Jones et al 2009: Studies Not "Independent"

One of the ongoing Team mantras has been that the Mann hockey stick has been supported by a “dozen independent studies”. Obviously, I’ve disputed the claim that these studies are “independent” in any non-cargo cult use of the term “independent”. A new article by Jones and multiple coauthors (Holocene 2009) comments on this issue.

Let’s review the bidding a little on this topic. The viewpoint expressed here (and which is pretty obvious upon merely inspecting the proxies used in the reconstructions) is that the studies are not independent either in authorship or in proxy selection – with certain stereotyped proxies (Graybill bristlecones, Briffa Yamal) being used over and over again, thereby contaminating any supposed independence. This lack of independence is readily verified. And yet the opposite claim is repeatedly asserted.

The Wikipedia article on the HS controversy reports (citing Mann’s 2003 Senate testimony):

More than a dozen independent research groups have now reconstructed the average temperature of the northern hemisphere in past centuries.

In response to our original article, Wigley told USA Today in 2003, using language similar to Mann’s 2003 testimony, that a “dozen independent studies” had yielded similar results,

In addition to the Nature paper [MBH98], about a dozen independent studies suggest the 20th century was warmer than normal, Wigley points out.

Mann’s pre-emptive strike against our 2006 articles at realclimate again invoked “multiple independent studies”:

the basic conclusions of Mann et al (1998,1999) are affirmed in multiple independent studies.

Mann’s reply to questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2005 made the same claim about a “dozen independent studies”:

Recent work since the TAR has provided further support for this conclusion, which is now common to more than a dozen independent studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

After protesting about realclimate censorship here (at CA) on October 29, 2005, I managed to get a comment on this issue accepted at RC a few days later (on Nov 3, 2005).

The various supposedly “independent” reconstructions are not in fact independent either in authorship or proxy selection. There are important defects in each such study individually with proxy quality and robustness with respect to outlier results.

This prompted the following inline response by William Connolley:

[Response: At the moment, this looks like wild assertion / mud slinging. Given that the various reconstructions are the same on the important points, it seeems that the major conclusions are robust. Asserting that everyone else is wrong and only you are right is implausible - William]

Realclimate, showing a highly questionable commitment to its claim that “questions, clarifications and serious rebuttals and discussions are welcomed”, then censored my attempt to support my argument.

That the authors are not independent can be seen merely by inspecting the names of the coauthors of the Team studies in the usual spaghetti graph. Briffa et al [2001] with coauthor Jones is obviously not “independent” in authorship from Jones et al [1998] with coauthor Briffa. Jones and Mann [2004] and Mann and Jones [2004] are not independent of Briffa (Jones) et al 2001 or Jones (Briffa) et al (1998). MBH (Mann, Bradley and Hughes [1998, 1999]) is not independent of Bradley and Jones [1993], which in turn is not independent of Hughes and Diaz [1994] or Bradley, Hughes and Diaz [2003], etc etc. To say that these supposedly “independent research groups” are not in fact “independent” in any sense familiar to non-climate scientists is hardly “wild assertion/mudslinging” as Connolley claimed.

Wegman touched on this in 2006, but his “social network” analysis didn’t really capture the essence of the issue. Unfortunately he focused on Mann’s coauthorships, rather than Jones and Bradley, who are much more central figures. He also failed to consider the canonical Stick studies as a group – which would have yielded a more germane result than the one actually produced.

The issue of proxy re-use is just as serious (or more serious). Wegman et al 2006 had an instructive illustration of this, showing proxy usage by study drawing on information that I provided in a spreadsheet. Wegman observed of this figure:

It is clear that many of the proxies are re-used in most of the papers. It is not surprising that the papers would obtain similar results and so cannot really claim to be independent verifications.

Without acknowledging a source, IPCC AR4 conceded that the reconstructions shown in its new spaghetti graph were “not entirely independent” [carefully not mentioning bristlecones or Yamal]:

As with the original TAR series, these new records are not entirely independent reconstructions inasmuch as there are some predictors (most often tree ring data and particularly in the early centuries) that are common between them, but in general, they represent some expansion in the length and geographical coverage of the previously available data (Figures 6.10 and 6.11)

Citing IPCC AR4, Jones et al 2009 now concedes that “several chronologies” have been utilized in “virtually all published studies”, again carefully not mentioning bristlecones or Yamal:

Several chronologies extending over a longer time span, with variability displaying a strong and direct association with changing local temperatures, have been utilized in virtually all published studies aimed at reconstructing Northern Hemisphere (NH) or global average surface temperature changes during the millennium leading up to the present (Jansen et al., 2007[IPCC AR4]).

Indeed, nowhere in their entire review dp Jones et al 2009 mention the word “bristlecone”.

Note that Jones et al 2009 substantially embellished the actual IPCC AR4 wording. IPCC AR4 did not state that these repetitively used chronologies had “a strong and direct association with changing local temperatures”. Indeed, Review Comments are against this claim. As an IPCC AR4 reviewer, I contested the use of bristlecone/foxtails in a spaghetti graph of proxies supposedly qualified against local temperature, observing (See SOD Review Comment 6-1144) in respect of a series from Osborn and Briffa 2006 (which claimed a correlation of 0.19 – itself hardly “strong and direct”:

I checked the correlation of this data to HadCRU2 gridcell temperature and only obtained an insignificant correlation of 0.04. The authors said that they had cited the temperature data incorrectly, that they had actually used CRUTEM2 yielding a correlation of 0.19 and that HadCRU2 data was spurious in its early portion (1870-1887) because there was no station data. However there is station data at GHCN going back to the data in HadCRU2. D’Arrigo et al 2006 considered using foxtails and rejected the use of this data because it did not meet standards of being correlated to gridcell temperature, expressed in very similar terms to Osborn and Briffa 2006. The contrasting views of D’Arrigo et al 2006 certainly establish that the relationship is “ambiguous” and that this proxy should not be used on multiple grounds.

Notwithstanding the fact that the actual correlation was 0.04 (as could be easily calculated), IPCC rejected my call that they not be shown in a spaghetti graph of temperature proxies as follows:

Some of what the reviewer says may be true, but is as yet unpublished and the current review is based on multiple strands of evidence, among which the results of Mann and colleagues remains relevant.

Whether or not I had published the incorrectness of the claimed Osborn and Briffa correlation is irrelevant. My calculation was correct and the authors either knew it or should have known it. (And, needless to say, IPCC did not require that some point be published if the opinion was adverse to us e.g. Ammann’s secret emails to Briffa, withheld from the IPCC Review Process.)

From this weak and contested gruel – an actual correlation of 0.04 to local temperature – Jones and the extended Team have ratcheted the argument in favor of the non-independent proxies to a claim of a “strong and direct association with changing local climates” for these non-independent proxies.

And they wonder why they have a PR Challenge.

In fact, I’m not sure that anyone presently claims that bristlecone/foxtail chronologies have a “strong and direct association with changing local climates”. When confronted with opposing evidence, Mann’s defence was “teleconnection” – that bristlecone chronologies teleconnected with world temperatures.


  1. Eve N.
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

    If I close my eyes, the world disappears!

  2. Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    Okay, I give. What’s ‘teleconnection?’ And do aluminum foil helmets forestall it?

  3. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    Is anyone here gab smocked over this?

    Anyone glancing at either the list of authors or the data can see that “independent” isn’t really a word that can be used to describe this all. Or is there some special definition of the word being used here perhaps.

  4. Terry
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    Maybe they meant: “Independent of statistical significance, sound process, or adherence to the scientific method.”

    Or, maybe they meant fingerprint. Who knows?

  5. jae
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    Sam, it’s gobsmacked. And not me, anymore, because I have been numbed by so many almost unbelievable incidents like this. Don’t those folks have any idea just how foolish they look to those who bother to look closely at their work?

    On the other hand an r2 of 0.04 explains 400 percent more of the variation than an r2 of 0.00, so I guess it depends upon how you define a “strong and direct association.” :)

    • deadwood
      Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

      Re: jae (#5),

      On the other hand an r2 of 0.04 explains 400 percent more of the variation than an r2 of 0.00, so I guess it depends upon how you define a “strong and direct association.”

      Last time I checked 4 times zero equals zero.

      • jae
        Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

        Re: deadwood (#11),

        OK, make it 0.000000000000000000000001, rather than 0, OK? :)

      • Patrick M.
        Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

        Re: deadwood (#11),

        Last time I checked 4 times zero equals zero.

        Some of what deadwood says may be true, but is as yet unpublished…

    • Sam Urbinto
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      Re: jae (#5),

      Blab frocked, dab bocked, slab tocked. Whatever it takes.

      But only 400%? .04 is ∞% compared to 0, we can always repeatedly subtract 0 from .04 as many times as we want! It’s the subtraction that never ends, sort of like keeping track of authors and datasets for the team.

      z/0=\infty where z ≠ 0

      Or was that 1/02=∞

      Doesn’t matter. I’m still glad docked.

  6. Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    A meteorological teleconnection is where a meteorological event in one location sets off a corresponding event in another. For example, if there is a strong high pressure ridge at 500mb along 140°W a low pressure trough often forms downstream over the Great Basin.

    Using teleconnections to apply conditions in caves to the atmosphere in another part of the world is really stretching the concept.

    • Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

      Re: Mike Smith (#6),
      10² thanks, Mike. So, in this context, ‘teleconnected’ is pure gobbledygook. I’ll cancel my order for the helmet.

  7. davidc
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    Does this: “Fourth, a greater use of climate model simulations is needed to guide the choice of reconstruction
    techniques”, from the abstract, mean that proxies will be assessed by how well they reproduce the model simulations?

    • PhilH
      Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

      Re: davidc (#7), Of course. In order to have circular reasoning, you gotta have a circle.

  8. Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Some of what the reviewer says may be true, but is as yet unpublished and the current review is based on multiple strands of evidence, among which the results of Mann and colleagues remains relevant.

    Didn’t Nature change their official policy to not accept negative rebuttal papers? I can’t remember exactly where I read that.

  9. rephelan
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    Re the wikipedia article.

    You are aware that the administrator for that article is William M. Connolley who runs the Stoat Website… not exactly of the tribe of deniers, you understand. The link below makes interesting reading.

    R.E. Phelan

    snip – politics

  10. rephelan
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    sorry for the mishandled URL… I’ll do better next time.

  11. John A
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:19 PM | Permalink

    The teleconnection of Mann was pure voodoo: the notion that the strong growth of the strip-barked bristlecone pines during the 19th and early 20th Centuries in Western Colorado was not correlated with local mean temperature but was mysteriously teleconnected to “the global temperature field” – presumeably by some process unknown to physics but which may involve fairies.

    Every decent statistician would call such a “teleconnection” a spurious correlation between unrelated time series, of which there are many noted in mainstream statistical literature. But not Mann or the IPCC.

    As Steve pointed out in his more recent resampling of those same trees, the magic bristlecones appears to have conveniently dropped that spooky “teleconnection” in more recent times, a fact confirmed by the mysteriously self-censored PhD thesis of Linah Ababneh.

  12. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    The actual choice of data is irrelevant so long as the same invalid selection process is used and is poor causal correlation between the measured variable and the global temperature: data series must match the GISS recent (increasing) temperature “construction” but there is no requirement to match anything before that.

    All “independent” studies using these selection criteria will produce a “hockey stick” and be meaningless.

  13. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    Sorry, that was terrible wording. I’ll improve it:

    The actual choice of data is irrelevant so long as there is is poor causal correlation between the measured variable and the global temperature and the same invalid selection process is used: data series must match the GISS recent (increasing) temperature “construction” but there is no requirement to match anything before that.

    All “independent” studies using these selection criteria will produce a “hockey stick” and be meaningless.

  14. rephelan
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    Rebuke acknowledged and taken to heart.

    The point of the anecdote was that editing at Wikipedia can be intensely political and that the site is unsuitable as an authority. Sites like this one are a refreshing and welcome change.

    R.E. Phelan

    • Peter D. Tillman
      Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

      Re: rephelan (#18), Wikipedia bias

      I can attest to the difficulty (bordering on impossibility) of injecting any skeptical notions into the Wikipedia climate change articles. And there is some good material there: see (eg)

      Unfortunately, Connolley is hardly the worst of the warmer cabal there. In fact, my (few) dealings with him have been cordial (but unproductive of change). Some of the others seem utterly impervious to reason.

      Peter D. Tillman
      Consulting Geologist, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)

  15. Alan S. Blue
    Posted Jan 19, 2009 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

    What happens if you declare the satellite measurements as “Our best instrument”, and use the various individual surface measurements as proxies as input to Mann’s own methods.

    The whole point of Mann’s method is determining the relative validity of inadequate proxies. All the sites with microsite and potential urban heat island issues should thus be detected and given a low weighting.

    (He might even call the best fits teleconnected.)

    Steve: This has nothing to do with anything in Mann’s studies. Let’s avoid simply piling on.

  16. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

    Here is another set of papers that show the non existent Medieval Warm Period and Holocene Maximum (4 degrees warmer than today).

    This one has no strip bark trees, just lake levels. Several excellent papers on the same general subject of the great lakes.

    Guess that this bunch from NOAA did not get the memo.

  17. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:26 AM | Permalink


    The former source of additional error can be estimated by using known properties of the calibration algorithm (such as standard formulae for estimating the standard error of regression coefficients – used, eg, by Briffa et al., 2002a) though pseudo-proxy studies (see below) can provide an alternative estimate of the total calibration error and should be used more in future work.

    Clever move, pseudo-proxies. This way they can dodge the correct equations (for a year or two, the game is about to be over .. ).

  18. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    Funny that they can get away without reference to an of the controversy. Did they manage to peer review thier own paper on this one? Any mention of the Finnish tree ring studies?

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    #22. One study is mentioned in passing.

    Ababneh isn’t mentioned.

    21 references to RegEM.

    • Mark T.
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#23), Of course. Reading one of these climate papers is a lesson in tediousness. They throw in 2 or 3 references every other sentence. It’s a bear to read and even harder to understand. I often wonder if they do this intentionally to obscure the work they’ve done, or perhaps to prop up their papers among each other (social network). A quick browse at engineering papers (from academia, particularly through the IEEE) and it is night and day.

      Gads, my last paper only had 8 references in 6 pages, and one of them was simply because I had to reference my advisor’s book. :)


      • richard clenney
        Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

        Re: Mark T. (#36),

        Mark; I remember a saying by Ralph (SAM) Wherry
        in regards to references; ” A paper with 39 references in it NEEDS EVERY DAMN ONE OF THEM.”
        (Penn St. Business grads will remember.)

  20. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:16 AM | Permalink

    As a scientist who knows next to nothing about the ‘science’ of palaeoclimatology, I find it amazing that 30 authors can get together and agree about the subject of this paper. The language used is mostly indecipherable. The only thing I could clearly see where the 30 authors would be expected to agree was the claim that much more work needed to be done, i.e. the usual cry for more funding. I thought the ‘science’ was settled (or that’s what successive government ministers have stated in the UK), or hasn’t Jones been told that by his bosses and paymasters. Is there anyone else beyond these 30 who could provide truly independent studies?

  21. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:31 AM | Permalink

    Santer et al required 17 authors. Jones et al now requires 30.

    Can it now be long before we have “100 Authors Against McIntyre”?

  22. Jim Turner
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

    Re. non-independence of papers: I don’t understand the underlying problem here. The constant reuse of the same proxies seems to suggest a dearth of new data, but I do not see why this should be the case. If the issue is as important as it seems, then funding data collection should not be an insurmountable problem, it’s not like collecting rock samples from Mars. Have all the good sites (ie. reasonably accessible and likely to yield good data) been sampled?

  23. Aodhain
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 4:04 AM | Permalink

    “100 Authors Against McIntyre”

    If he was wrong, one would be enough.

  24. Sped
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 4:39 AM | Permalink

    I looked at the pdf and saw the graph with the author connections.

    It looks like a cluster of academics. Someone with time should dig up the PhD and MS students of the professors and see if the clusters fall out naturally.

    Typically, you may have one professor that places some of his PhD students at other institutions. They have grad students that form clusters around them.

    If most of these authors in the social network are in the same academic family tree, it will appear even more sketchy…

  25. Joachim
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    Something from that article jumped at me. Jones claim that the Greenland icecores have very good correlation with temperature measured along the coast of greenland since the 1700s. At the same time RC writes in the article linked to in a comment to the previous post that historical claims of Greenland being warmer during the MWP are under dispute. I couldn’t look into this because the source RC was linking to was gone.

    Using only Greenland icecores calibrated to Greenland temperatures, what did the climate look like when the viking colonized?

  26. kim
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

    Incest taboos are in place to prevent disasters.

  27. henry
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    Another thing that relates to this is the age of the studies. IIRC, the Graybill tree core data is getting close to 30 years old.

    If I can find the time, I’d like to get the dates of the “relevent” studies and see when the “data gather date” is, to see the average age of the proxies. If the scientists are using this data to show correlation to the climate (which they peg at 30 years), how much of the currently used proxies cover the last 30 years (current climate)?

    All ties in to “bring the proxies up to date”…

  28. Gary
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

    The 28 recommendations at the end of the Jones, et al. paper make fascinating reading. Number 5 stands out particularly in its call to study the divergence problem and update older proxies.

    (5) There is pressing need for further study of the likely precedence and causes of the apparent ‘divergence’ between instrumentally recorded and some dendroclimatically estimated temperature trends (typically some high-latitude NH regions) in recent decades. This emphasizes the priority requirement for systematic updating of many existing tree-ring data, to continue in parallel with efforts to expand the representation of data into new areas.

    Perhaps jesting gadflies do make a difference.

  29. Bob North
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    A couple of thoughts.

    1. Reading the paper, it appears that Jones et al. actually do recognize that there are issues with prior reconstructions and that there is a lot of work that can be done to improve them. This should be applauded, not mocked.

    2. I don’t understand why it took three years to get what amount to fancified meeting minutes published.

    3. Even when preceded by the word insignificant, “correlation of 0.04″ is an oxymoron. The proper word would be “uncorrelation” or “noncorrelation” or “total lack of correlation”. Even if the correct value is 0.19, lack of useable correlation might be the appropriate descriptor. Of course, we expect some degree of correlation between temperature and tree ring proxies but if that correlation (either r or R^2) is <0.2, how can one construct a meaningful temperature reconstruction from that series?

    • Mark T.
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

      Re: Bob North (#33), 1) agreed, however, they (the Team) keep saying this while doing nothing about it. Perhaps one day they’ll listen.
      2) Choir. Preaching.
      3) Not really an oxymoron, but a redundancy. Yes, however, how can one reconstruct past temperatures when the correlation with known temperatures is this low? More preaching to the choir. Hopefully, if Steve keeps pointing these issues out, they’ll really “move on” and drop the reconstruction mess.

      I’m an optimist.


    • davidc
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

      Re: Bob North (#33),

      Bob, I agree with your pont 1. This is actually quite a useful resource for those who want hard data to undermine a claim that temperature is the major factor determining tree wing widths. And they also explicitly call for updating data, which has the potential to refute some reconstructions. But they spoil the impression a bit by continuing to refer to “divergences” when reconstructions fail to agree with observations. Is there anything in their statistical methodolgy to distiguish between a divergence and a refutation?

      • Mark T
        Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

        Re: davidc (#58), No, not really, but it’s not really as simple as a yes/no answer. The ultimate problems is that due to non-linearity and/or stationarity issues, you have no way of knowing when in the past divergence has happened. It may be possible to account for it now if you figure out what caused it, but that is only because you have pretty good information regarding the entire environment, i.e., all the inputs. What was it like 500 years ago? No way to know without the reconstructions, but then you have a circular argument. As a result, you’re kind of forced into the null hypothesis which isn’t really a “refutation,” but rather a “this conclusion cannot be supported with this line of evidence.” The argument keeps coming back from this as “well, other lines of evidence support our conclusions” which is immaterial (and a complete crock, where’d these guys learn their science?). THIS evidence does not support this conclusion, it has nothing to do with whether everything else is right or not.


  30. Peter Thompson
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 9:11 AM | Permalink


    Perhaps you could send them your product generated during the testing of the Starbucks Hypothesis. It would seem that point 5 above cries out for your help.

  31. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    I would note that only going back 1000 years is very convenient for obtaining a hockey stick, because if there was a MWP around 900 or 1000 yrs ago, you need to go back at least 1400 years to clearly see the hump in the curve. If you only go to 1000 yrs ago it is simply too easy to get a linear segment up to the end of the LIA.

  32. jae
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    Hmmm, when I hear “correlation,” I always think of R^2. But some folks report R. Is it possible that they reported R as 0.19; whereas Steve is talking about R^2, which would be about 0.04?

  33. Urederra
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    That the authors are not independent can be seen merely by inspecting the names of the coauthors of the Team studies in the usual spaghetti graph. Briffa et al [2001] with coauthor Jones is obviously not “independent” in authorship from Jones et al [1998] with coauthor Briffa. Jones and Mann [2004] and Mann and Jones [2004] are not independent of Briffa (Jones) et al 2001 or Jones (Briffa) et al (1998). MBH (Mann, Bradley and Hughes [1998, 1999]) is not independent of Bradley and Jones [1993], which in turn is not independent of Hughes and Diaz [1994] or Bradley, Hughes and Diaz [2003]

    You can guess who the peer-reviewers of each paper were just by looking at which authors are present in one paper but missing in the other. :D

  34. jae
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Bob Carter sumarizes some truly independent work by 7 scientists (including Craig Loehle). They all predict the cooling we are seeing.

  35. Tom C
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    The reason for the 30 authors is to try to establish authority by intimidation. Likewise the continuous and voluminous citing of references, none of which get to the heart of the matter.

  36. Jon-Anders Grannes
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

    Nice I had a reply with political reasons for some of your frustrations about a politically controlled science, UNEP/IPCC:.

    It has been removed.

    And I agree it is probably better to keep this site outside the political sceene?

  37. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    snip – c’mon. No editorializing like this please.

  38. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    So I did some analysis of the references cited in the Jones etc. 2009 paper.

    I excluded the names Z1.ZN in the “A1, A2 and A3 :DATE Article X in book Y Z1 Z2 and Z3, editors” cites* to arrive at the following statistics

    There are (E&OE) 506 total references – of which 71 are single author ones.
    There are totally 1158 different authors identified (some may be dupes and/or duds but I hand edited a few obvious errors).

    The author with the most collaborators are Mann,M.E who collaborated with 92 others:
    Bradley,R.S 7 times
    Rutherford,S 6 times
    Hughes,M.K 5 times
    Schmidt,G.A 4 times
    Jones,P.D 4 times
    Ammann,C.M 3 times
    Wanner,H 3 times
    Shindell,D.T 3 times
    Goosse,H 2 times
    Waple,A 2 times
    Xoplaki,E 2 times
    Renssen,H 2 times
    Timmermann,A 2 times
    Luterbacher,J 2 times
    Briffa,K.R 2 times
    Wahl,E.R 2 times
    Keimig,F.T 2 times and a few dozen singletons

    and Luterbacher,J who collaborated with 92 others
    Wanner,H 17 times
    Xoplaki,E 10 times
    Casty,C 7 times
    Dietrich,D 4 times
    Riedwyl,N 4 times
    Pauling,A 4 times
    Pfister,C 4 times
    Jacobeit,J 3 times
    Rutishauser,T 3 times
    Zorita,E 3 times
    Esper,J 3 times
    Gyalistras,D 2 times
    Mann,M.E 2 times
    Paeth,H 2 times
    Küttel,M 2 times
    vonStorch,H 2 times
    Frank,D 2 times
    Grosjean,M 2 times and the dozens of singletons

    The most prolific duo appears to be Jones,P.D and Briffa,K.R who collaborated a total 22 times together.

    If I can work out a way to do it I’ll put up the raw data for others to analyze.

    *Adding in these editor names would increase quite a lot of collab stats

  39. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    The Jones et al. (2009) temperature reconstruction review goes against much of analysis methods utilized here at CA, i.e. the review defends the current state of reconstructions by making very general statements about volumes of referenced work, while it has been shown in analyses and discussions here that proper analysis requires looking at individual papers in detail.

    I would judge that the Jones approach is better suited for a defense attorney’s pleading his case in court than a scientific review. I would be curious how various scientists in the climate science community view it.

  40. Robinedwards
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #33 (Bob North)

    I always wonder about the habit (convention) of quoting r (or r^2) as if it/they were some useful practical measures of the value or indeed validity of a presumed correlation. (Note that in using or quoting one of these statistics we seem to be thinking of it in terms of its /predictive/ value).

    When I was using statistical techniques in industry quoting r or r^2 with no further information was not far removed from a capital offence. It was regarded as an attempt to conceal something from an unsuspecting reader. What is required is not simply a statistic such as r, but a statement about the data set from which it was computed. This might be how many data pairs or regression points were used to compute the statistic. However, for someone lacking instant access to statistical tables this may be only a minor improvement. What is required is a forthright statement displaying the probability of the obtained r or r^2 occurring due to chance effects alone under the H0 that the true correlation is zero..

    Only this sort of approach delivers information that is of real value to the interested reader.

    Going a further step along this route, another practical measure of the utility of such a statistic in the context of regression would be the derived confidence interval for a prediction, for chosen and useful values of the independent variable(s), at some conventional probability level, such as 80%,90%,95% or 99%. This would induce some kind realism in the inferences that were based upon the statistic.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

      Re: Robinedwards (#48), I bet you had to show how you got confidence intervals too…

  41. bernie
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    Interesting. The software that Wegman used to identify the overlapping networks might be useful. It may also be important to classify whether the reference was used to support a position or to refute a position.
    I am planning to look at this software for a non-climate project I have but I have not really looked at this software yet.

  42. David Jay
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:31 PM | Permalink


    Do you still need to show the method if you certify that your results are “robust?

  43. TerryS
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    “100 Authors Against McIntyre”

    Didn’t Einstein say something like:

    “It doesn’t matter how many agree with me, it only takes one to prove me wrong.”

  44. TerryS
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    Re: Alan Wilkinson:

    Re: TerryS (#52),

    Aodhain (#27) had the quote right.

    17 authors was ridiculous. 30 are trembling in fear.

    Yeah it was #27 that made me remember it, but I’ve searched and haven’t managed to find the actual quote.

    • Mark T.
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

      Re: TerryS (#54), I believe the majority of the quote is not him, but someone asking him if he felt daunted by the fact that “over 100 authors disagree” (paraphrased) with his theory, to which he replied “why, it only takes one?” (again, paraphrased). It is likely an anecdote as well, so probably didn’t even happen the way we have all heard. :)


  45. Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    quote Can it now be long before we have “100 Authors Against McIntyre”? unquote

    “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your paleoclimatological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”


  46. Artifex
    Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    Hmmm, mathematicians have an “Erdos number”. Perhaps now is a good time to institute a Jones or Mann number. Thus if an author had a high “Jones number”, we might be more assured of seeing new data and analysis.

    • RomanM
      Posted Jan 20, 2009 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

      Re: Artifex (#56),

      Don’t besmirch the Erdos number by suggesting the invention of a “He-the-Mann” number! My erdos number is four (two ways) and my thesis advisor had a two (but I never wrote a joint paper with him).

      I think that it should be noticed that there seems to be a distinct “anti-correlation” between the global temperature anomaly and the number of co-authors of climate papers. Anybody want to test for causality? ;)

      • Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 4:46 AM | Permalink

        Re: RomanM (#60),

        My erdos number is four (two ways) and my thesis advisor had a two (but I never wrote a joint paper with him).

        Doh, mine is lousy 8. Kevin Bacon is closer. Say, want to write a joint paper about climate statistics ? :) I bet Jean S has quite low Erdős number as well.

        • Mark T.
          Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

          Re: UC (#63), I work in defense so even if I could figure out my number – rarely are we developers allowed to “publish” – I’d have to kill everyone I told. :)


      • Urederra
        Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

        Re: RomanM (#60),

        Don’t besmirch the Erdos number by suggesting the invention of a “He-the-Mann” number! My erdos number is four (two ways) and my thesis advisor had a two (but I never wrote a joint paper with him).

        Sorry for the OT question, but are you saying that you never wrote a joint paper with your thesis advisor?
        That’s odd.

        • RomanM
          Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

          Re: Urederra (#64),

          Sorry for the OT question, but are you saying that you never wrote a joint paper with your thesis advisor?

          This was over 40 years ago! My thesis topic was highly theoretical and the original topic came out of a question I raised in a course with the advisor. He was off in Europe most of the time that I was writing the thesis and I left to take a teaching position before he returned so we finished the details by mail (before the internet was available). I published the results solo.

          I did proofread (and correct some proofs in) galley proofs for two of his books. That should be worth an “adjustment” of at least .5 in the Erdos number! :)

    • Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

      Re: Artifex (#56),

      The Mann number is an interesting idea.

      In the data I’ve assembled the 3rd most prolific collaborator (Masson-Delmotte,V 91 collabs) appears to not have ever collaborated with Mann – though they do share a few collaboratees e.g. Briffa

      This probably means than even in the data I’ve mined Mann numbers would tend to be between 1 and 5 – I’ll need to check. Of course to do a “Mann” proper number I’d need to add the book editors and that would probably add links

      • Jonathan
        Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 2:26 AM | Permalink

        Re: FrancisT (#61), Mann numbers as high as five would prove nothing at all. Scientists are a pretty interconnected bunch: I’m an Erdos 3, but am not any kind of mathematician. At a guess, any number over 2 is just as likely to be chance as evidence of a real link. See here for musings by Gavin and friends on this topic.

        • Jeff Alberts
          Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

          Re: Jonathan (#62),

          Don’t you mean a “pretty teleconnected bunch”? ;)

      • Posted Jun 25, 2009 at 12:31 AM | Permalink

        Re: FrancisT (#61),
        I believe PhD thesis will be counted as a publication and technically you are related to your adviser there. My feeling is that your Erdos number then is 3

  47. Urederra
    Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 6:58 AM | Permalink

    Wow, things has changed a lot. I bet he made more contributions to your thesis and subsequent publication than many of the “coauthors” listed in Jones et al 2009.

    I find very unfair that the work made by the experimental scientists who spent long hours/months doing the tedious and hard field work and the work made by these co-signers of a review article are regarded to worth the same. Or even less if you start comparing impact indexes and numbers of citations your papers get.

  48. Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

    OT, but it is interesting to know these. So, using

    we’ll have CA commenters:

    Roman ( E# 4)

    Hu ( E# 5)

    And we can compare these with

    % multivariate calibration
    Sundberg, R (4)

    Brown, P J (4)

    % signal processing

    Kalman, R E (4)

    Shannon, C E (3)

    Viterbi, A J (3)

    % others
    Wiles, A J (3)

    Einstein, A (2)

  49. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    The Einstein “quote” is unsourced and he probably never said it. It’s a poetic romantic sort of explanation of the scientific method, or actually I suppose specifically falsifiability. “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Maybe one day in passing he said something like “Experimente prüfen sie nicht, sie prüfen sie korrekt sind, falsch dass seien sie.” but there’s no record.

    Now the story on “other scientists” and being incorrect is supposedly from when he and Bohr were fighting, maybe something surrounding the EPR paradox perhaps, or maybe even dating back to the mid 1920s. Nothing sourced (like his answer to Born’s question if God approved of gambling in a 1926 letter that “I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.”) and nothing as eloquent. His step daughter Margot was on the subject of the constant annoying discourse between the two and their supporters, and thoughts it might destroy Einstein’s reputation. She asked something like “Daddy, are you afraid Niels will show you wrong?” to which he replied along the lines of “Right, wrong, eh. He’s only one man…. Eff that guy anyway.” He then patted her on the head and said “Now go make us some noodles dear.”

    Steve: Let’s have a moratorium on discussing the Einstein quote. The point is fine, but it sounds grandiose in the context of anything being discussed here.

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    The “Mann number” was discussed a couple of years ago e.g. . Gavin Schmidt observed that my Mann number was 4.

    In a typical way, they twisted the point about non-independence. The Mann number was amusing, but irrelevant to the common sense point that Briffa, Jones et al 2001 is not “independent” of Jones, Briffa et al 1998 or Bradley and Jones 1993 or Mann and Jones 2003 in any sense of “independent” familiar off the Island.

    BTW my Erdos number probably is 4 or 5. McIntyre – McKitrick – Essex (and Essex will surely have a low Erdos number of no higher than 2). So if CA readers did a paper with McKitrick (or McKitrick AND Essex), you’d lower your Erdos numbers.

  51. Neo
    Posted Jan 21, 2009 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    snip – please make a substantive comment


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