Peter Brown and Mann et al 2008

Today, I’m going to consider the handling in Mann et al 2008 of 17 proxy series developed by Peter Brown and Connie Woodhouse. Peter Brown is an anti-CA dendro who made a few posts here last year mainly on this thread. He introduced himself by saying “I have little patience for your blog. .. Typically a thread here quickly devolves from anything remotely connected to science into a personal attack”.

Willis asked him a number of excellent questions, to which Brown gave polite though mostly unresponsive answers (see passim through the post.) When Willis asked him about the use of “novel untested” stastistical methods, Brown replied, and, when the obvious example of MBH was brought up, we heard no more from him on the matter.

I cannot answer this question, I am not a statistician. I can say that I think your question is mostly a strawman; I cannot think of a single paper that I have read that used what I what I imagine you might refer to as a “novel, untested” method without providing justification for its use. Often this justification comes in the form of reference to existing literature, but it is always there.

When Willis asked:

2) Are proxy reconstructions without ex ante proxy selection rules valid? And if so, what protection is there against “data snooping” and “cherry picking”?

Brown gave another unresponsive reply see here and here observing:

All scientific studies begin with premises that guide model and data selection. So in answer to the second part of your question above, the premise of the question is incorrect; there is no need for “protection” since those terms are irrelevant to the process of development of explicit site selection criteria.

Obviously the process of selecting and weighting proxies for use in a multiproxy study is fraught with potential problems and one doesn’t avoid the problems by saying that they don’t exist. Willis asked:

3) Many proxy temperature reconstruction use proxies which have been used previously for proxy precipitation reconstructions. What methods (if any) have been used to control for the other variables? If there is no attempt made to control for confounding variables, is the study valid?

Brown answered, again unresponsively (with the latter part seemingly at odds with his professed opposition to “personal attacks”):

I am not the person to answer this question. I would suggest that the main approach, as I see it, has been blunt force, the law of large numbers; with enough chronologies that have weak temperature response (and again in ppt-sensitive series this is typically an inverse response) the broader-scale patterns will emerge and be strengthened. It is analogous of course to trying to see global warming in a single time series, can’t be done. (And to the commenter in post #85 about my observation of early grass-cutting in Colorado, did I say anything about it being a sign of global warming? Simply an observation…please don’t place your biases into my comments, you sanctimonious SOB. )

Brown and Woodhouse Chronologies in Mann et al 2008
17 Woodhouse and Brown chronologies are used in Mann et al 2008; indeed they make up just a little less than 20% of the 104 Mann proxies with post-1995 values. The 17 proxies are listed below, with site names located in the ITRDB data set. The correlations are from the SI and from the rtable. As you see, all but one correlation is negative. The sites all come from the Great Plains (virtually all of the sites can be matched here and are listed in Woodhouse and Brown (Tree Ring Research 2003), a discussion of drought. In Rob Wilson’s terms, these chronologies obviously do not meet any of his ex ante criteria for selecting a temperature proxy. Not that he’ll ever admit it. In Brown’s terms, the sites would ex ante be expected to have have a dominant precipitation response, with a lesser negative temperature response (and this latter appears to hold here.)

ne008

Ash Canyon

1997

NA

-0.22

co564

Black Forest East

1997

NA

-0.24

nm575

Capulin Volcano

1998

NA

-0.23

nm576

Capulin Volcano

1998

NA

-0.22

nm574

Cornay Ranch

1994

NA

-0.3

co582

Escalante Forks Update

1999

NA

-0.2

co568

Kim

1998

NA

-0.2

co580

Land’s End

2000

NA

0.06

co572

Lily Lake

1998

NA

-0.16

co569

Mesa de Maya

1997

NA

-0.12

nm577

Mill Canyon

1998

NA

-0.25

ne004

Niobrara Valley Preserve

1997

NA

-0.24

co579

Pumphouse

1999

NA

-0.21

co581

Seedhouse

2000

NA

-0.12

co570

Sheep Pen Canyon

1998

NA

-0.26

ne005

Snake River

1998

0.17

0.17

co566

Valley View Ranch

1998

NA

-0.26

Peter Brown defended the temperature reconstructions by invoking the “law of large numbers” but that’s not what’s going on here. If dendros believe that Douglas firs (or whatever) in certain regions have a negative correlation to temperature (and support this) and then calculate large-scale averages (inverted), then that seems like a do-able procedure. But that’s not what Mann did.

Their data mining process is rather neatly illustrated by the one proxy that “passed”. The “passing” site – ne005, Snake River, Nebraska, is a PIPO site in the Great Plains at 42 42N, 100 52W and elevation 810 m. One of 17 sites happened by sheer chance to have a positive correlation to temperature and it’s the one that’s selected. The “screening” procedure was described as follows:

Where the sign of the correlation could a priori be specified (positive for tree-ring data, ice-core oxygen isotopes, lake sediments, and historical documents, and negative for coral oxygen-isotope records), a one-sided significance criterion was used.

This policy was not an idle puff as one can see evidence of its implementation in the above table: proxies with negative correlations are shown as NA in the SI correlations and excluded from the calculations. As I’ve observed elsewhere, they are not just excluded from the “passing” 484 but from the “full” network – which proves to be a network of only positively correlated sites. That’s not the law of law large numbers at work.

Now Brown will perhaps say – well, this is only 17 of 1209 proxies. Maybe the handling of “my” proxies was wrong, but it doesn’t “matter” because there are so many proxies. I submit that it does matter – largely because the problem is methodological. While the Brown proxies may not “matter”, if an incorrect method is applied over and over, the mishandling of the Brown proxies is evidence of an incorrect method.

Will Brown and/or Woodhouse take any steps to correct the mishandling of their data? Let’s hope so, but I’d be astonished if they do.


189 Comments

  1. Demesure
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    Let’s be fair with Brown, there is 100% more proxies with positive correlation with temperatures: 2 sites (instead of 1). So with some procedural adjustement for non-statisticians and minor caveats, Brown “law of large numbers” should apply.

  2. anonymous
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    I don’t see what the problem is. Clearly Snakes River is a “Point Of Teleconnection”.

  3. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    What physical concept allows tree rings from trees that are positively correlated to precipitation to be generally negatively correlated with temperature? It would seem to me that increased global temperatures would increase precipitation due to increased evaporation (what goes up must come down). I realize that there are some exceptions to this from changes in prevailing winds, but if that’s what’s going in here, then why aren’t rules provided in Mann 08 which allow for such exceptions? The team has been doing this long enough that they should have some reviewable set of rules which can pass a smell test. IMO there should be a program or set of rules which is applied to each and every proxy candidate and the result be part of the SI of any paper doing proxy reconstruction.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    #3. Drought is a combination of lack of prec and temperature. Hotter weather removes moisture faster for prec-limited trees. Empirically in the US Great Plains, trees are positive to prec and negative to temp. That;s fair enough.

    It’s the magic site concept that loses me. You can’t ex post say that Snake River was a temperature proxy because of a positive ex post correlation. If you were making an inverted average, it too would have to be inverted.

  5. R DeWitt
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    I think the argument that “what goes up must come down” is a little too simple to establish that increased temperature must go with increased precipitation. Evaporation puts water into the atmosphere, but other processes take it out. These need not increase with increased atmospheric water content. There needs to be more to the argument than what was stated.

    • DeWitt Payne
      Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      Re: R DeWitt (#5),

      This was discussed extensively on Pielke, Sr.’s blog some time ago. The discussion was not about whether increased temperature leads to increased precipitation, but about how much the precipitation would increase, IIRC. I’d be interested in learning what processes other than condensation remove water from the atmosphere.

    • BarryW
      Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

      Re: R DeWitt (#5),

      The other part of the question is where does it come out? Not necessarily where it entered. Also wind patterns would affect where moisture winds up. Consider how Gulf moisture affects the US south.

      • R DeWitt
        Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

        Re: BarryW (#14),
        Yes, that rather nicely completes my thought.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

      Re: R DeWitt (#5),

      A few points:

      1. Over any reasonable period of there cannot be much difference3 in the amount of evaporation and the amount of precipitation.

      2. We’re talking a relatively small amount of change, so there shouldn’t be much difference in air or sea currents and thus we’d expect a quantitative difference, not a qualitative difference.

      3. Granted there can be regional differences in temperature responses rather as opposed to precipitation responses. But as I said,

      …if that’s what’s going in here, then why aren’t rules provided in Mann 08 which allow for such exceptions?

      So why does Mann make the blanket statement that tree rings are always positive responders to temperature? He’s been at this long enough to be aware of the exceptions. Of course he also should have become aware of the problems with stripbark / bristlecones

  6. Alan S. Blue
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    What happens if you flip the 16 proxies with negative correlations, _then_ run the hockey-stick finder?

    • Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

      Re: Alan S. Blue (#7), I don’t think it matters how you flip, flop, fix or fill the results are meaningless. Inverting the dendro proxies would provide different results, but unless there is a reasonable expectation they trend with temperature you still have garbage, which throws the law of large numbers out of play.

  7. R DeWitt
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    I suppose you could lump all processes removing water under the category “condensation”, but there are various processes by which the condition favorable to condensation can be brought about, e.g., whether a saturated air parcel is cooled radiatively or upwelling, and whether or not supersaturation occurs through lack of condensation nuclei. I will not pretend my knowledge on this is sufficient to go more deeply into it. My point was merely that the argument criticized was not satisfying to me.

  8. Barclay E. MacDonald
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    I am not the person to answer these questions. Manifestly, I do not understand. Nonetheless, I am certain of my conclusions.

  9. Dave Andrews
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    OT,

    But I just came across this comment from Chris Colose whilst perusing RC’s latest post

    You do not understand Mann’s work: he never denies the existence of a MWP or LIA, just that the late 20th century is anomalous in the context of the last 400 years, probably the last 1,000 and maybe longer. (comment 119)

    Whaaaaat?

  10. Lars Baath
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    A paper in Nature this year shows that trees have an optimum temperature for growth. Thus temperatures below the optimum will show positive and above will show negative correlation with tree rings. To select for only positive will then definitely bias towards lower temperature estimatesa dn teh MWP would didsappear from history…

  11. R DeWitt
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    I would like to apologize for any expression of certainty that you found in my posting.

  12. Max
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Not being in academic or scientific circles myself, when ones’ data or in this case proxy is used, is there a royalty paid for its usage when used within a published study? Or does it just become public domain once its published?

  13. Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    As”full” network – which proves to be a network of only positively correlated sites.

    Can you explain this comment from above? I see 18 negative r values in pass screen1 from the SD1 file. I think I missed something.

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    #16. I’m talking here about the screen on tree rings. They test corals and speleos separately and permit negative correlations on these (which they invert in CPS). There are NO neg corr tree ring series.

    HEre are the proxies you mentioned:
    id code
    330 chuine_2004_burgundyharvest 5000
    385 dongge 6001
    386 dunbar_1994_o18 7000
    389 felis_2000_o18ann 7000
    427 haase_2003_srca 7000
    428 heiss_1994_o18 7000
    466 isdale_2001_havannah 7000
    476 kuhnert_1999_d13cann 7000
    477 kuhnert_1999_d18oann 7000
    481 lee_thorpe_2001_c13 6000
    485 linsley_1994_d13c 7000
    486 linsley_1994_d18o 7000
    487 linsley_2000_srcaann 7000
    897 qian_2003_yriver 5000
    899 rodrigo_1999_andaluciarainual 5000
    1188 wang_1991_chinaannual 5001
    1207 zhang_1980_region5 5001
    1209 zinke_2004_16o18oann 7000

  15. anonymous
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Btw, the first link in “here and here” is missing.

  16. anonymous
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    Unless it’s meant as “here (originally here)”

  17. Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    #17
    What a nightmare,
    I saw your original comment and am looking to figure out the pea under the thimble process leaving only 629 proxies. I have been moving around your blog looking for the comments on the pre-sort which happened after the first 1357 to 1209 sort and before the final sort by correlation. Can you point me in the right direction to understand the second sorting????? Perhaps a matlab file.

    I feel like I’m rummaging through a closet of old shoes all mixed together.

    I’m not sure the reason for accepting negative correlation on some of these proxies above. Some of them are stated to be temperature variance proxies. The plots of infilled data are ridiculous on some. I will have to read the papers themselves to figure out how a negative correlation applies.

  18. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    The effects of temperature and precipitation is more complicated than the Dendro’s have been willing to talk about. There is the negative evaporation effect once the first few inches of soil has dryed, as indicated in the first quote. There is the presence of tap roots in many of the species that the dendro’s like to use, as indicated in the third quote. There are the mycological constraints that have not even been mentioned, IIRC, as indicated in the second quote. There is the fact that dependent on what is ACTUALLY beneath the tree, one can’t even tell if the tap root is stunted, typical, or somewhere in between.

    Wind Run Changes: The Dominant Factor Affecting Pan Evaporation Trends in Australia
    Article from: Journal of Climate Article date: July 15, 2007 Author: Rayner, D P More results for: pan evaporation rates indirect to temperature | Copyright information Copyright American Meteorological Society Jul 15, 2007. Provided by ProQuest LLC.

    ABSTRACT

    The Class A pan evaporation rates at many Australian observing stations have reportedly decreased between 1970 and 2002. That pan evaporation rates have decreased at the same time that temperatures have increased has become known as the “pan evaporation paradox.”

    Pan evaporation is primarily dependant on relative humidity, solar radiation, and wind. In this paper, trends in observed pan evaporation in Australia during the period 1975-2004 were attributed to changes in other climate variables using a Penman-style pan evaporation model. Trends in daily average wind speed (termed wind run) were found to be an important cause of trends in pan evaporation.

    It is a bit more complicated than increased temperature increases evaporation.

    Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco
    Douglas-Fir http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_1/pseudotsuga/menziesii.htm

    Like nearly all perennial woody plants, Douglas-fir is dependent on a mycorrhizal relationship for efficient uptake of mineral nutrients and water. Approximately 2,000 species of fungi have been identified as potential symbionts with Douglas-fir, and both ectomycorrhizal and ectendomycorrhizal structures have been observed on this species (59). Occasionally, nursery practices result in seedlings with few mycorrhizae, but no deficiencies in mycorrhizal infection have been reported for natural seedlings.

    and

    Although Douglas-fir is potentially a deep-rooting species, its root morphology varies according to the nature of the soil. In the absence of obstructions, Douglas-fir initially forms a tap root that grows rapidly during the first few years. In deep soils (69 to 135 cm, 27 to 53 in), it was found that tap roots grew to about 50 percent of their final depth in 3 to 5 years, and to 90 percent in 6 to 8 years; however, boulders or bedrock close to the soil surface result in quick proliferation of the original tap root.

  19. jae
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    Well, the confounding of temperature and precipitation variables must reach its pinnacle in the Midwest. We are not talking about tree-line here, where it is plausible that temperature could be limiting. We are talking about a climate that can be very hot and dry, even in late spring and early summer, when most growth takes place. High temps can reduce growth rates, and low moisture availability can reduce rates, and the combination of both can especially reduce rates. How the heck can the dendros think they can sort this out? And where are they finding Douglas-fir out there? It’s almost all ponderosa pine (and hardwoods).

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    Again, folks, please do not do generalized piling on here. We’re talking about Mann’s handling of dendro and the silence of the lambs.

  21. jae
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    OOps, I should have looked at the map. It’s not “Great Plains,” like you said, Steve…It looks like most are in Colo.

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 18, 2008 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

    WE’ve had enough generalized dendro venting. Unless it connects directly to this study, please give it a rest as I asked in #25.

  23. Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

    Reply to Max #13

    The text, graphs, photos, and the form of tables in the scientific paper are protected by copyright, but the data is not. You can use the data to make your own graphs and tables. By convention, the data is made available to allow others to replicate the analysis and to comment on the study. When an author refuses to allow others access to the data, the work becomes suspect.

  24. Max
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    Thanks Fred. That answer helps to answer a few questions for me, of the reasoning and actions of some of the authors.

  25. stan
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    The law of large numbers? So if I flip a coin 10,000 times and delete all tails rsults from my data set, I can use the law of large numbers to establish that my coin always lands on heads?

    Cherry picking isn’t cherry picking, if you do it enough?

  26. Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    This policy was not an idle puff as one can see evidence of its implementation in the above table: proxies with negative correlations are shown as NA in the SI correlations and excluded from the calculations

    Steve

    In all of this work that you are doing, do you have enough of the proxies to run a temperature related profile that uses a methodology that is rigorous from a statistical mathematics standpoint? Or is there enough of a judgement aspect to the whole process as to render that meaningless as well? I do understand that there is an interplay between the physics and the data but as a physicist and engineer I would expect the following:

    A concise statement of what each proxy type is, what it means and the physical and physics/geophysics/weather/climatological meaning of said proxies.

    Then with this firmly established (and a consensus reached by the experts in the field that the meanings represent the best current understanding, then run the statistical tests with any corrections for the physical processes entered as variables that are clearly labeled and applied.

    Then you would run a Monte Carlo? set of runs to generate a statisical mean of all of the runs (making sure to record information about the processor type so that subtle problems with how floating point math is implemented in a CPU can be checked) and then provide output. This output is then looked at by the community and a consensus reached, or at least the range of views of the meanings published.

    Does this make sense?

    • craig loehle
      Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

      Re: Dennis Wingo (#32), Dennis: the problem is that a consenus about the way trees grow by those who study tree growth does not support a linear model, which is what is being used by Mann and others.

      • Mark T
        Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

        Re: craig loehle (#33),

        Dennis: the problem is that a consenus about the way trees grow by those who study tree growth does not support a linear model, which is what is being used by Mann and others.

        BINGO! Thanks for pointing out what so often gets left on the cutting room floor.

        Am I the only one that sees the sarcasm in (#36)?

        Mark

      • Dennis Wingo
        Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

        Re: craig loehle (#33),

        Craig

        Thanks for that. That is interesting. So there is no objective criterion against which one can ahem audit a climatological reconstruction that used dendrochronological series? I do understand a bit of this and at one time or another the textbook Paleoclimatology has been a source of very good discussions on proper process and methods for reconstructions. I have done a bit of sleuthing on this as well in measuring tree ring growth in the high Sierra’s and the Mountains in Nevada (Mt Lee and Charleston) outside of Las Vegas. It is interesting that at high altitudes over (8000 ft) is where you see a massive increase in recent decades of growth but is that due to increased moisture, CO2 fertilization, variation in cloudy days or temperature? There is no objective way to know unless you do laboratory experiments at that altitude and under those conditions to measure the different parameters.

        • Mark T.
          Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dennis Wingo (#42),

          So there is no objective criterion against which one can ahem audit a climatological reconstruction that used dendrochronological series?

          Actually, I think this means there is an objective criterion: are they linearly responding to temperature? We know the answer to that.

          Mark

  27. bender
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    PIPO = Pinus ponderosae

  28. John A
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    Steve Mc:

    The “passing” site – ne005, Snake River, Nebraska, is a PIPO site in the Great Plains at 42 42N, 100 52W and elevation 810 m. One of 17 sites happened by sheer chance to have a positive correlation to temperature and it’s the one that’s selected.

    *ahem* You mean “…occupy a sweetspot in order to respond to the global temperature field”?

  29. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    Mr McIntyre;

    Brought back into your discussion again I see. First, please do not consider me an “anti-CA dendro” at all, I actually quite enjoy reading yours and others’ postings and do so fairly often.

    But I am curious, what “steps to correct the mishandling of their data” would you suggest are appropriate? Researchers who collect and develop data sets and then submit those data to archives such as the ITRDB do so typically without any preconditions on what is done with them beyond that point. Some data collected for specific purposes (e.g., Douglas-fir chronologies collected for evidence of spruce budworm outbreaks) often have a warning in the accompanying metadata file but that still would not preclude someone from using the chronology for another purpose. Are you suggesting we do not submit the data at all, and only allow their use when specifically asked by someone that we know and trust will not misapply the data? That would appear to go against your persistent and continuing call for data transparency. Perhaps I should publish a letter to the editor demanding some sort of satisfaction (and what sort of satisfaction should I be demanding), but PNAS does not have such a system, so perhaps an LTE to some other journal, Nature or Science, perhaps my local newspaper? Perhaps a posting here, for all your readers to see? Or, perhaps continued research to develop improved mechanistic and statistical climate/growth models to better reconstruct climate over the past several centuries? Or perhaps should we just give up since that is so difficult (impossible)?

    Peter Brown

    PS You apparently missed my obviously lame attempt at humor, but that “personal attack” quote you pulled out above was firmly tongue-in-cheek, meant to highlight the often too-typical response that used to prevail on this blog that any hint of a global warming bias in a comment had to be put down immediately (and please note I say “used to”; lately the posts are much more measured).

    • Raven
      Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#36)

      But I am curious, what “steps to correct the mishandling of their data” would you suggest are appropriate?

      How a blog post that identifies the issue? If you don’t have your own blog there are a number of climate related blogs that probably would allow you to guest post.

    • chopbox
      Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#36),
      I was surprised to hear Steve characterize you as an anti-CA dendro, and I am glad to hear you say you are not anti-CA. By so doing you have at least put it out there that you feel that you have been mis-characterized.

      I am always glad to have people come on this blog to talk of their work, ESPECIALLY those whose work has been criticized. For me, it’s simply a question of realizing there are usually two sides to issues, and too often I am left wondering about “the other side”. So, I thank you for coming back to talk to us about your work.

      I intend to take your question seriously, instead of rhetorically, as I believe that is how it has been asked. To do so, I need to know first, do YOU agree with Steve’s assessment that

      “these chronologies … do not meet any of [Rob Wilson's] ex ante criteria for selecting a temperature proxy”,
      … “[i]n Brown’s terms, the sites would ex ante be expected to have have a dominant precipitation response, with a lesser negative temperature response”,
      and therefore, that Mann et al’s treatment of the data as a temperature proxy amounts to a mishandling of the data?

      Your question leads me to believe you probably do have reservations with the way your data has been used by Mann et al. (If on the other hand, your question really was rhetorical, I have misunderstood you, and I apologize.) If this were a conversation we were having, I would now wait to hear what you had to say, and only if you said that you felt that yes, you did have some qualms about the way the data were handled, would I go on to make the following suggestion. One limitation of the blog format is that it is inconvenient for me to wait, so please allow me to jump ahead a little.

      If I am right, and you do have qualms, and really were asking a serious question, then may I suggest the following? Pick a blog (this one would do nicely, but of course there are others) and make a quiet but firm statement that you had never intended your data to be used as a temperature proxy. That’s it. That’s all.

      I don’t think it is as important to submit a Comment to PNAS as I do that you do something. I realize that Steve suggested the Comment to PNAS (and my response to that is that I sincerely wish he would take his own advice and submit more of his own work to peer-reviewed journals!!) but he of all people knows that there are other ways to disseminate one’s point of view – and a simple statement on a blog at least has the benefit of being easy and immediate. You felt it sufficed to state on this blog that you had been mis-characterized as being anti-CA; perhaps for similar reasons it suffices to use the same medium to simply “put out there” your objections to what amounts to a mis-characterization of your data.

      Again, thanks for coming on here.

  30. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    I suggest that you submit a Comment to PNAS, which is permitted within 3 months of publication. The Comment can be quite short, but would be on the record. I urge you to do so.

    To put matters in perspective, suppose that I had published a reconstruction in which I misunderstood and abused your data sets. I’m sure that you wouldn’t just stand by, but would go to the trouble of submitting a Comment pointing out the problems. Certainly Rob Wilson would, even tho we’re on pretty good terms. And someone like Keith Briffa or Tim Osborn would jump all over a mis-step. And that’s what I think should be done.

    Point accepted on your PS. I ask readers not to use the sort of language in your “ironic” post; in this particular case, the irony was lost on me, but I’ll accept that that was your intention.

  31. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 19, 2008 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

    Peter, first, thank you for posting, and for clearing the record. If you wished to take the time to expand on your responses to my previous questions, that would be marvelous.

    Second, I agree with chopbox that IF you feel that Mann is mis-using your datasets, you have a scientific obligation to make that fact known. The old quote that “For evil to prevail it is only necessary for good men to do nothing” is nowhere as true as in science. This is because unlike say politics, science is not built upon agreement. It is built upon falsification, and for science to work, somebody has to be the bearer of the bad news. Somebody has to speak up, to post notice each and every time the Emperor is more than threadbare, to point out when in fact he’s buck naked.

    This, to me, is the most discouraging part of climate science in general, and dendroclimatology in particular. You guys rarely seem to find a single fault in even the most egregious examples of your compatriots’ work. Observing the silence of all of you lambs, I’m left with two choices for an explanation of the pervading stillness:

    1) Climate science is in such an advanced state that nobody is making any mistakes, or

    2) Climate science is in such a pathetic state because nobody is making any waves.

    Don’t you guys care that your chosen scientific field is becoming the butt of jokes? Don’t you care when someone makes unsustainable claims based on the data you worked so hard to acquire and analyze? Don’t any of you folks care that Michael Mann is dragging the good name of paleoclimatology through the mud?

    I keep waiting for someone in the field, anyone, to have the balls stand up and publicly say something like “Linah Abaneh’s thesis reveals a deep problem with the Graybill proxies, and possibly with proxy data collection in general,” or “Mann is using the Brown proxies upside down”, or anything but the deafening silence … but no, you can’t figure out which steps might be appropriate, you fret over whether to send it to Nature or Science or your newspaper, you dither over whether to post here on this blog or elsewhere … and at the end of the day, you and the overwhelming majority of your “scientific” compatriots opt once again for the silence of the lambs.

    Color me unimpressed. You seem like a nice guy, in fact most of the dendros I’ve had any real contact with have been nice guys … but science is a blood sport, it is built on proving that the other guy is wrong. If you don’t have the stomach to stand up for your principles, if you don’t have the balls to name names and dissect fraudulent claims, then go be an auto mechanic or something.

    Because a man who won’t speak out to keep his own scientific backyard clean, a man who is unwilling to point out both scientific mistakes and scientific malfeasance in a clear loud voice, is only pretending to be a scientist. Y’all seem not to have notice a sea-change that has occurred in the last decade — people are watching you and checking your work. In the past, none of this made much difference. But now, your claims are being scrutinized like never before.

    The response of the climate scientists and the dendro community to date has been “Yikes, we’re under attack, circle the wagons, and for god’s sake, don’t criticize anyone’s work. And in the past, that worked quite well … but as my daughter would say, “Dad, that’s so last century”.

    The trouble with the response is that we’re in the 21st century, when it’s all out in the open, when the internet lets anyone verify the math and investigate the proxies. The proper response in 2008 is to say “Yikes, we’re under attack, circle the wagons, and for god’s sake, everyone check each others work.

    You do not gain points by silence in the position that you are in. You do not gain points by ignoring the errors of your fellow scientists. You do not gain points by having outsiders like Steve and myself and many others pointing out obvious flaws in your work. I should not have to spend ten seconds finding out that Mann is a charlatan, you guys should have found that out long ago and pulled his credibility ticket, that would have gained you points … but noooo, you’d rather stand by and watch the train wreck.

    You gain points by being as open as possible about your work. You gain points by being clear about the limitations of your data and methods. You gain points by encouraging dissention and disagreement, not by adherence to false claims of consensus. You gain points by actively falsifying the claims in your field of science that are not supportable. You gain points by being certain about uncertainty and error and what they truly mean to your claims and considerations.

    And although silence is indeed golden … none of that can be done in silence.

    Peter, I implore you both not to take this personally, and to take it very personally. I am able to say these things to you because you are more adventurous, more outspoken than the majority of your colleagues, as evidence by your willingness to engage in the rough-and-tumble of the discussion here. I appreciate that, and I acknowledge and applaud you for it. So in that sense I am talking to your colleagues through you, and not to you personally.

    But a bit of time spent here is far, far from what needed. Climate science is sick, and dendroclimatology is moribund. That’s the problem, and no amount of golden silence will be enough to cover that up. It’s time for you guys, including you personally, to take on the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables that have sprung up in your very own backyard.

  32. Andy
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

    “I cannot answer this question, I am not a statistician.”

    Err should you not be?

  33. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    “Yikes,… everyone check each others work.”

    That, to me, is obviously one way science proceeds, and is doing so at this very moment. However, personally I do not see how science proceeds from any sort of “he said/she said” exchanges on a blog, where discussion is not only highly transient but, in case everyone hasn’t realized this yet, anyone can say anything they want, whatever it’s truthfulness or lack thereof. It is interesting to read what others think of tree-ring research – why I stick with reading this – but why should I try to engage in any scientific discussion when, for example, previously I tried to make a good-faith effort to answer several questions posed by Mr. Eschenbach, Mr McIntyre now denigrates those answers as “unresponsive”? What is in it for me? Why should I – and I imagine I speak for many researchers who may come here for entertainment – spend my valuable research time answering your questions here when I could be spending that time doing science and trying to publish my results in peer-reviewed journals where the process of science takes place?

    • kim
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46),

      Because there is a search for truth here that it might behoove you to join.
      =============================================

    • Nylo
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46),

      Instead of asking yourself why you should engage in a scientific discussion with McIntyre and others, the real question that you should be asking yourself is this: “According to the findings here shown by McIntyre about the obvious misuse of my own scientific research, what is really stopping me from engaging in a discussion with Dr. Mann?”

      Best regards.

    • PhilH
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46), Having read this blog for several years, I find it far from being “transient,” but, rather, highly focussed. Focussed on the fact that the Team has, now, for over ten years, been abusing yours and others data without a peep from you folks. As for wasting your time, it would take you less than a minute to type: “The Team should stop using inappropiate dendro data for temperature reconstuctions.” Try it. You will sleep better tonight.

    • craig loehle
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46), As a suggestion, how about starting a debate within your field? In ecology, my field, there are vigorous arguments about allometric scaling, neutral models for community organization, metapopulation models, landscape ecology theory, etc etc. Dendro work seems much too polite, circle the wagons stuff. How come no one writes an objection to a Mann paper from within the field? I did:
      A mathematical analysis of the divergence problem in dendroclimatology
      Journal Climatic Change
      Publisher Springer Netherlands
      ISSN 0165-0009 (Print) 1573-1480 (Online)
      DOI 10.1007/s10584-008-9488-8

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46),

      What is in it for me? Why should I – and I imagine I speak for many researchers who may come here for entertainment – spend my valuable research time answering your questions here when I could be spending that time doing science and trying to publish my results in peer-reviewed journals where the process of science takes place?

      Here’s a simple idea: ask one of your trusted friends who is an expert in statistics to read CA, audit it for you and report back to you how credible Steve’s arguments are.

    • Just Tex
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#46),

      What is in it for me? Why should I – and I imagine I speak for many researchers who may come here for entertainment – spend my valuable research time answering your questions here when I could be spending that time doing science and trying to publish my results in peer-reviewed journals where the process of science takes place?

      What’s very likely “in it for” you is what you and so many of your pusillanimous brethren undoubtedly lack, and currently desperately have need of. That being, authenticity as a scientist. Rather than another advocate of several likely politically motivated and controversial hypothesis, all not yet sustained by valid science.

      As an aside. Steve, although generally I have preferred to be among the many quiet readers, I must inject a giant thank you for your abilities, tenacity, humility and ever present thoughtfulness. Your steady minded leadership sets a commendable standard, that is esteemed much more than you may often recognize.

  34. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    Re: Peter Brown (#46)

    You shouldn’t do something only because there is something “in it for me”. You should do it for the science – your “valuable research time” is wasted science if people mis-use your results.

    Also, many people have argued that the process of peer-review has become tarnished by poor peer review, i.e. where the peer reviewers do not do a full verification of the data and methods. The process of science does not only take place in peer-reviewed journals. It also takes place by independent review and replication.

  35. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    I should say, probably not everyone, but there is a bit of an egg-shell attitude in play.

    Mark

  36. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    Peter, you say:

    I tried to make a good-faith effort to answer several questions posed by Mr. Eschenbach, Mr McIntyre now denigrates those answers as “unresponsive”?

    I said that your responses to Willis’ questions were “polite”, but they were also “unresponsive”. On statistical issues – which are the core of what I do – you said that you were not a statistician or not aware of the use of novel methods and didn’t answer those questions. I didn’t mock you for being unable to able to answer these questions, I merely said that your answers were unresponsive. You have no call to be resentful about this observation because it was true.

    Your observations about Douglas fir in NW Arizona were fair enough but weren’t relevant to the handling of dendro proxies in Mann et al 2008, MBH98, Crowley and Lowery, Jones et al 1998, Moberg et al 2005, Juckes et al 2007 etc etc. I realize that you may not be personally familiar with the handling of dendro proxies in these studies and unable to comment in detail on them. But please do not assume that I am not intimately aware of the handling of dendro proxies in these studies and that concerns are imaginary.

  37. Andy
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Could it be that your answers are “unresponsive” and you need to engage and show why they are appropriate?

  38. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    I got snipped in the reference thread, too. :)

    Peter’s attitude, which is not unlike Rob Wilson’s, is part and parcel to many areas of science today (not just climate science). Willis lays it out much more politely than I ever could.

    Mark

  39. Jim Clarke
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Mr. Brown,

    You seem to take offense that Mr. McIntyre characterized your responses as ‘unresponsive’, meaning that you did not really answer the questions. You admit as much when you claim that you can not answer a question because you are not a statistician. Fine, but don’t get upset when someone calls your lack of an answer ‘unresponsive’. But I was most struck by your ‘answer’ to this question:

    “…what protection is there against “data snooping” and “cherry picking”?”

    You responded:

    “…there is no need for “protection” since those terms are irrelevant to the process of development of explicit site selection criteria.”

    The terms ‘data snooping’ and ‘cherry picking’ have very specific meanings that have nothing to do with being selective to insure data quality. I believe the ‘protection’ against such a misuse of data, no matter what the science, is supposed to be in the peer-review process and in the scientific community at large. If someone misuses data to get a predetermined result, they should be vetted by their peers in that community. The fact that you will not even acknowledge that the misuse of data is a possibility, indicates that the community is failing to police its own, which is why this blog exists in the first place.

    Why should you be here and taking part in this discussion? Because this blog is fulfilling a role that has been abdicated by the scientists in your community. It may not be as neat and tidy as ‘established procedures’, but the ‘established procedures’ have now been twisted to do the exact opposite of their original intent. Peer review is becoming synonymous with peer protectionism… to the detriment of science.

    Mann may have done more for the advancement of an agenda, but McIntyre has done more for the advancement of science, by insisting that the science is legitimate. He should not be so alone in this.

  40. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    The process of science does not only take place in peer-reviewed journals. It also takes place by independent review and replication.

    Exactly! You answer your own question; it is a much slower process, but review and replication is done independently, *and then published in a subsequent peer-reviewed journal* for all to see and work with further. It is not done in some tit-for-tat faceless exchange on some blog. To be honest, Mr. McIntyre, I often think you have some good points; to echo Chopbox above, why then don’t you expand these points to something to try and publish? Why don’t you submit your own comment to PNAS instead of berating me to do it? And not only potshots at others’ work, why don’t you do your own temperature reconstruction, or basic research into the issues such as the divergence problem? Dr. Loehle did it, and he’s not “one of the team”. (BTW, Dr. Loehle, I have read both of your recent papers on climate change and think that you have some excellent points in each. Also, I must apologize; you requested a recent reprint of mine some time ago and I forgot to respond, I do not get reprints any more but PDFs are available on my website).

    And, for the record, I do not feel that Dr. Mann misappropriated our data; I think that was one of many possibly legitimate means of developing temperature signals at a global perspective.

    Steve: No one said that Mann “misappropriated” your data. The phrase in my head post was that he “mishandled” your data, so that a spurious positive correlation was identified between temperature and ne005.

    I might well submit a Comment, but that has nothing to do what you do and should not serve as an excuse for inaction on your part. (And I didn’t “berate” you. You asked for a suggestion on what to do and I gave one.) You can obviously comment on the handling of your proxies with more authority than I can and any comment that I might make on your proxies would not be a substitute for a comment from you.

  41. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Thus confirming the “silence of the lambs” hypothesis.

    Mark

  42. Mike B
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    Dr. Brown #58

    And, for the record, I do not feel that Dr. Mann misappropriated our data; I think that was one of many possibly legitimate means of developing temperature signals at a global perspective.

    So I take from your comment that you understand what Dr. Mann did with your data? Could you please briefly summarize for me your interpretation of how Dr. Mann used your data? Thanks in advance.

    • Mike B
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: Mike B (#60),

      Dr. Brown,

      I was wondering if you could please post a response to the question I asked yesterday.

      Thank you.

  43. Carl Gullans
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    #58: The main, almost obvious belief, to anybody outside this field is that “divergence” is happening because of a selection bias (i.e. the models didn’t have very bad predictive power, or in any case far worse predictive power than is suggested by a biased selection & calibration method). Steve has already published an ‘alternate’ reconstruction that refuted the claims of earlier Mann studies, and I am sure he will do the same with this latest one.

    I won’t speculate about steve’s beliefs, but one has to wonder how publishing in a journal can be regarded as the gold standard of truth when these same journals let the garbage that is MBH98, Mann et. al. 2008 get published in the first place?

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    why don’t you do your own temperature reconstruction, or basic research into the issues such as the divergence problem?

    In the stock market, there are people who work as “analysts”. To some extent, that’s the sort of thing that I do. If an analyst wrote a damning report on Lehmann Bros last year, you wouldn’t say – well, if you’re so smart, why don’t you try running your own investment bank. That’s not the job of an analyst. And if he told you to get out of Lehmann Bros, you wouldn’t jibe at him for not making an alternate recommendation.

    Another point is that nothing that I say is so difficult that it’s beyond the ken of paleoclimatologists. If the points are valid, then they should be known to practitioners in the trade. They should be known to practitioners whether or not I choose to publish in academic journals. And they should be known to practitioners not because they have are under any obligation to read Climate Audit – they aren’t, tho more people seem to than admit it – but because they points were valid in an objective way and, if someone wants to be considered a “professional”, they should know as much as “amateurs”.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#62),

      And to make explicit the implicit point you’re making, those who publish after you’ve made an analysis, and still use faulty methods or lack of due diligence (e.g. Dr. Mann et. al.), should be taken to task by those in a position to do so. And this would presumably include Dr. Brown.

  45. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    I think that while the visits that Rob Wilson and Peter Brown make to this blog reveal, at least, something about their attitudes, I find it frustrating that we receive little in their replies that contain details and specifics of the issues at hand and particularly with regard to the subject of the threads wherein they reply.

    Are those lack of specifics and directness related to the attitudes (like, for example, Peter Brown’s: why should I do science on a blog without the comforts and securities of peer review or Rob Wilson’s: life is short and I have better things to do) or to a lack of direct and specific answers on their parts.

  46. Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    And, for the record, I do not feel that Dr. Mann misappropriated our data; I think that was one of many possibly legitimate means of developing temperature signals at a global perspective.

    Dr, Brown,

    I am fairly new to this science. Are you of the opinion that the tree proxies in question may actually respond linearly to temperature? Is there some evidence to back that up as I find the “correlation so it must be true” argument highly faulty.

  47. Rusty Scott
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    With all due respect to the regulars here who are trying to understand and analyze so much of the work that has been done to date, but the comment section on a blog is not a useful place for meaningful debate. Sure, some clarification can be made on some points, but for truly opposing viewpoints it just doesn’t work. For every statement Mr. Brown has made, there have been at least three requests for him to address diverging questions and concerns. Only a fool tries to argue with more than one person at a time. I’m sure he has chosen his words carefully in his responses to specifically avoid being drawn into the discussions everyone wants to have with him. It would be more productive, perhaps, if Mr. Brown could have an e-mail exchange with Steve McI to formulate a blog post here that helps inform us of Mr. Brown’s opinions on Mann’s work.

    • Mark T.
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

      Re: Rusty Scott (#68),

      With all due respect to the regulars here who are trying to understand and analyze so much of the work that has been done to date, but the comment section on a blog is not a useful place for meaningful debate.

      I think you misunderstand the purpose of threads such as these (as does Peter Brown). It is not to elicit meaningful debate, at least, not anything designed to replace peer review. It is, more importantly, to push for consistency. Steve makes an off-the-cuff remark in a blog posting and it’s all hell in the dendro field, yet Mann publishes an even more egregious use of similar data without a whimper from the same crew.

      These people have all the time in the world to point out Steve’s apparent errors, made in a blog posting, yet can never bring themselves to do the same when it’s published in some otherwise respected journal article (where “serious science” is being done). Then they come in here and blather on about not doing serious work on a blog.

      It is astounding, truly.

      Mark

  48. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    A quick response to Kenneth Fritsch’s comment,

    why should I do science on a blog without the comforts and securities of peer review

    that is possibly one of the most inane statements I’ve read here. Given that it has its faults, peer-review and publication is the currency of science, as one of my old professors once said. There is often nothing “comforting” and certainly not “secure” about peer review. Sure scientists may read this blog and be entertained or even find some things to agree with (or strongly take exception to), but you won’t find anyone publishing original research here. Mr McIntyre, I appreciate your self-appointed role as an auditor, and perhaps it has its place, but stock market analysts do not publish to anyone more than self-interested parties; that is not the way science works.

    • PhilH
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#68), On the contrary, what Steve is doing is “original research.” Original if in no other sense than he is doing what no one else has the knowledge or independence to do. And he is doing it entirely openly. He is publishing it to thousands, many of whom are highly qualified scientists in their own fields. You seem to be under the impression that climate scientists are the only ones who understand how science works. You say that this is not the “way science works.” It has been shown repeatedly, and reasonably, on this blog that this particular branch of climate science ain’t working. The kind of peer review your old professor was talking about doesn’t exist for the Team and the IPCC. People here have literally been begging you to help fix the problem and you keep responding like some high-society snob.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#68),

      A quick response to Kenneth Fritsch’s comment,
      “why should I do science on a blog without the comforts and securities of peer review”
      that is possibly one of the most inane statements I’ve read here. Given that it has its faults, peer-review and publication is the currency of science, as one of my old professors once said. There is often nothing “comforting” and certainly not “secure” about peer review.

      Peter Brown, I am sorry I missed your comment as I thought you had left to do peer- reviewed work. My comment was from my judgment of your seeming discomfort and hesitancy to discuss science issues (at least in any meaningful detail) at this blog. Now you tell me peer review is neither comforting (most of the time)nor secure. Would that mean that peer review and blog posting are not enjoyable? If so you may be in the wrong field of endeavor.

      It has always been my experience that scientists who thoroughly enjoyed their work would discuss it anywhere and any time.

  49. Pompous Git
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    Peter Brown: “I am not a statistician”

    Neither am I. Fortunately, this does not prevent me from following much of the logic of the generally excellent argumentation here. What is most obvious to me about the interchanges between Steve, Bender, Craig, Willis et al is that none of them appear in the least bit troubled by having their errors exposed. This builds trust.

    Most of Steve’s opponents appear to have great difficulty admitting error, or even saying “I don’t know”. This tends to build distrust. It seems more than a little odd to me that saving face is more important than saving the planet.

    FWIW, I had gathered some metadata from papers relating CO2 to temperature over the decades. In another place Willis converted my confusing statistics into an easily understandable graph. At the time, I accepted that on trust. (Thanks again Willis). In the meantime, stimulated by the discussions here, this old barking dog has been learning to do such things for himself (with much help from Briggs) :-)

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    #68. Peter, you state “you won’t find anyone publishing original research here”. Well, for what it’s worth, I think that I do “original” work and that it’s “research”. I don’t advocate blogs as an alternative to academic journals tho some readers are more enthusiastic about this than I am. I think that academic journals are important.

    In my case, I started the blog because our peer reviewed work was being attacked on another blog. In that case, climate scientists seemed quite content to take their opinions from non-peer reviewed blog postings by Mann and his associates.

    I view this blog as more like a boisterous ongoing seminar, rather than a “journal”.

  51. Carl Gullans
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    Off topic, somewhat: Loehle, you have some press —> http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/10/20/lorne-gunter-thirty-years-of-warmer-temperatures-go-poof.aspx

    • craig loehle
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

      Re: Carl Gullans (#73), Thanks for the heads up. Peter, you say: “I cannot think of a single paper that I have read that used what I what I imagine you might refer to as a “novel, untested” method without providing justification for its use. Often this justification comes in the form of reference to existing literature, but it is always there.” A characteristic of the methods used in dendro work, particularly the work of Mann, is that there is justification given, but it is vague and the references are to those within the dendro community. For example Steve here documented the unusual use of the RE statistic. He showed that the Principal Components methods were creating spurious results and that non-centered (or whatever the term) PC did not correspond to any known statistical procedure. There are almost never references to standard statistical procedures or use of canned packages. The methods in Mann’s latest paper were never demonstrated to be able to recover a known signal in an artificial data set with specified properties, as one generally must do with new estimators. This is a short list. The RCS methods have issues that are glossed over and of course the elephant in the room is the linearity assumption of the entire enterprise, that tree rings respond linearly to temperature. Results are obtained, but one can never verify that they work for reconstruction of temperature 1000 years ago.

  52. CMD
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Brown, an observation from a non-scientist CA and RC lurker:

    The criticism that “it’s not peer-reviewed” has always baffled me. Why should the source of a scientific insight matter? Be it from an experiment, an apple falling from a tree, a blog discussion, or scribbles on the back of a napkin, every new insight starts somewhere prior to a publication in a peer reviewed journal. And the idea either survives further scrutiny or it doesn’t. This site’s ideas seem to survive a healthy dose of scrutiny.

    If the ideas on CA pages are so obviously wrong, it should be a trivial formality for experts to help CA readers see the light. Wouldn’t this site be a convenient, efficient place for that explanation to occur? What is everyone so afraid of? The fact that it doesnt happen speaks volumes, to me.

    Wouldn’t the proper scientific response to this site’s arguments be to join the fray in the interest of finding the truth? Wouldnt that be the most efficient and effective way to shut these ignorant CA guys up, if indeed their arguments are wrong? The “we don’t have time for this” argument feels empty to me; they don’t have time to consider insights that could lead to a richer understanding of the truth?

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

      Re: CMD (#76),

      The criticism that “it’s not peer-reviewed” has always baffled me. Why should the source of a scientific insight matter? Be it from an experiment, an apple falling from a tree, a blog discussion, or scribbles on the back of a napkin, every new insight starts somewhere prior to a publication in a peer reviewed journal. And the idea either survives further scrutiny or it doesn’t. This site’s ideas seem to survive a healthy dose of scrutiny.

      If the ideas on CA pages are so obviously wrong, it should be a trivial formality for experts to help CA readers see the light. Wouldn’t this site be a convenient, efficient place for that explanation to occur? What is everyone so afraid of? The fact that it doesnt happen speaks volumes, to me.

      I think what puzzles you about the user of the phrase “it is not peer reviewed” as reason for casting doubt on an unpublished issue and at the same time not being able to counter a (simple) point out of the confines of peer review is that the user of that phrase probably does not have the information or technical skill to respond but is, in effect, frustrated because they also think that the issue would not survive peer review (or it would already be published). I think they were raised on peer review as a guiding princple and are either very conservatively adhering to it as a be all and end all or are using it as a crutch — you be the judge.

  53. sdw
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    Peter Brown,

    I have a science degree, an engineering degree and a doctorate. I have published under peer review, so understand the rigour and intellectual merit (and very hard work) behind the process.

    My research investigates nonlinear, dynamic modeling of complex systems, therefore I have some level of understanding about the individual scientific debates discussed on this blog.

    I have read CA, real climate, open mind, etc., on a daily basis, for a very long time.

    The system is broken, mostly due to the maliciousness and arrogance displayed by ‘the other side’. Steve and many scientists/engineers here have been forced to focus their scientific commentary on this site. Why you ask? Why don’t they publish? The answer is – because they are not climate scientists and it shouldn’t be needed!

    In my scientific field, if I was to become aware of an ‘obvious’ issue with my research, from across the disciplinary divide, I would integrate this new understanding into my scientific pursuits. It does not matter where this new insight originates, be it journals, magazines, TV shows, dinner discussions or blogs.

    Steve’s hard work has identified many problems with data and methodologies, that anyone of a real scientific ‘heart’ would have then addressed. ‘They’ are aware of these issues and have deliberately failed to follow this path. Worse, they have introduced a level of personal diatribe unheard of in other scientific arenas.

    Happily, due to the internet, the tale is well-stored and historians will deliberate and judge on these ridiculous ‘climate wars’.

    best regards, sdw

  54. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Peter, you misunderstand me greatly (which is not unheard of, as my writing is not always the clearest) when you say:

    What is in it for me? Why should I – and I imagine I speak for many researchers who may come here for entertainment – spend my valuable research time answering your questions here when I could be spending that time doing science and trying to publish my results in peer-reviewed journals where the process of science takes place?

    I don’t care where you stand up and make your position known. The issue is not where you do it, it is that it is not getting done.

    Steve M. and I and most of the folks who post here are not climate scientists. Despite that, time after time it has been the folks on this blog that have pointed out the egregious errors in you climate scientists’ vaunted, much-worshiped “peer-reviewed” ideas. WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT!

    This blog exists for one reason only — because too many climate “scientists” have not been doing their job. When Steve M. and I and others were writing to Donald Kennedy at Science Magazine to try (unsuccessfully) to get them to enforce their own policies regarding the Hockeystick, where were the climate scientists?

    Oh, I remember now, they had more important stuff to do than actually keep their own backyard free of mistakes and malfeasance, they were “doing science and trying to publish [their] results in peer reviewed journals” as you note above, checking their compatriots’ work is beneath them, they couldn’t be arsed to do something as basic as upholding scientific principles like archiving and replicability …

    As I said before, neither Steve nor I nor anyone who is not a climate scientist should have had to spend one minute on Michael Mann’s garbage. Y’all should have nailed the bogus “Hockeystick” to the wall before it ever got through peer review. And if it wasn’t shredded then, it should have been demolished before it ever got to the IPCC.

    But NOBODY BUT US SPOKE UP! You were all sitting around telling each other how solid the consensus is, and how robust the results of your novel statistical methods are, and none of you said one damned word. None of you did the shovel work to find out what was underneath the glossy, glittery golden surface of the “Hockeystick”. And now, because of y’all’s unwillingness to take a stand and police your own compound, we are having to do the same thing on the New! Improved! Mannomatic 2008!, featuring the latest innovation, upside down Brown and Woodhouse proxies!

    Dude, you are getting outclassed, outdone, and outshone by a bunch of outsiders on a daily basis, amateur scientists are grinding your faces into the dirt … do you truly think the issue is whether you discuss your obvious failures on a blog or in the journals? That’s re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The issue is that you climate scientists are mostly standing around telling each other how insightful you are, and how your papers and ideas have no problems, instead of making sure that your studies are not full of statistical lacunae, un-archived proxies, scientific check-kiting, cherry-picked data, “CENSORED” files, and unreported procedures. That’s your job, and you are failing at it miserably.

    w.

    PS – These days, the process of science does not just take place in the journals. That’s another outmoded 20th century idea. It takes place wherever scientific ideas are examined and falsified. That process is increasing on the internet. Heck, you probably even believe that the current level of peer review of climate science studies actually means something … and that is a terribly and dangerously last century idea.

    Near as I can tell, the main function of peer review in climate science these days is to screen out anything that challenges the consensus view of the establishment. It certainly does not fulfill its true function, it has not slowed the flow of garbage like the Hockeystick and Mann 2008 and far too many other obviously pseudo-scientific studies from making it into the journals.

    But there’s obviously a scarcity of climate “scientists” out there who think that something more than peer review is needed, otherwise this blog would be out of a job.

    Peter, you seem to think that I am asking you, and other climate scientists, to post here. I am not. I am simply asking you to DO YOUR JOB. It is helpful to us when climate scientists engage here, it is always useful for us when climate scientists come here to clean up mysteries and to answer questions, I’m always glad when you or Rob Wilson or Roger Pielke or John Christy or the other climate scientists post here.

    But if no climate scientists ever show up here, if none ever post here again, that’s OK too. We will continue to do your job for you until you start doing it yourselves. We don’t mind … it’s not that hard …

    PPS – What’s in it for you?

    Well, when your kids ask “Daddy, what did you do in the climate wars”, you’ll be able to say “I didn’t duck and run, I didn’t pretend not to see the problems, I didn’t just stay silent, I didn’t say that … smelled like roses. I stood up and spoke out for what is right and I fought the good fight for truth, justice, and the Scientific Way” …

  55. Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    In October 2006, I emailed Anna Schoettle, a Research Plant Ecophysiologist at the Rocky Mountain Research Station, regarding this image:

    From her paper:

    “Ecological Roles of Five-Needle Pines in Colorado: Potential
    Consequences of Their Loss”

    http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_p032/rmrs_p032_124_135.pdf

    She kindly fowarded my email on to 2 others for comment, Laurie Huckaby and Peter Brown, and aside from the exchange as a whole being an interesting discussion on some tree ring related issues in it’s own right, I think Peter Browns response is quite illuminating as to his views on multiproxy climate reconstructions.

    As my initial email implies that responses may be posted in the public domain in an Australian Weather Forum, it seems to me that there can be no valid objection to me posting the responses here, and I am including the full exchange with all parties here both for completeness and it’s contribution to my understanding of the broader topic of climate signals in tree rings.

    I would also like to thank Anna Schoettle, Laurie Huckaby, and Peter Brown for all responding so generously to my initial request for comment.

    My initial email:

    From: [removed]
    Subject: Tree Growth factors
    Date: 14 October 2006 10:22:41 PM
    To: [removed]

    Hi Anna.

    Thanking you in advance for a few minutes of your valuable time.

    Figure 4 in your paper:
    “Ecological Roles of Five-Needle Pines in Colorado: Potential Consequences of Their Loss”
    – is an interesting graph showing photosynthesis vs temperature for some tree seedling species that could be described as a set of ‘inverted U’ shaped curves.

    My intuitive sense tuned by many years experience growing plants and trees tells me that if someone did a set of similar controlled experiments whilst varying each of several other factors, such as soil moisture, soil nutrients, lighting etc. whilst keeping other factors constant, the results would show a somewhat similar ‘inverted U’ shaped curve for each factor, and that using different constants for some of the other factors would also influence the optimum growth temperature, for example, low soil moisture could lower the temperature where maximum growth occurs.

    For trees growing in the wild, we have a complex situation where the various factors effecting plant growth vary with both location and time, so even in a single location we have temperature, moisture, and sunshine/cloud levels varying hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly, throughout the growing season, and of course the average of any of these can also vary considerably from year to year. Even within a single day a tree may subjected to much of the range of it’s temperature curve. As a consequence, it is reasonable to conclude that the growth for each season as revealed by tree rings is a complex ‘signal’ built up by the combination of various growth effecting factors in the location.

    Now, I assume you are aware that tree ring measurements using cores from one or more of the long lived Bristlecone Pine species have been used as proxies for temperature in various climate reconstructions extending back many centuries, even over 1000 years in some cases.

    I have been having a discussion about tree ring reconstructions with a climatologist on an Australian weather forum, and he informs me that ‘cold limited’ sites, such as Bristlecone Pine growing at high altitude sites with low rainfall, have been chosen for this purpose making the use of a simple linear growth-temperature relationship as favored by dendrochronologists valid.

    It seems to me that such an exercise is fraught with uncertainties, as even with careful site selection the level of natural variability of other factors such as precipitation, sunshine/cloud, etc., will contaminate the reconstruction, rendering it a crude approximation at best, and be potentially misleading, for example, if a series of hot drought years resulted in lower growth than that in surrounding more favorable years were then to be interpreted as colder years by climate researchers.

    Would you care to comment on this?

    Regards,
    Carl Smith.

    Response from Anna Schoettle:

    From: [removed]
    Subject: Re: Tree Growth factors
    Date: 20 October 2006 2:11:04 AM
    To: [removed]
    Cc: [removed], [removed]

    Hi Carl,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your concerns sound reasonable to me but I am not an expert in dendrochronological climate reconstructions. However, I am copying this reply to two colleagues (Peter Brown and Laurie Huckaby) who do specialize in this area. Perhaps they can provide more insight than I.

    Regards,
    Anna

    ==========================================
    Anna W. Schoettle, PhD
    Research Plant Ecophysiologist
    Rocky Mountain Research Station

    Response from Laurie Huckaby:

    From: [removed]
    Subject: Re: Tree Growth factors
    Date: 31 October 2006 4:20:45 AM
    To: [removed]
    Cc: [removed], [removed]

    Hi, Carl.

    I apologize for taking so long to reply to you; I was out most of last week.

    What you say about the growth rates of trees as recorded by wood rings is true: the amount of wood that a tree can grow in a season is the result of a complex of factors of which temperature and moisture availability are a part, and the true nature of the interaction of physiology, genetics and environment are not fully understood. The amount of wood grown by a tree even varies within an individual. In lean years, a tree may put on wood in the upper part of the canopy but not on the lower part of that trunk, which is where most of us take our core samples, and so that year’s growth would appear to be missing in our sample.

    Trees used for climate reconstruction are selected in part because the environmental feature of interest has a dominant, even overriding effect, on their wood growth. At high elevations, temperature and length of growing season are usually overriding factors, especially at the upper elevational limits of a species’ range. At low elevations in Colorado, temperature is much less important that moisture availability, and that can vary considerably within a fairly short distance. Tree-ring chronologies and climate reconstructions developed from them are generally fairly local in their application; while tree growth is often affected by regional phenomena such as El Nino and even global phenomena such as the 1816 eruption of Tambora volcano, such large scale factors are less important in their influence than more localized factors.

    The growth of an individual tree might be more strongly influenced by a lightning strike or competition with a neighbor than by a regional drought. That is why tree-ring chronologies are constructed from composites of multiple trees in a stand or area, to help filter out individual anomalies. Tree-ring chronologies can also be statistically filtered to eliminate influences that are not of interest, such as age-related growth trends. The inner rings of many old and mature trees are wider than those closer to the bark because the tree had less surface area over which to spread annual growth when it was small. This apparent decline in growth rate is relatively constant over time and can be statistically eliminated from the data. Also, tolerances to environmental conditions vary between species. I have sampled lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines growing side by side at 9000 feet elevation, and while the ponderosa rings are easily cross-datable because they are very sensitive to variability in moisture, the adjacent lodgepole pine is not datable at all because the rings are so complacent–responding only slightly and erratically to the same variability in moisture.

    So in order to appropriately interpret tree-ring data and reconstructions, you must approach them with an understanding of what you are dealing with–the species being used, its tolerances and sensitivities, what environmental and other factors are dominant in that location. Care must be taken in applying such data across elevations, ecosystems, and large geographic areas. And the very point that you raise at the end of your note is one that dendrochronologists are concerned about with regard to 20th century warming: how valid are the relationships between recorded temperatures and precipitation (which are mostly from the 20th century) and tree rings from previous centuries? We’re still working on that. I hope this helps, and I’m sure that Peter can give you a more detailed explanation as he has had more experience with climate reconstruction than I have.

    Laurie

    “Knowledge without wisdom is like a blind man holding a lantern.”
    –Zen proverb

    Laurie Huckaby
    US Forest Service
    Rocky Mountain Research Station

    Response from Peter Brown:

    From: [removed]
    Subject: RE: Tree Growth factors
    Date: 7 November 2006 11:32:19 PM
    To: [removed]
    Cc: [removed]
    Reply-To: [removed]

    Carl —

    Please forgive my lateness in replying to your letter to Anna, it appears you know how it is.

    The observations in your letter are certainly valid; tree growth is controlled by multiple factors that may lead to nonlinear responses to a single factor. To reconstruct climate from tree growth, one must start with first principles: uniformitarism, site selection, and limiting factors. Please check out some definitions at http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/principles.htm. In many past studies, simple linear regressions are used to develop statistical models of growth/climate relationships, and these have some level of confidence assigned based on statistical measures, such as explained variance.

    With very drought stressed trees in the SW US, for example, the variance explained by annual or seasonal precipitation in selected sites may be as high as 70% to even 90% with selected instrumental stations. But even with this fidelity in the model this means that 10-30% of the variance in growth is not explained by the precipitation record. The unexplained component of growth could be from any number of factors, including nonlinear response to other environmental forcings, spatial variability (e.g., precipitation records from instrumental stations in the same area may only correlate at .7/.8 to each other, there can be huge amounts of spatial variation in rain or snowfall), microsite conditions where the trees were growing, etc. Certainly more and better models – including nonlinear ones – of tree growth are needed. However it is difficult to reconstruct nonlinear dynamics in the past as one would well expect; e.g., was a narrow ring during a particular year the result of cold or dry conditions if both result in low growth? An approach being used more and more and that involves much more complicated statistical models is through use of multiproxy studies, such as tree ring data coupled with ice core and coral data, or studies with multiple tree species that may respond differently to varying climate forcings, or ring width with ring density data. In these instances the nonlinearities in one data set may be accounted for through another. Another line of research that is also being pursued is better mechanistic understanding of exactly how trees grow in respond to climate changes, at a cellular level within the tree ring, such that stronger process models can be incorporated into what will undoubtedly still have to be statistical models for reconstructing past climates.

    However, the forgoing is not to say that all is hopeless at the present time; one major factor lost in the arguments of how interannual growth (which one can think of from a signal processing standpoint is the “high-frequency” component of the record) responds to seasonal climate variability is that the “low-frequency” or longer-term trends in the data (from multl-annual to multi-decadal in length) often follow quite closely trends in instrumental data. There is little doubt that the tree-ring data are robust enough to make valid inferences concerning increasing temperatures over the past century, and that these increases are both apparently unprecedented in the past millennium or longer and are the result of anthropogenic forcings.

    Peter Brown

  56. pete m
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    And, for the record, I do not feel that Dr. Mann misappropriated our data; I think that was one of many possibly legitimate means of developing temperature signals at a global perspective.

    So it was legitimate to take the largest positive (of TWO), ignore 15 negative, to calculate global temperature anomalies. I’d love to know the basis for this legitimacy. Mann … et al … Brown …

    crickets …

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    #82. We cited Schoettl 2004 in MM (EE 2005).

  58. jae
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    Well, just in case numbers count, I am also a scientist (chemist), and I support everything Willis Eisenbach has said. It’s high time for more integrity in climate science.

  59. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

    Carl, you say:

    In October 2006, I emailed Anna Schoettle, a Research Plant Ecophysiologist at the Rocky Mountain Research Station, regarding this image:

    Thank you kindly for a most interesting image, which I had never seen. [Steve: Are you sure? Look at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=397%5D

    A couple of points stuck out for me from the image and the correspondence:

    1. The dropoff from the peak is steep. A mere 5° above or below the optimum lead to a 20% drop in photosynthetic rate … yikes! I would not have guessed that the effect would be so strong.

    2. Peter Brown’s comment is interesting. He says:

    However it is difficult to reconstruct nonlinear dynamics in the past as one would well expect; e.g., was a narrow ring during a particular year the result of cold or dry conditions if both result in low growth? An approach being used more and more and that involves much more complicated statistical models is through use of multiproxy studies, such as tree ring data coupled with ice core and coral data, or studies with multiple tree species that may respond differently to varying climate forcings, or ring width with ring density data. In these instances the nonlinearities in one data set may be accounted for through another.

    The non-linearities in one dataset can be “accounted for” by including other non-linear datasets in the mix??? In reaction to that, I can only say that Peter should have used his quotation from above:

    I cannot answer this question, I am not a statistician.

    3) Laurie Huckaby’s comment was also interesting. She says:

    At high elevations, temperature and length of growing season are usually overriding factors, especially at the upper elevational limits of a species’ range. At low elevations in Colorado, temperature is much less important that moisture availability, and that can vary considerably within a fairly short distance.

    OK, fair enough, but I don’t believe that part about high elevations. I wish she had provided a citation, as I have not been able to find one that shows that at elevational treeline, the moisture signal is relatively small. My unease increases when she goes on to say:

    I have sampled lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines growing side by side at 9000 feet elevation, and while the ponderosa rings are easily cross-datable because they are very sensitive to variability in moisture, the adjacent lodgepole pine is not datable at all because the rings are so complacent–responding only slightly and erratically to the same variability in moisture.

    This does not support her claim about elevation and moisture, unless the ponderosa treeline is way above 9000 feet, which doesn’t fit my recollections of a childhood spent in ponderosa country, but maybe it’s different in Colorado … hang on, let me look it up … well, fortune favors the bold. I find this:

    Above 9000 ft (2770 m), where there is usually a persistent winter snowpack, the ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir begin to drop out of the forest mix, and are replaced by lodgepole pine, patches of aspen and limber pine, subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce.

    So at 9000 feet, which according to the quote is very near the upper elevational limit for ponderosa pine, instead of being temperature sensitive as Ms. Huckaby claimed, the pines are moisture sensitive. And lest I am accused of cherry-picking my information on the ponderosa treeline in Colorado, the quote establishing the treeline was from a US Forest Service pamphlet called “Identification and Ecology of Old Ponderosa Pine Trees in the Colorado Front Range”, by … fortune favors the bold … Laurie Huckaby et al. …

    4) Finally, I compare and contrast the following two claims. First from Ms. Huckaby:

    And the very point that you raise at the end of your note is one that dendrochronologists are concerned about with regard to 20th century warming: how valid are the relationships between recorded temperatures and precipitation (which are mostly from the 20th century) and tree rings from previous centuries? We’re still working on that.

    Next, from Mr. Brown:

    There is little doubt that the tree-ring data are robust enough to make valid inferences concerning increasing temperatures over the past century, and that these increases are both apparently unprecedented in the past millennium or longer and are the result of anthropogenic forcings.

    Nothing like a good scientific consensus, I say …

    w.

    PS — … puts me in mind of Brignell’s Law of Consensus, viz:

    At times of high scientific controversy, the consensus is always wrong.

    • jae
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

      Re: Willis Eschenbach (#88),

      OK, fair enough, but I don’t believe that part about high elevations. I wish she had provided a citation, as I have not been able to find one that shows that at elevational treeline,

      You are absolutely correct. I’m a Colorado native, and I’ve spent a LOT of time in that clime, and moisture is a BIG factor at high elevations. Those trees are growing on rock and sand, and that type of soil does not hold moisture. It is my opinion (whatever it is worth) that most of the high-altitude Colorado tree-ring series are MOISTURE proxies, not temperature proxies. And that could easily explain the divergence issues.

    • jae
      Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

      Re: Willis Eschenbach (#88),

      I have sampled lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines growing side by side at 9000 feet elevation, and while the ponderosa rings are easily cross-datable because they are very sensitive to variability in moisture, the adjacent lodgepole pine is not datable at all because the rings are so complacent–responding only slightly and erratically to the same variability in moisture

      Well, that statement reveals a complete lack of understanding of forestry. Lodgepole pine, unlike PP, is a fire species. After a fire, it deposits seeds and grows in EXTREMELY thick stands, which, of course, would lead to a “complacent-responding only slightly and erratically to the same variability in moisture.” The trees are ALL starved for moisture, so they are “complacent.”

  60. jeez
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    I was thinking we should substitute hearty for robust in the future, but after looking it up, I kinda like definition 2 for climate science.

    Main Entry:
    ro·bust Listen to the pronunciation of robust
    Pronunciation:
    \rō-ˈbəst, ˈrō-(ˌ)bəst\
    Function:
    adjective
    Etymology:
    Latin robustus oaken, strong, from robor-, robur oak, strength
    Date:
    1533

    1a: having or exhibiting strength or vigorous health
    b: having or showing vigor, strength, or firmness
    c: strongly formed or constructed : sturdy
    d: capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions

    2: rough , rude

    3: requiring strength or vigor

    4: full-bodied ; also : hearty

    5: of, relating to, resembling, or being a relatively large, heavyset australopithecine (especially Australopithecus robustus and A. boisei) characterized especially by heavy molars and small incisors adapted to a vegetarian diet — compare gracile 3
    synonyms see healthy
    — ro·bust·ly adverb

  61. jae
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

    I hereby submit that almost all tree ring proxies are moisture proxies. Only a few are candidates for temperature proxies, and to be qualified, it must be shown that moisture is not a limiting factor. That’s my final word.

  62. Bill Drissel
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

    Re: #87

    “It has always been my experience that scientists who thoroughly enjoyed their work would discuss it anywhere and any time.”

    Dr Linah Ababneh (U of Arizona) has reportedly received legal caution not to discuss her PhD thesis in tree ring research. Does anyone know of another field in which a university lawyer would caution a freshly-minted PhD NOT to discuss his/her thesis? I find they don’t want to talk about anything else :-)

    Regards,
    Engineer Bill

  63. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 20, 2008 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    jae, thanks for your comments. Further to the question of moisture at high elevations, I find the following, in “Colorado Above Treeline”, by Jeremy Agnew:

    Conservation of Moisture

    Moisture conservation is as crucial for all the plants above treeline as it is for those in the American desert.

    Certainly not a good first choice, or even a second choice, as a location that might give a thermal signal in the tree rings …

    w.

    • craig loehle
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 6:48 AM | Permalink

      Re: Willis Eschenbach (#94), An additional factor at high elevation that causes moisture to be a dominant limiting factor is the low vapor pressure due to elev causing very rapid evaporation. Note how at risk one is of dehydration at 10000 ft as a hiker. I also second what jae said, again as a forester. Only when trees are growing with their roots in wet soil MIGHT they be mainly temperature limited. Even then, they may be responding to flooding more than to temp.

  64. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

    Wow, the navel-gazers have been busy while I’ve been gone. Do some of you keep this blog live on your desktop? Sorry for missing some fun last night but I had to attend an emergency meeting of the Evil Climate Scientist Puppy-Grinding Division Conspiracy Group. Oops, I probably shouldn’t have let that slip out…

    I mean honestly, does everyone really believe that all climate scientists (and by the way I do not consider myself a “climate scientist” much, I only dabble occasionally) are in on some vast dark conspiracy (oh, wait a sec…IPCC, of course!) to alter the course of human civilization by forcing us to give up our cars and coal-fired power plants? You know, paleodata are only one piece of the puzzle. And no, there is not consensus on everything, and yes, I thoroughly enjoy my work and talking about it to anyone who ask nicely in a letter (see Carl above, hi again Carl!), and yes Willis, man you should seriously get some help; “the climate wars” for goodness sake? You’re playing too much Halo…

    And by the way, my comment about highly transient? Mr. McIntyre now has a new post up, off on a new subject, this thread will be soon dropped like a hot potato (although my flame may start it baking again, who cares?)

    • kim
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#96),

      Why act so profoundly cynical? As far as war goes, you do know there is a war over policy; a war with real victims.
      ========================================================

    • Hoi Polloi
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#96), Wow, Mr.Brown has really shown his real colors with the above comments. One almost feels a subsitute shame for reading this “scientific” answer. Are these the kind of scientists the tax payer’s money is going to? I mean even high school blogs have a higher level of discussion. Pathetic…

  65. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    Comments like Peter Brown’s are really quite astonishing. My post was made a technical point about how Mannian “procedures” acts as a form of data mining, either intentionally or unintentionally, using Brown’s proxies as an example so that even a non-statistical dendro like Brown could be informed of the impact of the procedure. This observation had nothing to do with large policy decisions. Indeed, I’ve said on many occasions that, if I were a senior government minister, I would make decisions based on advice from formal institutions such as the IPCC, even if I, in an individual capacity, had reservations about their processes of due diligence. I would do what I could to improve the processes of due diligence, but would consider myself bound by their opinions.

    If IPCC wants to take the position that paleo arguments are irrelevant to their report, that would be fine with me. As an IPCC AR4 reviewer, I suggested that the entire paleo chapter be deleted to save space if this was the “consensus”. But having decided to continue with the paleo arguments, I’m entitled to discuss them.

    I also happen to think that some of the questions are interesting statistically. I’m entitled to do so.

    This blog is a sort of diary. Yeah, it jumps around, but the themes are pretty consistent and IMO some of the work that I’ve done on one topic illuminates other topics. For example, I’m going to do a pretty good new post today on the Santer dispute, which draws on methods worked up in our discussions of proxy calibration.

    Nothing in Brown’s outburst has any bearing on any technical issue and it is profoundly disappointing to see this sort of conduct.

  66. Andy
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    Its never nice seeing a professional make a fool of themselves.

  67. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    Though hardly surprising in this field of research.

    Mark

  68. BarryW
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    I attended a lecture last night by Brian Fagan, an archeologist, who was discussing his book, The Great Warming. Here’s a link to an interview.

    The point that I thought had some relevance to this thread was his discussion of the increase of droughts worldwide and severity of them during the MWP. Unless you account for periods of drought by other means, how can you tell the difference between smaller rings caused by cooler temps vs smaller rings caused by drought (even though the temps have risen). It would seem that not correcting for this would cause temperature reconstructions of the MWP to be biased towards colder temps than actual.

  69. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    Mr McIntyre;

    Hey, I’m only responding (and having some fun, apparently in poor taste) to both the posts on your blog and the implication in your original post that accused me of being in on some sort of conspiracy of silence about issues of interest to you and the others that post here. Why don’t other working scientists come here and answer every question you and others have? Beats me. It is such an engaging and welcoming atmosphere.

    But let’s talk science for a minute. I am very curious as to your comment on AR4 Chap 6. It appears to me as a dabbling climate scientist (as most here apparently are) the way to approach the question of AGW is certainly from first principles (the physics of the earth system as it presently stands) but also its history, focused on the question is recent warming an unprecedented feature in the system attributable to novel forcing provided by humans. Instrumental data are too short, thus paleo. Now all are proxies of varying fidelity and resolution, all suffer from a fading record issue (goes for instrumental too, which really is just another proxy record after all), all need many more records from many more places (and updated!), all need much more detailed mechanistic models of formation. This is all going to take new science built upon the old. Of course, all of this I’m sure is incredibly obvious to you, and as you’ve stated several times in the thread your interest here is in much more simple tasks of “auditing” existing studies to make sure they are doing what they say they’re doing, or, taking it a step further, what you suggest they should be doing. And please don’t get me wrong, fine work, keep it up, do what you feel you must. But did I read this right that if you are that government official who is relying on the IPCC AR5 to set policy, you really would prefer to not have some clue – albeit however imperfect – that what the first-principles bunch says is the way the system works has not (or has) happened in the past, that Chapter 6 (or whatever number it is in AR5) is truly unnecessary?

    But focused even on more closely on the work you are doing here, do you really think the IPCC AR5 will cite blog posts? Assuming that a version of Chap 6 will be in AR5, don’t you think that to contribute to the new science that will be critical for better understanding of the precendented/unprecedented question you should be publishing your work here?

    • kim
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#103),

      I can only speak for myself, but I’d like the policymakers to have information upon which they can rely, which is not happening at present, and I expect the IPCC to cite the truth, from wherever it comes.
      ===================================================

    • PhilH
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#103), Re: your mea culpa; herewith mine; sorry.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#103),

      Dr. Brown,

      But let’s talk science for a minute.

      I think you meant “talk about science” as there’s not a whit of science in your post.

      Re: Peter Brown (#96),

      Mr. McIntyre now has a new post up, off on a new subject, this thread will be soon dropped like a hot potato

      Uh, isn’t that how it works in the peer reviewed literature? [MBH98 meet Mann et. al. 2008] Note that many of the posts here, both the head articles and the substantive responses, carry references to old posts and threads. Sure things are quicker on a blog, but that doesn’t mean they drop the past. It would certainly be better if new readers could read all the old posts but with the comment numbers now over 300,000 (though only part of the numbers correspond to displayed posts) this just isn’t possible any more than it is for a grad student to read all the old literature in her field of interest. Hence the need for review articles and books with titles like “Advances in X 2007″.

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#103),

      I think the key to getting useful responses is to only present substance. If you stick to the science/math, that’s what will be fired back at you. If you respond to the most annoying posts then you will reap what you sow.

      Steve has been quite fair in the past when “evil” ;) climate scientists show up, (even to the point of reprimanding people making stupid comments or trying to hijack the thread). You won’t find that on RC.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#103), Brown made the allegation that I had”

      accused [him] of being in on some sort of conspiracy of silence about issues of interest to you and the others that post here.

      I “criticized dendros for feeling that it was important to speak out about an incidental post at CA, while remaining silent on MBH98-99 and similar studies”. I did not accuse them of conspiring to do so. I made a statement of fact about their silence “on MBH98-99 and similar studies”. I presume that the silence of each dendro is an independent personal decision.

      Peter, please stop making these stories up.

  70. PhilH
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    (although my flame may start it baking again, who cares?) Apparently you do. On the other hand you probably would be a lot more comfortable at Real Climate, where you don’t have to insult the participants and the proprietors are really thin-skinned and everyone is snotty.

  71. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    do you really think the IPCC AR5 will cite blog posts?

    No. Nor I’ve never suggested that they should. What in the world made you think that I would hold such an opinion?

    As to this question:

    But did I read this right that if you are that government official who is relying on the IPCC AR5 to set policy, you really would prefer to not have some clue – albeit however imperfect – that what the first-principles bunch says is the way the system works has not (or has) happened in the past, that Chapter 6 (or whatever number it is in AR5) is truly unnecessary?

    No, my position was nuanced quite differently. People like Stefan Rahmsdorff and others have argued that the HS doesn’t “matter” because the relevant arguments are physics. If this argument is what climate scientists think, then IPCC should not clutter an assessment of science for policy makers with irrelevant arguments.

    This is aside from the leg of the argument where people say – if the HS isn’t correct, then the situation is much worse than we think, so there. My reaction is – well, if the situation is much worse, we should know about it and govern ourselves accordingly and not thank people who have obstructed the identification of errors with the HS.

    Personally, I tend to think that these issues are relevant – my point was really that scientists can’t suck and blow on this point. If it’s relevant, then I’m entitled to argue the points. If it’s not relevant, then don’t use it. I personally find the questions of past history to be very interesting intellectually. Any citizen of Canada, for example, knows about ice ages and immediately wonders what caused big swings in the past. I’ve spent most of my working life working with geologists and the past history of the earth is both interesting and mysterious.

    I hope that IPCC work in other sections is of a higher standard than Briffa’s work in the millennium reconstruction section, which is hardly reassuring on IPCC standards.

    • Mark T.
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#107),

      What in the world made you think that I would hold such an opinion?

      A strawman. He can legitimately state that scientists shouldn’t be expected to “come here and answer every question you and others have.” He can legitimately claim that the IPCC shouldn’t be expected to quote the blog as a definitive source. He can’t legitimately claim that good science ignores this blog’s valid conclusions, however, nor can he legitimately claim that there is no double standard.

      Mark

  72. Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    Entering the blogging fray to explain/defend yourself is simply a bad idea if you dare dissent from the generally philosophical bent of the blog. You all know how you all are treated on Real Climate and you all treat folks the same way here on Climate Audit—this includes the treatment both from the moderators and the commentors. Posting any dissent at all is really just like taking a stick to a hornets nest. You just take a whack and run. If you are really brave, you may only retreat a few steps and try to take another swing. But, truly, it really serves no purpose other than as a form of entertainment. No individual can deal with an uncontrolled swarm of mad hornets defending their territory against intruders.

    If you were really interested in hearing what Dr. Brown (or any other person of interest) has to say, you all need to do it in a much more controlled setting. Perhaps Steve McIntyre (or Gavin Schmidt, or whoever runs whichever blog) should contact the interested party to let them know that they are posting a blog article concerning their work and invite them to participate through a controlled question and answer session through the moderator–who could collect questions from the commentors, control the shotgun nature of the direct discussion, be sensitive the to time contraints of the guests, and most importantly, limit the vitriol. While this procedure may need some of the details ironed out, it is likely a more efficient way (although perhaps not as fun) of trying to have a two-sided discussion. Surely, most of the invited parties won’t accept the invitation (which should not be held against them) and so the everyday melee won’t be terribly disrupted. But on the occasion that someone is willing to come by and take part in a discussion, it needs to be structured in such a way as to be manageable—much more so than the present blog procedures seem to allow. In this way, maybe the Dr. Brown’s of the world aren’t run off so fast and are more cooperative rather than simply defensive and snippy—an attitude which is more than justifiable.

    Just my two cent based upon my experiences and observations here and elsewhere.

    -Chip Knappenberger
    World Climate Report

    • Mark T.
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

      Re: Chip Knappenberger (#108), There’s hardly a comparison. Those places that are “friendly” to minds like Peter Brown, Michael Mann, etc., edit responses (or outright cut them) in a manner that only allows that one viewpoint through. Steve does not do as such. Granted, the general “philosophical bent” of this blog tends towards skepticism, but valid opinions are not unwelcome.

      Mark

      • Jeff Alberts
        Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

        Re: Mark T. (#110),

        Not to mention showing up to call people names and insult them means you’re starting with negative blog karma. He definitely could have handled this differently. I wonder why he didn’t?

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

        Re: Mark T. (#110),

        …the general “philosophical bent” of this blog tends towards skepticism, but valid opinions are not unwelcome.

        Hmmmph!! Meaning our skeptical bent is invalid? [g] As I’ve said any number of times, re-read and re-read again before posting.

        • Mark T.
          Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave Dardinger (#117), Give me a break. I’m sure you can put things into context to understand what I was saying, i.e., valid pro GW opinions.

          Mark

    • jae
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

      Re: Chip Knappenberger (#108),

      You all know how you all are treated on Real Climate and you all treat folks the same way here on Climate Audit—this includes the treatment both from the moderators and the commentors.

      I don’t think this is true. I don’t see near as much snarkiness here as at RC. There is no editing out of adverse comments here; whereas, it’s very common at RC.

      Also, maybe the faint of heart will be put off by arguing with a mob from the “other side,” but many scientists who really believes in their work would welcome the debate. Read the Svalgaard threads, for example. Lief has taken on the mob with gusto, and it looks to me like he prevailed!

  73. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Another point – I don’t “expect” IPCC to keep up with things that I write here. Scientists can if they wish.

    As always, I’m a product of my experience. I tend to think of IPCC documents as something that should meet the “full true and plain disclosure” and “due diligence” standards of an offering of securities to the public.

    The obligations of disclosure and due diligence rest with the promoters of the securities offering not with the analysts who review the offering.

    If IPCC due diligence is inadequate, then that is their fault, not mine. If the problems were criticized on a prominent blog ahead of time, then this is evidence that someone at least knew of the problems ahead of time. But the obligation to do things correctly rests with IPCC and IPCC scientists, not with me, just as the responsibility in a stock promotion lies with the promoters. And this obligation exists regardless of whether I blog or not.

  74. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    I mean honestly, does everyone really believe that all climate scientists (and by the way I do not consider myself a “climate scientist” much, I only dabble occasionally) are in on some vast dark conspiracy (oh, wait a sec…IPCC, of course!) to alter the course of human civilization by forcing us to give up our cars and coal-fired power plants?

    I don’t. There are a great many who don’t toe the consensus line, and are denigrated as “deniers” for their trouble.

    I did notice that you completely refuse to stick to any scientific discussion, and would rather make it about blogs and “navel-gazers”.

  75. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    I went back to the original Peter Brown thread linked as “this thread” in the 1st paragraph in Steve M’s introduction to this thread and reread the comments in an attempt to flesh out where all the frustration in these discussions might come.

    Peter Brown did make many comments in reply to questions posed about his area of climate science. Much of what he offered was without links or references and appeared to be more or less off the top of the head comments that would be difficult to differentiate between pure conjecture and something that has been presented as a hypothesis with available and strong evidence. Perhaps we expect too much from scientists who make infrequent visits here.

    I did find that Peter’s comments on data snooping and cherry picking gave me the impression that the discussion should have separated the dangers of these actions when the user attempts to provide statistical evidence for a relationship and when a scientist does it to “look” for supporting evidence for a relationship that was revealed or conjectured from the basic science. I thought I detected an equivalency of these processes in Peter’s reply. A scientist can look at the data any which way in attempts to find supporting evidence for a theory of the basic science, but those merely manipulating the data in attempts to “find” a correlation and make claims for a relationship have to be very much aware of the dangers of data snooping.

    Peter generalized the case for not using local but instead regional and even global temperatures for TRW and MXD proxies, by noting that the temperature measuring station locally could see a different temperature than the nearby stand of trees used in a proxy and that the stand of trees could be in an area that was better correlated with regional of global temperatures than the anomalous local station. Such reasoning could withstand validation if it could be shown that that particular local temperature station indeed was confirmed as representing a micro climate significantly different than the regional and global and that that micro climate did not extend to the tree stand in question. That reasoning would, however, have to be applied on a case by case basis and not generally to all trees as has been the case with some reconstructions – as I recall. Perhaps Peter did not have time to look up the pertinent references or perhaps his view, at this time, is pure conjecture.

    In my view, it is not that the (proper) questions are not being posed and that answers are not forthcoming, it is simply that I cannot get any satisfaction from non-specific answers that lack sufficient detail to differentiate from conjecture.

  76. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Mr. McIntyre;

    What in the world made you think that I would hold such an opinion?

    My question was rhetorical; I never for a moment thought you do. I’m sure you see my point, however, that to truly have an impact on the science – given the cumbersome manner in which it labors – one has to go through the proper motions. As Chip Knappenberger points out, a blog discussion could have some useful outcome, provided it is carried through to a proper endpoint that makes it available to the broader scientific community. Personally, I’m not the one to do that with you here either by dint of expertise or temperament (I prefer high school-level blog discussions), I was only brought into this one because you asked me a (albeit indirect) question about my thoughts on Mann et al. 2008. I answered that, and I see now you’re two more threads ahead of this one so perhaps time to let it die…

    (BTW, I very much appreciate your interest in history; it is exactly why I am a dendrochronologist.)

  77. thefordprefect
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    I am not at all surprised that the “opposition” do not post. You have a right to your view, they have a right to theirs. To insult contributors (calling them fools, liars, incompetent does you no good at all. It does NOT allow or promote free intelligent debate. Other blogs may be the same, but when I first saw this blog I thought “ah! intelligent people, discussing intelligently”. Alas, I do not think this now. You are more like a cackle of hyenas going in for the kill. I am truly disappointed!!!! A selection of shameful comments raised by Brown’s posts:
    Because there is a search for truth here that it might behoove you to join.
    ——
    asking yourself is this: “According to the findings here shown by McIntyre about the obvious misuse of my own scientific research, what is really stopping me from engaging in a discussion with Dr. Mann?”
    ——
    What’s very likely “in it for” you is what you and so many of your pusillanimous brethren undoubtedly lack, and currently desperately have need of. That being, authenticity as a scientist. Rather than another advocate of several likely politically motivated and controversial hypothesis, all not yet sustained by valid science.
    ——
    Dude, you are getting outclassed, outdone, and outshone by a bunch of outsiders on a daily basis, amateur scientists are grinding your faces into the dirt … do you truly think the issue is whether you discuss your obvious failures on a blog or in the journals?
    ——
    Nothing in Brown’s outburst has any bearing on any technical issue and it is profoundly disappointing to see this sort of conduct.
    ——
    Wow, Mr.Brown has really shown his real colors with the above comments.
    ——
    Its never nice seeing a professional make a fool of themselves.
    ——
    comfortable at Real Climate, where you don’t have to insult the participants

    Mike

    • kim
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#122),

      Listen, ford dude, he asked why he should participate and I said because there was a search for truth going on here which it might behoove him to join. You can’t construe that as a shameful remark, but I can construe yours that way.
      ====================================

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#122), you don’t like it that I said:

      Dude, you are getting outclassed, outdone, and outshone by a bunch of outsiders on a daily basis, amateur scientists are grinding your faces into the dirt … do you truly think the issue is whether you discuss your obvious failures on a blog or in the journals?

      You post this as though I were attacking Dr. Brown, but if you read what I wrote, the “you” in the sentence is obviously plural, and it refers to the professional climate scientists. The rude truth is that we are doing their job for them. Steve should not have to point out the mistakes in their statistics and their hockeysticks, the peer reviewers and other climate scientists should be finding them. I should not have to file a FOIA request to Phil Jones trying to obtain his carefully guarded data, there should have been an uproar when the professionals saw that he would not reveal the sources of the most fundamental dataset in the field.

      The amateur scientists are in fact doing the work that the professionals should be doing, and we are doing it much more effectively than the professionals. (Not to mention that we’re having a whole lot more fun doing it). Indeed, if the pros were doing their job, this blog would not exist. That’s the situation we find ourselves in.

      Now, there’s a lot of ways to respond to that situation. You could get angry, or upset, or determined to right the wrong, or active, or you could join in and help us do the work the professionals have refused to do. In short, there’s lots of ways one could respond to a situation where the professionals have abdicated their responsibility and have been overshadowed by the accomplishments of the amateurs. Heck, you could respond like Dr. Brown has, by dithering about whether he should discuss the issue here or elsewhere. You have lots of choices for your response.

      Me, in addition to helping do some of the work they are not doing, I try to push the pros to up the ante, to put their game faces on and come out ready to play.

      Now, you might think I’m going about trying to get them to up the ante in the wrong way, and you might be right … but by God I’m doing something. You don’t like it, well, lead, follow, or get out of the way. If you have a better plan, go for it.

      But getting upset with me because I pointed out the situation? Do you really see shooting the messenger as the correct response to the situation we find ourselves in? Surely a man of your abilities can come up with a better plan than that …

      w.

      • Jeff Alberts
        Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

        Re: Willis Eschenbach (#129),

        But getting upset with me because I pointed out the situation? Do you really see shooting the messenger as the correct response to the situation we find ourselves in? Surely a man of your abilities can come up with a better plan than that …

        A man who hitches a lift on Vogon spacecraft??

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          Re: Jeff Alberts (#130),

          A man who hitches a lift on Vogon spacecraft??

          Hey, don’t panic… or should that be on the US Financial Crisis thread?

      • Gerald Machnee
        Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

        Re: Willis Eschenbach (#129),
        Well stated Willis.

  78. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    You’re right, thefordprefect, it is completely unreasonable to respond with indignation to someone that exudes such professionalism by opening with insults in both of the threads he has so far participated in, not yet providing sound technical reasons for the double standard he displays (which is what this thread is about, btw). I guess we are just cackling hyenas, however, as you so hypocritically put it.

    Mark

  79. Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

    You all don’t need to remind me of how things transpire over at Real Climate. But, things aren’t that different over here.

    Here is an example: at RC the other day, Gavin asked (a bit rhetorically) Roger Pielke Jr. what he thought the reason was for a particular RC post. And Gavin reacted with horror when Roger told him his opinion—that RC had launched a preemptive attempt to discredit the results of a climate change survey—as opposed to Gavin’s notion that they were trying to engage the authors and help improve things. If Gavin had really wanted to help out, he would have contacted the survey’s authors directly and invited them in for a discussion of the issue. He didn’t. The survey authors got defensive and nothing really good came out for the exchange. To me, Roger’s opinion as to the post’s purpose was the correct one.

    This has parallels in this thread. Had Steve McIntyre really wished to seek instructive comments or opinions from Dr. Brown, he should probably gone to him directly, or at least informed him about his blog posting. AND, more importantly, he would not have started off the posting by drawing attention to Dr. Brown previous dealings with Climate Audit and how Steve thought they were less than useful. Now, maybe you all get a kick out of this type of thing, but it is hardly setting forth an environment for friendly back-and-forth discourse. I for one, when I am trying to get something I want from my girlfriend,let’s say, don’t start out by reminding her how ornery and uncooperative she has been in the past, but instead start out by saying nice things about her and how I am sure she’d love to help out on this occasion. But this is not how Mr. McIntyre started out, and so, in this case (as in many others) I have the same opinion as Roger’s as to the purpose of this post. It was not to draw out an opinion from Dr. Brown about the proper handling of his data, but, conversely, was to unilaterally condemn Dr. Brown by linking him (implicitly or complicitly) with the evil Dr. Mann (in addition to providing a report on some interesting results from some great sleuthing by Mr. McIntyre).

    I read this blog to keep up with all the interesting findings that you all put forth (that I haven’t the time or energy to do myself) and I find that the best discussions are the ones where a scientist from the “other side” takes part in the discussion. I was very interested in Mr. McIntyre’s findings at the heart of this article and would have loved to have Dr. Brown’s thought out opinions about whether or not Dr. Mann’s treatment of his tree rings was a good idea or not in light of Mr. McIntyre’s observations. But, as a result of the constant barrage of petty comments, questions, directives, and accusations, Dr. Brown was never apparently in the mood to thoroughly share his opinions on the matter. I can’t say I blame him.

    Clearly, I realize, as I have told the folks over at Real Climate on occasion, that this (or that) is not my blog, and so the moderators can do whatever they want to. Over at World Climate Report, for instance, we don’t open anything up for general discussion, but, instead, deal one on one with people who has expressed an interest or an opinion. But that is our choice–like it or not. But, as Roger Jr. is fond of pointing out, it is the failure to acknowledge a blog’s real purpose that is the hypocrisy. If you want give and take, things need to be structured differently.

    -Chip

    • Willis Eschenbach
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

      Re: Chip Knappenberger (#124), thank you for your thoughtful post. In some ways, I agree with you when you say:

      Now, maybe you all get a kick out of this type of thing, but it is hardly setting forth an environment for friendly back-and-forth discourse. I for one, when I am trying to get something I want from my girlfriend,let’s say, don’t start out by reminding her how ornery and uncooperative she has been in the past, but instead start out by saying nice things about her and how I am sure she’d love to help out on this occasion. But this is not how Mr. McIntyre started out, and so, in this case (as in many others) I have the same opinion as Roger’s as to the purpose of this post. It was not to draw out an opinion from Dr. Brown about the proper handling of his data, but, conversely, was to unilaterally condemn Dr. Brown by linking him (implicitly or complicitly) with the evil Dr. Mann (in addition to providing a report on some interesting results from some great sleuthing by Mr. McIntyre).

      The issue that you are not dealing with here is that we have tried being nice. We have tried being sweet. We have tried being professional. None of that has worked. Do you think I filed a Freedom of Information Act on Phil Jones without trying all other avenues first? Please, give us some credit here.
      .
      The last time Peter Brown came here he blew me off, and blew Steve off, and we were cordial and polite. I liked the interchange, he seemed friendly … but he blew us off. We got nothing.
      .
      Now you’re right, when you are trying to get something from your girlfriend, then opening by recounting past history is likely a mistake.
      .
      But that’s far from the situation here. This situation here is like after your girlfriend has repeatedly refused to give you back something that you own. She won’t do the right thing. Sweet’s not working, what’s next? So you try to shame her into giving it to you by pointing out publicly, when her friends are around, that giving you back your property is the correct thing to do.
      .
      Even that’s not a good analogy. This thread is more like issuing a public challenge for your girlfriend to live up to societal standards and do the right thing. Steve said:

      Will Brown and/or Woodhouse take any steps to correct the mishandling of their data? Let’s hope so, but I’d be astonished if they do.

      You seem to think that is a bad tactic, that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And in general, you are right.
      .
      However, look at the results in this case. Peter came here and confirmed that no, he wasn’t going to say that Mann’s handling of the Brown/Woodhouse proxies was wrong in any way, that what Mann does is his business. Peter washed his hands of the whole matter. In fact, he wasn’t going to say a word about it, and if he did say a word, it might be on a blog or not. And I commend him for coming and making his views clear, viz:

      But I am curious, what “steps to correct the mishandling of their data” would you suggest are appropriate? Researchers who collect and develop data sets and then submit those data to archives such as the ITRDB do so typically without any preconditions on what is done with them beyond that point. Some data collected for specific purposes (e.g., Douglas-fir chronologies collected for evidence of spruce budworm outbreaks) often have a warning in the accompanying metadata file but that still would not preclude someone from using the chronology for another purpose. Are you suggesting we do not submit the data at all, and only allow their use when specifically asked by someone that we know and trust will not misapply the data? That would appear to go against your persistent and continuing call for data transparency. Perhaps I should publish a letter to the editor demanding some sort of satisfaction (and what sort of satisfaction should I be demanding), but PNAS does not have such a system, so perhaps an LTE to some other journal, Nature or Science, perhaps my local newspaper? Perhaps a posting here, for all your readers to see? Or, perhaps continued research to develop improved mechanistic and statistical climate/growth models to better reconstruct climate over the past several centuries? Or perhaps should we just give up since that is so difficult (impossible)?

      In other words, Steve was right, Peter Brown won’t speak out.
      .
      I used the occasion of his washing his hands of the matter to chide him for the fact that amateur scientists and scientists from other disciplines are doing the work that the climate scientists should be doing, that of picking up the scientific trash in their own backyard. And I probably got out of line in the way I said it. I am an amateur scientist and a reformed cowboy. I grew up on an isolated cattle ranch surrounded by kids and animals and horses and guns and vegetables and cowboys, and I tend towards direct speaking. Too damn direct, my wife sometimes tells me, and I suspect she is right …
      .
      The problem I face is that there’s no indirect way to tell someone that they are getting their asses kicked by a pickup sandlot team and they better do something about it. There’s no polite way to tell people they’re not doing their job of finding the faults in each others’ ideas. Brown or Woodhouse should have been the first to notice the mishandling of their data, not Steve. You can pour all the honey on it you want, but the ugly fact underneath the honey is that climate scientists are not looking critically at their own field, including watching what others do with their own work. They are not finding each other’s errors. They are not checking each others’ work. They are not reviewing when asked to review. They are not pointing out when their data is used in an improper manner.
      .
      Instead, they pour honey on everything, there’s no problems, we’re just good old boys doing science. So what if Maine rain falls in the Seine for eight years, it makes no difference to the result, and there’s no need to mention when Bob or Billy does something stupid with my hard-earned proxies, pointing out Mikey’s mistakes just gives ammunition to our enemies, don’t say anything about the gaping holes in someone’s ideas, we’ve moved on from those gaping holes to new gaping holes so the old holes don’t matter, besides, I wouldn’t know whether to write to Nature or my local newspaper, and I wouldn’t dream of insulting a professional colleague by questioning their work, it’s just not done …
      .
      I see no way to fight this apathy, this terrible malaise that afflicts climate science other than to put it out into the bright glare of daylight.
      .
      Or, to channel my inner cowboy, let me ask the assembled masses. How do you make a whole field of science grow a pair of balls, and start looking for errors in their own work?
      .
      I don’t know the answer to that, Chip. Your solution, of making nice and pouring honey on it, has not worked all that well. Steve is trying another tactic, a call to arms. Me, I try to do it in my own ways. You do it by way of your excellent website.
      .
      We’re trying all the tactics we have at hand. You don’t like our tactics, fine … we’re just encouraging people to raise their voices. But to fault Steve’s attempt to urge some action because it doesn’t encourage “friendly back-and-forth discourse” is to miss the point. He is issuing a challenge, not a request for a faculty tea party, and in the event, it was successful down to and including our discussion here.

      .

      Finally, you say:

      I was very interested in Mr. McIntyre’s findings at the heart of this article and would have loved to have Dr. Brown’s thought out opinions about whether or not Dr. Mann’s treatment of his tree rings was a good idea or not in light of Mr. McIntyre’s observations. But, as a result of the constant barrage of petty comments, questions, directives, and accusations, Dr. Brown was never apparently in the mood to thoroughly share his opinions on the matter. I can’t say I blame him.

      I could not disagree more. I thought it was shameful of him not to stand up and speak his piece. Blaming it on “But mommy, they were mean to me, they asked me questions in writing, they wrote things I didn’t like” as you are doing doesn’t cut it, you should be embarrassed to excuse him on that basis. He had a chance to take a principled stand, and he waffled, wandered, and left. He had (as everyone does here) a choice of who to respond to and what to say. He was free to ignore petty comments and irrelevancies. We were not encouraging him to attack Mann. We were encouraging him to stand up for himself and the proper use of his proxies. I was sad that he did not take advantage of the opportunity.
      .
      I will say it again. Science is a blood sport. It progresses, not by proving things are right, but by proving they are wrong. Falsification is the heart and core of science. So if you can’t stand to have your precious little snowflake ideas attacked in the marketplace lest they melt, then go be an auto mechanic. Seriously. Science can only move forwards when someone’s pet idea is shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong, when someone’s cherished theory is shot full of holes, when someone’s vaunted and iconic Hockeystick has the broken shaft stuffed way up its … blade … and that’s not a pretty process, no amount of honey can make that sweet.
      .
      My very best to you, people should check out your World Climate Report website.

      w.

      • Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

        Re: Willis Eschenbach (#135),

        Mr. Eschenbach,

        Thanks for the direct and impassioned response. I understand your level of frustration, but I believe that you’ve come to reach such levels by having unrealistic expectations in the first place.

        For example: If, in the course of his tireless investigations, Mr. McIntyre uncovered that someone was using some results of mine in an unusual way (and in fact informed me about them), I would give him a cordial “thanks for letting me know” and “maybe I’ll look into it further if and when I have the time or inclination.” And perhaps I would actually do so if I felt the application was particularly inappropriate and depending on the nature of the issue, may or may not directly contact the person who was using my data and try to open a discussion with them. The only way I would ever send a note into a journal about it was if, in my opinion (not yours), it was material to the conclusions of the study. If I felt that Mr. McIntyre’s interpretation of his analysis results was different than mine, then I perhaps would engage him about it on his blog. But for certain, one thing I would not do, would be to openly and publicly denounce the use of my data in such a way on the blog, unless I thought that it was nefarious, and then, probably not without contacting the nefarious user directly and trying to work things out.

        It seems as if you are hoping for, or seemingly demanding, a different outcome. I think you should set your sights on pointing out potential issues and then letting the chips fall as they may. Telling other people what they should or should not be doing doesn’t really go over so well, and in fact is not really even appropriate unless you are the boss (and even then people don’t like it).

        If you all feel that there is a scientific issue that needs to be resolved that impacts the general scientific knowledge base, then it needs to appear in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Airing out dirty laundry on a blog may feel good, but, in general, is serves very little greater good. I know this from experience. We can talk ‘til we’re blue in the face about stuff at World Climate Report, but if we want to have any ground to stand on at all, we need to put something into the literature, or at least point to something in the literature. Therefore, despite the extra effort (and added frustration) that it takes to publish in the literature, we do try to do so from time to time.

        But, I don’t mean to come into your sandbox and start throwing sand.

        You gave me a direct response (born out of frustration) and I’ll reply with an equally direct response (also born out of frustration)… You all would be much more effective if you published your results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. You may think you are a bunch of outsiders rubbing their faces in the dirt, and I guess that gives you some measure of satisfaction. To me, until you put some stuff in the literature that shows what you all have found materially impacts the general conclusions, then you have achieved little that I can use.

        I spend most of my time these days writing reports for various clients who want a review of the state of various aspects of climate change science. In doing so, I highlight the findings that stand against alarmist claims. But, I’ve got very little to work with concerning the paleotemperature reconstructions. So, typically, I pass over that issue. I can’t very well say “the hockeystick is broken because the face-grinding cowboys over at a blog I frequent say so.”

        Take your game out of the “sand lots” and into the big leagues.

        You all have expended a monumental amount of energy in your research and in your blogging, and I have the utmost respect for your efforts. Please do everyone a favor by organizing them and writing them up for publication.

        Oops. There I go doing what I suggested you don’t do…telling other people what they should do. So, never mind, carry on doing whatever it is that you like to do. But, if you toned down your expectations as to what impact you may think your efforts as they are currently structured will have, you’d be less frustrated by the attendant inaction.

        -Chip Knappenberger

        • Craig Loehle
          Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

          Re: Chip Knappenberger (#158), Chip: there is no contact email address I can find at WCR.

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

          Re: Chip Knappenberger (#158),

          Chip, I know who you are in the climate science world, but I am not aware of how familiar you are with some of the discussions of published papers that are introduced by Steve M and analyzed by him and others here at CA. My enlightment from those analyses has far outweighed that obtained from most climate scientists who come here and pop out after a quick visit.

          I realize that you were addressing your post to Steve M, but I wanted to be sure you knew how valuable and enlightening (and fun) that those paper analyses can be for the laypersons here. I feel fortunate that Steve M provides a blog and atmosphere that is conducive to that activity. As far as Steve M’s future publications of peer reveiwed papers are concerned that is up to him. I am older than you and Steve M (and probably almost everyone posting here) but I am also hestitasnt to give advice.

          Perhaps some academicians are unaware of the appeal of their papers to laypersons and the potential value they have to laypersons. Heck, some of them even provide a chuckle or two.

  80. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    In some sense I don’t disagree, Chip, but recall that this is NOT a one-off situation in which the double standard has reared it’s head, and Steve certainly has tried to engage the dendro community (as well as others) with little success. At some point, you get tired of cutting off your head to spite your face. Embarrassment seems to be the one tactic that works.

    Mark

  81. Bob North
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    I think Chip Knappenberger last post (#124) says things very well and I urge those that post here regularly (including Mr. McIntyre) to attempt to refrain from snide, petty comments or snippy responses to those such as Dr. Brown who may be able to help us at least better understand the Dendroclimatologist position. (Even though other bloggers such as Gavin Schmidt and others at Real Climate and Tamino at Open Mind are much worse about initiating or allowing such non-productive comments, I would even urge that we refrain from such comments with respect to them as well even though it is very hard to restrain oneself at times). Remain above the fray.

    jmt,
    Bob

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

      Re: Bob North (#126),

      I think Chip Knappenberger last post (#124) says things very well and I urge those that post here regularly (including Mr. McIntyre) to attempt to refrain from snide, petty comments or snippy responses to those such as Dr. Brown who may be able to help us at least better understand the Dendroclimatologist position.

      Bob North, thanks for your inputs on keeping the conversation temperate as that is always good advice, but I think blogs serve to reveal insights beyond what one might obtain from polite academic talk and peer review formalism.

      The frustration of visiting scientists and the blog regulars works both ways. I can see, perhaps, the visiting scientist being distracted and agitated by remarks that are not on topic and could be construed as a personal attack, but I have experienced blog exchanges where the visiting expert was truly interested in debating the issues and imparting knowledge and was rather easily able to rise above the fray. On the other hand, when an expert appears at a blog and departs from the subject at hand to deliver his/her opinion of the posters or the atmosphere they might generate, I have to wonder whether they seriously appeared to discuss the science or to merely provide an opinion the posters and their ilk.

      Regular posters, on the other hand, I think have too high of expectations of what the visiting expert can deliver in way of answers to pressing questions. They also become frustrated with indirect and conjectured replies from the experts. While this all may seem chaotic and without a directed purpose, believe me when I say that much can be learned from these exchanges by the sensitive and tuned-in observer.

      As an example would you want the RC blog feigning a disinterested view of climate science divorced from policy advocacy while at the same time promoting one? I like knowing what a blog or a newspaper, for that matter, is promoting/advocating and have a major dislike for those that attempt to enhance the value of their world view by claiming neutrality.

  82. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    Good point, kim.

    Mark

  83. BillBodell
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    I’m with Chip. Reading the thread, I was thrilled to see Dr. Brown show up and looked forward to conversation that would follow.

    Willis’s rant (and a wonderful rant it was) pretty much derailed that (which was surprising since his posts are usually so polite, considered and interesting). Apparently, his past exchanges with Dr. Brown left him with the opinion that the rant would serve a greater good than repeating what hadn’t worked in the past. He may well have been right about that.

  84. jae
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    I support the direct cowboy approach, instead of the PC approach. Only the insecure thin-skinned folks stay out of arguments. My father always told me not to talk about politics or religion (he should have added science, I guess), because it starts arguments. But what else can you talk about that’s meaningful? Sports?

  85. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    I’m not sure what people expect. The question that I asked was:

    Will Brown and/or Woodhouse take any steps to correct the mishandling of their data?

    We got the answer: no. It’s the answer I expected and predicted. Chip, you say that you:

    would have loved to have Dr. Brown’s thought out opinions about whether or not Dr. Mann’s treatment of his tree rings was a good idea or not in light of Mr. McIntyre’s observations.

    It wasn’t going to happen. As Willis says, it’s nothing to do with saying pretty please, neither Brown nor Rob Wilson nor Mike Pisaric – none of them are going to engage on this for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons that has nothing to do with CA is that none of them have a clue what Mann’s methods are. Do you think that Peter Brown has an opinion on RegEM? Of course not. It’s not relevant to the work that he does so he’s not going to opine on it or bother getting into it.

    He’s got other work to do. And of course, so does everyone else in the field.

  86. jae
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    Let’s recall what Craig Loehle did when the mobs attacked his paper. He stuck around, listened to the comments, commented, and finally agreed with some criticisms. So he FIXED the problems, and has a much better paper now. The dendros can learn a lot from that experience, IF they really care.

  87. jae
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    The ivory-tower scientists will eventially learn that the blogs are their friends. If I were publishing a paper these days, I would put it on the appropriate blogs beforehand to GET all criticisms could, just like Loehle did, thereby helping me to make the paper better. I know, I know, 99% of the comments would be irrelevant, but it only takes one or two to improve your paper. It is foolish to stick your head in the “peer-reviewed” sand in AD 2008. Blog review is now a reality. Wake up, you revered ivory-tower scientists. But climate scientists, especially, seem to like the sand…

  88. jae
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

    CORRECTION: Sorry Steve, I know, I meant CERTAIN climate scientists, not all. I don’t mean to detract from the many great ones, such as Craig Loehle (if he’s a climate scientist?).

  89. Peter Ashwood-Smith
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Or, to channel my inner cowboy, let me ask the assembled masses. How do you make a whole field of science grow a pair of balls, and start looking for errors in their own work?

    In most other disciplines when you make mistakes that cost people a lot of money and or lives there is a swift attack from the legal profession. Its about to happen in the financial world (again) and has happened of course in the medical and engineering fields many times over. You tend to grow a pair very quickly when your action/inaction can land you in jail or bankrupt. There are huge sums of money being invested/diverted because of these kinds of predictions and if the predictions cause losses those who produced the predictions will find themselves in court.

    Thats not to say you should not make predictions but just as aircraft/bridges etc. are built with well established principles (as a way to ‘partially’ protect the engineers from litigation) climate scientists may need and we may all benefit from such a structure. Unfortunately engineering/medical and other diciplines did not evolve these structures until disasters forced them to instutute them.

  90. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

    Enough editorializing on this.

  91. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 21, 2008 at 9:19 PM | Permalink

    Peter Brown complained that the blog was covering more than one topic at a time. So what? An academic journal contains many different papers on different – is this a cause for complaint? Of course not. Different readers are interested in different topics; I’m interested in different topics. So I try to keep a few balls in the air at the same time.

  92. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Steve, thanks again for the good work, and good entertainment,

    Willis, thanks for the Cowboy poetry, and kicking butts that need kicking.

    Peter Brown…. Huh. Grow up, man, and grow balls.

    Best regards, Pete Tillman, returning to lurking

    “It’s a sin to waste the reader’s time” — Larry Niven

  93. Peter Brown
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    Mr McIntyre;

    Ok, you’ve lost me now. It’s been a very entertaining thread but time to move on to some real science. But you really should look in the mirror occasionally. You are constantly admonishing others not to attribute motive but do it yourself constantly. I used to have some respect for you and what you are attempting to do here. But now I understand that truly this is nothing more than some typical narcissistic online “diary” (as you yourself styled it) with your sycophantic posse hanging on every word, and heaven help an outsider that may try to enter a discussion. You should move over to Facebook, the fit would be perfect.

    (And Willis, Dude, I’m serious, you need some professional help, these delusions of yours are getting out of hand; now you’re the climate cowboy as well as the climate warrior? You’re just not typing with a full keyboard…)

    • kim
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#146),

      Heaven helps a lot of outsiders entering the discussion here, but heaven helps those who help themselves.
      ==================================================

    • Jean S
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#146),

      (And Willis, Dude, I’m serious, you need some professional help, these delusions of yours are getting out of hand; now you’re the climate cowboy as well as the climate warrior? You’re just not typing with a full keyboard…)

      Oh, you are also a medical expert. I think the above paragraph tells all the civilized people what your opinions are worth of.

    • RomanM
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#146),

      Never thought of myself as a sycophant. Do they actually have a course on how to be arrogant in dendro studies programs or do some of these people just come by it naturally?

    • Stan Palmer
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

      Re: Peter Brown (#146),

      Prof Brown — if you are still reading this blog

      In regard to the purposes of ‘auditing’ of the work of a scientific community, I was on the program committee of a conference whose ‘best papers’ were to be published in a special issue of a respected journal. In the arrangements for this the journal’s editor insisted that the selected papers had to go through an additional review process before they would be published. The program committee chair asked why this should be necessary given that they had been reviewed for the conference and been selected as the superior papers. The journal editor replied that he had an experience with publishing the work of another conference in which the best paper was found to be based on a serious mistake after journal publication. Our papers were reviewed externally and thankfully passed muster for journal publication. Peer review is necessary but is prone to in-group effects.

      A scientific community, such as the paleoclimatologists, should welcome an audit or a review by someone or some group outside of the community. It is too easy to fall into a comfortable trap of listening only to each other. Recall that degrees are granted after a review by an external examiner.

  94. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Folks, Peter Brown’s words speak for themselves. No need to editorialize.

    Dr Brown, both the previous two commenters are not “amateurs” in the way that some people demonize readers here. They are both “Drs” with degrees as meritorious as yours (as are many of the commenters on this thread.)

    However, I would like to respond to another one of Peter Brown’s accusations against me. In Peter Brown (#146), he says:

    You are constantly admonishing others not to attribute motive but do it yourself constantly.

    In my head post, I did not speculate on motives that Brown and/or Woodhouse would have for not commenting on the mishandling of their proxies in Mann et al; I merely speculated that they would not do so. Nothing about motives. Later Peter Brown accused me of imagining a “conspiracy” of dendros. I said that this accusation was made up, that I had never made any statement that asserted (or , for that matter, implied) such a conspiracy. In that context, I observed that my presumption was that individual dendros were making personal decisions – but once again, did not make any assertions or speculations on what those motives were.

    I really think that Dr Brown’s accusation is unfair both in general and in the context of this thread. I would appreciate being directed to instances where I have departed from this policy so that I can examine the incident and implement my stated policy.

  95. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    I think Dr. Brown’s comments are an indication of the fact that dendro work has been a rather cozy and collegial field in the past, and they would probably like to keep it that way. Most of the authors seem to publish with each other. They may be blissfully unaware that most of science is not like that. Many fields consist of debates and more debates. Litigation for your failures is possible in many disciplines, as noted above. I would suggest to dendros as a group that if people are making devastating criticisms of your methods and data, and you ignore them, then you are risking your reputations. As a scientist, that is all you have.

  96. M. Jeff
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    My impression, developed over many months, is that comments by the AGW mainstream are typically given more leeway in venting than are the comments by skeptics. Peter Brown is certainly not being snipped as would skeptics who might write in such an abusive manner.

    Steve: I expect regular readers to abide by the rules of the blog. I give Peter Brown more leeway because I’m not prepared to have go over to the listserv and complain that I was censoring his comments. Plus he’s supposed to be “professional”.

  97. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    Maybe we each should all take a deep breath, dig down deep and review what Peter Brown has provided us in the way scientific insights and new information with regards to his field of endeavor. Forget for the moment that Peter is quite the quipster and concentrate on what we have learned from him. Remember most of the science related comments came from the thread linked above in the introduction to this thread.

    I could not come up with much more than I have already noted in previous posts here. My problem was not being able to separate conjecture from scientic evidence, but that might be the result of my lack of detailed knowledge of the field and that is why I make my request and particularly for those in a better position to judge.

    Steve: On this thread, he hasn’t made any scientific comments. On the other thread, he abstained from statistical issues as that was not his area of expertise. That’s fine, but, as I observed before, it was unresponsive to the statistical issues raised – a point to which he took exception to by attacking.

  98. Nylo
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    I did learn something valuable about Peter Brown’s point of view, and I believe it to be a scientific comment, or at least I think it pretended to be so. He wrote:

    I do not feel that Dr. Mann misappropriated our data; I think that was one of many possibly legitimate means of developing temperature signals at a global perspective

    There it is. Peter Brown defended here that it is legitimate to use dendro proxies which were qualified by himself as precipitation proxies in order to look for a temperature signal, and in fact it is legitimate to cherry-pick the specific proxy which, far from being representative of the collection, just happens to show the desired result, without any analisis of why that proxy should be chosen among the others to be a better temperature proxy.

    So, I can only conclude that virtually anything is legitimate in the dendro world, except for critizising another dendro’s work.

    CU.

    • jae
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

      Re: Nylo (#154),

      There it is. Peter Brown defended here that it is legitimate to use dendro proxies which were qualified by himself as precipitation proxies in order to look for a temperature signal, and in fact it is legitimate to cherry-pick the specific proxy which, far from being representative of the collection, just happens to show the desired result, without any analisis of why that proxy should be chosen among the others to be a better temperature proxy.

      In defense of Dr. Brown, one could make a case that the proxies are temperature proxies, due to more heat causing more moisture stress. But that’s one big problem with dendroclimatology: there’s all sorts of ways to “excuse” data snooping.

  99. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    People sometimes act like outside reviews (audits) are novel, and not standard. I have personally been on review teams of the following: 1) a site visit to a Long Term Ecological Research site (NSF site visit/review by a team). Comments we gave were taken seriously. 2) a site review of a DOE field experiment on CO2 enrichment of tree growth 3) a review of plans for a large DOE mesocosm experiment. In addition, our department at Argonne Lab was reviewed by 3 outside big cheeses (and they really were) to overview quality and make suggestions. None of this was a statistical audit, but all quite serious stuff.

  100. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

    Chip, you;re hardly the first person to urge me to publish some of these matters. Ross does so all the time as do many others.

    You say:

    if you toned down your expectations as to what impact you may think your efforts as they are currently structured will have, you’d be less frustrated by the attendant inaction.

    Chip, why would you think that I’m frustrated? Or that I have excessive expectations? Can you direct me to any statements by me that led you to attribute such attitudes to me?

    Before this blog had such a large audience, I was frustrated by a variety of issues in climate science e.g. withholding of data. As far as I was concerned, stonewalling was inconsistent with the use of such data for policy decisions. It was incomprehensible to me (and my background hasn’t been academic, remember.) Now if I get stonewalled, I document the stonewalling, get it off my chest and figure that I’ve done what I can. Often the stonewaller intensely dislikes the publicity, but that’s his problem, not mine. He could have resolved the matter by simply doing the right thing in the first place. In many ways, it seems to me that the climate science community is frustrated by being criticized and that they take it out by outbursts such as Brown. But please don’t project this onto me.

    Some aspects of this have improved since I took an interest in things. For example, the SI in Mann et al 2008, while inadequate by the standards that I was used to in business, is a substantial improvement on MBH98, to say the least. This has improved in other areas as well. Perhaps it would have improved just as much without my taking an interest in things, but perhaps not.

    Secondly, I think that climate scientists themselves have an obligation to do things competently, to do their statistics well and to identify errors and defects in one another’s articles as diligently as they have attempted to do with both our articles and even incidental blog articles. This responsiblity exists whether or not I chose to take an interest in the field.

    Regardless of people may think, I am really quite uninterested in trying to affect policies, as so many others are. I’ve said many times that, if I were a politician, I would take advice from appropriate institutions. Many readers disagree with this, but that’s my attitude. I’m not trying to change policies and I ask readers not to discuss policy here.

    As to impact, lots of people have told me that I’d have more impact if I did this or that. You’re hardly the first. For someone that only took an interest in this a few years ago, I think that my impact has not been quite as negligible as you say, particularly compared to other people who commenced activity in this field at that time.

    Yes, there are about 20 things that would do well by being written up on a more formal basis. As I mentioned, Ross has been after me for a long time to photograph a few topics as they presently stand and I’ve undertaken to work on this, mostly out of sense of craftsmanship.

    But whether people have something to point to in respect to the HS is immaterial to me. The issues aren’t that complex. The underlying problem is really that the climate science community should have the skill to be able sort things like Wahl and Ammann or Mann et al 2008 out on their own. And you have to let them have a little time to try to do so – even if you have reason to be very doubtful that any such effort will be made.

  101. Tenured Prof
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    If I can speak a bit directly here with the benefit of anonymity. I am an academic in the environmental sciences and I follow this blog at times. I know many of the academics whose work Steve critiques and who have occasionally appeared in the comments.

    Academia is like a country club. Only a select few are admitted. Sorry, but that is the way that it is. Now Steve is not in that club. He probably could be if he published, but he has chosen not to, and given those choices he never will be. Sorry. The guys in the club have tenure, research grants, access to the media, and an ear with politicians. Some of them even have blogs. Steve has a blog and that is it. When he gets attention from the media, politicians, or even some academics, the guys in the club go ape sh*t.

    So there is going to be no playing nice here, so don’t expect it. Steve is like the guy who wears jeans and a tank top on the golf course. Persona non grata. But if Steve shoots scores in the 60s the club guys are going to have to take some notice.

    So my advice is to forget aspirations of convincing the guys in the club of anything. They ignore what goes on here at their peril (thus, many pay attention but pretend not to). I have no doubt that much of Steve’s work will one day appear in the peer reviewed journals, only Steve may not be a co-author on the paper, if you get my drift. He((, this has already occurred.

    Steve has decided to be a pain in the a$$, good for him. But don’t expect the guys in the club to like it. They won’t. Ever.

    • Alan Wilkinson
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

      Re: Tenured Prof (#161),

      You are right, this isn’t about science it is about politics. Brown’s input and reactions made that crystal clear.

      If you make a bunch of assertions without providing evidence then you will only convince your audience if they have their own evidence to support those assertions. If on the other hand you supply evidence without drawing any extravagant conclusions then you are doing science. Brown was not doing science here and, as Tenured Prof says, is not interested in doing science here for very good reasons to do with career and power which blogs seriously threaten if you are the least bit insecure.

      Only very strong and exceptional people have the ability to buck the professional herd, especially when it is feeling threatened.

    • David Smith
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: Tenured Prof (#161), Tenured Prof, I think you’ve described the situation well.

    • stan
      Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

      Re: Tenured Prof (#161),

      Prof,

      The country club of climate scientists would not bother anyone, if they didn’t use their club to influence govt policy. But they use their little club to try to impose enormous costs on everyone else in the world. Some in the club are even demanding that anyone who disagrees with the club be thrown in jail.

      This may not be a focus of Steve’s, but it is a really big deal to a lot of his readers.

      Bottom line — when the country club members use the club’s activities to demand significant sacrifices be imposed on the rest of the world, the rest of the world should have the right to demand that the club be competent, open, transparent, and honest in its dealings. And that right is not dependent on whether they like McIntyre or want to blackball him.

      When the club started pushing the world around, the world got the right to push back. And looking under the rock is the first step.

  102. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    There aren’t many reasonable people in here that don’t agree with your comments, Tenured Prof. Personally, I don’t think the guys in the club will ever be convinced of anything that originates from here, not publicly at least; they will just drift into obscurity if time proves Steve, and the methods he advocates, correct.

    Mark

  103. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    I used to have some respect for you and what you are attempting to do here. But now I understand that truly this is nothing more than some typical narcissistic online “diary” (as you yourself styled it) with your sycophantic posse hanging on every word, and heaven help an outsider that may try to enter a discussion.

    The problem is you didn’t enter into this discussion, you tried to make your own discussion. Your choice, of course, but you hardly made a dent in how people will feel about this situation, which you could quite easily have done. You basically acknowledged all the things we thought but didn’t say.

  104. jae
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    Steve Mc’s fantastic work here has been cited by hundreds, if not thousands, of influential people all over the world, including many climate scientists. So, even if he never publishes another paper in a “respectible” journal, I am certain that his efforts have had a great effect on science and policy. We haven’t seen the tip of the iceberg, yet. You don’t have to be a member of any country club to make a difference. Let the snobs in the ivory towers keep ignoring reality, as they are wont to do. The towers have fallen down over and over in history.

  105. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    I’d reverse the analogy. The “jeans and tank top” image is hardly consistent with someone as formal as me. Plus one who actually does spend a lot of time at his club, which is a pretty formal one. I feel more like someone in a blue business suit who’s wandered into a biker bar.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#168), actually, Steve, it’s more like you’re someone in a blue business suit who has somehow wandered into the court of Louis XVI and his coterie of aristocratic snobs. Recall, they were also adept with the sword. Too bad for them, you are more so.

  106. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    One may accuse Steve of a lot of things, like being a party pooper on the dendro class parties, but a narcist?? I betcha even Sarah Palin would agree that he’s not.

    As for comparing CA with RC, this is absolutely incomparable. The evidence is here and now, this discussion would have never been possible on RC. Most, if not all different views are getting stuck in the moderators filter. Whereas opposite views are most welcome on CA, but rather not in the offensive form as from Dr.Brown though.

  107. Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    All,

    Well, perhaps I messed something up, but I tried to use the “reply and paste” feature as well as my salutation (“Mr. Eschenbach”), to indicate that my comments were primarily in response to his reply (#135) to me. It was hmy sense of his frustration that I was trying to address not Mr. McIntrye’s.

    As far as all Mr. McIntyre’s work, I am very aware that it does and will continue to have “trickle down” impacts other than those which may derive directly from a peer-reviewed publication. His struggles (documented wonderfully by Dr. McKitrick in “Scattered Consensus”) have opened my eyes to the realities of the peer-review process and the reproducibility (and willing co-operation of the participants) of the results. Since that lesson, I, myself have tried to pay better attention to reproducibility issues in the papers for which I serve as a reviewer, and am surprised at the response I get when I ask the editor if I could get a copy of the raw data such that I could try to see if I get the same answers as the authors. Usually, the response is along the lines of “well, no one has every asked me that before, so let me think about it…” Unbelievable!

    Further, I have tried to be more aware of proper statistical procedures and confidence intervals when working with my own research projects as a result of the conversations that have taken place on the Climate Audit blog.

    And, I imagine, other researchers learn form the discussions here and make appropriate changes in their way of doing things. I almost asked Mr. McIntyre whether he thought that he saw any improvements in the latest Mann et al. paper compared with the initial ones. I am glad to see that he believes that there are some—which I find a testament to his efforts. Hopefully, he can spot them in other papers as well. For me, that would be a great sense of self-satisfaction and contribution to science.

    So I am well aware that the impacts and effectiveness can be found in places other than the peer-reviewed literature. But, from my angle, I largely rely on the literature to base my writings and as such would love to be able to directly include the diligent and seemingly tireless efforts of Mr. McIntyre and crew in my reviews. And so that is where I am coming form on this particular issue.

    -Chip Knappenberger

    PS. Dr. Loehle, my email address is chip@nhes.com

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

      Re: Chip Knappenberger (#171),
      So we are getting a “trickle down” and a “trickle up” effect. Keep it up!

  108. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    They are both “Drs” with degrees as meritorious as yours (as are many of the commenters on this thread.)

    I’m not :)

  109. Carl
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    #171: This man speaks the truth. Steve, if there were two of you, would the 2nd one be publishing all the results that the first one did? Would you support somebody else publishing your results if only to save your time for primary research?

  110. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

    Yes, of course, I recognize that there is a need to collect things together and if I were a young academic building a CV, I’d play the game that way.

    I’ve always agreed that it would make sense to pull some articles together. As I said above, Ross has been after me for ages to pull some articles together and I agree.

    My excuses and they are only excuses:
    – I like looking at new things and figuring out how they work. Since I’m doing this out of interest, I think that I’m entitled to do what interests me.
    – it’s not like the climate science community has understood the articles that we’ve already written;
    – Lots of the things that I do aren’t “original” as journals understand the term. They are comments on papers. In lots of cases, the ability to do such comments has been stonewalled and it’s taken a long time to get relevant data which, in some cases, is still not available.
    – I did submit an article last year (with Roger Pielke) which received the most vicious imaginable reviews. One of the reviewers accused us of “fraud”. WE also sent it to Kerry Emanuel who thought it was interesting and another prominent author in the field was going to quote it. But by the time that we got it back, I was working on other things unfortunately.
    – on some of the statistical issues, I’m still learning things as I go.

    I have no excuse for not finishing up something on Almagre.

    The main problem is time and energy. Obviously if I could clone myself, I’d get twice as much done.

    Also CA has a very large audience – the Google searches are always off the charts, indicating a lot of lurkers. So I’ve gotten into the habit of doing CA first. By the time that I finish that, I’m tired.

    I do not agree that academic journals provide particularly searching peer review. In my own experience, both positive and negative, the review process is pretty cursory. So it’s not “big league” in that sense.

    But don’t get me wrong – I do not share the opinions of many readers on the merits of blogs vs journals. I’m pretty conventional in my attitudes; I appreciate academic journals and do not view blogs as substituting in any way. But I like experimenting and seeing where things go and that’s what I’ve been doing. I agree on the need to publish things in academic journals. I have topics that are in a position to be formalized. So I need to get back to looking at Mann et al 2008, since as Hu observe, the clock is running on the comment period and we still haven’t opened up the EIV method.

    • Jeff Alberts
      Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#174),

      - it’s not like the climate science community has understood the articles that we’ve already written;

      I think it’s more like they choose to ignore them. I hope that something good might come of your work, but it will probably be in the form of people of Mann’s ilk trying to correct things behind the curtain without acknowledging that he screwed up, and that you helped ferret out major problems. It really amazes me how childish they seem to be.

  111. jae
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 8:19 PM | Permalink

    If nothing else, this expose’ will make the “peer-reviewed” journals enforce their policies. Some of these journals have become nothing more than Hollywood tabloids.

  112. Phil Johnson
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    In my grad school days it was common for a prof to take on a current or former student as a coauthor to partner in publishing. The prof provided the starting idea for the paper and supervision and the student did most of the grunt work. You may not have students, but you should consider partnering with people you trust from this blog to help get things in publishable form. There’d probably be a number that would be happy to do a lot of the work you’d rather avoid.

    Also, the expanded use of this blog for drafts and work in progress would allow ideas to mature into papers very nicely.

    • BarryW
      Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

      Re: Phil Johnson (#177),

      I hope Steve considers using the blog as a means of creating a paper. Dr. Loehle’s paper was critiqued here and I got the impression that it was helpful to him. Attempting to create one on a blog would be an interesting experiment to watch. You might create a new paradigm.

  113. Mark T
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

    Wait a minute… you knew advisors that actually proposed the ideas? Dang. Mine insisted the hardest part was coming up with the idea without direction. Of course, unlike some, mine also gives me top billing (we’re still working together, but he’s no longer my advisor).

    Mark

  114. Phil Johnson
    Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

    In my department there were fields where creativity and ideas were a necessity. However, I think new ideas might have been a liability, or at least unnecessary, in some fields.

  115. Mark T
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 12:04 AM | Permalink

    Advance the current state of my field was what I was told to do. I did, though I can’t claim it was by much. ;)

    Mark

  116. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    What’s the difference between CA and RC? At CA, Steve does an analysis, people discuss it, errors are found and corrected, some very interesting alternate ways of looking at stats are put forward in head-spinning detail, scripts are posted so you can try it yourself, and Steve corrects his mistakes. At RC, the “expert” tells you what is correct.

  117. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    One of the odd policies of climate journals is an insistence on pre-publication confidentiality. Thus, the breathless press releases from Nature/Science.

    Most of what I do is a “comment” on papers, sometimes papers that are not hot off the press. Aside from my own circumstances, others have observed generally a decline in the proportion of Comments to published papers and not just in climate, though the proportion in climate is very low.

    There are some institutional obstacles to placing Comments in the literature. Some journals e.g. PNAS have microscopic comment windows (3 months). PNAS used this to reject a comment by Hu on Lonnie Thompson. Other journals (e.g. Nature) effectively discourage comments, pushing the comment aftermarket in “specialist” journals. But the other journals are not necessarily all that keen on doing aftermarket support for Nature. This has to be kept in mind in placing comments.

    Wading through blog notes is not very efficient for third parties with limited time on their hands. Some topics are sufficient mature that it’s worth pulling together results as working papers for online comment.

    Unfortunately, there is an issue in pre-publication confidentiality that is important in many climate journals and which is a deterrent to this. For some climate journals, as I understand it, an online working paper can be cause for rejection. In my circumstances, I have to presume that this sort of clause would be strictly enforced, so this is a consideration.

    This is very different from economics. Economists like Ross and Sinan Unur observe that economics papers often circulate as working papers for a couple of years before going to a journal, using the working paper process to hone the material. This sort of procedure makes sense to me. An economics journal would be fine with an online working paper at CA, and perhaps even encourage this, whereas it’s a problem in climate science.

    .

    • Alan Wilkinson
      Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#184),

      An economics journal would be fine with an online working paper at CA, and perhaps even encourage this, whereas it’s a problem in climate science.

      I think you are already publishing very successfully, Steve. I expect you have a vastly greater readership than 99.9% of academic papers. What seems to me to be at issue is that the product needs to be refined to make it more accessible to the “casual” researcher who doesn’t have time to trawl through the messy process of online development of ideas and conclusions.

      So you could devote a new section of the website to definitive “papers” summarising current knowledge with appropriate references just as formal papers in journals do. That section itself could be separated into two parts. One which represents a publication at a point in time and a second which represents the updated “state of the art” incorporating all recent additions.

  118. jimdk
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Unfortunately i don’t think Steve’s work is making a difference

    Ten years on from the study that provoked all the ire, Michael Mann’s conclusion is that far from being broken, “the hockey stick is alive and well”.

    Both analytical methods produced graphs similar to the original hockey stick, though starting further back in time. The “shaft” now extends back to about 700 AD.
    The same basic pattern emerged when tree-ring data – whose reliability has been questioned – was excluded from the analysis.
    “I think that having this extra data and using more methods to analyse it makes the conclusions more robust,” commented Gabi Hegerl from the University of Edinburgh, UK, who was not involved in the research.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7592575.stm

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

      Re: jimdk (#186),
      ***commented Gabi Hegerl from the University of Edinburgh, UK, who was not involved in the research.***
      Not involved in the research, but a member of the social club.

  119. Phil Johnson
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    I suppose that the confidentiality policy would preclude the most open process. However it wouldn’t diminish the utility of taking on junior coauthors and distributing drafts to those you know well enough, from the blog and elsewhere, to trust to keep drafts confidential.

    Perhaps there might still be a possibility of discussion of draft issues here without the drafts themselves, but I don’t think that is the holdup in your failure to turn much of your work into publishable product. As I think you’ve said, for you, the hard part is not the ideas or the analysis, but the writing, and rewriting of papers about ideas which, while still relevant, you have lost interest. This is why a lot of smart people fail to publish on their own and is why I think you need coauthors. Ones who can stick with a project through completion and can do a fair bit of work without too much hand-holding. They shoulder part of the load and share part of the credit.

    Science has a history of significant serious contributions from non-academics, and you seem to be having an effect even without publishing much. But it seems that Climate Science is very focused on publications and you would have an easier time if you found a way to play the publication game more effectively.

  120. BarryW
    Posted Oct 23, 2008 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Is there a journal of applied statistics somewhere that might be appropriate? I would think that might be a receptive venue for the sorts of analyses that you do while avoiding the hostility you’ve been getting in the climate fraternity.

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