McIntyre on Kaufman et al 2020

Andrew Revkin was fawning over the paper on Twitter when McIntyre showed up.

Here is the complete response by Steve McIntyre.

I was curious as to why their new Antarctic reconstruction was so dramatically different from PAGES2K only seven years ago – a question that both they and reviewers ought to have thought about. Difference arises mainly from one catastrophic error and 2 implausible new series.

the largest difference from PAGES2K -and main contributor to "new" blade – came from Kaufman's version of Dahl-Jensen borehole inversion series. Kaufman has HS (worse with binning). Opposite to original.

3/ so how did they get such a different appearance? Total cock-up. They dropped the earliest Dahl value, then reversed the years. So the Dahl value from 5502 BC was used in 1995 AD, from 4438 BC in 1987 and so on. A goof of Mannian proportions.

4/ it was easy to notice. I tweeted on this within a day or so after publication. There are two other very questionable "new" series. Instead of using the new WAIS isotope series – the highest resolution Antarctic series over the Holocene – they use a WAIS borehole inversion

5/ in which isotopes are a sort of fringe. The inversion matrices used in borehole inversion are hugely multicollinear, so the inversion math is very unstable. This whole discipline should be thrown out on those grounds. But there is a special problem with ice core inversions.

6/ there is very very strong seasonal swing in temperatures of top 15 meters or so of Antarctic ice core boreholes. In the published article on WAIS inversion, they excluded the top portion – which are the layers laid down after 1960 or so. So supposed recent uptick in WAIS

7/ temperature reconstruction arises from ice layers laid down prior to 1960. It is a really stupid series. And yet, the WAIS isotope series is fantastically high resolution over long series. d18O series are backbone of paleoclimate – so why didn't they just use d18O?

8/ you know the answer. The WAIS d18O series didn't yield a HS, so they used the stupid borehole inversion series which did.

9/ the only other series contributing to "new" HS is a melt layer frequency series from Siple Dome – where there is an isotope series available. Siple Dome is near Ross Sea, where icesheet has been gradually eroding during Holocene as it is maritime grounded. As a result,

10/ even though isotope data shows slight decline in temperature over Holocene, there has been a slight increase in melt frequency in Siple Dome. They calculated this series as a running total of melt layers in prior 1000 years, which Kaufman incorrectly used as annual resolution

11/ Kaufman then binned this series. If one were to use this crappy data at all, you'd be required to bin the original data, not the running 1000 year total. If you did that, it has max 500 years ago, not in 20th century.

12/ also, unlike isotope series which have been taken at many sites and properties and vagaries thus known, use of a singleton series where there are no comparanda in region lends itself to abusive cherrypicking, such as here.

13/ I haven't looked at other regions, but Kaufman's Antarctic reconstruction is a mess and needs to be retracted. You may recall that Kaufman's Arctic PAGES2K series was similarly screwed by upside-down series in Iceland and series in Greenland which had similar contamination

14/ to the contaminated Finnish lake sediment series (also used upside down) relied upon in Mann's supposed no-dendro reconstruction in 2008.

Originally tweeted by Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) on August 7, 2020.

HT/Tim P

91 thoughts on “McIntyre on Kaufman et al 2020

  1. Stop laughing would you. Science is real.

    I saw the sign on my neighbor’s lawn, so it must be.

    • Because Science.
      Believe in Science.

      … or as Dementia Joe says, “We choose truth over facts.”
      Because facts suck when you’re trying to alter the truth.

    • Yes, we’re now in the second or third generation of “bumper sticker” politics. If it doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, Generation Can’t Read Just Click Icon won’t understand it.

      • Aaaah, that clears up something for me. I never could figure out why Marianne Williamson didn’t get the nomination.

  2. My skepticism began the day I saw that the Medieval Warm Period had been erased.
    These people will literally stop at nothing. Inconvenient history will be re-written.

    • You know what Big Brother said, Charles:

      “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

    • Well, I was skeptical a little before this, but I realized the fix was in way back in the days of Usenet when the one and only William J. Connolly hisself told me I was obviously unqualified to debate such Settled Science if I truly believed that the Little Ice Age wasn’t anything more than a short term, local phenomenon (i.e. Europe only).

      Since that was over 20 years ago, I would love to add another two decades of evidence from all around the world…but one of his sock puspuppets would only scrub it from Wiki…

  3. Well OK, aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show? This too good to be false narrative that they’d all so wish to see disseminated made it past both the error checking that the authors saw fit to apply, as well as any such similar care by the report’s reviewers. And in the end isn’t that what counts in post-modern science, so why should this bother any self-respecting journal? And for that matter what else is new?

  4. The contributions section of the Kaufman paper:
    “D.K. directed the project and wrote the manuscript, with input from all authors. N.M. developed and implemented the database structure in LiPD and he created the CPS and DCC reconstructions. C.R. created the SCC reconstruction and produced Fig. 1. M.E. analyzed the ensemble reconstruction time series and produced Figs. 2–6. C.D., with guidance from N.M., created the PAI reconstruction while he was a visiting postdoctoral scholar at NAU. P.S., with guidance from B.D., created the GAM reconstruction. O.H., with assistance from B.D., compiled the proxy-specific uncertainty values from the literature (Suppl. Table 1). All authors take responsibility for the content of the paper.”

    So who is gonna throw who under the bus first? Who will offer to retract the paper in a letter to Nature? All of them need to sign that retraction.

  5. Holy f***** crap! How the hell did this get published!

    This is just so funny it actually hurts!

    • Peer review isn’t a test to see if the paper is correct. It’s a test to see that only papers that support the narrative are published.

      • Bingo! In this case the peer review was flawless! Unless of course the authors don’t want to be embarrassed afterwards.

    • There was a time when C.A. moderators would have swept that “fraud” comment.
      At this point however, it is staying the obvious.

  6. We are so lucky to have statistical Rottweilers such as McIntyre and co to quickly pick up on gross errors such as in this paper.

    The big question is why the outfits that pay the wages of these people keep them employed when folks in other industries would be let go on the spot after such a catastrophic series of errors.

    Perhaps a shaming campaign of their bosses?

  7. Chief Inspector McIntyre has caught the crooks out again.

    As if Mann using Tijander’s data upside-down wasn’t enough, now they have learned how to invert past and future, too!

    And yes, this would be very funny indeed, if the consequences to us all weren’t so serious.

    • The science is settled, it’s a hockey-stick. And the result is so robust that it doesn’t matter whether the data is used upside-down, backwards, or sideways.

  8. Looking forward to reading about McIntyre’s analysis of this work in The Guardian.

    Or maybe not.

  9. Steve MacIntyre has to be applauded for his meticulous and illuminating work in exposing a dismal catalog of fraud in the whole PAGES 2K project. A thankless task at which he has persisted and excelled.

    PAGES 2K and politicised palaeo climate research in general has become an utter disgrace. (This includes Marcott, Shakun etc..) They add in proxies that give the result they want, irrespective of quality, and equally exclude the proxies that are off-message, regardless of their quality.

    Chefs of climate stir-fry, result-you-like.

    • Shakun was guilty of stupidity. Essay Cause and Effect.

      Marcott was guilty of deliberate academic misconduct brought to the written attention of Science and ignored. Essay A High Stick Foul.

      Both in ebook Blowing Smoke.

      • I’m not buying the stupidity defense from any of these guys and gals. They know full well what they’re doing, and know full well no one in charge will call them on it.

  10. It’s many years since I looked at SkS (spit) but I wonder what their reaction to McIntyre’s take-down is…

  11. This reminds me of student software assignments that, rather than being the result of clear understanding, were the result of hacking. The technique is to try to do the assignment the right way and, when that doesn’t work, try a bunch of random stuff until you get something that sorta works. The software will actually run the test cases but will disintegrate if you try any other inputs.

    In scientific research the equivalent is p-hacking.

    They produced their absurd conclusion by exploiting what they called “researcher degrees of freedom”: the little decisions that scientists make as they’re designing a study and collecting and analyzing data. These choices include things like which observations to measure, which variables to compare, which factors to combine, and which ones to control for. Unless researchers have committed to a methodology and analysis plan in advance by preregistering a study, they are, in practice, free to make (or even change) these calls as they go.

    Some folks don’t like the term ‘p-hacking’ because it implies a moral judgment. Darn rights. P-hacking and other research malpractices are immoral and should be censured. It’s a kind of fraud and the practitioners should indeed be in state pen. The consequences of p-hacking aren’t just academic. As we’ve seen with the HCQ and climate debates, bad scientific practices have practical and serious consequences.

  12. This so clearly shows why journalists should not report on things they don’t understand.

    The story is the published error not the worthless conclusions.

    If Revkin wants to serve truth, he should be pushing for retraction and correction ASAP and apologizing for his uniformed promotion of the faulty paper.

    • Not going to happen, most journalists have to adhere to the scary AGW narrative rather than put their careers at risk.
      The same is true for the academic and political communities.

      “What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from human industry was a dangerous, planet-destroying toxin. It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.” Richard Lindzen, Professor Emeritus, Earth Sciences, M.I.T.

  13. The world is a fricking mess. The end of objectivism and reason. Soon the sacrificing to the weather gods will start, oh never mind it already has.

    • Carbon taxes, that can have no possible impact on climate even if CO2 is the thermostat, are essentially just that, a sacrifice to the weather gods. Like times of old, the priesthood profited nicely from these sacrifices, now it’s the politicians, academics, and ‘right thinking’ industrialists

  14. Isn’t this fraud? If these data manipulations and graphs were discovered in a financial prospectus we would report it to the SEC and expect an investigation and possibly prosecution.

    • If one were charitable, inverting a column of numbers could be put down to Excel cack-handedness. If one were very charitable, inverting a column and dropping the first value could be put down to Excel cack-handedness. Neither eventuality would reflect well on their quality control, to say the least. But surely it goes beyond all reasonable bounds of charitability to put the binning of a rolling sum down to mere bungling?

  15. Kudo’s for McIntyre upholding the Scientific Method – Test All Things
    Restore the foundation of modern science per the Royal Society’s motto Take Nobody’s Word For It

    Nullius in verba
    The very first ‘learned society’ meeting on 28 November 1660 followed a lecture at Gresham College by Christopher Wren. Joined by other leading polymaths including Robert Boyle and John Wilkins … from 1663 it would be known as ‘The Royal So.ciety of London for Improving Natural Knowledge’.
    The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ is taken to mean ‘take nobody’s word for it’. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.

    • The royal society’s motto is now changed to “Take anybody’s money for confirmation of whatever they want”

      Thankyou Margaret Thatcher.

  16. Has Kaufman or any of his fellow authors responded to Steve McIntyre’s analysis? Has Nature been informed?

  17. “Kaufman then binned this series.”

    For those of us who don’t know, can someone explain what “binning” is?

    • Not an expert, but basically, they combine several years into one bar of a bar graph. You could use an 11 year sized bin, combining all sunspots from each 11 year solar cycle to show a bar graph of each cycle. In this example, that wouldn’t work because solar cycles are not exactly 11 years. There can be many problems with binning, and can be difficult to not produce statistical artifacts.

  18. I am trying to validate the data used. I can locate the Dahl-Jensen 1999 data at NOAA archive site, but completely unable to find the the file for the Kaufman 2020 data.

  19. These are just the errors that are caught. I imagine many papers have errors and there are simply not enough people of Steve McIntyre caliber doing reviews to catch them all.

    It is very scary that some are willing to bet the whole economy on science that is so shaky.

  20. There is a book review in the July 23, 2020 issue of the Journal Nature. It’s all about the rampant scientific fraud etc. It’s title is appropriately SCIENCE FICTION. The reviewer does not disagree with the author

  21. LOL – Go Steve!

    I keep telling people the ice core data is NOT a reliable proxy source. I guess I should start adding that neither are the scientists analyzing the data.

    • I don’t think Steve is saying ice core data is not a reliable proxy. He is saying that you have to be careful to use and appropriate ice core data set and not to invert the data or delete the first data point.

    • ice core using d180 isotopes is supposedly one of highest resolution proxy. Law dome in particular is very high resolution with a pronounced mwp. It is heavily underweighted or omitted from pages2k nd most of the other reconstructions. mann used it in mhb 2003 (as i recall,), but was so underweighted that it was treated as meaningless

  22. ice core using d180 isotopes is supposedly one of highest resolution proxy. Law dome in particular is very high resolution with a pronounced mwp. It is heavily underweighted or omitted from pages2k nd most of the other reconstructions. mann used it in mhb 2003 (as i recall,), but was so underweighted that it was treated as meaningless

    • So what? Both Mann and PAGES 2K has repeatedly turned their data upside down to get the “correct” result, so why not reverse time as well?

  23. Revkin is (and has always been) an archetype of the slick, urban, fast-talking blowhards. His entire career has been one of freeloading; he is a classic social parasite.

    All he’s ever done is make noise. He’s largely clueless.

    • A “running dog” accompanying a bandwagon. (In Marx’s day barking dalmatians accompanied fire trucks.)

  24. What isn’t address is how significant the error found is. Steven McIntyre found a transcription error in one record. However the paper by Kaufman et al. used
    “1319 paleo-temperature records from 470 terrestrial and 209 marine sites where ecological, geochemical and biophysical proxy indicators have been used to infer past temperature changes.” Now an error in one record might naively be expected to change the final result by less than 0.1% which is significantly smaller than the errors in the results to begin with. As I understand it one of the strengths of using multiple proxies is that errors in a single proxy will not change the results significantly. So Steven McIntyre can be 100% correct about the error but it will not change the final result in the slightest.

    Of course the error should be admitted and corrected and I hope that someone is going throw all the records to check that nothing else is transcribed incorrectly but that just requires a minor correction to the manuscript rather than its retraction.

    • I am unclear how you determined that the error only changed the outcome by 0.1%. Can you explain? Hopefully you are not assuming that all proxies end up being weighted equally or being used in all regions. That would seem to be unwarranted.
      Isn’t the issue that the changes in a handful of proxies led to a completely different pattern for one geographic region – Antarctica from an earlier analysis using what appears to be many of the same proxies.
      As for a single proxy error, the use of strip barked very old Bristle Cone Pine series has been shown to be problematic when allowed to dominate a factor in a factor analysis type of analysis.

      • Bernie,
        The phrase I used was “naively be expected to”. The proxies are weighted I guess by proximity to other ones so the antartctic ones would be more heavily weighted. But there are still enough proxies involved so that any single one could be completely wrong without changing the end result significantly.

    • Frankly, I’m shocked that you can blithely dismiss and obfuscate reading in data backwards and upside down as simply “a transcription error”. Then say “I hope someone is…” and “…proxies are weighted I guess…”. So – you really don’t know.

  25. Their fraudulent antarctic hockey stick starts ramping straight up just after 1750. I guess all the car, tank, airplane and fossil fuel power plant emissions during the revolutionary war must have caused that.

    • Yes. Apparently, all it took was for Wilbur’s Amalgamated Horseshoe & Plough to burn its first lump of coal in the brazier, and the Little Ice Age immediately came to a screeching halt. A few days later, after Ye Olde Tallow Factory opened up across the street, the game was effectively over. Mother Nature herself decided to go on permanent holiday, leaving global and local temperature fluctuations entirely up to the far more powerful CO2 molecule, against whose magic she had no recourse. At least, that is the most plausible explanation that modern scientists can hypothesize, and therefore is fact.

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