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Despite the embarrassment of the withdrawn paper, the University is to be commended for their no nonsense approach to this request.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

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MangoChutney

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?

kim

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

kim

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

DirkH

Why do they select proxies in the first place?

wayne Job

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”

Kaboom

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?

Otter

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?

David, UK

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.

You see *this* as a victory?…. Sad. Just sad.

polistra

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.

mikep

Jean S is a he no a she, He is a statistician from Finland and hs pseudonym is short for Jean Sbelius

Matt

I think you missed this (failed) FOI request saga:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/29/boaden_tribunal_information_refusal/

Bloke down the pub

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.

Paul Matthews

Small correction: Jean S should be referred to as “he”.

temp

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.

Ryan

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.

harold

Nice to see this here Anthony. Jean S(ibelius) is a gentleman by the way, unlike Michael Mann.

handjive

Dr Joelle Gergis talks 1000 years of climate data in Australasia on ABC 24:
http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/studio/ep-149
This link from the excellent blog, bunyipitude:
http://bunyipitude.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/karolygate-i.html
(see karolygate III)

Alan the Brit

Deja vu? “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

igsy

Kudos to him. Jean S is a him.
Glad to see this saga on WUWT.

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.

Man Bearpig

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 ?

mfo

“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.

Jimbo

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.

peter Miller

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.

HaroldW

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.

richardscourtney

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

Man Bearpig

““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?

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).

lurker passing through, laughing

Mann complaining about ethics is priceless.

James P

“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…

phi

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.

Gary Pearse

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.

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.

@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

pyromancer76

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.

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.

wobble

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.

Resourceguy

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

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.

phi

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.

Duke C.

“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

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.

Shoshin

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.

Gene Selkov

@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.

“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?

“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.

phi

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.

mrmethane

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.

Steve McIntyre

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