Revkin on the Gergis et al ‘on hold’ affair

I promised Andrew Revkin yesterday that I’d give his post on Gergis et all some attention, because he’s done a good job of summarizing it all, plus getting some other angles, such as that of Retractionwatch. I was especially pleased to note that he reports that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly important as a tool of peer review. Unlike The Team, David Karoly had the good sense to at least acknowledge McIntyre’s contributions. Below is an excerpt of Revkin’s article. – Anthony

Australian Warming, Hockey Sticks and Open Review

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

A much-cited study (paper here) concluded last month that the extent of warming in Australia in recent decades was so great compared to climate variations in the last millennium that it had to be mainly the result of warming from the human-driven buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Here’s a video interview from May with the lead author, Joëlle Gergis from the University of Melbourne.)

It’s the latest research in more than a decade of work producing a climate “hockey stick” — graphs of global or regional temperatures showing relatively little variation over a millennium or more and then a sharp uptick since the middle of the twentieth century (the blade at the end of the stick).

Now the paper, at the request of the authors, has been “put on hold” by the Journal of Climate after questions were raised publicly about one of the researchers’ methods, starting with a comment on Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog. This field of study uses sophisticated statistical methods to derive meaning from scattered and variegated indirect indicators of past temperature — with tree rings being the most familiar example.

It is unclear whether the problem will affect the study’s conclusions. Depending on the result, readers of the initial burst of news could end up with a familiar sense of whiplash.

To see how quickly the research results made the rounds, check the headlines here. My unfavorite would be “IT’S OFFICIAL: Australia is warming and it is your fault,” in the Herald Sun. This is a classic case of what I’ve been calling “single-study syndrome,” the bias in the news process toward the “front-page thought” and tendency to forget that science is a herky-jerky process.

Over the weekend, I got in touch with David Karoly, one of the paper’s authors … who wrote:

As I said in my e-mail to Stephen, “This is a normal part of science. The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens the conclusions. In this study, an issue has been identified and the results are being re-checked.”

Indeed, this is an increasingly normal part of science these days. While the blogosphere comes with lots of noise, it also is providing a second level of review — after the initial round of closed peer review during the publication process — that in the end is making tough, emerging fields of science better than they would otherwise be.

Read the full article here, well worth your time for the additional comments Revkin included from others.

============================================================

Steve McIntyre also has some additional thoughts in a new post yesterday: More on Screening in Gergis et al 2012. The first section reads:

First, let’s give Gergis, Karoly and coauthors some props for conceding that there was a problem with their article and trying to fix it. Think of the things that they didn’t do. They didn’t arrange for a realclimate hit piece, sneering at the critics and saying Nyah, nyah,

what about the hockey stick that Oerlemans derived from glacier retreat since 1600?… How about Osborn and Briffa’s results which were robust even when you removed any three of the records?

Karoly recognized that the invocation of other Hockey Sticks was irrelevant to the specific criticism of his paper and did not bother with the realclimate juvenilia that has done so much to erode the public reputation of climate scientists. Good for him.

Nor did he simply deny the obvious, as Mann, Gavin Schmidt and so many others have done with something as simple as Mann’s use of the contaminated portion of Tiljander sediments according to “objective criteria”. The upside-down Tiljander controversy lingers on, tarnishing the reputation of the community that seems unequal to the challenge of a point that a high school student can understand.

Nor did they assert the errors didn’t “matter” and challenge the critics to produce their own results (while simultaneously withholding data.) Karoly properly recognized that the re-calculation obligations rested with the proponents, not the critics.

I do not believe that they “independently” discovered their error or that they properly acknowledged Climate Audit in their public statements or even in Karoly’s email. But even though Karoly’s email was half-hearted, he was courteous enough to notify me of events. Good for him. I suspect that some people on the Team would have opposed even this.

McIntyre goes on to explain the “screening fallacy” (or the cherry pick if you will) in detail.

58 thoughts on “Revkin on the Gergis et al ‘on hold’ affair

  1. There is a large body of evidence showing that statistically faulty screening methods are the cause of the “hockey stick”.

    http://cooley.libarts.wsu.edu/schwartj/pdf/Geddes1.pdf

    Most graduate students learn in the statistics courses forced upon them that selection on the dependent variable is forbidden, but few remember why, or what the implications of violating this taboo are for their own work.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841687/pdf/nihms-184032.pdf

    In particular, “double dipping” – the use of the same data set for selection and selective analysis – will give distorted descriptive statistics and invalid statistical inference

    https://gate.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/wiki/whynhow/images/d/d0/Vul_Kanwisher_chapter.pdf

    In general, plotting non-independent data is misleading, because the selection criteria conflate any effects that may be present in the data from those effects that could be produced by selecting noise with particular characteristics…

  2. <i.I was especially please to note that he reports that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly important as a tool of peer review.

    Depends on your definition of “peer,” doesn’t it?

    REPLY: Depends on your definition of “troll” too. – Anthony

  3. As I said in my e-mail to Stephen, “This is a normal part of science. The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens the conclusions. In this study, an issue has been identified and the results are being re-checked.”

    Riiight, that’s why Gergis refused to send McIntyre data. Independent analysis is ok, as long as your buddies are doing it.

  4. “Climate science” definitely needs a better class of peers than the ones they have at the moment…

  5. “This field of study uses sophisticated statistical methods to derive meaning from scattered and variegated indirect indicators of past temperature”

    Is that another way of saying “voodoo science”?

  6. While at university in the ’70s, I recall a lot of bad papers passed our way and were dismissed by our professors as unworthy as a result of a number of issues. They got through the peer-review process despite their errors, but this was not a big deal: they were simply ignored. It seems to me that there never was a time when bad papers made it to press. The difference today is that the politically driven immediacy of so-called climate science puts every pro-warmist word on the front page while putting the hand of the climate scientist (or his organization) in the taxpayer’s pocket.

    I feel sorry for Gergis and others. Funding that is “policy relevant” perverts the progress of research and understanding because it applies not just to the top 20% of investigations, but, if possible, ALL investigations. Who hasn’t seen silly studies that are not climate/global warming related that drag the AGW concept into at least the title? That desperation is not just about vanity for the authors, but getting funding for the department.

    The recent no-reason termination of an Oregon State University professor who had the temerity to question a subject (AGW) that, according to his comments, brought in $90 million per year, and was the liberal platform of the Governor, demonstrates the dominance of policy relevance to survival, not just comfort, of research these days. The elimination of targeted funding would end such harrassment, as well as fanatical defensiveness a la Penn State and Michael Mann.

    I’m in the corporate world. I understand that if you ain’t got no money, the company, not just your job, disappear. Were Penn State and Oregon State to lose their climate study funding, because AGW was no longer a focus, there would be serious consequences. Financing is now so subject-specific and subject-determined, a hiatus in the worry-of-the-moment would also collapse on-going programs not related to the One. Activity follows spending. There is no backup pool of money to take care of tomorrow what won’t be paid for today.

    Universities and government research centers do not enjoy stable financing. They eat what they kill. Plus they expand to utilize the funding levels available, just like any ordinary corporation. Empire building, vanity and an over-enthusiastic acceptance of their undying brilliance conspire, as in corporate America, to swell up to what the most recent harvest can support. Like the Anazazi Indians and the Mayans, they are in trouble when the rains fail. And like the Mayans, at least, they first try to solve the problem by declaring war on both the messengers, like McIntyre, or the competition, like the “unfriendly” journals. There is not just self-delusion and self-importance going on.

    As long as government, policy-relevant and advocacy-based money is what drives research, we’re going to have the problem of what appears to be bad papers getting out. That is not really the problem. Research is done and decisions are made along the way that lead to erroneous conclusions. As long as there is time for the smell of such to waft up and inform the reader, this is both a normal and simple situation, a better one than requiring such a high level of peer-support that nothing gets done. These days, the push to make research make a buck – either in-house or in society, is the real problem.

  7. Phil C and other trolls,

    You may want to familiarize yourselves with a front-page “Nature” article meeting blog “peer review” superior to anything the vaunted “climate science” community had provided (I know Phil C and some other trolls were there for parts of this history, but like the generals of World War I you don’t ever seem to learn anything):

    Climate AUdit on O’Donnell et al 2010 refutes Steig et al 2009

    WUWT on Reviewer A responds

    Bishop Hill on Steig in the dump

    Jeff Id on Doing It Ourselves

    Ryan O’Donnell on Coffin Meet Nail

  8. Matthew W says:
    June 12, 2012 at 8:05 am

    “This field of study uses sophisticated statistical methods to derive meaning from scattered and variegated indirect indicators of past temperature”

    Is that another way of saying “voodoo science”?

    I call it BS.

  9. Revkin may seem like he’s “rebranding” his global warming stance, but in truth he is a lifelong watermelon at heart. Just read the climategate emails that involve Revkin. A leopard can’t change its spots. Just wait till the next issue that paints skeptics in a bad light, and you’ll see Revkin’s true colors again.

  10. Sad – but unsurprising – that Revkin parroted the Gergis et al. conclusions in the first two paragraphs. And nothing in the headline to suggest a problem with those conclusions. It is only in the third paragraph that the persistent reader learns the real story – that the study was “put on hold” (not “withdrawn”) because of “questions.” Shoddy journalism.

  11. @phil c

    I was especially please to note that he reports that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly important as a tool of peer review.

    ‘Depends on your definition of “peer,” doesn’t it?

    In this case the external review by the independent guys found the error that the ‘professionals’ writing the paper did not notice in their three years work. The official ‘peer reviewers’ missed it too (or turned a blind eye).

    So in this case at least I think Phil C is right. The supposed ‘professionals’ come a long way behind external reviewers Jean S and Steve McIntyre in expertise and ability. In no way can they be considered to be ‘peers’ of the CA crew.

    This is all made especially piquant because of the intemperate and childish refusal by the lead author to release their full data for scrutiny. The CA guys had to work backwards to find the error. Which made it even more of a demonstration of statistical prowess. And casts yet further obloquy upon the hapless authors.

  12. Phil C says:
    June 12, 2012 at 7:38 am
    <i.I was especially please to note that he reports that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly important as a tool of peer review.

    Depends on your definition of “peer,” doesn’t it?

    REPLY: Depends on your definition of “troll” too. – Anthony
    —————–

    Mostly it depends on your definition of "review"

  13. We’ve been lectured over and over that this is NOT how science works – that PEER review (and peer review only) is up to the task. So I am glad that Koroly and Revkin acknowledge that. UEA and Mann please take note.

    But still I’m skeptical – that a graphic showing one thing and the Procedure section describing another – wasn’t caught by the authors, reviewers just under the wire for IPCC. A big mistake.

  14. Andy Revkin,

    Since Anthony graciously accepted your request to post your article here at WUWT, will you return a favor? Please respond to comments here at WUWT on this thread.

    Andy Revkin, my question to you is: If you consider yourself well balanced journalistically on the subject of climate science, then please explain what basis you have to support your claim of being journalistically balanced on the subject of climate science.

    I ask that question sincerely. Note: I have been generally critical of your past journalistic efforts wrt climate science.

    John

  15. jim says:
    Revkin may seem like he’s “rebranding” his global warming stance, but in truth he is a lifelong watermelon at heart. Just read the climategate emails that involve Revkin. A leopard can’t change its spots. Just wait till the next issue that paints skeptics in a bad light, and you’ll see Revkin’s true colors again.

    Possibly, but some leopards CAN change their spots – I submit John Stossel as an example. Only time will tell.

  16. “Andy Revkin, my question to you is: If you consider yourself well balanced journalistically on the subject of climate science, then please explain what basis you have to support your claim of being journalistically balanced on the subject of climate science”

    Useless, pointless question. By his lights, he is fair and balanced. And for a generally warmist guy with an appeal to the “precautionary principle” ever at the ready, he is reasonably fair. Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy, or “in the tank,” or a double-dealing villain.

  17. What I don’t understand is: Why would they not focus on revising the theory at this point? Is that not what the scientific method calls for? All this attention being given to “screening methods” seems backwards to me.

    Here’s my quick and dirty, layman’s attempt at scientific method…..

    Theory 1: Tree’s respond to warmer temperatures.
    Results: Only a small sampling of the tree rings tested actually fit the model. Of that small sampling, the growth actually slowed down with late 20th century warming. (divergence problem)

    Theory 2: Some trees respond to warmer temperatures. Other trees respond other conditions. (moisture, sunlight, soil conditions, etc)
    Results: Untested….

    Theory 3: The trees that do respond to temperature, will grow fastest at a “sweet spot”. Below that sweet spot, tree ring widths get smaller. Above that sweet spot, tree rings widths get smaller.

    Results: Untested (since a confirmation would mean 10-12th century temperatures could be much warmer than today)……..

  18. On this evidence, blogospheric review appears to be far suPEERior than just ordinary peer/pal review.

  19. “meaning from scattered and variegated indirect indicators of past temperature ”
    scattered and multicolored, eh?
    there are multifarious forms of voodoo debasing the language

  20. Hey…Andy Revkin’s OK….sure he is a bit of a sixities lefty, a pinko folk-singer-friend-of-Pete-Seeger, and a warmist-worried-about-the-future (terrific voice by the way, Andy, that is, Pete’s great but his voice has gone-by). A lot like me, but he has a better voice and I’m a let’s-wait-and-see-how-the-science-turns-out-after-the-advocacy-wears-off. But in all my exchanges with him, I have come to realize that he simply calls it as he sees it — right or wrong — and he is not to prone to go back and second guess his previous conclusions — right or wrong. As I said, a lot like me — except we differ on the sign and the severity, of most things. Yeah, Andy’s OK.

  21. just some guy says:
    June 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

    There have been several experimental studies conducted and to develop empirical data on the response of trees to temperature. Long term studies with mature trees indicate that there is very little if any response to temperature (or to CO2) after a tree reaches a mature stage. Seedlings and saplings may show more effect. Published studies noted this as early as 2000, and had they been noted by the team, would have cut the legs out from under the teams’ theories regarding the use of trees as temperature proxies. The irony is that at least one study was intended to develop an idea of how much trees might buffer AGW through carbon uptake. The conclusions of the study were based on ring development.

  22. The Hockey Sticks are essential for the advancement of CAGW. The steep blade is used to justify a strong connection in the general circulation computer models upon which all future doom and gloom are based.
    Without the hockey stick shape, the coefficients in the computer models have to be tuned down and all reasons for alarm evaporate.
    That’s why this is so important.

  23. There is hope after all when common sense and acknowledgement mistakes are made in so called peer reviewed science. An idea that something doesn’t add up finally starts bubbling to the surface in the warmist world. Although I think this is a nice way of saying it was outright fraud!

    ANDREW C. REVKIN:
    Nor did he simply deny the obvious, as Mann, Gavin Schmidt and so many others have done with something as simple as Mann’s use of the contaminated portion of Tiljander sediments according to “objective criteria”. The upside-down Tiljander controversy lingers on, tarnishing the reputation of the community that seems unequal to the challenge of a point that a high school student can understand.

    And Mann/Gavin Schmidt still goes on highly respected in the warmist world.

    [Moderator’s Note: Uhhh, Ted, that is NOT a quote from Andrew Revkin. -REP]

  24. “Indeed, this is an increasingly normal part of science these days. While the blogosphere comes with lots of noise, it also is providing a second level of review — after the initial round of closed peer review during the publication process — that in the end is making tough, emerging fields of science better than they would otherwise be.”

    If blogosphere review is “increasingly normal”, then there’s something increasingly wrong with science. Taxpayers spend billions on “science” yet must depend on the kindness of unpaid strangers for some minimal semblance of verification. We’re one financial/personal tragedy away from losing the invaluable services of a McIntyre, a Watts, a Pielke, etc. What’s wrong with this picture?

  25. There is a guy named Mike Roddy who comments on Revkin’s site, who is pretty green, but (ironically) has a “green check” which gives him approval to comment without moderation. A commenter asked Revkin on the Gerges thread why he allowed such a green fellow to escape moderation; Revkin answered thusly:

    “That “trusted” label is generated by some algorithm and I have no control over it one way or the other. The Times doesn’t allow blog managers to game the system.”

    I replied several hours ago, partly tongue in cheek, that perhaps Steve McIntyre should have a look at the NY Times algorithm that allows a Mike Roddy to comment without moderation. That comment hasn’t been posted, so I’m doing so here.

    FYI, for illustration, here is what Mike Roddy said on the Revkin’s Gergis thread:

    “Here’s all anyone needs to know about Steve McIntyre:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/yamalian-yawns/

    Actual climate scientists like Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann know what he’s all about, since McIntyre has relentlessy attacked them for years, armed only with arcane statistical jargon and fever dreams of secret scientific cabals: (“Show me the code!” “The hockey stick is broken!”) etc.

    Gergis is being way too polite and accomodating, though he no doubt expects to debunk McIntyre’s charges when he gets around to it. McIntyre has zero scientific qualifications, and his resume shows a mining company stock tout….”

    Note that Roddy hasn’t caught on that Gergis isn’t a man. Ignorance doesn’t matter if you are on that side of the spectrum, but then over here, we already knew that!

    [Moderator’s Note: Your comment is there now. -REP]

  26. @ Gary Hladik “If blogosphere review is “increasingly normal”, then there’s something increasingly wrong with science. Taxpayers spend billions on “science” yet must depend on the kindness of unpaid strangers for some minimal semblance of verification. We’re one financial/personal tragedy away from losing the invaluable services of a McIntyre, a Watts, a Pielke, etc. What’s wrong with this picture?”

    Splendid Gary. Exactly right. I’m a life-long liberal democrat, but this global warming stuff has really made me question some of my core beliefs. Climate science provides a text book example of what can happen when the government gets involved. It’s not a pretty picture.

  27. As I mentioned at CA, I would be inclined to give Karoly the benefit of the doubt on his creatively ambiguous E-mail to Steve had he also:

    a) Made an appearance at CA when the error was under discussion; and/or

    b) Also requested that Steve be kind enough to publicly review and critique their revisions prior to re-submission.

    Similarly, I would be inclined to give Revkin the benefit of the doubt had he also contacted Steve to get the “backstory” on this. Frankly, I found it quite insulting that Revkin should have felt it necessary to contact Karoly in order to “confirm” the content of the E-mail Steve had posted.

    What “confirmation” did Revkin seek (and from whom) before he did his part in propagating the “message” in Gleick’s dishonest Valentines Day Mashup?

    And, come to think of it … what “confirmation” – or evidence – did Revkin ever seek before publishing Gavin’s ever-changing story regarding the alleged “upload” [and four now-you-don’t-see-em, now-you-do, now-you-don’t alleged “downloads”] at RC, circa Nov. 17, 2009?

    Some other questions Revkin might have asked Karoly about this “normal part of science”:

    Is it a “normal part of science” that five authors would append their names to a paper without any of them verifying the validity of the text and the underlying data and methods prior to submission to a journal?

    Is it a “normal part of science” that – when requested to provide details which would facilitate replication – an author would say (as Gergis did):

    This list allows any researcher who wants to access non publically available records to follow the appropriate protocol of contacting the original authors to obtain the necessary permission to use the record, take the time needed to process the data into a format suitable for data analysis etc, just as we have done. This is commonly referred to as ‘research’.
    We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.

    Or is it a “normal part of science journalism” that one simply does not ask such inconvenient questions?

    In the (unfortunately) anticipated absence of answers to the above, I am increasingly leaning towards the conclusion that when the history of these sorry years in science (and science journalism) is written, Andrew Revkin will have earned himself the right to be dubbed ‘the Albert Speer* of climate science’.

    *See: Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny. 1996 Vintage Books ISBN: 0-679-76812-2

  28. May I urge all to check out Steve McIntyre’s comments on Revkin’s blog, and also some of the other comments there. The comment excerpted below is a particularly important point but there is much more:

    McIntyre comments on Revkin’s NY Times blog

    [Steve McIntyre]: “….It is evident to me that academics need to accommodate “extended peer review” by archiving of data and meticulous documentation of procedures (source code is an aid to this, though too often sneered at.) The hypocrisy of academics expecting large-scale policy changes while refusing to provide data on the grounds of “intellectual property rights” is risible and deserving of the contempt of the public….”

    There are also the usual nutty CAGWarmist comments on the thread, which could use some responses for anyone who has a strong stomach……

  29. The whole idea of this sort of screening is fundamentally flawed, be it detrended or not.
    The method seems to involve grabbing any data set of just about anything that is at least a few hundred years long and calling it a “proxy”.

    They then select which “proxies” they keep by screening for correlation with temperature. Those which have a “better” correlation are retained. This does NOT prove that they actually are proxies of temperature and certainly not of temperature alone. It simply shows a degree of similarity over a limited period.

    This is why it produces similar results if the same method is used on red noise ( AR1 time series where each reading is just the previous one plus a small random change). Most biological processes depend on environmental factors that work in this sort of way. All the so-called proxies are is a series of randomly generated red noise time series. You then select the ones which are closest over the recent period ( the thermometer record).

    This ensures that the agglomerated results will follow the recent rise in temperature, they are SELECTED to produce this result.

    Now since there is no guarantee that the ones you kept will actually reflect temperatures further back in time ( you cannot test for this, it’s the unknown subject of the study ) there is a fairly good change that a number of them will diverge in different directions for divergent reasons.

    Now when you agglomerate the “proxies” further back in time many of them will cancel each other out. So when you take a step back: VOILA, a hockey stick. !

    This was what McIntyre and McKitrick showed in 2004. It is not more valid today.

    You need to demonstrate that the physical quantity you are proposing to use IS a proxy as a PRECONDITION to using it. Not by the happenstance similarity of one limited part of a data set to another one.

    This is why the Gergis result is a forgone conclusion , not a scientific result.

  30. P. Solar
    “This is why the Gergis result is a forgone conclusion , not a scientific result.”

    That is why ALL hockeysticks are forgone conclusions, not scientific.

  31. Indeed, this is an increasingly normal part of science these days. While the blogosphere comes with lots of noise, it also is providing a second level of review — after the initial round of closed peer review during the publication process — that in the end is making tough, emerging fields of science better than they would otherwise be.

    Is Andrew Revkin conceding it was Climate Audit that first noticed a problem?

  32. John says:
    June 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm
    “There is a guy named Mike Roddy who comments on Revkin’s site, who is pretty green, but (ironically) has a “green check” which gives him approval to comment without moderation.”

    Mike Roddy is worth his weight in gold for involuntary comedy. Always google “Mike Roddy Global Warming Movie” or somesuch because he’s been peddling a script for a waterworld style (only worse) script for years (without success but one can hope!). One recent find:

    http://pcofftherails101.blogspot.de/2011/09/dan-bloom-and-mike-roddy-discuss.html

  33. Phil C says:
    June 12, 2012 at 7:38 am
    <i.I was especially please to note that he reports that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly important as a tool of peer review.

    Depends on your definition of “peer,” doesn’t it?

    REPLY: Depends on your definition of “troll” too. – Anthony
    =======================================================================
    I am not under any illusion that I would fit the definition of a "peer" in regards to reviewing CAGW related papers or post. I seriously doubt that Anthony or anyone who's had a post on this blog would consider any comment I've made as a scientifically valid "review" of their post. Most of my comments are attempts at humour and wise cracks. Not all of them but most. But there are many who post and comment here that do have the background to review each other's post and the work of the various hockey fans out there. And they don't put up an intellectual veneer to hide behind. Honest questions. Honest answers. Honest evaluation of the facts available to them. (I've even read some of them answer, "I don't know." to a question.) I don't blindly believe what they say. But they have shown that they're honest in what they say and they're not promoting an agenda. They certainly aren't raking in the cash as a certain failed presidential has.
    If I went to one of the Hockey Team's sites and made the wise cracks I do here at times, I may or may not be a "troll". But if I asked a question and received an actual answer that I ignored (not just disagreed with) and repeatedly asked the same question, I'd be a troll on that site. I don't comment on those sites.

  34. pokerguy says:
    June 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm
    @ Gary Hladik “If blogosphere review is “increasingly normal”, then there’s something increasingly wrong with science. Taxpayers spend billions on “science” yet must depend on the kindness of unpaid strangers for some minimal semblance of verification. We’re one financial/personal tragedy away from losing the invaluable services of a McIntyre, a Watts, a Pielke, etc. What’s wrong with this picture?”

    Splendid Gary. Exactly right. I’m a life-long liberal democrat, but this global warming stuff has really made me question some of my core beliefs. Climate science provides a text book example of what can happen when the government gets involved. It’s not a pretty picture.
    ====================================================================
    In the early days of our nation (The US. I forget sometimes that this is blog has an international reach.) the various political parties just had different ideas on how to preserve personal liberty. Today there are to many in the parties that want to restrict those liberties.

  35. clipe says: June 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Indeed, this is an increasingly normal part of science these days. While the blogosphere comes with lots of noise, it also is providing a second level of review — after the initial round of closed peer review during the publication process — that in the end is making tough, emerging fields of science better than they would otherwise be.

    Is Andrew Revkin conceding it was Climate Audit that first noticed a problem?

    He may (or may not) be making such a concession; but as far as the IPCC is concerned, it won’t matter because their new, improved “guidelines” on acceptable material for mention and/or inclusion specifically excludes blog posts [she says somewhat skeptically]

  36. Science by press release is now standard part of ‘climate science ‘ for instance despite all the noise as any actual research papers come out of BEST yet ?
    The sad part is its effective as away not to advanced nor to do science but as a way to promote ‘the cause ‘ .

    In scientific terms this paper has failed , but this is not a scientific process its a PR and advocacy process and in those terms its worked. For should this paper get re-written or even dropped altogether , who thinks the same press will be splashing that across the headlines ?

  37. Regarding Revkin. I don’t know the names or their actions in the past. From Climategate I know Revkin was on the side of “The Hockey Team”. If he’s remembering that an honest journalist job is to give a balanced report of both sides of an issue, that’s good news.
    My impression is that in the past he dismissed McIntyre and others because he trusted Mann, Jones, and the rest of “The Team”. Maybe even Gore? Maybe he’s wised up?

  38. Karoly was brought in by the ABC to dance like Orwell’s Squealer and discredit the “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. Karoly was also the ‘go to man’ when an evil Poster was allowed to present a warmist view (climategate Emails 1). My guess is Gergis is a puppet to Karoly the puppet master on this paper.
    In my opinion Karoly is in too deep to be trusted.

  39. Phil C:

    You understand that the Blogosphere caught the problem with the Gergis paper, while ALL of the Peer reviewers missed it?

    The problem with your sneering putdown response is that you don’t seem to realize that the more you denigrate the “Peers” of the blogosphere, the WORSE the Peer reviewers of the Gergis paper look.

    If yiou would put Blogospher reviewers at, say, 3 on a 1-10 Peer scale, with 10 being the best, what would you rate the Peers who reviewed the Gergis paper, based on this performance?

    We’re supposed to put our trust in Peer reviewed papers, but clearly that failed here (unless you count the blogosphere as a second round of Peer review). What do you suppose happened? Were ALL the Peer reviewers for the Gergis paper incompetent for the task, or did they just ALL do a lazy pass over the paper, or did they ALL note the issue and choose to ignore it? Or was it some fatal combination of all 3 causes?

    The only way you can support the value of Peer review at this point is to give the blogosphere credit for finding a problem that was extremely difficult to spot; otherwise, it is impossible to explain the failure of the Peer reviewers without making the Peers look really bad, and hence call into question the effectiveness of Peer review.

    And if the blogosphere can find problems in scientific papers that are difficult to spot, get used to a new definition of “Peers”.

  40. Meanwhile, in Australia, Karoly lies to cover his incompetence, or, vested interest:

    “The Climate Audit blog – run by Canadian Steve McIntyre, who has challenged the validity of palaeoclimatic temperature reconstructions – claimed credit for finding the issue with the paper.

    Professor Karoly said the authors uncovered the problem before Climate Audit blogged about it.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/climate-warming-study-put-on-hold-20120611-2065y.html

  41. handjive – Not sure that is anything more than a rehash of the email to Steve. The timing of the email to the Journal, however, could settle it in Karoly’s favour if he felt it important to evidence his prior art claim.

  42. handjive says:
    June 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    “Professor Karoly said the authors uncovered the problem before Climate Audit blogged about it.”

    However was the playing field level? Based on this quote, it was not:
    “Joelle Gergis has responded blowing off my request (cc to David Karoly, Valeria Masson-Delmotte (AR5 CLA) and the editor of Journal of Climate). She says that I should try to get the unarchived data from the original authors, saying snottily that this is “commonly called ‘research’” and that they “will not be entertaining further correspondence” on the matter.”

    So the other group obviously had the data right away.

  43. Uhm…. which peer review process does Phil C subscribe to?

    The traditional journal methodology or the new improved Phil Jones methodology?

  44. An interesting exchange on RealClimate:

    Salamano says:

    12 Jun 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I’ve got a question for the dendro-folks…It’s probably already discussed in a paper I can be pointed to.

    In other sampling-type studies, a certain number needs to be taken so that the power of the sample can accurately describe the whole with a manageable margin of error. Does this sort of thing not play a role at all in dendrochronology after selecting a site a priori for its determined ability to signal global temperature (ie, ‘treeline’, etc.)?

    I’m just thinking there are hundreds of thousands of trees in a region, and the cores per site can be 20-30. I’m assuming since that’s not enough to be representative of the whole that there’s got to be a set of arguments why:

    (a) out of an entire population of, say 10,000 trees, 10 cores out of 20-30 are said to effectively model the instrumental temperature record (regardless of what they display in other eras), and have that be certainly NOT a product of chance, but rather a lead-pipe lock that it is describing the signal, or

    [Response:Why you say “10 cores out of 20-30″ I don’t know, because all the cores of a site, not just some fraction thereof, are used to provide the climate signal of interest. But to your point specifically: please point me to any verbal concept, any algorithm, any model code, ANY WAY in which a stochastic process can lead the types of high inter-series (between cores) correlations typically seen in the tree ring data archived at the ITRDB. Just go there and start randomly looking at the mean interseries correlations documented in the COFECHA output files of each site, and tell me just how you would generate such high numbers with any type of stochastic process that’s not in fact related to climate. And then how you would, on top of that, further relate the mean chronology of those sites to local temperature data at the levels documented in a wide range of public studies.–Jim]

    (b) that it doesn’t matter how many trees exist in a region, nor how many cores are taken relative to the total number of trees– it’s simply about discovering any individual trees that evidence the temperature signal and discovering as many co-located as possible. It doesn’t matter how many there are, but instead how well they match the signal.

    [Response:At the risk of having this statement completely misunderstood and mangled by the usual suspects…if you only had one tree out of 10K that responded well to temperature, and you found and cored that one tree, you would have legitimate evidence of a temperature signal. Fortunately, the situation is nowhere remotely so extreme as that, and that’s because, in fact, that many trees respond in this way, and therefore you only need some couple dozen or similar to get a signal that emerges strongly from the noise at any given location. And why do many trees respond this way? Because, lo and behold….temperature is a fundamental determinant of tree radial growth in general, i.e. a fundamental tenet of tree biology.–Jim]

    104

    Ray Ladbury says:

    12 Jun 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Salamano,
    OK, there are thousands of trees. However, if the same physical conditions persist over the entire range, then trees of a particular species ought to respond in a comparable fashion, no? And remember, the time series consists of rings for a single individual. You are looking at multiple time series to average out extraneous effects–e.g. microclimate.

    a layman says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    12 Jun 2012 at 11:28 PM

    “…if you only had one tree out of 10K that responded well to temperature”

    But how do you know that one tree is not just more noise, which by coincedence just happens to match roughly to 20th century temperatures? You have not answered this question.

    (expecting the typical blockage of comments you don’t like, a response would still be nice, nonetheless…)

    My attempted comment is “a layman” and I’ve had multiple attempts to post simple questions blocked by the moderators there.

  45. Upon reading Mr. Revkin’s analysis I find myself of hope for the change that is needed. Cognizance of the value of science, however messy some science turns out to be, because, in the end-game, we would all rather know what there really is to know. If there is an AGW effect it remains to be seen if this can truly be distinguished from potentially the normal wobbly end of the most recent extreme interglacial.

    Unfortunately, in that same end-game, we must navigate where we are intellectually and ethically. Steve McIntyre provided the intellectual challenge. Andrew Revkin evaluated this and stepped up to the ethical plate. He is also correct. The blogosphere does indeed provide value. Perhaps enough to provide limits to the flexibility of ethics.

    As the sun goes all quiet on us, at the half-precession old Holocene, strong, from 1 to 3 thermal pulses being the norm, there is the possibility that we do indeed need to carefully ponder when we live.

  46. CLIMATE PAPER FLAWED
    Bernard Lane, The Australian June 13, 2012 12:00AM

    A PIONEERING paper on climate change has been put on hold after a mix-up in its methodology was identified.

    The study, published online last month by the US-based Journal of Climate, was led by a University of Melbourne scientist Joelle Gergis at the head of a 30-strong international team.

    It was reported as the first large-scale reconstruction of Australasian climate and confirmation that the period since 1951 has been the warmest in 1000 years, an outcome consistent with an increase in greenhouse gases.

    The results are to be the Australasian region’s contribution to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on past climate.

    But print publication has been put on hold after one of the authors discovered that the paper wrongly described how the data had been processed, according to team member David Karoly, professor of meteorology at Melbourne.

    He said this was picked up when team members were responding to requests for more data, including from a website set up by Canadian mining consultant Steve McIntyre with the stated aim to “audit” the results of climate change studies.

    [SNIP: Jessie, “fair use” allows us to print part of published work but not the whole thing. -REP]

    source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/climate-paper-flawed/story-e6frgcjx-1226393519781

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