Royal Society and Detection/Attribution

The U.K. Royal Society has recently sent a letter to ExxonUK which has attracted commentary about whether it is an interference with free speech (see Roger Pielke and the discussion there) . I’m interested in a different aspect of this letter – their reliance on IPCC detection and attribution discussion. The Royal Society takes exception to the following comment in Exxon reporting:

I think that there’s considerable justification for saying that IPCC conclusions rest on "expert judgement" rather than "objective, reproducible statistical methods". I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily wrong with people making decisions based on "expert judgement" – this is done all the time. Indeed the NAS Panel based its impressionistic assessment of temperature history on expert judgement rather than confidence interval estimation – a point made clearly at the NAS press conference. However, the Royal Society took great umbrage at the above characterization. They went on as follows:

In my canvassing of the Hockey Team results, I would say the opposite: Team results are not based on "objective, reproducible statistical methods"; however the Royal Society does not seem to have Hockey Team reconstructions in mind (although U.K. official opinion seems to be that the HS has not been dented); their idea of "objective, reproducible statistical methods" is the Detection and Attribution chapter of IPCC, chapter 12 – note the Appendix, in which they report:

Appendix 12.1: Optimal Detection is Regression The detection technique that has been used in most “optimal detection” studies performed to date has several equivalent representations (Hegerl and North, 1997; Zwiers, 1999). It has recently been recognised that it can be cast as a multiple regression problem with respect to generalised least squares (Allen and Tett, 1999; see also Hasselmann, 1993, 1997) ….

The "detection and attribution" literature uses terms like "optimal fingerprinting", which seems to be high-falutin term for multiple regression (or "multiregression" as it is sometimes referred to in this literature.) Prominent authors in this vein are Hegerl, Stott, Tett and Myles Allen of the climateprediction,et 11.5 deg C press release. I’ve browsed this literature and been put off by the opaque and inflated language, which sometimes makes Mann seem like Hemingway in clarity and purpose. However, it’s probably time to start grasping this particular nettle and see what actually lies underneath these "detection and attribution studies". I’m going to try to pin down which studies are "seminal" in this field. I would be interested in contributions from anyone who is successful in translating any of this turgid prose into conventional statistical concepts – ideally we would start with about 6-8 notes on specific studies that have been cited in the field.


  1. TCO
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

    Offer Wegman a collaboration.

  2. John A
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 8:56 AM | Permalink

    For those authors mentioned in the detection/attribution studies, I recommend some fashionable brown pants.

    By the way, has Wegman replied to the astonishing demands for “transparency” from the Hockey Team? I must have missed it.

  3. TCO
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    Good point. What is he hiding?

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

    Detection part is easy, use Mann and Lees (1996):

    1) Assume that Global Temp without humans is AR1 with p less than 0.3.
    2) Observe that best AR1 fit for Global Temp gives p=0.93.
    3) Anthropogenic signal detected
    4) Use roboust methods to find out that the background is AR1 with p less than 0.3, just like we assumed.

    I should add that I’m not anti or pro AGW, I just think that Mann, Lees (1996) and MBH99 are silly papers. I hope they forgive me if I’m wrong.

  5. bender
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    David Smith has recommended someone look at Mann & Emanuel (2006) in EOS. I don’t have the full citation and haven’t even read the abstract. But apparently it is all about detection and attribution in the case of storm responses to sea surface temperature. Natural cyclic variability vs AGW trend.

    IMO that second paragraph in the opening text/graphic sounds very reasonable: “While assessments such as those of the IPCC …”

  6. mikep
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    There’s a review article with some familar names at

    Can’t pretend to have worked through it, but it leaves a suspicion of circularity.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    bender, I’ve posted up Emanuel and Mann here

    If I’m reading the turgid detection and attribution prose, I think that Hasselmann 1993 begins with an argument that optimal detection of a signal uses a formula along the lines of C_{xx}^{-1} X^T y  , which some years later was recognized as being the same formula as linear regression – hence the fevered announcement in IPCC TAR Appendix 12.1 that “Optimal Detection is Regression (!)”. Subsequently, there were some equally fevered announcements of the discovery of Total Least Squares, in which statistical methods were updated to an 1876 reference in THe Analyst. Another article is a learned dissertation of the connection between stepwise regression and multiple regression in a bivariate case.

    It seems a little surreal that the “advanced statistical methods” of the ROyal Society should be multiple regression, but it looks like that’s what’s going on in this literature. It really is horrendous literature to read.

  8. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    Steve M., why are you going on to something new when you haven’t published any of what you’ve already done over the last two years? Do you have anything under active submission and in review currently? If not, you should do.

  9. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    One thing you could publish that would be very valuable indeed, in light of the claim of, “advanced statistical appraisals, which have carefully accounted for the interplay of natural variability, and which have been independently reproduced.” would be a published review of all the so-called “independent” replications of MBH9x, and show they are not independent at all. Nor robust to the choice of proxy.

    You’ve already done all the work for such a review. All you need to do is write it up. You should do so.

    I know it’s tedious, but you owe it to yourself to disseminate the knowledge you’ve worked so hard to gain.

    As an aside, it’s absolutely incredible to me that someone representing the Royal Society could display such abyssmal ignorance of scientific knowledge as to suppose that a purely statistical analysis could account for natural (physical) variability.

    And that, at best, a statistical analysis extending over 4 ppm of the current climatological regime (granting them maximal relevance.)

    What is it about AGW advocacy that turns people’s brains into mush?

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    I’m working on some articles, but my primay interest is in figuring things out. I get pretty bored working over things that I’ve already figured out. This is just a recreation after all – but I will do the articles – promise.

  11. Tom Brogle
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Re 6

    Can’t pretend to have worked through it, but it leaves a suspicion of circularity.

    As soon as scientists use models to confirm CO2 warming their argument becomes circular simply because the moddels presume that CO2 causes warming.If models used a proper wieghting for solar energy and aerosols CO2 would be virtually ineffective as a GH gas.

  12. Kevin
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    As I have said, and Steve M has said, bring on the Econometricians. And the sampling statisticians to have a close look at the data.

  13. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    Steve, restricting what you call what you’re doing to “recreation” trivializes the entire enterprise. It’s much more than that. What you’re doing involves objective knowledge, and is in opposition to its continuing bastardization at the hands of political advocates.

    What you’re about is much more than mere recreation. To be more explicit, as a member of a society dedicated to objective rationality, you owe that rationality your best efforts. It has produced your entire livelihood, among other things, and the entire society in which you live in freedom.

    In a very real sense, you have engaged a battle that has been on-going since the Enlightenment, between the emergent rationality and the mindless sentimentality — romanticism — that has controlled almost all of human thought since time immemorial. Romanticism is the engine of inquisition, intolerance, and the political purge.

    Passionate AGW advocates are memebers of the romantic set, putting their personal feelings ahead of objective rationality. We’ve seen that trait demonstrated here over and over again.

    No one is immortal, Steve. You need to get on with it. Your real contribution comes with publication — with dissemination of your derived knowledge into the shared knowledge of humanity. Unless or until that happens, everything you accomplish will be, or could be, lost.

    We’re the other members of your rational society, Steve. You owe us (and yourself) your contribution to our joint survival.

  14. Roger Bell
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

    The letter from the Royal Society is an incredibly arrogant one which comes from a Senior Manager, Policy Communications. How seriously should we take it? After all, it has statements such as:
    “In particular, I was very surprised to read the following passage from the section on Environmental performance under the subheading of “Uncertainty and Risk(p23) in the Corporate Citizenship …
    “While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence…. human actions”
    Look, this letter isn’t coming from Sir Martin Rees, the Society President, it is coming from some mid level flunky. Why is it being taken so seriously? What does Bob Ward, the author, know about the science of global warming
    Roger Bell

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    Pat, don’t worry – 90% of my effort is going to be on proxies. After spending a little time on the detection and attribution papers, I’m less inclined to spend much time on them because it will take time to sort out what’s going on. But it’s an excellent project for someone to decode these papers.

  16. Nicholas
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 8:05 PM | Permalink

    Steve, while I found it amusing to read this part of your post:

    … which makes sometimes makes Mann seem like Hemingway in clarity and purpose.

    … you may want to fix it up 🙂

  17. Jim Mitroy
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    From #13 by Pat Frank

    “In a very real sense, you have engaged a battle that has been on-going since the Enlightenment, between the emergent rationality and the mindless sentimentality “¢’‚¬? romanticism “¢’‚¬? that has controlled almost all of human thought since time immemorial. Romanticism is the engine of inquisition, intolerance, and the political purge.

    Passionate AGW advocates are members of the romantic set, putting their personal feelings ahead of objective rationality. We’ve seen that trait demonstrated here over and over again.”

    This reads like an Pat is advocating a battle against the
    romantic cavaliers of AGW with Steve cast in the role
    of Cromwell.

  18. Follow the Money
    Posted Sep 23, 2006 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

    Passionate AGW advocates are memebers of the romantic set, putting their personal feelings ahead of objective rationality.

    Pays better too.

  19. Kevin
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

    Some of you might find “Cognition and Chance: The Psychology of Probablistic Reasoning” by Raymond S. Nickerson interesting and relevant to the AGW debate and other political controversies.

  20. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    #17 — Anyone living in today’s world who cannot see that objective knowledge is under furious attack from the right by relig… ideological extremists and from the left by cultural relativists has their head buried firmly in the sand.

    This is far off-topic, but human history, especially for the last 300 years, can be seen as a contest of ideas that has real and irreversible physical consequences

    AGW advocacy has aggressively put aside science in favor of a politics of sentiment. Steve M’s work, and Ross’ and now Bender, Willis, Ferdinand, and the rest are part of the counter by proponents of the Enlightenment program of objective knowledge.

    The contest is deadly serious, which is why I encourage Steve M., and the rest of you, to publish your work so that it becomes public knowledge. Joke as you like, Jim. It’s not mere recreation.

  21. Kevin
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Re #20: While I generally agree with you, Pat, I don’t think we can entirely discount cynical opportunism and purely personal motives. I find it difficult to believe that Mann, Gavin et. al. are seriously concerned about AGW. I suspect they are more worried about Steve McIntyre.

  22. David H
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    We should see the Royal Society letter as part of the organised PR build up to the release of the Stern Review in a month or so. The UK government is trying to get its retaliation in before the inevitable torrent of attacks that will greet it.

    Benny Peiser reported yesterday that our Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said at the UN.
    “….The former chief economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, will shortly publish one of the most significant and wide-reaching analyses so far of the economic impacts of climate change. One of the key emerging findings of his work is that while it won’t cost the earth to solve climate change, it will cost the earth, literally and financially, if we don’t….”

    Stern will quote from his Review at the Mexico G8 early next month

    Stern takes his science from the Hadley centre and misquotes the same paper Bob Ward cites from the Ad Hoc D & A Gp, which is at

    This group uses the usual suspect spaghetti diagram to conclude
    “Thus, proxy-derived series suggest that twentieth century warming is unique in the last millennium for both its mean value and probably for its rapidity of change”.
    We now know from the NRC report that we can’t be sure about anything further back than 400 years.

    However with no hint of uncertainty in his Oxonia Technical Annex at
    Stern cites the paper as saying “The rate and scale of 20th century warming has been unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years”

    If he deals as rigorously with the economics his Review should be interesting!

  23. Hank Roberts
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    I think you’re conflating three different measures — rate, scale, and maximum — as though they were the same thing. As I read the NAS report, they concluded there is some uncertainty about when the maximum temperature in the past millenium occurred.

    Where do you find an opinion about the rate of increase over time and the scale (global, rather than local)? I thought North spoke to these three issues separately, when I watched the five hours of hearings.

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    #23. If you examine the basis of any general pronouncements, you find that the basis is pretty precarious. North et al did not assess the “other” studies to see if they were affected by bristlecones – which they said should be avoided. So they really aren’t in a position to make authoritative statements about rate vs scale. They are better and more reliable when dealing with specific matters e.g. statistical points or use of bristlecones.

  25. David H
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    Re# 23 The NRC (NAS) report says at para 3 of p 110: “Largescale temperature reconstructions should always be viewed as having a “murky” early period and a later period of relative clarity. The boundary between murkiness and clarity is not precise but is nominally around A.D. 1600. Second, the finite length (about 150 years) of the instrumental temperature record available for calibration of large-scale temperature estimates places limits on efforts to demonstrate the accuracy of temperature reconstructions.”

    Speaking of Steve’s criticisms they say in para 3 of p107: “Some of these criticisms are more relevant than others, but taken together, they are an important aspect of a more general finding of this committee, which is that uncertainties of the published reconstructions have been underestimated.

    In respect the MBH98 paper they are quite clear in para5 of p21 where they say: “Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.”

    Now if we let Sir Nick S, Margaret B, Tony B, George M and Bob W ignore the NRC (NAS) report we will deserve individual carbon credits and bicycles. Wake up! as Pat says: It’s not mere recreation.

  26. Jim Mitroy
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    From #21 by Kevin

    “While I generally agree with you, Pat, I don’t think we can entirely discount cynical opportunism and purely personal motives.”

    Just as a comment. I had a friend who in the 1980s worked in
    CSIRO (that Oz’s national science organization) in atmospheric physics. He quit after a short time there in a pretty disgusted frame of mind.

    His summary of the climate research ethos was that it was desirable to get a big effect with respect to CO2 effects on climate, irrespective of the quality of the science. The way to get ahead was to generate big impacts.

  27. TCO
    Posted Sep 24, 2006 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    Of course, Steve should do what he enjoys, as he is on his dime. He has no moral obligation (as a funded scientist would have) to make sure that his insights are not wasted (not published). However, it is reasonable for those of us interested in the field, to discount some of his unpublished criticisms, if only for the reason that they are not finished thought products.

    I think that if he overcame his fear of rebuttal and his dislike for writing, to produce proper papers, that he would get some personal joy out of the byline and would gain in terms of interaction with others…as well as learning to think through these problems better, himself (“clear writing is clear thinking”). But it is his dime.

    A bit of me is worried that he knows that finished thoughts, presented objectively won’t be as damning as some of his posts. And he prefers to wage the war in the shadows…

  28. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps some of you UK folk can answer this. I am an avowed Anglophile – I watch the Beep (at least so far as I can stomach their particular tilt) and subscribe to FT. I have lived in the UK and am quite happy in general with the experiences I have had there and continue to have dealing with it.

    But one thing has me scratching my head, and that is, the seemingly obsessive “one mind” stance held by seemingly 90% of the folk in the UK that the Mannian view is “the” view. Here we have Peter H a Greenie farmer espousing it, and as evidenced above, you have the Royal Society also doing so. And all shades of grey in between. Branson put his foot in it as well. What gives? The obsession with all things “global warming” seems to be just so intense in the UK. Trying to understand what is driving it.

  29. TCO
    Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    We kicked their ass in 1776. They’re pissed.

  30. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    Beep …. s/b Beeb ….. short on both sleep and coffee …

  31. Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

    In response to the oft-repeated calls for Steve to “publish” his findings I would argue he is doing that on this site and through the media of the blog. What is offensive to some is that he has used this media to great effect and that in the climate debate the “war” of the blogs (climate audit, prometheus, realclimate, climate science, etc.) has been in many ways more instrumental than the refereed journal literature, at least a portion of which (as shown by Wegman and numerous examples from Nature) has lacked the very objectivity and quality that is its sole edge as an intellectual media — certainly the prose on most blogs is a lot more accessible to all audiences than the often turgid and disciplinary-bound jargon that fills many journals.
    Instead of preaching to Steve to get journal articles published, its time for many who post and comment to recognize that their activities are the media of the present, journals are going to have to move to increased open and free internet access and that more often than not the blog practice of having the audience edit and control for quality is going to become the new standard and replace peer review.
    This won’t happen overnight as the academic bureaucracy has a large investment in the status quo, but it is going to happen.

  32. TCO
    Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    Steve’s thoughts are not finished and thorough in this format. He has not shown himself to be a great writer, and absent a forcing mechanism, he will not produce good publications.

  33. bender
    Posted Sep 25, 2006 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    Publications as you understand them are growing increasingly irrelevant, TCO. I’m not saying I like that. I’m saying it is a new fact of life.

  34. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 26, 2006 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

    Re #28: Reality.

  35. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 26, 2006 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    #28,#34: expiational utopianism

  36. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 26, 2006 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    RE: #34 – Whether the reality is the doomers’ worst case depiction of “Dayaftertomorrowworld” or is just a normal and expected varition amongst a long series of them, nonetheless, a particular fervor regarding “the global warming issue” is resident in the UK. I mean, are they afraid for the fens? Worried the channel might be a few feet wider, God forbid, keeping the Frenchmen even further at bay? Why should folk in the UK be so worried when all indications are that the MWP was actually a pretty nice time there? What gives?

  37. David H
    Posted Sep 26, 2006 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Re #28

    I think Richard Courtney had it about right at

  38. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 26, 2006 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

    re #31-33,

    It’s true that at present there are not polished papers by Steve M here, but if the decision were made to work via the medium of blog-publication, then this could be a fore-runner site. One section could be devoted to “The Annals of Climate Audit” wherein those who felt a given blog topic was ripe for publication could go off into a corner (as perhaps some have already) and come up with a proto-publication which would then be open for critiques and conversation for a fixed period of time and then a final article would be “published” in the Annals in a fixed form.

    Once a number of science blogs had chosen to do the same, an on-line Best of Blog Science journal could be established where-in invited papers could be archived and be considered “peer-reviewed” for purposes of being citable in other journals.

  39. David H
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

    Re #28 Steve Sadlov on us strange Brits.

    We have a few too many “Salvationists” and over time have allowed our government and professional institutions become self-governing.

  40. TCO
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    Even if you remove the mechanisms of formal journal publication and replace them with
    articles on this domain, Steve’s posts are still lacking. It’s not just the lack of quality checks (editors, peer-reviewers) or the worse communication method (not archived in libraries*, not searched on citation searches). It is that Steve’s work is not finished thought.

    Finished thought does not mean that one has “solved” every aspect of a problem. I have no use for researchers that spend years and years and never publish to the field. That is a wasteful practice as it creates duplication of effort in the community. Finished thought means that one has differentiated between, data, firm mathematical manipulation of data, strong inferences, weak inferences, suspicions, areas for future work, etc. Note that the tendancy to view or cast articles as a method of “fencing” with opponents can weaken articles for the general reader as well and interfere with clear understanding of the insights.

    If Steve, wrote crackerjack papers and “was getting shut out by the evil gatekeepers”, I would be fine with him circulating articles informally (what this blog does very efficiently). But, his writing is not crackerjack either in logical or stylistic discipline. In addition, Steve is not really trying to get published (not writing and submitting articles, not familiar with what sort of article goes to what sort of journal).

    Further, the informality of the publication method can tend to lead to less effort on the writing. Note, this is not about English class flourishes, it is about “clear writing is clear thinking” and “clear writing shows respect for the audience, and makes it easier for them to use your insights”. An example of how informal publications lead to less effort is the BC06 (rejected) paper. The authors even noted, that some of the faults of the paper had come from formatting for a previous periodical–when BC sent their article to a web periodical (COTPD), they didn’t even bother rewriting it, even though the length restriction had changed, and they didn’t seem to realize how cheeky and slack that behaviour was!

    In all seriousness, you can’t indict the field for failing to come to grip with Steve’s comments, when he has not published an article for a year (and really has only published one normal science paper in a normal science journal–the letter for GR) and when his “shots” are fired from “his perioidical” and are not finished enough for someone to engage on. Of course, there is some good analysis in there. But it’s not all good analysis and it’s hard to evaluate it all in this form. BTW, Steve is not the first researcher to want to not have to deal with formal periodicals. Plenty of researchers have felt like this and even acted like this, even before the advent of the internet.

    Finally, note that formal publication would not in general stop Steve from publishing thoughts on the blog, etc. Really it would support his overall PR campaign, not supplant it. But the PR campaign is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is contribution to and improvement of scientific understanding of nature.

    *note that a search of SIs (electronic) from 10 years ago showed 10% of them were unavailable at this time.

  41. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 7:58 AM | Permalink

    re: 29 To be more accurate , Americans declared their independence in 1776. It was a long and hard fight; ending in 1783 or so.

    re: 40 “you can’t indict the field for failing to come to grip with Steve’s comments, when he has not published an article for a year (and really has only published one normal science paper in a normal science journal’€”the letter for GR)”

    That’s bologna, and husband says so too. What you say here: “What is relevant is contribution to and improvement of scientific understanding of nature” cancels out all the bologna of the “social network” like thinking, politics, who’s who and who’s published where and who has funded whom and all that rot should it not?

  42. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    TCO – I’ve never suggested that blog publication is an alternative to journal publication. The blog functions for me more like a seminar discussion and should be viewed as such.

    I’ve said that I intend to submit some more articles for publication. I’ve said that before and you don’t need to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

    As to the field not coming to grips with our articles – climate scientists have primarily understood these articles by their characterization by Mann at realclimate – which, last time I looked, was not a peer-reviewed publication. Their only peer-reviewed article, Wahl and Ammann, has yet to appear in print although it’s been accepted and I intend to reply to it.

    If I compare the verification efforts of the NAS Panel to those of professional auditors and engineers, the casualness is laughable. Other than a trivial replication of the PCA effect, they simply reviewed literature and "winged" it – when the original request was to try to take a few small issues off the table. They didn’t bother checking Wahl and Ammann for example to see what they really did. They didn’t even cite our EE2005 article (but cited our EE2003 article).

    Another function of the blog has been to try to get access to data that I need in order to analyse the “other” articles. A few months ago, I finally got information on Esper that was really quite essential to progressing with the “other” articles. Without publicly criticizing Science here, I doubt that I would have got anywhere. It’s easy to say that I should be dealing with the other articles, but I did not have sufficient information on some critical series in order to proceed in the way that I want to be able to. In some cases, there are still important gaps but I’ve got a better foothold now.

  43. TCO
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    Steve, my remarks are not meant primarily for you. I agree that I’ve made points to you and am fine letting those stand. I’m responding to the incessant comments from others that you are being shut out or that the blogoshere has supplanted the regular literature. If you want me to stop making the basic points on publishing philosophy, you should also stop all the sillies who keep bringing up the converse. Their points have also been raised a million times.

  44. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    What is relevant is contribution to and improvement of scientific understanding of nature.

    Which an Open Audit process would help accomplish,
    which currently does not exist in Climatology, and which Steve’s Climate Audit blog works toward,
    which requires a large time committment,
    which leaves less time for other things such as doing things your way, or answering your posts,
    which are incredibly redundant.

    Therefore Steve M is “contributing to the improvement of scientific understanding of nature”. He’s just doing it at a higher level than any of the rest of us.


  45. TCO
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Steve, you can’t have it both ways: saying that the panel’s throughness was laughable and then citing them when they endorse your points.

  46. TCO
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    1. Steve has not made the point that he is prioritizing posting over periodical writing. I would like to hear it from his lips, if that is the calculus. Not from someone reading it in as a defense for him;.

    2. I’m not convinced that in effect this would be the case. There are lots of grad students who think that paper writing takes away from experimentation time, but over the course of a Ph.D., the time spent on the paper writing is useful (even in efficiency) since it crystallizes thinking and leads to more productive experimentation.

    3. I’m going to work on the redundancy. I’m not the only sinner, though. A lot of the simple brew crew remarks are repetetive also.

  47. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:38 AM | Permalink

    Is this a self-parody? “Incessant comments from others”, “stop all the sillies”. !!??

    No one in this blogosphere needs “stopping”. But I think someone needs a spanking to reform his “incessant” redundant commentary and “silly” behavior. TCO has said before he likes a spanking, that it “feels good on his fanny”. So give him what he likes. Suspend him.

    Look how much was accomplished while he was away in August. He’s a distraction.

  48. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    #45. I understand what you’re saying, and I think that you’re wrong. Let me illustrate with Wahl and Ammann. Their conclusions are biased and polemical. However I agree with their specific calculations on the verification r2 failures. It is quite possible to cite this calculation of theirs without being obligated to endorse everything that they wrote. In general, one can often cite specific findings without being obliged to follow more general findings. So I think that it is quite possible to cite the NAS panel as support that bristlecones should be avoided – also citing the prior references to the same effect. In this case, Biondi had specific and detailed knowledge of the literature and the statement has some weight. If I can’t use results like that, then it is pretty much impossible to write journal-sized articles on the other reconstructions. However, when they cite results of Wahl and Ammann that something does not “matter”, none of them had any specific knowledge of what Wahl and Ammann did. So there is a substantive difference.

    I realize that this may seem like a legalistic approach to disentangling the argument, but I don’t see any other way of proceeding.

  49. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    Re #45
    That’s absurd. You can dislike a person or panel or institution and yet still agree with some of their arguments. It’s not “having it both ways”, the former is an emotional or higher-level rational process, whereas the latter is lower-level rational.

    There is not enough time in the world to refute all these absurd imagined faults of Steve M. being posited by TCO. Spank his fanny with libel.

  50. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    #47 and #49 were both crossposts against the comments appearing before them.

  51. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    Re #46

    I’m going to work on the redundancy.

    Glad to hear it. Can you upgrade this promise to “work on it” to a promise to fix it?

    Apologies, then, for #47. (As #50 indicates, this was a crosspost with your recalcitrant #46.)

  52. TCO
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I don’t accept your rebuttal and could drill it down to a finer and further level. But, I’m going to refrain.

    Back to the topic in the post. Have you gotten any co-author offers? How about Wegman?

  53. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Re #52
    That’s better! Vary it up a little. “Hey Steve, what paper are you working on today?” “Hey Steve, how’s that reply to W&A shaping up?” Make a list of a hundred of these. Make them different. Cycle through them slowly, say at the rate of one a day. Add a little dressing to suit the mood of the day. Effective. Interesting. Non-redundant.

  54. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    RE: #39 – Fascinating:

    “In my opinion this is only one instance of a continuing lack of imagination and resourcefulness on the part of these ministries. In my fantasy 3-minute EPC presentation in Paris last month, I would have moved on from global salvationism to the broader theme of new millennium collectivism. I would have suggested to these officials, not only that they should focus at long last on IPCC-related issues, but also that they have failed, among other things, to wake up to, and try do something about, the growing influence of anti-business and anti-market NGOs, the interventionist and anti-market line taken by most international agencies, the uncritical endorsement by their own governments of questionable notions such as “sustainable development’, “social exclusion’, and “Corporate Social Responsibility’, and — in particular – the substantial and continuing erosion of freedom of contract through intrusive laws and regulations. On these and other fronts, they have surrendered large areas of ground to collectivist ideas and pressures, with serious implications both for economic performance and for individual liberty, without effective resistance, and indeed without fully realising what has been going on around them. They have allowed anti-liberal influences and trends to prevail.”

  55. Bob K
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Would it be possible to move the “comment by” line to the top of the comment?

    TCO’s incessant haranguing causes my eyes to glaze over around the second sentence of most of his comments. Constantly having to refocus when moving on to the next comment is an unnecessary burden on these old eyes.

    Just something to consider. It would be appreciated and have the bonus of being time saver.

  56. bender
    Posted Sep 28, 2006 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

    I don’t want to be the cause of a gang attack. TCO’s promised to reform. I think his word is good.

  57. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Oct 17, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    On this theme:

    Letter to The Independent, March 31, 2006
    (edited version published, April 1st)


    Dear Sir,

    Over the last few years your columns, and those of other leading British newspapers, have carried a steady stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Similar articles in international magazines, such as the current issue of Time, have acted to exacerbate the propaganda barrage which faces the public. Each such alarmist article is liberally larded with words such as if,
    may, might, could, probably, perhaps, likely, expected, projected or modelled – and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to scientific nonsense.

    The numerous letters that you have published so far in “Have your say on climate” exemplify the problem created by this alarmism, and by inadequate education systems, and it is not the problem of climate change. Almost without exception, your letter writers implicitly accept – as if they were articles of religious faith – that emissions of carbon dioxide are environmentally harmful, and that dangerous human- caused climate change is occurring.

    The facts speak differently.

    Carbon dioxide is a natural trace component of the atmosphere the presence of which carries many benefits. The two most important being that carbon dioxide encourages prolific plant growth, and probably also causes mild warming. (“Probably” because although the molecular properties of carbon dioxide make it one of a number of greenhouse gases, increasing its abundance causes both temperature positive and negative feedback loops, the balance of which remains unknown.) The latter fact notwithstanding, and despite a strong public impression otherwise, no simple or significant relationship has been established between the post-industrial increase in human emissions of carbon dioxide and increasing temperature.

    Measurements from ground-based thermometers and independently from satellite and weather balloon sensors all agree (i) that a minor warming trend of a few tenths of a degree occurred during the last two decades of the 20th century, and (ii) that that trend has now flattened out. The warming occurred at a rate which is not known accurately but lies between 1 and 2 degrees C /century. Such rates fall comfortably within the multi-decadal warming and cooling rates of up to 3 degrees/century that occur commonly in the recent geological past. Ice core data from Greenland, and other geological data, show also that the magnitude of the late 20th century warming peak has been nearly matched or exceeded many times during climatic cycling in both the recent and deep geological past. Thus neither the rate nor the magnitude of late 20th century warming can yet be shown to be in any way unusual.

    You are correct in identifying a huge problem with “climate change”, but the problem is political, not environmental or scientific. The ineffectuality of the Kyoto Protocol now being apparent to all, climate policies in countries such as New Zealand (a Kyoto co-signatory with Britain) have descended to farce. One day a carbon tax is on, the next off. Politicians of all stripes reveal abysmal ignorance of the science of climate change on a daily basis. And that measures such as taxing farmers for farting cattle have been seriously entertained as public policy says it all.

    A good place to start sorting out the mess would be to read again last year’s House of Lords report on climate change, which contains much wise analysis, and at the same time to replace the government’s evangelistic advisors on the matter with better versed persons.

    Yours etc.

    Professor Bob Carter


    Professor R.M. Carter
    Marine Geophysical Laboratory
    James Cook University
    Townsville, Qld. 4811


    (I’ve always viewed the Independent as being the “anti-Telegraph!” 😉 )

  58. Mark T.
    Posted Oct 17, 2006 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    I’ve said that I intend to submit some more articles for publication. I’ve said that before and you don’t need to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

    Fang is stuck in a loop (Futurama rip).


  59. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 28, 2006 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    The London Financial Times continue on their rampage of alarmism. It has almost become a truism to state, if it is any given day Monday through Saturday, the FT will have at least one alarmist screed or report in it. Today – Gideon Rachman – “Europe is the world’s best hope on climate change, alas.”

    Key excerpts:

    “There are so few good ideas around for tackling global warming that it is better to try to perfect the EU’s plans than simply to ditch the whole idea as flawed.”

    “It may be true that the EU is the world’s best hope on climate change. Unfortunately, that is just another reason to feel gloomy about the future of the planet.”

    == “Oh William, we’re doomed. Doomed!” Dr. Zachary Smith, “Lost in Space.”

  60. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Dec 6, 2006 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Just when I thought the FT could not become any more alarmist, this week, we have a full page article by their resident junk scientist / arch alarmist Fiona Harvey. I plan to painstakingly write up some excerpts when I get some time later this week, but in a nutshell:
    * Bully pulpits for the usual suspects in HM government
    * Digs against the US
    * Absolutely no acknowledgement of what gets discussed here at CA
    * Further demonisation and marginalisation of bona fide critics of “the science” of IPCC
    * Etc, etc, etc

    It’s enough to make a person physically ill.

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