Stephen Schneider

Stephen Schneider was only a few years older than me and his death seems all too early.

I had a fair bit of contact with him by email in 2004. He seemed very cheerful – a characteristic that I respect – and certainly much more likely to be good company than the fellow climate scientists that I was then encountering – a point that Ross and I discussed at the time. Schneider recalled the exchange in his recent book – a recollection that, unfortunately, was totally inaccurate.

My original contact with Schneider came in the wake of MM2003. He had severely criticized Energy & Environment for not letting Mann review our 2003 article. In keeping with that premise, he asked me to review a 2004 submission to Climatic Change by Mann et al responding to MM2003 – consistent with his public representations. It seemed to me that there was an inherent conflict of interest in such a review but this was obviously known to Schneider and I attempted to separate out my interests as a disputant from my obligations as a reviewer as much as possible.

At the time, I was very fresh to academic exchanges – this was long before Climate Audit. I’d never reviewed an academic article and my approach was informed by ideas of due diligence that were not then characteristic of academic peer reviewing. In my capacity as a reviewer, I asked to see supporting data for Mann’s supposed rebuttal to MM2003 – the topic of his submission – and to see source code to document his allegations that we’d supposedly made grievous mistakes in implementing his methodology – again an important aspect of his submission. (BTW this was all shortly after our 2004 submission to Nature.)

Schneider replied that he had been editor of Climatic Change for 28 years and, during that time, nobody had ever requested supporting data, let alone source code, and he therefore required a policy from his editorial board approving his requesting such information from an author. He observed that he would not be able to get reviewers if they were required to examine supporting data and source code. I replied that I was not suggesting that he make that a condition of all reviews, but that I wished to examine such supporting information as part of my review, was willing to do so in my specific case (and wanted to do so under the circumstances) and asked him to seek approval from his editorial board if that was required.

This episode became an important component of Climategate emails in the first half of 2004. As it turned out (though it was not a point that I thought about at the time), both Phil Jones and Ben Santer were on the editorial board of Climatic Change. Some members of the editorial board (e.g. Pfister) thought that it would be a good idea to require Mann to provide supporting code as well as data. But both Jones and Santer lobbied hard and prevailed on code, but not data. They defeated any requirement that Mann supply source code, but Schneider did adopt a policy requiring authors to supply supporting data.

I therefore re-iterated my request as a reviewer for supporting data – including the residuals that Climategate letters show that Mann had supplied to CRU (described as his “dirty laundry”). The requested supporting data was not supplied by Mann and his coauthors and I accordingly submitted a review to Climatic Change, observing that Mann et al had flouted the new policy on providing supporting data. The submission was not published. I observed on another occasion that Jones and Mann (2004) contained a statement slagging us, based on a check-kiting citation to this rejected article.

During this exchange, I attempted to write thoughtfully to Schneider about processes of due diligence, drawing on my own experience and on Ross’ experience in econometrics. The correspondence was fairly lengthy; Schneider’s responses were chatty and cordial and he seemed fairly engaged, though the Climategate emails of the period perhaps cast a slightly different light on events.

Following the establishment of a data policy at Climatic Change, I requested data from Gordon Jacoby – which led to the “few good men” explanation of non-archiving (see CA in early 2005) and from Lonnie Thompson (leading to the first archiving of any information from Dunde, Guliya and Dasuopu, if only summary 10-year data inconsistent with other versions.) Here Schneider accomplished something that almost no one else has been able to do – get data from Lonnie Thompson, something that, in itself, shows Schneider’s stature in the field.

It was very disappointing to read Schneider’s description of these fairly genial exchanges in his book last year. Schneider stated:

The National Science Foundation has asserted that scientists are not required to present their personal computer codes to peer reviewers and critics, recognizing how much that would inhibit scientific practice.

A serial abuser of legalistic attacks was Stephen McIntyre a statistician who had worked in Canada for a mining company. I had had a similar experience with McIntyre when he demanded that Michael Mann and colleagues publish all their computer codes for peer-reviewed papers previously published in Climatic Change. The journal’s editorial board supported the view that the replication efforts do not extend to personal computer codes with all their undocumented subroutines. It’s an intellectual property issue as well as a major drain on scientists’ productivity, an opinion with which the National Science Foundation concurred, as mentioned.

This was untrue in important particulars and a very unfair account of our 2004 exchange. At the time, Schneider did not express any hint that the exchange was unreasonable. Indeed, the exchange had the positive outcome of Climatic Change adopting data archiving policies for the first time.

To further evidence Schneider’s lack of objection to my conduct as a reviewer at the time, a year later, Schneider invited me once again to act as a reviewer, this time as reviewer of Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007. Needless to say, this once again featured heavily in the Climategate letters. Its story was nicely told by Andrew Montford as “Caspar and the Jesus Paper” – an account that preceded the Climategate Letters. In this case, the experience was not as cordial. (Schneider’s cancer had been reported publicly just before the invitation to review Wahl and Ammann, but I was unaware of his illness until his death.)

Once again, the role of a reviewer was an odd one due to the conflict of interest. Again, I tried to separate as much as possible my adverse interest as someone being criticized from my obligations as a reviewer. In this case, there was much in Wahl and Ammann that could be objectively criticized. (e.g. the check-kiting of Ammann and Wahl, submitted to GRL and rejected, and the later replacement of all references to this article by a later article, Ammann and Wahl 2007, not even submitted as at the time of the supposed acceptance of Wahl and Ammannm which was in the last few hours of the last day, with the references to the still unaccepted and soon rejected Ammann and Wahl companion paper very much a loose end.)

Climategate documents show that Phil Jones was also a reviewer of Wahl and Ammann, observing:

This paper is to be thoroughly welcomed and is particularly timely with the next IPCC assessment coming along in 2007.

My review was less positive. Schneider terminated me as a reviewer and I didn’t have much further correspondence with him. I did write to him recently pointing out that, although I was included on his blacklist of scientists who had signed various petitions that he disapproved of, I had not actually signed any of the petitions. He replied, in effect, that the public blacklist at Anderegg’s website differed from the private blacklist used for the PNAS article and that I had not been included in the private blacklist, as though that resolved the matter.

Schneider repeatedly invoked medical metaphors in order to urge deference by the public to climate scientists.

In one of his last statements, he said:

It is completely inappropriate, if there’s an announcement of the new cancer drug for pediatric leukemia [with] a panel of three doctors from various hospitals, to then give equal time to the president of the herbalist society, who says that modern medicine is a crock. They wouldn’t even put that person on the air, so why put on petroleum geologists—who know as much about climate as we climatologists know about drilling for oil—because they’ve studied one climate change a hundred million years ago?”

In his recent book, he made a similar point:

If all scientists are created equal, then all MDs are likewise equivalent. So I’ll ask my podiatrist to prescribe my heart medicine and ask my cardiologist – who hasn’t touched a scalpel in 30 years – to take off my bad toe nail. My point, of course, is that these are not climate experts, as they do not represent a community expert in the details of climatology. A petroleum geologist can no more tell us about cloud feedback than a climatologist could competently tell us about oil reserves(p. 146.)

Nonetheless, in his own valiant battle against his disease, Schneider did not passively accept dicta from authority, but sought to understand the details as best he could, describing himself as “The Patient from Hell”:

To increase the odds against the disease, mantle cell lymphoma, Dr. Schneider, 60, involved himself in every aspect of his treatment. How he pushed his doctors to experiment with new techniques to control the cancer is the subject of a book he has just completed, tentatively titled “The Patient From Hell: Getting the Best That Modern Medicine Can Offer.” Da Capo Press/Perseus is to publish it in the fall.

As I noted above, at his best, Schneider was engaging and cheerful – qualities that I prefer to remember him by. I was unaware of his personal battles or that he ironically described himself as “The Patient from Hell” – a title that seems an honorable one.

35 Comments

  1. Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    http://nigguraths.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/stephen-schneider/

    Regards

  2. Bernie
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Steve, please snip if you judge this to be out of line – as if I have to say it.

    At this moment it is hard to know what to say about the prolific and omnipresent Prof. Schneider. Others who have had professional disagreements with him have also noted his cheerfulness and energy. His battle with cancer was inspiring – a bit like the Last Lecture and Andy Grove’s story of fighting Protrate Cancer. He was clearly a man of strong beliefs. However, your story and the NPR interview suggests another and less attractive side to his personality. Equally puzzling, for an apparently knowledgeable statistician, is the acceptance of fuzzy math and dubious confidence intervals.

  3. Dave L.
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    So there are two blacklists?

    Steve: Apparently. Closely related.

    • Dave L.
      Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

      That is disturbing. Patrick Michaels wrote a column last week in the WSJ wherein he included a paragraph about how difficult it had become to publish articles on global warming that were “nonalarmist” in peer reviewed journals. Perhaps the blacklists are making the rounds.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575356611173414140.html?KEYWORDS=patrick+michaels

    • Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

      Cheerful, engaging and maintaining a private blacklist which he was kind enough to let you know didn’t contain your name, without seeking to remove it from the public list that did. Only a “serial abuser of legalistic attacks” would wish to speak ill of such greatness, which did so much to make ‘climate scientist’ all it means in the common mind today.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

      The real question is — are the two black lists independent? If they are, then neither list could possible be wrong since they were arrived at independently yet come to essentially the same conclusion. Ergo, each list, in itself, is robust, and together, both lists reinforce the conclusions of the other. QED.

      Steve: they are not independent. They are both Anderegg’s. It’s bizarre that the public blacklist is not the same as the blacklist used in the PNAS article.

  4. timetochooseagain
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    I have never agreed with a single word that I’ve heard Schneider utter, but I wish the best for him and his family. The end of anyone’s life is a sad thing.

  5. MikeN
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    I always wondered how you could criticize authors for reviewing papers critical of their work, when you did the same.

    Steve: The idea of reviewing in a conflict situation (or when there is a positive bias) seemed very odd to me. One faces conflict situations in business on occasion. Disclosure is mandatory. You also need to remember which hat you’re wearing. On the two occasions that I did so for Schneider, I was very conscious of the conflict inherent in the relation and the conflict was known to the editor. I tried very hard to separate my duties to the journal as reviewer from my perspective as being criticized and kept my comments as factual as I could. I think the GRL approach ( asking for comment) is better than the Schneider approach of asking for review and would recommend this to the journal if the situation arose again.

  6. Robert E. Phelan
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    Condolences to the Schneider family. He was, apparently, a man of parts and complexities. Death is neither indictment nor vindication but rather an opportunity for the survivors, friends and opponents alike, to reflect. There is now a hole in the world where once a man stood.

  7. Mescalero
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

    snip – enough on the blacklists. They’ve been amply discussed.

    • Mescalero
      Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

      Excuse me sir! The black lists have yet to be discussed in the kind of detail that concerns those of us in the technical community who really care!!

  8. Hank Henry
    Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

    snip – go easy with the editorializing please

  9. Duster
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    The loss of an opponent is often a greater loss in some ways than that of a friend. Friends and colleagues all too often are too like minded to offer intellectual challenges to one’s ideas. This appears to be the chief malady of the AGW version of climate science. The only real satisfaction in science is when an opponent says, “you were right.”

  10. Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 4:26 AM | Permalink

    possibly Steve’s last public speech

    http://paintingtochangetheworld.com/Index/JUNE12Schneider.html

  11. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 5:11 AM | Permalink

    The long and didactic story behind the cryptic words “Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007″ would mean little to us without the scholarship of Steve Mc. It rather puts the lie to the inability of a mining statistician to contribute meaningfully to other disciplines. Thank you, again.

  12. John Wright
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 5:12 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I can understand your attitude when dealing with an opponent who behaves as honourably as you do, but being “chatty and cordial” in his dealings with you whilst stabbing you in the back in the mails I find profoundly shocking and unacceptable behaviour from anyone whether that person is now either living or dead. Moreover my impression is that in asking you to write those reviews he set a trap, giving you a false sense of security and making you that more vulnerable to the character assassination practised by the cabal.

  13. Richard Tol
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    I fondly recall Steve Schneider as someone with a great intellect and strong opinions — in that order: he would change his mind if you would offer him an argument he had not considered before (but that was unlikely as he was so very smart).

    Reproducibility is a core characteristic of science. As an editor, I reject any paper if there is reason to assume that the authors are hiding something. As a referee, I recommend rejection on those grounds. I regret that I have to disagree with a great man like Steve Schneider on these things.

    Steve: My experience with Schneider’s editing of Wahl and Ammann was, in that sense, very disquieting. I’ve got posts recounting this experience and correspondence in detail. Wahl and Ammann had issued a press release saying that all our results were “unfounded” – a release relied on by John Houghton in testimony to the US Senate. They failed to report verification r2 scores – a large point of controversy at the time. As a reviewer, I asked that this be disclosed (knowing that their code proved our results). They refused, citing the companion paper Ammann and Wahl as authority – even though this companion paper had already been rejected. In my review, I objected both to the refusal to provide verification r2 results – something at issue on several counts – and the shall-we-say lack of candour in citing the rejected as Ammann and Wahl as supposed authority. Schneider backed them up in the refusal and terminated me as a reviewer on the basis of irreconcilable differences, though, on the points at issue, my position was objectively valid in review terms, notwithstanding the conflict. Schneider accepted Wahl and Ammann on IPCC’s last day – within a few hours of the deadline – even though the resubmitted Ammann and Wahl had not been accepted. Ammann and Wahl was rejected a couple of weeks later. Schneider then shall-we-say co-operated with Wahl and Ammann in the re-submission and acceptance of an “Ammann and Wahl” submission to Climatic Change and the replacement of all citations to the rejected GRL paper with the submission to Climatic Change with a seemingly identical citation. Perhaps this sort of thing is common practice in academic circles, but it gives a very offputting impression to those of us familiar with contracts, tenders and public markets.

    • adamskirving
      Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

      In danger of piling on here, but that is a masterpiece of balancing diplomacy and honesty, compromising neither.

  14. Henry chance
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    “A serial abuser of legalistic attacks was Stephen McIntyre a statistician who had worked in Canada for a mining company.”

    This is an attack. Usually gentlemen don’t attack in books or in writing because the attacks aren’t removable.
    Welcome to the world of CPA audits. All the code and all the data is required for auditors to complete an audit. Enron is a case that explains why all means all.
    I am sure General Electric in it’s annual report wouldn’t claim the CPA’s were “serial abusers of legalistic attacks”.Their tax return is over 24,000 pages and the IRS can examine every fact and ALL the supporting documents.
    On August 4, 2009 the SEC fined General Electric $50 million for breaking accounting rules in two separate cases, misleading investors into believing GE would meet or beat earnings expectations.
    Would climate pretend science be the same if there were fines for sharing misleading forecasts?

  15. Richard Tol
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    @Steve
    We all make mistakes. Steve Schneider published a paper by Hans-Martin Fuessel that grossly distorts my work without giving me the right to reply. I let it be because no one believes Fuessel anyway. Nonetheless, I have interacted with Schneider for many years, in many ways, on many issues: He was a great man.

  16. MattE
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    The most problematic part of Schneider’s medical analogies (having a cardiologist remove a toenail), is that it cuts against Mann, et al, as well. Climate reconstruction is a statistical problem. My understanding is that few or none of the ‘Team’ are well trained statisticians. Thus, their initial ‘operation,’ (the hockey stick) is exactly a case of a cardiologist removing a toenail. Schneider was unwilling or unable to consider this.

    Steve: I’d be more inclined to describe it as a homeopath carrying out heart surgery.

  17. Pat Frank
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    Your experience with Steven Schneider reminds me that one should never confuse charming with friendly. Steven Schneider was charming toward you, Steve. His unfair attacks show he was never friendly.

  18. Pat Frank
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    The problem with Steven Schneider’s medical analogies is illustrated by the fact that one can equally well ask a cardiologist, a neurologist, or an otolaryngologist whether it’s advisable to treat gout with Glauber’s Salts.

    They’ll all know the correct answer because the question concerns basic medical practice that transcends every specialty.

    There are problems and practices that supervene any one branch of science and are common to all of them. These include how data are used, whether the uncertainties are fairly represented, whether the integrity of the scientific method is honored, and so forth. The problems found in AGW-bent climate science are of this sort. Any scientist, certainly, and any informed person in practice, is qualified to evaluate and comment upon such problems.

    Steven Schneider’s analogies fail because they hew to specificities that are not at issue; straw men, in other words. He was being tendentious.

  19. chris y
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

    Steve- Thank you for this post. This quote from Schneider’s book is particularly interesting-

    “A petroleum geologist can no more tell us about cloud feedback than a climatologist could competently tell us about oil reserves(p. 146.)”

    snip – policy

    Finally, cloud feedback is a curious choice for his comment on commenting. Climatologists are still struggling with the sign, let alone magnitude, of cloud feedback. Even the IPCC holy writ admits that understanding of cloud feedback is very low.

  20. Harry Eagar
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    Schneider’s book is self-contradictory, especially in the chapter that concerns McIntyre. It repays careful reading.

    As for expertise, ‘Science as a Contact Sport’ says that Schneider was trained as a plasma physicist and got interested in climatology and learned everything there was to know about it — to the extent that he was able to correct the fundamental approach of conventional climate scientists — in a period of about 4 months.

    So I suppose Mr. McIntyre might have learned something about the subject in 8 years.

    The most shocking thing about the book, however, was Schneider’s statement that none of his computer simulations could ever be replicated by others because of ‘unrecorded subroutines.’

    There was much more, which I touched on (though not exhaustively) in my review of the book. I concluded that he was a an example of what Langmuir called ‘pathological science.’

    I am a newspaper reporter and have learned to be wary about charming people. Not all charming people are con artists, but all con artists are charming people.

    • anonym
      Posted Jul 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

      Oh, come now. The imperative to defer to specialist authority doesn’t really apply to those of us with a doctorate in physics! It’s just that it would be impolite to say this in so many words.

  21. klee12
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    Schneider wrote <>

    Let me make the case that the situation is different with climate science in general.

    Climate science is a relatively new branch of science and it is relatively easy for an intelligent person trained in another field science to make contributions. I would say that climate science is as mature as computer science was 30 (or X, pick a number > 20) years ago. I was trained in physics and math; I ended up in computer science. Many of the old names in computer science came from physics and chemistry (I think). My knowledge is not broad, probably many new PhDs know lots of things that I don’t know, but I was able to write papers in computer science journals. I don’t think I could have picked up enough chemistry to publish in chemistry in a reasonable amount of time. Chemistry is more mature and there is more to learn.

    Steve McIntyre’s had a strong background in statistics and auditing (from finance). I assume he had to pick up knowledge about tree rings and reconstructing temperature. But I the earliest climate scientists like Schneider himself did not go to school and get a PhD in climate science, they learned stuff on their own. By the way, I don’t recall McIntyre commenting on climate forcing and other areas of climate science.

    A second point is that McIntyre did publish two articles in the climate science (and also asked to review papers) so he is obviously not just a petroleum engineer.

    klee12

    Steve: nor am I a “petroleum engineer”.

  22. klee12
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    Ooops the quote in the last post didn’t show up. It should have been


    why put on petroleum geologists—who know as much about climate as we climatologists know about drilling for oil—because they’ve studied one climate change a hundred million years ago?

    Sorry

    klee12

  23. Dave L.
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps you have covered these details elsewhere, but your discussion above contains some real “eye-openers”.

    First:
    “Schneider replied that he had been editor of Climatic Change for 28 years and, during that time, nobody had ever requested supporting data, let alone source code, …”
    Second:
    “Schneider stated:
    The National Science Foundation has asserted that scientists are not required to present their personal computer codes to peer reviewers and critics, recognizing how much that would inhibit scientific practice.”

    Schneider was a very influential person. Could he have been a major instigator of the NSF position above? Does this NSF policy statement still stand?

    Steve: I doubt that there really is such a policy statement. I think that this is based on nothing more than an email by David Verardo of NSF backing Mann in a refusal in late 2003, but I suspect that this may not have been based on agency policies as much as regulators too close to the regulated. The Team seized on this letter as broad-based authority for obstruction.

  24. harvey
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    thanks for deleting my comments steve.
    Points out what kind of an asshole you really are.
    may you and your decendents rot in hell.
    when you get to the pearly gates, and you have to justify your life,
    how will you do it? IMHO you are one of the most corrupt persons on this globe.
    May you rot in hell.

    Steve: and he complains about being snipped.

  25. harvey
    Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

    Steve schneider RIP
    for all my attempts
    Steve M wont let me.
    *sigh*

    yes my last post was antagonistic, but steve did not let go the others that were more humanistic.
    what are you steve?
    Reminds me of Hitler.

  26. Richard Tol
    Posted Jul 22, 2010 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    Methinks that St Stephen’s comments on permissible expertise can more constructively used on Jim Hansen — who is an atmospheric chemist but likes to talk about ice sheet dynamics and energy policy.

  27. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 22, 2010 at 5:20 AM | Permalink

    Richard Black BBC is on the CAGW media blitz as well

    A Stephen Schnieder piece, which ends up linking scepticism to an extremist group..

    That was a choice.

    He could have equally linked a postive story, with Anthony Watts, Steve Mcintyre, Bishop Hill, etc, respectful stories regarding Schneiders death, and written a positive story, following many MAINSTREAM sceptical/pro people meeting at the Climategate (Guardain) debate and all having drinks together afterwards.

    Yet, chooses some group, I’d never heard of, with some extreme commemnts in it’s forums.. As if the extreme /left eco type groups, don’t have some nutters, in their forums as well..

    And I being too sensitive, about the BBC? I expect better from them.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/07/i_didnt_know_stephen_schneider.html#comments

  28. Barry Woods
    Posted Jul 22, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    oh, I forgot, Richard Black (BBC) uses a three month old stormfront story, in his linking it to climate scepticism, and Stephen Schneiders death.

  29. Posted Jul 26, 2010 at 4:25 AM | Permalink

    Schneider: “The National Science Foundation has asserted that scientists are not required to present their personal computer codes to peer reviewers and critics, recognising how much that would inhibit scientific practice.”

    Why? Firstly, in climate science the computer models are the equivalent of the experimental procedures of a chemist, or physicist. The explanation, sharing and vetting of these experimental procedures is as much a part of the experiment verification and reproduction as the actual data used, resulting or measured.

    Secondly, there are numerous ways to introduce calculation errors into computer code that to the layman (and by that I mean any scientist who is not a computer scientist) otherwise appears correct. In fact in computer science we have an entire sub-specialisation called numerical analysis that deals with algorithm designs that minimise these errors, and why certain other designs maximise these errors. While these errors are generally grouped as rounding errors, it is important to understand that the real number set on all binary computers is full of uneven holes in the sequence.

    Thirdly, there is the straight and most common group of mechanical coding errors – loops that terminate early or late, unhandled data or type errors that do not break the programme, increments that occur after or before they should, assumed right to left stacking order in parameter call by-value execution, when left to right has actually been implemented by the compiler in use.

    I am a computer scientist and the idea that any twit can write a reliable program infuriates me and insults my profession. Computer science is a highly skilled discipline in its own right, and like statistics, econometrics, etc, etc, requires specialists with the right skill set to vet the work of other “non-specialists”.

    In computer science we share algorithms and the code to implement them – so should everyone else that thinks they can write a program.

    Is it typical of climatologists to think that they can range across everyone else’s profession and not account for their work to that profession? Just because someone does a semester at Uni. in stats or C or FORTRAN does not begin to make them an expert in those sciences.

    Absolutely the computer code should be supplied to reviewing scientists. It make no difference whether it is commented or not – a computer scientist reads software code the way a poet reads a poem, or an accountant reads a set of financial statements: the code is a story. I for one could careless whether they have it commented or not. Lack of comments is not an excuse – but it does tend to suggest probable design errors.

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] McIntyre on Stephen Schneider Posted on July 20, 2010 by Anthony Watts An except from his full detailed post at Climate Audit [...]

  2. [...] from S. Fred Singer (who evokes the quote mine while avoiding actually quoting it). Compare that to Steve McIntyre, who – as is typical for that site – manages to insinuate fraud without actually using words that [...]

  3. [...] Anthony Watts copies-and-pastes a post by the thin-skinned curmudgeon Stephen McIntyre, who complains that Climatologist Stephen Schneider, the editor of the journal Climatic Change who recently [...]

  4. [...] timing suggests that “Reviewer A” may well have been Steve McIntyre who, recounted the following, shortly after Schneider died in 2010: [Schneider] asked me to review a 2004 submission to Climatic [...]

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