McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann

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:

http://tinyurl.com/96ey5dt

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Despite the embarrassment of the withdrawn paper, the University is to be commended for their no nonsense approach to this request.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.

94 thoughts on “McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann

  1. 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.

    Does this make Mann a conspiracy theorist?

  2. It’s broccoli, my Dear.

    Well, I say it’s spinach and I say detrend the Hell out of it.
    =================

  3. Gergis stood on burning dreck
    Nose in air at ‘What the Heck?’
    Jean S,
    Genius,
    Wafted roses by the peck.
    ================

  4. This seems to show the full hockey team are still trying to pull shifties even after climate gate 1 and 2 . I think the words of the old song say it all ‘When will they ever learn”

  5. OUCH!

    That’s really got to hurt….. bonus points for showing Mann’s involvement. Steve McIntyre is one of the heroes of the Revolution!

    Do these people have any personal, ethical or scientific shame at all?

  6. Mango ~ most likely! But it also makes him a {snip}

    There. Saved the mods several paragraphs worth of [snip]ing.

    Next question: how many years will we be hearing how the gergis paper proved mann’s frau- errr, work?

  7. Mann: I probably don’t have to tell you this, but don’t trust [McIntyre] 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.

    Projection n In Psychoanalytic Theory, the defense mechanism whereby one transfers or projects feelings about oneself onto another.

  8. It’s simple.

    Don’t do stats.

    Use well-calibrated measurements.

    When facts aren’t available, don’t pretend to make “science” from your fantasies.

    Just go home and take a nap.

  9. It’s not suprising Mann wanted them to use the non-detrended data as he could use that as evidence that 97% of climate scientists use the same (dodgy) methods as he does.

  10. Otter says:
    October 31, 2012 at 1:30 am

    “Next question: how many years will we be hearing how the gergis paper proved mann’s frau- errr, work?”

    Probably many since the IPCC AR5 desperately needs to this to the panic going. The chance of this paper in some form being included is insanely high. They will figure out a way to slip it in its just a matter of how. Should at least be somewhat entertaining to see the massive list of excuses they use to pull it off.

  11. What is horrifying here is the extent to which Mann is able to influence severely the work of other scientists in the same field, effectively ensuring that they replicate his own mistakes. It is quite clear the Mann is a bully of the highest order and has cajoled many scientists working on tree-ring data to follow his lead and fudge the data according to his instruction to achieve similar results, without even any reference to the fudges being made.

    There was a time when teams of scientists in different institutions were effectively in competition with each other. They raced to publish papers to “be the first” to discover some new fact. They picked apart the findings of competing institutions as a sport. This is the kind of science upon which the reputations of great British and American universities were based. Now it seems climatology doesn’t work like this. It is a kind of international club where the only qualification for membership is full agreement in public with Dr Michael Mann.

  12. Mann would be well suited to bare the name of being an Environmental Fascist, as a new book has just been titled. S.McIntyre is an honest, intelligent and diligent pursuer of the truth. Where Mann can only be described as being directly opposite, The Attitude and malice demonstrated by Mann is appalling and disgraceful.

  13. DirkH says:
    October 31, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Why do they select proxies in the first place?
    ==========================
    What a very valid question! There are entire temperature records for the 20th century from more than just a few trees. Why could this not have been bolted on the end of the proxy record – perhaps in a different colour. Why did they only bolt on from 1960 + or whenever ?

  14. “The removal of the Gergis paper had been noted in a comment at RC (June 8 15:50 blog time; June 9 03:50 Melbourne). Another RC commenter pointed out to Schmidt that the problem had been discovered at CA:

    “Gavin – you ought also to mention that the problem was discovered at the Climate Audit blog

    “Mann appears to have contacted Karoly soon afterwards, as, within 10 minutes of sending this email to me, Karoly forwarded the email to Mann, with a covering note that the comment at RC about removal was correct. Even though Karoly had told Mann about the error, Mann reverted to Karoly that Mann and the other RC authors would falsely tell RC readers that they had “no further information” on the retraction of the paper from the journal website and that he would involve Schmidt and Steig in the plan:

    “We have simply noted at RC in the comments that the paper does appear to have been retracted from the AMS website, and we have no further information as to why. I will share this w/ Eric and Gavin so they know the status,

    “Mann also made defamatory remarks about me to Karoly:

    “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.

    “Karoly pointed out to Mann (2K:55 11:19 Melbourne) that there was discussion at CA of the announcement here. Karoly told Mann that they had a “fully-documented” record demonstrating their priority over CLimate Audit:

    “PS We do have a fully-documented record or who, when and how the data processing issue was identified by a member of the author team independent of, and before, any posts on this issue at CA or other web sites.

    “Needless to say, no such “fully-documented record” was disclosed to Michael Kotteck.”

    http://climateaudit.org/2012/10/28/gergis-et-al-correspondence/

    This shows the insidious influence of Mann on climate science. It makes you wonder exactly what is in the UVa emails which Mann and the UVa are so keen to keep secret. It is why disclosure of those emails in the defamation lawsuits Mann is involved in is crucial in helping to establish the true nature of Mann’s character, his science and his behavior towards his colleagues and his critics.

  15. ”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”.

    Would someone please explain this in simple to understand terms for the statistically stupid.

  16. It should be noted that commenter Jean S. contributed the first valid critique, which then later grew into this full retraction. Kudos to her too.

    I don’t know whether Jean S is a climate scientist but I do know that Steve McIntyre is not. The above episode clearly illustrates the fact that you don’t need to be a climate scientist to find genuine flaws in their work. You don’t have to be a climate scientist to point out when the pal peer review process fails.

  17. If only all Mannian, Gergis and Hansen ‘research’ papers could be properly audited, and not pal reviewed, before publication, then I suspect the Global Warming Industry would experience a process of massive contraction.

    We should all be grateful for the likes of Steve and Anthony helping to keep the industry honest.

  18. I think it’s a disservice to refer to this as “McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann.” It is good that the error was spotted, and that the analysis was thereby reconsidered. Presumably a stronger paper will result, but we’ll see.

    The point is that one shouldn’t consider this as a sporting event with winners and losers, rooting for one’s “side.” The process is, or should be, about trying to produce understanding: clarifying what we know, speculating about what we think might be possible, and identifying what we don’t yet have enough information about to even speculate in an informed manner.

  19. Man Bearpig:

    At October 31, 2012 at 4:05 am you quote DirkH asking at October 31, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Why do they select proxies in the first place?

    And you respond

    What a very valid question! There are entire temperature records for the 20th century from more than just a few trees. Why could this not have been bolted on the end of the proxy record – perhaps in a different colour. Why did they only bolt on from 1960 + or whenever ?

    The answer is that treemometry cannot work and they use the twentieth century record to hide that fact when presenting the results of their analyses.

    The main reason the method cannot work is its method of calibration which – in fact – is a clear example of the error of assuming ‘correlation indicates causation’.

    The method of treemometry begins by selecting trees which provide a correlation of their tree rings with the recent temperature record. The selected trees are then assumed to have tree rings which are indicative of temperature. But this is a false assumption. In reality it is merely a form of non-deliberate ‘cherry picking’ because chance alone says some trees will provide the correlation over the calibration period.

    Simply, the most important flaw in treemometry is the inability of selection to provide a valid calibration sample: Lucia gives an excellent explanation of this for non-statisticians at

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/tricking-yourself-into-cherry-picking/

    But once a selection is made then false indications of temperature are obtained from analysis of tree rings outside of their calibration range.

    I strongly commend reading the link to Lucia’s explanation where she demonstrates the problem by conducting ‘treemometry’ on random data.

    Richard

  20. ““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.”

    hmmm Would Steve be planning on Suing Mann for defamation here ? Could this be another way to get legitimate access to these emails?

  21. Philip Fink – I think what you are looking for is in ‘Karoly’s first technical response’ in http://climateaudit.org/2012/10/30/karoly-and-gergis-vs-journal-of-climate/
    I think that it is much better to use the detrended data for the selection of proxies, as you can then say that you have identified the proxies that are responding to the temperature variations on interannual time scales, ie temp-sensitive proxies, without any influence from the trend over the 20th century. This is very important to be able to rebut the criticism is that you only selected proxies that show a large increase over the 20th century ie a hockey stick .“.
    In other words, by not detrending you select anything that happens to have the same trend, even if its pattern bears no resemblance to the temperature pattern. That way you guarantee to get a large increase over the 20th century, because you know the trend of the 20th century, but because your proxies might not really be showing temperature at all then you can get random results before then – and very likely end up with a hockey stick. If you detrend first, then at least you are selecting the proxies that are genuine temperature proxies, because they are matching the temperature pattern.
    (In Michael Mann’s notorious hockey stick, much worse things were going on – parts of the proxy data were deleted and replaced by a part of the thermometer record).

  22. “don’t trust him to behave ethically or honestly here”

    Isn’t that defamation? If someone had said this of Mann, he’d be suing them. Oh, wait a minute…

  23. richardscourtney,

    “The answer is that treemometry cannot work…”

    You don’t know that and you don’t demonstrate anything. You should refrain from this kind of unsubstantiated claims.

  24. Gergis, Karoly were just too late in publishing. Their stuff would have graced the front page of IPCC’s AR4 in the good old days. The jig was up by the time they came along – it is now not possible to publish the “Nature trick” type of statistical cuisine. Clearly, using methods similar to those of Mann will now result in rejection of a paper. Question: Is there a “statute of limitations” on retraction of a paper from a journal? Can Mann’s papers on this stuff not be retracted at this late date? I can’t see why not if his methods cannot now be used and if, indeed, we’re dealing with much worse than just careless statistics. Erasing the MWP, LIA and (possibly) the hot 1930s by hook, crook, and welded spaghetti should be enough all by itself.

  25. phi says:
    October 31, 2012 at 6:01 am
    richardscourtney,
    “The answer is that treemometry cannot work…”
    You don’t know that and you don’t demonstrate anything. You should refrain from this kind of unsubstantiated claims.
    ============
    On the contrary, the difference in results (as revealed in the emails) between trended and untrended calibration shows that calibration is not robust. It is sensitive to choice of methodology.

    What G&K shows is hockey sticks result from trended calibration. Since they are not present with detrended calibration, this indicates that trees are not responding to climate, they are responding to the trend in the data used for calibration. In effect, the used of trended data overwrites the tree ring data withing the calibration interval with thermometer data. This is what makes tree rings appear to be reliable thermometers.

    Mann’s argument to the authors appears to be that using trended data reveals those trees that are good thermometers over periods of decades, but poor thermometers year to year. However, thermometers do not work this way. If a thermometer is accurate over many years, it is accurate year to year. Thus, Mann’s argument to use trended data reveals a contradiction, which is typically how we find mistakes in logic.

    In other words, Mann’s argument shows that trees do not act like thermometers, because real thermometers are less accurate as they age, not more accurate.

  26. @Jimbo October 31, 2012 at 4:51 am:

    It should be noted that commenter Jean S. contributed the first valid critique, which then later grew into this full retraction. Kudos to her too.

    I don’t know whether Jean S is a climate scientist but I do know that Steve McIntyre is not. The above episode clearly illustrates the fact that you don’t need to be a climate scientist to find genuine flaws in their work.

    90% of the work ‘climatologists’ do is statistics. They are not out there taking tree-ring samples, nor out there themselves measuring sea levels.

    Since it is mostly stats, ANY technical person versed in stats will have equal or greater ability to use the proper methods. The climatoligists didn’t invent statistics, nor do they have a monopoly on the use of them. READ_ME_HARRY was an eyeopener, showing that at CRU someone was getting non-replicable results; even their own guy was raising his eyebrows and wondering WTF they had been doing. Their work was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy – not something ANY statisticians would ever do or allow.

    So, their own statistical methods were done poorly. And Mann was one of the worst, at least in terms of importance, and SteveM proved this. Mann will never forgive him for that. But I hardly think Steve cares – except that the world hasn’t gotten the message well enough yet (not quite). Steve is Man”s demon, and Mike can’t shake him. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Steve Garcia

  27. Anthony, thanks for posting this valuable effort here so a large audience understands what it takes to keep science on track. Where would we be without Steve McIntyre (and many others) with his gentlemanly and absolute insistence on the truth and his dogged persistence to follow the trail.

    I am eternally grateful.

    I disagree about the characterization of his (and others) bravery. “Steve McIntyre is one of the heroes of the Revolution!” This is not a revolution. It is removing fascists from power, which deed has been done time and again — since 1066, since the Protestant Reformation, since the Enlightenment, since…..one can find examples every century. We can be very grateful to James Madison and the founders of the American Republic for understanding that Power corrupts — everyone. The “battles” carried forward by those honoring the scientific method require immense commitment, knowledge, and hardwork. “Freedom” and affluence/development is the fruit of these labors. Carry on Steve and Anthony — and all of us.

  28. The choice of title for this article is unfortunate. It is not a triumph of one party over another. It is a triumph for science as a result of a scientific blog.

    What the events show is that peer review is not robust. It failed to catch a fairly significant error in the paper, in that the methodology described did not match the methodology used. This is strong evidence that peer review does not guarantee correctness.

    What the events show is that internet review is more robust than peer review. This is strong evidence that the results published on the internet are more reliable than the results published in leading journals.

    This argues strongly that leading journals should require more than peer review as a condition of publishing. They should require that the papers pass internet review.

    What the events also show is the professional climate scientists are no better at catching errors than anyone else. A degree in science does not make you an expert in spotting mistakes. An eye for detail is not something learned in university. Some folks have it, some don’t, and it is a skill that appears early in life, during early childhood. What university teaches (hopefully) is how to apply this skill to different types of problems.

  29. phi says:
    October 31, 2012 at 6:01 am

    You don’t know that and you don’t demonstrate anything. You should refrain from this kind of unsubstantiated claims.

    I think it’s adequately substantiated by the fact that decades worth of temperature proxy data were trashed because they were completely diverging from actual temperatures.

  30. We still have heroes and they are confronting the evil climate change industry and science fraud conspiracy whenever and wherever possible. Thank you.

  31. pyromancer76 says:
    October 31, 2012 at 7:13 am
    This is not a revolution. It is removing fascists from power
    ==========
    This is pretty much the definition of revolution.

    No fascists will ever agree with a process to remove them from power – because fundamental to fascism is the belief that they are right and everyone that disagrees is wrong. A fascist fundamentally believes that if they are removed from power, disaster would result.

    It is this belief in disaster that drives them to relentlessly seek control, no matter what the obstacles. They fear the disaster much more than the consequences of their actions in seeking power. This is why fascists are so often found in position of power. For every X thousand that fail, one eventually succeeds.

    Therefore, the only method to remove a fascist is revolution, because once in power fascists make any legal process to remove them illegal. They fear the disaster that will result if they are removed, so they make sure that there is not process by which they can be removed.

  32. ferd berple,

    I broadly share your analysis. But that’s about screening and not specifically dendro. There are many local, regional or hemispheric studies which use especially rings dendities without any screening. These studies provide quite remarkable results.

  33. “It should be noted that commenter Jean S. contributed the first valid critique, which then later grew into this full retraction. Kudos to her too.”

    Minor note-
    Jean S. is male.

    REPLY: I had no idea. Impossible to tell from the name. Fixed -Anthony

  34. wobble says:
    October 31, 2012 at 7:18 am
    I think it’s adequately substantiated by the fact that decades worth of temperature proxy data were trashed because they were completely diverging from actual temperatures.
    ========
    yes. this is revealed in the emails. the authors are trying to calibrate temperatures over a large region to Australian average temperatures. however, it is already established that current local temperatures in the regions under study (NZ for example) do not correlate with current Australian average temperatures.

    Thus, the hockey stick cannot result from climate change, it must result from the process. which is shown by the difference between trended and detrended calibration. the hockey stick is a product of trended calibration, effectively overwriting tree ring data with temperature data in the calibration interval.

  35. The whole Mann thing is following the same stages of the Lance Armstrong tragedy. World wide fame, fortune, arrogance, accusations of coverups, bullying, denial, confessions by co-conspirators and finally fall from grace.

    Sad really, in that the damage that was done by Armstrong to cycling. Mann is likely to have done as much damage to legitimate climate studies.

  36. @HaroldW: This is not a sporting event. I can’t speak for everybody but I am sure Steve McIntyre and many others are not in it for sports. This is a battle that was forced on us.

    Imagine your wallet was stolen, and you suspect you know who did it, but your attempts to retrieve it or even to begin to investigate the theft are met with hostility; police is less than helpful, and the public observers begin to think of you as a troublemaker and a dishonest person. All simply for wanting your wallet back. Then, imagine the culprit blunders and your wallet drops out of his pocket where everybody can see it. Wouldn’t you feel triumphant (or at least vindicated)?

    Of course, you can name such an event a “production of understanding”. That wouldn’t be a totally incorrect way of characterising it. Just not the first choice for most of us here.

  37. “Well I’m afraid Mclntyre has probably already leaked this anyway”
    =====
    This is a very telling comment. How is open discussion in science a “leak”? Isn’t science supposed to make all results public, even those results that argue against AGW?

  38. “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.”
    ===========
    people most often suspect others will act in the same fashion as they would act.

  39. wobble,

    “I think it’s adequately substantiated by the fact that decades worth of temperature proxy data were trashed because they were completely diverging from actual temperatures.”

    This is a particular and interesting issue, but it’s not about screening nor relate to the paper of Gergis. It would be more related to calibration, time origin of the divergence and especially its interpretation.

  40. The difference between Mann and Armstrong is that the food chain getting free rent from AGW is a million times larger than that in the cycling world.

  41. HaroldW writes:
    “I think it’s a disservice to refer to this as “McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann.”

    Nor do I regard this as a “triumph” over them. When I read the cavilling of Karoly and Gergis, I feel a sense of disappointment rather than vindication. I would prefer that the headline be more neutral.

    REPLY: Steve is too modest. It seemed a triumph to me, because for the first time, your work (started by Jean S.) led to a full admission of failure in a paleoclimate paper. This could have easily turned into another years long trench battle. – Anthony

  42. One might just as well “calibrate” the height of people with temperature, and conclude that temperature was colder in the past because people were shorter.

  43. phi:

    Your post at October 31, 2012 at 6:01 am says

    richardscourtney,

    The answer is that treemometry cannot work…”

    You don’t know that and you don’t demonstrate anything. You should refrain from this kind of unsubstantiated claims.

    I DO know that and I DID substantiate – with evidence – one of the reasons I know that with absolute certainty.

    I suggest you read a post before making such untrue and unsubstantiated claims about it in future. In case you have forgotten, my post you failed to read but misrepresented is at October 31, 2012 at 5:33 am.

    And had you read it then you would not have made your later post at October 31, 2012 at 7:50 am which refers to “calibration”.

    Richard

  44. I guess we can look forward the shameless sycophants and defenders of Mann and his ike of Climate scientists to attempt to defend this latest misbhevaiour from climate scientists. Joel Shore and Phil should soon be cropping up here with their defense of the indefensible.

  45. richardscourtney,

    Your post October 31, 2012 at 5:33 am. is not a demonstration of the uselessness of dendro but of the real trap that represents screening.
    My answer to wobble refers to another issue related to calibration and not screening.

  46. Steve McIntyre says:
    October 31, 2012 at 8:02 am

    HaroldW writes:
    “I think it’s a disservice to refer to this as “McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann.”

    Nor do I regard this as a “triumph” over them. When I read the cavilling of Karoly and Gergis, I feel a sense of disappointment rather than vindication. I would prefer that the headline be more neutral.

    I agree with Steve and Harold. My reaction was “Ouch!” when I read the headline. …this is after following the entire story as it unfolded.

    It may be a triumph of the scientific method. Perhaps Persistence of McIntyre encourages reluctant acceptance of Scientific method. Subtitle: Jean S. shows that thoughtful careful analysis will always win the day.

    Just sayin’

  47. “The growth of plants is limited by the availability of the least available nutrient.” Liebig’s Law.

    It has always bothered me that so many scientists seem to be so limited in their knowledge outside of their chosen field. To know the truth of Liebig’s law one needs to do no more than attempt to grow a garden. Tree ring growth depends primarily on the availability of water and oxygen access to the root system. Temperature per se, within a fairly wide but varying range from species to species, has no great impact.

  48. ferd berple says:

    One might just as well “calibrate” the height of people with temperature, and conclude that temperature was colder in the past because people were shorter.
    ~~~~
    Fully agree. May I also suggest that we select the Dutch sample? It has a better trend.

  49. phi says:
    October 31, 2012 at 7:50 am

    This is a particular and interesting issue, but it’s not about screening nor relate to the paper of Gergis. It would be more related to calibration, time origin of the divergence and especially its interpretation.

    My statement to you was directly related to your comment to richardscourtney. I’m not sure why you are suddenly trying to claim that it’s unrelated to the paper of Gergis.

    Btw, feel free to share the studies that show “quite remarkable results.” I’m very open to looking at them objectively – seriously.

  50. Harold W: I think it’s a disservice to refer to this as “McIntyre’s triumph over Gergis, Karoly, and Mann.”

    What makes it a victory is the history of Mann’s attempts to portray McIntyre as a dishonest, incompetent, crank — instead of responding in thoughtful ways to the merits of McIntyre’s actual criticism. And the history of the attempts to stifle getting this information into the public domain. This is a victory. And it may be a warning to UVA and PennState that they are protecting the correspondence of a scientist whose view of his own records is not to be trusted.

    It is also a breakthrough (I think, maybe it’s happened before) that the peer-reviewers took McIntyre’s statistical critique seriously, and that the record of their doing so has been published. In the McShane and Wyner dialogue published in the Annals of Applied Statistics McIntyre and McKittrick contributed a comment, but here there is the additional measure of respect that a paper was rejected and withdrawn.

    I am only one reader of this stuff, but it seems to me that the word “victory” is appropriate to this outcome.

  51. Steve McIntyre: When I read the cavilling of Karoly and Gergis, I feel a sense of disappointment rather than vindication. I would prefer that the headline be more neutral.

    I empathize and I suspect that most other readers to as well. But I think that for a lot of us viewing the struggle, this is a triumph for science, led in this case by you and your technically expert readers.

  52. wobble,

    The critics of Gergis paper relate to the method of selection of proxies and not to the divergence. Regarding richardscourtney, he demonstrated, in my opinion correctly, the weaknesses of screening but not the fact that “treemometry cannot work”.

    Regarding studies with MXD, see eg Briffa 1998, Briffa 2001, Cook et al. 2002, Esper 2010, Grudd 2008.

    The issue of the divergence is effective but no one has yet proved that it was a divergence of dendro and not a divergence of thermometers.

  53. phi:

    Your post at October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am says in total

    richardscourtney,
    Your post October 31, 2012 at 5:33 am. is not a demonstration of the uselessness of dendro but of the real trap that represents screening.
    My answer to wobble refers to another issue related to calibration and not screening.

    My post at October 31, 2012 at 5:33 am IS a demonstration of one of the reasons for “the uselessness of dendro” unless, of course, you explain how it is possible to escape what you call “the real trap that represents screening” (i.e. the impossibility of defining a calibration set).

    Care to give that explanation a try?

    hint – you won’t be able to copy an answer from SkS, RC, etc. because they don’t discuss the real problems of thermometry but, instead, make excuses for ‘straw man’ arguments as a method to pretend thermometry is not nonsense.

    Richard

  54. phi says:
    The issue of the divergence is effective but no one has yet proved that it was a divergence of dendro and not a divergence of thermometers.

    I opine: You keep using the word “divergence”. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  55. phi:

    At October 31, 2012 at 10:40 am yo say to wobble,

    The issue of the divergence is effective but no one has yet proved that it was a divergence of dendro and not a divergence of thermometers.

    The tree rings are calibrated against “the thermometers”.
    If “the thermometers” are wrong then the calibration of the treemometers is wrong so the results of treemometry are wrong.

    Treemometry has as much relationship to science as palmistry but is more misleading.

    Richard

  56. richardscourtney,

    It is easy to avoid the trap of screening. Just don’t do screening. Studies based only on MXD don’t do screening.

    coalsoffire,

    And what it means ?

  57. In the same comment thread, is reported a quote from Gavin Schmidt to Gergis, after Gergis was complaining about the Climate Audit community requests for all the data, including the rejected proxies. Gavin recommended providing all the data, and also cautioned: “While there is no chance whatsoever that they [“Steve McIntyre et al”] will examine your work and find no faults.” Sounds like grudging respect and painfully-gained wisdom on Gavin’s part.

    I don’t know, this sounds hopeful. Perhaps the conflict between the scientist’s wallets and their ethics is slowly being resolved. They have perceived ClimateAudit and others to be a major threat to their billion-dollar taxpayer-purchased CAGW rice bowls and public accolades, and have reacted primitively.

    I don’t know, I’m an engineer, I want people to find faults in my work. When engineers make mistakes, people die. When scientists make mistakes, it just means we pound money down a rat-hole until somebody wises or fesses up.

  58. coalsoffire,

    Would you say that one diverges always from something? You obviously right and I should have clarified. I mean of course a divergence from actual regional temperatures.

  59. richardscourtney,

    “The tree rings are calibrated against “the thermometers”.
    If “the thermometers” are wrong then the calibration of the treemometers is wrong so the results of treemometry are wrong.”

    Indeed it’s a valid objection. But you can avoid this problem by calibrating on detrended data.

  60. People are complaining about treemometers. That’s why the tree-ring proxies are selected from tree populations that seem to be limited by temperature, e.g. the northern larch forests of Siberia. On the Taimyr peninsula for example, the southern part is wooded, the northern is treeless. What’s the difference? Temperature, most likely, is the factor limiting the growth of trees. It’s a reasonable hypothesis. Both the northern and southern parts get the same amount of precipitation, and have the same soil chemistry.

    One could say that the limiting nutrient is still water because the wooded areas hold the snow (and more of it) longer into the spring, leading to a longer-duration water abundance. And that may be so, but what then causes the tree-line? Temperature is still the answer.

    It’s a reasonable hypothesis, but as a theory, it still needs lots of work.

    The next big question to answer, do tree-line regional temperature variations correlate well with global temperatures trends? And that is not clear at all, perhaps because regional temperature trends are used to infer global trends (cart before horse), and because trees at the edge of starvation, so sensitive to temperature, the regional signal may mask the global.
    Briffa, Mann, and many others are trying to figure this out, but their maths are suspect, and they perceive valid scientific criticism as threats to their CAGW rice bowls, and have behaved in decidedly non-scientific ways.

  61. I see no reason not to show real temps from real thermometers on the same chart as the tree ring proxies. However there has to be enough of both to allow the reader to see what ther heck is going on. As faras I see, see if the two curves/lines agree for a resonable length of time (like 25 years). I think there is divergence in the ancient past as clear as there is deviation in the present.

  62. In my experience with numerical analysis, the only way to properly test a model against raw data is to do so directly. *Any* manipulations of the data from the original raw data introduces new ‘artifacts’ – effectively systematic errors that are a direct consequence of incomplete analysis if the raw data.
    The most honest treatment of the data uses the model to calculate the value of a dependent variable (i.e. a temperature observation) that results from applying the model to the full set of independent variables (insolation, altitude, latitude, longitude, etc.) associated with the value of the dependent variable.The difference between the observation and the calculation of the independent variable is squared and summed with all other such squared differences. This sum (of squared deviations = SSD) tells us of the uncertainty inherent in the model.
    By recalculating the SSD as the original independent variables are varied systematically (using curve-fitting algorithms such as the Simplex) to determine the values of these independent variables (and their uncertainties) that produces the “best” fit (smallest SSD) to the observed data. This requires running the model hundreds or thousands of times (something they probably could do) and will let you know exactly which variables in your model are most important, least important, and correlated (either positively or negatively) to other variables.
    This would possibly provide infromation that contradicts the narrative, and if there is a competent numerical analysts on staff anywhere, this has probably already been brought to their attention.
    In lieu of ‘shooting the messenger,’ you can always lock him out.

  63. phi:

    Your post at October 31, 2012 at 11:33 am makes no sense. It says

    richardscourtney,

    “The tree rings are calibrated against “the thermometers”.
    If “the thermometers” are wrong then the calibration of the treemometers is wrong so the results of treemometry are wrong.”

    Indeed it’s a valid objection. But you can avoid this problem by calibrating on detrended data.

    Say what!!!???
    In what way does or can using detrended data overcome the thermometers being wrong?

    And you still have not addressed the problem (which you called the “trap”) of it being a physical impossibility to calibrate treemometers.

    Richard

  64. richardscourtney,

    “In what way does or can using detrended data overcome the thermometers being wrong?”

    Because thermometers are affected by drift roughly constant since the early twentieth century, detrending and calibrating on this period you get a suitable relationship between actual temperatures and MXD (high frequencies are not affected). Then you check with other proxies that you have correctly analyzed the situation.

    See this sample : http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/1905/atsas.png

    “And you still have not addressed the problem (which you called the “trap”)…”
    See my post October 31, 2012 at 11:11 am.

  65. phi:

    I am starting to think you are being deliberately obtuse.

    Your post at October 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm says;

    richardscourtney,

    “In what way does or can using detrended data overcome the thermometers being wrong?”

    Because thermometers are affected by drift roughly constant since the early twentieth century, detrending and calibrating on this period you get a suitable relationship between actual temperatures and MXD (high frequencies are not affected). Then you check with other proxies that you have correctly analyzed the situation.
    See this sample : http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/1905/atsas.png

    “And you still have not addressed the problem (which you called the “trap”)…”

    See my post October 31, 2012 at 11:11 am.

    Firstly, if you think the divergence problem is thermometer calibration drift then you are deluded. But if that were true then, as I said, that means the thermometers are wrong so the temperature data is wrong because the trees are calibrated to the thermometer data. Detrending the calibration set does not overcome this.
    You are claiming a proxy indication of temperature is more accurate than thermometer data which is used to calibrate it!

    And I read your post at October 31, 2012 at 11:11 am. It says

    It is easy to avoid the trap of screening. Just don’t do screening. Studies based only on MXD don’t do screening.

    The method REQUIRES “screening”, i.e. selection. It is part of calibration.
    Either you select for trees which indicate the gross temperature trend or you select for trees that indicate the variations in detrended data. In either case, the selection assumes that correlation indicates causation: it doesn’t.

    The growth of trees is dependent on the limiting factor for their growth, and this is rarely temperature. Moisture, sunlight and nutrient availability are usually much more important than temperature, and they can all vary throughout the life of a tree (e.g. most people know about – what my son calls – ursine defecation in an arboreal environment).

    Assuming you are not being deliberately obtuse, then I strongly suggest you do a lot of reading before again posting on this subject to WUWT. Most ‘regulars’ here know sufficient about the subject to assess the worth of your comments.

    Richard

  66. richardscourtney,

    1.
    Where did you get this nonsense: “the divergence problem is thermometer calibration drift” ???

    2.
    “You are claiming a proxy indication of temperature is more accurate than thermometer data which is used to calibrate it!”

    This comment just shows that you do not understand the question.

    3.
    “The method REQUIRES “screening”, i.e. selection. It is part of calibration.”

    Absolutely not, these two statements are completely false.

    4.
    “The growth of trees is dependent on the limiting factor for their growth, and this is rarely temperature.”

    We are talking about MXD not growth. What is valid for TRW is not necessarily for MXD.

    Any discussion with you is useless, I wish you a good continuation, Mr. Courtney.

  67. phi:

    re your post at October 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm.

    There was no discussion.
    You posted illogical and factually inaccurate nonsense.
    I pointed out your errors.
    You have gone off in a huff.
    I am saddened that you left before starting a discussion.

    Richard

  68. Shoshin says:
    October 31, 2012 at 7:39 am
    The whole Mann thing is following the same stages of the Lance Armstrong tragedy. World wide fame, fortune, arrogance, accusations of coverups, bullying, denial, confessions by co-conspirators and finally fall from grace.

    From Mr. Zip to Mr. Zippo.

  69. One thing about this “trended” / “detrended” argument I don’t get. Surely the proxy has to match both the detrended and the trended for it to be useful? I can see it has to match the detrended in order to be a legitimate temperature proxy. But then if it doesn’t match the trended, it still isn’t a temperature proxy. Or am I missing something?

  70. Mike Jonas:

    You ask October 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    One thing about this “trended” / “detrended” argument I don’t get. Surely the proxy has to match both the detrended and the trended for it to be useful? I can see it has to match the detrended in order to be a legitimate temperature proxy. But then if it doesn’t match the trended, it still isn’t a temperature proxy. Or am I missing something?

    You are missing nothing. You are right.
    In fact, rejecting ANY trees biases the sample: strange but true.

    A true proxy
    (a) varies in a known way
    (b) with the parameter it is indicating
    (c) as a result of a known mechanism.

    Thus the variations of the proxy indicate variations of the parameter for a known reason.

    In treemometry (a) and (c) is each unknown. The method assumes that tree ring growth indicates temperature. There is no reason to think this is true and several reasons to doubt it.

    If trees were proxies for temperature then all trees (e.g. of a species) would indicate temperature. Most don’t. But the method assumes the trees which vary with temperature over a calibration period will indicate temperature at other times. In the unlikely event that the assumption were true then trees would only indicate temperature in the growing season. And it is a very unlikely event. The rate of tree ring growth varies for several reasons so it is always possible to find some trees that seem to indicate temperature over a calibration period. Other trees will give a similar seeming indication over a different calibration period.

    Simply, as a science, treemometry makes astrology look good.

    And considerations of whether tree ring data should be detrended or not for treemometry is like considering whether the influence of the Moon or the planets should be considered when making a horoscope. The relevant ‘experts’ have detailed debates to decide these matters, but whatever decision they reach does not stop the results of their analyses being rubbish.

    Richard

  71. Okay, I’ll bite. . . .

    “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.”

    1. How in the world could Steve McIntyre “leak” something that had been publicly published?

    2. Even if he wanted to, how could Steve McIntyre behave either “ethically” or “unethically?” Is there some code of honor that I’ve never heard about that proscribes someone who reads something by a “Climate Scientist” from commenting about the paper?

  72. Ok, I’ll bite too. Steve McIntyre is not playing by club rules, as set out by people who believe that they are the arbiters of club decorum. In effect, he’s worn non-regulation length shorts to the annual club tournament. It matters not that he plays his ball fairly, counts every stroke and questions only to ensure fair play.

    Despite being able to not only play but teach a great game, he should be disqualified since his shorts are an inch too short.

  73. phi,

    I think both trended and detrended screening is biased to hockey sticks.

    This is obvious, if you assume that proxies are thermometers of varying quality over time.

    Passing through screening suggests that tree rings have been sufficiently correlated with thermometers in the modern times calibration period.

    But this excludes proxies, which have been good thermometers in the past but fail to be in modern times.

    And includes proxies which have been poor in the past but good in modern times.

    Both inevitably will reduce temperature maxima before the calibration method and results in a bias towards a hockey stick.

  74. Additional and perhaps even more Hockey Stickness comes from the habit of data non archiving in climate science. Non hockey stick data is very likely to be not archived and available for reconstruction.

    And on top of that, there is a bias of selection by some scientists. Despite some of the proxies have long been classified as false, upside down or corrupt, and despite this fact has been known to researchers, the have been used again and again.

  75. Jan – not quite. It’s not his shorts but the fact he is better than the Club Coach who Steve shows to be playing with crooked kit.

  76. I’m also biting.

    I lack Jan’s wit so I cannot provide so accurate, amusing and sarcastic a summary as that.
    Instead, I say it as I think it.

    The Team runs a closed shop because they all know treemometry is nonsense. Outsiders may notice and report their errors. IImportantly, real statisticians such as Steve McIntyre can not only see and report their errors but can also demonstrate those errors to others.

    Ethics are rules of correct conduct.
    1.
    The first rule of any closed shop is to exclude outsiders. An outsider who enters the shop is – by definition – being unethical.
    2.
    The second rule of the Team is to ensure that only they know how bad their work really is. Indeed, this is the main reason they run a closed shop. Clearly, the release of anything which shows the truly bad quality of their work is a “leak” from the shop.
    3.
    The climategate emails reveal the members of the Team define what is “honest” behaviour, and their definition is anything which suites their “cause”. Clearly, by their definition, finding and exposing faults in their work is dishonest.
    4.
    Point 2 demands that any fault in their work must be hidden (hence, “hide the decline”) and only points complimentary of their work are allowed to be reported. Therefore, mentioning – especially “leaking” – a fault is not complimentary of the work so can only be “cherry-picked in a way that maximally discredits the study”.

    Hence, in terms of the Team’s nature and ethics, Mann’s comment is seen to be correct.

    Richard

  77. In statistics you are not allowed to use temperature to select the trees you want to analyze, if it is temperature that you are trying to correlate with the trees. Formally it is known as “selection on the dependent variable”. It is forbidden in statistics because it leads to spurious correlations.

    Imagine that you wanted to find out why people were getting sick, so you selected a number of sick people to study. After all, it seems reasonable that if you want to find what is making the people sick, you should look at sick people.

    And what you found after studying the people is that they mostly had brown hair. And from this you concluded that brown hair was making them sick, because it had the highest correlation.

    The problem is that you selected the people based on the very thing you wanted to study, and this gave a misleading statistical result. If you want to find out why people are getting sick, then you need to include both sick and not sick people in the study, to find what is different.

    This is the effect of selecting tree rings based on temperature (calibration) when temperature is the thing you are trying to study. It returns statistical nonsense that on the surface appears reasonable. Nothing says that climate is anything different that “brown hair”.

  78. phi says:
    October 31, 2012 at 7:34 am
    I broadly share your analysis. But that’s about screening and not specifically dendro. There are many local, regional or hemispheric studies which use especially rings dendities without any screening. These studies provide quite remarkable results.
    =========
    This result argues strongly that tree rings should not be screened. As such, it is further evidence that the screening process is introducing selection bias into the results.

    The problem for the authors in this case is that trees do not respond globally, they respond to local conditions. The screening process is effect is trying to select trees that are ignoring local conditions and responding to global conditions, something that is physically impossible.

    As such, I could see some validity in the use of tree rings if you calculate the result regionally without screening and then use this to compute a longer term average trend, but you would likely need quite a large number of samples to be representative.

    From what I read in the emails, when the authors tried this the significance dropped to the point where only a single proxy before 1400 was useable, which argues that the result is not showing a global or southern hemisphere trend, rather a local or regional trend.

  79. Gavin recommended providing all the data, and also cautioned: “While there is no chance whatsoever that they [“Steve McIntyre et al”] will examine your work and find no faults.” Sounds like grudging respect and painfully-gained wisdom on Gavin’s part.

    Every paper will have faults. The question is whether the faults are significant. In every case that I’m aware of where McIntyre noted faults, they were significant enough to require correction or retraction of said papers.

  80. Manfred,

    What you describe can happen but screening on detrended data prevents a statistical artefact which increases the variance over the screening period. This implies in principle a general loss of quality of the construction but at least the variance is homogeneous.

    ferd berple,

    “As such, I could see some validity in the use of tree rings if you calculate the result regionally without screening and then use this to compute a longer term average trend, but you would likely need quite a large number of samples to be representative.”

    That’s exactly it.

  81. Manfred,

    It should be added that if the screening is done against temperatures whose trend is biased (eg UHI), screening and calibration on detrended data becomes absolutely necessary.

  82. Ferd (way up the thread):

    What the events show is that peer review is not robust. It failed to catch a fairly significant error in the paper, in that the methodology described did not match the methodology used. This is strong evidence that peer review does not guarantee correctness.

    Absolutely correct, especially with regard to peer review as currently performed on analytical data that are produced by ‘black box’ computer routines. If you are given a copy of the paper text but not the complete dataset and breakdown of the code used in the computer routines, then it is not possible to pick up this sort of error. Given that peer review is essentially a voluntary and unpaid / unappreciated* aspect of (mainly) academia, the quality of peer review is inevitably variable and frequently little more than cursory.

    What the events show is that internet review is more robust than peer review. This is strong evidence that the results published on the internet are more reliable than the results published in leading journals.

    This argues strongly that leading journals should require more than peer review as a condition of publishing. They should require that the papers pass internet review.

    Not sure I entirely agree with these comments – perhaps better to say that effective peer review needs to learn from the strengths of internet review as performed by the likes of Steve McIntyre and Jean S. You have to take the time and get into the heart of the data, not just the written description. I recall Phil Jones’s response on refusing Steve Mc’s request for data backing up the findings of a paper – ‘no-one has asked for the data before’.

    I think a lot of internet or other open review simply generates more heat than light, especially when on controversial topics, and so it becomes very difficult to identify the important points. Too many eyes with too many personal biases…

    What the events also show is the professional climate scientists are no better at catching errors than anyone else. A degree in science does not make you an expert in spotting mistakes. An eye for detail is not something learned in university. Some folks have it, some don’t, and it is a skill that appears early in life, during early childhood. What university teaches (hopefully) is how to apply this skill to different types of problems.

    Absolutely – I write a lot of technical reports for my job, but each report must be fully reviewed and counter-signed by a colleague prior to being issued (similarly, I review reports for colleagues). It often needs a second set of eyes to spot the mistake, and even with our review system some errors get through.

    * No-one boost their CV or research profile by listing how many papers they review. Publish or perish is the only mantra, not ‘make sure your colleagues and rivals don’t screw up’.

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