Thacker’s “Sources”

Last summer, after Paul Thacker published a critical article about me in Environmental Science & Technology (also try here), I contacted three of the people prominently quoted in the article – Mahlman, Trenberth and Famiglietti – to obtain confirmation of what they said. As you will see below, their responses are extraordinarily lame. None of them would defend the quotations. Here’s excerpts from Thacker on each of them:

But what began as an interview, Mahlman explains, quickly evolved into a spirited debate. Whenever he pointed out the importance of Mann’s work, Regalado would try to shift the discussion back to McIntyre and McKitrick. “I told him that as far as I know they’re quacks. That kinda riled him. …

Oddly, the McIntyre incident is not an anomaly, according to Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “There have been several examples of people who have come into the field of climate change and done incredibly stupid things by applying statistics in ways that are inappropriate for the data,”‘? he says. …

“It is a concern if there is a group that thinks that this one paper is the most important to come out on climate change,”‘? says Jay Famiglietti, an associate professor in earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and editor-in-chief of GRL, the journal in which McIntyre published his study. “If I had a student come to me and say, “I found this one paper that proves that climate change is hogwash,”‘? I’d say, “Well, that’s one paper out of how many? In science, you never look at [only] one paper.”‘?… Famiglietti, editor-in-chief of GRL, says that because the McIntyre paper generated a total of four letters, an abnormally high number, he will personally supervise their acceptance. He says that the letters differ in their specific criticisms and adds that he is ignoring the political controversy and focusing on the science.

When I contacted the three scientists, none of them were able to provide a coherent justification of their remarks to Thacker, but none of the three scientists has, in the mean time, corrected the public record, requiring me once again to rely on email correspondence to evidence just how mealy-mouthed they were.


Once again, here’s what Thacker said:

But what began as an interview, Mahlman explains, quickly evolved into a spirited debate. Whenever he pointed out the importance of Mann’s work, Regalado would try to shift the discussion back to McIntyre and McKitrick. “I told him that as far as I know they’re quacks. That kinda riled him. …

In Nov. 2005, I emailed Mahlman as follows:

In an interview with Environmental Science & Technology, you made highly derogatory personal comments about me, including the statement that Dr McKitrick and I were "quacks". Please provide me with the basis for this claim. Thank you for your attention. Stephen McIntyre

On Nov. 18, 2005, Mahlman wrote back:

I apologize for the delay in my response to your note provided below.

I have been recently totally immersed in reviewing the review draft of Working Group 1’s contribution to IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Review. I admit that I do not recall referring to you and Dr. McKitrick in any form of derogatory slang, nor can I even imagine myself making such a statement, either on or off the record.. If I actually did refer to you in any form of of such slang, I offer my deepest apology. It is certainly possible that I may have suggested that the two of you probably have not made either your scientific conclusions or your motives particularly clear. Indeed, I have not examined your paper in sufficient detail to make a definitive evaluation of its accurary or its significance to the rather odd "debate" about the Mann, et. al. reconstructions of paleoclimate proxy data over the past 1000 years Actually, I participated in a group review of their methodologies over five years ago and we found them to be solid.

At that time, I did point out to Mike that these paleo time series do not in any convincing way alter our inferences on the widespread conclustion that human-caused climate warming is now well underway, and is obvious in the data over the past century. It is clear that the upcoming Fourth IPCC Climate will come out very loud and clear about this inexorable fact.

I do value your candor in writing to me about this, and I wish you success in your future research activities.

Jerry Mahlman

On Nov. 19, 2005, I replied to him:

A partial transcript of your interview with Paul Thacker is posted on the Internet here . In it, you are quoted as saying the following: "I said that as far as I know they’re quacks. " Perhaps this may refresh your recollection. While you have communicated an apology here to me, this is really insufficient under the circumstances and I request that you communicate an appropriate correction to Environmental Science & Technology.

You say that you told reporters that we have "not made either our scientific conclusions or our motives particularly clear". Again these are very critical statements; I see no basis for either claim and I would appreciate some support for these statements. Given that you go on to say that you have not "examined our paper in sufficient detail to make a definitive evaluation of its accuracy", there seems to be a certain recklessness in these statements, which is surely inappropriate.

You also say that you participated in a group review of MBH methodologies over 5 years ago and found them to be solid. May I ask what the occasion of the group review was, who was involved in the group review and the forms of due diligence that you carried out to determine that the methodologies were "solid". Your conclusion is completely contrary to my findings and I would like to know the basis of your opposite conclusions.

I do not disagree with your observation that the hockey stick and its cousin series do not, of themselves, have a great deal to say about the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2, although there may be knock-on effects, e.g. tuning of so-called detection and attribution studies. If it is your view that these paleo series are unimportant for the larger policy issue, then it is regrettable that you did not express this view more strongly at the time of IPCC TAR so that this particular graphic might have been de-emphasized both by IPCC and by subsequent users of IPCC, such as the Canadian government, who relied heavily on the hockey stick in their presentation of Kyoto policy.

Regards, Steve McIntyre

Mahlman did not reply. So much for this source.


On Sept. 1, 2005, I emailed Trenberth as follows:

In a recent article in ES&T, you are quoted as saying that "There have been several examples of people who have come into the field of climate change and done incredibly stupid things by applying statistics in ways that are inappropriate for the data.”‘?

The context suggests that your comments were directed as criticism against some of my work, rather than that of Mann et al. If so, I would appreciate it if you could give me some particulars on any "incredibly stupid" or "inappropriate" things that you believe that we did, in order that I might respond.Yours truly, Steve McIntyre

On Sept. 2, 2005, Trenberth replied:

I am in Germany, little access to email. I DO NOT KNOW THE ARTICLE YOU REFER TO: It seems like a general statement and it has been true. Such as attempts to analyze data without taking account of inhomogeneities and dealing with full quantities rather than anomalies from annual cycle. Proper appreciation of the data and its limitations is always needed. Kevin Trenberth

Shortly after receiving his reply, also on Sept. 2, 2005, I replied:

The ES&T article quoting you is here

In our articles published in GRL and E&E in 2005, the issues of taking account of inhomogeneities or dealing with fulll quantities rather than anomalies from annual cycles did not arise. I agree that "proper appreciation of the data and its limitations is always needed". Our articles were entirely critical in nature and focused entirely on such issues.

Again I fail to understand the basis of your criticism of our work and I request particulars on the "incredibly stupid" and "inappropriate" things" that you claim that we did, in order that we may respond to this criticism.

Your truly, Stephen McIntyre

On Sept 6, 2005 10.51 am Trenberth replied:

Please note I was one of the authors on the following

Mann, M. E., C. Ammann, R. S. Bradley, K. Briffa, T. J. Crowley, M. Hughes, P. D. Jones, T. Osborn. M. Oppenheimer, J. Overpeck, S. Rutherford, K. E. Trenberth, T. M. L. Wigley, 2003: On past temperatures and anomalous late 20th Century warmth. Eos, 84, No. 27, 8 July 2003, 256″€œ257.
Mann, M. E., C. Ammann, R. S. Bradley, K. Briffa, T. J. Crowley, M. Hughes, P. D. Jones, T. Osborn. M. Oppenheimer, J. Overpeck, S. Rutherford, K. E. Trenberth, T. M. L. Wigley, 2003: Response to comment “On past temperatures and anomalous late 20th Century warmth.”‘? Eos, 84, No. 44, 4 Nov 2003, 473,476

These articles were published before I had published any climate articles. I pointed this out to Trenberth later that day as follows:

I remain puzzled. These references have nothing whatever to do with anything that I’ve been involved in.

Did you talk to Paul Thacker of ES&T about our articles? Did you use terms "incredibly stupid" or "inappropriate" in connection with our articles? Thank you, Stephen McIntyre

A little while later I emailed again:

Thacker says that he talked to you 2-3 weeks ago and has referred me to you for an explanation of your comments. These articles pertain to criticisms by Mann of Soon and Baliunas, not to criticisms by us of Mann. Could you please explain exactly what you said to Thacker. Thank you, Stephen McIntyre

Leter that day, Trenberth replied:

I do not know. I talk with media people every day, especially recently with Katrina. It was more than 3 weeks ago. Kevin Trenberth

So I replied again on the same day:

Maybe you don’t know what you said to Thacker. As matters stand today, is it your opinion that we did "incredibly stupid" things in our article and if so, what are they so that we can respond?

If you do not hold this opinion, would you please send a communication to Thacker either withdrawing your prior comment or correcting his statements in respect to your views on our article. Regards, Steve McIntyre

Once more, Trenberth replied promptly as follows:

I suggest you look at the comments and criticisms of your articles on or and eslewhere. I have been singularly unimpressed and unconvinced by your work in several respects. e.g.
"we demonstrate that the reconstruction of MM resulted, instead, from their selective censoring of key indicators from the MBH98 proxy dataset. Indeed, we are able to reproduce the MM reconstruction of anomalous 15th century warmth when the entire ITRDB North American data set (and the ‘Queen Anne’ series) are censored from the proxy network (Figure 4). These data (in fact, 70% of all of the proxy data used by MBH98 prior to AD 1600) were unjustifiably censored from the MBH98 dataset by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) in their original analysis (see Jones and Mann, 2004, and Rutherford et al, 2004 for a discussion)."

You might like to respond to those comments
Kevin Trenberth

On Sept. 12, 2005, I replied to Trenberth:

You have suggested that I ought to look at the realclimate postings and that I “might like to respond”‘? to them. I am completely familiar with everything that has been written about our work at realclimate and I am surprised you do not know that I have already responded to these arguments on many occasions. I have posted extensive replies at my own site, for instance:

The arguments that you cite have been rejected by two journals. They were made (inter alia) in a submission by Mann et. al. to Climatic Change in late 2003, to which the Editor asked me to respond. Based on my response, the article was rejected in 2004.Related arguments were recently repeated by Wahl and Amman in submissions to Geophysical Research Letters and Climatic Change and touted in an NCAR press release in May 2005. I was asked to respond to both these submissions. Based on our replies, the GRL submission was rejected. Surprisingly, UCAR has to this date not issued any notice that the GRL submission was rejected and the abstract to the submission remains on the UCAR website In connection with their CC submission, I pointed out that the authors had withheld key cross-validation statistics that were adverse to their conclusions and were relying on unpublished documents as supporting citations, both of which I requested from the Editor. They were promptly requested by the Editor to divulge the materials in question, which they refused to do. They even tried to pierce the slight veil of anonymity that supposedly existed, saying that the reviewer should request this from them personally. Eventually after the authors remained obdurate in their refusals, I submitted a detailed report outlining the mistakes, misrepresentations and flaws in the paper. I have not heard any further about the matter but to this point the paper has not been published.

You consider yourself sufficiently well-read on the subject to judge my work “singularly unimpressive”‘? and to make disparaging comments about it to a national reporter. But from your comments to date I can only conclude that you have not actually read either of our recent papers, nor have you followed the ensuing debate, and what little you know about the issue is based entirely upon second-hand comments and unreviewed commentary from the opposing side.
But, should you aspire at this point to a more balanced understanding of the issue, here are some detailed points in response to the specific items you quoted.

First, we have stated explicitly and on several occasions that we do not present any reconstruction as a positive account of past climate, as we do not endorse MBH98 methodology. Our principal conclusion in McIntyre and McKitrick [2003] was not a positive reconstruction, as sometimes claimed, but a negative conclusion:

More generally, the extent of errors and defects in the MBH98 data means that the indexes computed from it are unreliable and cannot be used for comparisons between the current climate and that of past centuries.

In our 2003 article, we stated explicitly that the often cited figure was presented

without endorsing the MBH98 methodology or choice of source data.

which would obviously have been necessary to present a positive reconstruction based on MBH98-type methodology. While we had thought that the above and other statements in the article itself had been sufficiently clear to avoid misunderstanding, in order to ensure that there was no misunderstanding, we issued an FAQ shortly after publication of McIntyre and McKitrick [2003] in which we stated:

Your graph seems to show that the 15th Century was warmer than today’s climate: is this what you are claiming?

No. We’re saying that Mann et al., based on their methodology and corrected data, cannot claim that the 20th century is warmer than the 15th century “€œ the nuance is a little different. To make a positive claim that the 15th century was warmer than the late 20th century would require an endorsement of both the methodology and the common interpretation of the results which we are neither qualified nor inclined to offer.

That we are not arguing for a warm medieval era is even acknowledged at realclimate; e.g. here

It is puzzling that critics of M&M (McIntyre and McKitrick) repeatedly refer to their work as an alternative reconstruction. I base this on two ideas: 1. M&M say they are not offering an alternative reconstruction”⤮

[Response: I wouldn’t characterise the WSJ as ‘critics’ and yet they clearly think that M&M are offering an alternate reconstruction. It’s just one more thing they get wrong… -gavin]

Some misrepresentations of our position are particularly egregious. For example, Crowley requested a digital version of “our”‘? reconstruction. I replied to him that there was no such thing as “our”‘? reconstruction. He then asked for the digital version of one of our figures, noting that some people are “misinterpreting”‘? us. I sent him this data together with a repeated caveat. In EOS in July 2005, after previously receiving and acknowledging these caveats, Crowley astonishingly then criticized “our”‘? reconstruction as differing from other multiproxy reconstructions.
The conclusions in our 2005 articles were limited to statistical issues, such as bias, robustness, statistical significance and proxy quality.

We demonstrated the non-robustness of MBH98 results by discussing, in our 2005 Energy and Environment paper, a reconstruction in which a centered principal components calculations was used rather than the decentered MBH method, and a reconstruction in which bristlecone pines were excluded”€?an experiment MB&H themselves conducted but did not report. These variations each result in high 15th century values. We did not put these forward as representations of past climate, but as demonstrations of the non-robustness of MBH98. The phrases you quoted from realclimate misrepresent our findings for the purpose of creating a straw man. It is true that you get high 15th century values if you don’t use any 15th century North American tree ring data because, a fortiori, you aren’t using the bristlecones. But by stating it in terms of data deletion, realclimate falsely insinuates that we are trying to sell results based on a truncated data set. It is easy to verify that this is untrue, and that we used the same 15th century tree ring data as MBH98.

As we explained in our GRL paper, MBH98 PC methodology mines for hockey stick shaped series (either intentionally or unintentionally) and specifically promoted a low-level signal (driven by the bristlecones) from PC4 to PC1, inflating the associated eigenvalue in the process. If you use a centered PC methodology (without necessarily agreeing that this is a valid methodology either) and 2 PCs for the North American network you get high 15th century results. If you peer below realclimate rhetoric, you will see that they concede this. Their fallback position is that 5 PCs should be used in the North American network under Preisendorfer’s Rule N. The argument is ad hoc in the sense that it was not applied to determine proxy rosters in other tree ring networks, but more importantly, Rule N is necessary but not sufficient”€?it in no way overcomes the substantial problems with relying on bristlecones as the sole determinant of ones’ results. MBH acknowledged this problem in their 1999 paper and proposed an adjustment to remove CO2 fertilization effects, but conveniently only applied the adjustment to the pre-1400 portion. Had they applied an adjustment to the entire bristlecone series there would be high 15th century values regardless of whether you use 2 or 5 PCs.

Thus, the realclimate posting that you cite does not refute any of our claims.

One of the reasons for our interest in robustness is that MBH previously claimed that their methodology was robust to the presence/absence of dendroclimatic indicators altogether “€œ a claim which has been influential in the widespread use of this reconstruction. And yet even their defence against us abandons this claim “€œ obviously if their reconstruction is robust to presence/absence of all dendroclimatic indicators, it should be robust to the presence/absence of bristlecones (or for that matter, the presence/absence of 15th century North American tree ring proxies).

You made reference to the realclimate rhetoric about statistical significance. We showed in our GRL paper that the MBH98 reconstruction abysmally fails cross-validation R2 tests. This claim has not been refuted. It is now clear that the cross-validation R2 test was calculated at the time by Mann et al but not reported for steps prior to their AD1820 step. We also showed in our GRL paper that their seemingly significant RE statistic was spurious, as their benchmarking computation failed to account for the influence of their non-standard PC methodology.

Thus far, in responding to my complaints, you first claimed you could not remember making the comments, then when this position proved untenable you cited Eos commentaries pertaining to an unrelated study to back up your claim, revealing that you didn’t even know what articles were being discussed. Then you dug up old postings on realclimate, apparently in the belief that I am unaware of them, when in fact I have thrice refuted them at journals and debunked them at length on my web site.

Before you opine to the press about “incredibly stupid”‘? things that I and my coauthor are supposed to have done, I believe that you have an obligation to actually read our articles. It is highly inappropriate for you to rely on one-sided, unpublished commentaries on our articles by those who are publicly opposed to our work, and even if you had read the articles it would be highly inappropriate to make the sort of demeaning, derisive comments that you did.

The ES&T article purported to discuss reaction to our 2005 articles in GRL and E&E. Accordingly, I renew my request that you provide a quotation from either article containing an “incredibly stupid”‘? claim, and if you are unable to do so, I request that you publicly retract the statement you made to Environmental Science & Technology and issue a full and unreserved apology to me and my coauthor.
Yours truly,
Stephen McIntyre

Trenberth did not reply to this letter nor did he correct the public record.

On Sept. 27, 2005, we wrote to Famiglietti in connection with the Ritson Comment, about being notified that the Comment had been accepted without consulting a Reply, in breach of AGU policies. The following is an excerpt:

We are particularly concerned over this disregard for editorial policies in light of some recent remarks attributed to you by Environmental Science & Technology. In the article, you are quoted as saying (in a discussion of our GRL paper):

"If I had a student come to me and say, "I found this one paper that proves that climate change is hogwash," I’d say, "Well, that’s one paper out of how many? In science, you never look at [only] one paper."

Our paper does not state that "climate change is hogwash" nor does it express any views on climate change. Our paper was limited to statistical issues. We are accordingly concerned that you may hold certain ideas about our work that are inconsistent with what we have actually published.

The ES&T article also stated you had decided to take over editorial oversight of our file. We all rely on an impartial refereeing process in order to ensure that the publication record is as sound and objective as possible. It is still in the public and professional interest that the rules of the process be followed. We are concerned that you have circumvented these rules in this case, to our detriment, and your public comments on our work suggest that you do not approach this file with impartiality. Therefore we request that you assign another Editor to handle the file.

Yours truly
Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick

Famiglietti immediately contacted us and asked to speak to us on the telephone. We arranged a conference call, including Ross McKitrick. Famiglietti insisted that the call be off the record. That’s fine. But we also asked Famiglietti to provide an on-the-record response, which he refused to do, other than agreeing to us makeing the following comment in respect to his comments to ES&T:

We have spoken with Dr. Famiglietti about this. He has assured us that he was not expressing any views on our paper in particular. His point was a general one, namely that an individual paper should not be evaluated in isolation but in the context of the literature of which it is a part. He did not imply any disagreement with the original decision of GRL to publish it.

Later, of course, GRL rejected both the Ritson and Ammann comments.

In summary, this is surely a very unimpressive defence by each of the three scientists of what Thacker represented them as saying.


  1. jae
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    Incredible. I’m sure a lot of people will read this, and they can form their own opinion about what is going on in some parts of climate science politics.

  2. Mark
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    Wow. I’m flabbergasted at such arrogance exhibited by so-called “scientists.”


  3. Ron
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    It seems that the gentlemen are not really scientists, but are instead “club members.” As club members they are not obliged to explain themselves to anyone who does not belong to the club. It is a matter of privilege, rather than rigour and clarity of argument. If the gentlemen were scientists, they would be subject to ordinary rules of logic and evidence, but as they are clearly not scientists at all, they are excused.

    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:52 PM | Permalink




  5. John A
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    I’m still puzzled by Jerry Mahlman’s statements:

    Indeed, I have not examined your paper in sufficient detail to make a definitive evaluation of its accurary or its significance to the rather odd "debate" about the Mann, et. al. reconstructions of paleoclimate proxy data over the past 1000 years Actually, I participated in a group review of their methodologies over five years ago and we found them to be solid.

    On what basis did Mahlman’s group review find them solid? They did not know the method, they did not see the source code, they had no idea of the provenance of the proxies or the way they were selected, they did not know that the adverse statistical verification had been suppressed, they did not know that Mann had tested without the bristlecones and the Hockey Stick shape disappeared and he had CENSORED that test.

    Did they have a group hug? Read Mann’s aura? What?

    At that time, I did point out to Mike that these paleo time series do not in any convincing way alter our inferences on the widespread conclustion that human-caused climate warming is now well underway, and is obvious in the data over the past century.

    I keep reading this again and again and it makes no sense. Was Mann’s result in any way contrary to the "widespread conclusion that human-caused climate warming is now well underway"?

  6. McCall
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Trenberth has shown a similar grandstanding style (IMO) to Dr. Hansen on several occasions. In the private sector, had he through action/inaction, lost a key contributing employee (as happened with Dr. Landsea) his subsequent actions would have then been closely watched by senior management. Upon subsequent grandstanding and alienation, as happened post-Katrina he would have been suspended or more likely fired. A bankable warning sign of bad management, “I do not know. I talk with media people every day, especially recently with Katrina. It was more than 3 weeks ago.” Too busy to get it right — and too busy to verify means, more PR training, or damage control by restricting his access while he gets his other job right. Call this man’s boss — he’s obviously in over his head?

    I’ll now await his side of this story, regardless of how it comes. But now one might speculate, that driving out dissenting views in the project group was his objective.

  7. L Nettles
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

    Actually, I participated in a group review of their methodologies over five years ago and we found them to be solid

    So a paper is published making the extraordinary claim that the medieval warm period and the little ice age didn’t really exist and this is is their description of the group review.

    They just don’t get it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Steve and Ross have shown that there isn’t even ordinary proof for the hockey stick.

  8. Suggestion Guy
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    Its humorous to watch Thacker unabashedly attack Steve, while simulataneously writing a hit piece so unbalanced that it wouldn’t pass muster at a high school newspaper.

  9. Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Wow, this whole episode is like watching two trains collide in slow motion. It’s painful, but it’s sadly another important step in Steve’s crusade against bad statistics in science, and bad publication practices.

    In my copious free time (not) I’m planning to read up on some statistics, since all this has kindled my interest in the field. Hopefully it will help me understand some of the more complex arguments better 🙂

  10. Doug
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know where you find the motivation to keep countering them with facts and professionalism, but keep it up! Quack!

  11. Sam Prentice
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    While I should not be surprised, I find all of this rather astonishing. These are supposed to be among the leading scientists in their field. All they can do is stab you in the back and then plead insanity.

    Yesterday, you linked the article by Paul Thacker. This was totally incomprehensible to me. I couldn’t believe the irony that was right there before their eyes and was completely transparent to them.

    First, Andrew Revkin on at least three occasions refers to the “uncertainties” present in current state understandings of climate science. In the last reference, he comments that unfortunately, these uncertainties will remain with us for some time and will have to be dealt with as we move forward (my paraphrasing). Isn’t it funny that to all of the “hacks” like Thacker that there is no uncertainty.

    I also find it astonishingly ironic that while they almost go to vapors over Hansen and the supposed censoring of “scientific” opinion and how opposing viewpoints are being stifled, they move right on without the least bit of shame and state how those with differing opinions from them should be silenced and kept out of the debate because they are leading the public to believe that there is actually some dissent and remaining debate on the topics. Are these people deserving of being institutionalized? And then there are the unbelievable remarks from “Steve Bloom.” This man has never made one intelligent comment on this site. All he is capable of is slurs and baseless attacks on those he takes exception to. I remember one special example from several weeks ago where in a veiled attempt at derision he referred to Steve M’s efforts with the wonderful “Coal dust gets in your eyes” or some such lame comment.

    All of this is amazing. These AGWers are totally bereft of any integrity. No wonder they want to stifle and shut off all debate. If they are forced to compete with facts, everyone will see that they are the emperor without any clothes and are compete fools.

  12. mark
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

    There’s nothing wrong with a bit of well placed nudity.

  13. Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

    Re #11. My take on the sociology of this behaviour is that they have been used to getting away with bluster and BS for so long they no longer have a mooring in scientific mores and decency. You meet people like this in all walks, but they usually get their come-up-ence pretty quickly unless they are the boss. Scientists usually are the boss of their labs and students.

  14. Thomas Bolger
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 1:54 AM | Permalink

    “I found this one paper that proves that climate change is hogwash,” I’d say, “Well, that’s one paper out of how many? In science, you never look at [only] one paper.”
    To my mind most of the papers I’ve read on climate change are precisely that HOGWASH

  15. John Baltutis
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    #12 There is if you’re trying to get accolades for being well-dressed.

  16. Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 7:16 AM | Permalink

    Fascinating. The mood is such that if a Thacker invents these things that should probably be called lies, he knows that the scientists who are quoted won’t have enough courage to complain. While nearly everyone is going to agree that this particular Thacker is moral trash, I am afraid that he is not the only journalist (and not only journalist) who deals with facts in a similar way.

  17. brent
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    Climate of Fear
    Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence.
    Wednesday, April 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

  18. per
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Can’t say I am all that impressed by this thread.

    1) Mahlman’s alleged quote in the ES&T is outrageous and defamatory. In fairness, when challenged, he has offered an apology. It is a shame that he was unwilling to write to ES&T, but I did think the second email was more bruising than required.

    2) Trenberth and Famiglietti’s comments, as quoted in ES&T, are clearly adverse commentary, but they fall well short of being exceptionable; tho’ the accompanying editorialising by thacker (“the McIntyre incident is not an anomaly”) is. Specifically, neither Trenberth nor Famiglietti say anything adverse about the work of M&M, nor about M&M in this ES&T article. Indeed, as you point out, the general comments that both these men make can as easily be applied to MBH’98 as to M&M.

    3) I would suspect that Thacker’s editorialising in context may be defamatory, as was mahlman’s quote. It might be possible to take legal action in an appropriate jurisdiction, and I am not sure that the parent publisher, ACS, could dodge, since it is very big. It is amazing how a letter from a law firm can clarify people’s minds; no publisher could hope to defend Mahlman’s comment, since he has already retracted !

    The reason that there is such adverse press coverage is that thacker thinks that your work is important. That is why he spends so much time trying to criticise it; and as you can see, any avenue of criticism is possible ! It is good to check his quotes, but this really is a compliment 🙂


  19. Roger Bell
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    I’m rather surprised by Famiglietti’s remark quoted above that “In science, you look at more than one paper.” I would have thought that the AGU would want someone really good as their editor in chief, someone of Lindzen’s calibre, for example, to deal with the really exceptional papers. (I say Lindzen in part because I’m looking at his name as I write this.)
    In the 1920s and 1930s American geology as a whole rejected the work of one man, Alfred Wegner. It was a career risk for young geologists to support continental drift. A strong opponent of drift, Bailey Willis of Stanford, wanted to delete drift from the geology curriculum. It was a careert risk for a young geologist to support drift. Is it the same today if a young scientist does not believe in global warming?

  20. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink


    Well, Roger, it’s not as though there wasn’t good reason not to accept Wegner, given the knowledge of the time. Nobody, including Wegner. had a workable theory as to how continents could move, given the known laws of physics. It was only with the discovery of sea-floor spreading at mid-ocean rifts that drift would work.

    BTW, I can remember back in the late 1950s or early 1960s when I heard about Wegner’s theory and looked at some world maps I decided, yes, he had to be right, regardless of what everyone said. But knowing THAT something is right is different than PROVING it’s right. In that regard there’s a good quote about the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach (p564):

    “Now there is a curious paradoxical effect where sometimes an event which you think could not help but make credulous people become a little more skeptical, actually has the reverse effect, hitting the credulous ones in some vulnerable spot of their minds, tantalizing them with the hint of some baffling irrational side of human nature. Such was the case with Ramanujan’s blunders: many educated people with a yearning to believe in something of the sort considered Ramunujan’s intuitive powers to be evidence of a mystical insight into Truth, and the fact of his fallibility seemed, if anthing, to strengthen, rather than weaken, such beliefs.

    Of course that’s a quote which could have numerous applications, and on either side, of the warmer-skeptic debate.

  21. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    I worked with a salesman some years ago who told me his theory of salesmenship:
    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with BS.”

    I never realized until now that he also knew Trenberth.

  22. Hans Erren
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

    dano has a lovely word for thacker’s style:

    medaciziftiscyation 😉

  23. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

    #19 and from Thacker: “”If I had a student come to me and say, “I found this one paper that proves that climate change is hogwash,” I’d say, “Well, that’s one paper out of how many? In science, you never look at [only] one paper.”… Famiglietti, editor-in-chief of GRL”

    I’m surprised, too, Roger. Famiglietti appears ignorant of the history of science. In 1905, Einstein’s one paper on Special Relativity overthrew Newtonian mechanics. His one paper on the photoelectric effect overthrew all of continuum physics, and his one paper on Brownian motion established atomic theory (along with Rutherford’s experiment).

    Einstein provides two more Thacker-relevant examples. The first is that he wrote all those papers as a patent clerk, not as a credentialed academic. One might say he was an amateur in the same sense Steve M is. Steve’s training in mathematics qualifies him as much to comment on the statistics of climatology as Einstein’s training in physics qualified him to overturn the theories of his day.

    The second example is that in 1932 one hundred German scientists came out against relativity theory. When Einstein was told about it, he said something like, ‘Why 100? If I am wrong, all it would take is one.’ This comment reveals a deep truth about science. Famiglietti’s comment indicates an ignorance about how science itself actually works (as opposed to some scientists too stubborn to abandon wrong theories).

    I also agree with Per that Steve may have grounds for a defamation suit. But those things can get really ugly, exhausting, and protracted. On the other hand, a warning letter from a lawyer may alone rattle their cages in a positive manner. The responses of all three of the scientists, even Mahlman’s private but not public retraction, display a lack, both of professional ethics and of personal moral courage.

  24. Louis Hissink
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    re #19


    In the early 1970’s when I was still an undergrad I mentioned to Tim O’Driscoll that his lineament work tended to knock plate tectonics on the head, to which he advised I not say so publicly as it would affect my career. Then I did hold my tongue – now I don’t but dare voice doubt about plate tectonics and one is dismissed as a crank or heretic, even to day.

    However the New Concepts in Global Tectonics Group are making headway but resistance from mainstream academia remains powerful.

    So I suspect it does really apply to global warming today – which makes it, and some aspects of geology, a religious belief rather than science.

  25. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    #24, So, Louis, do you happen to have a pdf copy of O’Driscoll’s (1980) “The Double Helix in Global Tectonics” Tectonophysics 63, 397-417 you’d like to share? That paper seems to lay out his idea in approximate completion, and I’d like to read it. Thanks for mentioning O’Driscoll’s work.


  26. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    Small world Pat.

    I’m quoting some work on the LCLS

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

    #23. I’ve got enough experience with litigation to prefer other options if they are available. And if you put on your thinking cap, there are usually other alternatives to simply doing nothing.

    Mahlman, Trenberth and for that matter Ammann are all employed by UCAR/NCAR. UCAR has codes of conduct which cover more than just scientific falsification. If a comment is defamatory, then it would be worthwhile checking to see whether it breaches UCAR/NCAR codes of conduct. Likewise, if adverse results are withheld, maybe there is a breach of a code of conduct. Falsification can occur in a variety of ways. Should a complaint be made, UCAR would have a responsibility to investigate. It’s not to say that they will do so properly, but then any failure to properly investigate could, in turn, become an issue for whoever has oversight. I’ve posted up from time to time on codes of conduct. Think about it.

  28. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    #26 — If you’re ever out this way Sid, I’ll give you the nickel tour of SSRL. I can perhaps arrange a look at what will become the LCLS, too, though it’s in a state of constructive dishabile. That offer goes for any of you other folks out there with an interest, though if too many sign on I might really start charging. 🙂

    #27 – Steve, you convinced me. Going through codes of conduct is a much better approach. It removes the entire personal injury angle and all the trivializations of appeal to hurt feelings, and makes it all a matter of professional deportment. Much, much better.

    Your continued resolve, not to say determined sanity, in the face of all the obscurantism, obfuscations, obstacles, and frustrations plus the odious personal slings and arrows is most admirable.

  29. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    “though it’s in a state of constructive dishabile”

    I’m used to it, that’s when I’m normally around a project, and I garuntee it’s not as bad as most I’ve seen, I reckon it smells better too.

  30. George
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 11:58 PM | Permalink

    Re #19, #20-

    Ironically, Wegener had a background in meteorology but became more famous in a geological context.

    But this is consistent with Kuhn’s theory in his seminal “Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” when talking about “paradigm shifts.” Generally these are initiated by someone new to the field, who has fewer preconceived ideas about “the way things are supposed to be.” Steve’s and Ross’ influence in climatology makes perfectly good sense. They saw things that those too close to the subject couldn’t. Or wouldn’t.

  31. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    #30. While I appreciate the nice statements, I don’t lay claim to doing anything very profound – merely doing some common sense things. When I started looking at these matters at the beginning, I was struck by some formal similarities between calculating NH temperature averages and ore reserve calculations. Both ultimately involve systems of weighting and both can have semi-complicated calculations. One of the first lessons in ore reserve calculations is "cutting factors" i.e. the grades of high-grade holes are cut to say no more than 1 opt gold. If you did ore reserves the way that MBH did their proxy calculations, you would be placing extra weight in your ore reserve calculations on the high grade holes and low weights on the low grade holes. There’s a term for this in securities legislation. Think of bristlecones as a few high-grade holes. I probably need to re-work our exposition back in the mining terms that inspired some of my original thoughts. The comparisons would be very unflattering.

    One of the retorts that used to spring to my mind when people criticized us for being "amateurs" -although statistically I regard the Hockey Team as amateurs – was this: if we found this many mistakes, can you imagine how many mistakes a "real" expert would find?

  32. John A
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

    While I appreciate the nice statements, I don’t lay claim to doing anything very profound – merely doing some common sense things.

    The thing is Steve, is that common sense isn’t very common. You don’t have the institutional pressure to conform (or perform) upon you. You’ve shown that climate science needs a statistical and methodological upgrade.

  33. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 2:58 AM | Permalink

    #32 “You don’t have the institutional pressure to conform (or perform)”

    I think it’s much more banal than that, John. It seems clear that recent dendroclimatology was developed with the end in view (‘a few good men,’ ‘cherry pie,’ etc.), rather than with method development in view. People wanted to find results now, instead of doing the very hard work of defining the limits of the system. Steve has commented that much work done back in the sixties and seventies was worthy and carefully done. It’s only after AGW came to prominence that dendroclimo went off the deep end. So, as regards data production, many bad habits were developed that allowed for good narratives.

    Self-delusion is epidemic among humans (making it all the more astonishing that science and rationality emerged at all). I suspect something like that happened in dendroclimo. With the aura of mathematics, data in the form of visually impressive columns of numbers, internal logical consistency, and the availability of a kind of pseudo-calibration, it was possible to convince oneself that one was doing something real. Especially because the results could be made to conform to expectations. In short, the ends drove the means. I suspect Mann entered the field when the ball was really beginning to roll, and just took the contextually reasonable next step in data-mining. The real question is, as a physicist, why he did not see the problem rather than exacerbate the problem.

    It’s not necessary to suppose institutional pressures or even ethical failings. One need only suppose wishful group-think, migration to a position of maximal approval, and a desire to participate in high profile research (AGW). The emergence of bad habits likely was slow, and the outlook of what was acceptable slowly changed to accomodate what felt like success in service of a truth. The problem is that the truth was decided at the outset.

    Of course now that an enormous political momentum has built up, resisting that tide as Steve has done comes at a large cost and with many people committed to protecting their professional investment and intellectual bonafides in terms of the AGW status quo. No one easily lets go of a pet theory. Hence I think the foot-dragging and lack of personal consideration. Of course, most of those at the center of things will work most desperately to salvage their careers. If the past is prologue, some institutions will also foot-drag to protect their reputations. Some others will not, more to their credit, and it will be educational to see how this all plays out.

    I also wonder why no academic statisticians became interested in dendroclimo data, and why no government hired on any such people to examine the data on which so many billion$ hung. In fact, I wonder even more, after Steve’s findings, why academic or governmental statisticians still have not weighed in. Attention by one or two of them could settle the issue very quickly.

    It’s almost a comedy of errors.

    I just saw the trailer to Al Gore’s climate movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” It has great cinematic values with lots of viscerally subsonic cues, and looks full of scare bites about before and after. That exemplifies the political momentum and the wide-scale approval, both that Steve M. is facing down and that sustains the certainties of journal editors, opinion mongers like Thacker, and dendroclimo workers. It must be true: Look how many important people believe it!

  34. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    The “An Inconvenient Truth” production company’s website states that:

    Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions….

    You can call me overly skeptical, but really can not believe that an Al Gore movie entitled “An Inconvenient Truth” could possibly be described as “…laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions….”

    The production company describes itself as follows:

    Participant Productions is a film company with a mission to make the world a better place. We believe in the power of media to create social change, but the movie is just the beginning. Our goal is to deliver compelling entertainment that will raise awareness about important social issues, educate audiences and inspire them to take action. We are dedicated to creating a whole new kind of action flick, where positive social change is the true measure of success.

    Any group with a stated agenda like Paticipant Productions, is highly unlikely to lay out any facts that might be inconsistent with their agenda.

  35. TCO
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

    More science, less BS. This thread reeks of defeatism. Seriously, I hate this thread.

    Where’s the Polar Urals misdating paper? It’s been long enough. It should be out in Journal of Tree Ring Science or wherever specialty journal it was sent to (since it WAS-damnit-WAS inappropriate for Nature). It better not be sitting on a desk.

  36. Chris Chittleborough
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    Here’s a something I wrote on the discussion page for the Wikipedia article about Ross McKitrick

    The Thacker Attacker

    A anonymous editor has been inserting POV material into this article and the Stephen McIntyre article. The aim seems to be to discredit M+M by (1) not mentioning any of their publications except the Energy and Environment paper, (2) quoting from and/or linking to attacks on E&E[12] and McIntyre[13] in Environmental Science & Technology written by a journalist[14] named Paul D. Thacker, and (3) cleverly describing ES&T as a “science journal”, whereas Thacker writes for the news and opinions section of ES&T.

    Why do I say “editor” instead of “editors”? Because these IPs all resolve to the domain, which is owned by the company that publishes ES&T. (They also publish the journals, newsletters etc of the American Chemical Society; hence the domain name.)

    Now go and read Mr Thacker’s article. It is not science. It is not good journalism. It is very bad journalism. It is a collection of invited ad-hominen attacks on McKitrick and McIntyre.

    Someone from Mr. Thacker’s workplace seems very eager to see Mr. Thacker’s article mentioned in these articles. In a saner world, Mr. Thacker would be trying to suppress all knowledge of this shoddy piece of journalism for the benefit of his career.

    Incidentally, Energy and Environment was described as “a leading international journal” by Rajendra K. Pachauri of all people, at an IPCC meeting !

    Chris Chittleborough 06:37, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

    A few hours later Mr. Thacker sent this email:

    From: “Paul Thacker”
    Subject: Who are you and what are your credentials?
    Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 16:19:27 -0500

    Do you have any expertise in science journals?

    Do you have any expertise in journalism?


    Paul D. Thacker
    Associate Editor
    Environmental Science & Technology

    (Phone number and some email addresses removed)
    BTW, ES&T is published by the company that runs the journals of the American Chemical Society (and, IIRC, the ACS website); hence the “” in Mr. Thacker’s email address.

    Answering Mr Thacker’s questions would take me an hour or two, but explaining what is wrong with his credentialist mindset would take days, so I have not replied to him. (If anyone has suggestions for a good reply, please let me know.)

  37. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    #36 Ask Mr. Thacker if he has any expertise in science.

    Ask him further whether his view that global warming has a human cause is impacted by the fact that GCM models do not have any skill in predicting future climate.

    Finally, ask him how he would view a branch of science in which leading researchers resisted transparency, refused to archive data or release methods, and instead engaged ad hominem attacks on their critics. Suggest Jacques Benveniste‘s infinitely dilute science as an(other) example.

    An essay on pathological science quotes Irving Langmuir as follows: “These are cases where there is no dishonesty involved, but where people are tricked into false results by the lack of understanding about what human beings can do to themselves in the way of being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking, or threshold interactions.”

    It goes on to say, “Langmuir’s classic symptoms of pathological science attribute many errors to various forms of subjective judgment. … Observers commonly select and discard some of their scattered data points because of suspected confounding conditions or experimental error; in some contexts this borders on cheating, but more often it is simply a reasonable selection process. In all fields, the requirement of reproducibility within statistical limits guards against this kind of observer error.”

    Does that sound familiar in a dendroclimatological sort of way? The mention of statistical limits as a guard against pathological science is particularly telling, in light of the statistical bobbing and weaving that has so grotesquely marked the field.

  38. JEM
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    Re #36:

    How about a response to Thacker along these lines:

    What are your credentials in science in general and climatology in particular? (…and boy, they better be good!)

    In other words, bluntly, put up or shut up.

  39. TCO
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    *Mannian sigh*

  40. John M
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Well, for what it’s worth, from “Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research” from the ACS’s guide to authors, Section D “Ethical Obligations of Scientists Publishing outside the Scientific Literature”

    “A scientist publishing in the popular literature has the same basic obligation to be accurate in reporting observations and unbiased in interpreting them as when publishing in a scientific journal.”

    Now of course, he may very well argue that this doesn’t apply to him, since he is a “journalist”, but I wonder if the ACS also has ethical guidelines with regard to personal attacks, character assassinations, and unsubstantiated quotes in their “News” publications. I’ll see if I can find anything, but it may take some digging.

    Any other ACS members out there?

  41. SteveH
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    Re #36

    Dr.Samuel Johnson on literary criticism:

    “You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.”

  42. Greg F
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    I wouldn’t spend a lot of time responding to him if at all. His email is a lame attempt to bait you. His method is character assignation, don’t give him any ammunition. Any credentials you have would not be good enough for him. Any attempt to get him to approach this rationally has about as much chance of succeeding as attempting to convert the Pope to Islam. He didn’t address anything in your critique so do the same to him. Have a little fun with this dim bulb. Something along the lines of guy that scams the Nigerian scammers. Might go something like this.

    Oh wow, thanks for writing! I have never talked to someone famous like you. This is so cool! Hey, what kind of computer do you use. I need to get a new computer and I bet you have used a lot being a journalist and all. Should I go with Microsoft? That is what I have now. Have you ever used an Apple?

    This guy is clearly full of himself. If you can succeed at making think you think he is some kind of superior intellect you might get him to answer the question. Now it won’t matter what product he recommends since both Bill Gates and Steven Jobs are college dropouts. The response could go something like this:

    How could you recommend [insert company here]? Didn’t you know that [insert founder here] is a college dropout? Forget about PhD’s, this guy doesn’t even have a bachelors degree. You are suggesting I a buy a computer from a guy with no credentials? How could [insert founder here] possibly know anything about computers?

    Now go have some fun.

  43. Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    You can find Paul D. Thacker’s CV and Bio here:
    He has BS in Biology from UC Davis, he switched to writing when he could make it as a researcher.

    “After college I worked in a couple of different research labs at Emory University. It took about a month to figure out that there’s a huge disconnect between the rote memorization that occurs in undergraduate education and the actual work of doing science.”

  44. McCall
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    If I read this correctly,
    University California, Davis — requirements for B.S.* in Biology:
    Some General and some Organic Chemistry.
    Math 16A-C Calculus.
    Physics 7A-C (w/ Calc).
    One class Statistics-Lite or Statistics … which one?
    Definitely no Therm’s, Fluid Dynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Meteorology or Climatology classes are required.

    * Side note: If degree is a B.A., then Math Calculus, and Physics (w/ Calc) appear NOT to be required.

    At least this man has a degree in science, plus he spent 4 years in the military on Abrams tanks — so he can learn. As indicated, he just hasn’t shown much desire to go beyond rote work… this may explain a lot. IMO, his background shows some promise …

  45. McCall
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    re: quote in 43
    Undergrad rote memorization MAY be a tactic to pass Biology or other life science degrees, but it won’t work in the non-earth physical sciences or mathematics (including statistics).

  46. jae
    Posted Apr 17, 2006 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    One of the retorts that used to spring to my mind when people criticized us for being “amateurs” -although statistically I regard the Hockey Team as amateurs – was this: if we found this many mistakes, can you imagine how many mistakes a “real” expert would find?

    Steve: I suspect that you now have as much expertise in proxy studies as anyone in the world. You don’t have the coursework or degrees, but you certainly have the knowledge. You are no amateur, thats for sure!

  47. Chris Chittleborough
    Posted Apr 17, 2006 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    #45: There is at least one hard science that requires massive amounts of memorization: Organic Chemistry. (But you also have to understand some quite non-trivial concepts …)

    #42: Thanks for a good laugh!

  48. Jeff Norman
    Posted Apr 20, 2006 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

    Re #45 However, rote memorization, would be useful for remembering exact quotes and the context in which they were used.

  49. Mark
    Posted Apr 20, 2006 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Keep in mind, most astronomical discoveries are made by rank amatuers.


  50. Paul
    Posted Sep 22, 2006 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

    Dear Steve,

    I’m interested in your diligence and perseverance on this task of uncovering statistical boobies made by climatologists out in the field. I’m also wondering as well why you haven’t taken the time to apply the same levels of criticism and in depth study towards claims in the media made by Bob Carter. Claims that global warming stopped in 1998. You must be aware that Bob specifically chose 1998 because it was the year of that epic El Nino and 1998 has a particularly high temperature record, so when all other years are compared to it they appear cooler. You must be able to see the obvious game being played here, and you should surely be aware that the standard method is to take a 30 average from the temperature record as the zero standard to avoid the issue of being forced to manually find a representative year. Bob’s method could be exploited in either direction, and so surely he’s inviolation of statistical method. Is 1998 a representative year in the previous 30 years, clearly not. Perhaps you’d like to publish something on your website upon this subject. I can see in your responses to Trenberth that you value a balanced approach and that your publication’s aims are merely to correct statistical errors. Surely then, following this approach you could spend some time to correct Bob Carter’s claims as it seems your aims are to correct errors of the type displayed in Bob’s comment.



  51. bender
    Posted Sep 22, 2006 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    Paul, you’re right – there are alot of problem “analyses” out there that could stand debunking. But if I understand Steve M’s interests, it’s the multiproxy reconstructions that he really wants to focus on in this blog.

    From my own perspective, I think there is going to be a huge pile of cherry-picked (non-scientific) junk analysis emerging in the coming decades, and it would be a mistake to devote much effort to this hydra. The warmers will do their thing, the coolers theirs.

    As for your particular beef, I see the current wave of cooler arguments not as a counter-cultural phenomenon but as a reactionary backlash. The “analyses” they present are not rational science, but a rhetorical device intended as a counterpunch to the statistically untenable arguments that the current warming trend is “unprecedented” for 1000 years. (It’s unprecedented only since the LIA ~AD1600, which everyone agrees with, even the coolest coolers.) As a scientific argument, the cooler case is statistically invalid. As a rhetorical counter-punch … well, the warmers probably deserve it.

  52. BKC
    Posted Sep 22, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Re. 50

    See here for some discussion of Bob Carter’s claims (in the comments).

3 Trackbacks

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