Steig and the International Man of Mystery

Real Climate has defended Steig against a plagiarism complaint from Hu McCulloch, covered by Pielke Jr here and Jeff Id here. Hu’s original post is here and the most recent CA discussion here. Hu’s complaint is here.

Note: Hu’s email to the Steig coauthors is here. Steig was not the only recipient. All Steig authors were copied – Stieg, D Schneider, Rutherford, Mann, Comiso and Shindell.

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:51:44 -0500
To: steig@ess.washington.edu, dschneid@ucar.edu, srutherford@fox.rwu.edu,mann@psu.edu, josefino.c.comiso@nasa.gov,Drew.T.Shindell@nasa.gov
From: Hu McCulloch
Subject: Comment on serial correlation in Steig et al 2009
Dear Dr. Steig and co-authors,
FYI, I have recently posted a comment on your 2009 paper in Nature
on Climate Audit, at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=5341 .
While I was able to replicate or virtually replicate the 1957-2006 trends you report
on p 460 for the three regions and the continent as a whole, the 95% Confidence
Intervals you report appear to have taken no account of serial correlation
in the regression errors. When this is done, the CI’s are substantially wider
than you report.
Any reactions, by comments there or by e-mail, would be welcome!
— Hu McCulloch

J. Huston McCulloch [email and other particulars]
Economics Dept.
Ohio State Univ.
URL: http://econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/jhm.html

RC argues that Steig was in Antarctica when the McCulloch email was sent. Steig claimed the following:

Response: McCulloch’s email, which provided no details but pointed me to his post, was sent while I was in the field in Antarctica, and would have received notification that I was in gone, and not receiving email for the next month.

Jeff Id sent a contemporary email to Steig and that is NOT the answer that he received. He received a message stating that Steig had limited email in Antarctica with a 30K file size max. (Hu’s message was 6K and well within the 30K that Steig was receiving.)

Hello,
I am in Antarctica until the middle of March. I will have email access via satellite, but text only is permitted, and 30 kB maximum file size. Please do not write except for essential matters. The email address is posted on my website at the University of Washington. Any issues pertaining to the lab should be directed to Andrew Schauer (contact information at —–). Don Grayson (Archaeology) is acting Chair of the Quaternary Research Center while I’m away.
Best wishes,
Eric Steig

Hureceived an out-of-office reply from Mann as follows:

Hu To: mcculloch.2@osu.edu
Subject: Re: Comment on serial correlation in Steig et al 2009
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:53:36 -0500 (EST)
From: mann@meteo.psu.edu (Michael Mann)
I will be away from my email through March 16, 2009.
Any email sent before then may remain unread and be discarded. If your message
is important, you will need to resend after that date.

Notwithstanding this caveat, this does not preclude Mann processing his inbox shortly after March 16. An RC reader grasps at this particular straw arguing that this exonerates all the Steig coauthors.

Before considering their defence of Steig, let me review their previous defence of Gavin the Mystery Man, originally discussed here here. I had noticed curious properties in the Harry station in Antarctica, which were subsequently identified as resulting from the splice of two different stations. Based on information provided at Climate Audit, Gavin Schmidt spent his Sunday night determining that Harry had been spliced with Gill and notified the British Antarctic Survey (but not GISS) of the error. By the next morning, BAS had erased the incorrect series used in Steig et al, adding one further difficulty to replication of this study. Gavin said that a mystery scientist had “independently” discovered the problem and notified BAS.

Gavin stated:

It would have been nice had SM actually notified the holders of the data that there was a problem (he didn’t, preferring to play games instead). If he hadn’t left it for others to work out, he might even have got some credit ;)

and :

People will generally credit the person who tells them something. BAS were notified by people Sunday night who independently found the Gill/Harry mismatch. SM could have notified them but he didn’t. My ethical position is that it is far better to fix errors that are found than play around thinking about cute names for follow-on blog posts. That might just be me though. – gavin]

and:

I’m sure BAS are grateful that someone told them about the data mess up – it just didn’t happen to be SM.

After being outed as his own “Mystery Man”, Gavin stated:

i) discovering that Gill was mismatched with Harry was found independently by at least three people (SM, myself, and a poster on CA). ii) the source of the confusion was indeed found and not given to me by anyone else, iii) we are all dependent on many things, including that SM had alluded to data problem at Harry – I don’t see anywhere that I denied this. And BAS were notified by ‘people’ (plural) – not just by me. – gavin]

An RC reader asked:

So let me get this straight, Gavin. You found the very same problem that SM alluded to, on the very same day he did, with no direct or indirect input from CA? Is this correct?

Gavin:

[Response: Huh? Let's try again. He alluded to an unspecified problem, and I looked into it. I found the source of the problem with no further input from anyone. This isn't that complicated. - gavin]

I refer to the Gavin and the Mystery Man episode to demonstrate what Gavin’s idea of discovering a problem “independently” meant. It meant reading comment threads at CA, where issues were being discussed openly, spending his Sunday evening trying to figure out where we were going and notifying the British Antarctic Survey the next morning before we woke up.

This also needs to be borne in mind when Real Climate authors claim to be unaware of posts at Climate Audit. Obviously this isn’t the first such incident. Various changes were made at the Mann et al 2008 Supplementary Information responding to CA comments, without citing CA. On Feb 26, Hu McCulloch posted on Steig’s failure to allow for serial correlation in their confidence interval calculations (even though they had said that they had done so.) The recent Steig corrigendum made precisely the same correction – without acknowledging McCulloch.

RC acknowledged Hu’s priority, but stated that Steig became aware of the error “independently”.

This brings us to the recent claim by Hu McCulloch that a post on ClimateAudit.org, detailing an error in Steig et al’s paper in Nature on Antarctic temperature change, was not given due credit by Steig et al. when they published a Corrigendum earlier this month. In this case, McCulloch’s comment on the paper were perfectly valid, but he chose to avoid the context of normal scientific exchange — instead posting his comments on ClimateAudit.org — and then playing a game of ‘gotcha’ by claiming plagiarism when he wasn’t cited.

McCulloch accuses Steig et al. of appropriating his ‘finding’ that Steig et al. did not account for autocorrelation when calculating the significance of trends. While the published version of the paper didn’t include such a correction, it is obvious that the authors were aware of the need to do so, since in the text of the paper it is stated that this correction was made. The corrected calculations were done using well-known methods, the details of which are available in myriad statistics textbooks and journal articles. There can therefore be no claim on Dr. McCulloch’s part of any originality either for the idea of making such a correction, nor for the methods for doing so, all of which were discussed in the original paper. Had Dr. McCulloch been the first person to make Steig et al. aware of the error in the paper, or had he written directly to Nature at any time prior to the submission of the Corrigendum, it would have been appropriate to acknowledge him and the authors would have been happy to do so. Lest there be any confusion about this, we note that, as discussed in the Corrigendum, the error has no impact on the main conclusions in the paper.

RC’s arguments here raise a couple of issues.

They concede that the “first person” to make Steig et al aware of the error deserves acknowledgement. However, they did not say who that “first person” was nor is another “first person” acknowledged in the post in question. OK, I’ll bite. Who was the first person to make Steig et al aware of the error in the paper? Who is this mysterious person, unacknowledged in the Corrigendum?

Was it another “independent” discovery by the International Man of Mystery?

Update: In the first comment below, a reader observes that Steig said in an RC comment:

In any case, I had already recognized the error in our paper before I heard anything about McCulloch.

This could be interpreted as meaning that Steig suddenly realized that they had goofed in their Nature paper and that there was no “first person”. However, I don’t think that it precludes the possibility of him being alerted to the problem by a non-McCulloch first person, perhaps even by the International Man Of Mystery. Steig could easily clarify this. If he suddenly realized the problem all by himself, I, for one, would be interested in knowing what led him to this sudden realization after the months of article preparation, discussion and peer review.


53 Comments

  1. conard
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In a reply to comment #2 at realclimate: Dr. Steig identified the error.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: conard (#1),
      I’ve added a reference to this point at the end of the post. As noted there, I don’t think that this language precludes notification by a non-McCulloch first person as opposed to a sudden epiphany to Steig. But I understand your interpretation, which is also possible. As mentioned in the note, under the circumstances, I’d be interested in the background to Steig’s epiphany,

  2. TAG
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Isn’t the nub of Steig’s point found in this section:

    it is obvious that the authors were aware of the need to do so, since in the text of the paper it is stated that this correction was made. The corrected calculations were done using well-known methods, the details of which are available in myriad statistics textbooks and journal articles. There can therefore be no claim on Dr. McCulloch’s part of any originality either for the idea of making such a correction, nor for the methods for doing so, all of which were discussed in the original paper

    Is this statement accurate. Did Steig et al inidcte that corrections for autocorrelation was needed but did not do it on the data presented in the Nature paper?

    Steve: Yes. ONe of their captions represented that there had been a correction for autocorrelation, but it hadn’t actually been done. Hu made no claim to “originality” – that is a total red herring by the Team. He merely observed that their actual Figure was not done using the represented method. Their Corrigendum adds that the error doesn’t “matter”. However, it makes a noticeable change to the appearance of the relevant SI Figure, which they ought to have re-issued, but failed to do.

    • TAG
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: TAG (#3),
      Steve: Yes. ONe of their captions represented that there had been a correction for autocorrelation, but it hadn’t actually been done.

      Then thy had committed a very serious and germane error. They should have thanked Dr. McCuloch for his assistance.

      This is an admission of a serious error. I do not see how they can chaacterize it in any other way.

  3. TAG
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Is the Steig apologia also the first time that ClimateAudit has been mentioned in Realclimate.

    I also noticed that even in their whingeing rationalization they mischaracterized what McCulloch did. They condemn him for not notifying anybody but neglect to mention that he had emailed them directly. The correction for this error is made in a comment with the mainline posting still not corrected to acknowledge this very serious error even at this time.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: TAG (#4),

      A question: when an automated out-of-office email is sent, does that mean that Steig never got the email? Or that it was sitting in his Inbox until he returned.

      If I were away for a month, I’d still go through my email when I got back.

      • TAG
        Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Steve McIntyre (#7),

        Even if they had missed the original Email (sent to all authors), Dr. McCulloch claim contains a description of the Email and the other steps that he took. They are aware of Dr. McCulloch’s claim so their omission of the Email cannot be excused by a claim of ignorance

  4. jryan
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Would that fall into the long list of problems that the Hockey Team feels are too small to care about?

  5. TAG
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This is what 6 is supposed to look like if I could type.

    Steve: Yes. ONe of their captions represented that there had been a correction for autocorrelation, but it hadn’t actually been done.

    Then thy had committed a very serious and germane error. They should have thanked Dr. McCuloch for his assistance.

    This is an admission of a serious error. I do not see how they can characterize it in any other way.

  6. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As you point out, the peer reviewers of Steig, et. al. failed to notice the lack of allowance for auto-correlation. Now we all know peer-review isn’t as rigorous as something like an audit, but shouldn’t the people selected as reviewers have enough statistics savvy to have caught this slip-up?

    Maybe there needs to be some sort of online reviewers check-sheets where the PRer can see whether s/he has considered such things. Airplane pilots have things of that sort so they won’t overlook something by accident. I’d think the occasional reviewer would like having something tangable to look through to make sure a workmanlike effort had been made.

  7. Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think the timing of the realization is important as well. There wasn’t a lot of time between when the paper was released and Dr. McCulloch made his post. So did the paper sit through several months of pre-publication review without the error being noticed and then in the month or so after the release after everything settles down the light bulb goes off right before Doc Hu sends his email? We all know the CA post is the real date of notification as this is Gavin’s second favorite blog.

    I remember some strong reactions by Doc Steig before any real criticisms were made and I also have a good memory of a less than honest comment saying “all of the code has been released” and take my Matlab course despite the fact that this is one of the chunks of code we were requesting. A typcial response would have been enough code is available for a professional to replicate but that’s NOT what was said–AT ALL. He actually took the position the code didn’t exist, how crazy is that.

    Perhaps this known error is the reason the code wasn’t released after all.

    On another point, it seems odd to me that the statistical portion of the paper that is so important to the conclusion, missed using any correction for autocorrelation. This isn’t a minor shoulder shrug detail by any stretch. If it was discovered part way through review, you wouldn’t want to make the call and say um Dear Nature, it looks like our confidence interval on that little um …slope thing, might be well…..a tweak underestimated.. um well…two tweaks actually…

    There would be some pressure to wait and uncover the messup later.

  8. Odd Man Out
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 1:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The timing is certainly interesting. The letter was submitted in January 2008, underwent peer review for 10 months, and is then published January 2009. So there’s almost a year as reviewers go over it, presumably asking questions or for clarification, during which the authors must respond and revise but never think about the autocorrelation problem. The letter is published. Sometime in the next month, Steig realizes they’ve got it wrong. He’s commenting regularly on realclimate when asked questions about the paper on two threads up until 4 February, and there is one mention of autocorrelation by a commenter on the 27 January. Steig leaves for Antarctica on or about the 6th. McCulloch emails him and gets an auto-response three weeks later.

    Give him some credit. One stray remark might have had him thinking while flying south.

    OTOH it took six months for Nature to publish the corrigendum. I wonder when Nature got the corrigendum.

  9. Terry
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A comment at RC that will never see the light of day, I’m betting. (I can say this in confidence, because Dr. Steig is on record as never reading CA):

    Good on you for finding the bad math shortly after publication and for getting the corrigendum in Nature barely half a year later. You may want to revisit the Harry splicing as opposed to the “mislabeling” statement (not that it affects the conclusion), but I’m sure that has been in the works and you knew that the corrigendum needed a corrigendum weeks ago.

  10. dunbrokin
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The first thing people abandon in defence of their ideology is their principles.

  11. Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Actually, this is the auto response I got from Dr. Steig.

    Hello,

    I am in Antarctica until the middle of March. I will have email access via satellite, but text only is permitted, and 30 kB maximum file size. Please do not write except for essential matters. The email address is posted on my website at the University of Washington. Any issues pertaining to the lab should be directed to Andrew Schauer (contact information at —–). Don Grayson (Archaeology) is acting Chair of the Quaternary Research Center while I’m away.

    Best wishes,

    Eric Steig

    I wiped out the contact info for robot spammers.

    Steve: Hu’s message was 6K.

    • Armand MacMurray
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Jeff Id (#15),
      Even though Hu’s message was 6K, the wording in Steig’s auto-reply indicates to me that he had a separate email address in Antarctica. That latter address had the 30k limit, and Steig’s normal email would NOT be auto-forwarded to that address. Thus, unless Hu *resent* his email to that Antarctic address, Steig would not have received Hu’s email until he got back, assuming that email to Steig’s normal address received while he was gone was retained.

  12. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In any case, I had already recognized the error in our paper before I heard anything about McCulloch.

    And this is exactly what I predicted that Steig would say some days ago. Some people are soooo predictable…. *sigh*

    Some say he can “accumbularate”, that he appears on Japanes banknotes…all we know he’s called…The Steig (only for Top Gear viewers ;) )

  13. KevinUK
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    Why do I have feelings of deja vu here?

    Didn’t a certain person who shall remain nameless say that he had tested his proxy reconstruction for its robustness against the removal certain bristlecone pine series from his reconstruction? Didn’t the same person, then inadvertent and rather sloppily (and very embarrassingly for him) forget to set the right permissions on the CENSORED folder on his FTP server (just like a certain ‘not so good Wizard’ did recently). Didn’t this same person then shut his stable door (as the Wizard did recently) after his horse had already bolted?

    Perhaps the good Dr Steig suffers from the same ailment as his fellow Team Member Dr Mann does and thought he’d fully allowed for auto-correlation, only to realise later that he hadn’t when he was asked whether he had or not by his fellow Team Member , the International (non NFL fan) Man of Mystery?

    If we are lucky Dr Steig attended the same Unix/Linux course as Drs Phil, Mike shortly and we’ll get to find his ‘Oops i forgot’ folder in which we’ll find evidence that Dr Steig knew full well that when fully allowed for auto-correlation his claims were adversely affected so he decided to state that he had but actually he hadn’t? Then along came Dr Hu and a thread on the subject in CA and surprise, surprise he suddenly remember his mistake? Does this all sound rather familar? I thought so!

    KevinUK

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hu’s email to the Steig coauthors is here. Steig was not the only recipient. All Steig authors were copied – Stieg, D Schneider, Rutherford, Mann, Comiso and Shindell.

    Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:51:44 -0500
    To: steig@ess.washington.edu, dschneid@ucar.edu, srutherford@fox.rwu.edu,mann@psu.edu, josefino.c.comiso@nasa.gov,Drew.T.Shindell@nasa.gov
    From: Hu McCulloch
    Subject: Comment on serial correlation in Steig et al 2009

  15. Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry to spam the post Steve but there’s a detail I just noticed.

    Had Dr. McCulloch been the first person to make Steig et al. aware of the error in the paper, or had he written directly to Nature at any time prior to the submission of the Corrigendum, it would have been appropriate to acknowledge him and the authors would have been happy to do so.

    Steig agrees Hu should be credited if he contacted Nature rather than all the authors. So there’s some kind of secret handshake process to be appropriately credited! He wrote to ALL of the authors, none of whom replied. That doesn’t count for sufficient notification of the authors. WTF! Nature would have just contacted them anyway.

    This is about as ridiculous as it gets.

  16. Terry
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 2:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ah, what a pleasant Friday eve – Dr. Steig posted and responded to my comment. You’ll have to go there to see him call me a fool, but in case it doesn’t make it through moderation, here is my follow-up:

    Dr. Steig:

    I read this from the corrigendum:

    We also note that there is a typographical error in Supplementary Table 1: the correct location of Automatic Weather Station ‘Harry’ is 83.0° S, 238.6° E. The position of this station on the maps in the paper is correct.

    Isn’t the topic about the relative weight we should place on blog postings vs. published letters and papers?

  17. dearieme
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    We must all be grateful that we are not dealing with an International Man of Mendacity.

  18. Andrew
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I can’t believe that nobody has made a joke about The International Mann of Mystery yet!

  19. steven mosher
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Regardless who found the error one would think that civility would have required some response to Hu mail.

    Dr. H.M.

    Thanks for the note, in our post publication review of the paper we noted
    the same error

  20. Raven
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Left this comment on RC:

    So Eric,

    If you don’t read your e-mail and don’t read blogs that you know are looking at your work then how do you expect people to inform you of issues which they don’t feel there is a need to submit a formal comment to the journal? Would a phone call be sufficient or is it necessary to send notice by registered (snail) mail?

  21. StuartR
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 3:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    After first seeing Antarctica shown red on the cover of Nature I didn’t immediately get a subscription to Nature to find out what it meant, but rather decided to follow as best I could the level of detail that underlined it on CA and RC (Air Vent too). This is fascinating. The original simplistic story over the shocking redness of Antarctica isn’t a shade on the underlying story of the human interactions.

    Looking at Eric Steig’s response to the second comment on RC, saying that he had recognised the error before being alerted by Hu McCulloch, seems fair enough, how can anyone gainsay that? It’s the implicit appeal to Hu McCulloch to agree to a knowledge of Eric Steigs aversion to reading CA that seem intriguingly unnecessary.

    Keep up the auditing.

  22. PaulM
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s bizarre that they accuse Hu of “avoiding the context of normal scientific exchange” when that accusation should in fact be addressed to the six authors of the paper who did not reply to his email.
    Here’s what I just posted at RC, which may slightly increase its chance of getting through the censor wall, though Steig declares (ha ha) that he doesnt read CA.

    PaulM says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    14 August 2009 at 4:56 PM

    Huh? McCulloch did not avoid normal scientific exchange. He emailed all six authors. He received no replies except for two automated ones. It is the six authors of the paper who chose to avoid normal scientific exchange.

  23. Antonio San
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From Real Climate:

    [Response: Unless they had another agenda of course. For his part, McCulloch has acted very professionally and, in response to my letter to him explaining the actual sequence of events, has withdrawn his accusation.--eric]

    So we need to hear from Hu McCulloch here don’t we?

  24. Puzzled
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Question: In what sense does this (somewhat tedious) discussion constitute a “Climate Audit”. All seems a bit petty and personal to me… Hey ho, but there’s another Mann paper to spout ill-informed nonsence about, so lets move on :-)

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Puzzled (#30),

      Question: In what sense does this (somewhat tedious) discussion constitute a “Climate Audit”. All seems a bit petty and personal to me… Hey ho, but there’s another Mann paper to spout ill-informed nonsence about, so lets move on.

      No puzzle, Puzzled. An iconic paper that was featured on the cover of Nature contained an error which I think most of us would say was an indication of sloppy work. The CIs for the trends in Antarctica is what the paper was about and thus the hellish red colors on the Nature cover. Those CIs were said in the paper to be corrected for AR1 and they were not. Hu M pointed this out to Steig. He also pointed to it after the belated admission of the error to assure that it was found independently and some time before the public admission.

      The puzzle to me, Puzzled, is why did it occur, get by the peer reviewers and take 5 months for the error to see the public light of day.

      By the way, I am not at all puzzled by your reaction, Puzzled.

    • John F. Pittman
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 5:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Puzzled (#30),

      “”Hey ho, but there’s another Mann paper to spout ill-informed nonsence about, so lets move on “”

      Perhaps, you are premature. IMO, the most glaring problem is the comment by the author that

      While I regret that the published version of the paper didn’t include such a correction, it is obvious that I was aware of the need to do so, since in the text of the paper we state that we did in fact make this correction.

      This means that there is an unresolved standard in the peer-reveiwed literature. In reference to close to or null values, it has been accepted, at least by the team that the term “not inconsistant with” is the proper term. Further although claiming signifigance when a zero slope is not, nor is the slight warming for the first third of the determined relationship an inconsiderable amount of the claimed warming potential, the authors in the Corrigendum state

      The corrected confidence levels do not change the assessed significance of trends, nor any of the primary conclusions of the paper.

      However, one of the main claims from the paper

      Here we show that significant warming extends well beyond the Antarctic Peninsula to cover most of West Antarctica, an area of warming much larger than previously reported. West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1 6C per decade over the past 50 years, and is strongest in winter and spring.

      I am puzzled too. To date with the Steig et al claims, they knew that they had a null and/or low value that should have been labeled “”not inconsistent with”” or they wrote their conclusions before they knew what the answer was?!?

      It appears that the illformed nonsense we spout is due to the illformed nonsense we have read.

  25. Osynlige Mannen
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is of course the possibility that the team was well aware of this long before Dr. McCulloch sent the e-mail. They may have been aware of it even before they submitted the original paper.

    • kim
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Osynlige Mannen (#31),

      Yes, ignorance or disingenuousness; better to admit the former. But what about Nature and its peer reviewers. Scandalous. So, what else is new?
      ========================================

  26. Osynlige Mannen
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hockey is a vicious game.

  27. Terry
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So…

    When someone posts a correction via a blog – and e-mail – it doesn’t count. (the autocorrelation, non-accredidation corrigendum).

    When a correction is acknowledge via a blog it should suffice for disclosure in the corrigendum. (Harry spliced with Gill vs. “a typographical error in the location of Harry”).

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Or at the very least take his matlab class.

  28. Pete D
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 6:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Notwithstanding the “audit” issues of this topic.

    99.9 percent of people (in general, not readers of this blog) would have no idea what correcting for autocorrelation means, or whether, let alone how, it was done, or if it is important. Or what it was for. Not being trained in the field, and I stupidly like to think I’m not stupid, I just read the Wiki page on it. To be honest, I’m still not that much wiser. So perhaps I really am stupid. As far as many people are concerned, that it was not done is “not important”, according to climate scientists, is enough to push it off our radar. (If it wasn’t important, why mention you were going to do it? Never mind.)

    When I read extracts or articles on these kinds of specialist subjects in depth my response often falls into one of three areas: smells right, smells wrong, no idea. (I resist “over my head”.) Sometimes I completely get it.

    I also have the underlying belief that if a proposition is counter-my-intuitive it’s not necessarily wrong, just “probably”, based on my own experience. For example I understand that the (adjusted, corrected, massaged, what-ever) temperature records say there is warming since 1850, but I’m not confident of the quality of the data, let alone the corrections made, especially when those corrections are guarded as being IPR. Doesn’t smell right. Could be, but case not proven.

    I tend to trust the word of people, like Steve M, that don’t hide behind phrases like “available in myriad statistics textbooks and journal articles” to avoid disclosing what they’ve actually done to data, as these basically mean “someone’s published something somewhere that backs up some of what I’m saying. Probably.” (The probably was… unnecessary. I’m not teaching people how to suck eggs here, although I find they’re better with the chicken poo washed off…)

    Unfortunately (for most of us) Steve has a tendency to report his conclusions in non-lay-mans terms and often leaving conclusions to be drawn. He lays out the flaws for all to see (provided they have a clue what they’re looking at). I understand. It’s better than spending your life in court. Many of the commentators jump on how devastating his remarks are. The rest of us are wondering where that draught on top of our head came from. (All the windows and doors were shut.)

    For some time it’s been clear that if you are in receipt of government (particularly UK, US?) grant funding (any government?), “climate science” isn’t about gathering or presenting objective data, it’s about how you manipulate/massage/clean up/correct data to show the “right” point of view.

    To progress my understanding, and as I have some time now, I would welcome suggestions as to where I should start reading to eliminate the “no idea” above in statistics when presented with bare-faced guff, without having to do a masters degree. TIA all. Thanks Steve.

  29. Pete D
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What? No “awaiting moderation”?

  30. Puzzled
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You guys (lucia excepted, she’s serious) are funny. Try taking a step back and see what your comments look like to an outsider. Responses above no exception. Anyway, enough from me: I’m off to dispute Relativity with a remnant of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

    snip -

    • Arn Riewe
      Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 7:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Puzzled (#39),

      Sounds like Puzzled has dismissed us! I for one will miss his inquiring mind.

  31. Pete D
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 6:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    By report his conclusions I mean his analysis.

  32. A concerned MET student
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 7:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This article is what has me glad that I haven’t gone on to pursue continuing meteorological related educations at uw, osu, or even the u of utah. I sensed a greater direction that lacks higher principles in motion while in school earning a BS. Not something I wanted to partake in, regardless of monetary gain.

  33. Ron
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 8:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Puzzled, when you say, “Anyway, enough from me: I’m off to dispute Relativity with a remnant of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.”, I’m inclined to think you really mean it. Enjoy your trip.

  34. Calvin Ball
    Posted Aug 14, 2009 at 8:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve always PUZZLED over people who drop into a blog, and start talking about “you guys”, as if this is some sort of frat. It’s a BLOG, visited by all manner of different characters. It’s not a frat, and it’s not a conspiracy, and it’s not a submarine full of spies.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Aug 15, 2009 at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Calvin Ball (#45),

      What’s really funny is that people that think the rhetoric here is harsh merely show how unaware they are of what really goes on on the internet. This is by far the most civil site I’ve ever frequented and that includes messages which are subsequently snipped. For people to be so isolated that they can say,

      Try taking a step back and see what your comments look like to an outsider.

      with a straight face is hilarious. It’d be interesting try a “scavanger hunt” on several websites to see what sort of put-downs could be found.

      • Dan White
        Posted Aug 15, 2009 at 2:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Dave Dardinger (#49),
        What’s really funny is that people that think the rhetoric here is harsh merely show how unaware they are of what really goes on on the internet.

        My reaction is to replace the word “internet” above with “climate science.” It’s just completely ridiculous what someone with an honest interest in the science has to put up with.

  35. Justin Sane
    Posted Aug 15, 2009 at 1:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So just to clear this up, all of the Peer reviewers also didn’t pick up on the error during their reviews?

    Shows how diligent they review papers from ‘there’ side, while rejecting valid counter point articles for the flimsiest reasons. In fact I think they make them up without regard to content or authors.

  36. DJA
    Posted Aug 15, 2009 at 3:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The University of Washington has a webpage on plagiarism, it states “Note: The guidelines that define plagiarism also apply to information secured on internet websites. Internet references must specify precisely where the information was obtained and where it can be found.”
    Just Google “plagiarism Washington University”
    whats good for the Graduates should be good for the professor!

  37. Craig Loehle
    Posted Aug 15, 2009 at 7:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps anyone who ever posts at CA gets their name added to the Team spam folder list and so none of them saw Hu’s email? That is the only excuse for NONE of the coauthors notifying Steig of the error.

  38. JustPassing
    Posted Aug 16, 2009 at 2:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Who is The Steig?

  39. Dominic
    Posted Aug 16, 2009 at 3:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In my days as a theoretical physicist, I recall reading papers where the authors would acknowledge at the end of the paper that a simultaneous and independent discovery of a result had been brought to their attention at some point before the publication of their paper. Such practices of politeness and respect were deemed important and were enforced by the senior scientists in the field who valued the importance of integrity and openness. Those who broke the rules damaged their reputations. It seems to me that there are few such senior and respected role models in climate science – just a lot of young guys in a hurry.

  40. jae
    Posted Sep 3, 2009 at 8:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    LOL. It’s deja vu all over again for the (nth) time! Yogi has to be laughing, wherever he is!

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] to acknowledge McCulloch and that the Steig coauthors would have been happy to do so. (See here and here .) Had Dr. McCulloch been the first person to make Steig et al. aware of the error in the [...]

  2. [...] to acknowledge McCulloch and that the Steig coauthors would have been happy to do so. (See here and here .) Had Dr. McCulloch been the first person to make Steig et al. aware of the error in the [...]

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