Remember Gavin’s Taunts about Steig et al 2009?

On January 27, 2009, a few days after Steig et al 2009 was released to fawning international coverage, Gavin Schmidt at RC here claimed that the critical commentary on the paper had been “remarkably weak” and demanding that this “supposed demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy” get some media attention:

All in all, the critical commentary about this paper has been remarkably weak. ..

The poor level of their response is not surprising, but it does exemplify the tactics of the whole ‘bury ones head in the sand” movement – they’d much rather make noise than actually work out what is happening. It would be nice if this demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy got some media attention itself.

Even for realclimatescientists, Gavin’s taunts about being unable to deconstruct Steig in 4 days seem vainglorious. At the time, Steig’s data was mostly unavailable and the method obscure. Gavin’s taunts definitely contributed to interest in Steig et al by the critical blogs and a series of technical posts on Steig et al 2009 soon starting appearing at CA (see tag Steig, The Air Vent and Lucia’s (Ryan O.)

Despite the efforts of Reviewer A, four authors from critical blogs managed to run the gauntlet and publish both an improvement and refutation of Steig et al 2009. An improvement in the sense that the PC retention policy of Steig et al 2009 lacked any foundation and smeared Pensinsula warming into West Antactica. A refutation in the sense that the distinctive claims of Steig et al 2009 ( as compared to predecessor views of Monaghan for example) about West Antarctica are shown to be an artifact of their methodology.

Schmidt’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” seems, in retrospect, a little premature. In Gavin’s words, it would be “nice” if this got a “little media attention”.

109 Comments

  1. Steve Reynolds
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I also remember my attempts to discuss Ryan O’s early work on this being repeatedly censored at RC and subsequent complaining about that censorship getting me banned from RC.

  2. Luis Dias
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No no no no no. The problem is that you try to spin this as a refutation when even the author himself advised against this, and this advice is peer-reviewed, dotchaknow? Steig was not refuted, and if you check RC’s graph, it is quite obvious that these ridiculous skeptics are fighting over straws, for it is plainly visible that antarctica is still warming up pretty badly (don’t you see the bloody RED?). Considering all this, why should anyone take you seriously? We all know that the mainstream science is always right, so to claim that it has been refuted is obviously inconsistent. Improved is the only approved word. And until you refuse to reword your statements, you’ll be rightly ignored as a paranoid buffoon.

    • DEEBEE
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Luis was that last sentence self-referential?

    • Richard Sharpe
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Luis, what a wonderful parody of climate science you have produced. Well done. You have hit all the anti-science points.

      I approve!

    • theduke
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Ryan O’Donnell, the author whose name Luis Diaz apparently cannot remember wrote the following in defense of Anthony Watts’ use of the word “rebuts” in the header of his thread on the paper:

      \\The paper is a rebuttal insofar as the specific methodology used by S09 is concerned. While I do feel that S09 made an honest – and quite clever – effort to reconstruct Antarctic temperatures, there are two unquestionable mathematical errors (S09 never properly calibrate the 1982 – 2006 portion of the principal components and allow the principal components to influence the estimation of ground station data). The former error has a material impact on the results. In addition, S09′s use of a heuristic thumbrule to determine the truncation parameters without investigating whether that thumbrule could be effectively applied in this case is another decision that should be rebutted in the peer-reviewed literature to prevent future misuse. The decision to predict the principal components without physical constraints provided by the satellite data was another suboptimal choice (though not an “error”). These points are specifically rebutted in the paper. In fact, these points are the whole reason the paper was written. The subsequent improved reconstruction exists only to show the magnitude of the effects of the errors and suboptimal choices. There is nothing inconsistent between “rebuttal” and “improvement”. //

      My dictionary defines “rebut,” as follows: “to contradict, refute, or oppose, especially in a formal manner by argument, proof, etc.”

      • theduke
        Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

        My post was written in case Luis Dias was not being facetious. It’s hard to tell these days.

        • Luis Dias
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

          I understand your gripes, Poe’s law an all ;)

        • theduke
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

          The five “no(es)” at the beginning should have alerted me. Good one.

    • Jeff C.
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting that the Team appears to concede O’Donnell is an improvement, and are reduced to arguing it generally confirms Steig’s results. During the hockey stick debate, there was constant bluster that their methods weren’t understood, the wrong data was used in alternate reconstruction, or that criticisms raised were “bizarre”.

      Perhaps the Team learned a lesson from Climategate. I’m more inclined to think Dr. Steig is actually a decent guy and wasn’t willing to follow the team’s previous M.O.

      • Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

        He’s having a bad couple of weeks but I think you are right, he’s a decent guy. I hope the group is more careful with their revolutionary results in the future but at least one of the coauthors of S09 hasn’t learned. Just a little engineering QC and they would have been forced to look deeper.

      • mark t
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

        “Decent” people show decency without having their hands forced. Decent people concede when they are wrong and do not try to spin it as if they were basically confirmed. Steig has done none of this.
        Mark

        • Luis Dias
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

          Exactly. When I read his comment over at the air vent, basically manipulating Ryan’s assertion that this should be viewed as an improvement of Steig in order to attack McIntyre on the spot, and this was practically his first reaction to the thing, seemed everything except good faith.

          Good will made Ryan O Donnell state that friendship remark, as a humble refusal to hummiliate Steig. It was the human thing to do. If Eric was also a respectable gentleman, he would have declined the refusal, and concede the refuted main points of S09. He chose not to do so, and instead wrote a childish sarcastic post in RC, basically portraying McIntyre as a paranoid insane individual who can’t even recognize the brilliance of S09, which wasn’t refuted, merely improved by O’Donnell 2010.

          Perhaps it was the “climate” over at the team who has “spoiled” the man, I don’t care. They believe in no conceding an atom, no ceding one inch of any argument. They do this to stop any kind of narrative like “the skeptics won this or that”, and in the meantime, gentlemanship is utterly lost.

          Well if that’s the case, good riddance.

        • Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

          As lame as it sounds, everyone’s point of view makes sense. Steig’s biggest paper took a shot to the you know what’s so he’s naturally defensive. We’ve all been beat down with endless BS in the process(especially the bloggers) so we’re naturally sensitive to the BS. At least in my case the crap flew both ways ;) It was extremely frustrating with this paper in the beginning, Steig’s work could have been completely correct, but the more we dug the more stuff we found. Anyway, that’s all in the past and perhaps we won’t need to go through so much stuff in the future.

          I still can’t help but think that the pressure/concern over the blogs reaction to a rejection may have helped this along.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

          I think that it was more likely Climategate than the blogs. Our comment on Santer was pre-Climategate and the reviews reflected Team conduct at the time.

        • Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

          That was my thought as well, which I mentioned on the other thread.

        • mark t
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

          I don’t share your hope, at least, not with The Team. Their opposition to all things contradictory is rooted too deeply, IMO. Others in the field may begin to come around ala Judith Curry since they cannot all be like this (my hope, I guess.) For that matter, others in the field may already be (probably are) the types science needs them to be, they just don’t have the same voice. Rather, if The Team’s influence begins to wane, the saner voices may begin to prevail which will have the same effect. Decent people do not like to hitch their wagons to those with questionable decency, even if it is to their benefit to do so.

          I am more than willing to be proven wrong regarding The Team, however, as it is to our collective benefit in the pursuit of the truth (as well as can be determined.)

          Mark

  3. Hector M.
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Any reaction to the new paper in Climate Science blogs? It has been only a few days, so silence does not mean that a groupthink policy is again in place imposing “deafening silence” and “refusal to mention or discuss” as the sole response. I hope Steig and his collaborators will want to publish comments or rebuttals. On the other hand, hoping for a recant or a serious discussion of the technical issues in RC is, IMHO, a bit too much.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The paper hasn’t even been released by the journal yet. No explanation forthcoming.

      • Robinson
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 9:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

        They are probably waiting for the hastily assembled team rebuttal paper and will publish them together, somewhat muddying the waters. Call me cynical…..

        • Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

          It is possible.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

          That might explain the silent swagger – they figure they’ve got a rebuttal to the O Donnell refutation. If so, then I can’t wait to see the ratio of rhetoric to reason.

  4. bender
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    All in all, the critical commentary about this paper has been remarkably weak. ..

    The poor level of their response is not surprising, but it does exemplify the tactics of the whole ‘bury ones head in the sand” movement – they’d much rather make noise than actually work out what is happening. It would be nice if this demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy got some media attention itself

    Speaking of weak commentary …

    Translation:
    “The critics may be right on this one, but so what? That the bulk of Antarctica is not warming doesn’t mean global warming theory is wrong. These critics are pretty smart. They should try to help us figure out why the peninsula and the cap exhibit such strong differences. Because once we figure out what regulates natural climatic variability we’ll be in a much better position to estimate GHG contributions to warming, which are pretty uncertain, as Kevin Trenberth voluntarily admitted in one of the climategate emails.”

    • curious
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

      bender – I’m not crossing swords with you here but I think “translation” isn’t accurate. It should be “ought to read” – absobloodylutely – what is going on with the peninsular? Why is it so clearly different? And yet the debate is squished into arguing about whether or not the reported trends are representative of the whole/half the continent and where the border is. Trends where the confidence interval is nigh on the size of the trend itself! And is still in 1dp per decade over the 50years we’re looking at and we have no historical benchmark agreed for comparison. AFAIK. YMMV. etc.

      (btw – good to see you back, my beverage moment trend has already shown an alarming jump. May or may not be an all time high as my record keeping isn’t what it should be).

      • Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: curious (Dec 11 13:40),

        Hmm, curious, looking at the geography, I’d say that’s the wrong question. My null with respect to the rest of Antarctica would be why wouldn’t it be different.

        I would expect the peninsula to have different weather from the bulk of the continent simply by its location. The tip is apparently closer to the Falkland Islands than it is to the pole (that is, Point Barrow, AK is further away from the equator than the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula is, From different weather you get different climates. Shift the wind speed and direction on the peninsula and you will get a different trend from the rest of Antarctica.

        • curious
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 6:04 PM | Permalink

          Different weather pattern yes, but long term (50yr) elevated warming trend? – I don’t know.

          My reading of it is that the peninsula shows a consistent warming trend. To my simple mind this suggests a net positive input of heat. Given the debate of Antarctica is currently being driven by the notion that there is CO2 induced global warming and that the poles should be showing “polar amplification” I’d say it is interesting that the bulk of the continent is near as dammit flat trendwise yet the peninsular warms. So as a simple inquiry I wonder where is this consistent net positive heat coming from over the period of the reconstruction? If it were CO2 why isn’t the whole region showing it? If it’s not CO2 what is it? My null hypothesis is things don’t warm up without a reason. As a first step to investigating the reasons behind this differential warming the difference needs to be recognised. If the debate stays in the (IMO sterile) “it’s the whole continent”, “it’s not the whole continent”, “it’s half the continent” argument then I don’t see how the interesting apparent reality of the difference in the peninsula results will be investigated. Maybe the answers to this are already out there and sea temps etc. for the 50 year period for reconstruction all explain this, or wind patterns or whatever. Maybe the answers will be in the paper. Is the apparent warming an artifact? Is it an instrumentation/methodology issue? Please point me to a source and I’ll be happy to read. I keep an eye on the blogs but miss lots. Thanks.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

          Natural variability in the circumpolar ocean current – which affects the peninsula strongly, but actually serves to isolate the continental pole from the peninsula, both weather-wise and climate-wise.

          Ocean fluid dynamics are slow. A 50-year anomaly is not a “trend” when you’re talking about the ocean.

        • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

          Re: bender (Dec 14 10:21), Thank you bender!

          Gong back to school next spring :) in software architecture.

        • curious
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

          Yes agreed – IMUO entirely possible and plausible especially given the historical context. However my impression is that we don’t have reliable sea temp data for this area, and over this period, which can get us much further – is this correct? Or is there anything else you know of which can help demonstrate this? I’d expect that the warmer waters would make a dent on sea ice extent but, from posts over at tAV, I don’t remember this showing up as being the case? Apologies if this is heading too far OT but I do think the peninsula diference is one of the interesting things OLMC10 highlights.

        • curious
          Posted Dec 21, 2010 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

          For info – Current post from WUWT re: Antarctic sea ice extent:

          http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/21/sea-ice-news-32-southern-comfort/

    • Scott Brim
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: bender (Dec 11 13:20), Speaking of weak commentary …

      From Bender’s translation of RC’s criticism: “ …. Because once we figure out what regulates natural climatic variability we’ll be in a much better position to estimate GHG contributions to warming, which are pretty uncertain ….”

      Focusing on the phrase “what regulates natural climatic variability”, is it possible to state that within some range of temperature values, apparent changes in the earth’s global mean temperature could be the result of system drift from the current long-term GMT trend, drift which has no identifiable driving mechanism whatsoever?

      If this is so, if a long-term trend in GMT can drift within certain temperature ranges, but with no identifiable driving mechanism whatsoever being present to cause that drift, is it possible to state with any reasonable assurance what the temperature range of the system’s inherent drift might be?

      This is a question Dr.Koutsoyiannis might also be interested in discussing, if he is following this particular CA thread.

      • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Some comments:

        1. Even if we “figure(d) out what regulates climatic variability”, I doubt if we would able to accurately estimate GHG contribution to warming.

        2. Certainly all processes that regulate weather variability, also regulate climatic variability: because climate is a long-term (say 30-year) average of weather and because in a Hurst-Kolmogorov climate, the variability of a 30-year average is roughly equal to that of an annual average in classical statistics that people are familiar with (see e.g. Fig. 5 in “Uncertainty assessment of future hydroclimatic predictions: A comparison of probabilistic and scenario-based approaches”, http://itia.ntua.gr/en/docinfo/728/).

        3. In addition, processes of hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, as well volcanoes and solar processes, also regulate climate.

        4. With all these processes alive, how could one think that climate could ever be static? How can we be puzzled by climatic variability? How can we be as ambitious as to predict climate or separate the influences of different factors.

        5. Why are we so reluctant to accept long-term variability in time, while we are so familiar with and accept that in space (e.g. the presence of mountain ranges and plains in earth terrain). With reference to Fig. 1 in “Two-dimensional Hurst-Kolmogorov process and its application to rainfall fields” (http://itia.ntua.gr/en/docinfo/1101/, just today accepted for publication), would the top or the bottom panel make a realistic landscape? Why then, when substituting time for space, do we usually reverse our expectation about what is realistic?

        • bender
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

          Why are we so reluctant to accept long-term variability in time

          With Scott Brim having created a communications loop based on my words, I am obliged to close it by clarifying that when I refer to “natural variability” I am talking about the intrinsic variability that one expects from a HK 3d coupled OA (see paper above). So I am not amongst those that is “reluctant to accept long-term variability in time”. When I refer to “regulation” I am not referring to external forcings, but rather intrinsic dynamics, and in particular hydrodynamic convection. It is in some respects “wild”. But in other respects “regulated”. I wouldn’t read too much into those terms.

          Remember the context here is warming of the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. Is this symptomatic of a global meltdown? Or is the Antarctic ocean doing something very interesting that we haven’t observed before in detail?

        • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          Dear bender, thanks for the clarification and sorry if I obstruct you to close the loop. When I say “we [are] so reluctant” I do not refer to /you/. My feeling is that “we” includes very-very many of us. Doesn’t the term “climate change” give away an aspiration of a “static climate”? Most are satisfied by an agent called CO2 to explain change, but trying to replace it with another agent may not be quite a difference. In this respect, I wished to remind the very many factors producing change or variability, and to argue that separation of their effects (also separation of producing and regulating factors) may be pointless.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

          Volcanoes might have an effect too,

          snip – no volcanoes please. Not an issue.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted Dec 15, 2010 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

          Respectfully, I don’t understand the moderation. Is this a stats-only thread?

          curious: “My reading of it is that the peninsula shows a consistent warming trend. To my simple mind this suggests a net positive input of heat.”

          bender: “Natural variability in the circumpolar ocean current – which affects the peninsula strongly, but actually serves to isolate the continental pole from the peninsula, both weather-wise and climate-wise.”

          bender: “Remember the context here is warming of the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. Is this symptomatic of a global meltdown? Or is the Antarctic ocean doing something very interesting that we haven’t observed before in detail?”

          These are discussions of physical aspects of the Antarctic system. The link between sub-glacial heat flux and surface temperatures may be remoter than that between atmospheric currents and surfact temps., but I don’t see how volcanoes are not an issue (to the point of curtailing any discussion of it). Concerns over glacial melting and sea level rise are what made S09 prominent in the first place.

          To provide a possible partial answer to bender’s question above :
          Corr and Vaughan (2008): “Unlike the East Antarctic ice sheet, which lies on generally aseismic continental crust that shows little volcanic activity, the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) lies over a crustal rift that has volcanism on its flanks and associated elevated geothermal heat flux.”

        • bender
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

          Dr K,
          Are all hydrometeorological processes ergodic? How about ocean thermal convection?

        • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

          Perhaps the question is whether the models we use for these processes are ergodic or not. Mine are (how could I infer statistics from time series otherwise?). About ocean thermal convection: sorry, I am not an expert.

        • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

          Ah, a man who knows what he doesn’t know. He should be watched :)

        • UC
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

          Why are we so reluctant to accept long-term variability in time, while we are so familiar with and accept that in space

          Because Hockey Stick says that all we have is AR(1)+CO2 + astronomical cooling ( http://climateaudit.org/2010/02/03/the-hockey-stick-and-milankovitch-theory/ ) , nothing in between.

      • Scott Brim
        Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

        A note of thanks to both Dr. Koutsoyiannis and to bender for responding to my question.

        • Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

          Seconded. The difference in the amount one learns as a lurker from such honest, expert interaction compared to the taunting style the thread began by drawing attention to is again worthy of note.

  5. curious
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As Luis says “No, No, No, No!”

    Steve – you must be talking about a different “Gavin”? From comment 2 on the RC thread on O’Donnell et al:

    “….I won’t be holding my breath for Gavin admitting he was wrong.

    [Response: Gavin is not wrong very often. Nor in this case!--eric]“

    • Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Some of the quotes from the press releases back then are even worse.

    • mark t
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yet, somehow, this guy is decent?
      Mark

  6. pax
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, the O’Donnell et al paper will sure see some media attention. Not.

  7. Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Schmidt’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” seems, in retrospect, a little premature. In Gavin’s words, it would be “nice” if this got a “little media attention”.

    Yeah. Good luck with that….

  8. Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 3:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So. It’s been four days since you posted the data. Obviously, Gavin et al have had more than enough time to refute your findings.

  9. Tom C
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 6:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If I remember right, there is another element to the backstory that has been overlooked so far. A few months before Steig et. al. appeared there was a blog controversy, mainly between Roger P Jr. and realclimate, I think, about whether antarctic cooling was “consistent with models”. There was a realclimate post that made that claim and got the thing rolling. For once, though, there seemed to considerable pushback from blogosphere types that were normally sympathetic to realclimate dogma. In short, the consistent with models trope didn’t work this time. But, deus ex machina, Steig et. al. appears and now to hell with “consistent with models”; even antarctica is warming. Steig et. al. was necessary to save the narrative and wiggle out of an embarrassing episode.

  10. Luis Dias
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    To be fair, antarctica cooling is consistent with models. The problem seemed to be that before Steig 09, its cooling was consistent. Then with Steig09, it was also consistent with models. I recall Lucia and Pielke making fun of this “consistent” narrative. But as long as antarctica isn’t making something rather bizarre, like warming up faster than the models predictions or cooling faster than the “consistent” bars, gavin had it right.

    • Ryan O
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Luis, you might want to perform a bit more research before making statements such as these. A cooling Antarctic is definitely not consistent with the models, though it is consistent with some theories concerning how the ozone hole affects weather patterns there. However, the models do not incorporate these theories. I will refer you to Chapman and Walsh (2007) and Connolley and Bracegirdle (2007) for starters.

      • Luis Dias
        Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I will take your advice, Ryan, thanks.

      • TAG
        Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Gavin said that a cooling Antarctica was consistent with the models.

        In that sense the models are consistent with reality; it is just that in that way, they are useless.

        • Ryan O
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 8:20 PM | Permalink

          He said lots of things while this was going on. ;)

          [Response: I'm not sure this is true. In the environment that climate studies find themselves, putting out anything that is functional but poorly written simply invites politically motivated attacks on the quality of the code. You can see from this week's shennanigans that anything is fodder for those attacks, and so in many ways legitimate scientists face a damned if you do/damned if you don't dilemma. It is actually not surprising that many opt out. - gavin]

          (In reference to Pat Michaels) [That would be different to an advocacy scientist who will say anything, however contradictory and misleading, in order to come to exactly the same conclusion every time]

          (Response to me, my bold) [Response: We have a situation where we don't have complete information going back in time. The information we do have has issues (data gaps, sampling inhomogeneities, possible un-climatic trends). The goal is to extract enough information from the periods when there is more information about the spatial structure of temperature covariance to make an estimate of the spatial structure of changes in the past. Since we are interested in the robust features of the spatial correlation, you don't want to include too many PCs or eigenmodes (each with ever more localised structures) since you will be including features that are very dependent on individual (and possibly suspect) records. Schneider et al (2004) looked much more closely at how many eigenmodes can be usefully extracted from the data and how much of the variance they explain. Their answer was 3 or possibly 4. That's just how it works out. The fact is that multiple methods (as shown in the Steig et al paper) show that the West Antarctic long term warming is robust and I have seen no analysis that puts that into question. You could clearly add in enough modes to better resolve the peninsular trends, but at the cost of adding spurious noise elsewhere. The aim is to see what can be safely deduced with the data that exists. - gavin]

          (Response to me, my bold) [Response: You appear to under some mis-apprehension here. Neither the PCA nor the RegEm methodologies know anything about physical location. Thus any correlation between stations, or similar weightings for a particular mode occur because there are real correlations in time. There can be no aphysical 'smearing' simply because of physical closeness in the absence of an actual correlation. Higher order modes are not distinguishable from noise and so shouldn't be used (whatever the cut-off point), but the remaining modes define the spatial scales at which the reconstruction is useful. And that is roughly at the semi-continental scale in this case. Making strong statements about smaller regions would not be sensible, though the pointwise validation scores in held back data given in the supp. mat. indicate that there there might not be much of a problem. - gavin]

          (Response to me, my bold) [Response: But what's your null hypothesis here? That temperatures at a location must be gaussian? That they have no auto-correlation? Why? There is nothing magic about 3 PCs - they were chosen based on the prior analysis of Schneider et al. Nothing much is going to change with 4 or 5 - and how much variance to they explain in any case? - gavin]

          Note: You can get the vast majority of our results with just 5 eigenvectors. ;) http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/t/

          (Reponse to me, my bold) [Response: Fair enough, but that just gives a finding that there is "a significant difference in the means" over some time period. Your interpretation assumes that there is some expected distribution of what this should be in any particular reconstruction and that must depend on the temporal auto-correlation of the time-series among other things. Wilcoxon also does not tell you how big the deviations are. The fact is that the number of retained PCs above two doesn't impact the long term trends (for instance, for the AWS reconstruction the trends in the mean are -0.08, 0.15, 0.14, 0.16, 0.13 deg C/dec for k=1,2,3,4,5). - gavin]

        • Ryan O
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

          Also – this was on March 3, 2009 – in response to this statement from Gavin:

          “The fact is that the number of retained PCs above two doesn’t impact the long term trends (for instance, for the AWS reconstruction the trends in the mean are -0.08, 0.15, 0.14, 0.16, 0.13 deg C/dec for k=1,2,3,4,5).”

          my statement was this:

          This makes no statement on where those trends occur – which is how this latest discussion started. The aggregate measurement is similar. The geographic distribution of those trends may not be. I haven’t run it myself, but I’d be willing to bet that the geographic distribution changes significantly as higher-order PCs are included.

          For those who wish to try to re-write history by saying we were hunting for cooling (or something else), I was very clear 2 years ago that the key point of contention – and the one I was planning to investigate – was the geographical distribution of trends.

          That was the final post in this thread:

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/02/antarctic-warming-is-robust/comment-page-8/#comments

        • Ryan O
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

          I also said this, on that same date (March 3rd, 2009):

          All of the provided recons, when compared to each other gridpoint to gridpoint (or, for the AWS and ground station comparison, station location to the corresponding gridpoint in the satellite recon), show differences in the means that are statistically unlikely if they were due to chance alone. The shape of the curve of differences is easily associated with geographical location. In other words, the geographic distribution of temperature change differs between the two satellite recons (minor), either satellite recon and the AWS recon (major), and either satellite recon and the manned station records (major).
          .
          As a finer point, one could potentially assume that the satellite recons are correct and it is the station records that are incorrect. However, this requires that the ground station records within specific geographic regions all evolve incorrectly in the same manner. This is entirely implausible.
          .
          The plots of the differences in means are not random. They are so not random that I was able to group the manned stations with 10+ years of data and all of the AWS stations from the AWS recon (a total of 79 stations) simultaneously into 6 geographically distinct regions by curve shape alone with only 1 incorrectly placed station (I had placed D-47 in an adjacent region). The differences are not due to ground instrumentation error. They are solely a function of the lack of geographical resolution in the satellite recons.
          .
          The comment about whether 3 or 4 PCs would have changed anything is irrelevant. The only relevant question to ask is “How many PCs would be required to properly capture the geographic distribution of temperature trends?” with the followup question of, “Does this number of PCs result in inclusion of an undesirable magnitude of mathematical artifacts and noise?”
          .
          If the answer to the followup is “yes”, then the conclusion is that the analysis is not powerful enough to geographically discriminate temperature trends on the level claimed in the paper. It doesn’t mean the authors did anything wrong or inappropriate in the analysis (I am NOT saying or implying anything of the sort). It simply means that the conclusion of heretofore unnoticed West Antarctic warming overreaches the analysis.
          .
          In answer to your question about how much variation they need to explain, that is entirely dependent on the level of detail they want to find. If they wish to have enough detail to properly discriminate between West Antarctic warming and peninsula warming, then they must use an appropriate number of PCs. If they wish to simply confirm that, on average, the continent appears to be warming without being able to discriminate between which parts are warming, then the number of PCs required is correspondingly less.

          No Matlab classes required. ;)

        • steven mosher
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ryan O (Dec 11 20:30),

          I hope they regret that matlab statement.

          There is one thing that gavin and others dont quite get about engineers.

        • Steve Fitzpatrick
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

          Mosh,
          Not just engineers… trained technical people in general. Suggest smart people they are stupid (typical RC blather) at your peril.

        • Jeff C
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

          What, that we’re obsessive, over-analytical, have no life or social skills, and if you question our intelligence it will turn into a fixation akin to that of Inspector Javert from Les Miserable? And we will continue to fanatically pursue that fixation at the expense of our family, our job, and ultimately our personal health? And if it were up to us, nothing is complete until it’s perfect and won’t be delivered until a program manager finally rips it out of our hands?

          As an engineer, I would say that pretty well describes us.

        • Steve Fitzpatrick
          Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

          Yup, that about sums it up.. but not just engineers.

        • curious
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:54 AM | Permalink

          Jeff C – as I recall you were the one who put the legwork in on the deconstruction of RegEMs internal structure? I thought it was cool at the time. I also saw recently on another thread that you’d had some good family news wrt your son. That’s cool too – hope all continues well.

          (No comment on the personality profile… :-))

        • Jeff C
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

          Thanks curious. After my son regressed in autism, we were told there was nothing we could do except behavioral therapy. The science was settled, so to speak. Turns out they were full of it and he suffered from chronic protein maldigestion and malabsorption. Once we eventually figured it out, he responded immediately to treatment and is now fine. I shudder to think what may have happened if we had listened to these medical “experts”.

          Just as with Steig 2009, the internet age allows reasonably intelligent people to quickly do their own research and verify pronouncements that don’t appear to pass the smell test. I can only imagine how this must threaten the self-appointed establishment.

        • curious
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

          Jeff C – that’s great news. If you have any good quality links/refs on the issues you have investigated wrt autism I’d be grateful to receive them. Perhaps you could post them on unthreaded? Thanks c

        • Ryan O
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

          I echo the good news, Jeff!

          Like anything, experts can make mistakes, too. We are all human. The tendency to disregard something because it conflicts with an expert opinion may be expedient, but can also often be wrong. I’m glad you didn’t just listen and pack it in . . . and I’m sure your son is glad, too. Best wishes on that, Jeff!

        • bender
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

          Most credible scientists understand their inherent fallibility. Often they are their own worst critics. However there are a few in the climate science business that don’t seem to fall into that category. Their bluster makes them sound more like propagandists than scientists.

          Will Steig formally recognize his mistake? Or will he just downplay it? Hopefully he’s learned something about his fallibility. Hopefully his co-authors have too. But how will they publicly express this acceptance of responsibility to admit error … before “moving on”?

        • Jeff C
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

          Thanks to both of you for your best wishes. In researching this, I found hundreds of peer-reviewed papers linking malnutrition to neurological problems (usually in the elderly). It still boggles my mind that the diagnosis was made based entirely on observing behavior without a single metabolic test being conducted. We finally found a doctor to order the tests but had to pay the costs out of pocket as the only approved approach for autism is behavioral therapy. I think the misdiagnosis was less a “mistake” and more that those in the establishment aren’t willing to try novel approaches out of fear of the medical vanguard.

          curious – I’ve been way OT on this thread and it’s OT for the blog. If you are interested, drop me a note at JeffC3497 -at- gmail -dot- com and I’ll send anything you think might be helpful.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

          Jeff, I’d be happy to have an OT thread on your findings if you want – send me a thread by email if you are. Cheers, Steve

        • Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 1:44 AM | Permalink

          Jeff C (Dec 12 23:04),

          Agreed that Steve should make clear whether (and where) this could be on topic for CA. But I’d love to know more and I’m sure others would say the same.

        • Jeff C.
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

          Thanks Steve, email sent to the yahoo address.

        • steven mosher
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

          Re: Jeff C (Dec 11 21:54),

          Yes Jeff C. That sums up my experience.Hence the marketeer’s phrase ” its time to shoot the engineers.”

        • Shub
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

          There seems to a another vain misapprehension as well – that climate science is somehow exceptional in making as much sense as possible and drawing conclusions from limited data and high levels of uncertainty under high policy relevant situations. Meh.

        • jobnls
          Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          The following quote from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster analysis always comes to mind in regard to dysfunctional institutions.

          “A foolish and undue respect for the line of command created an illusion of agency strength but little substance. Over the 45 years of NASA, managers stopped asking basic questions. As layers of bureaucracy emerged, like the Tower of Babel, communication deteriorated into false assumption and meaningless jargon”

  11. Shallow Climate
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ed McMahon: Ladies and gentlemen, it is time once again for another visit from that great Seer from the East, that Visionary of Visionaries, that Predictor of Predictors: Please welcome, Carnac the Magnificent!

    (Enter Carnac, tripping over riser.)

    EM: Carnac, are you OK?

    Carnac: NEVER touch the Great Carnac!

    EM: I was only concerned for your safety, O Great One; I didn’t want you to get hurt.

    Carnac: May the Bird of Paradise lay an egg in your mother’s combat boots…. Let’s get on with it.

    EM: OK, if you insist, O Great Mystical Seer: I have here in my hand some sealed envelopes, that have been kept in a mayonnaise jar on the back porch of Funk and Wagnall’s ALL AFTERNOON. Each one of these contains a question that NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER SEEN. And you, the Great Untouchable One, will divine the answers to each of these questions, using only your great mystical powers, without ever before having seen the questions! Is that right?

    Carnac: Sure, why not? First envelope please. (Carnac places envelope to his forehead.) The answer is “O’Donnell, Lewis, McIntyre and Condon”.

    EM: “O’Donnell, Lewis, McIntyre and Condon”

    Carnac: Yes, that’s right: “O’Donnell, Lewis, McIntyre and Condon”.

    EM: And the question is…?

    Carnac (opening envelope): And the question is, “What are the names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?”
    …Next envelope.

    EM: Here is the next and final envelope.

    (Audience cheers wildly.)

    Carnac (envelope to forehead): “Gavin Schmidt”

    EM: “Gavin Schmidt”

    Carnac: Yes, “Gavin Schmidt”

    EM: And the question is…?

    Carnac (opening envelope): The question is, “What is a common typo for “Ravin’ Schmidt”?”

  12. TAG
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The reaction of the Team to this new paper is straight out of the innovation literature. A group which is faced with an innovative idea will not typically accept it. Rather they will try to discredit it and marginalize the innovator. The Team response is just the standard reaction. So much for sconce being self-correcting; it is but scientists and others faced with innovative developments are not.

    Because of this the innovation literature usually recommends that teh innovator be provided with protection from the affected interests. This can range from protection by direct supervisory by a very senior executive or it could even mean, and commonly does, that the innovative idea be spun off into a separate organization that is situated distantly from the affected interests. The innovative idea is then gradually brought in to replace (or supplement) the existing practice. This is done by replacing the affected interests by people more tuned to the innovation. They will not change their minds. They will be replaced still believing that the new ideas are wrong.

    This is what will likely happen here. SmC seems to expect that the Team will see reason and accept his ideas. He has shown the validity of the ideas and so expects them to be accepted in self-correcting science. But that is the point, the very validity of the ideas makes them more threatening and more likely to be rejected.

    The Team will not change its mind. In a few years, it will still be there and it will still be saying the same things. It is just that they will no longer hold positions of influence and nobody will listen to them. Given the decline in interest in RealClimate, this process appears to be happening now. Reviewer A was shunted aside which is yet another indication.

    This is all just the typical response of a group that is faced with innovation – just standard reactions nothing special.

    • TAG
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Note that one way to discredit and marginalize an innovative idea is to accppt it and then proclaim that it is a confirmation of the existing technology,, practice etc.

      Does anyone think that this typical reaction is not being exhibited now by the Team?

      • Luis Dias
        Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 8:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

        No that’s exactly what they are doing, and worse of all, they are quoting the principal author at that!

    • Steve Fitzpatrick
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 9:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The O’Donnell et al results mainly confirmed the pre-Steig understanding… that most warming was on the peninsular, with little change elsewhere. It was Steig et al that was the radical ‘innovation’. O’Donnell et al does not seem ‘innovative’ in the sense that it does not conflict with the earlier understanding of warming in Antarctica is concentrated mainly on the peninsular region.

      I think the case here is really much simpler: people do not like having their work proven to be not well done (AKA incorrect).

  13. Tom C
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ryan O –

    Sorry if I missed this, but what is your day job?

    • Ryan O
      Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Engineer for a medical device company, working on vertically integrating metal injection molding. Another guy and I started trying to convince the company that this would be a good idea about 5 years ago. Two years ago, we got funding (several million). One year ago we got the equipment installed and started trying to learn how this whole metal injection molding thing worked. :D Two weeks ago we put our first production part to stock.

      Interestingly enough, we also had been doing some outsourcing of metal injection molding during this time. One company (a well-established MIM company) we’d been working with for 2 years finally gave up, sent back the mold tools, and said that they no longer wanted to try to produce these parts for us. Said that if we could find someone else who could make them, more power to us.

      The part we put to stock was one of the parts they sent back to us.

      It was the first part any of us had tried to MIM.

      Challenge met. ;)

      • Matt B
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Holy crap…..who knew that greatness lived in MIM? From now on I will never, EVER question the basis for your design of experiments…..now Don F, he’s another story…..

        As a long-time lurker (and a big fan of your work and your co-authors), congrats!

      • Tom C
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Ryan O –

        Thanks for the bio. If I could indulge in a little editorializing, you live in a world where your mathematical analyses have to be put to the test. No hand-waving, spinning, fudging, etc. will make those parts come out right. No political pressure or fawning media coverage will make the parts come out right. You have developed a feel for measurement errors and the limits of accurate prediction. You probably have done several DOEs where the results told whatever story you wanted them to tell, depending on which interaction terms you chose to retain.

        It galls me when the “scientist” team members disparage engineers. They do not know of what they speak.

  14. Kent Gatewood
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 10:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Any chance Ryan is a swiss, patent examiner?

  15. Ryan O
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 11:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am usually content to observe. But in this case, I made the mistake of posting on RC. :D Gavin and Eric essentially threw down the gauntlet and said, if you believe so, then prove it. A challenge like that cannot go unanswered.

    There was (and still is) no animosity intended on my part. It was simply a challenge . . . first to show that McI, Hu, Roman, myself, and others were correct, and later to prove so in the peer reviewed literature.

    Challenge met. ;)

    • mark t
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Spankings commenced.
      Mark

      • Brian H
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Your wet noodles aren’t going to have much impact, I fear.
        :D

        • mark t
          Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:21 AM | Permalink

          Not mine… the power of print.
          mark

    • bender
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

      You called their bluff. Very well done.

    • curious
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “Challenge met.” – yep, in style I’d say! Well done to all of you for having the tenacity to get it published. As per your comment over at tAV which AMac picked up on – it will be to everyone’s benefit.

      Re: all your commentary highlights above from RC – it’d be good to see them just put their hands up and say “yep, take it all back, those guys have taught us something good”. Come on Gavin, you can do it. Get out and join in the fun! :-)

      (and Ryan – are you running an RC mirror afterall?!)

      (oh and btw, noboby is going to be fooled by MIM as a front for big oil…)

    • Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It was the matlab class remark that really got me into it. I was only mildly interested until Steig got smart about it. Had he just turned over the code, who knows where it would have gone. Challenge though? I’ve never needed a class to run a computer program. I did have one in college but it was required and I was already making money consulting on software QC vision systems at that point.

      While my input into this final work was minor, I’m glad to have been in at the beginning and to have gone along on the ride.

  16. theduke
    Posted Dec 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Ryan for detailing his dialogue with Gavin. Neither Science or statistics are my area of expertise, but I found another statement of Gavin’s in the same thread on RC that gave me pause. He said:

    “The issue with the models depends enormously on what is being discussed. The first issue is that because of the large heat capacity of the southern oceans, warming trends are in general going to be smaller than in the northern hemisphere. That means that the potential for natural variability to be more dominant on shorter time scales is high – and indeed, Connolley and Bracegirdle show a lot of variance in the model output on those time scales.”

    Given that the results of O’Donnell et al show that most of the anomalous warming has occurred in the Peninsula region, which is for the most part surrounded by water, I wonder if Ryan or Steve or Jeff might comment on this.

    • Brian H
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 1:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not them, but “warming” and “variability” are not the same. Liquid water is >0°C, and hence is going to be a warming influence, compared to <<0°C temps on the mainland.

      • MichaelM
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The thing I’m curious about is the articles a while back on subteranean vents off that western peninsula. If these were a cause of 20, 30, 40% of observed warming, that would be interesting.

  17. Geoff
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 3:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Now that William Connelley is no longer following up like a bulldog, I hope someone will update the Wikipedia page on the Antarctic Cooling controversy (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica_cooling_controversy ). I recall that he added the Steig info within a week of the article appearing on the cover of Nature.

    (Maybe that’s the hold up with the Journal of Climate, they’re working on the artwork for their cover).

    • Luis Dias
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

      beware the sock-puppets, or the blind followers.

  18. Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Ryan O,

    Is there any way to output your results to a raster format that would work in a GIS platform such as ArcGIS. My reasoning is it would be interesting to have a tiff or asciigrid of the warming for comparisons with the different drainage basins in Antarctica.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 9:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes,

      as soon as I can get the time I can turn Ryans data into a R “raster” and output it to any of the common GIS formats.

      • Robert
        Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

        That would be great! Let us all know when it comes about. I think it’d be really useful for analysis purposes!

        • steven mosher
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

          Re: Robert (Dec 12 22:21), the format of the grid is “unique” it may require some extra work

        • Robert
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

          I guess it will be difficult to project also

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

          YUK!!!

          ok, I’ll start a post on this at my blog. what a PITA

          the grid is equal area.
          about 50km per side. so I can rasterize that into a higher resolution grid per side and you end up “points” surrounded by NA. I’ve done that already. I put it in WGS 84.

          I can output that however you like, but then you still have work to do.

  19. Curt
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “On January 27, 2009, a few days after Steig et al 2009 was released to fawning international coverage, Gavin Schmidt at RC here claimed that the critical commentary on the paper had been “remarkably weak” and demanding that this “supposed demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy” get some media attention”

    “demanding” should be changed to “demanded.”

  20. Luis Dias
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If Journal of Climate is still working on the cover, will they show antarctica super-reddy warming up “like crazy”, with a headline like the one bandied about in RC’s comments “Most of Antarctica is still warming up”? It appears we already have Steig’s “permission” for such a version to come about…

  21. stan
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 2:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think the problem here is that Gavin didn’t have the necessary $500,000 in the annual NASA budget that he thinks he needs to get his quality control up to snuff.

  22. joshua corning
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If one recalls the team at first said that the fact that Antarctica not warming was consistent with AGW theory. Then they said it was warming which presumably was also consistent with AGW theory.

    One wonders if the recent revelation that there is no statistically significant warming now is still consistent with AGW theory.

    One also wonders if there is anything that the worlds climate does that could be seen as inconsistent with AGW theory.

  23. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Dec 12, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    http://www.presentcompany.com/ekmps/shops/presentcompany/images/i-m-the-boss-ck44.jpg

  24. timetochooseagain
    Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “supposed demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy”

    should probably be

    supposed “demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy”

    “Schmidt’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” seems, in retrospect, a little premature.”

    Sometimes I think Steve wants to reduce his fan base…

    I retrospect it seems more like the mathematical basis of the original paper was what was remarkably weak…

  25. Luis Dias
    Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 5:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RC are already circling the wagons concerning the latest releases of the discussions of McShane and Wyner. Any novelties in there, or is it just the same ol thing?

    • ACT
      Posted Dec 14, 2010 at 6:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I see RC are complaining that the discussion and rebuttal were not properly peer-reviewed which they claim is a “relatively unusual way of doing things in our experience”. There’s a strong tradition of this sort of discussion paper in Stats journals going back to Royal Statistical Society Ordinary meetings but its hardly surprising that they are uncomfortable with a free discourse of ideas.

      Despite Tingley’s moronic attempt to show how badly LASSO performs by forgetting to use cross-validation, which Mc&W point out in their rebuttal, RC claim that “Tingley in particular gives strong evidence that Lasso is not in fact a very suitable method.”

      It was a bit surprising (or telling) that Nychka and Li, the mainstream (albeit climate) statisticians invited to comment, chose to mainly focus on how Mc&W had misrepresented the Wegman committee report, rather than discuss the statistical methods employed by Mc&W.

  26. Scott O
    Posted Jan 3, 2011 at 5:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I like the comments from RC’s follow up article better :)

    “The difference between a single calculation and a solid paper in the technical literature is vast. A good paper examines a question from multiple angles and find ways to assess the robustness of its conclusions to all sorts of possible sources of error — in input data, in assumptions, and even occasionally in programming. If a conclusion is robust over as much of this as can be tested (and the good peer reviewers generally insist that this be shown), then the paper is likely to last the test of time. Although science proceeds by making use of the work that others have done before, it is not based on the assumption that everything that went before is correct. It is precisely because that there is always the possibility of errors that so much is based on ‘balance of evidence’ arguments’ that are mutually reinforcing.
    #

    So it is with the Steig et al paper published last week.”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/02/antarctic-warming-is-robust/

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Först var det artikeln i Journal of Climate (O’Donnell, Lewis, McIntyre och Condon) som motbevisade Steig et al från 2009 i Nature där man påstod att hela Antarktis hade värmts upp och inte bara den Antarktiska halvön. O’Donnell et al. kunde visa hur Steig et al. använt sig av en dålig statistisk metod som smetade ut värmen över hela kontinenten. Mer här, här och här. [...]

  2. By Top Posts — WordPress.com on Dec 12, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    [...] Remember Gavin’s Taunts about Steig et al 2009? On January 27, 2009, a few days after Steig et al 2009 was released to fawning international coverage, Gavin Schmidt at [...] [...]

  3. By Il sassolino antartico | Climate Monitor on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:02 AM

    [...] Sempre secondo lui, questa debolezza avrebbe dovuto avere un po’ di attenzione mediatica. Per dirla con Mc Intyre, che compare tra le firme di questo rebuttal, forse la vanagloria di Shmidt era un po’ [...]

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