Was Gergis et al “Withdrawn”?

On June 12, David Karoly stated of the then recently disappeared Gergis et al:

The paper has been put on hold, while an issue with the data processing and methods that we have identified is checked. The paper has not been withdrawn nor has it been retracted.

In a June 13 email to Gergis et al coauthors and Climate Audit antagonists Schmidt, Mann, Steig, Wahl (see documents obtained by Warwick Hughes here), Gergis admitted that the paper was not merely “on hold” (whatever that means), but that they had decided to “voluntarily withdraw” the paper:

we felt that we needed to voluntarily withdraw the paper in press with the journal, amend the text and add some extra supplementary material justifying our method…

this means we will need to resubmit the manuscript to peer review once again…

We contacted the journal editor on Friday June 8 to let them know…

I guess Karoly has been taking lessons on honesty in climate communications from Phil Jones.

Update- Oct 2012: Journal of Climate now says (h/t WUWT) that the paper has been withdrawn:


  1. Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just startled all the roommates with a solid LOL!

    • Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Steve, re “wedgie,” perhaps you could borrow Jeez’s life coach for a few minutes to help you nicen up the post? :-)

  2. Brent Buckner
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As predicted by various folks (I’m too lazy to ascribe proper credit), I see that the plan at the time was to amend the text, not re-do the analysis in accordance with the original text.

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In Gergis email to authors, she said that 22 of 27 proxies have “significant” correlations after detrending. In fact, only 8 proxies have “significant” correlations using standard allowances for autocorrelation. So the problems are more formidable than she is letting on.

    Not that reviewers for Journal of Climate will care.

    Here is a quick script showing this:

    ## this calculates correlations using stated criteria
    ##Packages Used
    #Metadata : previously collated from Gergis SI 
    	info=infog[order(infog$noaa),] #in order of dataset
    	for(j in 1:27) work[,j]=c(unlist(work[,j]))
    	proxy =window(work,1000)
    #instrumental target
    	trim=function(x) window( x,start= min( time(x)[!is.na(x)]), end=max(time(x)[!is.na(x)]) )
    	recon=trim(work[,2]) #reconstruction
    	instrs= window(Instr,1921,1990)
    	info$direct=round(cor(proxys,instrs),2 )  #matches
    # detrended correlation
    	for ( i in 1:27) proxy_det[,i]=  lm(proxys[,i]~c(time(proxys)))$residuals
    	instr_det= ts(lm(instrs~c(time(instrs)))$residuals,start=tsp(instrs)[1])
    	info$detrend=round(cor(proxy_det,instr_det),2 )  #matches
    	#info$spear = round(cor(proxy_det,instr_det,method="spearman"),2 ) 
    #adjusted t-value for AR1 autocorrelation in usual style
      t_adj=function(fm) {
            beta= fm$coef[2]
            neff= N * (1-r)/(1+r) ;neff # 102.2358 
            se.obs= sqrt((N-2)/(neff-2))* se.ols; 
    	t_adj= beta/se.obs
    	q= qt(.95,neff)
        for (i in 1:27) {
    	fm= lm(proxy_det[,i]~instr_det)
    	info[i,c("t_adj","qt")]= round(unlist(t_adj(fm)),3)
          for (i in 1:27) {
    	fm= lm(proxys[,i]~instrs)
    	info$trend_t[i]= round(t_adj(fm)[1],3)
    	info$trend_qt[i]= round(t_adj(fm)[2],3)
      info$prob=abs(info$t_adj)> info$qt	
    ## RESULTS
    #           name  t_adj
    #1      Mt Read   2.527
    #11       Kauri   2.247
    #12     Fiji_AB  -2.178
    #16 Rarotonga_2R -1.735
    #18      Vostok   1.813
    #23     Bunaken  -3.498
    #25    Ningaloo  -2.677
    #27       Laing  -3.003
    • Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not fluent in R, but I don’t see where or how you computed t_adj.

      Steve: part of the script isnt showing up because of some weird interaction with WordPress. Dont know why but will try to fix.

    • AndyL
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Can this be brought to the attention of the editor, so that reviewers are forced to consider it?

    • charles the moderator
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Jul 24 15:17),

      In fact, only 8 proxies have “significant” correlations using standard allowances for autocorrelation.

      More than enough to perform a Goldielocksian transform.

    • daved46
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Jul 24 15:17),

      I realize it’s short for info-Gergis, but infog does have nice ring for climate scientists in their natural state.

    • TimTheToolMan
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The thing that disturbs me the most is that they clearly didn’t have a handle on what they were doing at all. Compare this with a paper like O’Donnell et al where the data was pushed and poked in every direction to fully understand what it was saying. This one? Not so much.

      • Michael Kottek
        Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Indeed, it astonishes me that no one was interested enough to see how robust the analysis was by comparing the detrended and non-detrended correlations. I know I would have.

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Out of the 27 initial proxies only 3 cover the period 1000 AD to 1430 (the tree rings from MtRead, Oroko and the coral isotopes from Palmyra). The rest start after 1430 or much later. Steve McI shows above that only one survives as a significant correlation after using standard allowances for autocorrelation: MtRead.
      That chops 500 years off the “Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” as just one leg is not enough to stand on.

      • AntonyIndia
        Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Why didn’t they use one the many Mosley-Thompson Antarctic ice cores some of which go back millenia? Steve answered this for one of them in his first postscript(Plateau Remote which didn’t show a hockey stick), but what about the rest?
        Not the “right” shape, not properly archived, data lost, owners unavailable?
        What legacy for the Mosley Tompson’s if they are not in the “first multi-proxy warm season (September–February) temperature reconstruction for the combined land and oceanic region of Australasia (0ºS–50ºS, 110ºE–180ºE)” ever? Effort, money and data wasted? The Russians (Vostok) at least contributed 2 proxies to Gergis’ ambitious project.

        • JohnH
          Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

          No many how many times you ask the question you are always left with the obvious answer ‘They picked the proxies that gave them the answer they needed’. The bigger question is how do you stop bias in a single subject like ‘Climate Studies’ where recruitment into the subject is controlled by a group of activists, just look at all the prospectus’s for the courses.

        • AntonyIndia
          Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

          Examples: Thompson drilled Dunde in 1989 (96ºE ~ 40000 years long), Guliya in 1997 (81ºE ~ 500000 years long) and Dasuopu in 2000 86ºE ` 8000 years long). If some says that these are outside the “given” grid I’ll say that Vostok (78ºS) is equally outside that grid.

        • manicbeancounter
          Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 6:18 PM | Permalink


          There are even more problems with the paper. For instance,
          - pairs proxies from similar locations with widely different C20th trends (e.g. Rarotonga, Vostok.
          - Proxies up to 1300 miles outside the area 0ºS–50ºS, 110ºE–180ºE.
          - No proxies from Australian sub-continent.

          I have tried to summarize both the high level McIntyre (and JeanS) analysis, and my more basic criticisms in anticipation of the paper’s resurrection.

    • gober
      Posted Jul 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Reply


      Could you elaborate on the 22 proxies vs 8 issue? It looks like this may be a major area of dispute.


  4. Sven
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What continues to amaze me is how stupid these world famous scientists can be. This e-mail of Gergis is so pathetically similar to the faked memo by Gleick and they are both so damn “clever” that they look like a 3rd grader faking a letter to the teacher explaining that he missed the class because he was sick and signing the letter with “my mom”. Amazing. Simply amazing.

  5. Barclay MacDonald
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Luckily they caught the embarassing errors before publication. Thank goodness for peer review!

  6. Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The date, the 13th, of the revealing word
    Could almost be taken as “after the fact”
    But the “June 8″ note makes all of this quite absurd
    It is more than mere papers they need to retract!

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

  7. None
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Worst entry ever Steve and a mile below your normal standard. For a start Gergis could just have been inaccurate in her wording, or Karoly unaware of her decision, or her decision could have been taking subsequent to Karoly’s statement. And referring to Karoly as “the wedgie” is not funny, just rather childish and inappropriate in a blog of normally such high standards.

    Steve:as you observe, the appellation does not comply with blog policies. It has been accordingly removed.

    • Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I fully agree with None. So, thanks.

    • Sven
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      C’mon you guys … the wordings of them both were precise enough and look at the dates 12., 13, and 8. It’s clearly not an accidental mistake

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Karoly was the senior author. Gergis would have consulted with him before doing anything. She sent her notice to Journal of Climate on June 8, so Karoly was aware of the decision. The question of whether it had been “withdrawn” occasioned blog discussion at the time, including the non-climate blog Retraction Watch where Karoly placed his comment.

      For public consumption, they said that it had not been “withdrawn”, but privately they agreed that it had.

      • Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Brilliant work Warwick Hughes and devastating irony – I come to this ‘post-wedgie’ – Steve McIntyre. One of the great Climate Audit posts.

        For public consumption, they said that it had not been “withdrawn”, but privately they agreed that it had.

        As Paul Matthews pointed out earlier than most. Consider the delightful way Gergis begins:

        I also wanted to provide some background to the intense scrutiny our work has received from the notorious Canadian climate change blogger Stephen McIntyre (Climate Audit) since the online release of our study on 17 May:


        This site, run by a semi-retired mining consultant, seeks to discredit climate researchers and their work particularly in the area of multi proxy climate reconstruction.

        I knew just from that intro that the appreciation expressed for Steve, Jean S and the whole CA community by the end for the correction was going to be fullsome indeed :)

        • Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

          She can’t get her facts right even in her note, it seems.

          What Steve “seeks to discredit”, of course, is not the “researchers” but key research that has been audited here and found wanting over key statistical issues. With almost unfailing courtesy, with invitations to the researchers to collaborate, improve their work, improve their methods, and improve the publication process (as now will be required from next year by UK law), and with no preconceptions.

  8. Manniac
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Clearly the front fell off the Gergis et al. paper.

    Karoly tried to tow it outside of the publishing enviroment…

    • stan
      Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Permalink | Reply


      Always loved that one. Could watch it every day. The paper is in the ‘void’. There’s nothing out there.

  9. Rick Bradford
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 7:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The narcissists who make up the climate change ‘consensus’ community would rather gargle battery acid than admit they were wrong, so this paper must have been a real stinker.

    But they thought they could get by with it (they always do think that) and it would have come as a nasty shock to see its shortcomings exposed here. Well done, Steve.

  10. MarkB
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m reminded of a passage from Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism (I know – bear with me).

    Arendt says that when the group leader would get caught in a public lie, outsiders and critics would say “Now, he’ll be humiliated in front of his followers, and they’ll reject him.” The followers, however, saw it differently. They would say “Ha – our leader lies to their faces, and they take it!”

    Two things. First there is a truth for insiders/believers, and a ‘truth’ for outsiders/non-believers. There is no moral sanction against lying to outsiders, because they are not worthy of moral consideration. Second, knowledge of lies by leaders never shake the faith of followers – in fact, such knowledge serves only to reinforce belief.

    • Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Second, knowledge of lies by leaders never shake the faith of followers – in fact, such knowledge serves only to reinforce belief.

      Only for the most dysfunctional of situations, where for example complete control of the media is already in place.

      This isn’t that situation. Many followers no longer follow. May their leaders enjoy the obscurity their acts so richly deserve.

  11. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In the e-mail from Joelle Gergis September 27 2011: “..contributors of non-publicly available data used in this study are automatically considered coauthors unless you’d prefer acknowledgement rather than the responsibility of coauthorship”.

    Reward having data off line? (although for this article it might be a punishment)

    • MikeN
      Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve heard of plagiarism, but how can they just award authorship?

    • Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 7:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

      If the new article archives the previously unpublished series, this could be an easy way for the contributor to get their data published in an article with their name on it.

      But it ordinarily would be better for the contributor to have first published and archived it in an article that explains how the data was collected, what assumptions were made in dating it, etc, and in which the contributor stands out as the lead author. The contributor would then get a valuable citation every time the data is used in a subsequent paper.

      But I suspect that many climate scientists abuse this system by perpetually withholding the data in order to be listed as a coauthor every time it is used. Or if it is being archived in each paper, to only release it a few years at a time so that there is always a fresh component. Elisabeth Isaksson comes to mind: http://climateaudit.org/2009/08/17/svalbards-lost-decades/#comment-191878

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 9:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

        I’ve posted up a copy of the Gergis et al article in its Journal of CLimate preprint form here http://www.climateaudit.info/pdf/multiproxy/gergis%202012%20JClim%20Evidence%20of%20unusual.pdf .

        I just noticed that I had this version; I thought that it had disappeared without a trace. It states on its face:

        This is a preliminary PDF of the author-produced
        manuscript that has been peer-reviewed and
        accepted for publication. Since it is being posted
        so soon after acceptance, it has not yet been
        copyedited, formatted, or processed by AMS
        Publications. This preliminary version of the
        manuscript may be downloaded, distributed, and
        cited, but please be aware that there will be visual
        differences and possibly some content differences
        between this version and the final published version.

        Editor Broccoli challenged my email to him observing that the article had been “disappeared” from the journal as follows:

        The article in question did not “disappear” from the Journal of Climate. It was removed from a preprint server for accepted manuscripts that have not yet been published. AMS maintains this preprint server for the convenience of authors and readers. The manuscripts on this server are labeled as “preliminary” and are not in final form.

        It sure looks like it disappeared.

        • thisisnotgoodtogo
          Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

          Steve McIntyre,
          When a manuscript is accepted for publication, is not the time when it becomes “a paper” ?
          If so, then Broccoli’s reference to it as a manuscript is a downgrade that appears intentional.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Hu, your comment reminded me of something interesting in the author list.

        Gergis refused to provide the prescreened data, challenging me to collect that data from the original authors. But numerous authors who are shown as data-contributor coauthors contributed data that was screened out and which Gergis therefore refused to provide. On this reasoning, shouldn’t they be removed from the list of data contributors.

        Tas van Ommen is in this category, as are CUllen, Grierson, Goodwin and others.

      • j ferguson
        Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Hu McCulloch:

        But I suspect that many climate scientists abuse this system by perpetually withholding the data in order to be listed as a coauthor every time it is used.

        Bingo. A reason why data aren’t publicly archived, and a good one. They are an annuity.

        It would be good for someone who understands these things to share some observations on the benefits of co-authorship vs citations.

        1. Publishing your data can provide the means to discover that something you’ve published is nonsense and reveal you to be the idiot you were afraid you were.

        2. Publishing your data reduces your opportunities for professional exposure from potentially many co-authorships to one, although this is balanced by a possible increase in citations.

        This balance has to have economic effect – path to tenure, who buys drinks for whom at colloquia, etc.

        Steve, shouldn’t it be the case that all providers of data on the input side of the screen-o-matic get equal treatment? Aren’t all the data screened in or out needed to properly review a paper?

        Steve: Absolutely. I asked Gergis for prescreened data and she told me to FO. The Journal of CLimate supported her.

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Aug 4, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

      This would be a variant case of institutionalized gift- authorship.

  12. AntonyIndia
    Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 9:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A bit OT but found through e-mail of 11 April 2011 in the above mentioned FOI links of Warwick Hughes.

    Australian archivist Gionni di Gavio from Newcastle University (AU) found a “register, belonging to leading New England pastoralist, meteorologist and astronomer Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922), brings to a conclusion the climate records meticulously collected at his observatory and weather recording facilities at Eversleigh Station over a period of 45 years.”
    It is in handwritten note book form. So far so good.

    Next University meteorologist Martin Babakhan files it as http://uoncc.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/climate-archive-to-help-predict-extreme-weather-events/

    How is the ‘scientific climate’ in Australia at present?

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Jul 24, 2012 at 11:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The above mentioned Farmers notebook is “currently only in ‘scanned’ format, it hasn’t been turned into usable data.” and “Seems a shame that at the moment it’s just sitting quietly in our library not being used!”, Heather Stevens wrote on April 11 2011 here

  13. Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 6:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    My favourite pick (so far) is from the Gergis and Lough collection:

    From: Joelle Gergis
    Subject: Information for your PAGES Aus2k presentation
    Date: Friday, 16 April 2010 12:18:10 PM


    As data synthesis is the aim of the workshop, [...] Discussion of data availability, innovative
    attempts at data synthesis
    and examples of multi-disciplinary collaboration are particularly
    encouraged. [emphasis added -hro]

    What could more “innovative” in “data synthesis” than that which results in an iconic graphical representation derived from data from an apple series which have been (conveniently truncated to avoid displaying the bad apples and) seamlessly spliced with data from a later, shorter – but more fruitful – orange series?!

  14. LearDog
    Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 6:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    June 12, 13th – nope, 8TH! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Ish. Anyone with teenagers knows what’s happening here. Steve – pretty funny. ;-D

  15. mt
    Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 7:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    One other thing to note, the WDC data was pulled on June 13 with the notice:

    LAST UPDATE: 6/2012 (Removal of reconstruction data due to
    withdrawal of Gergis et al. 2012, Journal of Climate.
    Original receipt by WDC Paleo 5/2012)

  16. Steven Mosher
    Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Reply


    after its re written they wont have to address the question of giving credit to CA.

  17. Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    While it is hard to admit oneself is wrong, an attempt to minimize the error that sounds like a slide-away maneuver will do them no good.

    • michaelozanne
      Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I’m still waiting for theie annoncemount that by pure serendipity, the method executed was in fact superior to the method intended et voila, no need to change a thing……….:-)

  18. JEM
    Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 5:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The paper that reemerges – if one ever does – will bear no relation to the original, except in its conclusions.

    • michaelozanne
      Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 5:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “The paper that reemerges – if one ever does – will bear no relation to the original, except in its conclusions.”

      0.09°C (±0.19°C)i.e sod all give or take twice the number I first thought of, was their journey even necessary…..

      • JEM
        Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 1:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Given the nature and the effectiveness of peer review in the climate-science field it’s a wonder they even bother with the paper at all, they might as well quit after a suitably doom-mongering abstract.

        • michaelozanne
          Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 4:16 AM | Permalink

          Or they could just stick this

          on continuous loop…

  19. Jeff Norman
    Posted Jul 25, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yesterday, the news did blare,
    A hockey stick, that wasn’t there
    It wasn’t there again today
    I wish, I wish it’d go away…

  20. Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    When one makes a mistake it is best to be honest and admit it, rather than using obfuscation which tends to create a mountain of crap !

  21. Mickey Reno
    Posted Jul 26, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    ;-) Apparently Gergis and Karoly have different ideas about what constitutes honesty, scientfic integrity, transparency…

    Mr. Karoly, I refer you to the “First Rule of Holes.”

  22. Paul-in_CT
    Posted Jul 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I imagine whether or not the paper was “withdrawn” has something to do with the IPCC deadline for publications, ala the Jesus paper.

  23. Skiphil
    Posted Jul 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    any bets on status of this paper, how they may have revised it, and if it has been re-submitted in time for IPCC deadline?

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 18, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Journal of Climate now says (h/t WUWT) that the paper has been withdrawn:

    • Posted Oct 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I think Jean S spotted this before WUWT, Richard Tol, Retraction Watch and all. h/t CA!

      • Jean S
        Posted Oct 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Richard Drake (Oct 18 14:03),
        the missing link in today’s chain between CA and RW seems to be Skiphill. I actually spotted this by following my old bookmark (after seeing John Ritson’s comment), but little googling reveals that this was spotted already on September 9th by wat dabney.

        • Posted Oct 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

          So it was withdrawn by 9th September, h/t wat, who may not have known down under how much that info would have counted in these parts. How strange in any case that nobody concerned wrote a personal note to you, both as a courtesy and mark of gratitude. I’m sure we all live in hope on that.

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] – “status” in the realm of academic journal publications). As Steve McIntyre reported today, according to correspondence from Joelle Gergis, the lead author, this paper was, in fact, [...]

  2. [...] Was Gergis et al “Withdrawn”? [...]

  3. [...] may recall Steve McIntyre’s evisceration of Gergis et al. Steve’s question has now been answered. In retrospect, it looks like David Karoly’s puffed up legal whining [...]

  4. [...] may recall Steve McIntyre’s evisceration of Gergis et al. Steve’s question has now been answered. In retrospect, it looks like David Karoly’s puffed up legal whining was [...]

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