Opinions expressed on Climate Audit, other than those expressed by Stephen McIntyre personally, are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Climate Audit or myself.
A Concern: Ken Fritsch makes the following comment:
While your efforts to avoid the implication of censoring of opposing views should be commended, I am not a little distracted by the noise levels that I find come from (a) personal debates that frequently do not add to the knowledge base of the specific topic at hand, (b) posters who seem to come to the discussion with the intent of having their feelings hurt or to uncover evidence of a bias towards them and/or people with their points of view, (c ) posters who raise to the bait of these posters and thus contribute to wasted space (ad hominem ad infinitum), (d) posters who merely seem to want to let skeptics and agnostics know at every opportunity that the circumstantial case is closed on AGW and only fools would question what they surmise to be an overwhelming and proven consensus from the climate scientists, (e) those who make their personal cases against AGW with little or no evidence to back it up and (f) those who seem to want to show that they can turn your efforts as a critic of some sometimes sloppy and vague climate science publishing back on you.
There are lots of places in the world where people can discuss general issues of AGW, but not many places where technical discussions of proxies can take place. I’m getting really tired of technical threads getting hijacked. If there’s a thread on Lago Paco Cocha or Quelccaya Plant Deposits or a technical topic, please do not hijack for general fuming. If anyone wants to vent, vent on the National Post Op Ed sort of thread and stay away from the technical threads. In order to encourage this, I am warning that I may start deleting off-topic posts on the technical threads. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure that somebody will claim that they are being censored, but I’m going to try it and see if the noisiness will reduce.
Caveat: Third-party posts do not reflect my personal views or the views of this site.
Posting Suggestions: You can insert images into posts – see instructions here. For adventurous people, you can insert Latex commands for math formulae.
Some Site Rules: I have previously said that I have total contempt for the censoring of scientific comments at realclimate and do not do that here. However, light moderation opens the door for ad homs and taunting, which quickly involves everybody. I don’t have time to monitor everything so my handling of taunting has been inconsistent: sometimes I’ve let it go because the person is just making a fool of themself, sometimes I’ve got fed up and deleted it. A reader has written with the following suggested ground rules which are hereby adopted:
Blogs like this one provide a wonderful opportunity to people like me (a retired scientist) to get involved in an ongoing debate and it is very disappointing when the debate generates into one of these slanging matches. May I suggest some ground rules for posts:
1. Refrain from personal abuse and swearing,
2. Never attribute ulterior motives to another participant
3. Be patient with people who know less science or maths than you do yourself.
People who consistently break rule 1 and 2 should be issued with a yellow card by the moderator. If they continue they get a red card and are banned from the site.
While there’s a little politics from time to time, by and large, I would prefer that you don’t talk politics; there are plenty of other perfectly good places to do that. I don’t allow discussion of religion and will mark anything even close as spam.
New Posters: You sometimes get tripped up in our spam filter. Unfortunately in today’s world, a blog like this gets attacked by hundreds of spams a day and they are screened by a computer filter. Some of the things that the spam filter looks for is a sudden burst of activity from an unrecognized address; it may allow some posts through and then get triggered after a while and start rejecting posts. If one of your posts doesn’t go through, don’t keep sending them in; it just inflames the spam filter. If you have yahoo or hotmail address, the spam filter may also screen you. Sometimes people get filtered for reasons that I don’t understand. However, despite this, we are reliant on the spam filter. Contact us by email if you get caught up- see contact category at right.
Site Road Map
The main topic here are the multiproxy studies of millennial climate, which is what I work on, with some discussion of climate models. I want to keep the focus fairly narrow as there are plenty of other places to talk about things and I think that sticking to a niche is a good idea.
This site used to be pretty easy to follow through, but it’s now sprawled out with lots of little nooks and crannies. Here’s a roadmap to the site, which covers quite a bit more than our criticisms of MBH.
The Categories bar at the side is quite useful in reflecting what I think are the main themes here. Most posts that I wrote in the spring are just as topical (or untopical) now as they were then. Feel free to revive any of them. It’s also surprising what you can find on google. If you do “climateaudit” and any any other word, you can usually find an old post. You can find our articles on the right frame.
A recent exposition to the NAS panel is here.
(It’s surprising how high we get on google even on topics like “briffa climate” or “mann climate” or even other oddities like “preisendorfer”.)
Obviously, the main calling card is the critique of the Hockey Stick diagram of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (MBH), that was featured in the IPCC Third Assessment Report and many government publications.
If you go to the Articles sidebar, there are links to our formal publications. Ross has written an overview also linked there, that many people like.
My own short-form summary of our views on MBH98 is this. MBH98 made 5 main warranties: statistical skill, robustness, careful proxy selection, appropriate methodology and relatively even geographical balance. These warranties were fundamental to its acceptance. (My background is in business and I think in contract terms.) All their warranties have been breached. Their reconstruction failed critical cross-validation tests (we have publicized the R2 failure, but it fails others as well); it is not robust the presence/absence of bristlecone pines; the supposedly carefully proxies included bristlecone growth, which specialists say is contaminated by 20th century fertilization; their methodology includes a wildly biased “principal components” methodology (which is not actually a principal components method). The hockey stick is an imprint of bristlecone growth rate and reflects a non-temperature proxy from an isolated geographic region of the U.S.A. Again read through the articles and the exact language there should be preferred to this short re-statement.
There has been extensive coverage -see News and Commentary – the most notable of which are the profiles by Natuurwetenschap & Techniek (translated into English) and the front page coverage by the Wall Street Journal – but there has been extensive coverage elsewhere in Science, Nature, The Economist, National Post and European newspapers. Listings here are by no means complete. There have been two published Comments – one by von Storch and Zorita and one by Huybers, both of which we made detailed (and IMHO) complete Replies. realclimate has also criticized our critique on numerous occasions. If you go to the Category – MBH98, you’ll see some of our direct responses to realclimate at Errors Matter #1, # 2 and #3. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce (Barton Committee) has taken an interest in these matters and it has a Category as well.
One of the “so what”s sent our way is that the other multiproxy studies show the “same thing” and so, even if MBH is wrong, it “doesn’t matter”. I’m not convinced that these other studies are much good either. I’ve posting comments about these studies from time to time. Again go to the category Other Multiproxy Studies and there are subcategories for several of the major studies. There is a fantastic amount of overlap of authors and proxies, so that these other studies are not “independent” as ordinary people understand the term and their findings of the relative position of the Medieval Warm Period and the 20th century are very vulnerable to the bristlecones and Polar Urals series being unusable.
I’ve collected information on individual proxy series (see Category), which I’ve posted up from time to time e.g. on bristlecones, on Thompson’s ice cores, etc.
I’ve also started to make posts on statistical topics that I think are relevant: “spurious” regression as this is understood in econometrics (where there is a much more advanced understanding of autocorrelation than exists in paleoclimate); some posts on ARMA time series – I’m interested in ARMA(1,1) processes with AR1 coefficients >0.9, which are characteristic of many processes and have some odd statistical properties.
I have an ongoing campaign to improve standards of data archiving, disclosure and due diligence -(see Category) – which are independent of any particular substantive points on paleoclimate studies. I have no idea why the “Hockey Team”, as they styled themselves, have elected to withhold data and methods from scrutiny; it’s an unwinnable position, but they’ve done so and I’ll continue to criticize them on this point.
Sometimes I lapse into controversy, mostly after I’ve been slagged in print somewhere, but I try to stay cheerful.
As to your host, I’m pretty good at answering many questions, but have difficulty answering the question: what am I? No two public descriptions of my occupation are the same. I studied mathematics at university in a fine undergraduate program at the University of Toronto and was very competitive at it. My skills, as refreshed, are more than sufficient for what I’m doing. I’ve been in business nearly all my working life, most recently in financing and promoting mineral exploration projects. That gives you a lot of experience in the school of hard knocks and that counts for a lot in my opinion. (One of my underlying themes is that disclosure standards for climate scientists should be at least as high as that required of mining promoters.) One public mineral exploration company with which I was involved underwent a reverse takeover and became an oil exploration company (when I ceased to be an officer and director of the company.) I’ve done a very small amount of business consulting for it, but no energy consultant would call me an “energy consultant”, nor would I describe myself as one. In terms of occupation, right now, this is what I’m doing. No one’s paying me to do this and there is a substantial opportunity cost for me personally in doing this, but I enjoy it and can afford to do it for a while. (Given that our work has attracted enough interest that public funds have been employed to criticize it, I see no a priori reason why I should do it for nothing and make no long-term commitment to wear a hair shirt.)
I like the feedback. So look at the Categories to crosscut the sprawl here. I’m amazed at the number of hits that the blog receives. It seems to have found a niche and I’m amazed at some of the people who have found it. I particularly welcome the comments and feedback. Lots of hits are for that exchange rather than for me and, if I didn’t get the feedback, I wouldn’t keep up the blog.