pear shaped (slang)
A British expression used to indicate that something has gone horribly wrong with a person’s plans, most commonly in the phrase “It’s all gone pear shaped.”The OED cites its origin as within the Royal Air Force; as of 2003 the earliest citation there is a quote in the 1983 book Air War South Atlantic. Others date it to the RAF in the 1940s, from pilots attempting to perform aerial manoeuvres such as loops. These are difficult to form perfectly, and are usually noticeably distorted—i.e., pear-shaped.
Dr. Richard Tol writes about a new revelation coming from an analysis of Cook’s climate publications volunteer raters, conducted by Brandon Shollenberger:
My comment on Cook’s consensus paper has at last been accepted. It was rejected by three journals — twice by Environmental Research Letters and once by two other journals for being out of scope. Fifth time lucky.
As these things go, my comment is out of date before it is published.
One of my main concerns was the partial release of data. The data that was available suggests that all sorts of weird things were going on, but without the full data it was hard to pinpoint what went on. Cook’s resistance to release the data, abetted by the editor, the publisher and the University of Queensland, suggested that he may have something to hide.
Brandon Shollenberger has now found part of the missing data.
Unfortunately, time stamps are still missing. These would allow us to check whether fatigue may have affected the raters, and whether all raters were indeed human.
Rater IDs are available now. I hope Shollenberger will release the data in good time. For now, we have to do with his tests and graphs.
His comment of May 10, 1:16 am shows that individual raters systematically differed in their assessment of the literature. This is illustrated by this figure; the circles are aligned if the raters are the same.
This undermines Cook’s paper. Theirs was not a survey of the literature. Rather, it was a survey of the raters.
Of note is the comment “Brandon Shollenberger has now found part of the missing data.”. While I don’t know for sure, it seems that the SkS kidz have left another gaping security hole wide open which allowed Shollenberger (and likely anyone, as we’ve seen before with their forum fiascos) to have a look at that rater’s data. Cook has been resisting requests to provide it.
Shollenberger writes in comments at his blog:
I’ve sent John Cook an e-mail alerting him to what material I have, offering him an opportunity to give me reasons I should refrain from releasing it or particular parts of it. I figure a day or two to address any potential privacy concerns should be enough.
His response will determine how much information I provide. No obligations were placed upon me regarding any of the material I have, but I don’t see any compelling reason to provide information about how I got it either. I’d need a better reason than just satisfying people’s curiosity.
But we’ll see what (if anything) Cook says. I said I’d give him the weekend. If I don’t hear anything tonight, I’ll try contacting him via Twitter/Skeptical Science. I may try having someone else from SkS get his attention for me. I don’t want him to simply overlook the e-mail I sent.
By the way, there is some value in associating ids and names. We have comments from many of the people who participated in the study. It could be useful to try to match up biases in the ratings with people’s stated views.