McIntyre rebuts Schmidt’s Rant on Yamal

By Steve McIntyre

Two days ago, NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt posted an extended rant against me at Real Climate, a rant directed in part at my recent poston Yamal.

I’ve now looked through his post carefully and, beneath Schmidt’s fulminations, did not find any rebuttal to any points actually made in my post, as I’ll discuss in detail below. Much of Schmidt’s post fulminates against my criticism of inadequate disclosure of adverse results. This is a large topic in itself that provides a context to the Yamal controversy, but the exposition of this context is lengthy and, in my opinion, the Yamal issues are sufficiently discrete that they can be considered on their own, as I shall do in this post.

The “Insta-Reconstruction”
Schmidt criticized my estimate of a Yamal-Urals regional chronology from the FOI list as merely “insta-reconstruction”, saying:

if any actual scientist had produced such a poorly explained, unvalidated, uncalibrated, reconstruction with no error bars or bootstrapping or demonstrations of common signals etc., McIntyre would have been (rightly) scornful.

While my “insta-reconstruction” was only produced for a blog post, I submit that it was better documented than many tree-ring chronologies in common use, including the three chronologies of Briffa 2000 link. that have been very popular in multiproxy reconstructions. Indeed, if “actual” scientists had provided equivalent detail for the tree-ring chronologies in common use, much of the controversy of recent years would have been avoided.

Even though this was merely a blog post, I provided all measurement data as used, together with code that, in a turnkey method, uploads the data as used and produces the chronology and graphics. The code shows the precise calculation for a an interested critic. The blog post included a graph of core counts, together with the computation. In contrast, no measurement data for the three chronologies of Briffa 2000 (Taimyr, Tornetrask, Yamal) was archived. Nor was it archived for Briffa et al 2008 until I convinced the journal to require it. New measurement data for Esper et al 2009, which addresses Siberia, is not archived. (I recently requested that it be archived, but have received no acknowledgement from either Esper or Hantemirov.)

Nor is it common practice for dendros to show “error bars, bootstrapping or demonstration of common signals” in typical publication of tree ring chronologies. I think that such practices would indeed enhance the articles, but it’s not something that I’ve taken issue with in dendro publications. (Merely getting dendro data has been hard enough.) None of Schmidt’s desiderata appear in Briffa 2000 or for other important tree ring chronologies (e.g. the Graybill stripbark chronologies that are such an important part of IPCC multiproxy studies.) Calculation of error bars for tree ring chronologies seems very much to be desired, but, in my opinion, to do so would require a major improvement in the statistical theory of chronology construction, something that is long overdue.

read the full rebuttal here

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30 thoughts on “McIntyre rebuts Schmidt’s Rant on Yamal

  1. Just so we are clear, you would have been ok with someone putting in a FOIA request to your coauthor Roger Pielke Sr (who works at a State University) for all of the results of Fall et al (2011) before you published the paper? And you would have been happy for that information to have been released prior to it being finalised?

    REPLY: LOL! I never get tired of answering this question because it demonstrates how little angry warmists like yourself understand about FOIA laws. Sure they were welcome to submit all the FOIA requests they like, except here’s the difference, this data and work was PRIVATELY DONE, by myself and volunteers, not with government funds, and thus isn’t applicable under FOIA. Even the publication costs were borne by private citizens, mostly denizens of WUWT. Thus, CSU would not be required to release it then and probably wouldn’t even try.

    You see my friend, FOIA was designed to protect public from the misbehavior of government using taxpayer money, not the curiosity of citizens. For example, FOIA laws don’t apply to work done by J&F. Obviously you don’t get that. – Anthony

  2. These scientists are simply doing their jobs. Doing what they are paid to do. They have been told by their bosses to prove that CO2 is leading to CAGW, so they are presenting the evidence that supports this, and attempting to discredit all counter arguments.

    These are simply good employees doing as they have been told to do. They are only following orders.

    They cannot go against the directions given by their management. If these scientists were to present the evidence that CO2 was not leading to CAGW, that would be grounds for dismissal.

  3. JPY says:
    May 14, 2012 at 7:05 am
    REPLY: LOL! You see my friend, FOIA was designed to protect public from the misbehavior of government using taxpayer money, not the curiosity of citizens.
    ===========
    Exactly! When the taxpayer has paid for the work, the taxpayer has the right under FOIA to check that the work was done correctly. In refusing to honor FOIA requests – in knowingly evading FOIA requests as revealed by Climategate – Climate Scientists worldwide have shown they cannot be trusted.

    While the average person in the street may not understand the science, they can most certainly understand why someone would try and hide the data, why they would try and hide the notes leading up to the published results.

    To say the scientists are trying to protect their results – to protect academic freedom – well the public doesn’t buy that. The average woman in the street understands that when she has paid a scientists to produce a result, the result is not the property of the scientists – it is the property of the public and the public has every right to inspect.

    No one forces scientists to take public money. No one threatened to throw them in jail if they didn’t. In taking public money, scientists then have a duty to make their results openly available to the same taxpayers that under threat of imprisonment must pay for the work.

    Alternatively, these same scientists could get real jobs, in which case they would not have to make their results public. Many of us that have science degrees don’t have to open our work to the public because we don’t work for the public.

  4. Funny that the RC guys don’t just urge their buddies at CRU to release the data and thus silence that McIntyre guy with a clear showing of just how airtight their methodology was.

    Instead we get snark and misdirection. Curious. One might think that maybe they think that there is something to hide.

    I particularly like the argument that McIntyre was wrong to say that Briffa et al had actually done the calculations that would have demonstrated problems with their preferred narrative (–BTW, is understatement a form of snark?). The allegation is that McIntyre can’t prove they thought it through or that they actually analyzed their own work, so there, take that. Just because McIntyre noticed a problem after reconstructing the data does not prove the people claiming to have analyzed the actual data actually noticed such a problem and in some magic way, therefore, there must not be a problem at all and you not going to get the data to see if there was a problem so nyaah.

    Pretty persuasive stuff–If you’re in the fourth grade.

  5. Ssssh…midt is a nonentity.

    You cannot even get a comment past pre-moderation in some fora if you include his surname. Something to do with “attempts to circumvent the censorship” built into the software – ScHmIdT

  6. Shades of Josiah Whitney, then California State Geologist, calling John Muir “a mere sheepherder”, “ignoramus” when Muir dared advance the theory based on evidence he had seen that glaciation created Yosemite Valley.

  7. if any actual scientist

    Interesting questioning of credentials, there. Can we extend that discounting of background to e.g. Tim Lambert (computer science) and that Stoat fellow? Neither of those guys are climatologists; they’re modelers. Or, possibly more accurately: they’re coders.

  8. ferd berple says:
    May 14, 2012 at 7:54 am

    “Alternatively, these same scientists could get real jobs, in which case they would not have to make their results public.”

    We can only wish! By the way, is Gavin Schmidt a U.S. citizen? Or does he have a Green Card? Just wondering…

  9. JPY says:
    May 14, 2012 at 7:05 am

    …..You see my friend, FOIA was designed to protect public from the misbehavior of government using taxpayer money, not the curiosity of citizens. For example, FOIA laws don’t apply to work done by J&F. Obviously you don’t get that. – Anthony
    ___________________________
    Try pedaling that to people who are more ignorant.

    #1 Does CRU East Anglia receive Tax payer money. Yes it gets money from not only the UK government but also from the DOE here in the USA.

    #2. Does Briffa work at the CRU. Keith Briffa is a Professor at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K., where he as worked since 1977.

    #3. Does the work of the CRU impact government policies around the world?
    The US government seems to think so.

    Washington, D.C.-The Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a report today titled, “‘Consensus’ Exposed: The CRU Controversy.” The report covers the controversy surrounding emails and documents released from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). It examines the extent to which those emails and documents affect the scientific work of the UN’s IPCC, and how revelations of the IPCC’s flawed science impacts the EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases…. http://www.climategate.com/senate-epw-minority-releases-report-on-cru-controversy

    Now where is YOUR information backing up your opinion or is it the usual unsubstantiated drivel.


  10. JPY says:
    May 14, 2012 at 7:05 am
    Just so we are clear, you would have been ok with someone putting in a FOIA request to your coauthor Roger Pielke Sr (who works at a State University) for all of the results of Fall et al (2011) before you published the paper? And you would have been happy for that information to have been released prior to it being finalised?

    Here is example that you should understand –
    As a consultant, I do work for clients. Usually, the product of my work belongs to clients that payed for it. They can do whatever they wish with it. Some clients want to have access to my intermediate data as well. They can also do whatever they wish with that intermediate data. They can even give it to someone else to do something with it that I would not like. It is not my call to tell them what they can do with it.
    If I do not like those terms, I would not sign the contract, and very likely I would not get the job. It is entirely my choice. On number of occasions I had refused the contracts, but if I had agreed to the terms I had to follow them. At the same time, I am not going to give that information to anybody else. Because everybody else did not pay for it and have no say in what happens to it.

    Contrast that with the scientists that do research using government grants. The information that they collect is not theirs. It belongs to people who paid for it – the taxpayers – us. If those scientists do not want to provide that information to us, they are free to not take the money from us. Very simple, and unambiguous.

    Do you have a problem with that argument?

  11. Moreover, JPY, none of these FOIA requests are for unfinished information (how would that even be possible? If you don’t know information exists, you can’t ask for it), but were for information mentioned in published papers but strangely left out of the papers themselves. Information that was crucial for the conclusions and figures of those papers. Such information should always be open domain for scientists, as replication is a pillar of science. But in this case, such information was not made available, and had to be fought for using FOIA. Then, when we got that info, we found out that the comments of the scientists in response to the requests trying to discourage the FIOA process, were riddled with lies.

    None of this data was unfinished, that was one of their lies. All of it had already been fully fleshed out.

  12. Thanks Steve, for all the work you have done to help remove the catastrophic from CAGW. Your work is greatly appreciated.

  13. Udar is exactly right.

    Furthermore, institutions like UEA are fully aware of their FOIA obligations. It’s not something buried away in fine print and hidden amongst millions of other documents in a dusty basement. They understand it and they have their own policies, and staff to administer them:

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/is/foi

  14. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    I do not understand the follow up post by JPW. Anthony just told him that research done by government employees is fair game for FOIA. JPW went on to solidify the fact that CRU is government run and that Briffa is a government employee. Why would he do that?

    Next, he quotes a press release from the senate minority committee…the only thing I can think of is he thinks it is unfair for a government body to do that? And he wants to file an FOIA against the senate minority committee?

    Whoops! It seems as though JPW slipped on a banana peel here, unless he has proof that somebody on the minority committee hacked the emails.

  15. The fact that you provided a link to Gavins piece was good, it allows people to see both sides of the argument and to make their mind up. That is the bedrock of a proper debate and thats why I like WUWT so much

    When people hide things or try to hose you down, or present their side only – they are finished, in my humble opinion

  16. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. says:
    May 14, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    I do not understand the follow up post by JPW. …
    ________________________
    The follow up post was by me, Gail Combs not JPW. I just quoted part of what he said so people could more easily follow the conversation. Just as I did above.

  17. Gail Combs: In re your clarification. Sorry, another reader out here who does not quite get the point of your post. I gather you’re angry but not sure with whom, and can’t see the logic of your argument. You might restate for any similarly afflicted.

  18. ferd berple says:
    May 14, 2012 at 7:37 am
    These scientists are simply doing their jobs. Doing what they are paid to do. They have been told by their bosses to prove that CO2 is leading to CAGW, so they are presenting the evidence that supports this, and attempting to discredit all counter arguments.
    These are simply good employees doing as they have been told to do. They are only following orders.
    They cannot go against the directions given by their management. If these scientists were to present the evidence that CO2 was not leading to CAGW, that would be grounds for dismissal.

    Ah Aah. The old “Nuremberg Defence.” Often translated as “Honest guv, it wasn’t me wot dun it.”

  19. Hay.
    Wat.
    How yew no this heeyr treemomitur is akrut.

    Caws it dun bin caluhbraytid.

    How’d yew git past that’tair

    LIGHT,
    HEAT,
    WATER,
    PARASITES,
    DISEASE,
    POLLUTANTS
    SOIL TEXTURE
    *S.I.X.T.E.E.N. MINERAL N.U.T.R.I.E.N.T.S. in PROPER PRUhPORSHUN thing???!!”

    WhuH – WHAAAaaaT?”

    That’s boreholers for you.

    They invent magic math
    that makes hockey sticks from calibration data,
    then,

    they apply said magic math to the magical
    treemomiturs
    wut
    kin tayle thuh timpachur uv thUH ERTH
    to a few tinths uv uh duHGREE
    with a
    datalogger- forgive the pun LoL
    built in.
    All you’ve got to do, to shut one of them down, is ask them why nobody they know,
    realized that math isn’t real
    and MUCH more importantly,
    why nobody they know,
    knows a tree,
    isn’t a magical
    T.R.E.E.M.O.M.ET.E.R.

  20. Gail Combs, The quote you attributed to JPY in your post at 9:21 was part of Anthony’s REPLY to JPY. Notice Anthony’s signature at the end:)

  21. JPY, you are now a nominee for the annual “AGW Facepalm Award” – that was priceless, comic gold, such a haughty and righteous demand for a FOI request on a private citizen, it’s not a “Liberal” soviet yet mate.

    I notice you were the first post, typical of AGW adherent, your ignorance is only exceeded by your
    haste to express it.

  22. Mr. McIntyre, why not just head out, collect your own data and do your own analysis? In this way you could be sure that no nefarious actors could pollute the data. Seems your conclusions would be better supported by doing some science instead of trying to coerce others through government intervention.

  23. I think JPY has resurfaced as “sceptical”

    [Moderator's Note: Uhhh, no. They are two separate commenters, so be doubly vigilant and twice on your guard. On the other hand, sock puppets, when discovered, tend to be treated harshly here. -REP]

  24. Jeff Condon summed it up well with his comment to RC. Note how Gavin didn’t address the statement but basically admitted cherrypicking was acceptable:

    “You know the lack of disclosure of data not used, is nearly equivalent to the regression methods which automatically reject data not preferred. The mere fact that the reconstruction with ALL of the data wasn’t published is not enough to counter the obvious possibility of pre-selection.

    [Response: In any statistical analysis there is always a possibility of pre-selection to get a signal, or the possibility of trying different combinations until the signal disappears depending on what the conscious or unconscious bias might be. Yet the scientific literature is not full of people saying that other authors are deceptive or guilty of misconduct because they got a different result. No one can ever prove that they didn't do a calculation, and ever more insistent demands that they must, are pointless. McIntyre is dead wrong here - both in his conclusions and his conduct. - gavin]”

    Complaining about McIntyre’s conduct has got to be the ultimate in arrogance hasn’t it?

  25. sceptical says:
    May 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Your screen-name is a misnomer.

    The data was not made available for real sceptics to independently divine its’ worth. The “nefarious actors” are in your imagination (I was going to say mind, but that may be taking things too far).

    Your environmental credentials are also damaged by the suggestion that others should traipse around the globe re-sampling said data so as to determine its veracity. The data already exists. The taxpayer owns it. Those who purposefully and continually hide it should face prosecution for their refusal to disclose it.

    It’s
    the
    Law.

  26. Mr. McIntyre, why not just head out, collect your own data and do your own analysis?

    Why, when there’s so much existing data to analyze, and so many mistakes to point out?

Comments are closed.