Schmidt’s Rant on Yamal

Two days ago, NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt posted an extended rant against me at Real Climate, a rant directed in part at my recent post on Yamal.

I’ve now looked through his post carefully and, beneath Schmidt’s fulminations, did not find any rebuttal to any points actually made in my post, as I’ll discuss in detail below. Much of Schmidt’s post fulminates against my criticism of inadequate disclosure of adverse results. This is a large topic in itself that provides a context to the Yamal controversy, but the exposition of this context is lengthy and, in my opinion, the Yamal issues are sufficiently discrete that they can be considered on their own, as I shall do in this post.

The “Insta-Reconstruction”
Schmidt criticized my estimate of a Yamal-Urals regional chronology from the FOI list as merely “insta-reconstruction”, saying:

if any actual scientist had produced such a poorly explained, unvalidated, uncalibrated, reconstruction with no error bars or bootstrapping or demonstrations of common signals etc., McIntyre would have been (rightly) scornful.

While my “insta-reconstruction” was only produced for a blog post, I submit that it was better documented than many tree-ring chronologies in common use, including the three chronologies of Briffa 2000 link. that have been very popular in multiproxy reconstructions. Indeed, if “actual” scientists had provided equivalent detail for the tree-ring chronologies in common use, much of the controversy of recent years would have been avoided.

Even though this was merely a blog post, I provided all measurement data as used, together with code that, in a turnkey method, uploads the data as used and produces the chronology and graphics. The code shows the precise calculation for a an interested critic. The blog post included a graph of core counts, together with the computation. In contrast, no measurement data for the three chronologies of Briffa 2000 (Taimyr, Tornetrask, Yamal) was archived. Nor was it archived for Briffa et al 2008 until I convinced the journal to require it. New measurement data for Esper et al 2009, which addresses Siberia, is not archived. (I recently requested that it be archived, but have received no acknowledgement from either Esper or Hantemirov.)

Nor is it common practice for dendros to show “error bars, bootstrapping or demonstration of common signals” in typical publication of tree ring chronologies. I think that such practices would indeed enhance the articles, but it’s not something that I’ve taken issue with in dendro publications. (Merely getting dendro data has been hard enough.) None of Schmidt’s desiderata appear in Briffa 2000 or for other important tree ring chronologies (e.g. the Graybill stripbark chronologies that are such an important part of IPCC multiproxy studies.) Calculation of error bars for tree ring chronologies seems very much to be desired, but, in my opinion, to do so would require a major improvement in the statistical theory of chronology construction, something this is long overdue.

One Point of Agreement
In any controversy, it’s always a good idea to try to isolate any points of agreement and work out from there. There are relatively few points in Schmidt’s post that I agree with, but it is common ground between Schmidt and I that CRU’s claim that the “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 was merely to reprocess the Hantemirov and Shiyatov dataset was a “mis-statement”.

In their June 17 submission to Muir Russell, CRU had stated:

McKitrick is implying that we considered and deliberately excluded data from our Yamal chronology. The data that he is referring to were never considered at the time because the purpose of the work reported in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) was to reprocess the existing dataset of Hantemirov and Shiyatov (2002).

In my post on Yamal, I had stated that the purpose of Briffa 2000 was to reprocess the Hantemirov data, but this “purpose” no longer applied in 2008.

One of the purposes of Briffa (2000) was clearly to demonstrate the effect of RCS methodology on the Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 dataset. I have no objection to CRU claiming this “purpose” for Briffa (2000). But, by 2008, this was no longer their “purpose”. Indeed, one doubts whether the editors of Phil Trans B would have accepted a 2008 paper with such a mundane purpose. The actual “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 is stated quite clearly and was entirely different: it introduced and discussed “regional” chronologies.

Amidst other hyperventilating editorial comment (on which I’ll not comment right now), Schmidt conceded that CRU had committed a “mis-statement” in saying that the “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 was to reprocess Hantemirov data – a point on which I can agree.

… using the reference to the 2008 paper is a little contradictory to the paragraphs above which were much more explicit about the background and purpose of the 2008 paper. However, to take a slight mis-statement in a single sentence, when copious other information was being provided in the same submission, and accusing people of deliberate deception is a huge overreach. Were they trying to deceive only the people who hadn’t read the previous page? It makes no sense at all. Instead, McIntyre conflates the situation at the time of the 2000 paper with the very different situation around 2008 in order to paint a imaginary picture of perfidy.

I do not agree that this was merely a “slight mis-statement in a single sentence” as the same argument had been made in their March 1 submission to Muir Russell, a submission which did not include accompanying “copious” information evidencing the error to the Muir Russell panel as a “slight mis-statement”. It also speaks poorly that CRU would make a “mis-statement” to Muir Russell on an issue so central to Climategate.

But in any event, let’s take some comfort that Schmidt and I at least agree on this point: the “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 was not the reprocessing of the Hantemirov dataset, but the development and presentation of regional chronologies.

An Easily Resolved Point
In addition to the above point of agreement, there is one point that can be objectively resolved: did CRU calculate a Yamal-Urals regional chronology in 2006? I believe that the evidence is unequivocal that such a calculation was made; Schmidt believes otherwise, arguing that my belief rests only on a “very strained” interpretation of a Climategate email.Schmidt argued as follows:

McIntyre then quotes an email from Osborn sent in 2006 in support of his claim that the reconstructions were finished at that point, but that is again a very strained reading. Osborn only lists the areas (and grid boxes) in which regional reconstructions might be attempted since “most of the trees lie within those boxes”. It makes no statement whatsoever about the work having already been done.

Schmidt relied on this exegesis of the email to rationalize CRU’s statement to Muir Russell that they had “intended” to do a Yamal-Urals regional chronology, but decided against it because they felt that it could not be “finished in time”. Schmidt outlines his position as follows:

Of course, regional reconstructions are a definite goal of the dendro-climatology community and Briffa and colleagues have been working on these for years. Some of those results were published in Briffa et al (2008) as part of a special issue on the boreal forest and global change. Special issues come with deadlines, and as explained in a submission to the Muir Russell inquiry, a regional Yamal reconstruction putting together multiple sources of tree ring data was indeed ‘considered’ but wasn’t finished in time

Between these [two other reconstructions] we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time and Briffa made the decision to reprocess the Yamal ring-width data to hand, using improved standardization techniques, and include this series in the submitted paper [Briffa et al., 2008].

So, Briffa et al did consider a regional reconstruction and are indeed working on it for publication, and it didn’t get into the 2008 paper due to time constraints.

Clear, no?

I think that the last sentence would ought to read: Clear? No!

Schmidt’s argument that the 2006 calculation was never shall-we-say consummated has been picked up by a number of commenters on the RC thread, who’ve thrown down the gauntlet demanding that I prove the existence of the 2006 chronology. An early commenter on the RC thread endorsed Schmidt as follows:

To me, McI’s (as well as anyone who follows him) accusations have to show that Gavin is wrong here. Otherwise, his entire argument crumbles into nothing. … I have to ask anyone defending McIntyre to prove this. Otherwise, he should withdraw his accusations, which amount to scientific malfeasance, if true.

Subsequent RC commenters pile onto the same theme, with Schmidt complaining inline against Jeff Id that it is impossible to prove a negative:

No one can ever prove that they didn’t do a calculation, and ever more insistent demands that they must, are pointless

On the other hand, it is possible in this case to prove that CRU calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology in 2006 because the University of East Anglia has admitted it.

They’ve admitted it both implicitly and explicitly. Implicitly: if they didn’t hold the chronology, they would have claimed that exemption in the FOI. However, they made no such claim, instead arguing other exemptions. Explicitly: East Anglia confirmed in response to my FOI request as follows:

In investigating your appeal a further search has been undertaken and it has become clear that the first time series out of the 1001 bootstraps is actually a single nonbootstrap) chronology.

Tim Osborn of CRU showed up as a commenter on the RC thread. In my opinion, he should have set the record straight – that CRU had done the regional chronology questioned by Schmidt. Unfortunately he failed to do so.

Regardless, this is a point that Schmidt should simply concede: CRU did such a calculation in 2006. End of story.

Of course, making this admission has a knock-on effect: CRU’s claim to Muir Russell – that they had “intended” to do a Yamal-Urals regional chronology, but had been unable to finish it – cannot be accepted at face value. This ought to require Schmidt to re-think this aspect of his post, though I doubt that he will do so.

Disclosure
In the (unlikely?) event that Schmidt concedes that the calculation of the Yamal-Urals regional chronology was consummated in 2006, I presume that his next line of defence will be that the consummation was in-some-still-undisclosed-way unsatisfying. (I presume that these grounds will be argued in the forthcoming CRU article responding to this controversy.}

Even if the consummation of the chronology was unsatisfying, the consideration and discarding of the Yamal-Urals regional chronology was an integral part of the methodology of Briffa et al 2008 and should have been to Phil Trans B as part of the methodology.

For amusement, let’s suppose that the editor and reviewers for Phil Trans B were presented with the statement on the regional chronology that CRU had presented to Muir Russell:

Between these [two other reconstructions] we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time and [we] made the decision to reprocess the Yamal ring-width data [from Briffa 2000], using improved standardization techniques.

If I were an editor or reviewer confronted with such language, I’d undoubtedly ask the authors to “complete” their analysis before expecting it to be accepted.

Once they considered and discarded the Yamal-Urals regional chronology, they should have disclosed the procedure, with at least the following:

Between these [two other reconstructions] we calculated an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but decided against using it for the following reasons [....whatever they were]. For reference, the Yamal-Urals regional chronology is shown in the Supplementary Information…

What’s so unreasonable about that?

Similarly, CRU’s submission to Muir Russell should have included straightforward disclosure that they had done a regional chronology calculation in 2006 and decided against using it (for whatever reasons.)

CRU’s failure to provide accurate disclosure, first to Phil Trans B and second to Muir Russell, does not mean that the entire field of climate science is pervaded by “perfidy”. But neither is acceptable, let alone praiseworthy.

Postscript
The present dispute arises from East Anglia’s refusal to provide the 2006 Yamal-Urals regional chronology in response to my FOI request. East Anglia has argued that they are entitled to refuse this information under the exemptions for incompleteness and intellectual property.

Even if they are ultimately successful in their arguments (and the UEA has lost almost every decision that has been taken to the ICO or Tribunal), surely both East Anglia and the larger climate community should ponder whether this particular fight is worthwhile, particularly at this time. Even if CRU has the right to withhold the data, they are not prevented from voluntarily disclosing it.

Not every battle is worth fighting. If I were managing the file for East Anglia, I’d tell Jones and Briffa: turn the data over voluntarily. Similarly, Schmidt himself realizes that battles over withholding data play poorly outside the most partisan part of the community: why wouldn’t he encourage CRU to voluntarily disclose the data and save themselves the bad publicity.

In addition, arguing that working results from 2006, especially in a controversial area of climate science covered by IPCC, should continue to attract a form of exemption is about as bad a test case as the academic community could imagine. By litigating this case, there is a risk that the wider academic community won’t like the precedent. By disclosing the data voluntarily, no precedent is set.

In a subsequent post, I’ll try to return to other aspects of Schmidt’s rant, including his offence at criticism of failures to disclose adverse data.


60 Comments

  1. Ivan
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    Steve, can you explain how the following statement represented an admission by the CRU that the calculations in question have been made in 2006:

    “In investigating your appeal a further search has been undertaken and it has become clear that the first time series out of the 1001 bootstraps is actually a single nonbootstrap) chronology.”

    Steve: the correspondence is online; if you are doubtful, read in the context of the correspondence. If you have further doubt, I suggest that you ask Osborn directly.

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

      They have dodged here a lot
      But admit that they’ve got
      One chronology just as he wanted
      And while they obfuscate
      They eventually relate
      That’s it’s there — so exceptions they’ve hunted

      They (perhaps in some pain)
      Go on to explain
      That the non-bootstrap composite data
      Does exist, and with taunts
      That’s it sure what he wants
      They will give it to Steve M — much later.

      In October, they said
      (I expect with some dread)
      They will publish this tree-ring composite
      So since it’s still in use
      They can do more abuse
      Of the legal exception that does it.

      But of course, the real harm
      (And the cause for alarm)
      Is exposing make-up of that paper
      So October will pass
      And delay (oh, alas)
      Will allow them to prolong this caper.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  2. Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  3. Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    You claim that “Much of Schmidt’s post fulminates against my criticism of inadequate disclosure of adverse results.”

    Yet Gavin wrote, e.g. at an in-line response to 86:

    “The problem isn’t criticism – the problem is the
    axiomatic assumption of bad faith. – gavin]”

    and even begins his post with a similar statement of where the shoe pinches:

    “But when he ladles his work with unjustified and false accusations of misconduct and deception, he demeans both himself and his contributions.”

    Steve: For the most part, I avoid attribution of motives, as most CA readers are aware. This is not to say that contrary examples can’t be found, but I generally avoid attribution of motives. Frequently, Schmidt, and especially Mann, take any criticism whatever as an accusation of “bad faith”. In addition, particularly in contentious posts, I take considerable care to avoid “unjustified and false accusations”. If you can draw my attention to specific statements that you believe to be either “unjustified” or “false”, I would appreciate it, so I can make appropriate correction to the post.

    Nor is the post in question “ladled” with such comments. Schmidt’s post is “ladled” with ad hominem accusations.

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

      Bart, when you say “Yet Gavin wrote”, are you sure? I believe at least one other commenter suggested:

      “I would not be surprised if Gavin’s rant is a “team” effort.”

      Are you quite sure it was gavin who wrote the rant?

    • Jeff Condon
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

      Bart,

      There is quite a bit of history regarding pre-selection, biased methodology and “obfuscation of decrement”.

      You may not be aware of the whole thing but can you imagine a major field-defining paper (or several of them) taking a mountain of data and only selecting that which correlates with the result?

      What kind of reaction would most have if Phillip Morris tried that?

      What if you didn’t pre-select in that sort of obvious manner but weighted series individually against a result? RegEM anyone?

      While it might sound like Steve is accusing them of bad faith, it is actually standard practice in the field to chose which series is best. The whole field assumes this pre-selection is reasonable. While I agree with you that the position of the entire paleoclimate field is untenable. It is hardly unreasonable to ask which data was selected before the viewing of the paper, that is part of their “in your face” methodology.

  4. Salamano
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Is it possible that their ‘regional chronology calculation’ that may one day be admitted was conducted was also deemed to be a ‘insta-reconstruction’ and therefore not something that also rose to the level of a legitimate chronology?

    Is there a way everybody can be right in the frame-of-reference they have chosen to view the saga?

    I’m envisioning Briffa et al doing this quick ‘insta-reconstruction’ and realizing, “hey, this is going to take a lot of work (to go back and see which cores don’t fit certain criteria– or if they dont…because the initial back-of-the-envelope foray didn’t look right)” … Since they had already felt they had valid material with Yamal, they figured they would go ahead with that (although reprocessing the original paper with better techniques doesn’t seem to be that ‘interesting’, the idea of going back and ‘robusticizing’ conclusions of earlier papers has happened before).

    When I think of the term ‘considered’ in the original statement, I’m coming up with the idea that one can ‘consider’ doing something without actually doing a lot of work on it. For example, I can consider doing the laundry right now, but I know there’s a uncertain LARGE amount just sitting there, and Mother’s Day or not I just ‘don’t have time’ to do it. I never actually processed anything or whatever. Perhaps the initial foray into the ‘all the data’ Ural/Yamal chronology just simply manifested a time-consuming effort lay ahead.

    I suspect this paper is now going to be worked on, and the work of describing why/how each core went into the chronology vs. not is going to be included. From Gavin’s comments it seems clear that the greater climate science community has already moved on from Yamal (etc.) despite their critical/essential nature in early temperature reconstruction. They would claim that going back over this stuff is a waste of time because (a) it’s time away from moving forward on new things, and (b) they’re just going to arrive at ‘confirming’ conclusions anyway.

    Since ‘all the data’ is now available… is there a dendrochronologist in the house who can study/publish the thing him/herself to relieve them of the agony (cheeky)

    I’m wondering when it will one day get out that these earlier papers were indeed a little weak for how much they ended up mattering, and that the only places where these weaknesses were discussed were privately over email– and at places like ClimateAudit. Because these papers were so landmark, no one wants to give an inch on their quality, but instead claim that since their conclusions have been since ‘confirmed’ that any critique is irrelevant. Perhaps this forthcoming paper on a Yamal/Ural regional chronology will do the same thing?

  5. Steve Milesworthy
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    “I’ll try to return to other aspects of Schmidt’s rant, including his offence at criticism of failures to disclose adverse data.”

    Presumably this was worded deliberately to imply that Gavin has accepted that adverse data really was being withheld when in reality the argument is whether all intermediate results can realistically be published (ie. pages and pages of notes and analyses over months and years of work).

    The other related point which makes your phrasing of the above questionable was that a particular accusation (or assumption) of yours that withheld data was “adverse” was incorrect.

    Steve; huh? I said that he took offence at such criticism, not that he conceded the criticism. Nor are the issues limited to “intermediate” data. There’s a long history that I’ll consider on another occasion.

    • Steve Milesworthy
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

      A less careful reader may misunderstand you. So perhaps say “his offence at my accusations of failure to disclose adverse data.”

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve Milesworthy (May 13 16:25),

        Do you agree on the invalidity of Schmidt’s claim that the 2006 chronology was never calculated?

        • Salamano
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

          I know you asked this of Steve… so pardon me :-/

          …is there a meaningful difference between an ‘insta-reconstruction’ type calculation and what Gavin might be envisioning as a more ‘full/accurate/publishable’ calculation to represent his version of ‘calculated’ (if that indeed is his perspective)?

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

          Gavin doesn’t directly make such a claim, does he? He says your interpretation of the email was “strained”.

          Steve – Gavin’s argument is premised on the non-calculation of a Yamal-Urals regional chronology. The FOI responses show that my interpretation of the email was correct, notwithstanding Gavin’s most recent cavilling. This is an unwinnable bit of wordsmithing for you: a regional chronology was calculated and East Anglia has admitted it. Gavin’s arguments based on the non-consummation of the calculation are bogus,

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

          No his argument seems to be premised on the unlikelihood that someone both did the calculation and then hid it away for dishonest purposed. Are you saying that Osborn was lying by pretending not to be sure what you were asking for?

    • Brandon Shollenberger
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:10 AM | Permalink

      I understand what Steve Milesworthy is saying. His argument is when Steve McIntyre refers to “criticism of failures to disclose adverse data,” he (deliberately) intends a logical separation between “criticism” and the rest. In other words, there are “failures to disclose adverse data,” and McIntyre criticizes them. This is opposed to McIntyre meaning his criticism is that there have been “failures to disclose adverse data.

      Both are legitimate interpretations of the sentence, and since the sentence can be interpreted two ways, it’s likely some people will misinterpret it. However, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that lack of precision was intentionally designed to mislead people.

      Beyond that, McIntyre provides a link to Gavin’s post, so anyone confused by the sentence could easily check what was said for themselves. If his intention was to mislead people, he’d necessarily have to hope they’d read an unclear sentence, assume one particular meaning, and not read the post he linked to.

      Or, it could just be that sometimes the sentences we write can be interpreted in more than one way.

  6. rogerknights
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

    Excellently written, except for this: “between Schmidt and I”
    Ouch!

  7. rogerknights
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    One other nit: there should be a question mark instead of a period after:

    “why wouldn’t he encourage CRU to voluntarily disclose the data and save themselves the bad publicity.”

  8. Alan D McIntire
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    “rogerknights
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Excellently written, except for this: “between Schmidt and I”
    Ouch!”

    I learned this trick from an English teacher. In your mind, replace the plural with the
    singular, (we, I)(me,us) for (John and me, John and I) .

    Very few people would say the incorrect “between we” as opposed to “between us”

    • Gary
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

      This grammatical error is nearly universal and as common as cherry picking data in climate science, I’m afraid. I read it in the blogs and hear it from tv journalists.

      • DaleC
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:56 AM | Permalink

        Much easier is to recognise that the conjunction ‘and’ is commutative – A and B is logically and semantically the same as B and A, although there may a rhetorical difference in emphasis. So to test if you have it correct, commute the pronouns:

        OK: “Confidentially, between you and me the Yamal series is a load of hooey”
        OK: “Confidentially, between me and you the Yamal series is a load of hooey”
        Bad: “Confidentially, between I and you the Yamal series is a load of hooey”
        So also bad: “Confidentially, between you and I the Yamal series is a load of hooey”

        And don’t get me started on apostrophes…

    • Bob Moss
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      The venerable me is in rapid decline.

      Between you and I is becoming accepted if not preferred.

      Nevertheless I remain a traditionalist in both grammar and the scientific method.

      But we digress …

  9. Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

    Steve – this is the best approach…calm, measured and responsive to all the diversionary flak that the team shoots. If only they spenmt all this energy on doing real science.

  10. Posted May 13, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    Steve wrote to Ivan above, “[I]f you are doubtful, read in the context of the correspondence. If you have further doubt, I suggest that you ask Osborn directly.”

    Steve, FWIW, there is no reasonable doubt about the meaning of the CRU statement you quoted. Therefore, Gavin’s ridiculous attempt to call this into question can only be considered credible by those who have not actually read the submissions in your FOI case.

    RTF

  11. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/yamalian-yawns/comment-page-2/#comment-235483

    gavin says:
    13 May 2012 at 3:41 PM

    McIntyre responds, describing this post as a ‘rant’ and ‘fulmination’ (I think he needs to get out more, this would have been a very different post if I was in full rant mode ;-) ).

    In his response he insists, again with no evidence that CRU finished the Yamal regional reconstruction in 2006 (and note that all his claims of ‘deception’ revolve around this). They did not, and his quotes on the topic are not in the least bit conclusive – though McIntyre claims that this is the ‘End of story’. Umm… Not really.

    Curiously, to support his claim that the Osborn email in 2006 was proof of the existence *in 2006* of an already completed reconstruction, he points to a further reply from UEA, which contains an very explicit statement from Osborn making it clear:

    Thus [the email] was not referring to chronologies but to groups of trees.

    It is only an inference that a regional chronology was later produced for the URALS group of trees. Our initial search for information relevant to this request suggested that this inference was false.

    (I should have linked that in the top post). How this is proof that the reconstruction existed in 2006 is unclear. The statement from Osborn goes on to clearly describe the subsequent work that was ongoing over 2006/2007/2008 and later: “This research project is due for completion in October 2012 and the requested information will be made available in finished form at the time of publication of the results which is expected to be no later than October 2012.”.

    Also of interest is that McIntyre doesn’t even mention the main point I brought up. That this is ongoing and *unpublished work*, and there is a clear FOI exemption for this (for obvious reasons), that can only be trumped by a clear public interest – and despite the endless exaggerations by McIntyre about the importance of these reconstructions, that bar is nowhere close to being met. And neither are they for his accusations of ‘deception’.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (May 13 18:16),

      Schmidt’s exegesis of the correspondence is, to put it mildly, absurd.

      The document in question describes a sequence of events. The University stated: (page 2)

      It is only an inference that a regional chronology was later produced for the URALS group of trees.Our initial search for information relevant to this request suggested that this inference was false.

      They later stated: (page 3)

      We did not identify a file containing a single non-bootstrap regional chronology, and could not recollect that such a regional chronology had been produced from the group of trees identified as URALS in email 1146252894.txt. We did, however, identify a file that we believed to contain 1001 bootstrap estimates of a regional chronology derived from a URALS group of trees that were produced a few weeks after email 1146252894.txt was sent.

      They continue with their account (bottom page 3):

      In investigating your appeal a further search has been undertaken and it has become clear that the first time series out of the 1001 bootstraps is actually a single (nonbootstrap) chronology.

      The results of the “initial” search was superceded by the later search.

      Elsewhere Osborn says:

      Regional chronologies have subsequently been produced from various data in the ‘greater Urals’ area of northern Siberia

      Schmidt is arguing pointlessly here.

      CRU calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology in 2006. They didn’t like the result for some reason. But it’s shall=we=say disingenuous – to use RC vocabulary = for Schmidt to continue to pretend that the CRU calculation was never consummated.

      • theduke
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

        For Gavin, a consumation devoutly wished to be missed.

        Case closed.

      • Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

        Steve, a reply was posted (#106) at RC by grypo more-or-less answering your comment here that I am replying to.

        I wrote the following in reply to grypo:

        ————–
        So if I understand correctly, it is being argued here that we all, the entire world … all of humanity … have to just sit tight and wait until October of 2012, to get our answer as to whether the 2006 composite is superior to what was published. And that having to suffer this delay is completely fair and just, and anything else would be a miscarriage of justice.

        I have just one question. What would RC’s assessment be of the ethical situation if, come October 2012, a paper were published and the data / metadata descriptors were not released, and the CRU claimed that “No big deal, no conspiracy or anything like that, we just changed our mind”?

        Or, “Well, the situation was different than we thought; turns out we were right back in ’06, it’s simply not relevant”?

        Presumably, if that happens, the CRU will resist all requests, including FOI’s, from anyone they do not trust to keep the information confidential.

        So then we’re back at the beginning of the process in which an FOI appeal process drags on for untold additional years, with CRU once again claiming for one reason or another that there is simply no grounds for the public to be entitled to the information which they paid for.

        What is RC’s assessment of the ethics of such a development if it were to happen — and given the possibility of it, why shouldn’t the public be trying already to extract this information by any means available to them?
        ——————

        Only the first paragraph of my comment was allowed through. Eric replied to it inline, writing:

        Yes. Thats precisely right. Well actually no.. You might have to wait forever. Sorry, but most of humanity could not possibly care less. And what gives you the right to declare it some important that some government agency should declare otherwise (that’s what the FOI request amount to). What right do you have to make demands like this on speculative things about possible data that someone might or might not think is worth putting their time into? Ever heard of George Orwell? Go read him. –eric

        • theduke
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

          Stieg, the self-congratulatory, arrogant censor who presumes to speak for “most of humanity”, is apparently oblivious to the delicious irony produced when he quotes Orwell.

        • MikeN
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

          I had mentioned Orwell with regards to Tiljander:

          Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

      • Paul H
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

        Steve,

        Can you clarify something please?

        Are you claiming that the “Yamal-Urals regional chronology” you mention in your post and comments is the chronology produced a “few weeks after email 1146252894.txt” that was produced from “a URALS group of trees”?

    • MarkB
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      “and despite the endless exaggerations by McIntyre about the importance of these reconstructions…”

      I’m sure the administrators at the relevant institutions would be interested to know how unimportant this work is. Hardly something I would want said of my work.

  12. Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    Thank you Steve. Your pace is both measured and gentle, which makes it all the more inexorable.

  13. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    “Second, the email was discussing ongoing work, which began in 2005, continued through 2006 and 2007, and to which we have recently returned. During that work, we have produced a number of different regional chronologies for the ‘greater Urals’ region involving multiple methods of
    selecting, processing and aggregating the measurement data. Some of these regional chronologies have been retained and some have not. The only identification of the requested information is from email 1146252894.txt, but because this only refers to future plans to produce a regional chronology from the URALS group of trees, this is not a unique identification of which – if any –of our working files might contain the requested information.”

    If I were SteveM, I would want to confine this discussion to getting a position out of Gavin Schmidt on problems with proxy pre-selections and the need to do sensitivity tests if one suspects there is a problem. Schmidt is obviously using his perceived claims against SteveM as diversion from discussing the real issues of pre-selections and sensitivity testing. Further, to look at work initiated in 2005 that is now promised for completion in October 2012 is rather telling when we consider that only a certain part of that work was published. If all climate science work progressed at that pace we could go flying by those tipping points that Hansen warns about.

  14. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    “and despite the endless exaggerations by McIntyre about the importance of these reconstructions…”

    That comment is much anticipated in these discussions with the point not being discussed is that a problem with one proxy and reconstruction is often symptomatic of problems with other proxies and reconstructions. Obviously a proxy that weights a reconstruction heavily is important for that reason also.

  15. johanna
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    So, there is a new rule in science that says researchers can sit on publicly funded data for at least 8 years and hold it exempt from FOI because they plan to do a paper on it at some stage? What a perfect excuse for unlimited cherry-picking and stifling of scientific debate.

    If they are too busy to get around to doing something with their full data set, they should hand it over to anyone else who does want to use it – on the condition that full disclosure is required by all parties. Hoarding publicly funded data for nearly a decade for whatever reason is surely an untenable position.

  16. RB
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

    It doesnt matter if the chronology was done by 2006. If it was done by the time of the FOI/EIR request then it is disclosable (and previous ICO cases against UEA have held that if that “part” of some alleged future publication was finished then that “part” is disclosable. The chronolgy is itself a discrete piece of information. The fact that it might be included in some future publication doesn’t matter).

    The FOI/EIR request must be dealt with based on the information held at the time of the request and so the 2006 email of Dr Osborn is only a reference used to identify the chronolgy which, I think it is accepted, existed by the time of the request. So if it was completed post 2006 but before the request it is still subject to the request. Whether it existed in 2006 is completely irrelevant. Whether it existed at the time of the FOI/EIR request is entirely relevant. Schmidt’s and his commentators’ demands at RC for proof that the chronology existed at the time of the 2006 email are simply displaying ignorance of FOI/EIR legislation. No surprise there.

  17. Jeff Alberts
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

    Indeed, if “actual” scientists had provided equivalent detail for the tree-ring chronologies in common use, much of the controversy of recent years would have been avoided.

    As would much of the AGW brouhaha, I imagine.

  18. EdeF
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    Now real science would be for the Team to publish the results of the Yamal-Urals Regional Chronology in full, even though it doesn’t produce an exaggerated hockey stick. Show the tree counts, show the correlation values and explain why these results differ from the
    low tree count Yamal with the 6 sigma spike. Now, that’s science.

  19. AbelK
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    This quote you post is a literal cherry pick:
    “Regional chronologies have subsequently been produced from various data in the ‘greater Urals’ area of northern Siberia”

    There is a comma at the end, it helps if we include the entire sentence.

    “Regional chronologies have subsequently been produced from various data in the ‘greater Urals’ area of northern Siberia, and one of those might be based on the URALS group of trees referred to in the email.”

    From that, how do you know “CRU calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology in 2006. They didn’t like the result for some reason.”

    Even Osborn didn’t know if it was the Yamal-Urals or not (as we can see by reading his entire sentence and not cherry-picking). If he didn’t know, what is your evidence that it was calculated and they didn’t like the results?

  20. robin
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    I hope I haven’t become too cynical, but sometimes I think the single sentence of your’s they find the most terrifying is where you said you may be pulling back from the whole climate debate. When I was ‘just cynical’ I thought fear brought funding or job security. Now I’m thinking it might be controversy.

    Either way, huge respect to you sir. Not just for the relentless pursuit of truth and evidence either; I’ve read and appreciated all your posts over the years, but there is always a sub-voice in my head kind of marveling at the quality of your mind.

  21. David Anderson
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    There’s an obvious point of contention over what constitutes a chronology consideration/calculation i.e. mental vs insta vs publishable — and over at RC they persist with that line of debate. I’d like to see them address what Steve writes under Disclosure and the failure to fully address the purpose. In a reply Gavin suggests that “ad hoc deadlines from [the] IPCC” won’t drive Briffa 201x (climate scientists don’t work to IPCC deadlines!?), though in the earlier example the lack of time is cited as a valid excuse to leave out Yamal/Urals. If IPCC deadlines don’t matter what pray tell were they up to before that warranted the rush to publish?

  22. Alberto
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

    If it has a hockey stick then it is a chronology/reconstruction.
    If it has not, it isn’t.

  23. pax
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:49 AM | Permalink

    In this saga I can’t help being a little puzzled as to why new paleo data wasn’t immediately analyzed using off-the-shelf scripts etc. I mean, they do this for a living – new data should be an exciting stay-late-at-the-office event. And they claim they never considered it for years.

    Steve: Me too. In the mining business, new drill programs are eagerly awaited. Sometimes the results are bitterly disappointing, but you have to report them and take your medicine. Briffa had published the Polar Urals series in Nature in 1995. The information was skimpy in the early period as Briffa knew. A new tranche of information became available in 1998 with much new medieval data. I agree, an exciting stay-late-at-the-office event. The episode makes no sense. It’s too bad that there’s never been an actual investigation at the University of East Anglia.

    • jitthacker
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

      Exactly, Pax. In this game you’re either a collector or an analyzer. As an analyzer, you’ll spend your life trying to extract new data from a collector. And once you get it – in exchange for co-authorship, sans doute – you’ll have a preliminary analysis done before the close of play the next day.

      As to what you do with it if the results aren’t exciting – that’s another story.

    • Jimmy Haigh
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

      A good point. Same in my game: oil/gas exploration. Results of new wells are eagerly awaited and immediately incorporated into the database/models. New information can have a huge impact on subsequent drilling operations, decisions to go ahead – or not- with field development, investment, etc. etc.. I think the difference is that most oil companies are privately funded. In taxpayer funded boondoggles like “climate science” money is no object and there is no need to “stay late at the office”.

    • Skiphil
      Posted Feb 27, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      We are now two months into 2013 but I have not found any indication of the updated CRU work that was expected to be published by “October 2012″ after delay of so many years.

      I am however reassured (sic) that Phil Jones seems to be well into another three year grant from my own govt’s Dept. of Energy in order to better understand “natural variability” since we know that CRU researchers have a sterling record of fully analyzing and publishing all pertinent data relating to natural variability.

      http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/research

  24. simon abingdon
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    The “COMICAL GAV” cartoon looks ad hom to me and as an introduction to an important post shows an unfortunate lack of appropriate gravitas. (Btw, May 13, 2012 at 6:42 PM, “superseded” please).

    • geronimo
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

      simon abingdon:

      I may have had something to do with this as I posted this on BishopHill:

      “We might be doing better than I thought. Gavin is beginning to look like Comical Ali, spouting seriously wrong propaganda while the relentless march of scientific investigation by Steve Mc is bringing truth to his door.

      May 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM | geronimo”

      I believe it’s satire rather than ad hominem, but whether it’s ad hominem or satire I believe depends on which state your pomposity flag is set.

      Supercede is a common way of spelling supersede and perfectly acceptable in English where it has been in common use since the middle ages. Just for once it isn’t a deliberate Webster change to the spelling to make it simpler, but a mispelling of the original Latin word, originating in France.

      • simon abingdon
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

        It is not “perfectly acceptable” as you probably well know. You’ll be trying to justify “concensus” next.

        • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

          the wiktionary article is intriguing:

          http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/supercede

          it comes down to the consensus at any time.

        • geronimo
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

          Simon, you have me in one. I always spell supersede as supercede because I don’t know how to spell supersede. I’m not sure of the importance of this in the discussion though?

  25. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    The non-reporting of adverse results (Yamal +other data) is a serious issue. As noted, you would make headlines if your company did this with drug trial data or mining data (more than headlines actually, more like jail). Recent papers have shown the problem in psychology and other fields of preferential publishing of positive results to result in useless science (ie, untrustworthy). Steve’s analysis showed the results likely to be adverse. If it was “instascience” then the Team have an easy answer–do the analysis with their (ahem!) sophisticated codes and put it out there and show that Steve is wrong. Stopping the addition of new trees to your regional chronology when you get the answer you like is not science. In ecology, there are many studies that examine the effect of changing scale (larger plots) on measures like species richness or probability of detection or abundance distribution curve shape. It is known that this effect exists and one can’t get away with ignoring it. In this regional chronology stuff, they make arbitrary decisions about what population of trees is in or out ex ante. Wow. But they will defend their right to make these arbitrary choices to the death, apparently.

    • bernie1815
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

      Craig:
      Is it an “ex ante” or “ex post” decision as to which sites to include or not to include? Equally, “ex ante” with respect to what? I can readily understand the grounds upon which a sub-set of an available sample has been excluded – though that rationale needs to be explicit and coherent. Certainly it is inappropriate to exclude a sub sample simply on the grounds that there is a belief that the data does not conform to some hypothesized relationship.

    • Scott Brim
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

      Re: Craig Loehle (May 14 07:20),

      Craig, for someone like myself who has spent twenty-five years in the nuclear industry, all this debate over the statistical methods used in dendroclimatology research has little value in the absence of empirical evidence which clearly demonstrates that the primary data recording device — in this case a tree — is capable of accurately collecting the historical temperature information necessary to develop these kinds of climatological reconstructions.

      For people like myself who are used to seeing a disciplined end-to-end audit trail of both the applicable science itself and its associated documentation, there comes a point where one has to regard these debates over the dendro’s statistical methods, and who said what to whom when, as being mere Kabuke Theater.

      Let’s remember that no one has demonstrated that trees are accurate thermometers. If the fundamental data collection and data recording devices employed at the front end of the temperature reconstruction process are suspect, then the whole enterprise is suspect.

  26. mondo
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

    A gentle word of advice for those posting at RC, The (Australian) Climate Commission, and similar sites. Do include the following words: “This is NOT a death threat” in all communications. For the avoidance of doubt!

  27. BlogReader
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    Steig is now off the deep end:


    #105:
    (user post):
    So if I understand correctly, it is being argued here that we all, the entire world … all of humanity … have to just sit tight and wait until October of 2012, to get our answer as to whether the 2006 composite is superior to what was published. And that having to suffer this delay is completely fair and just, and anything else would be a miscarriage of justice.

    [Response: Yes. Thats precisely right. Well actually no.. You might have to wait forever. Sorry, but most of humanity could not possibly care less. And what gives you the right to declare it some important that some government agency should declare otherwise (that's what the FOI request amount to). What right do you have to make demands like this on speculative things about possible data that someone might or might not think is worth putting their time into? Ever heard of George Orwell? Go read him. --eric]

    Freedom of Information requests are now something out of 1984. FOI requests for 6 year old information mind you.

    Odds on when Eric will Godwin the thread?

  28. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    Interesting contrast for the treatment of the Mann(99) North America dendro PC and the Yamal 6 sigma proxy. Mann(99) removed what the authors thought was too fast growth on the North American tree ring proxy and substituted another proxy record. Mann(99) attributed that growth spurt to CO2 fertilization. In the Yamal case the six sigma growth spurt was used evidently as is.

    I do not recommend removing proxies after the fact without a good and valid physical reason.

    There are some differences in these two proxies that might give an insight for the different treatment provided. In the North American proxy in Mann (99) the proxy had a spurt of growth before the end of the series and at the end of the series was showing diminished growth that the authors attributed to fertilizer saturation. In the Yamal case the growth was headed toward 6 sigma at the very end of the series and appeared to be a proxy that was going to keep right on giving.

  29. chu
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    Do any of the tree-ring chronologies closely match the stock market? If you can pick what you are going to use/exclude, you can make a case for them matching things other than temperature.

    Steve: there’s an early CA post making climate reconstructions from principal components of tech stocks under Mannian methodology. Look for “climateaudit huybers”.

  30. stacey
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Put your hands in the air,
    Our Gav says,
    Shake them all about,
    Our Gav says,
    Do it when Our Gav says,
    Our Gav says,
    And you will never be out.
    Our Gav says,

    I says to our Gav it’s a disaster.

    What is Stace?

    Our ratings, the web site is going down the pan, Gav? And we need you to do something cos we are what silent movies are to talkies.

    What can I do Stace.

    Well for a start you have you go over and tell that Mr McIntyre to stop telling the truth? Tell him! Just really tell him!

  31. Mickey Reno
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    I posted this defense of Steve M.’s integrity at Gavin Schmidt’s RC “Yamal Yawner” thread. I responded to a previous commenter who was bravely trying to get his peeps to be a bit less hostile to replication and criticism (even though he was a bit hostile in the processe). I presume it has been deleted (as I do not see it on the thread or in the Bore Hole).

    ————————–
    “@ #86 Menth says: This is why we need enemies.”

    I appreciate the underlying philosophy of your statement, but you really ought to use the term “critics” instead of “enemies.” Criticism & science are supposed to be good buddies, are they not? Criticism (paraphrasing you) is necessary for science to advance.

    People on Real Climate seem to have forgotten that. They give that scientific fundamental lip service in a most cynical way. Attacks on McIntyre’s motivations are a perfect example of that.

    Steve McIntyre’s is a decent, honest inquirer into the real problems of Yamal, which, to my mind, are NOT yawners, contrary to the assertion of this thread’s title. Yamal has had a crucial influence on assertions of recent unprecedented warming, and is referred to prominently in Briffa 2000, Briffa 2008, Mann et.al. 2003 and subsequent derivatives, including IPCC reports. Steve’s work shows how the statistical choices made by Briffa and Mann created undue influence for this peculiarly small dataset, ignoring, for now, the not insignificant and legitimate questions about whether or not that influence came about by unintentional or intentional bias.

    For his criticisms, Steve has been treated horribly by the CRU from almost the first moments it’s scientists became aware of him, trying to subvert normal peer-review to thwart his being published, personally smearing him and his work. Phil Jones famously said something to the effect “why should I share my data with him when he’ll only try to find something wrong with it?”

    For nearly 10 years, the CRU folks (and many here on RC) have insulted him, blocked his reasonable requests, and forced him to become legalistic and dogmatic in his efforts to get the information needed to replicate their study results [and] those efforts continue to this day. Steve has borne these insults with grace and humour but also with a stubborn determination that such corruptions of scientific honesty (he doesn’t use those words, but I DO) will not deter him. After almost 10 years of such behavior, not a single CRU person has shown the intellectual curiousity to say, “here’s my best case, Steve, now let’s see if you and I can tear this down” (as experimental scientists should). I do credit Hantirov for his open, sharing attitude. But he wasn’t capable of answering Steve’s questions. Only Briffa was.

    Of course, calling people liars is a serious thing. And everyone is free to assume whatever they want about Steve and his sense of integrity. But every time we point a finger, three more are pointing back at us. For my money, if Steve McIntyre said I had made a major mistake, I’d be inclined to recheck my work. If he called me a liar, then I’d probably want to do a little soul searching.

    On a related subject, it’s very important that we make distinctions between published, unpublished, and works-in-progress. Because here too is another possible ethical pitfall that would allow someone to unethically cite something in paper X, to help make case Y, while sheilding paper X from scrutiny from the authors of case Z, who disagree with case y. Just claim it’s “unpublished,” thereby hindering possible rebuttals and criticisms. While I’m sure most people try to be ethical and fair, we don’t really care about those folks when setting up methodologies, do we? No, we care about those who aren’t honest and fair, who would game the system for self-serving reasons. A case in point is explained in “Caspar and the Jesus Paper” at:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html

    Finally, why is Gavin doing all this channeling for Keith Briffa and the CRU? He doesn’t work there. Why can’t Keith address these issues firsthand?

    [Steve McQueen]I know… cooler…[/Steve McQueen]

    • Skiphil
      Posted Feb 27, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

      Reviewing the Yamal issues and also finding this summary thread at BH to be very helpful:

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/9/the-yamal-deception.html

      Can we finally expect an intelligent response from CRU and also from RealClimate now, in 2013??

      Or will the excuse of ongoing “unpublished” research be applied forever to data acquired in 1998??…….

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