von Storch Weighs In on Pielke's Challenge

Spence has drawn attention to Hans von Storch’s comment at Roger Peilke’s, giving his take on the hockey stick debate here:

The debate about the hockeystick is techically not really relevant. We have achived our main goal, namely that the premature claims that the issue of millennial temperature reconstructions was mostly solved have been broadly rejected. One or two years ago it was hard to publish results which were inconsistent with the MBH reconstruction; now everybody agrees that there may be more to it. The jury is still out and I expect that consensus will settle on something with significant larger variations in the shaft of the hockeystick.

Having said this – the debate about the hockeystick is most significant when it comes to the culture of our science. Posting the hockeystick as key evidence in the SPM and Synthesis Report of the IPCC was simply stupid and evidence for what Bray calls post-sensible science – as science which is encroached by moral entrepreneurship. Or post-normal science. We have more cases of this type of claims-making, which is usually a mix of "good" political intentions and personal drive for the limelight. Have we, as a community, become better in rejecting such claims? I am afraid, we have not.

Pretty hard to argue with this. It’s interesting that even von Storch could feel that it was "hard to publish results inconsistent with MBH" only one or two years ago. While "variability" is back on the table, discussing the relationship of MWP-modern levels objectively is still an uphill battle.

It’s also worth re-reading his comments on the Barton questions, where he criticizes the questions to the scientists, endorses the questions to the institutions and even suggests adding the journals into the investigationhere. Here is a lengthy excerpt:

In this case, I find the inquiry of Rep. Barton to be valid. The IPCC has failed to ensure that the assessment reports, which shall review the existing published knowledge and knowledge claims, should have been prepared by scientists not significantly involved in the research themselves. Instead, the IPCC has chosen to invite scientists, who dominate the debate about the considered issues, to participate in the assessment. This was already in the Second Assessment Report a contested problem, and the IPCC would have done better in inviting other, considerably more independent scientists for this task. Instead, the IPCC has asked scientists like Professor Mann to review his own work. This does not represent an "independent" review.

The NSF seems to have failed to ensure that sufficient information is provided about work done under its auspices.

Rep. Barton should also have asked the editors of "Nature", why the original manuscript was accepted for publication even though the key aspect of replicability was obviously not met by the MBH manuscript. Actually, MBH could not meet this condition because of the strict length limitation of that journal (nowadays one would ask for extensive Supplementary Online Material). One should ask why the manuscript was accepted nevertheless – and not, as in many other cases, the manuscript was recommended to be published in a "normal" journal without the severe length limitations. I believe the reasons for Nature were the journalistic reasons – namely the expected broad interest in the subject. One should also ask why after the critique von McIntyre and McKitrik only MBH got the opportunity for a correction of his paper, whereas the short manuscript of their opponents was rejected.



  1. David H
    Posted Nov 24, 2005 at 3:54 PM | Permalink


    I did not realise you were a von

  2. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Nov 24, 2005 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    It is a pleasure to read a blog where Gavin, William, et al post their comments and they can be questioned or challenged without fear of deletions or redactions. It could happen here, but Gavin, William, et al seem to come for an occaissional raiding party and but leave with most questions unanswered. This does not happen on RC, since many subjects are still tabboo (as I found out this week when I asked about data) in spite of comments to the contrary.

    I know that William finds questions about data to be boring. If only the RC folks were to post the raw data and methodologies used by Mann, Jones, and the rest of the HT, then no one would ask for it.

  3. TCO
    Posted Nov 24, 2005 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

    I get the impression that Gavin and such are actually not that bright and are also a bit afraid of genuine engagement on the issues. I’ve had Steve over the spit a couple of times and he hung in there fine. Gavin and such seem like refuges from hardcore stuff like physics and seem to want to defer to sophistry (for example the “reconstruction of Steve”), vice real argument of the concepts.

  4. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

    Re #3 Otoh you, TCO, are clearly very bright (and take that how you will :)).

  5. TCO
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    I’ll take it both ways. It’s cool, man.

  6. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 1:30 PM | Permalink


    Why don’t you invite Gavin, William, et al to engage those of us on this site who really want to read their answers to a number of question which they have not answered, in spite of claims to the contrary?

    Such an invitation would be much more constuctive than ad hominems.

  7. TCO
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    But I like ad hominems…

  8. PHEaston
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    Please define ‘ad hominem’ (- and ‘trolling’ if possible, which I have been accused of.)

  9. andre bijkerk
    Posted Nov 25, 2005 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    re 8,

    Probably next year the Guiness Book of World Records will list the “bribed by the oil companies” as the most used “ad hominem” in the world.

    Check here:


    “A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

    A makes claim B;
    there is something objectionable about A,
    therefore claim B is false.”

  10. Posted Nov 28, 2005 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    Hans von Storch is always able to offer wise comments. If I were a member of his Donald Duck Society, of course he would be my best pick for the chairman.

    When a sufficient portion of the people start to agree that some changes to the mechanisms in this scientific field – and changes of the equilibrium – are needed (and it has not happened yet, I think), the question will be how exactly this “velvet revolution” may be done and what kind of signal will convince the people that the wise comments are no longer necessary and everyone should get back to work.

  11. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 28, 2005 at 3:57 PM | Permalink


    An ad hominem is essentially shooting the messenger who brings you bad news.

%d bloggers like this: