Rejected Nature Correspondence

Last week, Mann et al published a letter in the Nature Correspondence section saying that it was "hard to imagine how much more explicit" they could have been about the uncertainties and blaming "poor communication by others" for the "subsequent confusion", disucssed here. The Mann et al letter is absurd and Ross and I decided to submit a short reply to Nature Correspondence, shown below together with Nature’s rejection.

The Steve and Ross Letter

Sir:
In their recent correspondence, (Nature, 442, 627, 2006) Mann et al. claim that "it is hard to imagine how much more explicit we could have been about the uncertainties in the reconstruction" (Nature, 392, 779-787, 1998). In fact, it is not hard at all. They could have disclosed and explicitly discussed the lack of statistical significance of the verification r2 statistic for reconstruction steps prior to 1750, values of which were approximately 0 (S. McIntyre and R.McKitrick, GRL, 32, doi:10.1029/2004GL0217502005, 2005; E. Wahl and C. Ammann, Clim. Chg, accepted, 2006). Such disclosure would have shown that the uncertainties of their reconstruction were substantially underestimated, as the National Academy of Sciences panel recently concluded (p. 107).

Mann et al blame "poor communication by others" for "subsequent confusion about uncertainties", but ignore the fact that Mann was a lead author of chapter 2 of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, which stated that the Mann et al. reconstruction had "significant skill in independent cross-validation tests," without mentioning the verification statistic failures. They likewise ignore their own press releases, issued by the University of Massachusetts, and contemporary press articles linked at Mann’s website, which set the overconfident tone they now apparently regret. There is no evidence that Mann et al made any effort to correct these "poor communications" either at the time or subsequently.

Nature itself must share blame for the length of time it took to identify these statistical failures. In 2003, after Mann et al had refused to provide to us either the test scores, residual series or even the results of the individual steps for independent statistical verification, we filed a Materials Complaint with Nature requesting this data. Nature refused to intervene, saying that disclosure was up to the original authors. Perhaps this experience will encourage Nature to re-consider such policies.
Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick

Within a few days, we received the following rejection letter from Maxine Clark, Publishing Executive Editor:

Thank you for your Correspondence submission, which I regret we cannot offer to publish. The paragraph about "poor communication" does not add substantially to our news report, to which Mann et al. were responding in their letter. Nature has no connection to the press releases you describe. Perhaps you would prefer to communicate directly with Mann et al. on your opinion on these matters, as you letter has more of a tone of a complaint about the authors than of something that Nature readers would find of interest?

Your last paragraph is confusing to us because Nature has already published a correction to this paper containing Supplementary Data, as part of the complaint you initiated. This has closed the matter so far as we are concerned.

Yours sincerely

Maxine Clarke

I suppose that I should have known that it was foolish to expect Nature to give a vestige of equal treatment when it came to climate science. But you keep hoping. I went the following reply:

Your publication of the letter by Mann et al and rejection of our letter leaves a very uneven record of this particular controversy, which has attracted considerable attention even since the National Academy of Sciences panel report, including a further report criticizing Mann et al by senior statisticans (Wegman et al.) and two hearings by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. The response by Mann et al to your news report contained an absurd characterization of the quality of their original disclosure. That you rejected a rebuttal to this absurd characterization does not add to Nature’s credibility in this matter.

Your characterization of the situation in respect to Supplementary Data is also completely inaccurate. The Supplementary Information to the Mann et al Corrigendum did not contain results for the individual steps, that I had originally requested in 2003. On Aug 10, 2004, I re-iterated the request for this information with Karl Ziemelis, who took it up with the Editor. In Sept 2004, Nature refused to provide the information in the following terms: "And with regard to the additional experimental results that you request, our view is that this too goes beyond an obligation on the part of the authors". While the publication of the July 2004 Corrigendum may have "closed the matter as far as you are concerned", please do not confuse this with actually providing this particular and essential data, which remains undisclosed to this day.

Update (later that day): I received the following reply from Maxine Clark of Nature:

Thanks for your message. These issues are not appropriate for publication in Correspondence. From what you say below, and from looking into this matter myself before writing to you earlier, your previous complaint has been dealt with, even though you were not satisfied by the outcome. If you feel there is more to be said about that, please take the matter up with the editors who were handing your complaint.

Our News story reported the criticisms of Mann et al. Nature readers are well aware, via this and previous articles, that this is a controversial topic. Your letter serves mainly to express your negative opinion of these authors and also concerns a technical interpretation of the data or availability of the data. There are channels for you to take up these matters, but Correspondence is not appropriate, nor is the type of language you use in your letter about these authors and about Nature in general appropriate for publication. Incidentally, I don’t appreciate the tone of the comments you make to me personally, either, which are uncalled-for.

Yours sincerely

Maxine Clarke
NATURE

Update – May 3, 2007
On August 23, 2007, we re-submitted our comment so that the language tracked the MBH language as closely as possible. The MBH letter accepted for publication read as follows:

Your News story “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”‘? (Nature 441, 1032; 2006) states that the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel “concluded that systematic uncertainties in climate records from before 1600 were not communicated as clearly as they could have been”. This conclusion is not stated in the NAS report itself, but formed part of the remarks made by Gerald North, the NAS committee chair, at the press conference announcing the report.

The name of our paper is “Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations” (Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 759-762; 1999). In the abstract, we state: “We focus not just on the reconstructions, but on the uncertainties therein, and important caveats” and note that “expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400″. We conclude by stating: “more widespread high-resolution data are needed before more confident conclusions can be reached.” It is hard to imagine how much more explicit we could have been about the uncertainties in the reconstruction; indeed, that was the point of the article!

The subsequent confusion about uncertainties was the result of poor communication by others, who used our temperature reconstruction without the reservations that we had stated clearly.

Our revised letter read as follows:

Your News story “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph” (Nature 441, 1032; 2006) states that the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel “more-or-less endorses the work behind the [Mann et al hockey stick] graph”. This conclusion was not stated in the NAS report itself nor by any of the panellists at the NAS panel press conference releasing the report.

Many specific findings of the NAS report contradict the claim in your story. For example, the NAS panel report stated that the Mann et al decentered principal components methodology should not be used; that temperature reconstructions should avoid the use of strip-bark bristlecones and foxtail proxies, that the Mann et al reconstruction was strongly dependent on these problematic proxies; that their reconstruction failed important verification tests; and that they had incorrectly estimated uncertainties in their reconstruction.

At the press conference, panel chairman North said that he agreed with the “substance” of the Mann et al reconstruction. However, this language is nowhere used in the report itself, where the panel expressly referred to the reconstruction merely as “plausible” and specifically withheld any attribution of confidence intervals for the period before 1600.

Jayne Hill wrote in early September declined publication stating:

Thank you for your Correspondence submission, which we regret we are unable to publish. Our news story was indeed citing North’s comments at the press conference, which as they say “substantially” support Mann et al., and which is clear from the text of the news story.

Thank you again for writing to us.

Notice the asymmetry in reasoning. MBH were allowed to comment on observations made by North on the basis that they were inconsistent with the NAS Report, but we weren’t.

136 Comments

  1. Gabe C.
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    A quick question:

    Is it the AGW contrarians point of view that the editors of Nature are:

    A. Biased because of their political leanings.
    B. Ignorant of the science/statistics involved.
    C. Biased for monetary reasons.
    D. Biased because of personal connections.
    E. Something else.

    Thank you for clarifying this for me.

  2. John G. Bell
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 6:48 AM | Permalink

    You forgot

    F. All of the above

  3. Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

    Gabe C:

    To whom are you referring to as “AGW contrarians”?

    Pro-AGW, Anti-AGW, Agnostic-AGW or Don’t-Know-AGW?

    The Pro-AGW crowd certainly can be pretty contrary, but it doesn’t sound like you’re addressing them, hence my confusion.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    Hans von Storch at prometheus observed the following:

    what was more severe was the fact that the peer-review process in this specific field was blocked by people like Dr. Mann and his network, as indicated by the Wegmann report and felt by many of others… And I am impressed by Steve’s stamina to hold on, in spite of a really hostile reaction to his legitimate attempt to simply replicate a significant result of climate science. In doing so he did an important service to climate change science.

    There are lots of reasons why Nature doesn’t want to have a balanced exchange. The most obvious explanation is that they do not want to publish an allegation that the original article did not have adequate disclosure because it’s embarrassing to them.

  5. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    It is my view that some of the “general” science journals, such as Nature, have gone down a slightly tabloid-edged route.

    My view is that they want stories that sell magazines, and detailed technical quibbles over the science doesn’t sell magazines, whereas short, fast-paced horror stories about how science is “proving” that we are all doomed (doomed, I say) does sell.

    There is evidence that Nature is interested in selling the alarmist story rather than a balanced, moderated story, even on the pro-warmer side (see here for example).

    The mechanism postulated for this is that there is an editorial review prior to expert scientific review of submissions – the first question is “will this article sell journals” rather than “is it scientific valid/useful etc”

  6. Paul Penrose
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    Gabe,
    Most of us “contrarains” are kind of like the math teachers you had when you were in elementary school who insisted that you show your work. It wasn’t good enough then to just say that the answer is 42, and it’s not good enough now. You can do what you want to in private, but if you want to turn it in for credit (change public policy), you must show all your work.

  7. John A
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

    Yet another benefit of this blog – it allows this sort of correspondance to see the light of day, rather than being hidden and Steve seething at this blatent censorship.

  8. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

    #7. John A, you’re right about the benefit of the blog for this type of exchange. However, I wouldn’t describe my state of mind as “seething” – I’m more even-tempered than that. But I know what you mean and it is definitely satisfying to post this record up for others to see.

  9. John G. Bell
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Re #5, Spense_UK
    I worked in academic libraries for 15 years. One imprortant trend was the rise in the cost of scientific periodicals. It resulted in libraries reducing the number of titles they carried. Those lost sales had to be made up by the periodicals.

    The tabloid-edged route kept many of the periodicals in business as it allowed them to expand their sales into the general population. I don’t know the library situation today but periodicals like Nature can’t seem to shake the tabloid monkey off their back.

  10. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    It wasn’t good enough then to just say that the answer is 42

    Good use of 42!

    Mark

  11. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    A. Biased because of their political leanings.

    I don’t think “political leanings” is truly a factor other than the fact that this has become politicized and, very public. I.e., I’m sure not all Nature editors are “tree hugging environmentalists.”

    B. Ignorant of the science/statistics involved.

    Probably not ignorant of these, but certainly not knowlegeable enough to make a clear, objective decision.

    C. Biased for monetary reasons.

    Ah yes, the ultimate question. Nature has a profit motive in the end, and alarmism sells. With all the talk about all of us working for “big oil,” everyone seems to forget there is much more money at stake on the other side of the fence.

    D. Biased because of personal connections.

    This could be true, but hard to prove.

    E. Something else.

    I think Steve M.’s comment about acknowledging their peer review failure is a huge driver. While it is ideal to think that ALL scientists should adhere to the strictest of standards, they are ALL still human, and ALL still loathe to face up to errors and the resulting embarrassment. Unfortunately, this is one area in which we cannot afford to not expose such failures.

    Mark

  12. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    I am quite tolerant and it really takes a lot for me to write something like the following. Based on the behavior show in response to M and M’s letter, Nature are biased, agenda driven hacks.

  13. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    If I had been asked, I could have told you in advance this correspondence would be rejected. The telling line is this one:

    your letter has more of a tone of a complaint about the authors than of something that Nature readers would find of interest

    To get your correspondences published you have to make them sound as helpful as possible. In terms of content, you need to show (or convincingly pretend) that what you really care about is the journal’s audience. This correspondence, IMHO, doesn’t achieve that. Typically, showing that somebody has made a false statement, or is even completely wrong, is not enough to get published. You have to go one up on them by proposing a better alternative.

    Nature abhorrs dialectic. Nature is not the vehicle for Truth. What they want are great papers and interesting reading.

    The assumption is that if you’ve got a piece of truth that has eluded your adversary (usually a competing peer), your insight will, in time, lead you to victory through innovation. Note that owning a piece of the truth is not enough. If you want to be published at that level, you have to use it in some innovative new way.

    The interesting problem with *this* exchange is that M&M are not “competing peers” of MBH. So the conflict does not fit the publishing cultural paradigm. Cultural paradigms can evolve, but they can not be shifted. As long as you seek justice over innovation, you will continue to run up against this cultural barrier.

    You could argue this is bad, and that blogs are good. But I would have to point out that this highly evolved culture serves to keep academics focused on innovation rather than on fighting (which they love to do if driven to it). Whereas blogs encourage fighting over innovation. Which of these two choices is better value for your tax money?

  14. Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    What about this: Mann will keep publishing in Nature. He’s still early in his academic carreer. McIntyre will likely not publish in Nature any more. Furthermore, he’s just an amateur, and the scientific community doesn’t care much for amateurs, however good their contribution is. It’s just too punctual. Science is a lot about networking.

    So Nature wants to stay good friends with Mann, with whom they’ll have to deal in the future, as a publishing author or as a reviewer. They let him publish his little letter, make a bit of drama. His letter doesn’t add anything to the story, he’s just whining like every politician cited out of context. But who cares? But letting McIntyre publish yet another counter reply would also add nothing, and maybe start a debate that they’re not really interested in.

    Why worry about this, Steve? If I were you, and I know you’ve heard this before, I would put together all the bits and pieces you’ve found so far on statistical reconstructions, and write a nice paper for GRL. The entire scientific community would be grateful and sympathetic to that. So if that’s what you want to achieve, go for it! On the other hand, you don’t have to, and can just keep blogging and doing things at your own pace. You won’t start an academic carreer at your age, but if you enjoy what you’re doing, nobody’s going to stop you!

  15. John Hekman
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Some really terrific comments today. Everyone is on a roll.

    I have attempted on a few occasions to mention the NAS/bristlecone/ reconstruction/hockey stick controversy to a few friends, ones who are not firmly on either side of the AGW debate and who have not followed this website. It’s not worth the effort to try to educate them. It would take most of a day to give them the background on who ignored which scientific facts and who misrepresented which conclusions, etc.

    Therefore, the purpose of my comment here is to suggest to Steve and Ross that they find a good science writer (like some of the excellent ones from “Wired” magazine) to write up the history of this website and the ongoing battle as a scientific page-turner called “Behind the Scientific Curtain”.

    I went to see “Wicked” last weekend, and it is a good example of reversing the polarity of a story that everyone is familiar with, making the good guys into bad guys and vice versa (The Wizard of Oz).

    I think that a book emphasizing the back room machinations of climate science would find a reasonably large audience.

  16. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    RE: #14 – Papers, books, lectures, courses, original research …. etc. Use this blog to create a virtual professional society. Can also be used to coordinate new committees in existing societies and instutions. Etc …

  17. Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    # 13

    You have to go one up on them by proposing a better alternative.

    Accuracies of predictions and reconstructions degrade, as a function of time (wrt present). It cannot be avoided, quite universal rule. I would say that in this case there is no alternative.

    And I think that this debate would be interesting reading! Compared to typical article, where all events are explained with more and more complicated model (but not beforehand, just right after the event), no criticism allowed. This ‘smoothed’ discussion is boring. Are they afraid that the dam breaks open many years too soon?

  18. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    I would say that in this case there is no alternative

    The alternative is an honest depiction of what the real uncertainties are (i.e. confidence intervals, calculated using valid methodology), as oppposed to the incredibly optimistic “uncertainty envelopes” we’ve seen from MBH.

    I think that this debate would be interesting reading

    You know I agree because I, like you, am reading the blog. But there is “interesting reading”, and then there is “Interesting Reading”. Nature‘s audience wants the latter. If it’s the former you prefer, then maybe your not Nature‘s audience. In which case it’s natural you won’t agree with the journal’s editorial policies: they’re not serving you what you like to read. I think the editors are correct to assume most readers of Nature want to see insight & innovation, not dialectic & debate.

  19. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    You could argue this is bad, and that blogs are good. But I would have to point out that this highly evolved culture serves to keep academics focused on innovation rather than on fighting (which they love to do if driven to it). Whereas blogs encourage fighting over innovation. Which of these two choices is better value for your tax money?

    If one compares Mann’s accepted Nature letter to the rejected letter submitted by M&M, I do not see any distinctions between the two based on innovation or fighting.

    Your point about keeping academicians focused on innovation is well taken and that is apparently the ideal and principled position. The intent of Mann’s letter is to show that his papers are of that focus and do not contain any indications of an agenda or a presumed conclusion. The rejected M&M letter is saying, to me anyway, that the uncertainties in the reconstruction results of which Mann had to be aware and did not chose to specifically address are the source of the readers’ and public’s misunderstanding of the conclusions and potential use of them in exaggerated form to support their existing positions.

    In academic publications one would probably politely submit an alternative view or methodology and hope that it gets published and acknowledged by the peer groups. If others in the field agree and can get published, the new view may eventually prevail, but the process is slow and grinding even when apparently addressing some rather obvious errors and omissions.

    Blogs can handle these situations more efficiently and at more than one level. Blogs can point to some of these obvious publication errors and omissions and discuss them on purely technical terms while letting the chips fall where they may in conclusions that can be draw — much as is the case in the academic world. Blogs can additionally look at the general source of these problems and discuss how they occur and suggest potential corrections of them in ways not readily available in the academic world. Blogs can also give a first hand picture of the personalities involved and that can be informative to the issue at hand and entertaining at the same time. Blogs can get noisy with distracting superfluous characterizations and misuse of information, but that is the price to be paid for the flexibility it uniquely offers.

    Whether or not the M&M letter is published, reading it at this blog certainly makes me feel that I understand the reconstruction situation better and that I have some insights into the publication process and some of the main players in it. I have drawn my own conclusions from what I have read and it very much makes me suspicious of those scientists who seem to make frequent vague references to this or that supporting the existence of AGW and particularly to those who have an aversion to letting any reference to a time period (in the last 10,000 years) warmer than the late 20th century go without presenting vague references and theorizing how that is probably wrong.

  20. MarkR
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    At some stage “Nature” are going to have to eat humble pie publicly. The question those involved in the day to day running of it will be asking is how it will benefit them to do it later rather than now.

    The loss of credibility that Nature will suffer because of damage to the “Brand”, may cost the current executive their jobs, so I think they will try to put it off for as long as they can.

    One shortcut may be to approach the owners directly in some way. Maybe one of the Congresspeople could do that?

    The sooner the “Nature” logjam is broken the better.

  21. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Should pressure from Congress occur, it will only fuel the “denialist agenda” view AGW proponents have of… well, “denialists.”

    Either way, Congress has no business telling a commercial entity which views they are required to hold, nor publish. Fairness only counts when it is a government organization, and even then it is missing.

    Mark

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    #13. bender – I was pretty sure that it would be rejected. Likewise, I’m pretty sure that if ask Briffa or Esper for information, I won’t get any. However, if I don’t ask Briffa and Esper for the data, they can always say that I didn’t ask. And if I don’t ask, I 2nd, 3rd , 4th time, they can always say that they intended to, but forgot and I didn’t remind them.

    If I were in Nature’s shoes and trying to deal with these letters on a principled basis, I wouldn’t have published the Mann et al letter, which was self-serving drivel, which invited a controversial rebuttal. I don’t see how the criteria used to reject our letter do not equally apply to the letter from Mann et al.

    BTW I received the following further reply from Maxine Clark:

    Thanks for your message. These issues are not appropriate for publication in Correspondence. From what you say below, and from looking into this matter myself before writing to you earlier, your previous complaint has been dealt with, even though you were not satisfied by the outcome. If you feel there is more to be said about that, please take the matter up with the editors who were handing your complaint.

    Our News story reported the criticisms of Mann et al. Nature readers are well aware, via this and previous articles, that this is a controversial topic. Your letter serves mainly to express your negative opinion of these authors and also concerns a technical interpretation of the data or availability of the data. There are channels for you to take up these matters, but Correspondence is not appropriate, nor is the type of language you use in your letter about these authors and about Nature in general appropriate for publication. Incidentally, I don’t appreciate the tone of the comments you make to me personally, either, which are uncalled-for.

    Yours sincerely

    Maxine Clarke
    NATURE

    I don’t see where I made any comments to her personally – isn’t she being a bit overly sensitive here?

  23. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    re: #15,

    my comment here is to suggest to Steve and Ross that they find a good science writer (like some of the excellent ones from “Wired” magazine) to write up the history of this website

    I agree. I’ve been thinking of making the same suggestion. Of course this board is public, so anyone who wanted to write such a book could do so whether Steve & Ross commissioned them or not. They could even probably get an interview with them via e-mail or in person with no trouble under various pretexts. Which means that it might be smart for M&M to get such a book going simply so that nobody can publish a book with out of context quotes and “Oil Company Shill” inuendos in it.

    The question is, of course, if they can get a publisher interested enough in it to come up with an advance large enough to pay for the writer.

  24. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

    I also disagree with the position that Nature avoids dialectic and debate. They may primarily seek innovation and insight in their articles, but the news, correspondence (as opposed to letters – important difference) and commentary sections regularly have dialectic and debate.

    Nature (and other “tabloid” journals such as Science, Scientific American and New Scientist) have taken a persistent and partisan editorial view on the climate change debate and there is a distinct bias in these publications. You only have to scan the original article (here) to see that the focus is very much on one side only of the split personality NAS report.

    Actually, looking at the article – MBH’s gripe was that the North quote was his opinion, not that of the committee. The article also includes the following:

    Overall, the committee thought the temperature reconstructions from that era had only a two-to-one chance of being right.

    I’m not 100% sure, but I didn’t think the NAS report made this claim, and stopped at declaring the reconstructions as “plausible” – I thought the two-to-one was a statement by an individual member of the committee, rather than the committee itself. Also in the article, Peter Bloomfield is quoted as saying:

    The NAS also confirmed some problems with the statistics. But the mistakes had a relatively minor impact on the overall finding, says Peter Bloomfield

    Again, this is a personal view, not the view of the report (although at least the article does make this clear); the report did not quantify the effect of the statistical errors, so this conclusion cannot be drawn from the report alone. Unless Peter Bloomfield has personally been involved in emulating MBH98 (and he has certainly kept this quiet if he has), I can’t see how he can logically reach this conclusion.

  25. jae
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    I don’t see where I made any comments to her personally – isn’t she being a bit overly sensitive here?

    Overly sensitive is an understatement. That kind of response shows that you hit a very sensitive spot at Nature. LOL.

  26. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    Spence, these points are interesting. You’re quite right that there was sure a lot of free-lancing at the press conference. Mann has been quite happy to accept the freelancing (e.g. bloomfield) when it suited his purpose.

    I’ve heard some scuttlebutt that there were lots of battles in arriving at the final language of the report and that one of the panelists was really angry about the press conference, sufficiently so that he wanted a re-statement, but Cicerone persuaded him otherwise.

  27. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Your letter serves mainly to express your negative opinion of these authors and also concerns a technical interpretation of the [...] availability of the data.

    A “technical interpretation” of the “availability of data”? How many interpretations are there? It’s there, or it isn’t, surely?

    And informing you personally of what your opinion is. You don’t need a clearer indication of bias.

  28. BAD
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    BTW I received the following further reply from Maxine Clark:

    Thanks for your message. These issues are not appropriate for publication in Correspondence. From what you say below, and from looking into this matter myself before writing to you earlier, your previous complaint has been dealt with, even though you were not satisfied by the outcome. If you feel there is more to be said about that, please take the matter up with the editors who were handing your complaint.

    Our News story reported the criticisms of Mann et al. Nature readers are well aware, via this and previous articles, that this is a controversial topic. Your letter serves mainly to express your negative opinion of these authors and also concerns a technical interpretation of the data or availability of the data. There are channels for you to take up these matters, but Correspondence is not appropriate, nor is the type of language you use in your letter about these authors and about Nature in general appropriate for publication. Incidentally, I don’t appreciate the tone of the comments you make to me personally, either, which are uncalled-for.

    Yours sincerely

    Maxine Clarke
    NATURE

    I don’t see where I made any comments to her personally – isn’t she being a bit overly sensitive here?

    You made no “personal” comments to her at all. She is obviously reading your letters as hostile and backing herself into a corner. I would expect a reaction like that here, but an editor of a major scientific magazine? I just lost another notch of respect for them.

    Indeed no one likes to admit their mistakes, but at this point they are reaching the point of delusion.

  29. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    Re:#22
    I was quite puzzled by that as well, even after rereading the emails a few times.

  30. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    I disagree with the position that Nature avoids dialectic and debate. They may primarily seek innovation and insight in their articles, but the news, correspondence (as opposed to letters – important difference) and commentary sections regularly have dialectic and debate.

    The correct measure of “avoidance” is the proportion of attempted refutations published. I agree they publish a suprisingly large number of dialectics. However that is out of how many received? My point stands that innovation is generally preferred over debate. Debate among rival competitors is allowed, but not favoured, and debate among non-equals (equality as judged by them) is eschewed.

    If I were in Nature’s shoes and trying to deal with these letters on a principled basis, I wouldn’t have published the Mann et al letter, which was self-serving drivel, which invited a controversial rebuttal.

    The letter, of course, was self-serving. But an argument could be made that it also served the community because they made (what was in their view) an honest attmempt to account for uncertainties. I know it’s weak, but it’s there.

    I think what the Mann letter invites is not a rebuttal – which is passive/negative/verbal – but a pro-active/demonstrative response. If MBH believe their methods of calculating uncertainty are honest & accurate, let it be shown otherwise. As I’ve said too many times already: they are *SO* vulnerable on this point. A little innovation will sink that ship.

  31. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    Re: #23 and #15
    Sounds like an excellent idea!

  32. Reid
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Nature is giving Mann the last word. The editors of Nature are true believers in the cause and Steve is like a bad rash that won’t go away.

    Maxine Clarke would have been much more genuine if she just said “Go away, we don’t like your kind.” Her taking Steve’s comments as a personal attack are laughable. Her skin is too thin to be editing anything more than Popular Quilting Quarterly.

  33. MarkR
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    Re#21 I think what we English would call “having a quiet word” would be very appropriate.

  34. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #30

    I appreciate where you are coming from on this one bender, and I do think the points you raise are valid and would have influenced the decision; however, I also believe in addition to your points, that there is an intrinsic bias within the editorial team at Nature with respect to the climate change debate. I think they are both factors in this equation.

    Re #24

    This is a bit of an aside, and this is my last comment on the subject (to avoid drifting too far off topic): I made a comment in #24 from memory, that the two-to-one was not part of the original report: I checked the summary of the report, which states (my emphasis):

    The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean of global mean temperatures from [presently available proxy evidence] increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified

    This is clearly at odds with the statement in the Nature article, which claims the NAS report apportions confidence, implying the uncertainties have been quantified.

  35. HANS KELP
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Why would Nature in the first place allow Michael Mann´s letter to be published? What kind of innovation could they probably have found in that letter? To me, it´s just pitty whining from Mann`s side, and Nature just obeys to their “master” in this case. Don´t any one tell me that Nature in this instance wasn´t aware of the reason for Michael Mann´s letter. Nature cannot have missed the hearings on Capitol Hill together with the result of the Wegmann report, which ( to my knowledge ) nobody have been able to refute till this date, and Nature must be fully aware that Michael Mann is in deep trouble and about to lose an enourmus amount of credibility, if not all. In another thread Steve Bloom mentions one of the biggest “come downs” in scientific history ever because of Spencer and Christy´s sattelite readings, which had to undergo minor trivial corrections in the tropics, but what about the refuted hockeystick then, and who caused the revelation of that! If one might talk about a scientific “come down”, then the disclosure, caused by Steve Mcintyre, of a scientifically invalid and amateurish hockeystick shurely must be it, and whatever Nature´s policies are, I believe that because of Steve Mcintyre´s role in all of this, it makes him and Ross a just claim to have their reply produced in Nature too. Well, that´s just my take on this.

  36. Gary
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

    The “personal attack” subterfuge is a handy way to dismiss Steve. Label him as mean and nasty enough times and it will stick; then nobody has to pay any attention to the crank. And it wasn’t the words; it was the “tone” — which in an email is undiscernable without smileys. Watch it, Steve, you’re on the verge of an harassment suit!

    I would think that the sales departments of the tabloid-science journals would jump all over this with a “Point-CounterPoint” article letting both sides have their say. It would sell a few extra copies if promoted right. Must be that the editors don’t want to give the “skeptics” any toe-hold on credibility when they can prevent it. That comes from minds made up and will take much more contradictory evidence to dislodge them from that position.

  37. ET SidViscous
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    isn’t she being a bit overly sensitive here?

    Guilty Conscience

    What is the term.

    “Methinks she doth protest too much”

  38. jae
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Must be that the editors don’t want to give the “skeptics” any toe-hold on credibility when they can prevent it. That comes from minds made up and will take much more contradictory evidence to dislodge them from that position.

    I agree. But Nature is setting itself up for a big fall, and the longer they hold out, the bigger the fall. Makes me think of Nixon, for some reason…

  39. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    There seems to be a tacit assumption here that Nature Correspondence is the place for corresponding with editors of Nature. But the capital ‘C’ in ‘Correspondence’ is sort of like the capital ‘I’ in “Interesting Reading”. They are simply not going to publish items that are not in their Readers’ Interest. If you submit correspondences knowing full well they will have no chance of being published, then you are seen as wasting their time. That is one thing Editors are always going to be sensitive about.

    The oversensitivity you refer to, however, probably stems from the line:

    Nature itself must share blame for the length of time it took to identify these statistical failures.

    1. It apportions some blame to the Editorial process.
    2. It’s stated as an imperative, implying that there is a higher authority to which the Editor is accountable.

    The tone could be perceived as threatening because it suggests the Editor was negligent and that retribution will be sought. It is enough to heighten anyone’s sensitivities. The ambiguity about the nature of the threat would also be disconcerting.

    What you perceive as “oversensitivity” could just be a warning that the next time you submit a “correspondence”, she just won’t reply. To someone who doesn’t give a damn, that may not seem like much of a threat. But again, M&M don’t fit the mold. Most corresponders with an axe to grind care a great deal what the Editor thinks. They don’t LOL (jae #25) when they realize they’ve hit a sensitive spot.

  40. bender
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    #34 is a great point. Right on the mark & also leading to the sort of innovations that can really burst their bubble.
    Sorry, jae, as much as you wish it to be, Nature‘s reputation is not at risk. Be realistic. Black eyes heal fast. For them, this is just one thread in the whole tapestry of natural science.

  41. Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Part of Nature’s mission statement, http://www.nature.com

    First, to serve scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussion of news and issues concerning science.

    ‘Forum’ refers to open discussion, now it seems closed. They can blame the others, but others can’t blame them. But that’s just my opinion.

    19 # Blogs have faster impulse response, but are noisier than journals. Very typical trade-off in signal processing.

  42. fFreddy
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    Re #34, Spence_UK
    The “two to one” came from the press conference after a lot of leading questions from a warmer journalist trying to get an idea of what “plausible” meant. I still wish someone had asked whether the panel thought the IPCC1 chart was also “plausible” – it’s hard to see how they could avoid saying yes.

  43. fFreddy
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Re #23, Dave Dardinger

    The question is, of course, if they can get a publisher interested enough in it to come up with an advance large enough to pay for the writer.

    Or a community effort, and lulu.com

  44. fFreddy
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    Re #39, bender

    What you perceive as “oversensitivity” could just be a warning that the next time you submit a “correspondence”, she just won’t reply.

    Yes, I think bender understands this system this well.
    So Steve’s response, if he is going with this game, is to immediately write to her boss with a complaint about her accusing him of personal comments. Otherwise, she has carte blanche to slag Steve off wheresoever and whenever she likes.

    Incidentally, is she the same person who rejected a complaint on the grounds that it described a general problem with the whole field, rather than the specific paper to which it it referred ?

  45. fFreddy
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Ooops.
    “…this system this well…”
    “”… to which it it referred ?”

  46. Mark H.
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    It may be my imagination, but since the NAS hearings I’ve noted that your “even temper” writing has been less even, and a bit overly pugnacious. Your strength has been in remaining calm and matter of fact in the face of savaging – a persuasive style I admire and encourage you to maintain.

    If I may be so bold, an example; a softening of your intitial letter (as I suggest below) makes a less pugnacious statement that will not alienate nearly as much as your “direct in your face” use the word “absurd” and the like.

    In fact, it is not hard at all. SUB: One can understand the frustration of any scientist when their work is overstated by the popular media or made the object of political agendas. However, we also believe that some (perhaps most) of this might have been avoided had Mann disclosed and explicitly discussed…

    Continueing rewrite:

    [I]While Mann et al blame(d) “poor communication by others” for “subsequent confusion about uncertainties”, it should be noted that Mann was a lead author of chapter 2 of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, which reported the Mann et al. reconstruction had “significant skill in independent cross-validation tests,” but left out the verification statistic failures. Similarly, it should be noted that their own press releases, issued by the University of Massachusetts and contemporary press articles linked at Mann’s website, contributed to the overconfident tone they regret – particularly because Mann et al does not seem to have made any effort to correct this “confustion over uncertainty” either at the time or subsequently.

    Still, we regretfully believe that Nature itself must share a measure of responsiblilty…[/i]

    Keep the calm and fatherly posture of explaining reality to the hockey tribe’s witch doctors, no matter what rattles they shake…

  47. John Hekman
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    My take on Nature is that they are still quite comfortable in their beliefs about AGW and do not see that the “consensus” has been dented yet, or even nicked. Likely they have not studied the statistics or the manipulation of proxies very closely. They essentially form their opinions from secondary sources, like Mann himself.

    The reason Steve’s letter was rejected was because they think it is just argumentation. What they did was to report on the “controversy” and then allow Mann to have a little say. Maybe they even thought he over-stated certain things, but regardless of that they did not want to start a battle in the letters column.

    Those who have stated in previous comments that Nature is in for a big come-down and loss of reputation, etc. are too optimistic, in my view. Did any scientific journals suffer massive embarrassment when the projections of a coming ice age were reversed to project the frying pan? No. The past is forgotten. When MSU data starts to show cooling instead of warming, and the journals have had their fill of predicting the melting of icecaps, the subject will be filed away under Future Problems. Mann, Hansen and the rest will find another reason to oppose industrialization and the internal combustion engine.

    [hey, that was fun. I like prognosticating.]

  48. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    One of the ironies of the rejection was that the discussion would not be of “interest” to Nature’s readers – a point that they previously observed of criticizing Mann’s principal components methods. In terms of interest to readers, there’s obviously a lot of reader interest in this and related issues or else the matter would not have so much traction.

  49. per
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    I think bender, John Hekman have some valid points about why Nature won’t publish. Nature clearly will be reluctant to publish letters in respect of correspondence which is about a news article; if they accepted your letter, the correspondence section would balloon, MBH would write back, it could go on forever !

    It strikes me that a letter from yourselves about the Nature News article entitled “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”, which covered whether their article was misleading, might have had a good chance of traction.

    yours
    per

  50. John Hekman
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    Prognosticating is addictive, I think I have to do a little more.

    AGW used to be about how much temps would rise in 50 to 100 years. That sounded pretty scary, but after battling Kyoto to a Phyrric victory, at best, and having to defend the out-of-control climate models, it seems that the true believers are now resolved to show that global warming is hurting us now, and hurting us bad.

    I predict…that Al Gore’s movie will start a trend toward claiming fatality figures for global warming, with disease, heat stroke, drowning and maybe heart disease being attributed to this vile cause. This over-reaching by the press and their collaborators in the academic community will lead to an earlier “burning out” of this particular crisis.

    I believe this because I do not think that the current pace of scare-mongering can be maintained more than a few years. It is only in the last year that the twits at the Los Angeles Times have been putting world-ending global warming articles on page one every few days. It seems that it will pass before long.

    I do ardently hope that Gore gets the Democratic nomination in 2008. This would be the greatest political entertainment since the Watergate hearings, which I still miss greatly.

  51. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    If I may be so bold, an example; a softening of your intitial letter (as I suggest below) makes a less pugnacious statement that will not alienate nearly as much as your “direct in your face” use the word “absurd” and the like.

    It might have sounded more diplomatic but do you really think that is why the reply was not published? The alert reader sees the same information and intent whether it is delivered straight or fluffed. In fact they may see the fluff as a bit of condescension.

    re: #47

    I essentially agree with your comments except the reason for Nature not publishing the reply. They did that because they did not feel obligated to outsiders as compared to what they felt for the insider, Mann.

    re: #48

    One of the ironies of the rejection was that the discussion would not be of “interest” to Nature’s readers…

    I think that is just there polite way of saying no. It might have been closer to truth for them to say the reply would make their readers uncomfortable and maybe even combative. I’ll conjecture that editorially there are on Mann’s side on the AGW issue and though M&M have been agnostic on this issue they did take on the fair-haired AGW boy and that does not sit well with them and since M&M remain outsiders they choose to ignore them because –well they can.

  52. Kenneth Blumenfeld
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    My fellow “AGW-ers” will hopefully see that Nature, regardless of its reputation, made a low-integrity choice by rejecting this communication. If Mann and colleagues are allowed to vent about Nature’s wording choices regarding the NAS panel conclusions, then people whose work influenced the NAS conclusions should be allowed to respond. Closing the door does not make the issue go away. If the shoe were on the other foot, and MBH were not given a chance to be heard, I think a great many climate scientists would be enraged, with the result that MBH probably would be heard eventually. Now this may be a convenient truth for those of us who are in the AGW camp, but we must insist on fair play. That’s what I think anyway, and most of the regulars here know how I usually weigh in…

    On a related note, one of the foremost authorities on severe weather research, Charles Doswell III, has a couple old essays (from 2000 and 2001) about Journal Publication and Editorships that I have found very helpful in understanding the publication system. He is mostly referring to AMS journals, but one can see the broader implications pretty easily.

  53. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    #4 — I’ve had two occasions to write to Nature pointing out that the authors of published articles had misinterpreted their own work. In both cases, Nature decline to publish my letter. I concluded that the editors of Nature have a problem with acknolwedging errors in their own pages. It’s as though they’re afraid that if they admit they’re not perfect, they’re ruined. The ‘large-but-fragile-ego’ syndrome seems appropriate here, presuming it can apply to entire institutions rather than being restricted to arrogant superficial twits.

    I’ve had one article published in Nature, by the way (not as first author). The editorial process was incredible. The Nature editor kept changing the text to maximize spectacularity, and in so-doing subverted the science. Our chief author had an extremely difficult time holding the line. I’ve never experienced such an imposition in any of my other publications (50+) in specialist journals. The experience has led me to decide that if I ever achieve any Earth-shattering science, I won’t send it to Nature.

  54. Douglas Hoyt
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    Many years ago I wrote a letter to Nature pointing out an error in one of their papers. Another scientist also independently wrote them pointing out the same error, namely a climate trend was really an instrumental problem. Neither letter was published, but strangely no one seemed to ever reference the paper in question after that episode. Perhaps word got around. The problem though is that someone today might come across the article and use it, not realizing it is wrong.

  55. David Smith
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I agree with Mark H in #46.

    Keep driving the points in a measured way.

    It drives them nuts.

  56. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    The letter had too much “negative” language in it and was leaning towards a personal attack rather than just trying to accurately correct the record.

    I edit many reports and analyses to soften the tone so that the exact same point can be made without any possibility of someone getting offended by that analysis. It is not that hard to do. Use a thesaurus; think of more bureaucratic/scientific/academic prose to use.

    Go positive rather than negative. Think, “testifying before Congress on the record” rather than “I can’t believe Mann would try this garbage.”

    Write “There is another group of scientists who look at the uncertainities and statistical significance of the data and conclude …” rather than writing “They could have disclosed and explicitly discussed the lack of statistical significance …”

    Write “It is noted that the authors of the study have been quoted in X publication as saying …” rather than “Mann et al blame “poor communication by others” for “subsequent confusion about uncertainties”, but ignore the fact that Mann …”

    If you write another such letter again Steve, ask for a second opinion from a professional writer or an academic who has experience in writing such letters. It will most certainly help and will likely get the letter published because even the editors at Nature know that some day the record will have to be corrected.

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:20 PM | Permalink

    I realize that you all are making constructive suggestions, but I’m not going to do something like Jeff suggested here:

    Write “There is another group of scientists who look at the uncertainities and statistical significance of the data and conclude …” rather than writing “They could have disclosed and explicitly discussed the lack of statistical significance …”

    I’m just not going to do it.

    I do think that I will take the occasion of responding to Maxine Clark’s objection to the personal tone by writing, as someone above suggested, to some more senior Nature editor and objecting to her reply. It’s nice when you don’t care what they think. In business, you only really negotiate effectively at the point that you don’t care whether you get the deal or not. When you want it too badly, you’re too hungry. I get the impression that too many academics suck up to these magazines and the editors get inflated egos. I’m not going to be impolite about it. But they are not my friends. I’m not seeking a promotion. So I’ll keep at it a little more – see what happens.

    Ken Blumenfeld got the issue exactly right. If the letters were reversed and I’d had a letter comparable to Mann’s published at Nature and Mann’s reply was rejected, climate scientists would squeal like stuck pigs. Agreeing with something here is pretty daring for a young academic, but I doubt that Ken will do anything beyond that, like writing to Nature.

    In line with Ken’s observation, not printing both sides of the story simply feeds the negative impression of climate science that it is possible for reasonable people to derive.

    I had a similar experience last year. Crowley wrote a vicious and untrue attack on me in Eos. I submitted a reply – I meant to post about this online, but forgot about i. They didn’t get a reviewer for 7 months – I’m sure that it wasn’t easy. The reviewer said that I had some valid points, but the editor said that it was now late and no longer topical. I wrote back and said that I withdrew my article but instead wanted a full retraction by Crowley and Eos. They said that they’d look into it, but that’s the last I heard of it. I’ll have to warm that up.

  58. John Creighton
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    #53 wrote:
    “I’ve had one article published in Nature, by the way (not as first author). The editorial process was incredible. The Nature editor kept changing the text to maximize spectacularity, and in so-doing subverted the science.”

    So in other words, Nature does not accept criticism of Mann overstating his position because the editors of nature want to see people make grandiose claims. Thus the criticism is not consistent with what the editors feel the target audience wants to read. Thus the letter of criticism in the editors opinion is of no interest to there target audience.

  59. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    As pointed out by Brent on the other thread. MBH published a letter to USA Today in 2003, sating:

    October 29, 2003 2:30 p.m.
    Editor, USA Today
    We write to address false statements in the piece "Researchers question key global-warming study" (USA Today, October 29, 2003), by Nick Schulz of TechCentralStation. We also wish to inform your readers that late 20th century warming is unprecedented not only in the past six centuries (as shown by Mann and colleagues in 1998), but at least the past two millennia (see attached graph, which we request that you publish).

    http://tinyurl.com/pzynx

    Another case of “poor communications by others”, I guess,

  60. jc
    Posted Aug 15, 2006 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic anecdote: Kary Mullis submitted “The Cosmological Significance of Time Reversal”, in which he argued that half the universe is going backward in time, to Nature and they published it in 1968. Then when he came up with PCR (for which he later won the Nobel prize) he first submitted the paper to Nature and they rejected it.

  61. Kenneth Blumenfeld
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

    Re: Steve’s comment:

    Ken Blumenfeld got the issue exactly right. If the letters were reversed and I’d had a letter comparable to Mann’s published at Nature and Mann’s reply was rejected, climate scientists would squeal like stuck pigs. Agreeing with something here is pretty daring for a young academic, but I doubt that Ken will do anything beyond that, like writing to Nature.

    What gives, Steve?

  62. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:19 AM | Permalink

    Sorry to be snippy, Ken. If you think that Nature has been unfair, then I’d appreciate it if you email them and say so. If you don’t want to, I quite understand and won’t bring the topic up again. Young academics have to be prudent. Jean S, for example, is obviously very bright and very able, but can’t afford to use his real name here.

  63. David Brewer
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    Wegman is apparently a peer reviewed paper, which concludes that Mann et al’s methodology was grossly defective and that it could not substantiate their conclusion that the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year since 1000 AD.

    Mann et al stated in their Corrigendum that none of the errors identified there altered their conclusions – but they did not address any of the methodological errors identified by Wegman.

    Should Nature not withdraw at least MBH99? Or do they think that it still stands as a valid paper despite the catastrophic statistical flaws Wegman identified?

    Has anyone enquired whether Wegman is willing to write to Nature?

  64. Jo Calder
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    #63

    Wegman is apparently a peer reviewed paper

    According to the most recent comments by Anonymous Referee #2 on the Bürger and Cubasch paper at CotP, it’s a “politically motivated non peer-reviewed report”. I’d hazard AR#2 would say that any other opinion is both foolish and spurious.

  65. Jo Calder
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    link for above.

  66. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Re#65,

    Wow, I can’t believe Mann – er, “anonymous referee #2″ – is still throwing hissy fits.

  67. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Sheesh. Regardless of whether Wegman’s report is peer-reviewed, it cannot be ignored by anyone with any integrity. Has anyone disputed any of the facts in that paper in a meaningful way?

  68. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    In business, you only really negotiate effectively at the point that you don’t care whether you get the deal or not. When you want it too badly, you’re too hungry. I get the impression that too many academics suck up to these magazines and the editors get inflated egos. I’m not going to be impolite about it. But they are not my friends. I’m not seeking a promotion. So I’ll keep at it a little more – see what happens.

    I like your attitude and approach and hope you continue despite all the well-intended advice givers’ suggestions (we hardly miss you TCO). You would feel a heck of lot worse if you did suck up (as an out of character ploy in desperation to get published or at least acknowledged) and then were rejected — as I suspect would be the case. Surely Mann does not score very high on the charm or diplomacy scales.

  69. Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Since this thread seems to have legs, my thoughts on Mann’s correspondence is that Nature allowed him to cook his own goose with the comment:

    The subsequent confusion about uncertainties was the result of poor communication by others

    It won’t be unnoticed by his friends in the IPCC and elsewhere that when the going got tough he pointed the finger at others rather than shouldering it like a Man(n).

  70. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    #65-66. I thought that Reviewer #1’s comments on Aug 5 were on the mark – even TCO would have endorsed these comments. Mann’s hissy fit is pretty comical.

  71. Dan Hughes
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    Isn’t the Wegman report actually a peer-review of a peer-reviewed paper? Who peer-reviews anonymous reviewers peer-reviews of submitted papers? When does it ever end? Eventually we would run out of independent peer-reviewers to peer-review the previous peer-reviewer’s peer-review and then what would we do?

  72. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    I’m not sure. This process needs peer review.

    Mark

  73. John A
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Is Mann still drinking at the “Spurious Parrot”?

  74. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    The “Scurrilous Parrot” – as in “Muller scurrilously parroted M&M”.

  75. Jo Calder
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    #73. From an earlier response of AR#2, these guys might have moved on and now be doing their drinking at (or sailing on) The Deleterious Procedure or even The Meaningless Reconstruction.

  76. bender
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Re #65
    Thanks for that link to the B&C discussion at CotP. The comments by Joel Guiot are devastating to AR#2’s case against B&C. He has it right: HT claim that MBH98 is so outdated now that criticisms against it are irrelevant to the broader AGW question (there’s so much newer, independent data out there now, so criticizing MBH98 is a waste of time), but not so outdated that it isn’t worth citing at every possible opportunity.

    That now makes 4 cases where HT/AGW are using a double standard, wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

  77. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    RE: #66 – What a totally disgusting, puke inducing massive ego “Anon Referee 2″ has. How can decent academics continue to take a monster like that seriously? Has the academic community truly sunken that low? Wow……

  78. Tim Ball
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    I have noticed that the peer review challenge has been thrown around much more frequently recently by the AGW people and wondered why. Now I see how the peer review argument is being used because they have their own guaranteed system. The Mann consortium or social network of 43 as Wegman et al., identified them not only provided a way of extending their publication records with very little work, but also allowed them to peer review each others work. It’s made even easier with Weaver as editor at the Journal of Climate. So we have an incestuous circle that is hidden from view because reviewers are not identified.
    I have long pointed to “Peer review censorship” as a problem. This is where editors send articles to the high priests of the prevailing wisdom only to have them rejected as heresy if they don’t conform. (The religious terminology is deliberate). This was a problem even if the editor didn’t know the reviewers because the pool of potential reviewers has been so small in climate studies. Now I see it was more problematic than I realized because they were all reviewing each others work while rejecting any opposing views, ideas or evidence. Who was on Nature’s list of reviewers? What a wondrous but frightening way of establishing a consensus of ‘scholars’ to further isolate those who dare question.

  79. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    I have long pointed to “Peer review censorship” as a problem. This is where editors send articles to the high priests of the prevailing wisdom only to have them rejected as heresy if they don’t conform.

    Amen, brother. Wegman really explained all this well.

  80. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    Reviewer 1 (Mann?) needs to learn how to use a spell-checker. It amazes me that someone would submit a letter to a journal with so many glaring typos.

  81. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    #80. Reviewer #1 is definitely not Mann – Mann is reviewer #2.

  82. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:22 PM | Permalink

    Right, I meant reviewer #2–the first reviewer.

  83. bender
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    Re #80. (1) It doesn’t amaze me. (2) If reviewer #1’s first language is not English, then grammatical mistakes could be expected and even forgiven. It’s the content that really matters.

  84. bender
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    Whoops, cross-post.

  85. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    Here’s an excerpt from one of the Nature reviews of our submission:

    To judge that the criticism by McIntyre and McKitrick is valid would require downloading all data and applying the seemingly differing approaches. Further, judgments would be needed on methodological decisions that were made by both McIntyre and McKitrick and by Mann et al. as two possibilities within the whole spectrum of methodological decisions on which chronologies to use, the calibration and computation of PC’s over different time periods, special treatments to series, and so on. It could be seen as interesting, that the calculations as done by another operator with other perhaps reasonable alternative methodologies can have such a large effect on the resulting reconstruction.

    Unfortunately, I have the impression that preconceived notions affect the potential "audit" by McIntyre and McKitrick. That would, of course, not mean that their assessment is necessarily wrong, but might explain the rather harsh and tricky wording used here and at other places by both parties, and I generally do not believe that this sort of an "audit" and rebuttal will lead to a better understanding of past climate variations.

    Generally, I believe that the technical issues addressed in the comment and the reply are quite difficult to understand and not necessarily of interest to the wide readership of the Brief Communications section of Nature. I do not see a way to make this communication much clearer, particularly with the space requirements, as this comment is largely related to technical details. I also find it relevant that McIntyre and McKitrick already published a critique on MHB98 including some arguments similar to what is outlined in the current manuscript (ref. 14).

    This reviewer was added by Nature AFTER we got a favorable first review from two reviewers. Nature then decided that a pretty technical argument had to be re-written to 800 words, which we did. Then they said that the point was too technical for a 500 -word article. It was all pretty laughable which is why we posted up the Nature reviews originally at Ross’ website. This pissed Nature off, who sent a demand to the University of Guelph, demanding that the reviews be taken off their website, which they were. So I sent a shirty letter to Nature of the type that are all too necessary in climate science pointing out the many breaches on their side of their obligations to us and they grudgingly agreed to let the reviews stay up.

  86. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    85: Obviously that reviewer has little understanding of the statistical issues you raised. It’s kinda funny that he essentially discredits Mann, et. al. by saying that the conclusions depend on the methodology used, and thus a number of different conclusions are possible from the same data!

  87. jae
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    83: (1)It does matter to me; in my book, it’s unprofessional. (2)I think Mann’s first language is Engish.

  88. bender
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    Re #86 Familiarity with the statistics issues does not provide everything you need to do the sort of review you’re after – which is not a review, but an audit. This review gives no indication whatsoever of the reviewer’s statistical background, so it is unfair for you to assume they have “little understanding”.

  89. per
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Jo:

    According to the most recent comments by Anonymous Referee #2 on the Bürger and Cubasch paper at CotP,…

    This is simply beyond parody. Referee #2 is now castigating referee #1, and apparently telling all and sundry how to interpret what referee #1 says !

    It now appears that not all referees are equal, because you get some that are much more arrogant than others :)
    amused, per

  90. beng
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    RE 74: Steve_M sez:

    The “Scurrilous Parrot” – as in “Muller scurrilously parroted M&M”.

    Or, if you really like the animal route — “squirrelously parroted”.

    Awk.

  91. JMS
    Posted Aug 16, 2006 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    #14: Bender, you know the old joke

    Q. Why is academic infighting so viscious?
    A. Because the stakes are so small…

  92. Jo Calder
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:45 AM | Permalink

    #91 I often think of that joke, and am struck by the number of ways it’s wrong in the case of climate science.
    I prefer the analysis which says that the education system is a sequence of really strong filters which select, for better or worse, for excellence. For many who make it through the system, their chief way of dealing with others in situations of conflict or competition is to outwit them. (And AR#2 certainly puts the twit in outwit.) Making it through one filter is indeed a reinforcement for this behaviour. Of course, this strategy eventually fails, and the unfortunate survivor ends up feeling helpless and rather unhappy about it.
    That’s the extreme, and I’m not saying that this applies in any one case, but anyone who’s had dealings with academia will recognize this as a phenomenon.
    End of amateur sociology of science.

  93. jae
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    88: Bender, I don’t think I agree. Unless I am misunderstanding something here, the issue is not whether different methodologies and different selection of proxies would lead to other reconstructions. It is whether Mann, et. al. used improper procedures. The reviewer is dodging the bullet and engaging in subterfuge. If the reviewer understood the statistics, he/she should take a side.

  94. Howard Wiseman
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    A long but relevant quote from Dr. Richard Feynman:

    In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas — he’s the controller — and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

    Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing. But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school — we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

    The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil doesn’t soak through food. Well, that’s true. It’s not dishonest; but the thing I’m talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest; it’s a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will — including Wesson oil. So it’s the implication which has been conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.

    We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.”

  95. bender
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    a search for “cargo cult” shows that that has been discussed in depth before at CA

  96. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    Can anyone tell me how to look up the number of times an article has been cited? I’d like to get a total on the number of citations of MBH98 and/or MBH99 on some basis. For an article that doesn’t “matter”, it does seem to have been used a lot.

  97. jae
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    Mann probably counts citations, given his big ego; maybe he would share with you…

  98. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Here’s an interview with Mann that contains no hint of uncertainty.

  99. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    You might try this link:

    Thomson Citation Index . I can’t find where it says how much it costs, but maybe a regular here has access to it.

  100. ET SidViscous
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    DOesn'[t google scholar give the amount of citations.

    hmmm I know i”ve seen it do it before, right at the top of the results, like adresses come up if you search on a name and city. But it doesn’t work for MBH98

    Interestingly enough a search on MBH98 citation turns up someone citing you (Steve M)

  101. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    Google scholar shows 504 citations. This may not be exhaustive.

    Link to citation list here.

  102. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    #96 — According to “SciSearch at LANL” the scientific search engine run by Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries” by Mann, ME ; Bradley, RS ; Hughes, MK Nature; 23 April 1998; vol.392, no.6678, p.779-87” has been cited 440 times. This is an enormous number for a mere 8 years.

    Here’s the yearly citation breakdown from SciSearch, indicating continued attention.

    2006 : 24
    2005 : 61
    2004 : 58
    2003 : 48
    2002 : 48
    2001 : 73
    2000 : 64
    1999 : 54
    1998 : 10

    The paper “Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations ” by Mann, ME; Bradley, RS; Hughes, MK Geophysical Research Letters; 15 March 1999; vol.26, no.6, p.759-62” has been cited 375 times; another enormous number.

    Here’s the yearly citation breakdown from SciSearch, indicating continued attention:
    2006 : 32
    2005 : 70
    2004 : 64
    2003 : 66
    2002 : 57
    2001 : 38
    2000 : 41
    1999 : 7

    Note that SciSearch isn’t entirely current, and the citations go only to about the beginning of July. That means the 2006 citation rate is on a par with previous years — there has been no fall-off in attention such as one might expect for a paper incorporating incomplete methods away from which everyone is ‘moving on.’

  103. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    Do you have any idea how this ranks in league standings?

    I think that they are pulling our legs about “moving on”. Osborn and Briffa 2006 and Hegerl et al 2006 both use Mann’s PC1.

  104. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    MBH was well ahead in the multiproxy league standings. I’d be interested in citation results for other articles which people think of as being influential in some sense?

  105. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Not exactly sure how it ranks, some interesting info about the relationships between number of citations and rank here, but I suspect the absolute number of citations depends a lot on the field (how popular the field is, how cliquey etc.)

  106. Spence_UK
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    All from google scholar (and usual caveats apply regarding accuracy!):

    “Global Surface Temperatures over the Past Two Millennia”, Mann and Jones 2003, 94 citations

    “Climate over past millennia”, Jones and Mann 2004, 82 citations

    “Low-Frequency Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature Variability”, Esper, Cook and Schweingruber 2002, 216 citations

    “Causes of Climate Change Over the Past 1000 Years”, Crowley and Lowery 2000, 359 citations

    “High-resolution Palaeoclimatic Records for the last Millennium: Interpretation, Integration and Comparison with General Circulation Model Control-run Temperatures”, Jones, Briffa, Barnett and Tett 1998, 219 citations

  107. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    From LANL SciSearch

    “Global Surface Temperatures over the Past Two Millennia” Mann, ME ; Jones, PD GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS; AUG 14 2003; v.30, no.15, p.1820

    55 citations
    2006 : 14
    2005 : 28
    2004 : 13

    “Climate over past millennia” Jones, PD; Mann, ME REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS; MAY 6 2004; v.42, no.2, p.RG2002

    37 Citations
    2006 : 16
    2005 : 20
    2004 : 1

    “Low-Frequency Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature Variability” Esper, J; Cook, ER; Schweingruber, FH Science; 22 March 2002; vol.295, no.5563, p.2250-3

    161 Citations
    2006 : 31
    2005 : 52
    2004 : 41
    2003 : 26
    2002 : 11

    “Causes of Climate Change Over the Past 1000 Years” Crowley, TJ Science; 14 July 2000; vol.289, no.5477, p.270-7

    285 Citations
    2006 : 28
    2005 : 68
    2004 : 62
    2003 : 52
    2002 : 44
    2001 : 27
    2000 : 4

    “High-resolution Palaeoclimatic Records for the last Millennium: Interpretation, Integration and Comparison with General Circulation Model Control-run Temperatures” Jones, PD; Briffa, KR; Barnett, TP; Tett, SFB HOLOCENE; JUL 1998; v.8, no.4, p.455-471

    195 Citations
    2006 : 12
    2005 : 42
    2004 : 27
    2003 : 36
    2002 : 25
    2001 : 18
    2000 : 24
    1999 : 9
    1998 : 2

    I don’t know the source of the difference between Google and SciSearch. Google is consistently larger. Maybe Google counts non-reviewed publications.

  108. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Can anyone think of a climate study that is more cited than MBH?

  109. bender
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

    Re #108
    I believe post #99 may have the tool that will give you the answers you are looking for.

  110. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    Google Scholar is a useful non-subscription index.

    Here’s one comparison. MBH98 and MBH99 supposedly don’t “matter”. However they have each been cited more often than any article by Heisenberg, Bohr and all but one of Einstein’s articles. I inupt the name of a famous of a scholar and the references come out in descending order by citation. I’m looking for other comparisons like that if anyone wants to experiment at Google Scholar with other famous articles.

  111. McCall
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    My bet is it’s something from the ’02 Heinz Foundation Award winner. He’s been doing modeling since the early 70s, and is not shy about his AGW shock tales, leaving room for revisions/corrections/reductions later. I’ll keep searching for the actual citation…

    You might ask Dr Peiser (for a balanced perspective), or Dr Oreskes (for the unanimous view)?

  112. McCall
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    Correction ’01

  113. Greg F
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    RE: 110

    CLAUDE E. SHANNON and WARREN WEAVER
    “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.”
    Cited by 11526

  114. jae
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    Just say “hundreds of recent references,” you will probably not get closer than that. The whole AGW crowd are confused right now, sort of like the Democrats in the US, who don’t support the present regime, but who don’t have an alternative. LOL.

  115. bender
    Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

    Re #113 I almost cited Shannon-Weaver myself in my post #103 in “Plant Deposits at Quelccaya” where I explain why keys are cut (and paleo time-series ought to be ‘cut’) to be “crinkly” – to maximize their information content.

  116. Posted Aug 17, 2006 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

    ‘The energy needed to transmit information about the state of a physical system keeps us from ever knowing the past in complete detail’

    John R. Pierce (Shannon’s colleague at Bell Labs)

    Off-topic? No.

  117. gb
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps it is good to point that there are more much referenced articles in climate science. Try Hansen, Arrhenius, Matabe, Washington, Mitchell, Arakawa, Smagorinsky etc …

  118. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 7:09 AM | Permalink

    I checked George’s suggestions, which he seems not to have done. According to google scholar, no article by Arrhenius, Matabe, Washington, Mitchell or Arakawa has been cited as much as BH98 or MBH99.

    Charlson et al 1992(including Hansen), Climate Forcing by Anthropogenic Aerosols, is cited slightly more than either but much less than the two combined.

    The only climate article that seems to be more quoted is Smagorinsky 1963, General circulation experiments with primitive equations.

  119. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

    RE: #113 – That’s downright freaky. Mann et al are the “anti Shannon!”

  120. bruce
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    Re #94, 95: Excellent as always from Dr Feynman. But how do the folks at RC reconcile the Hockey Team corpus with what Dr Feynman has to say? Do they seriously assert that it complies?

  121. gb
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

    Re # 118.

    OK, the authors I mentioned have citations from about 200 to more than 500 (using sholar.google). That’s about the same order as the articles by Mann et al. I just wanted to point out that the articles by Mann are ofted cited (in climate science), but not exceptionally often.

  122. welikerocks
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    How about Dr Lloyd Keigwin? I don’t know how to search for the numbers though.

  123. bender
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    Re #119
    Yes. That is exactly why I said yesterday I would like to sit down with Mann one day and see what he understands of stochastic time-series in slow-churning dynamic systems. And that is exactly why I find RC to be “funny sometimes”. I’m not convinced they fully understand the implications of Shannon-Weaver. Or Lorenz. Or Smale. Maybe they do. But I don’t see it. Not yet.

  124. bender
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    Rocks, go to scholar.google.com

    type in:

    The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea author:Keigwin

    you get 130 citations

    Deterministic non-periodic flow author:Lorenz

    gives 503 citations

    Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries author:Mann

    gives 504 citations

    MBH98 was HIGHLY influential.

  125. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    RE: #123 – If they actually do understand them, then I would really have to say shame on them all. That would mean that they’ve sunken to the lowest depths of unethnical behavior.

  126. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    That should have read “unethical” … sorry for the typo. Crappy keyboard and no coffee lubricating the fingers just yet.

  127. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    Re: #98

    Here’s an interview with Mann that contains no hint of uncertainty.

    In fact Mann says:

    The now oft-cited assertion that “the 1990s are the warmest decade of at least the past 1000 years” is attributable to our ’98 Nature article (which established the result for the last 600 years) along with an extension of our work (which extended this conclusion to the past 1000 years) which we published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” in 1999. Our Nature article established that the warmth of the 1990s was outside the range of variability as indicated in our reconstruction of past Northern Hemisphere temperature variations, taking the uncertainties in the reconstruction into account.

    When Mann can then write that he was misunderstood/misinterpreted, I would have to use a phrase coined by Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka: Mann, who are you crapping?

  128. bender
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Hate to be Clintonesque, but it all hinges on how you define the word “the”.

    The warmth of the 1990s was outside the range of variability as indicated in our reconstruction of past Northern Hemisphere temperature variations, taking the uncertainties in the reconstruction into account

    This is true if you accept the uncertainties, as he chose to define and estimate them. Others may have different defintions and statistical estimation methods.

  129. Mark T.
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Others may have different defintions and statistical estimation methods.

    Of course, most others that use such methods prefer to stick with the way they were intended to be used.

    Based on what I’ve seen in his regem code, standard use is not his forte.

    Mark

  130. McCall
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    re: Hansen in 111, I also checked his pub’s — and other than that already found by Mr McIntyre in #118 (Charlson … Hansen ’92), Dr Hansen’s 3-D Modeling has also been cited extensively (but only 200+).

    A biproduct to the Hansen check, there were big ice-core related citations for Vostok: J. R. Petit et al in Nature’99 (900+), and Greenland: W. Dansgaard et al in Nature ’93 (800+). Two rough indicators about this: Nature hit gold with these papers in 90s (we’ll see how thay do, now that they’ve gone “bunker”); and that ice core proxy citations are in a similar elite league as tree rings (at least for now).

  131. Kenneth Blumenfeld
    Posted Aug 18, 2006 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    My google scholar search of “Mann Bradley Hughes” yielded 504 citations for MBH98 and 490 for MBH99.

    Wallace and Gutzler’s teleconnections classic,

    JM WALLACE, DS GUTZLER – Monthly Weather Review, 1981
    109, No. 4, pp. 784–812. Teleconnections in the Geopotential Height Field during the Northern Hemisphere Winter,

    was “cited” 781 times.

    Interestingly, a paper that cited it, which also featured Wallace, clocks in with 1003…and it was written in 1997.

  132. Howard Wiseman
    Posted Aug 25, 2006 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    I quoted Feynman earlier not only to question the scientific process used by Mann et. al. and their apparent unwillingness to participate in genuine peer review, but also as a warning to the CO2 forcing skeptics (me included)that the goal should be scientific truth. Any reactive response based on a bias towards a particular outcome carries the danger of self-delusion and outright error. It is important to see if MBH can be replicted and to test the underlying data sources. It is equally important that others undertake their own scientific inquiry on this issue, with the highest levels of rigor, self-examination and transparency. I have no horse in this race and think the entire carbon issue goes away in 150 years with advent of superior energy sources. The fate of mankind hardly lies in the balance here, except to the extent that science gets abused as a tool used interest groups and governments to arrogate more power over the conduct of life by the common masses. Scientific integrity must be defended to the greatest extent possible, as it stands as the sole bulwark against those whose only interest in science is how it aids the accumulation and preservation of political power.

  133. bender
    Posted Sep 5, 2006 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

    Ah, you’re back, Mark A. York. Done your reading? Can you now tell us in your own words how Michael Mann’s pattern matching algorithm, or RegEM, works? Dodging key questions in the area of quantitative analysis is not going to increase traffic on your blog any. This is a serious discussion.

  134. bender
    Posted Sep 5, 2006 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    Actually, Mark A York, not every skeptic who posts at CA believes there is a major conspiracy going on. If you read the Ritalin thread you will see what I mean:
    There is no conspiracy
    But maybe you don’t like reading.

  135. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 4, 2007 at 4:52 AM | Permalink

    Maxine Clark, the Nature editor of this correspondence, wrote in to a blog (thanks Bihop Hill) saying:

    I don’t know why you think the climate scientists don’t archive their data. I’ve never heard that nor can I believe it, as the IPCC process is a massive exercise in analysing each other’s data and models.

    Bishop Hill replied:

    You will of course know of Steve McIntyre’s greivances over access to climate science data. The Climate Audit blog is chock full of examples of refusals to release data.

    Maxine Clark replied:

    Yes, I have had dealings with Prof McIntrye, and I am afraid I do not share your view of his actions.

    I wrote in to the blog inquiring about what actions. I was thinking back to 2004 mainly because of the VZ blog entry and didn’t recall her name in this context. Now I do. I don’t understand how she can say that she’s “never heard that climate scientists don’t archive their data”. This was discussed in the correspondence above. I urge interested readers to consider our request letter to Nature of August 10, 2004 requesting relevant data from MBH that remains unarchived to this day:

    We are disappointed that Nature has decided not to publish our submitted Communication, especially as the principal grounds appear to be the small word allotment in the Communications Arising section. We respectfully disagree with the conjecture that our work would be of interest to only a few specialists. The original Mann et al. paper has been widely applied and our previous commentary attracted considerable public interest. Be that as it may, the referees expressly encouraged us to continue our analysis of MBH98 and of multiproxy calculations generally and one of them expressly stated that our efforts should not be “hampered”.

    In this spirit we are writing to reiterate long-standing requests for data and results from MBH98, which we have already communicated on several occasions. You had stated that these requests would be resolved in the new SI, but unfortunately this is not the case. While you are undoubtedly weary of this correspondence, our original request for disclosure was reasonable and remains reasonable. It is only the unresponsiveness of the original authors that is placing a burden on you and your associates. Some of these items have been outstanding for 7 months. They were not attended to in the new SI and need to be dealt with promptly.

    In particular, we still seek:

    1)the results of the 11 “experiments” referred to in MBH98, including:
    (a) the temperature principal components (69 series for all 11 steps);
    (b) the NH temperature reconstruction (11 series from the start of each calculation step to 1980);
    (c) the residuals (11 series from the start of each calculation step to 1980).
    2) a list of the 159 series said to have been used in MBH98.
    3) source code.

    Since their claims of skill in reconstructing past climates depend on these “experiments” and their estimation of confidence intervals is based on the residual series, it is unnecessary to explain why these data are of interest. Again, we have repeatedly requested this data.

    Their refusal is here saying in respect to the request (1) for the results of the individual steps as (“experiments”):

    And with regard to the additional experimental results that you request, our view is that this too goes beyond an obligation on the part of the authors, given that the full listing of the source data and documentation of the procedures used to generate the final findings are provided in the corrected Supplementary Information. (This is the most that we would normally require of any author.)

    I find it impossible to believe that they do not “normally” require authors to provide results of individual “experiments”, especially after a Corrigendum has been required. If so, that is a very poor policy.

  136. Gerhard H. W.
    Posted May 10, 2007 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    re: #15:

    One such a book is:

    Taken by Storm
    by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick

    Really a book worth reading.

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