that “satisfactory addressed” is an O’Donnell action afloat by itself since it sure reads as being part of Steig’s arguments and tactics used in his public disparagement. Surely, since Ryan displays talent for clear and succinct writing that can’t be the sentence Ryan intended.

  64. TedK says:
    February 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Anthony:
    Quote from Ryan’s rebuttal;
    ” disparage our paper using arguments that were both irrelevant and satisfactorily addressed ”

    Satisfactory? Was the word unsatisfactory intended instead?
    =====================================================

    The arguments referred were arguments during the review process. “Irrelevant” is Ryan’s depiction of the arguments Steig put forward. “Satisfactorily addressed” is a characterization of their(O’Donnell et al) response to the “arguments” of Steig.

    Hope that helps.

  65. “… disparage our paper using arguments that were both irrelevant and satisfactorily addressed ”

    … disparage our paper using arguments that were both irrelevant and which we have satisfactorily addressed … ” would make things completely clear, perhaps.

  66. TedK, Place “which were” in front of “satisfactorily ” and it clarifies the writer’s remark.

  67. @Thinkingscientist

    February 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    “Steig makes the mistake on RC of trying to assert that his reconstruction is better by comparing to some measurements.”

    Restrained and diplomatic language there! Not sure about the ‘mistake’ part though. Deliberately miscasting any criticism of their statistical methods as an attempt to prove an alternative ‘climate hypothesis’ is a tried and tested deflection tactic of these gatekeepers. It is poisoning the well; playing to the home crowd; whipping up a frenzy of bleating over demonstrative points in order to distract from the proof that their statistical gymnastics are no better at determining climate trends than tea leaf divination. The same thing was seen when the McShane and Wyner paper was revealed here – pro AGW commenters went out of their way to attack an imaginary new ‘hockey stick’ with such single minded determination that their motivation, and knowledge of the real purpose of the paper was obvious.

    What baffles me is that I’m their target audience. I’m no scientist or statistician, but I have some intelligence, and would be perfectly willing to accept the AGW hypothesis if skeptical criticisms were squarely addressed and refuted. However this constant misdirection, fingers-in-ears wailing, obfuscation, attacking and squashing of legitimate questions and their questioners leads me to believe the folk at RC are doing everything in their power to hide the fact that they ultimately have nothing to say and nothing to offer; that they might even be aware themselves that the emperor is stark naked. I can think of no other explanation as to why they would need to so thoroughly patronize and alienate people they should be trying to persuade.

    BTW, thanks for your brilliant and articulate post.

    @geronimo:
    I felt a bit spooked by the Norman Bates commenter too. D.Nyall, FFS..

  68. Michael D Smith says:

    I don’t see it that way at all. It was almost guaranteed to pass review.
    * It had cool looking graphics,
    * it verified some things that were already known (peninsula warming)
    * and also showed something new (other areas warming)
    * Even a good statistician would need to be suspicious that an erroneous conclusion was reached before he attempted to unravel the statistics.

    That last is as wrong as wrong can be. The correctness or accuracy of a conclusion is utterly irrelevant to whether the method was sound. If the statistics was worthless, as in this case it seems it was, it should be ripped apart and every flaw demonstrated, because the conclusion, correct or not, doesn’t follow from an unsound method. Any agreement with the truth is accidental, and leaving such a bad paper unrebutted gives the illusion that it provides extra evidence for the conclusion, which it does not, even when the conclusion is true.

  69. Kev-in-Uk says:
    February 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    “….I would like to remind all that open/public criticism is generally not considered to be good form amongst actual scientists. With this in mind, I don’t feel that scientists should stay behind the parapet (so to speak) but also I don’t feel that bloggers (of either/any AGW stance) should be actively derogatory or trying to encourage hasty discussion – this simply introduces more errors and misunderstandings….”

    Kevin, I agree and disagree. Normally I would agree 100% with you. In the case of climate science, with intense policy reprecusions, the “behind the scenes actions of the players are important because they speak to the process of peer review and how the science is presented to the media. In this case it is essential to know when the game is not being played in an open and honest manner. That being said it is important to keep all theses complaints separate from the science, in order to protect the science. I used this as an example here, ”
    “… Steig informally defended his paper, and O’Donnell wrote an informal rebuttal to Steig’s defense. (In my view a very persuasive one at that.) Very unfortunately O’Donnell made a critical error. He did not separate the personal human elements from the science he was discussing. This has unfortunately led to deeply muddied waters where the valid scientific points O’Donnell was making became lost in the humane elements. He should have done a separate post on the issues of peer review and possible disingenuous actions of Steig, unfortunately he commingled the two.

    The science was not protected or kept isolated from the human elements. Now any time one attempts to address the science, it is easily led astray in the human controversy. Blog hosts in my opinion should set up a separate post where all the human elements of such controversy can be discussed, and another separate post where only the scientific questions can be discussed. Policy makers should likewise demand that the two are kept separate, yet become inclusive and accommodating of multi faceted view within the separate disciplines.

  70. Dear Ryan,

    When you place links such as here, “as Reviewer A, in his Second Review, had asked the editor to “insist” that we present the “most likely” West Antarctica trends, specifically proposing iridge,” and here, “Steig expressed “total surprise” that we had complied with his iridge proposal and, in his Feb 1 RC post, even criticized us for complying with his proposal.” please consider telling where to go spcifically, as these links encompass many pages.

    Thanks.

    PS. I also hope that in any future controversy you will separate the science from the misconduct and encurage all bloggers to do the same. We do appreciate both and thank you for all your hard work.

  71. David says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Yep – I agree with that and it is always preferable to separate emotion and science. But I do think it is specifically a modern issue (i.e blogging) – and also far more emotionally charged in the climate science area. I suppose that’s the big trouble with blogging and practising science at the same time! Personal choices and preferences will always influence ‘casual’ writing – whereas in a science paper, these should not creep in as much (though when one reads various AGW papers it is clearly present!).

    I agree it would be far better to have separate posts/threads to avoid such comingling as you put it.

  72. I agree wholeheartedly with JJB MKI. I get an odd feeling, when I occasionally visit RC, that they are so busy defending something indefensible with quite nasty tactics that they have no time to engage with intelligent and thinking non-scientists (and there are legions of us) and perhaps persuade us of AGW with clear proofs that come from good and honest science instead of shouty hand-waving. They are becoming an adult version of ‘Lord of The Flies’.

  73. @ Germonimo 2/11 at 3:50 p.m. Whew! That D Nyall character is creepy indeed. Stuck. It emits no light. It does not grow. It cannot learn.

  74. When this whole issue started I made two posts, and it is perhaps confirmation of the accusation of others that I am unable to alter my views that I still regard them as correct.

    1) The data are sparse, noisy and discontinuous. The basic information that can be got from the data is that it is definitely warming on the peninsula; it is probably warming an uncertain amount over the WAIS; the data is insufficient to determine a trend on the Eastern part of the continent, any warming or cooling is too small to show in the available data.

    2) Shorter O’Donnel et all
    ‘You may be right, but your methods are wrong.
    (and if our methods are wrong it because you told us to use them)’

    To add some detail.
    Steig et al took the available data including the satellite data and applied some math processing to try and make a better defined statement on the underlying basics of peninsula warming, WAIS warming a bit and the rest uncertain.
    O’Donnel et al critique the math used by Steig et al and claim the methods are flawed so that the distribution of the warming given by Steig et al is not reliable.

    The implication taken by some is that the basic underlying pattern of large peninsula warming, some WAIS warming… and toss a coin for the rest; is all doubtful.
    But O’Donnel et al state their paper is purely a critique of Steig et al’s math method, NOT an attempt to provide a better defined warming map.

    Steig et al seem to be responding that while the criticism of methodology may have some merit, the map of warming O’Donnel et al have produced is so little different from theirs that whatever the flaws found in their methodolgy the results are still supported by the O’Donnel et al paper.

    So far so usual in science…

    But then comes the peer review dispute.
    Much seems to have been made of giving Steig a role of reviewer of a paper critical of his work. And it has been suggested that 88 pages of review2 response is excessive and evidence of intentional obstructionism.
    But when a paper is a direct critique of another it is usual and considered best practice to give the target a reviewer role. It is expected that in defending their POV they will improve the critical paper – or show why it fails as a falsification of the original results.

    Journal policy on the privacy of the review process varies greatly among the different publications. There has been some suggestion that in revealing the reviewers, and that he knew who they were O’Donnel has broken a rule of anonymity. In further making public the reviewers comments he has broken another rule of privacy in that it is usual for review comments NOT to be made public so that reviewers can be as candid as possible.

    I Don’t know what the policy is of the Journal in question, but some journals have a completely open review process. ALL comments and responses are published along with the final paper making the peer review process transparent.

    For those that wish to see what a peer review process looks like, although in another field than climate science, the field of microbiology has an open journal, the EMBO. This helpfully provides links to a record of the full review process for certain controversial papers. It is a long read, Steig’s 88 pages is not quite as exceptional as some here may suppose. And while the tone is very correct and polite;… well you have to know ‘science-speak’ to understand that when one reviewer says-

    “This concept is hard to accept for both structural and thermodynamic grounds. The data presented do not support this conclusion for at least two reasons.”

    It roughly translates as – ‘ this is a dumb idea and they should have known it was dumb because there are lots of obvious reasons its stupid.’

    Here’s a link to one of the peer review and response exchanges for those who would like to get the flavor of the process –

    http://www.nature.com/emboj/journal/v28/n21/extref/emboj2009261s2.pdf

  75. Damn…travel for a few days and a new troll shows up? When did THAT happen?
    I realize they’re ever so much fun to play with, so I understand the urge to feed a new one, but really? Who’s on the other end of this one’s leash?

    JimB

  76. Izen

    You left out some important points. One, the O’Donnell paper specifically makes no case for what the actual warming may or may not be. It does show major problems with the methodology of the Steig paper which throw into serious doubt the agility of the Steig paper to ascertain weather the artic as a whole is warming or not.

    Your assertions of what the actual warming is, or is not, would require a new paper of your own, subject to peer review. They are not relevant to the discussion and prove nothing, so no one needs to try to disprove them. They are assertions without evidence and not relevant to the issue.

    In regard to your statements that it is not unusual to have an author selected as a reviewer in a paper that is essentially dedicated to invalidating his work, I have to somewhat disagree. From reading the comments of many scientist here it IS unusual in an instance such as this, but NOT unheard of. It IS very unusual however to have such an author remain hidden from the author of the paper he is reviewing.

    Also in the case of Steig, he apparently made public statements at RC which further indicated that he was not a reviewer, when he was. He also made recommendations as a reviewer which he later complained about as wrong. (This is quite serious.)

    As to your link showing that the 88 pages of correspondence between one reviewer and the author is not unusual, well, your link fails to support your claim. It is 20 pages in total and includes comments and responses from three reviewers and the editor. Several scientist with many years of peer review have looked at the actions of reviewer A (Steig) and come to the conclusion of these being primarily OBSTRUCTIVE, not constructive.

    And lastly, when it comes to a science with trillion dollar policy decision and world wide social structure issues involved, ALL RIGHTS TO ANY PRIVACY GO OUT THE WINDOW NOW, PERIOD, END OF STORY.

    Sorry for the caps, but this crap of secrecy in CAGW has to end.

  77. Ron House says:
    February 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm
    “The correctness or accuracy of a conclusion is utterly irrelevant to whether the method was sound. If the statistics was worthless, as in this case it seems it was, it should be ripped apart and every flaw demonstrated, because the conclusion, correct or not, doesn’t follow from an unsound method.”

    That presupposes that a statistical method can be dismissed as worthless from first principles rather than derived from its utility as a method in infering the actual from partial data.

    When faced with two math processes for deriving an accurate version of the full data from partial data one test method is to use an arbitary ‘Gold Standard’ of full data and test how well a method recaptures the full data from a sparse, noisy and discontinuous subset of that data.

    If a method reliably derives a good facsimile of the full data from a partial set then any ‘A Priori’ objections to the mathematical purity of the method are irrelevent.

    I see no evidence of that argument in the O’Donnel et al paper.

  78. izen

    It is expected that in defending their POV they will improve the critical paper – or show why it fails as a falsification of the original results.

    This shows you do not understand the head or tail of what you are speaking about.

    It is generally a good idea to keep within what you know about.

  79. This is what Andrew Revkin wrote on his blog a few days ago concerning O’Donnell’s at the time, upcoming response…

    “In December, I noted what appeared to be a hint of civility and the prospect that longtime antagonists (one of O’Donnell’s co-authors was Stephen McIntyre, a freelance critic and auditor of climate research) might be able to push knowledge forward — even if in the same ugly way that a rugby scrum moves while fighting over the ball.

    That was then. Civility evaporated in a series of blog posts on Realclimate and Climateaudit that crested a few days ago when O’Donnell lobbed a heap of accusations against Steig. (O’Donnell has, in e-mail exchanges between the combatants that I’ve been copied on, said he recants the worst of them and plans to post an apology.)”

    Well the response has came, and there’s but one apology for an issue O’Donnell regards as tangential…

    “Subsequent to my post on Feb 7, 2010 here, Eric Steig informed me by email that he had not seen our Response to his Third Review, as I had previously assumed. I apologize for my misunderstanding on this point, which was, however, incidental to the major concerns expressed in my post. A more detailed response on matters raised in Steig’s most recent RC post and other issues will be forthcoming.”

    I keep hearing about how fair A.R. is, and I’m sure that’s true, relatively speaking. But it’s been two days and he still hasn’t changed his post, and hasn’t responded to my question as to why. This bothers me a great deal, because it leaves intact the false impression that O’Donnell is conceding he’s wrong on the major points.

    In fairness, maybe he’s busy. But seems to me he’s got a responsibility to keep up with the facts. I also don’t understand how he could have misinterpreted the emails he references, the ones he claims he was copied on…

    Something doesn’t add up here…Of course, what else is new?

  80. Kev in UK said:

    ” I would like to remind all that open/public criticism is generally not considered to be good form amongst actual scientists.”
    ————————————————————————
    Kev, if a few plant biologists are squabbling about taxonomy, I (and the rest of the world) are not remotely interested. Even if they wanted to take it public, they would have difficulty in doing it. No-one much cares.

    While ad hominem attacks are rightly deplored, and this principle is enshrined in WUWT, the point of this discussion is that deception and obstruction and conflict of interest issues arose in a field where crucial public policy decisions and vast amounts of money are at stake. It is simply naive to expect climate science to operate like a private gentlemen’s club. That is akin to expecting the debates of the late 1930s and early 40s about nuclear weapons to be kept under wraps. Irrespective of the merits, or outcomes, these sorts of critical topics, with immense consequences for the world, are not (and should not be) an in-house discussion among so-called experts.

    izen said:

    “If a method reliably derives a good facsimile of the full data from a partial set then any ‘A Priori’ objections to the mathematical purity of the method are irrelevent.”
    —————————————————————————
    What an extraordinary statement. This is the kind of thinking that informs bad modelling – because a model happens to produce the ‘right’ result, the fact that it is full of incorrect assumptions and/or data doesn’t matter. Utter nonsense.

  81. Your last line reminds me of a poorly constructed limerick a senior editor of a math journal whom I knew used to keep posted on his door. It went something like this (long time ago I saw it):

    There was a mathematician from Purdue
    Whose theorems were both new and true
    But the new wasn’t true
    And the true wasn’t new
    So what was the editor to do?

  82. art;
    AR has a reputation as being fair? Really? It must be a rep among those he consistently favors (AGW Believers). Outside that circle, he’s better known for eye-popping distortion.

  83. David;
    That’s right on. The INSTANT your work is used–especially with your approval or even advocacy–as a justification for a public expenditure or policy decision, your proprietary and (work and issue-related) privacy rights go to zero. Whether you wish them to or not.

    Not that there is such a thing as “privacy rights” in published science.

  84. @Phil

    Their quote is clear as day; there’s no ambiguity or misleading about it. People claiming what they are haven’t read the original quote and suffer from grape-vine effects. That, and or reading comprehension has gone way down in this day and age.

  85. This whole sorry incident is covered thoroughly here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/01/skeptic-paper-accepted-on-antarctica-rebuts-steig-et-al

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/09/a-helpful-note-to-dr-eric-steig

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/05/some-interesting-thoughts-on-antarctic-peninsula-warming

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/08/coffin-meet-nail-more-on-steigs-reconstruction-issues

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/10/reviewer-a-responds

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/11/o’donnell-responds-to-steig

    And here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/13/a-viewpoint-on-the-antarctic-warming-debate

    Put yourself in Dr. O’Donnell’s place, and Eric Steig comes off badly. Very badly.

    Climate peer review has been thoroughly corrupted, there can be no doubt:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html

    Dr Steig is a member of the climate scare establishment. His job security depends upon his aligning himself with the climate alarmist meme: CO2 is going to kill us all with runaway global warming. The fact that there is zero empirical evidence of climate catastrophe is immaterial; the lie endlessly repeated is the tactic.

    What is distressing is the fact that NO global harm as a result of CO2 has ever been established. But the crowd of climate alarm charlatans with both front feet in the taxpayer trough keeps beating the dead CO2 horse.

    With several $billions in unwilling taxpayer largess in play every year, the continuing CO2 scare is not surprising. But the fact of the matter is that nothing unusual is happening with the climate. It has all happened many times before throughout the Holocene, in exactly the same way; the Null Hypothesis has never been falsified, and the harmless and beneficial trace gas CO2 ["carbon" to scientifically illiterate] is constantly demonized by those with a personal financial stake in promoting climate alarmism.

    That is how scientific skeptics see it [and skeptics are the only honest kind of scientist]. The rest is all baseless propaganda, with $billions in grant money as the motive.

    So Steig gets his job security – and the hard-bitten taxpayer unwillingly pays for the ongoing climate alarmist fraud.

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