“On the Scent”

Here is an excerpt from a troubling Climategate email that hasn’t been discussed much (if at all) – from Raymond Bradley to Frank Oldfield of PAGES (172. 0963233839.txt) on July 20, 2000. I’m presenting only an excerpt today, but will discuss more from this email on another occasion.

Bradley stated of MBH98-99 results:

in the verification period, the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all. This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to (they have not yet risen to this level of sophistication, but they are “on the scent”).

In a system of “full, true and plain disclosure”, such as that governing the offering of securities to the public, it is the responsibility of the author to report adverse results. The “biggest miss” in the verification period was something that concerned Bradley; it was his responsibility to disclose it. “Antis” should not have been obliged to try to figure out material adverse results that Bradley and his coauthors had failed to report.

And, needless to say, when someone did achieve the “level of sophistication” to figure out what they were doing, the Team did what they could do delay and obfuscate.

The MBH decision to withhold verification r^2 statistics for early periods looks even worse in the context of this email. Withholding low verification r^2 statistics and withholding information about “big misses” both suppressed verification period problems and both kept “antis” “off the scent”. I’ve commented on other occasions about MBH withholding adverse verification r^2 results for early periods (even though they published a colorful map of verification r^2 statistics in the AD1820 step when they were favorable, they did not report verification r^2 statistics for earlier steps when the statistics were adverse).

In my opinion, the philosophy and attitudes expressed here – concerns about potential critics being on “the scent” – and the associated conduct – withholding adverse information about verification r^2 statistics and big misses – are far more repugnant than revealing the identity of a peer reviewer. However, while the community has taken umbrage at the revelation of the identity of a peer reviewer, they remain unoffended by conduct designed to keep critics off “the scent” through withholding adverse results.


60 Comments

  1. Baa Humbug
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    What they failed to realise is that the “antis” are like bloodhounds. We only need a few molecules per thousand to pick up the trail.

    Steve- I didn’t notice traditional “skeptics” picking up those few molecules (nor do I particularly associate myself with their issues). My interest did not arise by discerning the problem that Bradley withheld here. I picked up this point rather late in the process.

  2. Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    But, the paper made through the daunting gauntlet of justified disingenuousness peer review, so it must have valid.

  3. sharper00
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    Why not include the whole email so people can read the next paragraph which is:

    “In Ch 7 we will try to discuss some of these issues, in the limited space available. Perhaps the best thing at this stage is to simply point out the inherent uncertainties and point the way towards how these uncertainties can be reduced. Malcolm & I are working with Mike Mann to do just that.”

    So Bradley discussed some issues with the paper and then went on to discuss the best way to disclose those issues.

    Nowhere does he discuss keeping anyone “off the scent” and your use of quotes is odd considering you used them to quote words and phrases in the email but then quoted something that’s not in there at all. The section he’s replying to is marked as

    “[......At this point Keith Alverson throws up his hands in despair at the ignorance of non-model amateurs...]“

    Hence it’s pretty obvious he’s referring to the competence and quality of the criticisms, not keeping people away from genuine criticisms.

    Steve: as I said in the post, I intend to discuss more of the email. SOme of it requires quite a bit of context. What he, Mann and Hughes appear to be “working on” at the time appears almost certainly to be Mann et al 2000 (Earth Interactions) with NOAA website – which I most certainly plan to discuss.

    And FYI the “non-model amateurs” that are being discussed here are Bradley, Mann and the paleoclimate guys. He is not peering into the future.

    I’ve moved the quotation mark in “off the scent” to off “the scent”.

    • RomanM
      Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

      Re: sharper00 (Feb 21 12:02),

      You apparently read the text you quoted, but did not understand all of the words.

      Perhaps the best thing at this stage is to simply point out the inherent uncertainties and point the way towards how these uncertainties can be reduced

      Inherent means “Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic.” That refers to the general problems in the reconstruction procedures. It very clearly does not allude to to any specific case such as “the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all“.

      The pea moves under a different shell…

      • sharper00
        Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

        “You apparently read the text you quoted, but did not understand all of the words.”

        Maybe you should ask what was understood before making assumptions about other readers.

        When discussing the problems in the specific you have to establish the context which is the problems in the general i.e. the inherent problems relating to what you’re trying to do.

        For example, if you were explaining why a patient died on the operating table a lot would depend on the general problems relating to that procedure. Obviously something specific caused that patient’s death but it still has to be understood relative to the kinds of problems experienced when performing that operating.

        On the one hand you can say yes it’s always inexcusable when a surgeon loses a patient on the operating table yet you would also say never attempting surgery because of the risk of something going wrong causes even more harm than the attempt.

        In the above Bradley wants to communicate the general problems with that type of reconstruction which is a perfectly fine starting point for any issue.

        • Zorro
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

          Or you could just never mention that the patient died and hope no one figured it out. When they did you could say that it didn’t matter anyway because your last five patients are doing far better than expected so that proves that you didn’t do anything wrong….. then another one dies (Steig etal) and you condemn the person who notices.
          Zorro

        • steven mosher
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

          Re: sharper00 (Feb 21 12:46), The problem you miss of course is the motivation. One thing I found interesting throughout the mails is a form of behavior that really bothers me. in my experience those facts that dont fit the analysis are MOST interesting. Like the divergence. Those bits are the bits that we want to focus attention on. they are high information bits. We dont hide them we foreground them.
          In the mails however I see repeated examples of scientists taking action to obscure these bits BECAUSE they fear what skeptics will do with these bits. That fear led to the kind of data hiding that caused MORE trouble than would be caused by exposing all the strange little bits.

          Sometimes the little bits turn out to be nothing. Noise. Other times the little bits are highly important. Thats WHY we focus on them. They either go away or lead to better understanding. Hiding those bits has two outcomes: neutral and horrible.

        • sharper00
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

          “The problem you miss of course is the motivation. “

          You can easily project any and all motivations onto people’s words. I’m not “missing” it I simply take the position that when trying to use someone’s words to make a point then those words had best clearly support that point, not require filtering through “motivation detectors” which always find what we want to see.

          Just the other day Fred Singer’s post on WUWT was claiming these emails showed scientists were actually covering up a real temperature decline and plenty of people defended that on the basis it passed people’s motivation filters.

          “I see repeated examples of scientists taking action to obscure these bits BECAUSE they fear what skeptics will do with these bits.”

          Whether that attitude is justified is itself a topic that could fill books however you need to compare what’s supportable from the emails (that climate scientists developed a “bunker mentality” and generally felt they were being harassed) versus what’s claimed loudly and repeatedly (“This proves climate science is all a fraud and made up!!”).

        • j ferguson
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

          No “Why the hell is there this decline? Maybe we need to look some more at how we are isolating temperature signal from the other influences.”

          Somehow I got the idea that this did worry Briffa. Anything to that?

        • RomanM
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

          So where did they discuss “why the patient died on the table”?

        • Steeptown
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          A proper scientist would put all his effort into the anomalous behaviour, not trying to hide it away from others.

      • Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

        Inherent means “Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic.” That refers to the general problems in the reconstruction procedures. It very clearly does not allude to to any specific case such as “the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all“.

        he says:

        n Ch 7 we will try to discuss some of these issues, in the limited space
        available. Perhaps the best thing at this stage is to simply point out the
        inherent uncertainties and point the way towards how these uncertainties
        can be reduced.

        This problem is caused by an “inherent” uncertainty. Not being specific is a way to save space, as they allude to “limited space”. More importantly, they seems to understand well how some people will cherry-pick this uncertainty and make more of it than results suggest. Unfortunately they didn’t foresee the same problem happening in their emails.

        • RomanM
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

          This problem is caused by an “inherent” uncertainty.

          Really? How did you come to that conclusion? I thought it might be any number of things, including faulty data, poor application of the methodology or the mysterious force which was involved in the “hide the decline” episode.

          Perhaps, you could provide less arm waving and more scientific insight into the reasoning process that produced your conclusion, Captain Kirk.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

          I agree 100% with Roman. “Big misses” are not an inherent feature of a proxy reconstruction. They are the sort of thing that warrant particular attention in order to assess the merit of the methodology.

          Disclosure of the failed verification r^2 (which they advertised as one of the statistics that they assessed) would have alerted readers to the potential problem. Eduardo Zorita told me that his attitude towards MBH completely changed when he learned (from us) of the dismal verification r2 results.

          I do not understand why people try to defend such practices.

        • sleeper
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

          Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 21 14:26),

          Disclosure of the failed verification r^2 (which they advertised as one of the statistics that they assessed) would have alerted readers to the potential problem.

          Can’t imagine why the peer reviewers didn’t require dislosure. Hmm, wonder who they were.

        • sharper00
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

          “I agree 100% with Roman. “Big misses” are not an inherent feature of a proxy reconstruction.”

          He didn’t say “Big Misses” he said “Biggest Miss”. One is a relative concept and the other is absolute. You appear to have gone with the one more suitable to your argument and it sure sounds like the word he said but he didn’t say it.

          If you insist on parsing the life out of his words at least do it with the words he actually used.

        • John M
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

          He didn’t say “Big Misses” he said “Biggest Miss”.

          Did you forget to put a smiley in this comment?

        • sharper00
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

          “Did you forget to put a smiley in this comment?”

          No smiley – do you understand the difference between someone saying “Big miss” and “Biggest miss”?

          If you don’t understand the difference you will the next time your boss starts a performance review with “The big mistake you made this quarter…” versus “The biggest mistake you made this quarter…”.

          I think it’s terribly sad we’re down to whether Bradley said “Big” or “Biggest” but I’m only a passenger on this train, you need to talk to the driver.

        • RomanM
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

          No smiley – do you understand the difference between someone saying “Big miss” and “Biggest miss”?

          You mean there were others…? ;)

        • John M
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

          I don’t know who you work for, but my a$$ would be gra$$ with either one of those comments.

          Especially if he/she went on to say “[you] did not get it right at all” and “This makes criticisms of [us]by other departments] difficult to respond to.”

          You know…that “context” thing…

        • Bruce
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

          “Big miss” implies 1.

          “Biggest miss” implies 2 or more. Maybe there were 10 big misses. Or 100. Or 1000.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

          to be really pedantic: Biggest means three or more. Bigger means two, and Big means one. Wow!

        • kim
          Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

          The biggest mistake isn’t in croaking for these frogs, it’s in thinking one isn’t a toad to do so.
          ========================

        • Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

          “Really? How did you come to that conclusion?”

          We are discussing what “he” thinks, and it looks to me that he thinks this “miss” is part of the larger uncertainty. He says things like, “it may be that Mann et al simply don’t have the long-term trend right, due to underestimation of low frequency info” or “we used by re-running the reconstruction with & without tree rings, and indeed the two efforts were very similar — but we could only do this back to about 1700. Whether we have the 1000 year trend right is far less certain” or “possibly if you crank up the trend over 1000 years, you find that the envelope of uncertainty is comparable with at least some of the future scenarios, which of course begs the question as to what the likely forcing was 1000 years ago.” Then he goes on to describe what he could do in Chapter 7 of the book they were writing together.

          Steve: instead, in Mann et al 2000 (see next post), they withheld the results from pre-1700 networks to hide the deterioration of results.

        • RomanM
          Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

          Then he goes on to describe what he could do in Chapter 7 of the book they were writing together.

          Think about it. Is the Chapter of a book the place one would choose to discuss a specific problem with a reconstruction? Of course not… and not just because of “limited space”. That interpretation is a red herring. There was no intent to use that venue for public evaluation of the problem.

          That discussion would rightfully take a place within the same paper where the results containing the problem are presented, because the very existence of the problem needs to be considered when evaluating whether the results might be considered valid. Saying “maybe” in the email is pure speculation unsupported by any sort of analysis and should be treated as such. As well, the statement “Whether we have the 1000 year trend right is far less certain” is in fact an admission of the lack of sufficient knowledge about the correctness of the application of the reconstruction procedure and really should not be interpreted as a scientific assessment of statistical uncertainty.

      • Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

        I read “inherent uncertainties” to mean the large error bars that come with the proxies themselves. I assume the error bars are cumulative – i.e., tree rings have a certain error bar, and ice cores have their error bars, and so do corals and lacustrine cores (I hope I used the right term there), and all of them add or multiply together (multiply, if I understand it correctly) when homogenizing and compiling them into one record.

        If I am interpreting that wrong, could someone correct me?

    • Paul Penrose
      Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      It was their “biggest miss” and yet all they could do is some arm waving about “inherent uncertainties”? Give me a break.

      • Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

        Does one “big miss” – I understood it to be only one year – make any real difference? I mean, 1998 really skews the record of the 1980-2010 period and allows for a lot of claims that couldn’t be made without it. One year is weather, IMHO. Not being too much of a hard-a**, I would tend to give them a pass on that. Anomalous years happen, just in the course of natural variation, and one can’t expect ANY model or concept to successfully predict a single anomalous year.

    • sharper00
      Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      “Steve: as I said in the post, I intend to discuss more of the email. SOme of it requires quite a bit of context. “

      All well and good but starting from a position which runs counter to the context before presenting the context is at best, odd.

      “And FYI the “non-model amateurs” that are being discussed here are Bradley, Mann and the paleoclimate guys. He is not peering into the future.”

      I’m not claiming any special insight into the history or context of what’s being said but if someone wants to claim he said “X” they’d better be able to show it, especially if “X” is nefarious.

      In the full email he discusses problems with the reconstruction, expresses confidence that it’s likely mostly correct and more data would show that and then discusses plants to discuss the problems with it. It’s certainly easy to splice out sentences or paragraphs and try to make them sound secretive or conspiratorial but I see none of that there.

      Steve – unlike you, I do claim some insight into the history and context of these emails. In my commentary on the emails, I have consistently tried to place the emails in context. It is my view that they are worse in context than as isolated statements.

      • pdtillman
        Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

        Re: sharper00 (Feb 21 13:04),

        It does seem the deeper one looks, almost always “it’s worse than we thought.”

        As others have noted, this isn’t the way science is supposed to be done — and, ime, it’s not how it’s ordinarily done, either in academia or in industry, the two areas where I have direct experience.

        I’m not quite sure what to call what these fellows have done and are doing — shameful? Disheartening, for sure. Their “work” won’t stand, but it may take awhile for science to self-correct. It will, eventually.

        As always, Steve, thanks for your fine analyses, hard work, and (usually) cool head.

        Best wishes,
        Pete Tillman
        Consulting Geologist, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)

    • Pat Frank
      Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

      Sharper00, your comment is a diversion away from the main point, which is that Bradley, Hughes, and Mann did not report the adverse results in their submitted manuscript. In that studied silence is where the offense lays.

      Bradley’s own words indicate they knew their published work was a contrived misdirection to hide the invalidity of their conclusions.

      If they had been honest and had reported the true and disconfirming scope of their statistical indicators, they’d not have been able to claim a ‘robust’ reconstruction, would not have gotten published, and would not have been able to make spectacular millennial claims about 20th century temperatures.

      • Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

        Agreed, about where the “offense lays.”

        It baffles me that in this case they wouldn’t have just pointed out that single year – the “biggest miss” – and just say their work is not of fine enough resolution to have seen that. I’d have accepted that, myself.

        Science is, after all, a continuum from knowing nothing to knowing it all, and no one at the present time can pretend to have it all figured out, at least not without expecting a big round of laughter.

        Sometimes I think these people simply take themselves too seriously and don’t allow themselves the “out” of “we are just humble scientists, trying to understand a complex system.” They seem to have put themselves on a very high pedestal (why? perhaps too much need to pontificate for politicians), from which the only direction is down.

  4. Mac
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    I am sure these doubts about Team science in this email were highlighted just after the release of the Climategate emails. Not sure of what discussion there was though.

  5. kuhnkat
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    “Steve- I didn’t notice traditional “skeptics” picking up those few molecules (nor do I particularly associate myself with their issues). My interest did not arise by discerning the problem that Bradley withheld here. I picked up this point rather late in the process.”

    I understand your objection to Bah’s characterization and agree that “sceptics” may not have figured this out for years, at least, after you did.

    I would point out that your characterization of yourself is not accepted by those with whom you spar over valid scientific activity.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 9:19 PM | Permalink

      Sniffing out the truffles:
      In a minor way, I have several times posted that more attention should be given to “outliers” because they are often information rich. In mineral exploration geochemistry, a past endeavour of mine, they can be THE nucleus of a major effort.

      The anomalously hot year of 1998 needs more study, especially of its return to normal; but people seem to be disinclined to dig too deep. I’m still digging, but it’s lonely.

      I have also pointed out the problems of instrumental calibrations with temperatures, when the temperature record is in constant change, or in the perverse case where it flat lines. Re the former, here is part of a recent letter about the high quality data set from the Head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Dr Greg Ayres:
      Quote: “The data which underpin this network are being continuously improved and added to through the digitisation of historic paper-based records and the collection of new observations. We also committed to improving our data analysis methods and therefore continually review these (see later) and adjust them where appropriate.” GHS – (It would be neat if these were announced with version numbers). Thanks to Ken Stewart of http://kenskingdom.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/official-reply-to-my-queries-at-last/ for this letter, where it can be seen in full context.

      The overall shape of the global temperature record has changed substantially over the years and one would have thought that a response would be recalibration and reissue of previous proxy papers where similar local changes are now accepted. Are there any? An overall impression – noting more than an impression – is that some dendroenthusiasm was dropped by the Team when they became aware of the divergence, see email 11641207120 Nov 2006 as but one example –

      Quote from Briffa starts: “Another serious issue to be considered relates to the fact that the PC1 time series in
      the Mann et al. analysis was adjusted to reduce the positive slope in the last 150
      years (on the assumption – following an earlier paper by Lamarche et al. – that this
      incressing growth was evidence of carbon dioxide fertilization) , by differencing the
      data from another record produced by other workers in northern Alaska and Canada
      (which incidentally was standardised in a totally different way). This last adjustment
      obviously will have a large influence on the quantification of the link between these
      Western US trees and N.Hemisphere temperatures. At this point , it is fair to say that
      this adjustment was arbitrary and the link between Bristlecone pine growth and CO2 is, at
      the very least, arguable.” End my quote from email.

      There are at least 2 reasons why more are not sniffing out the molecules. The first is that many have written off dendroclimatology as a lost cause, unless substantial new insights are made. The second is that our host has a more commanding coverage of the issues than we scientists who spend less time on these issues. He’s leading from the front.

    • Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

      Steve’s

      I didn’t notice traditional “skeptics” picking up those few molecules (nor do I particularly associate myself with their issues). My interest did not arise by discerning the problem that Bradley withheld here. I picked up this point rather late in the process.

      Since December, I’ve looked at the 1,000+ files and wondered if anyone had really gone into all of them. I had put it on a back burner myself, hoping to mine something good out of it. It’s a lot of files! At 1-3 pages per email/file, that is a good 2,000 pages to read – a fairly daunting task.

      So even though Steve seems to be dismissive of the skeptics since they/we haven’t found things, I don’t fully agree that we missed the boat on finding more “crimes” having been committed.

      Perhaps a collective effort could have spread the reading around and sped things up. At the same time, such an effort might be construed as a conspiracy to display their dirty laundry.

      At the same time, at least SOME of the five panels that found no evidence of wrongdoing should have looked into the files thoroughly before coming to such a conclusion. So, IMHO, Steve should be pointing an especially harsh finger at the panels. They, unlike the skeptics, had a mandate to do so. (BTW, I assume that by “traditional skeptics” Steve meant those non-credentialed skeptics like myself.)

  6. mrsean2k
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    “He is not peering into the future”

    Hehehe.

  7. Hector M.
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Kuhnkat observation is quite right when he says to Steve: “your characterization of yourself is not accepted by those with whom you spar over valid scientific activity.” This refers to Steve’s comment: “nor do I particularly associate myself with their [the sceptics] issues”.
    All these years Steve has maintained a very clear (and always polite) stance: he proposed himself to audit some data, models, procedures and conclusions, while not defending or declaring any particular position about the claims made by Climate Science regarding anthropogenic climate change, global warming and other similar issues.

    Nonetheless, he is universally portrayed in AGW circles at least as a “sceptic” (in the sence of “unbeliever”) and at worst as a “denier”.

    Perhaps Steve should make his auditing stance even more clear in some future post.

  8. WasteNot
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    The double standard is striking. When he was taking the role of Reviewer A, Steig writes: “My recommendation is that the editor insist that results showing the ‘mostly likely’ West Antarctic trends be shown in place of Figure 3. While the written text does acknowledge that the rate of warming in West Antarctica is probably greater than shown, it is the figures that provide the main visual ‘take home message’ that most readers will come away with.”

    Reviewer A’s comment manifested strict attention to something other than a fundamental conclusion (which Reviewer A clearly thought to be adequately expressed in the words of the paper) and imposed on the authors the obligation to accommodate the editor’s requested major revision and to include analysis not necessary to the point of the paper. However, when obvious substantive issues exist in a different paper (“we did not get right at all”), action to address the known problems (low verification statistics) is postponed to later in time.

    In the law, a state of mind involving intentional withholding of material information is known as “scienter”. I know something about securities issues, and if an e-mail in an accountant’s production in a securities litigation said what this one does, there easily could be discussions about criminal liability (think of an accountant speaking about financial statements in a prospectus and acknowledging that “we did not get right at all”).

    This highlights the larger issue of standards in the peer review process. I follow this discussion as an outsider to scientific publications and realize that a little knowledge can be very dangerous (as with opinions such as this one taken from partial understandings). But, from what I read, it appears that there is no single set of standards in play and governing the peer review process, and many standards appear to be nothing more than tacit understandings often interpreted differently if for no other reason than that the standards are rarely even discussed. Part of the process Congress should undertake is to establish conditions to use of federal grant monies. Legislation could stipulate what the standards exist for federal grants, and could even provide that the grant money cannot be released entirely (and/or that someone would be ineligible for a future grant) until code, data, model, etc. is fully posted and vetted. The legislation also could stipulate whether reviews are to be anonymous, whether they have to be posted, and so forth. I suppose that such legislation could even provide that an author must make the paper available to public comment in the review process (though this is sort of difficult to implement I should think), which would assure that papers are vetted comprehensively before they are published. Rules imposed by funding giants would go a long way to standardizing what currently is an ad hoc, and sometimes somewhat slipshod, process.

  9. pdtillman
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    This is the Raymond S. Bradley of the absurd plagiarism charges against Edward Wegman: http://climateaudit.org/2010/10/12/copygate/

    Not a responsible individual, there or in this instance. A good Team player!

    Bah.

  10. Shallow Climate
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    It is obvious to me that SM is once again channeling Richard Feynman in this post: hooray! As I commented on another post, Feynman would insist on one “also making the best case against one’s own hypothesis”: In science we are, after all, after the TRUTH. We are not after puffing up our resume, getting our name in the media, etc. I hope, and fully expect, that SM will continue to uphold his probity to this true standard of scientific endeavor. It’s a beacon in the darkness, absolutely. I find it inspiring.

  11. Crusty the Clown
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    OK, from this it appears that Dr. Mann, Dr. Bradley, and Dr. Hughes are nothing more than scientists manque (don’t know how to get the correct accent mark over that final ‘e’).

    • Hu McCulloch
      Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

      Open a blank document in WORD, insert the desired symbol, copy it to the clipboard, paste it here, and voilà: é.

      Steve:Alternatively type ALT-0233 (Word or WordPress) and get é . On a keyboard, you need to use the numberpad. Another one: ALT-0252 ü plus others.

      • kuhnkat
        Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

        For those who don’t have Word or equivalent such as Open Office, on Windows XP, Vista and Seven there is Character Map.

        Start
        All Programs
        Accessories
        System Tools
        Character Map

        Find the character you want, click on it, click copy, and then paste as usual. You might want to make a desktop shortcut to it if you need it often.

  12. Crusty the Clown
    Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Oops – I should have said they appear to be scientists Mannque. Sorry.

  13. Posted Feb 21, 2011 at 10:24 PM | Permalink

    In the amazing ‘science’ of climatology the important facts are to be found in the climategate email archive. If these scientists were honest, their concerns would have been discussed in the open (or in Bradley’s case seminal) literature, not in their conspiratorial, pal-review back chatter.

    • Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

      ZT, there is always going to be some level of “us vs them” back chatter. Scientists aren’t saints. At the same time, IMO these guys crossed the Rubicon. And you know what that means? Let the battle commence!

      They upped the ante by stonewalling Steve and others, and then when they circled their wagons. Heck, if they’d just given Steve their data, a lot of this would have never happened – IF the science was supportable by the statistical treatment, and pre-statistical adjustments and non-adjustments. My impression has been that they were VERY insecure about it all, especially if they’d Googled Steve’s CV early on. And with Mann’s propensity toward bullying (as witnessed in the “hide the decline” emails), he thought he could bully an auditor like Steve. I don’t think auditors take too kindly to attempts at intimidation…

  14. oneuniverse
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    Fabrication, falsification and plagiarism are the three standard criteria for determining scientific misconduct. Here’s a fairly typical (if narrow) definition of scientific misconduct, taken from the US DHSS Office of Research Integrity’s (ORI) website, as is the second quotation below). It seems to me that (b) would apply to MBH98-99 .

    (a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
    (b) Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
    (c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
    (d) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

    This caught my eye as well – from Honor in Science, p. 18. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, 1997 :

    One area where carelessness or dishonesty is particularly likely to occur is in the misuse of statistical techniques. No scientist can avoid the use of such techniques, and all scientists have an obligation to be aware of the limitations of the techniques they use, just as they are expected to know how to protect samples from contamination or to recognize inadequacies in their equipment.

    ps. sorry not to link out of fear of mod limbo, but googling “ORI RCR Points for Discussion” leads to a page of interesting quotations on scientific integrity and misconduct, from which the above is taken. I would quote a couple more, but might end up in forbidden F word territory.

  15. ge0050
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    “A proper scientist would put all his effort into the anomalous behaviour, not trying to hide it away from others.”

    Agreed. However, as the emails reveal these are not “proper” scientists. They are activists using their science degrees and positions to advance a political agenda. As such it is perfectly acceptable to break the rules or science and hide results that don’t fit the agenda.

  16. ge0050
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    “In the amazing ‘science’ of climatology the important facts are to be found in the climategate email archive.”

    I’ve been reading the RC BoreHole. I find the BoreHole contains the science, whereas RC contains the dogma.

    I’m reminded of cult indoctrination when I visit RC. Contrary opinions are quickly weeded out in the search for the susceptible. Once a susceptible is located, indoctrination begins.

    Perhaps the correct term is “cult of climatology” or “scientology of climatology”.

  17. oneuniverse
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    Dear moderators, please consider releasing or deleting my two posts in the moderation queue (9:57 AM & 10:00 AM), thank you.

  18. Robert Austin
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    Just to satisfy my curiosity and fill in the prehistory of the “Hockey Stick Illusion” saga, who would Bradley etal have considered to be among the prominent “antis” in 2000? At that time, the archfiend (/sarc) Steve McIntyre was not yet a twinkle in the eye of skepticism. John Daly? Willie Soon?

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

      Prof. Fred Singer had testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Climate Change on 18th July 2000, 2 days before Bradley’s email was sent.

      In his testimony, Singer mentioned, as he put it, “the widely touted “hockey stick” graph (with its “unusual” temperature rise in the past 100 years)”, although his reason for doubting the results (the lack of post-1980 proxy data) was rudimentary compared to what Steve later discovered.

  19. kramer
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    What does “antis” refer to?

  20. Eric Anderson
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

    This is as, or more, troubling than any of the other Climategate emails. Very repugnant attitude on the part of Bradley — completely antiethical to what we would hope to see from science. The complete lack of objectivity and the blatant advocacy of an a priori position are stunning.

  21. Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

    This is perhaps beating a dead horse, or flogging a dead CRU study, but, if I might quote Richard Feynman in his famous “Cargo-Cult” address at CalTech’s graduation ceremonies in 1973:

    But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
    investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    From the email Steve is dissecting:

    …there are many/some/tree ring sites where there has been a “decoupling” between the long-term relationship between climate and tree growth, so that things fall apart in recent decades….this makes it very difficult to demonstrate what I just claimed.

    This is, of course, supportive of the Briffa “problem” that Mann addressed in the “hide the decline” email – that when they have had both instrument data and tree ring data, the “relationship” that is behind tree-rings-as-temperature-proxies seems to have fallen apart. Amazingly, they don’t see the underlying disconnect – that tree rings may not, after all, be good proxies for temperature. This is so fundamental to their work, it seems they fear to face it. When someone does face it, it is increasingly likely that it will show their work to go down as cargo-cult science.

    The thing these people do, in hiding ANYTHING that they themselves find that is not “on message” – it just isn’t good science. First off, they should be beating on their own hypotheses and trying to prove themselves wrong and should not be needing someone else to point out flaws and weaknesses. They should be trumping their skeptics on finding these.

    From about 1980 to 1998, Hansen’s predictions seemed to be the one thing the warmers had going for them: as long as the post-CRU-processed global average was seen to increase, they looked like solid scientists, because their predictions seemed to be coming true.

    Seemed to be.

    But when their predictions didn’t continue to “come true,” what is the world – and them – to take from that? They don’t have any good explanation for it themselves, as we know. Objectively speaking, it would at least tend to weaken their arguments, and the longer the temperatures fail to rise, the stronger the tendency to declare it a failure. Predictions that fail and continue to fail should be declared to be adequate falsification. Hansen, MBE and CRU are not going to be the ones who declare their own predictions failures, so someone else has to. We on the skeptics side may be jumping the gun when we do. Each year that passes, though, makes us look smarter and them look dumber. Winters like 2009-10 and 2010-11, plus the SH summer of 2010, in a year declared to be the 2nd or 3rd warmest of all time, certainly make them open to be the butt of jokes and should be the source of much stress at EAU and NASA.

    It is just awful science that they hide “inconvenient truths” and hope no one else discovers them. Feynman for one would not approve. Nor should anyone else.

  22. JRR Canada
    Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

    Nice to see you active Mr McIntyre, the gift of the CRU emails, this gift just keeps on giving. It is somewhat ironic that the first and only real defense of these was context.As you keep demonstrating the context is worse than most first thought.

  23. Posted Feb 23, 2011 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    One is a relative concept and the other is absolute. You appear to have gone with the one more suitable to your argument and it sure sounds like the word he said but he didn’t say it.

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre Skip to content Hockey Stick StudiesStatistics and RContact Steve McProxy DataCA blog setupFAQ 2005Station DataHigh-Resolution Ocean SedimentsSubscribe to CAEconometric ReferencesBlog Rules and Road MapGridded DataTip JarAboutCA Assistant « “On the Scent” [...]

  2. By Top Posts — WordPress.com on Feb 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    [...] “On the Scent” Here is an excerpt from a troubling Climategate email that hasn’t been discussed much (if at all) – from Raymond [...] [...]

  3. [...] an earlier post, I criticized the repugnant attitude in which Bradley sneered at “antis” who had not [...]

  4. By Climate Bloodhounds | Watts Up With That? on Feb 22, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    [...] McIntyre is blogging again. This time it is about a little noticed Climategate email where Dr. Raymond Bradley disses skeptics as being too unsophisticated to be able to figure out what was [...]

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