I’m a bit late in covering this due to other issues of interest taking precedence, but I want to make sure this is widely known. We’ve covered the issue of the Gergis et al paleoclimatology paper this past summer, as well as noted the retraction, but the real action as usual, is behind the scenes in the emails, emails now made available via FOI thanks to Michael Kottek who posted this on Climate Audit to announce the emails were now available:
Posted Oct 28, 2012 at 7:04 AM | Permalink
The results of my FOI request to the University of Melbourne can be seen here:
I requested all correspondence between the authors and the journal regarding the paper. The referees reports were exempted as were documents relating to the resubmitted paper.
I also requested correspondence between the authors after the paper was accepted. Once again emails relating to the resubmitted paper were exempted, and personal material redacted.
I note that emails regarding the paper that were received by one author and not forwarded to the others would not have been covered by my request.
Despite the embarrassment of the withdrawn paper, the University is to be commended for their no nonsense approach to this request. As an alumunus, I am pleased that the response is far more sensible than the approach taken by the UEA and UVa.
That’s true, because there appears to be no holding back of any important correspondence. Here’s some select portions.
Karoly’s first technical response (June 7 Melbourne) to Neukom’s confession was a surprisingly strong endorsement of criticism of non-detrended correlation, going as far as to even agree with [McIntyre] by name:
”If the selection is done on the proxies without detrending ie the full proxy records over the 20th century, then records with strong trends will be selected and that will effectively force a hockey stick result. Then Stephen Mcintyre criticism is valid”.
And then there’s this from Gergis
”Over recent days we have been in discussion with colleagues here in Australia and internationally about the use of detrended or non detrended data for proxy selection as both methods are published in the literature .
People have argued that detrending proxy records when reconstructing temperature is in fact undesirable (see two papers attached provided courtesy of Professor Michael Mann) .
While anthropogenic trends may inflate correlation coefficients, this can be dealt with by allowing for autocorrelation when assessing significance. If any linear trends ARE removed when validating individual proxies, then the validation exercise will essentially only confirm the ability of the proxies to reconstruct interannual variations. However, in an exercise of this nature we are also intrinsically interested in reconstructing longer-term trends. It therefore appears to be preferable to retain trends in the data, so that we are also assessing the ability of the proxies to reconstruct this information.”
And this admission from co-author Phipps:
Based on the various emails circulated over the past few days, it appears that we will not have a viable millennial-scale reconstruction if we pursue the detrended approach. I therefore feel that we should use the raw data to validate the proxies…
My preference is therefore for David’s Option 2, with Option 1 as my second choice. I dislike Option 3 as it will not leave us with a viable reconstruction. I also dislike Option 4 as it strikes me as essentially starting again from scratch – which seems unnecessary given how far this work has already progressed, and also seems out of proportion to what is only a matter of fixing a technical issue.
Mann, in correspondence with the authors Gergis and Karoly, in his typical style tried to sell a collection different workarounds for the problems they brought on themselves, and in the end, his advice was rejected, the JC editors told the authors the paper was not viable, and the authors were forced to withdraw the paper. Full stop.
Journal of Climate editor Chiang wrote:
After consulting with the Chief Editor, I have decided to rescind acceptance of the paper- you’ll receive an official email from J Climate to this effect as soon as we figure out how it should be properly done. I believe the EOR has already been taken down.
Also, since it appears that you will have to redo the entire analysis (and which may result in different conclusions), I will also be requesting that you withdraw the paper from consideration. Again, you’ll hear officially from J CLimate in due course. I invite you to resubmit once the necessary analyses and changes to the manuscript have been made.
I hope this will be acceptable to you. I regret the situation, but thank you for bringing it to my prompt attention.
The end result of the AMS putting the authors on notice, plus the admissions in the emails, rather puts this early defamatory remark from Dr. Mann in perspective:
Well I’m afraid Mclntyre has probably already leaked this anyway. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but don’t trust him to behave ethically or honestly here, and assume that anything you tell him will be cherry-picked in a way that maximally discredits the study and will be leaked as suits his purposes.
Read the whole episode here at Climate Audit.
It should be noted that commenter Jean S. contributed the first valid critique, which then later grew into this full retraction. Kudos to him too.